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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.


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.




Articles


Association of Major Depressive Symptoms With Endorsement of COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Among US Adults


21 Jan 2022

Key Points Question Are major depressive symptoms associated with increased risk of believing common misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines among US adults? Findings In this survey study including 15 464 US adults, people with moderate or greater major depressive symptoms on an initial survey were more likely to endorse at least 1 of 4 false statements about COVID-19 vaccines on a subsequent survey, and those who endorsed these statements were half as likely to be vaccinated. Meaning These findings suggest another potential benefit of public health efforts to address depressive symptoms, namely reducing susceptibility to misinformation.




Characteristics and Outcomes of Hospitalized Patients in South Africa During the COVID-19 Omicron Wave Compared With Previous Waves


30 Dec 2021

On November 24, 2021, a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, Omicron (B.1.1.529), was identified in South Africa as responsible for a fourth wave of COVID-19.1,2 The high number of spike mutations has raised concerns about its ability to evade vaccine and spread.3,4 We assessed hospitalized patients with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result during the fourth wave compared with previous waves.




Why Parents Still Hesitate to Vaccinate Their Children Against COVID-19


15 Dec 2021

As of early December, more than 2.3 million children aged 5 to 11 years had developed COVID-19 and 209 had died. Although a vaccine that’s 90.7% effective in preventing the illness was authorized for younger kids in late October, these figures apparently aren’t convincing enough to persuade many parents to vaccinate their children.




Understanding Breakthrough Infections Following mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination


04 Nov 2021

The current surge in infections with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has made it clear to health care workers and the public alike that fully vaccinated people remain at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infections. It is also apparent that breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people can sometimes be serious. As of October 21, 2021, for example, 35% of the 519 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Massachusetts had been fully vaccinated.1 Furthermore, multiple reports have documented that if fully vaccinated individuals do become infected, their viral loads may be as high as the levels seen in unvaccinated individuals.




Coverage and Estimated Effectiveness of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Among US Veterans


06 Oct 2021

Question What was the COVID-19 vaccination coverage and estimated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness (VE) among US veterans in the first 3 months following vaccine rollout? Findings In this case-control study including 6 647 733 veterans, 23% of veterans received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccination during the first 3 months of vaccine rollout. VE against infection was estimated to be 95% for full vaccination; estimated VE against COVID-19-related hospitalization was 91%, and there were no COVID-19–related deaths among fully vaccinated veterans. Meaning These findings suggest that early vaccination rollout for veterans was efficient, and estimated VE was high for this diverse US population.




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