Pink eye or conjunctivitis may also be primary symptom of COVID-19: Study

Agencies
June 19, 2020

While coughing, fever and difficulty in breathing are common symptoms of COVID-19, a new case study has found that pink eye is also a reason to be tested for the disease.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, determined that conjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis can also be primary symptoms of COVID-19.

The researchers noted that in March, a 29-year-old woman arrived at the Royal Alexandra Hospital's Eye Institute of Alberta with a severe case of conjunctivitis and minimal respiratory symptoms.

After the patient had undergone several days of treatment with little improvement -- and after it had been determined that the woman had recently returned home from Asia -- a resident ordered a COVID-19 test.

The test came back positive, according to the researchers.

"What is interesting in this case, and perhaps very different to how it had been recognised at that specific time, was that the main presentation of the illness was not a respiratory symptom. It was the eye," said Carlos Solarte, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta in Canada.

"There was no fever and no cough, so we weren't led to suspect COVID-19 at the beginning. We didn't know it could present primarily with the eye and not with the lungs," Solarte said.

Academic studies at the outset of the pandemic identified conjunctivitis as a secondary symptoms in about 10 to 15 per cent of COVID-19 cases, he said.

Since then, scientists have gained greater knowledge of how the virus can transmit through and affect the body's mucous membrane system, of which the conjunctiva -- the clear, thin membrane that covers the front surface of the eye -- is an extension.

While the finding provides important new health information for the public, it also makes eye exams more complicated for ophthalmologists and staff, the researchers noted.

"The patient in this case eventually recovered well without any issues. But several of the residents and staff who were in close contact with the patient had to be under quarantine," said Solarte.

"Fortunately, none who were involved in her care also tested positive," he said.

Patients coming into an eye clinic with conjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis are now treated as potential cases of COVID-19 and extra precautions are taken by staff, according to the researchers.

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Agencies
January 7,2021

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Washington, Jan 7: Nearly 4,400 adverse events were reported after people received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the US, with 21 cases determined to be anaphylaxis, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The US Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 11, 2020, administered as two doses separated by 21 days, reports Xinhua news agency.

As of December 23, 2020, a total of 1,893,360 first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the US, according to the CDC report.

Reports of 4,393 adverse events had been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System in the country.

Among those, 175 case reports were identified for further review as possible cases of severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis.

Twenty-one cases were determined to be anaphylaxis, including 17 in persons with a documented history of allergies or allergic reactions, seven of whom had a history of anaphylaxis, according to the CDC.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that does occur rarely after vaccination, with onset typically within minutes to hours, said the CDC.

Locations administering Covid-19 vaccines should adhere to CDC guidance for use of the jabs, including screening recipients for contraindications and precautions, having the necessary supplies available to manage anaphylaxis, implementing the recommended post-vaccination observation periods, and immediately treating suspected cases of anaphylaxis with intramuscular injection of epinephrine, said the CDC.

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Agencies
January 12,2021

New Delhi, Jan 12: Amid the ongoing debate around the safety and efficacy aspects of Covid vaccines, the president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) has advised the public to not worry too much about it.

Speaking to IANS, Dr. J.A. Jayalal, president, IMA said, "We should not be too worried about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines since enough evidence is available to prove its credibility.

"The vaccines are never 100 per cent protective and efficacious at any time. It helps us to some extent in getting ahead of the disease but eventually, herd immunity will set in to control the viral spread. So let's not worry too much about the safety and efficacy part," he said.

"What we know from the trials is that the vaccines approved for inoculation in India are found safe and elicit an immune response. The technology of harnessing vaccines from inactivated viruses is a proven science. Our least expected efficacy criteria is 50 per cent while at the same time, other drugs we have been using for years are even below this benchmark of efficacy. We use influenza and vaccines against Tuberculosis but still people contract it," Jayalal explained.

"Even natural infection cannot determine the level of antibodies it would create in the body. Some may develop less antibodies, some may exhibit high titers of it while a few may never develop at all. Good thing is that the vaccines are producing antibodies and it's enough at this stage," he added.

Jayalal also said that the vaccine would work against the current and mutant strains of the coronavirus. Such claim was earlier made by Bharat Biotech for its Covid vaccine, Covaxin, which is approved for restricted emergency use in a clinical trial mode'. However, the firm is yet to present the data confirming its claim.

The apex association of modern medicine practitioners in the country has come out publicly endorsing the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. In a statement issued on Monday, it said that the association stands with the scientists to endorse the safety and efficacy of both Covaxin and Covishield for public awareness and to counter myths on vaccine percolating in social media.

The IMA has also appealed to its its 3.5 lakh members in 1,800 local branches to actively take part in the mission of Covid vaccination programme rolled out by the Government of India. "Come out to get vaccinated first to show to the world that these vaccines are safe and efficacious," it had said.

Despite the efficacy of both the vaccines still unknown, the IMA has endorsed the vaccines. When asked about it, Jayalal said the association had a detailed discussion on such aspects with the government agencies. "After analyzing all the scientific data, we have decided to come out firmly in support of the vaccines," he added.

India's drug regulator has approved two Covid vaccine candidates -- Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech -- for the massive inoculation drive against the Covid-19.

The immunization drive will start from January 16. The vaccines have already reached many of the primary hubs to be distributed further before the roll-out.

Till now, a total 1,51,327 people have succumbed to the deadly disease while it has infected 1,04,79,179 people in the country.

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Agencies
January 2,2021

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New Delhi, Jan 2: India has approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, paving the way for a huge immunisation campaign in the world's second most populous country.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters on Saturday the vaccine had been approved on Friday, confirming what sources close to the matter had told Reuters.

It is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use by India, which has the highest number of infections after the United States.

Javadekar said at least three more vaccines were waiting in line to be approved.

"India is perhaps the only country where at least four vaccines are getting ready," he said.

"One was approved yesterday for emergency use, Serum's COVISHIELD." he said, referring to the fact that the shot is being made locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

India has reported more than 10 million Covid-19 cases, though its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak.

The country hopes to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people in the first six to eight months of 2021.

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