February 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

The Arthritis Foundation is your trusted source for information. Here’s a wrap-up of the arthritis-related headlines from this past month.

CDC Urges Double Masking
Federal health officials suggested wearing two masks to better protect Americans against the threat of more contagious variants of the coronavirus. Wearing a cloth mask over a disposable surgical mask or improving the fit of a single surgical mask could help. Read more masking tips.

COVID-19 May Prompt Body to Attack Itself
An international team of researchers has said it appears COVID-19 causes the body to make weapons to attack its own tissues. The finding could unlock a number of clinical mysteries. Learn more about this study.

COVID Hurricane Approaches
The nation’s top infectious disease experts said the United States is facing a “Category 5” storm as coronavirus variants begin to spread across the country. Learn more about COVID-19 variants.

Tough Pain Relief Choices in the COVID-19 Pandemic
More people with fever and body aches are turning to NSAIDs to ease symptoms, but the drugs have come under new scrutiny as investigators work to determine whether they are a safe way to relieve the pain of COVID-19 vaccination or symptoms of the disease. Read what experts recommend for pain relief.

Vaccine Shows Promise; Pharmacies Begin Receiving Shipments
The AstraZeneca vaccine seems to perform better when the dosing interval is longer — and might lower the risk for asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission — according to phase 3 trial data. In other vaccine news, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination will begin sending a total of 1 million doses to roughly 6500 locations. After that, the program will expand, aiming to reach over 40,000 locations across the United States. Learn more by clicking the links below.

AstraZeneca news release
AstraZeneca preprint on The Lancet (not peer-reviewed)
White House announcement on pharmacy shipments
CNN story on pharmacy shipments
New York Times story on variants
CDC’s SARS-CoV-2 variant map
NEJM COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center

Post-Vax Antibodies and Infections
A new study suggests that people who have had COVID-19 and then receive the vaccine mount higher antibody responses after one dose than COVID-19-naive people mount after two doses. In addition, infections after vaccination were studied in some 4,100 health care workers who received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Read more about what was found in the study.

The Arthritis Foundation Offers Vaccine Guidance
The Arthritis Foundation and medical experts are encouraging people living with arthritis to follow the recommendations of Dr. Anthony Fauci and get the vaccine when it’s available in their state. Read more about the Arthritis Foundation’s position on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

Will J&J’s COVID Vaccine Measure Up?
Johnson & Johnson published updated early data on its Covid-19 vaccine, showing it provided participants in a clinical trial with at least some immunity after one dose. The data offer only hints to a tantalizing question: Could the vaccine, given as a single shot, perform as well as the vaccines that U.S. regulators have already authorized, which are given as two? Learn more.

New Lupus Nephritis Drugs Approved by FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it has approved Lupkynis (voclosporin) for treatment of active lupus nephritis among adult patients, in combination with a background immunosuppressive therapy regimen. Lupkynis is the first oral therapy approved for lupus nephritis, one of the most serious and common complications of systemic lupus erythematosus. Learn more.

Can a Stepwise Program Lessen Knee OA Pain?
A new study shows that knee pain caused by osteoarthritis can be reduced by physical therapy and exercise. Read more about the study’s findings.

Stair Climbing and Mortality
Regular stair climbing has the potential to lower the risk of premature death. A new study examined whether daily stair climbing is associated with lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality. Read more about the study.

Safety Warning for Xeljanz
Drug manufacturer Pfizer recently announced that patients, age 50 years and older with at least one cardiovascular risk factor who used Xeljanz, had a greater risk of cancer and cardiovascular events than those on tumor necrosis factor therapy. The cancer and cardiovascular warnings had been noted in earlier clinical trials, and the drug label currently includes cautions about increased mortality, blood clots (thrombosis), lymphoma and other cancers. See the announcement.

Tailored Treatments for Early Arthritis May Be Needed
Researchers say patients with early, undifferentiated arthritis may benefit from milder or stronger treatments, depending on the number of their risk factors for developing rheumatoid arthritis. More research is needed before clinicians could consider treating some of these patients with hydroxychloroquine, steroids or NSAIDs, rather than methotrexate. Learn more.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Reduces Risk in Severe COVID-19 Patients
Tocilizumab, an intravenous anti-inflammatory drug used for rheumatoid arthritis, has been shown to reduce the risk of death for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19, as well as reducing the risk of ventilation and the amount of time until discharged from the hospital. Read more about this study.

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