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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 24th September 2021

The World Health Organisation have just announced the first substantial fall in global new cases of Covid 19 for over 2 months. There were only 3.6 million new cases reported last week compared with 4 million the week before. There was a 22% drop in the Middle East and a 16% drop in SE Asia.

There were still 60,000 deaths across the world in the last week which is a 7% drop on the week before. Here in the UK the situation is overall quite static. There are substantial numbers of new cases every day, up to 36,000, but the numbers being admitted to hospital are declining again overall but there are some daily variations for the reasons I have discussed before.

It may have gone out of the media because they are bored with it, life in the high street may be nearly normal, but life in hospital ITUs and GP surgeries are far from back to normal. This has not gone away. Do not lower your guard but add to your protection.

Around 1 million tests have been done each day, 35 thousand were positive today, a thousand less than were positive yesterday. Over 7 days however, the number positive has risen by 13.5% and the positive rate is 312.6 per 100k of the population. Deaths are steady 180 today and 182 yesterday. There have been exactly 1000 deaths in the last 7 days. An increase of just 5 compared with the previous week. In the hospitals there were 7,124 in hospital with Covid 19 on 23rd September compared to 7,585 the day before. The number on a ventilator has dropped from 943 on the 21st September to 916 on 23rd September. Immunisations go on creeping up but so slowly. The percentages hardly change. 48.70 million first doses given or 89.6% and 44.64 million 2nd doses or 82.1%.

I note in Alberta they are struggling with the highest number of cases they have seen since the pandemic began. The ITUs are all full and there have been significant numbers of deaths. One fact from there of interest was that in the patients in their ITUs with severe Covid none had been immunised.

I am going to spend some time tonight trying to dispel some of the myths and fears about the effects of the Covid vaccine on periods and fertility. In the past as a GP clinical assistant I worked in a gynaecology clinic for some 10 years and also some time in an infertility clinic. I have spent much of this week reviewing some of the claims and studies that have been done. Menstruation can be disturbed for many reasons. Up to 35% of all women experience some menstrual irregularity at some point in their life, long before Covid arrived.

One of the strangest phenomena, which has been shown time and time again, is that if you put a large number of women together as in a convent, a nurses home or an all-female-college then after a while their menstruation adjusts so that they all menstruate at the same time. There is also no doubt that many women (and their men folk!) suffer from premenstrual tension or PMT. Its real and can be accounted for hormonally. You do not need covid in the mix!

Repeated studies have shown that the female hormone levels, oestrogen, progesterone and Follicle Stimulating Hormone levels do not change in any way in patients after a covid vaccine or the disease.

Imperial College have been coordinating studies to try and sort out the various claims now being propagated by the vaccine hesitant about the effects of Covid on Menstruation. Ask any woman and she will tell you that periods can vary from one to the next, some are very regular to the hour, others will be early or late. They can become heavier, lighter, or go away even when not having a Covid jab.

One study from 2020 showed that the lining of the womb or endometrium which is responsible for the bleeding has lower than the average numbers of ACE2 receptors that the Covid virus can bind to. This makes it very unlikely that there is a direct link.

Another small study showed that 45 women out of 177 experienced some changes after vaccination 36 had a lighter period than normal for them and 9 had a period heavier than normal.

Deciding whether a period is heavier or lighter than normal is very subjective. It can be done but involves a lot of inconvenient effort. In another study of those with severe Covid, women were more likely to have a longer cycle, 39%, than those with mild Covid, only 19%.

In a variety of studies between 84% and 99% returned to completely normal within 2 months.

No evidence has been found in any study to suggest it has any effect on fertility.

When assessing menstrual changes, it is necessary to consider many conditions that affect them. Many conditions that are quite common such as polycystic ovary syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, obesity, thyroid disorders, diabetes, eating disorder, stress, excess exercise, the use of hormonal birth control and IUDs, mental health issues and drugs especially some used in mental health and epilepsy.

It is well recognised that periods can be delayed restarting after stopping an oral contraceptive. All these possibilities need to be considered before blaming the Covid vaccine. Before most girls were on the pill leaving home and going to university, a high percentage of girls had irregularity when they were away from home and independent.

To my mind stress plays perhaps the most important part. With fear of the disease, grief at a loss of a family member and many other factors extremely common.

I feel I can say with confidence that neither the vaccine nor the disease will have any effect on your future fertility neither will it cause significant abnormalities or irregularity. So keep taking the tablets to avoid the obvious cause of missing periods.

I apologise for going into a lot of detail here, but this is now a major reason why women are refusing to be immunised. I have given you the facts to help people make up their mind. You might encourage a change of heart in someone you know

Remember it may be out of the news and we all hope it is on the way out for next year but its still very real today. Remember to ask about issues raised or make comments that these reports are still useful. Mean while have a good weekend and stay safe.

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