More Data: COVID-19 Vaccine Effective in Patients with IBD & Maternal COVID-19 Vaccination Protects Infants

A Jena et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 20: 1456-1479. Open access: Effectiveness and Durability of COVID-19 Vaccination in 9447 Patients With IBD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis that included 46 studies.

  • Key findings:
    In 9,447 subjects who were completely vaccinated, the pooled seroconversion relative risk was 0.96 (95%CI, 0.94-0.97), and was higher for mRNA vaccines (0.97, 95%CI 0.96-0.98) than for adeno-associated vaccines (0.87, 95%CI: 0.78-0.93)
  • The pooled seroconversion rates were similar regardless of IBD therapy, and ranged from 0.93 to 0.99.
  • The pooled relative risk of breakthrough COVID-19 infections in vaccinated patients with IBD was not significantly different from that of vaccinated controls. However, a decay in antibody titers after 4 weeks from vaccination appeared to be accelerated in those on anti-TNF agents, immunomodulators or their combination.

My take: IBD patients benefit from complete COVID-19 vaccination similar to healthy controls.

Related blog post: COVID Booster Advice for IBD from Dr. David Rubin (@IBDMD)

NB Halasa et al. NEJM 2022; 387: 109-119. Open access: Maternal Vaccination and Risk of Hospitalization for Covid-19 among Infants

Using a case-control design, the authors found that complete (2 dose) vaccination during pregnancy —Key findings:

  • The effectiveness of maternal vaccination against hospitalization for Covid-19 among infants < 6 months was 52% overall, 80% during the delta period, and 38% during the omicron period.

My take: Vaccination protects mother and infant. “Maternal vaccination with two doses of mRNA vaccine was associated with a reduced risk of hospitalization for Covid-19, including for critical illness, among infants younger than 6 months of age.”

Florida Surgeon General Hinders Public Health

In response to the Florida Surgeon General’s comments about COVID-19 vaccine safety in children, the following editorial was published (from Eric Topol’s twitter feed) in The Washington Post –Opinion: Vaccines work for children. Ignore the nonsense spoken in Florida:

Here’s the data:

Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization ranged from 73% to 94%.

Here is the MMWR/CDC article (open access) with full data: Effectiveness of COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA Vaccination in Preventing COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department and Urgent Care Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Nonimmunocompromised Children and Adolescents Aged 5–17 Years — VISION Network, 10 States, April 2021–January 2022

And safety data from MMWR/CDC (open access): Safety Monitoring of COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses Among Persons Aged 12–17 Years — United States, December 9, 2021–February 20, 2022

AAP Views: Summary of data publicly reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Date: 3/2/22

Insider: Florida’s surgeon general breaks with CDC advice, says the state will be the first to ‘officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy children’

My take: It is disgraceful that a prominent physician would jeopardize the health of children and worsen vaccine misinformation more broadly. I think his actions merit review by the ABIM. If you want to share your views with the ABIM: Contact ABIM

AAP Policy: COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5 Years and Older

FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS| POLICY STATEMENT. Open Access: COVID-19 Vaccines in Children and Adolescents. Committee on Infectious DiseasesPediatrics (2022) 149 (1): e2021054332.https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2021-054332

Key points:

  • “The AAP recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older who do not have contraindications using a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use for their age.”
  • “Children with previous infection or disease with SARS-CoV-2 should receive COVID-19 vaccination, according to CDC guidelines.”
  • “Given the importance of routine vaccination and the need for rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, the AAP supports coadministration of routine childhood and adolescent immunizations with COVID-19 vaccines (or vaccination in the days before or after).”

Also, more data on vaccine effectiveness from Eric Topol’s Twitter feed):

Vaccines reducing Covid deaths by 99% and hospitalizations by 98% with vaccination and a booster

“How to Remember What Your Doctor Says”

NY Times (October 26, 2021): How to Remember What Your Doctor Says

Key points:

  1. “When faced with someone in a white coat, don’t go mute. Assert yourself, particularly if you’re confused. Try repeating what you’re hearing”
  2. “People recalled less than half of what their doctors told them a week earlier”
  3. ”In practice, though, patients bring up as many as 15 different issues during a visit. Show up with a list of the three main things you want to talk about, and go over all three before your doctor starts talking.”
  4. “Communication onus should be on medical providers. Still, as a patient, you have agency. ‘When people participate, they remember better'”

My take: This article makes some good points. I think in this era, more written information (after visit instructions) are being provided which helps as well.

Related blog posts:

Also, briefly noted, U.S was rated as being in 54th place in its vaccine rates compared to other countries.

