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עמוד בית
Sun, 01.10.23

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September 2023
Alaa Atamna MD, Evgeny Berkov MD, Genady Drozdinsky MD, Tzippy Shochat MD, Haim Ben Zvi MD, Noa Eliakim-Raz MD, Jihad Bishara MD, Avishay Elis MD

Background: Influenza and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are respiratory diseases with similar modes of transmission. In December 2021, influenza re-emerged after it had been undetected since March 2020 and the Omicron variant replaced the Delta variant. Data directly comparing the two diseases are scarce.

Objectives: To compare the outcomes of patients with both the Omicron variant and influenza during 2021–2022.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study conducted in Beilinson hospital, Israel, from December 2021 to January 2022. We included all hospitalized patients with either laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or influenza. The primary outcome was 30-day mortality.

Results: We identified 167 patients diagnosed with Omicron and 221 diagnosed with Influenza A. The median age was 71 years for Omicron and 65 years for influenza. Patients with Omicron had a significantly higher Charlson Comorbidity Index score (4 vs. 3, P < 0.001). Patients with Omicron developed more respiratory failure that needed mechanical ventilation (7% vs. 2%, P = 0.05) and vasopressors (14% vs. 2%, P < 0.001) than patients with influenza. In a multivariate model, 30-day mortality was lower in patients diagnosed with influenza than in patients diagnosed with Omicron (19/221 [9%] vs. 44/167 [26%], hazard ratio 0.45, 95% confidence interval 0.25–0.81).

Conclusions: Patients diagnosed with Omicron had higher mortality than patients diagnosed with seasonal influenza. This finding could be due to differences in co-morbidities, the virus pathogenicity, and host responses to infection.

Ljudmila Stojanovich PhD, Natasa Stanisavljevic PhD, Aleksandra Djokovic PhD, Milomir Milanovic PHD, Jovica Saponjski PhD, Yehuda Shoenfeld MD FRCP MaACR

Background: Data are scarce on the immunogenicity of coronavirus disease 2019 vaccines in patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARD).

Objectives: To measure the immunoglobulin G (IgG) response after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) immunization and to evaluate clinical characteristics associated with seropositivity.

Methods: Samples were collected after the second and third doses of the three different types of vaccines in ARD patients. Seroconversion rates and IgG antibody S1/S2 titers were measured.

Results: The type of ARD diagnosis and previous treatment had no significant impact on the serum IgG antibody levels measured after the second (P = 0.489 and P = 0.330, respectively) and boost dose (P = 0.441 and P = 0.446, respectively). What made a significant difference regarding serum IgG antibody levels after the second dose was the type of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The difference was highly statistically significant for all vaccine types (P = 0.001 with the highest odds ratio for the mRNA vaccine). After the boost with the mRNA vaccine, all patients achieved a high level of serum IgG antibody levels (t = 10.31, P = 0.001). No ARD patients experienced serious post-vaccinal reactions. Eight patients developed COVID-19 before the boost dose.

Conclusions: In ARDs patients, the highest level of serum IgG antibody against S1/S2 proteins was achieved with the mRNA vaccine, irrespective of the therapy applied or the type of the disease. We recommend a booster dose with mRNA vaccine in all ARDs for the highest SARS-CoV-2 protection without serious post-vaccinal reactions observed.

July 2023
Yaron Niv MD AGAF FACG, Michael Kuniavsky RN PhD, Olga Bronshtein RN MSc, Nethanel Goldschmidt MSc, Shuli Hanhart MSc, Alexander Konson RN PhD, Hannah Mahalla BSc

Background: Up to half the patients diagnosed with acute coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) presented with gastrointestinal symptoms. Gastric mucosal cells, enterocytes, and colonocytes express the viral entry receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and coreceptor transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) and are prone to infection. Direct infection of gastrointestinal epithelial cells has been demonstrated. COVID-19 disease was first diagnosed in Israel at the end of February 2020 with 842,536 confirmed cases and 6428 deaths by the end of June 2021. In our multicenter, retrospective cohort study, we looked for gastrointestinal signs and symptoms in two periods and correlated them with mortality. Period 1 included the first and second waves and the original virus. Period 2 represented the third wave and the alpha variant.

