China Reports its First Human Death from Rare Monkey B Virus

China says it has recorded its first primate-to-human infection and death involving the monkey B virus, a rare and deadly pathogen that remains little-understood in some parts of the world.

The victim was a 53-year-old veterinarian from Beijing who contracted the infection while dissecting dead monkeys in early March, according to China’s CDC Weekly. *The patient started showing symptoms in April and died on May 27, officials said. Two close contacts have since tested negative for the virus. Symptoms include nausea, fever and vomiting about a month after the infection.

Neurological symptoms started to appear soon afterward, prompting health officials to run a battery of tests. They ultimately found the monkey B virus in the patient’s blood and saliva, China’s CDC said. They were unable to save him from the disease.

It was an unusual discovery for health officials in China, where doctors have never documented the virus in humans before.

Source: http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/
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Nearly All COVID Deaths in US Are Now among Unvaccinated

Nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now are in people who weren’t vaccinated, a staggering demonstration of how effective the shots have been and an indication that deaths per day — now down to under 300 — could be practically zero if everyone eligible got the vaccine.

An Associated Press analysis of available government data from May shows that “breakthroughinfections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s about 0.1%. And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average.

The AP analyzed figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC itself has not estimated what percentage of hospitalizations and deaths are in fully vaccinated people, citing limitations in the data.

https://apnews.com/

Moderna to Trial HIV and Flu Vaccines With mRNA Technology

The astonishing success of COVID-19 vaccines may signal a breakthrough in disease prevention technologyModerna is developing influenza and HIV vaccines using mRNA technology, the backbone of its effective COVID-19 vaccine. The biotech company is expected to launch phase 1 trials for its mRNA flu and HIV vaccines this year. If successful, mRNA may offer a silver lining to the decades-long fight against HIV, influenza, and other autoimmune diseases. Traditional vaccines often introduce a weakened or inactive virus to one’s body. In contrast, mRNA technology uses genetic blueprints, which build proteins to train the immune system to fight off the virus. Since mRNA teaches the body to recognize a virus, it can be effective against multiple strains or variants as opposed to just one.

The mRNA platform makes it easy to develop vaccines against variants because it just requires an update to the coding sequences in the mRNA that code for the variant,”  said Rajesh Gandhi, MD, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and chair of HIV Medicine association.

Future mRNA vaccines have the potential to ward off multiple diseases with one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Current mRNA vaccines, as demonstrated in their use against COVID-19, already appear to be less susceptible to new variants. “Based on its success in protecting against COVID-19, I am hopeful that mRNA technology will revolutionize our ability to develop vaccines against other pathogens, like HIV and influenza,” Gandhi says.

Moderna’s flu and HIV vaccines are still in early development stages, having yet to undergo their clinical trials. Still, if they prove successful, the mRNA-based treatment could dramatically change health care — both in expediting the route to immunity and by providing a solution to illnesses that have been around for decades. Scientists currently make annual alterations to the typical flu shot to keep up with the viruses in circulation. But a successful mRNA vaccine could provide a far more effective alternative.

An approved mRNA flu vaccine could be administered every other year rather than annually, explained virologist Andrew Pekosz, PhD. This is because mRNA accounts for variants and produces a stronger and longer-lasting immune response than that of the current flu vaccine, he says. The influenza vaccine is similar to the COVID-19 vaccine because the viruses have similar characteristics and necessary treatments, according to Pekosz.

However, a potential concern lies in the level of public immunity prior to receiving a vaccine. Since the flu has been around since the early 1900s, an mRNA vaccine could potentially boost older or less effective antibody responses rather than targeting current strains, Pekosz adds. “There’s no way to answer that question except to do some clinical trials, and see what the results tell us”.

Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/

Amazon is now selling COVID-19 tests for customers to use at home

The DxTerity COVID-19 Saliva at-Home Collection Kit detects the presence of the virus but does not confirm immunity or detect antibodies. DxTerity‘s molecular-based PCR test received approval from the Food and Drug Administration last month. The test differs from the quicker and less expensive antigen tests, which use a nasal swab or throat swab to detect the virus.

