The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
Pandemic stress may subtly impact ovaries
Pandemic stresses have been linked with disruptions in ovulation for many women without obvious changes to menstrual cycles, according to a new study.
Nearly 66% of 112 women studied during the pandemic had ovulation disturbances, compared to only 10% of 301 women studied 13 years earlier, researchers reported on Sunday at ENDO 2022, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
Ovulation, or the release of an egg from an ovary, generally occurs about two weeks before the start of the menstrual period.
Disturbances seen during the pandemic included the egg being released before the uterus is ready for pregnancy to occur, and no egg being released at all.
The women in both studies were ages 19 to 35 and were not using hormonal contraceptives.
Menstrual diaries kept by participants showed significantly more anxiety, depression, frustration, negative moods, perceived outside stresses, sleep problems, and headaches during the pandemic.
“By comparing the two studies, and especially their daily diaries, we can infer that the SARS-CoV2 pandemic life disruptions cause silent ovulatory disturbances within mostly regular menstrual cycles,” study leader Dr. Jerilynn Prior of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver said in a statement.
Over time, persistent ovulatory disturbances can increase women’s risks for infertility, bone loss, early heart attacks, and breast and endometrial cancers, the researchers said.
New blood test could improve COVID-19 defenses assessment
A new blood test that measures immune-system T cells may yield more accurate information about the body’s ability to control the coronavirus than tests that measure antibodies, researchers say.
Unlike antibodies, T cells do not prevent infection from occurring, “but they protect from disease,” said study co-author Dr. Antonio Bertoletti of Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, in an email.
They “recognize the infected cells… and destroy them. T cells are also important for the efficient maturation of B cells, (which) also help to produce antibodies,” he said.
Antibody levels often wane over time, while T cells remain on the alert. In some people with weakened immune systems, COVID-19 vaccines can induce T cell responses even if they do not induce antibody responses.
“Measuring T cell activation is critical to assess the full extent of a person’s immunity,” said coauthor Ernesto Guccione of The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai in a statement.
Coronavirus variants like Omicron evade most of the neutralizing ability of antibodies, but T cells are still able to recognize the virus despite the mutations, he noted, making it even more important to have tests that can measure T cells.
The new test is presently available only for research purposes but is scalable to use broadly in the population, the researchers reported on Monday in Nature Biotechnology. — Reuters