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accine mandates are controversial. They’re also an effective way to save lives.


23 Jul 2021

How to save lives Vaccine mandates are controversial. They’re also effective. Before Houston Methodist became one of the first hospital systems in the U.S. to mandate Covid-19 vaccines, about 85 percent of its employees were vaccinated. After the mandate, the share rose to about 98 percent, with the remaining 2 percent receiving exemptions for medical or religious reasons, Bloomberg’s Carey Goldberg reported. Only about 0.6 percent of employees quit or were fired.


F.D.A. Attaches Warning of Rare Nerve Syndrome to Johnson & Johnson Vaccine


13 Jul 2021

The Food and Drug Administration warned on Monday that Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine can lead to an increased risk of a rare neurological condition known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, another setback for a vaccine that has largely been sidelined in the United States.


Mix-and-match COVID vaccines: the case is growing, but questions remain


01 Jul 2021

A slew of studies suggests that mixing vaccines provokes potent immune responses, but scientists still want answers on real-world efficacy and rare side effects.


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.




Articles


SARS-CoV-2 infection of the oral cavity and saliva


25 Mar 2021

Despite signs of infection—including taste loss, dry mouth and mucosal lesions such as ulcerations, enanthema and macules—the involvement of the oral cavity in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is poorly understood. To address this, we generated and analyzed two single-cell RNA sequencing datasets of the human minor salivary glands and gingiva (9 samples, 13,824 cells), identifying 50 cell clusters. Using integrated cell normalization and annotation, we classified 34 unique cell subpopulations between glands and gingiva. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral entry factors such as ACE2 and TMPRSS members were broadly enriched in epithelial cells of the glands and oral mucosae. Using orthogonal RNA and protein expression assessments, we confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in the glands and mucosae. Saliva from SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals harbored epithelial cells exhibiting ACE2 and TMPRSS expression and sustained SARS-CoV-2 infection. Acellular and cellular salivary fractions from asymptomatic individuals were found to transmit SARS-CoV-2 ex vivo. Matched nasopharyngeal and saliva samples displayed distinct viral shedding dynamics, and salivary viral burden correlated with COVID-19 symptoms, including taste loss. Upon recovery, this asymptomatic cohort exhibited sustained salivary IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, these data show that the oral cavity is an important site for SARS-CoV-2 infection and implicate saliva as a potential route of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.




Assessment of protection against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 among 4 million PCR-tested individuals in Denmark in 2020: a population-level observational study


17 Mar 2021

The vast majority of people who recover from Covid-19 remain protective immunity from the virus for at least six months, researchers reported on Wednesday in a large study from Denmark. The study revealed protective immunity to be approximately 80–83% in people younger than 65 years. We found no difference in immunity over the study period. Among those aged 65 years and older, immunity was estimated to be approximately 47%.




SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines


26 Feb 2021

Shortly after SARS-CoV emerged at the turn of the 21st century, the spike (S) protein (particularly in its prefusion [native] conformation) was identified as the immunodominant antigen of the virus. Evaluation of patients with SARS-CoV-2 revealed that binding and neutralizing antibodies primarily target the receptor-binding domain of the S1 subunit.




SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern in the United States—Challenges and Opportunities


17 Feb 2021

. SARS-CoV-2, like other RNA viruses, constantly changes through mutation, with new variants occurring over time. Generally, when new variants become more common, they do so because of some selective advantage to the virus.




The US Regulatory System and COVID-19 Vaccines The Importance of a Strong and Capable FDA


15 Feb 2021

For many in public health and medicine, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the US has been a frustrating journey from one disappointment to the next: late access to testing, insufficient staff and inadequate funding for contact tracing, jumbled communications, and, at the end of 2020, a chaotic launch of vaccination efforts.




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