The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating reports that young people have developed myocarditis, or heart inflammation, after being inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
The agency’s vaccine safety group said in a recent report that there have been “relatively few reports“ of the heart inflammation, but most tended to occur in male teenagers and young adults, usually after a second vaccine dose.
“Most cases appear to be mild, and follow-up of cases is ongoing,” the safety group said.
In another development, two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca are about as effective against the coronavirus variant first found in India as they are against the variant first found in England, according to a study by Public Health England announced Saturday.
The study found that Pfizer’s vaccine is 88% effective against B.1.617.2, or the Indian variant, and 93% effective against B.1.1.7, now known as the Kent variant. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is 60% against the Indian variant and 66% effective against the English variant.
In both cases, the effectiveness was measured two weeks after the second shot and against symptomatic disease. The Kent variant is the dominant strain in England but health officials fear the Indian strain may outpace it.
In England, health authorities have stretched the time between the two doses to as much as three months in order to get more people vaccinated and stop the coronavirus in its tracks. Against the variants, though, two shots are better than one, so for clinically vulnerable people or those older than 50, the period between the two shots will be cut to eight weeks.
“I’m increasingly confident that we’re on track for the road map [to reopening], because this data shows that the vaccine, after two doses, works just as effectively [against the Indian variant],” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told broadcasters.
Kaiser Health News reported that during the pandemic many older people have become “physically and cognitively debilitated and less able to take care of themselves.”
While no large-scale study has recorded the extent of the problem, Kaiser said doctors and physical therapists are reporting that seniors are losing muscle mass and strength, resulting in problems with mobility and balance.
“What I’d love to see is a national effort, maybe by the CDC, focused on helping older people overcome these kinds of impairments,” Linda Teodosio, a physical therapist and division rehabilitation manager in Bayada Home Healthcare’s Towson, Maryland, office told Kaiser.
On Sunday, India’s health ministry reported 240,842 new COVID infections and nearly 4,000 deaths from the virus in the previous 24-hour period.
The Indian government said Saturday that while COVID-19 infections remain high as they spread to overburdened rural areas, the infections are stabilizing in some parts of the country.
As India struggles with a faltering health care system and vaccine shortages, experts have warned of a third wave of infections in coming months.
Johns Hopkins University said early Sunday there are 166.7 million global COVID-19 infections. The U.S. has 33.1 million, followed by India with 26 million. Brazil is ranked third with 16 million.