A single COVID-19 testing kit is listed for $110, and a 10-pack bundle is available for $1,000.

Test takers must spit into a tube provided by the kit. The saliva sample is then inserted into a plastic bag and packed back into the box for shipment to one of DxTerity‘s laboratories certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. Customers are also granted prepaid express return shipping with the test and should expect to receive results within 24 to 72 hours of sample receipt at the laboratory. DxTerity’s test is currently the only COVID-19 testing kit on Amazon.

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We have demonstrated the reliability and quality of our COVID-19 testing solution with big business and now we want to expand access to customers at home and small businesses,” said Bob Terbrueggen, founder and CEO of DxTerity, when he first announced the collaboration with the company last month. “Amazon is the perfect partner for expanding access to millions of U.S. customers.”

The test may not be valid for all travel purposes because sample collection is unsupervised, according to the product description. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends saliva specimens should be collected under supervision.

Amazon joins other retail giants in offering at-home COVID-19 saliva tests. Costco offers both regular and those approved for travel requirements to Hawaii, Bermuda and some other destinations for $129.99 and $139.99, respectively. However, the test has several dozen one-star reviews, with most complaining about delayed shipping and poor customer service from provider AZOVA.

Source: https://eu.usatoday.com/

Mask-wearing Protects You, Not Just Those Around You.

Breaking from its tentative recommendations on mask use thus far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that using masks benefits wearers, which is a step beyond its previous declaration that said wearing masks would only protect those around them.

Experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread” of the virus, the C.D.C. said in a document that details scientific evidence supporting mask use. “Individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use,” it said.

The unequivocal statements are a departure from the agency’s previous language, which suggested that “the latest science may convince” Americans to wear masks and that mask use could prevent an infected person from spreading the virus to others. “The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings,” it said.

The agency also offered an economic argument, saying that increasing the proportion of people who wear masks by 15 percent could prevent the need for lockdowns and cut associated losses of up to $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product. The document also referred to a study of 124 Beijing households in which mask use significantly cut transmission of the virus, and an outbreak aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt in which face coverings appeared to have reduced risk of infection by 70 percent.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/

Covid-19 : Close Contact With Someone To Include Cumulative Exposure

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its definition of a close contact with a Covid-19 patient to include multiple, brief exposures, director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday.

The new definition includes exposures adding up to a total of 15 minutes spent six feet or closer to an infected person. Previously, the CDC defined a close contact as 15 minutes of continuous exposure to an infected individual.

The agency changed the definition after a report from Vermont of a corrections officer who became infected after several brief interactions with coronavirus-positive inmates – none of them lasting 15 minutes, but adding up over time.

As we get more data and understand the science of Covid, we are going to incorporate that in our recommendations,” Redfield said at a news conference held at CDC headquarters in Atlanta. “Originally, contact that was considered to be high risk for potential exposure to Covid was someone within six feet for more than 15 minutes.”

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/

Deciphering Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers, and one of the leading causes of death in women globally. Breast cancer is a disease where cells located in the breast grow out of control. Although a majority of breast cancers are discovered in women at the age of 50 years or older, the disease can affect anyone, including men and younger women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year there were 9.6 million deaths and 18.1 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed globally according to the latest report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released in September 2018.

In 2019 alone, the U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be 268,600 new female breast cancer cases and 41,760 fatalities. Earlier this month, researchers based in Switzerland published in Cell their study in using applied artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning to create a comprehensive tumor and immune atlas of breast cancer ecosystems that lays the foundation for innovative precision medicine and immunotherapy.

The study was led by professor Bernd Bodenmiller, Ph.D. at the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Bodenmiller is a recipient of the 2019 Friedrich Miescher Award, Switzerland’s highest distinction for outstanding achievements in biochemistry. His team worked in collaboration with the Systems Biology Group at IBM Research in Zurich led by María Rodríguez Martínez, Ph.D. with the shared goal to produce a foundation for more targeted breast cancer treatment through precision medicine.

Source: https://www.ibm.com/