Objectives: To reveal gastrointestinal signs and symptoms in two periods and correlate them with mortality.

Methods: From 22,302 patients hospitalized in general medical centers, we randomly selected 3582 from Period 1 and 1106 from Period 2. The study was performed before vaccinations were available.

Results: Gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and taste/smell loss were significantly more prevalent during Period 1. Thirty-day mortality and in-hospital mortality were significantly higher in Period 2 than in Period 1, 25.20% vs. 13.68%, and 21.17% vs. 12.87%, respectively (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Thirty-day mortality and in-hospital mortality rates were 1.84 and 1.64 times higher from 6 November 2020 to 15 January 2021, the alpha variant, and in negative correlation with gastrointestinal symptoms.

March 2023
Itamar Feldman MD, Ramzi Kurd MD, Gideon Nesher MD, Mohamed Zaghal MD, Gabriel S. Breuer MD

Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the optic nerve and has several causes. The hallmarks of clinical manifestation are pain on movement of the eyes and decreased vision. Typical optic neuritis is an idiopathic demyelinating condition that is often associated with multiple sclerosis, affects young women, is unilateral, and has a good prognosis.

Nimrod Sachs MD, Lotem Goldberg MD, Yoel Levinsky MD, Yotam Dizitzer MD, Yoav Vardi MD, Irit Krause MD, Oded Scheuerman MD, Gilat Livni MD, Efraim Bilavsky MD, Havatzelet Bilavsky-Yarden MD

Background: During coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, less isolation of common winter viruses was reported in the southern hemisphere.

Objectives: To evaluate annual trends in respiratory disease-related admissions in a large Israeli hospital during and before the pandemic.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of medical records from November 2020 to January 2021 (winter season) was conducted and compared to the same period in two previous years. Data included number of admissions, epidemiological and clinical presentation, and isolation of respiratory pathogens.

Results: There were 1488 respiratory hospitalizations (58% males): 632 in 2018–2019, 701 in 2019–2020, and 155 in 2020–2021. Daily admissions decreased significantly from a median value of 6 (interquartile range [IQR] 4–9) and 7 per day (IQR 6–10) for 2018–2019 and 2019–2020, respectively, to only 1 per day (IQR 1–3) in 2020–2021 (P-value < 0.001). The incidence of all respiratory viruses decreased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no hospitalizations due to influenza and only one with respiratory syncytial virus. There was also a significant decline in respiratory viral and bacterial co-infections during the pandemic (P-value < 0.001).

Conclusions: There was a significant decline in pediatric respiratory admission rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Possible etiologies include epidemiological factors such as mask wearing and social distancing, in addition to biological factors such as viral interference. A herd protection effect of adults and older children wearing masks may also have had an impact.

February 2023
Dana Yelin MD MPH, Ran Levi BPT, Chinanit Babu BPT, Roi Moshe MSc, Dorit Shitenberg MD, Alaa Atamna MD, Ori Tishler MD, Tanya Babich MSc, Irit Shapira-Lichter PhD, Donna Abecasis PhD, Nira Cohen Zubary MSc, Leonard Leibovici MD, Dafna Yahav MD, Ili Margalit MD, MPH

Background: Clinical investigations of long-term effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are rarely translated to objective findings.

Objectives: To assess the functional capacity of individuals reported on deconditioning that hampered their return to their pre-COVID routine.

Methods: Assessment included the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) and the 30-second sit-to-stand test (30-STST). We compared the expected and observed scores using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Predictors of test scores were identified using linear regression models.

Results: We included 49 individuals, of whom 38 (77.6%) were recovering from mild COVID-19. Twenty-seven (55.1%) individuals had a 6MWT score lower than 80% of expected. The average 6MWT scores were 129.5 ± 121.2 meters and 12.2 ± 5.0 repeats lower than expected scores, respectively (P < 0.001 for both). The 6MWT score was 107.3 meters lower for individuals with severe COVID-19 (P = 0.013) and rose by 2.7 meters per each 1% increase in the diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide (P = 0.007). The 30-STST score was 3.0 repeats lower for individuals who reported moderate to severe myalgia (P = 0.038).

