Tag Archives: COVID-19

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine Produces An Immune Response in Older People

Immunogenicity responses similar between older and younger adults

One of the world’s leading COVID-19 experimental vaccines produces a immune response in both old and young adults, raising hopes of a path out of the gloom and economic destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus.  The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, also triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly, British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L, which is helping manufacture the vaccine, said on Monday. A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people, shuttered swathes of the global economy and turned normal life upside down for billions of people.

It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesman said.

https://uk.reuters.com

How The Coronavirus Infects Human Cells

Tiny artificial lungs grown in a lab from adult stem cells have allowed scientists to watch how coronavirus infects the lungs in a new ‘major breakthrough‘. Researchers from Duke University and Cambridge University produced artificial lungs in two independent and separate studies to examine the spread of Covid-19. The ‘living lung‘ models minimic the tiny air sacs that take up the oxygen we breathe, known to be where most serious lung damage from the deadly virus takes place.   Having access to the models to test the spread of SAS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, will allow researchers to test potential drugs and gain a better understanding of why some people suffer from the disease worse than others.

In both studies the 3D min-lung models were grown from stem cells that repair the deepest portions of the lungs when SARS-CoV-2 attacks – known as alveolar cells. To date, there have been more than 40 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 1.13 million deaths worldwide. The main target tissues of SARS-CoV-2, especially in patients that develop pneumonia, appear to be alveoli, according to the Cambridge team. They extracted the alveoli cells from donated tissue and reprogrammed them back to their earlierstem cell‘ stage and forced them to grow into self-organising alveolar-like 3D structures that mimic the behaviour of key lung tissue. Dr Joo-Hyeon Lee, co-senior author of the Cambridge paper, said we still know surprisingly little about how SARS-CoV-2 infects the lungs and causes disease.

Representative image of three – dimensional human lung alveolar organoid produced by the Cambridge and Korean researchers to better understand SARS-CoV-2

Our approach has allowed us to grow 3D models of key lung tissue – in a sense, “mini-lungs” – in the lab and study what happens when they become infected.’

Duke researchers took a similar approach. The team, led by Duke cell biologist Purushothama Rao Tata, say their model will allow for hundreds of experiments to be run simultaneously to screen for new drug candidates. ‘This is a versatile model system that allows us to study not only SARS-CoV-2, but any respiratory virus that targets these cells, including influenza,‘ Tata said.

Both teams infected models with a strain of SARS-CoV-2 to better understand who the virus spreads and what happens in the lung cells in response to the disease. The Cambridge team worked with researchers from South Korea to take a sample of the virus from a patient who was infected in January after travelling to Wuhan. Using a combination of fluorescence imaging and single cell genetic analysis, they were able to study how the cells responded to the virus.

When the 3D models were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus began to replicate rapidly, reaching full cellular infection just six hours after infectionReplication enables the virus to spread throughout the body, infecting other cells and tissue, explained the Cambridge research team. Around the same time, the cells began to produce interferonsproteins that act as warning signals to neighbouring cells, telling them to activate their defences. After 48 hours, the interferons triggered the innate immune response – its first line of defence – and the cells started fighting back against infectionSixty hours after infection, a subset of alveolar cells began to disintegrate, leading to cell death and damage to the lung tissue.

Source: https://today.duke.edu/

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/

Diabetics die 3 times more of Covid-19

From the outset of the pandemic, data coming out of early coronavirus hot spots like China, Italy, and New York City foretold that certain groups of people would be more vulnerable to Covid-19. The disease hit older people and people with underlying medical conditions the hardest. As early as February, diabetes had emerged as one of the conditions associated with the highest risk. In one large study out of China, people with diabetes were more than three times as likely to die of Covid-19 than the overall population.

But that’s not what brought four diabetes experts from Australia and the United Kingdom onto a Zoom call back in April. They were supposed to just be catching up—a virtual tea among friends. But talk soon turned to something strange that they’d been seeing in their own hospitals and hearing about through the grapevine. The weird thing was that people were showing up in Covid-19 wards, after having tested positive for the virus, with lots of sugar in their blood. These were people with no known history of diabetes. But you wouldn’t know it from their lab results.

After that call, the experts reached out to colleagues in other countries to see if they’d seen or heard of similar cases. They had. Acute viral infections of all sorts can stress the body, causing blood sugar levels to rise. So that in itself wasn’t unusual, says Francesco Rubino, a bariatric surgeon and diabetes researcher at King’s College in London, who was on that first Zoom call. “What we were seeing and hearing was a little bit different.”

