Omicron infects young children more easily than other variants; loss of smell may be a precursor to memory loss

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The following is a summary of some recent research on COVID-19. They include studies that require further study to confirm the results and that have not yet been peer-reviewed.

Children’s noses are less protected from Omicron

A small study suggests that a variant of Omicron may be more effective at infecting children through the nose than previous versions of the coronavirus.

Earlier during the pandemic, children’s noses were less susceptible to the virus that causes COVID-19 than adult noses. Studies of the original SARS-CoV-2 and some of its variants have shown that the virus elicited a stronger immune response in the cells lining the nose of young people than in the cells lining the nose of adults, and replicated itself less efficiently in children’s noses. . But recent test-tube experiments mixing the virus with the nasal cells of 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults showed that antiviral protection in children’s noses “was noticeably less pronounced in the case of Omicron,” the researchers reported Monday in PLOS Biology. They also report that Omicron replicates itself more efficiently in children’s nasal mucosal cells compared to both Delta and the parent virus.

AS THE BA.5 OMICRON SUB-OPTION IS DEVELOPING, VACCINE EXPERTS CALL FOR PEOPLE AT HIGH RISK TO GET A COVID-19 BOOSTER NOW

“These data are consistent with the increase in childhood infections seen during the Omicron wave,” the researchers wrote, calling for more research.

Two small children wearing masks play in the snow in Bryant Park during the COVID pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, USA on January 1.  14, 2022.

Two small children wearing masks play in the snow in Bryant Park during the COVID pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, USA on January 1. 14, 2022.
(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Smell problems may predict memory problems after COVID-19

According to an Argentine study, the severity of impaired sense of smell after infection with coronavirus may be a better predictor of long-term cognitive impairment than the overall severity of COVID-19.

The researchers studied a random sample of 766 people over the age of 60, about 90% of whom were infected with the virus. Physical, cognitive, and neuropsychiatric tests performed three to six months after infection showed some degree of memory impairment in two-thirds of the infected participants. After taking into account other risk factors for individuals, the severity of the loss of smell, known as anosmia, “but not the clinical status, is a significant (predictable) cognitive impairment,” the researchers reported Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2022 International Conference, which took place online and in San Diego. .

“The better we understand what causes or at least predicts who will experience significant long-term cognitive impact of COVID-19 infection, the better we can track it down and start developing methods to prevent it,” study leader Gabriela González-Alemán of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires said in a statement.

Vaccination mandates linked to improved nursing home staffing

In US states that mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for Nursing Home Staffthe rules achieved the desired effect and did not lead to massive layoffs and/or staff shortages, the study found.

However, in states without such mandates, nursing homes did experience understaffing during the study period, the researchers reported Friday at the JAMA Health Forum. Data collected from mid-June to mid-November 2021 by the National Health Security Network showed that across the 12 states with a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, staff vaccination coverage rates ranged from 78.7% to 95.2%. According to the report, states without mandates “had consistently lower staff vaccination coverage throughout the study period” and “higher levels of reported staff shortages throughout the study period.”

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“The association of mandates with higher vaccination coverage contrasts with previous efforts to increase the use of the COVID-19 vaccine among nursing home staff through training, outreach and incentives,” the researchers said. They added that the data “suggests that fears of a massive workforce shortage due to vaccination mandates may be unfounded.”