COVID-19 Research Contributions from AAAAI 2021

March 1, 2021
Kevin Kunzmann

Courtesy of HCPLive, here's a look at 3 new pandemic talking points covered at the annual allergy and asthma meeting.

Following the cancellation of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2020 Annual Meeting last March due to the recently-begun COVID-19 pandemic, the respiratory and allergy meeting returned this last weekend in a virtual capacity to again lead conversation on a litany of matters pertaining to the lung.

No matter has greater pertinence in such a current meeting than COVID-19 itself.

In their coverage of AAAAI 2021, sister publication HCPLive shared a triplet of new studies and insights gathered on COVID-19 research as it related to other matters of respiratory health.

Here's a recap of new AAAAI research into COVID-19:

MMR Vaccine Shows Some COVID-19 Protection

New research shows the Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR) vaccine could provide a degree of protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Led by Desiree E.S. Larenas Linnemann, MD, FAAAAI, Médica Sur Clinical Foundation and hospital, the international team of investigators administered the MMR vaccine with 3 live-attenuated viruses to allergic patients and seemingly healthy close-contact of COVID-19 patients during the measles-outbreak between February and March 2020.

Of the 587 patients to receive MMR vaccine, 79 tested positive for COVID-19. Of them, 12% were between 50-59 years old and 12% were between 60-75 years old. Another 40.5% had 1 or more risks factors, including morbid-obesity, diabetes, or hypertension. Ten patients had asthma.

All of the COVID-19 positive patients had mild or moderate symptoms, with 2 requiring supplementary oxygen at home. In addition, 2 patients older than 70 were hospitalized and died, likely due to a pre-existing interstitial lung condition with a previous 2016 hospitalization for pneumonia and erroneously 2 administrations of the DTP vaccine 1-2 months prior to the MMR-II vaccine in another center.

“The here presented cases show a possible beneficial effect in the context of a COVID-19 infections,” investigators wrote. “Very recently another publication actually showed an inverse relationship between level of IgG against measles and COVID-19 outcome, with the mildest outcome in those with most antibodies.”

Breathing Difficulty Still Common in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients After 6 Months

A team of investigators from Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences conducted a six-month discharge survey of patients treated for RT-PCR-confirmed COVID-19 at a local tertiary center from March - August 2020.

They observed significant prevalence of fatigue (52.4%), changes in daily activities due to breathing (52.4%), shortness of breath (47.6%), change in taste and smell (42.9%) and increased much production (38.1%).

More than 25% of all surveyed patients also reported continued issues with rhinorrhea, nasal congestion, and cough.

In an interview with HPCLive regarding the findings, study author Ben Rossavik, DO, discussed shared perspectives collected from survey respondents, including frequent failures of memory on their COVID-19 treatment in the hospital, and experiences in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

“A lot of times, the way our model is run, people go there for a period of time, then they’re done and they go home,” Rossavik said. “But then they still complain about this inability to just walk around their house.”

Masks Deemed Safe for Asthma Patients

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends masks be worn in public settings and around members of different households for individuals 2 years and older, including asthma patients.

A new University of Michigan study included 223 adult and pediatric patients attending appointments at the Michigan Medicine Allergy clinic between September 10, 2020 and October 23, 2020, 46% (n = 102) of which reported having asthma. Each patient voluntarily completed a survey reflecting their demographics, asthma diagnosis and perceived control, and mask type worn.

Investigators performed a pulse oximetry reading on masked patients, with respondents reporting their continuous duration of ask use prior to the measurement. They completed a descriptive analysis of frequencies and proportions to examine the data.

Oxygen saturation (SpO2) ranged between 93-100% among the patient subgroup with asthma—unchanged from the SpO2 range for patients without asthma.

After adjusting for gender, race, mask type used, or duration of mask use, the oxygen saturation did not change, with asthma patients who reported their perceived level of control (n = 100) having a similar mean SpO2 across all groups.

“Mask use at rest did not decrease SpO2 levels in patients with or without asthma, regardless of mask type worn, duration of mask use, or demographics,” the authors wrote. ”SpO2 levels did not differ between those with perceived well-controlled and somewhat-controlled asthma.”