Conclusions: Individuals with long COVID who report on deconditioning exhibit significantly decreased physical capacity, even following mild acute illness. Risk factors include severe COVID-19 and impaired diffusing capacity or myalgia during recovery.

January 2023
Amir Dagan MD, Elsa Sebag MD

A 64-year-old male, with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis was being treated with methotrexate and low dose prednisone. He arrived at the clinic with bluish discoloration of the toes. Inflammatory markers and urine were normal. No history of chilblains or Raynoud's phenomena was noted. He recovered recently from mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A diagnosis of COVID toes (COVID digits) was made [Figure 1].

November 2022
Maamoun Basheer PhD MD, Elias Saad MD, Faris Milhem MD, Dmitry Budman MD, Nimer Assy MD

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affects different people in different ways. Most infected people develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization. This case report presents a patient who had difficulty eradicating the corona virus due to being treated with rituximab, which depletes B lymphocytes and therefore disables the production of neutralizing antibodies. The regen-COV-2 antibody cocktail consists of two monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab. This cocktail successfully helped the patient's immune system eradicate the virus without auto specific severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody production. In vitro studies confirm that eradication of the intact the virus. This case report emphases the importance of providing external antiviral antibodies regularly, like the regen-COV-2 antibody cocktail, as post- and even pre- SARS-CoV-2 infection prophylaxis in patients treated with rituximab.

July 2022
Ori Wand MD, David Dahan MD, Naveh Tov PhD, Gali Epstein Shochet PhD, Daniel A. King MD, and David Shitrit MD
João Gouveia MD, Carolina Barros MD, Mónica Caldeira MD, Caldeira Ferreira MD, and Rafael Freitas MD
Magdi Zoubi MD, Ashraf Hejly MD, Howard Amital MD MHA, and Naim Mahroum MD
May 2022
Carmel Kasher MD, Orit Rozenberg PhD, Anna Yanovskay MD, Hana Kahanov-Edelstein, and Bibiana Chazan MD

Background: Healthcare workers (HCWs) have close interaction with confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. Infection rates reported among HCWs is between 3% and 17%, and asymptomatic HCWs are a potential source of nosocomial transmission to vulnerable patients and colleagues. Universal mask use and good supply of personal protective equipment was implemented early at our institution.

Objectives: To determine the rate of infection by the serologic status of HCWs during first three COVID-19 waves, based on occupation and risk of exposure, compared to Israeli general population.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study at Emek Medical Center from April 2020 to April 2021. A total of 101 HCWs volunteered to be followed at six time points by a serology test and a questionnaire.

Results: A total of 101 HCWs completed six serologic tests. All participants were seronegative at the four initial tests. The cumulative seropositivity rate for COVID-19 in HCWs was 9.9% (10/101). Only three seropositive HCWs (2.97%) were hospital-acquired.

Conclusions: Seroprevalence and seroconversion dynamics of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in 101 HCWs during COVID-19 outbreaks at Emek Medical Center were similar to the epidemiological curve of positive polymerase chain reaction results of the Israeli population, as published by the Israeli Ministry of Health, at each time point. Universal mask use and infection control measures may have contributed to a low hospital infection rate.

Olga Vera-Lastra MD, Erik Cimé-Aké MD, Alberto Ordinola Navarro MD, Joel Eduardo Morales-Gutiérrez MD, Orestes de Jesús Cobos-Quevedo MD, Jorge Hurtado-Díaz MD, María Lucero Espinoza-Sánchez MD, Ana Lilia Peralta-Amaro MD, María Pilar Cruz-Domínguez MD, Gabriela Medina MD, Antonio Fraga-Mouret MD, Jesus Sepulveda-Delgado MD, and Luis J. Jara MD

Background: Patients with autoimmune disease (AID) and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could have higher mortality due to the co-morbidity and the use of immunosuppressive therapy.

Objectives: To analyze the risk factors and outcomes of patients with AID and COVID-19 versus a control group.

