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Vaccinology in the post−COVID-19 era | PNAS

Reverse vaccinology, structural vaccinology, synthetic biology, and vaccine adjuvants, that so far had been used independently to develop vaccines, were combined in an unprecedented worldwide effort to design and develop COVID-19 vaccines.

Post-COVID lungs worse than the worst smokers' lungs, surgeon says - CBS News

She says patients who've had COVID-19 symptoms show a severe chest X-ray every time, and those who were asymptomatic show a severe chest X-ray 70% to 80% of the time.

Protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 could last eight months or more: Why declining antibodies don't spell disaster for long-lasting immunity -- ScienceDaily

"It is possible that immune memory will be similarly long lasting similar following vaccination, but we will have to wait until the data come in to be able to tell for sure," says Weiskopf. "Several months ago, our studies showed that natural infection induced a strong response, and this study now shows that the responses lasts. The vaccine studies are at the initial stages, and so far have been associated with strong protection. We are hopeful that a similar pattern of responses lasting over time will also emerge for the vaccine-induced responses."

France Accelerating Covid-19 Vaccinations, Parisien Reports - Bloomberg

France’s government is under pressure after a much slower debut of the vaccination campaign than most other European countries. As of Dec. 31, only 352 people had gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, versus 131,626 in Germany and 944,539 in the U.K., according to data cited by Le Parisien.

Study finds evidence of lasting immunity after mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection

Dr. Corinna Pade, a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Queen Mary, said: "Our study in asymptomatic and mild cases gives a positive insight into the durability of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after four months of infection. A remarkable number of around 90 percent of individuals have a joint force of strong antibodies that prevent the virus from entering, coupled with T cell responses to various parts of the virus to interfere with its survival. This is an important find as mild or even no symptoms of COVID-19 are very common and representative of most infections in the community. Such abundant immune responses also give hope for the long-lasting efficacy of vaccines."

Study shows anticoagulation therapy beneficial for COVID-19 patients

Of the patients analysed, 900 (20.5 percent) received a full-treatment dose of anticoagulants. Another 1,959 patients (44.6 percent) received a lower, prophylactic dose of anticoagulants and 1,530 (34.5 percent) were not given blood thinners. There was a strong association between blood thinners and reduced likelihood of in-hospital deaths: both therapeutic and prophylactic doses of anticoagulants reduced mortality by roughly 50 percent compared to patients on no blood thinners.

Here's why conservatives and liberals differ on COVID-19: New Lehigh University College of Business study looks at getting everyone to agree on the pandemic threat -- ScienceDaily

According to the paper, "Getting Conservatives and Liberals to Agree on the COVID-19 Threat," published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research in September, conservatives tend to see free will as the primary driver of outcomes in life, whereas liberals are more accepting of the idea that randomness plays a role. Compared to liberals, conservatives tend to attribute outcomes to purposeful actions. So in the context of the pandemic, they're more likely to blame any negative outcomes in their lives on these more agentic policymakers or fellow Americans rather than the virus itself.

Benefits of high-dose blood thinners in COVID-19 patients remain unclear -- ScienceDaily

At the beginning of the pandemic, all patients admitted with COVID-19 to the GW Hospital were treated with standard dose anticoagulation, unless contraindicated. As awareness of the elevated risk of blood clots developed, many providers began treating patients with high-dose blood thinners. At GW Hospital, for non-critically ill patients, medical teams were advised to especially consider initiating a high dose of anticoagulation if a patient's D-dimer level exceeded 3 micrograms per milliliter. The research team previously published a study finding higher levels of the biomarker D-dimer, a medical indicator found in the blood, is associated with higher odds of clinical deterioration and death from COVID-19. This study is the first of its kind to utilize D-dimer levels to analyze clinical outcomes of anticoagulation in patients who are not critically ill.

Fluvoxamine may prevent serious illness in COVID-19 patients, study suggests: Antidepressant drug repurposed for patients with coronavirus infection -- ScienceDaily

Researchers compared the outcomes of those treated with fluvoxamine to the outcomes of those given an inactive placebo. After 15 days, none of the 80 patients who had received the drug experienced serious clinical deterioration. Meanwhile, six of the 72 patients given placebo (8.3%) became seriously ill, with four requiring hospitalization.

On Randomized Trials and Medicine - Insight

If we had more proper randomization and tracing of these various approaches, we’d have more dexamethasones at hand. The WHO is leading some randomized trials at the moment, but we have little to none going on in the United States.As we learn more about some effective clinical practices, it’s getting harder to do novel ones: ethically, we cannot withhold known best practices from patients. It’s possible that we have found ourselves stuck at a local optimum, but much less than the upside potential we might have had, had we tried proper randomization from the beginning, when we had little to no idea what worked anyway, we could have conducted randomized trials. We should have.. This oversight will go down as yet another major failure of our health infrastructure and response to this pandemic.

On Randomized Trials and Medicine - Insight

Clinical trials for non-pharmaceutical interventions in health are relatively rare because there is little to no money to be made from recommending them. Conversely, drugs which require trials to go on the market are  sponsored heavily by pharmaceutical companies.

