Long COVID rare for college athletes; prostate cancer treatment shows no benefit vs COVID-19

Woman walks past a coronavirus-themed graffiti on a street in Mumbai

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) - 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.

Long COVID rare in college athletes

College athletes who become infected with the coronavirus are very unlikely to have any lasting effects, a large U.S. study suggests. Researchers tracked more than 3,500 athletes from 44 colleges and universities and from more than 20 different sports who tested positive for the virus. Only 1.2% reported symptoms lasting more than three weeks, with 0.06% reporting symptoms lasting more than three months, the researchers wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Four percent reported still having problems like shortness of breath or chest pain when they got back to exercising. Researchers found that one in four athletes with chest pain upon exercising had likely suffered some heart effects from the virus, whereas no athlete with exertional symptoms without chest pain appeared to have COVID-19 related heart issues. "For the vast majority of athletes, this study shows that a return to play is possible without lingering COVID symptoms," study leader Dr. Jonathan Drezner of the University of Washington in Seattle said in a statement. "But any new chest pain or cardiopulmonary symptom should be taken seriously. Even if initial cardiac testing is negative after a COVID-19 illness, chest pain while exerting yourself should be evaluated."

Prostate cancer treatment shows no benefit against COVID-19

Small studies have suggested that a common prostate cancer treatment might protect COVID-19 patients from becoming seriously ill. A new, larger study found no benefit, according to a report published on Friday in JAMA Network. The treatment blocks the effects of androgen, a male hormone involved in fueling prostate cancer that also regulates a protein that plays a role in COVID-19 infections. Researchers studied 1,106 COVID-19 patients with prostate cancer, 24% of whom had received androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Thirty days after COVID-19 diagnosis, there was no difference in COVID-19 severity or death rates between men who did or did undergo ADT. The result was the same when researchers restricted the analysis to 477 men who were closely matched on the basis of similar health status and risk factors. "These findings do not support the hypothesis that ADT may be useful" for patients with COVID-19, the researchers concluded. But this observational study, they point out, cannot definitively prove whether or not ADT reduces COVID-19 severity. The answer to that question will come from large randomized trials that are currently underway.

Third vaccine dose safe for high-risk patients

Giving a third full dose of an mRNA vaccine to people with medical conditions that impair their immune system's response to the usual two-shot regimen appears to be safe in terms of side effects, new data show. Immunocompromised individuals have been advised by medical authorities to get a third full dose as a booster. While studies have generally shown improved antibody levels after the third dose, data on side effects have been limited. For a report posted on Tuesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota reviewed electronic health records of nearly 48,000 people who received three full doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. There were slightly higher rates of fatigue, nausea, headache, joint and muscle aches, stomach upset, and chills after the third dose than after the second shot. But "reporting of severe adverse events remained low" after the third dose, with rates at or below 0.01%, the researchers said. "This study provides support for the safety of third vaccination doses of individuals that are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 and breakthrough infection," they concluded.

Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)