Covid-19 Research

Health
First coronavirus vaccines 'may not prevent infection', UK task force head warns
First coronavirus vaccines 'may not prevent infection', UK task force head warns
Credit: unsplash.com / National Cancer Institute

Kate Bingham, the chair of the UK's vaccine task force, has warned that a first-gen Covid-19 vaccine "is likely to be imperfect" and "may not prevent infection."

"The Vaccine Taskforce aims to ensure that the UK population has access to vaccines as soon as possible, while working with partners to support equitable access for populations worldwide, whether rich or poor," Bingham wrote on The Lancet. "However, we do not know that we will ever have a vaccine at all. It is important to guard against complacency and over-optimism. The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms, and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long."

Health
A new study suggests that dengue may provide immunity against Covid-19
Miguel Nicolelis
Miguel Nicolelis Credit: Fronteiras do Pensamento (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The not yet published study led by Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University, suggests the possibility that vaccines approved or under development for dengue may result in some form of protection against the new coronavirus.

The study points out that places where a large part of the population contracted dengue last year and earlier this year took longer to have exponential community transmission of Covid-19 and recorded fewer numbers of cases and deaths caused by the new coronavirus, indicating a possible immunological interaction between the two viruses.

To validate the observation made in Brazil, Nicolelis expanded the analysis of the correlation between dengue and Covid-19 to 15 other countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and the behaviour was repeated, according to him.

Health
Germany puts on crowded concerts to study risks of Covid-19
Germany puts on crowded concerts to study risks of Covid-19
Credit: Acid Pix (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Scientists from the Halle University in Germany have held three pop concerts in a single day to investigate the risks posed by mass indoor events during the pandemic. About 1,500 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 50 took part in the experiment "to investigate the conditions under which such events can be carried out despite the pandemic".

The head of the study, Dr Stefan Moritz, which was carried out in Leipzig, stated he was "very satisfied" with how the event unfolded.

Health
Hong Kong scientists reported a case of Covid-19 reinfection
Hong Kong scientists reported a case of Covid-19 reinfection
Credit: Fusion Medical Animation

Scientists from the University of Hong Kong reported Monday the case of a 33-year-old man who became reinfected with Covid-19 four and a half months after his first bout.

Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, the microbiologist who led the work, said genome sequencing shows the two strains of the virus are "clearly different", making it the world's first proven case of reinfection.

The paper has been accepted by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases but not yet published, and some independent experts urged caution until full results are available.

Health
Report: Masks recommended for students in schools by Swedish researchers
Report: Masks recommended for students in schools by Swedish researchers
Credit: unsplash.com / Rusty Watson

Based on data from South Korea, the United States and Israel analyzing the infections and spread of the coronavirus through children, researchers now believe that children can contract Covid-19 and easily spread it.

A group of 26 researchers from Sweden wrote that "Because children are contagious, can become seriously ill, and it is unclear today how a mild infection affects their future health, we should already at the start of school take measures to keep the infection down".

They recommend sport only outdoors, eating meals seperated in classes, avoiding group tasks and that masks should be worn at all times.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Researchers predict that US Covid-19 death toll could reach 300,000 by December
Researchers predict that US Covid-19 death toll could reach 300,000 by December
Credit: unsplash.com/United Nations COVID-19 Response

Researchers at Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict that the US Covid-19 death toll could reach 300,000 by December, almost twice as much as the current number of around 160,000 deaths, or "about five times the number of people who die of flu each year."

"In fact, if this projection pans out, coronavirus will likely be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. for 2020, only behind heart disease and cancer," so global health correspondent Nurith Aizenman in an interview with NPR.

The forecast also took into consideration "states moving to stay-at-home orders and shutdowns once cases skyrocket" and "50% of schools will be doing online-only instruction" but it does not " assume widespread mask use, and that is what could change things," Aizenman added.

The researchers assumed 50% of people were wearing masks if "out and about", but assuming if 95% of people wore masks " about half of the deaths between now and December 1 would be prevented."