Financial Times: Global Vaccine Tracker

Seeing More MALS Publications

Anecdotally, I’ve seen more publications recently regarding median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS). A recent study (JP Moak et al. J Pediatr 2021; 231: 141-147. Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome with Orthostatic Intolerance: Intermediate-Term Outcomes following Surgical Intervention) prospectively examines the outcomes in patients with MALS and with orthostatic intolerance (OI).

Background: MALS is generally considered after other more common conditions. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain after eating or exercise and often weight loss due to fear of eating. The pain is often positional and may improve with leaning forward. The diagnostic finding of celiac artery compression may be identified in many healthy individuals (10-24% of population); thus, only severe compression, which is seen in a small number, can result in symptomatic MALS.

In this study, the key findings:

  • 31 patients with both MALS and OI were identified from 2014-2019. Median f/u after surgery was 22 months.
  • Based on questionnaires, gastrointestinal symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting improved in 63% (P = .007), 53% (P = .040), and 62% (P = .014) of patients, respectively. 
  • Based on questionnaires, cardiovascular symptoms of dizziness, syncope, chest pain, and palpitations improved in 45% (P = not significant), 50% (P = not significant), 54% (P = .043), and 54% (P = .037) of patients, respectively.
  • Importantly, the authors could not demonstrate a “statistical relationship between a postoperative decrease in celiac artery Doppler velocity and improvement in clinical symptoms.”
  • In an effort to gauge for a potential post-surgical placebo effect, the authors determined the degree of improvement in musculoskeletal symptoms. There was a 24% improvement which was much less than the improvement in GI symptoms.

One useful feature of this article is that the authors explicitly state how they arrive at the diagnosis of MALS. They start with an abdominal ultrasound with doppler. Criteria for suspected MALS include supine celiac artery peak systolic velocity of >300 cm/s, celiac artery/aoritic peak systolic ratio of >3:1, neutral position celiac artery peak systolic velocity of >200 cm/s, and a change in the celiac artery deflection angle of >50 degrees between inspiration and expiration. If ultrasound is abnormal, the authors obtained an enhanced CT to image inspiratory and expiratory changes in the celiac artery deflection angle, the area of stenosis, poststenotic dilation, and the collateral blood vessels. If there are discrepancies between U/S and CT, a celiac arterial angiogram is obtained.

The authors conclude that there “were minimal improvements in neurologic or psychological symptoms after MALS surgery, despite their common occurrence among patients with POTS.”

My take: This study, in agreement with others, showed that about 60% had improvement in GI symptoms including pain, nausea and vomiting. In those with OI, most continued with impaired health. Overall, MALS as a clinical entity remains a ‘needle in a haystack.’

Related blog posts

Real-World = Partially-Treated Celiac Disease

A recent prospective observational study reinforces the idea that most people with celiac disease are unable to accomplish a strict gluten-free diet (GFD): JP Stefanolo et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021; 19: 484-491. Real-World Gluten Exposure in Patients With Celiac Disease on Gluten-Free Diets, Determined From Gliadin Immunogenic Peptides in Urine and Fecal Samples

The investigators enrolled 53 adults with celiac disease (CD) for at least two years and followed symptoms as well as stool/urine testing for gluten immunogenic peptide (GIP). “GIP in stool can detect gluten consumption of more than 40 mg/d and the urine tests are positive from 40 and 500 mg/d of gluten.”

Key findings:

  • Over the 4-week study period, weekend samples (urine) identified 70% of patients excreted GIP at least once, compared with 62% during weekdays (stool).
  • Patients had a median of 3 exposures during the 4 weeks.
  • Also, the authors noted increases in GIP excretion towards the end of the study. “This suggests a potential Hawthorne effect that could be explained by a decrease in hypervigilance that often is seen in a context of research studies.”

The authors note that GIP “excretions of greater than 2 mcg/g in stool or greater than 12 ng/mL in urine can induce mucosal damage in almost 100% of patients.”

My take: This study adds to the body of literature emphasizing the high rate of inadvertent gluten exposure.

Related blog posts:

Before and After at Lake Michigan shoreline (1 month apart in Evanston, IL)

Early January -Evanston, IL
Early February -Evanston, IL

COVID-19 Vaccine vs Variants

A recent NEJM letter indicates that serum from individuals (n=15) who received the Pfizer vaccine is adequate to neutralize tested variants.

Y Liu et al. NEJM 2021; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2102017. Full text Neutralizing Activity of BNT162b2-Elicited Serum

“All the serum samples efficiently neutralized USA-WA1/2020 and all the viruses with variant spikes.”