Placebo effect accounts for more than two-thirds of COVID-19 vaccine adverse events, researchers find

In a meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled COVID-19 vaccine trials, researchers at BIDMC compared rates of adverse events reported by participants who received the vaccines to the rates of adverse events reported by those who received a placebo injection containing no vaccine. While the scientists found significantly more trial participants who received the vaccine reported adverse events, nearly a third of participants who received the placebo also reported at least one adverse event, with headache and fatigue being the most common. (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, January 18, 2022)

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Hospitals are doing their part on COVID-19; we ask the public to do theirs

In this opinion piece co-authored by Boston healthcare leaders, including Kevin Tabb, MD, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health, the public is urged to do their part in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and getting a booster if eligible. “We are here for you and your families, whether you have been vaccinated or not,” the leaders wrote. “We will do our part; we ask that you do yours.” (Boston Globe – January 6, 2021)

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For some, ‘mild’ illness from Omicron feels like anything but

Richard Schwartzstein, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, discussed the strain on the hospital system’s impact on the spread of Omicron infections noting how with positive cases and quarantines thinning already overstretched staff, health care systems are bearing the brunt of the crisis. (Boston Globe, January 21, 2022)

COVID-19 Vaccine

Many COVID-19 vaccine side effects caused by placebo effect: Study

A study led by Julia Haas, PhD, and Ted Kaptchuk, both of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and published in JAMA Network Open shows more than two-thirds of the common side-effects people experience after a COVID-19 vaccine can be attributed to a negative version of the placebo effect rather than the vaccine itself. In view of their results, the researchers argue that better public information about nocebo responses may improve COVID-19 vaccine uptake by reducing the concerns that make some people hesitant. (ABC News, January 20, 2022)

COVID-19 Vaccine

“Lo más importante es la salud y la familia”

In this first person piece, Leonor Fernandez, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shares that by informing and protecting ourselves, we can help protect our loved ones, and also support our health care workers who are working hard to give the best care possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. (El Mundo, January 17, 2022)

Masked doctor

Video: Has surge of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts peaked?

Robert Duncan, MD, MPH, of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, discussed early signs of infection rates dropping in the Northeast and said those are promising signs that the region is “coming off the peak” but does not mean it’s over. Dr. Duncan also discussed hospitals’ capacity and how healthcare workers remain committed to taking care of patients and are doing everything they can. (WCVB, January 17, 2022)

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‘Stretched to our limits’: Covid case counts reach previous peaks

Hospitals are approaching their breaking point as they manage the influx of COVID-19 patients and other medical patients. As of Jan. 3, 93% of all medical/surgical beds and 86% of all ICU beds were occupied in Massachusetts, and case counts are expected to rise in the days ahead. But Kevin Tabb, MD, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health, and other hospital leaders said they're ready. “We have to (accommodate more patients). We will be challenged. We are stretched to our limits. But we will. And we will have to accommodate what comes. There is no other place,” said Tabb. (Boston Business Journal, January 11, 2022)

Masked doctor

Video: Are classrooms still a safe space from COVID-19? Boston doctor weighs in

Massachusetts has extended the mask mandate in all public schools grades K-12 through the end of February, with public health officials reporting more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases among students and staff during the most recent two-week period. Sharon Wright, MD, MPH, of Beth Israel Lahey Health, cautions that we need to remember that what we do outside of school and work impacts what happens when we are at school and work, and that now is a time to be more strict with gatherings and to pay attention and keep people home if they show symptoms. (WCVB, January 10, 2022)