New COVID-19 Resource: FAQ About Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) has released a resource to guide clinicians in recognizing and treating thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), also termed vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), which is the rare clotting condition reported in several individuals after immunization with the Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
The resource, in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), is designed to provide an overview of considerations around the diagnosis and treatment of TTS for clinicians navigating this emerging issue and will be updated as more information becomes available. Hematologists with expertise in hemostasis should be consulted early, and many institutions will devise algorithms based on local laboratory testing availability and practices.
At press time, there is no information on any increased risk for TTS in patients with blood diseases and/or pre-existing risk factors for thrombosis or autoimmunity and the panel's consensus is that the risk of COVID-19, including thrombosis, far outweighs the extremely rare risk of TTS associated with highly efficacious vaccines. Providers can encourage patients being vaccinated against COVID-19 to monitor and seek medical attention for rare instances of severe symptoms.
Questions addressed in the FAQ include:
- What is thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)?
- What clinical presentation should trigger consideration of TTS, and what is an appropriate initial work-up?
- How should TTS be treated?
- What if a patient presents with thrombocytopenia or bleeding post-vaccination?
Find the new FAQ and other COVID-19 resources at hematology.org/covid-19.
ASH News Daily Seeks Authors for 2021 Edition
ASH is in search of the next team of authors for the 2021 ASH News Daily, which will cover the 63rd ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition. ASH members (MD, PhD, or equivalent) with a passion for writing are encouraged to apply. Ideal candidates are proficient, published writers curious about and willing to cover areas outside their comfort zone. Requirements include attendance at the annual meeting in December 2021, as well as one virtual board meeting two to three months prior. Candidates should have a flexible schedule at the annual meeting; adhere to firm deadlines; enjoy science writing with a creative approach; and enjoy networking and author outreach.
Apply by June 3 at ashnewsdaily.org/about.
Opening Soon: Abstract Submissions Site for 2021 ASH Annual Meeting
As of June 1, ASH will begin accepting abstract submissions for the 63rd ASH Annual Meeting. The 2021 meeting is scheduled to take place December 11-14 as an in-person meeting in Atlanta and virtually. Submissions will be accepted through August 3.
Learn more at hematology.org/annualmeeting.
ASH Consortium Initiates Newborn Screening Program for Sickle Cell Disease
in Sub-Saharan Africa
In an important first step toward expanding access and care for infants with sickle cell disease (SCD) across sub-Saharan Africa, ASH has launched the Consortium for Newborn Screening in Africa (CONSA), comprising ASH leaders, African hematologists, and international hematology experts.
Ghana and Nigeria are the first countries of seven represented in the consortium to launch their newborn screening protocols, which have begun at 37 Military Hospital and Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Ghana and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. Once screened, newborns diagnosed with SCD will enter clinical programs that offer access to necessary medications, education on SCD care for their families, and monitoring of their health needs up to the age of 5.
While newborn screening for SCD is universal in the U.S. and many other high-income countries, such programs have not been widely implemented in Africa. In countries like Ghana and Nigeria, where SCD prevalence ranges from 2-4% of all newborns, a majority of infants are not screened due to limited government capacity and funding. CONSA aims to increase the region's capacity for newborn screening and demonstrate the benefits of screening and early interventions for babies with SCD, working in partnership with local governments to ensure the long-term sustainability of these efforts.
Five additional countries in the consortium – Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia – are also preparing to launch screening programs in 2021. Like Ghana and Nigeria, these countries will mobilize screening laboratories, SCD or pediatric hematology clinics, teaching hospitals, universities, and satellite clinics to be able to screen 10,000 to 16,000 babies in each country per year for the next five years. Each nation will independently run and control their own protocols and data. ASH – in partnership with PerkinElmer, a company that produces screening technology – will support the efforts by providing resources for screening, offering information to strengthen screening infrastructure, and promoting data sharing in these countries.
"As the world's largest professional society of clinicians and scientists working to conquer blood diseases, ASH has an important role in improving access to SCD care throughout the world in collaboration with our partners," said ASH President Martin Tallman, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. "The start of CONSA newborn screening in Ghana and Nigeria is both an important landmark in this mission for ASH and its partners and a vital starting point for many future efforts. The success of these programs and the promise of progress in additional countries in the consortium will demonstrate the efficacy of this model and encourage other low-income nations to take similar steps to diagnose and treat SCD."
The June 2021 issue of ASH Clinical News will feature a Blood Beyond Borders article about the newborn screening program's early successes in sub-Saharan Africa.
Learn more about CONSA and ASH's multifaceted initiative to address the global burden of SCD at hematology.org/SCD.