Air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States: Strengths and limitations of an ecological regression analysis | Science Advances

We found that an increase of 1 μg/m3 in the long-term average PM2.5 is associated with a statistically significant 11% (95% CI, 6 to 17%) increase in the county’s COVID-19 mortality rate (see Table 1); this association continues to be stable as more data accumulate (fig. S3). We also found that population density, days since the first COVID-19 case was reported, median household income, percent of owner-occupied housing, percent of the adult population with less than high school education, age distribution, and percent of Black residents are important predictors of the COVID-19 mortality rate in the model.

Study finds 1.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with SARS-Cov-2 and virus was in NYC earlier than reported -- ScienceDaily

Notably, seropositive samples were found as early as mid-February (several weeks before the first official cases) and leveled out at slightly above 20 percent in both groups after the epidemic wave subsided by the end of May. From May to July, seroprevalence and antibody titers stayed stable, suggesting lasting antibody levels in the population. "Our data suggests that antibody titers are stable over time, that the seroprevalence in the city is around 22 percent, that at least 1.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 so far, and that the infection fatality rate is 0.97 percent after the first epidemic wave in New York City," said Florian Krammer, PhD, Mount Sinai Professor in Vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine and corresponding author on the paper. "We show that the infection rate was relatively high during the first wave in New York but is far from seroprevalence that might indicate community immunity (herd immunity). Knowing the detailed dynamics of the seroprevalence shown in this study is important for modeling seroprevalence elsewhere in the country."

Seven different 'disease forms' identified in mild COVID-19: Study provides new information for a better understanding of the disease -- and potential biomarkers for vaccine development -- ScienceDaily

In the study involving 109 convalescents and 98 healthy individuals in the control group, the researchers were able to show that various symptoms related to COVID-19 occur in symptom groups. They identified seven groups of symptoms: 1) "flu-like symptoms" (with fever, chills, fatigue and cough), 2) ("common cold-like symptoms" (with rhinitis, sneezing, dry throat and nasal congestion), 3) "joint and muscle pain," 4) "eye and mucosal inflammation," 5) "lung problems" (with pneumonia and shortness of breath), 6) "gastrointestinal problems" (including diarrhoea, nausea and headache) and 7) "loss of sense of smell and taste and other symptoms." "In the latter group we found that loss of smell and taste predominantly affects individuals with a 'young immune system', measured by the number of immune cells (T lymphocytes) that have recently emigrated from the thymus gland. This means that we were able to clearly distinguish systemic (e.g., groups 1 and 3) from organ-specific forms (e.g. groups 6 and 7) of primary COVID-19 disease," says Pickl.

K: The Overlooked Variable That's Driving the Pandemic - The Atlantic

The reason for backward tracing’s importance is similar to what the sociologist Scott L. Feld called the friendship paradox: Your friends are, on average, going to have more friends than you. (Sorry!) It’s straightforward once you take the network-level view. Friendships are not distributed equally; some people have a lot of friends, and your friend circle is more likely to include those social butterflies, because how could it not? They friended you and others. And those social butterflies will drive up the average number of friends that your friends have compared with you, a regular person. (Of course, this will not hold for the social butterflies themselves, but overdispersion means that there are much fewer of them.) Similarly, the infectious person who is transmitting the disease is like the pandemic social butterfly: The average number of people they infect will be much higher than most of the population, who will transmit the disease much less frequently. Indeed, as Kucharski and his co-authors show mathematically, overdispersion means that “forward tracing alone can, on average, identify at most the mean number of secondary infections (i.e. R)”; in contrast, “backward tracing increases this maximum number of traceable individuals by a factor of 2-3, as index cases are more likely to come from clusters than a case is to generate a cluster.”

Covid-19 Test: How Long Do They Take? New Device Returns Result in 15 Minutes - Bloomberg

Becton Dickinson said its antigen assay is 93.5% sensitive, a measure of how often it correctly identifies infections, and 99.3% specific, the rate of correct negative tests. The data, which differ from the U.S. label’s 84% sensitivity and 100% specificity, come from a new clinical study that was recently submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, spokesman Troy Kirkpatrick said.

Michigan College Will Digitally Track Students' Movements At All Times - Washington Free Beacon

"The school wants my daughter to sign a form consenting to specimen collection and lab testing," he told the Washington Free Beacon on condition of anonymity. "I have a ton of concern with that…. Why is the state of Michigan's contact tracing not enough?" Though students are required to remain on campus, professors and administrators are not. When asked about this potential loophole in its "COVID-bubble," the school declined to comment. Rising senior Andrew Arszulowicz said that he is upset with both the mandatory use of the app and the manner in which students are being treated. "I feel like I am being treated like a five-year-old that cannot be trusted to follow rules," Arszulowicz told the Free Beacon. "If the school believes masks work … why are we not allowed to leave if they work? It does not make sense to me."