Doctors around the world had described to him strange situations in which Covid-19 patients were showing symptoms of diabetes that didn’t fit the typical two-flavor manifestation of the disease. In most people with type 1 diabetes, their immune cells suddenly turn traitorous, destroying the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin—the hormone that allows glucose to exit the bloodstream and enter cells. People with type 2 diabetes have a different problem; their body slowly becomes resistant to the insulin it does produce. Rubino and his colleagues were seeing blended features of both types showing up spontaneously in people who’d recently been diagnosed with Covid-19.

That was the first clinical puzzle,” he says. For clues to an explanation, Rubino and his colleagues looked to ACE2, the protein receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to invade human cells. It appears in the airways, yes, but also in other organs involved in controlling blood sugar, including the gut. Doctors in China discovered copies of the coronavirus in the poop of their Covid-19 patients. And a meta-analysis found that gastrointestinal symptoms plague one out of 10 Covid-19 sufferers.

In the last few decades, scientists have discovered that the gut is not the passive digestive organ once thought. It actually is a major endocrine player—responsible for producing hormone signals that talk to the pancreas, telling it to make more insulin, and to the brain, ordering it to make its owner stop eating. If the coronavirus is messing with these signals, that could provide a biological basis for why Covid-19 would be associated with different forms of diabetes, including hybrid and previously unknown manifestations of the disease. Rubino is one of a growing number of researchers who think that the relationship between the coronavirus and diabetes is actually a two-way street. Having diabetes doesn’t just tip the odds toward contracting a worse case of Covid-19. In some people, the virus might actually trigger the onset of diabetes, and the potential for a lifetime of having to manage it.

Source: https://www.wired.com/

Hundreds of Thousands Of People In China Should Have Been Vaccinated At Present

China in recent months has been injecting hundreds of thousands of people with three preliminary coronavirus vaccines that are being tested for safety and efficacy. While the world awaits a proven drug to fight the pandemic, at least three vaccine candidates have been given to front-line medical professionals, staff of state-owned companies, and government officials since July under an emergency use program approved by Beijing.

China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm, has administered two experimental vaccine candidates to around 350,000 people outside its clinical trials, CNBG chairman Yang Xiaoming said recently. The company also donated 200,000 doses of one of the candidate vaccines that is still undergoing clinical trials in Wuhan, where the pandemic was first reported.

Another drugmaker, Sinovac Biotech, has injected 90% of its employees and their family members, or about 3,000 people, Yin Weidong, the company’s CEO, said this month.

At present, tens of thousands of people in Beijing should have been vaccinated with Sinovac’s vaccine,” Yin told Chinese state media. Separately, Beijing also gave approval in June for members of the armed forces to receive an experimental vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics, a biopharmaceutical company that is backed by the military.

Under China’s law, vaccines developed for major public health emergencies can be deployed for urgent use if the National Medical Products Administration considers that the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.

Source: https://www.voanews.com/

What Is Regeneron, The Antibody Cocktail Used To Cure Trump?

A descriptive analysis of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals‘ Phase I/II/III clinical trial has found that its antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 lowered viral load and the time to symptoms improvement in non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The therapy also demonstrated positive trends in decreasing medical visits. During the ongoing, randomised, double-blind trial, the combination of REGN-COV2 and usual standard-of-care is being compared to placebo plus standard-of-care.

Regeneron noted that trial participants were given a one-time infusion of 8g or 2.4g of REGN-COV2 or placeboData from the descriptive analysis is based on the findings from the initial 275 patients. The analysis evaluated anti-viral activity with the therapy and is intended to detect patients who are most likely to benefit from treatment. Safety analysis revealed that both doses of the therapy were well-tolerated, with infusion reactions found in four patients.

The greatest treatment benefit was in patients who had not mounted their own effective immune response, suggesting that REGN-COV2 could provide a therapeutic substitute for the naturally-occurring immune response, ” said Regeneron Pharmaceuticals president and chief scientific officer George Yancopoulos. “We are highly encouraged by the robust and consistent nature of these initial data, as well as the emerging well-tolerated safety profile, and we have begun discussing our findings with regulatory authorities while continuing our ongoing trials.

This trial is part of a clinical programme, which includes studies of REGN-COV2 to treat hospitalised patients and to prevent infection in people exposed to Covid-19 patients. More than 2,000 subjects have been recruited across the overall REGN-COV2 development programme. At least 1,300 participants will be part of the Phase II/III portion of the outpatient trial overall. In July, Regeneron launched Phase III trials of REGN-COV2 for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19.

Source: https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/

‘Game Changing’ 15-Minute Covid-19 Test Cleared in Europe

Becton Dickinson and Co.’s Covid-19 test that returns results in 15 minutes has been cleared for use in countries that accept Europe’s CE marking, the diagnostics maker said Wednesday. The test is part of a new class of quicker screening tools named for the identifying proteins called antigens they detect on the surface of SARS-CoV-2. Becton Dickinson expects to begin selling the test, which runs on the company’s cellphone-sized BD Veritor Plus System, in European markets at the end of October. It will likely be used by emergency departments, general practitioners and pediatricians.

