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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


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.




COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnant and Lactating Women


08 Feb 2021

Pregnant women with severe or critical coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection are at increased risk for preterm birth and pregnancy loss.




Durability of Responses after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 Vaccination


04 Feb 2021

We recently reported the results of a phase 1 trial of a messenger RNA vaccine, mRNA-1273, to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2; those interim results covered a period of 57 days after the first vaccination.




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