Mechanism for rare AstraZeneca blood clots
A paper in Nature has proposed a mechanism for how the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots in very rare cases.
The researchers examined blood serum from five people who had developed vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) after receiving the vaccine.
They found that antibodies in the patients’ blood bind to a protein involved in blood coagulation.
The researchers note that this may not be the only factor involved in blood clotting, but it is likely a contributor.
Poo transplants to treat COVID?
The poo transplant researchers are at it again. A letter in Gut has suggested that stool transplants could help protect patients from bacterial infections after fighting COVID-19.
The technique has been used successfully with two patients. Both patients were receiving a transplant to treat a Clostridioides difficile infection, and both happened to also have COVID-19. Their COVID symptoms improved rapidly after receiving the transplants.
“Our main conclusion from these cases is that [stool transplant] appears safe and of comparable efficacy in treating recurrent [C difficile infection] in patients with coexisting COVID-19,” write the authors.
“A further, more speculative question is whether [it] may impact the clinical course of COVID-19.”
New Zealand’s toilets need more soap
In more stool-related news, New Zealand researchers have found that 15% of the 400 public toilets they surveyed in the country didn’t have soap.
Additionally, 2.5% of the facilities didn’t have any water or hand sanitation at all, and a majority of the public toilets (72%) required touch activation for handwashing.
Published, for some reason, in the New Zealand Medical Journal, the study suggests that public toilets could be a transmission risk for COVID-19. The researchers call for better handwashing amenities in these facilities.
Fewer cases of flu and other bugs during the pandemic
US researchers have noted the dramatic drop in cases of flu and other respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They examined data from two hospitals in Michigan, US, looking at the PCR tests from nasal swabs over the 2019–2020 flu season and the 2020–2021 flu season. In both adults and children, there were significantly fewer flu and other respiratory cases over the 2020–2021 season.
“It is likely that the number of cases of flu and other respiratory infections will rise back to normal in the coming years as SARS-CoV-2 becomes a seasonal virus,” says Siri Sarvepalli, a researcher at Wayne State University, US.
“However, if handwashing and other mitigating measures are followed to the same extent as last winter, numbers could instead remain lower than usual.”
The research was presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases.
Dogs or cats: which is better for lockdowns?
Australian researchers have surveyed nearly 400 people to see how pet ownership affected mental health in lockdown.
“We wanted to find out whether interactions with pets were associated with higher levels of mindfulness in their owners, and whether this also protected them against loneliness – and a government-mandated lockdown that exacerbated social separation was a good opportunity to investigate this,” says Jessica Oliva, a psychologist at James Cook University and lead author on a paper describing the research, published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry.
“Simply owning a dog did appear to buffer the effects of loneliness in some way. For dog owners more so than cat owners, an important aspect of this was the existence of a physical connection – being able to touch and feel another living creature in the house,” she says.
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.
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