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.  , spokesman Troy Kirkpatrick said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/

BCG, Long-used Tuberculosis Vaccine Cuts Respiratory Infections. Why not Covid-19?

Three years ago, doctors in Greece began recruiting 198 older people for a unique experiment. They injected half of them with a century-old tuberculosis vaccine typically given to newborns in the developing world. They gave the other half a placebo. They wanted to find out if the vaccine, called Bacillus Calmette–Guérin, or BCG, would protect older people—not against TB, but more broadly against viral infections. Results are now in: During the year after receiving the shot, the BCG group had 80 percent fewer serious respiratory viral infections than the unvaccinated group. The results were published in Cell at the end of August by doctors at the University of Athens Medical School in Greece, and Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

That’s a big deal for a few reasons. People 65 years and older are more likely than any other age group to be hospitalized due to respiratory infections such as influenza, and this study is a preliminary signal that some vaccines could have broad beneficial effects beyond protection from a particular disease. And Covid-19, too, is a respiratory viral illness that disproportionately leads to the hospitalization of older people.

The chances are increased that BCG would have the same effect on Covid-19 as on other viral respiratory infections like the flu,” says Mihai Netea, the senior author of the study and experimental internal medicine chair at Radboud University. Tests of whether BCG specifically protects against Covid-19 are ongoing; there are now at least 20 randomized clinical trials around the world to see whether it can indeed protect health workers and the elderly. Many scientists now believe that BCG and some vaccines like it that contain a live, weakened virus may act against non-target diseases. A 2016 review commissioned by the World Health Organization found that BCG and the measles vaccines reduce overall mortality by “more than would be expected through their effects on the diseases they prevent.”

I think that we have to acknowledge that vaccines have effects much broader than the target disease and the effects can be used,” Netea says.

The research that became the Cell study began in 2017, when Netea’s team recruited patients who were visiting the hospital at the University of Athens Medical School. Most were around 80 years old. Netea was nervous about patients having an adverse reaction to the vaccination, itself. In aging patients, there’s always a risk that an immune response can overfire, and BCG has traditionally been given to newborns, not the aged.

Then, Covid-19 hit, and observational studies done by scientists such as Luis Escobar, a disease ecologist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, hinted that nations where newborns get BCG shots are associated with lower Covid-19 mortality. Netea and his colleagues decided to fast track their analysis. In mid-May, they learned that the vaccinated patients had 80 percent fewer moderate-to-severe respiratory infections.

That is pretty damn good,” says Kim Mulholland, a vaccinologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, who was more skeptical of broad beneficial effects of vaccines before this study. “This study left me with the feeling that I should go out and get a BCG vaccine.”

Coronavirus Breathalyzer Test Gives Results In 30 Seconds

An Israeli company is developing a coronavirus breathalyzer test that gives results in 30 seconds, billing it as a “front-line” tool that can help restore a sense of normality during the pandemic. NanoScent, the firm making the test kits, said an extensive trial in Israel for the presence of live virus delivered results with 85 percent accuracy, and the product could receive regulatory approval within months. Chief Executive Officer Oren Gavriely told Agence France-Presse the breathalyzer would not replace lab tests, but was a mass screening tool that could help people gain “the confidence to go back and act as normal.” NanoScent has been operating for several years, specializing in rapid recognition technology, including for medical purposes.

Gavriely said that while visiting the United States in January, he sensed his firm’s expertise might be needed to help confront the novel virus circulating in Asia that appeared to be spreading to the West.

We said we’ll invest one week into it and see what’s happening, and this one week never stopped,” he explained. The test begins with a few short questions about COVID-19 exposure and symptoms, displayed on the phone of the person administering the procedure. Test subjects then inhale through the nose, hold their breath, close one nostril and exhale through the other, pushing breath through a handheld tube into a small bag called the “Air Trap.”

The tube is then plugged into the “Scent Reader“, a small rectangular device that whirs softly as it sucks the air out of the bag. Within seconds the results – “COVID-19 negative” during AFP’s visit – appear on the phone.

Source: https://news.cgtn.com/

Coronavirus: Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response

Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response.
The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects. Russia licensed the vaccine for local use in August, the first country to do so and before data had been published.

Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety. But Moscow has hailed the results as an answer to critics. Some Western experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and that one of his own daughters had been given it. Two trials of the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, were conducted between June and July, The Lancet paper said. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later.
The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain. The trials were open label and not randomised, meaning there was no placebo and the volunteers were aware they were receiving the vaccine.

https://www.bbc.com/