Long COVID-19, cardiovascular risks, varient specific vaccines: COVID-19 research roundup for Saturday, Aug. – cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio— The Health and Human Services Department has released two new reports on long COVID, studies suggest the risk of cardiovascular problems remains high months after recovery from COVID-19, and booster vaccines targeted at BA.4 and BA.5 variants may be ready by September.

Cleveland.com brings you the latest COVID-19 news and research for Friday Aug. 4, 2022.

Variant specific boosters expected by September

Both Pfizer and Moderna are working on booster vaccines designed to address the wave of Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The two subvariants are now considered to be the dominant strains of the COVID-19 virus in the US.

The so-called bivalent vaccines will contain a mixture of both the old formula and a new one that targets BA.4 and BA.5.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it had agreed to purchase 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate for potential use in the fall and winter. This is in addition to the 105 million bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster doses the U.S. government purchased recently from Pfizer.

Neither vaccine has yet been authorized by the FDA or recommended by the CDC. However, If the shots meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards, they will probably be available as early as September, an FDA spokesperson told CNN.

Government presents action plan for Long COVID

The Health and Human Services Department released two reports on Wednesday containing statistics and a detailed action plan for addressing the many effects of Long COVID.

The reports, commissioned by President Biden in April, include The National Research Action Plan on Long COVID, which highlights the latest medical research for the prevention and treatment of Long COVID, and the Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19, which presents the challenges and available resources for healthcare, mental health, substance abuse and loss of loved ones due to Long COVID.

Some facts contained in the reports are:

  • 44% of patients with Long COVID reported not being able to work at all, compared to their pre-COVID-19 work capacity, and 51% had reduced their working hours.
  • According to one estimate, roughly 1 million workers may be out of the workforce at any given time due to Long COVID. This figure equates to approximately $50 billion dollars annually in lost salary.
  • 13% of Americans started or increased substance use as a way to cope with the stress of COVID-19
  • Individuals infected with COVID-19 were 60% more likely to have a mental health condition or mental health-related prescription
  • Drug overdose deaths increased throughout the pandemic reaching a record of 107,000.
  • More than half of parents expressed concern about their children’s mental well-being

“Long COVID can hinder an individual’s ability to work, attend school, participate in community life, and engage in everyday activities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As our nation continues to make strides in the fight against COVID-19, these reports are critical to shine a light on Long COVID’s impact and how to match people to resources.”

Heart problems linger after COVID-19 symptoms disappear

A number of studies suggest that the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or stroke, remains high even many months after a SARS-CoV-2 infection clears up. The Journal Nature tackled what we know about the risk to the heart after a bout of COVID-19.

One study showed that even people with seemingly mild infections were at higher risk for more than 20 different cardiovascular conditions. While another study found that people who had been admitted to intensive care had a drastically higher risk of cardiovascular problems during the next year. The same study also found that people who had had not been hospitalized had a higher risk of long-term heart problems after COVID recovery, just to a lesser degree.

In addition, an expert panel convened by the American College of Cardiology advises doctors to test people who have had COVID-19 for cardiovascular problems if they have risk factors such as being older or immunosuppressed.