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Vaccine 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


Changes in the Relationship Between Income and Life Expectancy Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, California, 2015-2021


07 Jul 2022

Key Points Question How did the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic affect life expectancy in California and the relationship between census tract income and life expectancy relative to prepandemic years? Findings In this retrospective analysis of 1 988 606 deaths in California during 2015 to 2021, life expectancy declined from 81.40 years in 2019 to 79.20 years in 2020 and 78.37 years in 2021. Life expectancy differences between the census tracts in the highest and lowest income percentiles increased from 11.52 years in 2019 to 14.67 years in 2020 and 15.51 years in 2021. Meaning This ecological study of deaths in the state of California demonstrated that life expectancy declines in 2020 increased in 2021 and that the life expectancy gap by income level increased during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic relative to the pre-pandemic period.




Four Vaccine Doses Prevented Severe Omicron COVID-19 Better Than 3


10 May 2022

Older patients in Israel who received a fourth dose of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) SARS-CoV-2 vaccine were more than 3 times less likely to develop severe COVID-19 than those who received only 3 doses. But while protection against severe disease did not wane during the testing period, protection against confirmed infection appeared short-lived.




Rates of COVID-19 Among Unvaccinated Adults With Prior COVID-19


20 Apr 2022

Risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection among unvaccinated people with prior COVID-19 is a subject of debate.1,2 We performed a survival analysis in a large US population to assess the degree and duration of protection associated with natural immunity in unvaccinated individuals.




Myocarditis Adverse Event Less Common After COVID-19 Vaccine Booster


12 Apr 2022

The risk of adolescents developing myocarditis is lower after a booster dose of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccine than after the second dose, according to a CDC analysis of data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Myocarditis is a rare but serious adverse event associated with COVID-19 mRNA vaccination. To assess whether this adverse event was also associated with booster doses administered to adolescents, the authors analyzed reports submitted to the VAERS system and v-safe between December 9, 2021, and February 20, 2022.




Even Mild COVID-19 May Change the Brain


23 Mar 2022

Alarge study comparing brain scans from the same individuals before and after SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests that brain changes could be a lingering outcome of even mild COVID-19. Writing in Nature, researchers at Oxford University’s Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging reported that several months after study participants had SARS-CoV-2 infections, they had more gray matter loss and tissue abnormalities, mainly in the areas of the brain associated with smell, and more brain size shrinkage than participants who hadn’t been infected with the virus.




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