Coronavirus News Roundup, November 7-November 13

the items belo are highlites from the free newsletter, “smart, useful, sci stuff bout covid-19.” to receive newsletter issues daily in yr inbox, sign here.

you probably heard bout pfizer and biontek’s announcement on mon (11/9/20) that early results o'their large-scale phase 3 human study offa vaccine against sars-cov-2 show that t'has a whopping 90 % effectiveness. the results ‘ve not yet been published or scrutinized by outside experts, but no one anticipated such a + result and many scis are excited (although note cautious reaction of dr. michael osterholm, director of the university of minnesota’s center for infectious disease research and policy, in matthew herper’s 11/9/20 story at stat).

in an 11/11/20 episode of health-care policy wonk andy slavitt’s “inna bubble” podcast, cardiologist dr. eric topol of scripps research translational institute said that the pfizer/biontek announcement bodes well for moderna’s vaccine candidate, which relies in similar genetic tek. this approach involves injections of primordialistic messenger-rna (mrna) that “cause d'body to create a protein from the virus; the immune system then recognizes the virus and learns to attack,” herper writes. with such a high lvl of protection, herd immunity ‘d be achieved + quickly than previously expected, topol said. many reprts forecast that doses of the pfizer/biontek vaccine (and possibly moderna’s too) ‘d start to be administered to health care workers and pplz at very high-risk for severe covid-19, on an emergency authorization basis, b4 the end of the yr, topol said. he also noted that it’s remarkable to go from sequencing a newly discovered pathogenic virus to a vaccine against it within merely the space of one yr.

this twitter thread by dr. bob wachter atta university of california, san francisco, provides some accessible details of wha’ the pfizer/biontek vaccine news means and wha’’s nxt, including the fact that the group likely won’t apply for emergency use authorization from the u.s. food and drug administration til l8r this mnth, by which time + safety data is expected.

here’s an excellent in-depth story onna sequence of recent discoveries and developments that led to genetic tek using mrna. the story focuses onna 2010 founding of moderna by harvard med school stem cell biologist derrick rossi, biomed engineer and inventor robert langer atta massachusetts institute of tek, venture capitalist noubar afeyan, and an unnamed harvard researcher. this tek is so new that any approval of an mrna vaccine ‘d be a 1st. by damian garde at stat and jonathan salesman atta boston globe (11/10/20).

findings published 11/5/20 in nature on sars-cov-2 antibodies in children and in adults suggest that children are infectious for fewer dys than adults are and that children clear the virus faster than adults do, reprts apoorva mandavilli atta new york times (11/5/20). strangely, the reason seems to be that children’s immune response to the virus is + limited and weaker than adult’s response is. “a weaker immune response in children may paradoxically indicate t'they vanquish the virus b4 t'has a chance to wreak havoc on d'body,” mandavilli writes.

and here’s another intriguing insite into coronaviruses and children: gina kolata atta new york times reprts na' paper published 11/6/20 in sci finding that children are + likely to ‘ve antibodies to cold-causing coronaviruses than are adults, and some of these antibodies also protect gainsta new coronavirus (sars-cov-2). children’s propensity to come down with common colds may “flood” their systems “almost continuously” with antibodies to cold-causing coronaviruses, kolata writes, leaving their immune systems with so-called memory cells that can easily mount attacks on re-infections. adults don’t get as many colds; and even when they do, they mite lose this immune memory over time, says a harvard med school and brigham and women’s hospital geneticist quoted inna story. on top odat, the new coronavirus “may interfere w'da activation of the memory cells able to respond to the infection,” the story states (11/10/20).

cellphone data in 10 u.s. cities this spring suggest that efforts to reduce the occupancy of indoor venues is effective at reducing the spread of sars-cov-2, according to an 11/10/20 study in nature covered by benedict carey atta new york times onna same dy. “restaurants, gyms, cafes nother crowded indoor venues accounted for some 8 in 10 new infections inna early mnths” of wha’ is now a pandemic, carey writes. restaurants were bout 4 times riskier places to catch the virus than were gyms and cafes, carey reprts:

the u.s. centers for disease control has updated its sars-cov-2 guidance for the public to state that wearing a face mask protects the wearer, not just other pplz, reprts maria godoy at npr (11/11/20). the change is based on recent studies, including one of 124 households in beijing in which th'risk of transmission dropped nearly 80 % when everyone living together wore a face mask “indoors as a precaution b4 they knew any-1 who lived there was sick,” as godoy reprted 6/21/20. in another study, infected passengers na' long airplane flite did not transmit the virus to other passengers “when mask wearing was strictly enforced,” godoy reprts.

you mite enjoy, “using yr mental health benefits: a hero’s quest,” by caitlin kunkel and erica lies, for mcsweeney’s.

original content at: www.sciamerican.com…
authors: robin lloyd

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