Does high blood sugar worsen COVID-19 outcomes? -- ScienceDaily

"Improving blood sugar control was important in reducing the amount of secondary infections and kidney issues this cohort of patients are susceptible to," Gianchandani says. "This might help shorten ICU stays and lessen the amount of patients that need a ventilator." It's important to note this algorithm wasn't developed as a result of a clinical trial, but is based solely on preliminary observations in the patients the team followed. A larger, randomized and controlled study is necessary to determine how this algorithm impacts mortality, time to recovery, the length of ICU stays and rate of severe complications.

Covid-19 Vaccines With ‘Minor Side Effects’ Could Still Be Pretty Bad | WIRED

The press release for Monday’s publication of results from the Oxford vaccine trials described an increased frequency of “minor side effects” among participants. A look at the actual paper, though, reveals this to be a marketing spin that has since been parroted in media reports. (The phrases “minor side effects” or “only minor side effects” appeared in writeups from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, among other outlets.) Yes, mild reactions were far more common than worse ones. But moderate or severe harms—defined as being bad enough to interfere with daily life or needing medical care—were common too. Around one-third of people vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine without acetaminophen experienced moderate or severe chills, fatigue, headache, malaise, and/or feverishness. Close to 10 percent had a fever of at least 100.4 degrees, and just over one-fourth developed moderate or severe muscle aches. That’s a lot, in a young and healthy group of people—and the acetaminophen didn’t help much for most of those problems.

Researchers identify genetic factors that may influence COVID-19 susceptibility -- ScienceDaily

These findings demonstrate a possible association between ACE2 and TMPRSS2 polymorphisms and COVID-19 susceptibility, and indicate that a systematic investigation of the functional polymorphisms these variants among different populations could pave the way for precision medicine and personalized treatment strategies for COVID-19. However, all investigations in this study were performed in general populations, not with COVID-19 patient genetic data. Therefore, Dr. Cheng calls for a human genome initiative to validate his findings and to identify new clinically actionable variants to accelerate precision medicine for COVID-19.

Warning of serious brain disorders in people with mild coronavirus symptoms | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

One concern is that the virus could leave a minority of the population with subtle brain damage that only becomes apparent in years to come. This may have happened in the wake of the 1918 flu pandemic, when up to a million people appeared to develop brain disease. “It’s a concern if some hidden epidemic could occur after Covid where you’re going to see delayed effects on the brain, because there could be subtle effects on the brain and slowly things happen over the coming years, but it’s far too early for us to judge now,” Zandi said. “We hope, obviously, that that’s not going to happen, but when you’ve got such a big pandemic affecting such a vast proportion of the population it’s something we need to be alert to.”

Clinical-grade wearables offer continuous monitoring for COVID-19: Sticker-like medical device streams symptom data to physicians -- ScienceDaily

More recently, Rogers' team added a wearable, flexible pulse oximeter to pair with the suprasternal-mounted device. This allows physicians to continuously monitor for silent hypoxia, an often asymptomatic feature marked by alarmingly low blood oxygen levels. Adding this feature will help the device, and accompanying algorithms, give a fuller picture of the disease's onset, progression and response to treatment. "The device measures very tiny vibrations on the skin and has an embedded temperature sensor for fever," Rogers said. "As you cough and breathe, it counts coughs, monitors the intensity of cough and senses labored breathing. The location on the throat also is close enough to the carotid artery that it can measure mechanical signatures of blood flow, monitoring heart rate."

Bogus Racism Charge Melts Down Elite Progressive LISTSERV

When anybody defending the accused is automatically accused of the same crime, and any demand for evidence of the charge is seen as an extension of the original crime, you are following the logic of a witch hunt.

Rupert Beale · Short Cuts: How to Block Spike · LRB 21 May 2020

There are four ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses – 229E, OC43, NL63 and HKU1 – that cause mild disease in nearly everyone, only occasionally causing pneumonia. They can be given to healthy volunteers to study the immune response. They cause the ‘common cold’, and in experimentally infected humans they give rise to an antibody response. That response wanes after a few months, and the same people can be experimentally reinfected, though they tend to get milder symptoms the second time round. It is thought that adults get reinfected on average about once every five years. Sars-CoV-2 causes mild disease in most cases, and gives rise to antibody responses in nearly all cases. We don’t know how long these responses will last, but it is likely that people who suffer only mild disease will be susceptible to reinfection after a few months or years. Humanity has never developed ‘herd immunity’ to any coronavirus, and it’s unlikely that Sars-CoV-2 infection will be any different. If we did nothing, a likely possibility is that Covid-19 would become a recurring plague. We don’t know yet. It may have seemed like an aeon, but we have been aware of this virus for only a few months.

Wearables like Fitbit and Oura can detect coronavirus symptoms, new research shows - The Washington Post

On Thursday, researchers at WVU’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute reported that Oura ring data, combined with an app to measure cognition and other symptoms, can predict up to three days in advance when people will register a fever, coughing or shortness of breath. It can even predict someone’s exact temperature, like a weather forecast for the body.

Unsold book returns in coming weeks could be another blow for publishers | The Star

“If we just look at physical bookstores, so not online retailers, but mostly physical bookstores, they’re down almost 63 per cent year over year for the period,” Genner said from Toronto. “So 63 per cent in unit sales. That is hugely significant.”