Methods: A prospective cohort study included patients with and without AID and COVID-19. Patients were paired by age and sex. Clinical, biochemical, immunological treatments, and outcomes (days of hospital stay, invasive mechanical ventilation [IMV], oxygen at discharge, and death) were collected.

Results: We included 226 COVID-19 patients: 113 with AID (51.15 ± 14.3 years) and 113 controls (53.45 ± 13.3 years). The most frequent AIDs were Rheumatoid arthritis (26.5%), systemic lupus erythematosus (21%), and systemic sclerosis (14%). AID patients had lower lactate dehydrogenas, C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, IMV (P = 0.027), and oxygen levels at discharge (P ≤ 0.0001) and lower death rates (P ≤ 0.0001). Oxygen saturation (SaO2) ≤ 88% at hospitalization provided risk for IMV (RR [relative risk] 3.83, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.1–13.6, P = 0.038). Higher creatinine and LDH levels were associated with death in the AID group. SaO2 ≤ 88% and CO-RADS ≥ 4 were risk factors for in-hospital mortality (RR 4.90, 95%CI 1.8–13.0, P = 0.001 and RR 7.60, 95%CI 1.4–39.7, P = 0.016, respectively). Anticoagulant therapy was protective (RR 0.36, 95%CI 0.1–0.9, P = 0.041)

Conclusions: Patients with AID had better outcomes with COVID-19 than controls. Anticoagulation was associated with a lower death in patients with AID.

Moria Mahanaimy MD MPH, Uriah Finkel MA, Noam Barda MD PhD, Eytan Roitman MD, Ran Balicer MD PhD MPH, Adi Berliner Senderey MSc MPH, and Becca Feldman ScD

Background: The association between use of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAAS) inhibitors and both SARS-CoV-2 infection and the development of severe COVID-19 has been presented in the recent medical literature with inconsistent results.

Objectives: To assess the association between RAAS inhibitor use and two outcomes: infection with SARS-CoV-2 (Model 1) and severe COVID-19 among those infected (Model 2).

Methods: We accessed used electronic health records of individuals from Israel who were receiving anti-hypertensive medications for this retrospective study. For Model 1 we used a case-control design. For Model 2 we used a cohort design. In both models, inverse probability weighting adjusted for identified confounders as part of doubly robust outcome regression.

Results: We tested 38,554 individuals for SARS-CoV-2 who had hypertension and were being treated with medication; 691 had a positive test result. Among those with a positive test, 119 developed severe illness. There was no association between RAAS inhibitor use and a positive test. Use of RAAS inhibitors was associated with a decreased risk for severe COVID-19 (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.47, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 0.29–0.77) compared with users of non-RAAS anti-hypertensive medication. The association remained significant when use of angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors (adjusted OR 0.46, 95%CI 0.27–0.77) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (adjusted OR 0.39, 95%CI 0.16–0.95) were analyzed separately.

Conclusions: Among individuals with hypertension using RAAS inhibitors, we found a lower risk of severe disease compared to those using non-RAAS anti-hypertensive medications. This finding suggests that RAAS inhibitors may have a protective effect on COVID-19 severity among individuals with medically treated hypertension.

Nomy Levin-Iaina MD, Avital Angel-Korman MD, Adi Leiba MD MHA, Esther Peres MD, Gabriel Bryk PhD, Vladimir Rapoport MD, Zeev Katzir MD, Yoram Yagil MD, and Tal Brosh-Nissimov MD MHA

Background: The reduced immune response of maintenance hemodialysis patients to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines is a major concern.

Objectives: To analyze the late (6 months after full vaccination) antibody response and compare it to early post-vaccination titer.

Methods: We conducted a multicenter prospective study of 13 hemodialysis units in Israel.

Results: We demonstrated that the low titers observed among ESRD patients 2–3 months after vaccination with the Comirnaty vaccine (median 63.8 AU/ml) declined to critically lower values 6 months after full vaccination. (Mediananti S antibodies, 31 AU/ml). Seropositivity significantly declined among hemodialysis patients from 89% to 74% (P < 0.0001), although it did not significantly change among controls.

Conclusions: We recommend all patients on hemodialysis receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine 6 months after the second dose.


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