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NIH Director's Blog: How Immunity Generated from COVID-19 Vaccines Differs from an Infection

22 Jun 2021

A key issue as we move closer to ending the pandemic is determining more precisely how long people exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 virus, will make neutralizing antibodies against this dangerous coronavirus. Finding the answer is also potentially complicated with new SARS-CoV-2 “variants of concern” appearing around the world that could find ways to evade acquired immunity, increasing the chances of new outbreaks.

Antibody-laden nasal spray could provide COVID protection — and treatment

04 Jun 2021

A nasal spritz of a designer antibody offers strong protection against variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 — at least in mice1. Since the early days of the pandemic, scientists have been developing antibodies as treatments for COVID-19. Today, several such antibodies are in late-stage clinical trials, and a handful have been approved for emergency use by regulatory agencies in the United States and elsewhere. Among doctors, however, antibody treatments have not been very popular, says Zhiqiang An, an antibody engineer at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. That’s partly because those available are delivered through intravenous infusions rather than directly to the respiratory tract, where the virus is mainly found — so it takes high doses for them to be effective. Another challenge is the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants that seem to be resistant to some existing antibodies. An and his colleagues set out to engineer an antibody that could be delivered directly into the nose. They scanned a library of antibodies from healthy humans and zeroed in on those that were able to recognize a component of SARS-CoV-2 that the virus uses to latch on to and enter cells2. Among the promising candidates were IgG antibodies, which are relatively slow to appear after an infection but are precisely tailored to the invading pathogen. The team stitched IgG fragments targeting SARS-CoV-2 to a different type of molecule: IgM antibodies, which act as speedy first-responders to a broad range of infection. The engineered IgMs had a much stronger ‘neutralizing’ effect against more than 20 variants of SARS-CoV-2 than did the IgGs alone. When squirted into the noses of mice either six hours before or six hours after infection, the engineered IgMs sharply reduced the amount of virus in the rodents’ lungs two days after infection, the team reports in Nature1. This work is a “big feat of engineering”, says Guy Gorochov, an immunologist at Sorbonne University in Paris. But he adds that there are open questions, such as how long these antibodies will linger in humans. An envisions these antibodies as a kind of chemical mask that could be used by anyone who has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and as an extra line of defence for people who might not be fully protected by vaccines. Because IgM molecules are relatively stable, it might be feasible to formulate them into a nasal spray to be bought at a pharmacy and kept for emergency use, An adds. IGM Biosciences, a biotechnology company in Mountain View, California, that collaborated in An’s study, will test this antibody in clinical trials.

Moderna applies for full F.D.A. approval for its Covid vaccine.

02 Jun 2021

Moderna on Tuesday became the latest pharmaceutical company to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine for use in people 18 and older. F.D.A. approval would allow the company to market the shot directly to consumers, and could also help raise public confidence in the vaccine.

Seven European countries begin issuing a digital Covid certificate for travel.

02 Jun 2021

A digital Covid certificate system intended to ease travel within the European Union became operational in seven countries on Tuesday — ahead of schedule — offering a preview of what could become a standard for post-pandemic global mobility.

Delaying a COVID vaccine’s second dose boosts immune response

17 May 2021

Older people who waited 11–12 weeks for their second jab had higher peak antibody levels than did those who waited only 3 weeks.


Help Fight Medicare Fraud

30 Dec 2021

Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to you, so if anyone asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it’s a scam.

COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Personnel as a Condition of Employment A Logical Addition to Institutional Safety Programs

08 Jun 2021

The consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have been far-reaching, particularly among health care personnel (HCP) and within health care settings. HCP have been directly affected, sustaining occupationally acquired COVID-19 infections, and indirectly through a substantial alteration in health care delivery. With the advent of highly effective and safe SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, case rates and hospitalization rates are declining, and the promise of a return to some semblance of pre–COVID-19 health care is growing. Recently, several medical centers have announced a requirement for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination of all HCP (allowing for medical and religious exemptions), and the impending licensure of the mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines (following the previous Emergency Use Authorization [EUA]) will move many other centers to consider a similar policy. A recent outbreak in a skilled nursing facility attributed to an unvaccinated HCP member clearly illustrates the risk unvaccinated HCP can pose to their patients and other HCP.1

We are scheduling training with them this week on how to generate the report.

07 Jun 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that fully vaccinated individuals can safely remove masks and end social distancing in most indoor settings.1 Educational facilities and businesses are faced with whether and how to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, including requiring proof of vaccination. Mandatory vaccination has historically served as a tool to reach and sustain high immunization coverage and to prevent transmission in K-12 schools, colleges/universities, and health care facilities. Vaccine mandates could extend to workers and customers in businesses to ensure safer environments. This Viewpoint examines the epidemiologic, public health, and legal considerations for mandatory SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations in each setting.

Even Partial COVID-19 Vaccination Protects Nursing Home Residents

17 May 2021

A CDC analysis has shown that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine protected medically vulnerable nursing home residents as well as it did general adult populations that were evaluated in other efficacy and effectiveness studies.

Delayed Localized Hypersensitivity Reactions to the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

12 May 2021

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may cause a delayed localized hypersensitivity reaction with a median latency to onset of 7 days after vaccine administration. This pruritic and variably tender reaction has a median duration of 5 days, but may persist for up to 21 days, and may occur again and sooner after the second vaccine dose; no serious adverse events were observed in association with this cutaneous reaction to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

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