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK Government Secures 60m More Doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Glaxo Smith Kline Offices on the Great West Road at Brentford
Glaxo Smith Kline Offices on the Great West Road at Brentford Credit: Maxwell Hamilton / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The UK government signed a deal with drug giants GSK and Sanofi for 60 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. This is the country's fourth COVID-19 vaccination deal. The UK previously secured 100m doses from AstraZeneca and 90m doses from the alliance between Valneva, BioNtech and Pfizer.

Science • Medicine
Pfizer and US reach $1.95 billion deal for Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer and US reach $1.95 billion deal for Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Rhoda Baer (Photographer) / Public domain

The US government has agreed to pay $1.95 billion for 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company. The vaccine called BNT162 is currently still in development and early clinical trials. The agreement further states that the US could buy another 500 million doses, provided that the vaccine is both safe and effective as well as approved b the US Food and Drug Administration.

Health
Studies: 57% of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in Spain have developed neurological problems

The Spanish Neurology Association (SEN) has evaluated multiple studies conducted on Covid-19 patients in Spain. Following the results of the research registry Albacovid out of 841 patients that had been hospitalized due to Covid-19, 57% have developed one ore multiple neurological symptoms. The most common were myalgia, headaches and dizziness. Almost 20% and mostly elderly people also developed some form of consciousness disorder.

Of all patients 20% developed problems such as psychosis, anxiety and insomnia. Other and more severe symptoms were also developed in a number of patients, such as dysautonomia a dysfunction that affects the autonomic nervous system. According to the studies this research indicates that Covid-19 not only affects the respiratory, but also the nervous system.

Science • Medicine
UK, US & Canada warn of Russian spies trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research
UK, US & Canada warn of Russian spies trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research
Credit: unsplash.com/Louis Reed

American, British and Canadian governments have warned of Russian hackers trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research by exploiting software flaws to access computer systems. While the UK's National Cyber Security Centre is "almost certain" that the attack came from a "part of Russian intelligence services", Russia has denied these claims.

"We do not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Great Britain. We can say one thing - Russia has nothing at all to do with these attempts," so Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson of President Putin.

Health
40% of Covid-19 infections asymptomatic, according to CDC
Table 1. Parameter Values that vary among the five COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios
Table 1. Parameter Values that vary among the five COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

According to the CDC's "COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios", approximately 40% of Covid-19 infections are asymptomatic. The agency has now included an "Infection Fatality Ratio", predicting that around 0.65% of people infected with Covid-19 could die.

Health
WHO announces independent panel to review Covid-19 response, warns that pandemic is accelerating,
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 74th UNGA
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 74th UNGA Credit: Office of USAID Administrator (Public Domain)

World Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that the WHO has launched the "Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response" to review the agency's and governments' response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The panel will be headed by Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia.

"Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity," so Ghebreyesus. He further warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is not under control but instead is "still accelerating" and that "total number of cases has doubled in the last six weeks."

Health
Study suggests blood types may play role in Covid-19 severity and susceptibility
Blood bags
Blood bags Credit: PxHere (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, German and Norwegian researchers investigated the role that blood type might play in 1,610 patients with particularly severe forms of Covid-19. They concluded patients with blood type A might be twice as likely to require ventilation if infected as people with blood type 0.

Health
Study shows correlation of Covid-19 cases with lower levels of vitamin D

Vitamin D was previously associated with resistance to acute respiratory infections. A new study shows that countries with lower mean vitamin D levels are also having higher infection and mortality rates of coronavirus.

Science • Medicine
Remdesivir trial results show efficacy in Covid-19 treatment

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been running a trial of Remdesivir on 1,063 randomly assigned patients hospitalised with Covid-19. The group who got the Remdesivir treatment showed a median time of recovery of 11 days, while those who got a placebo averaged on a 15 day recovery. Mortality rate was 8% for the Remdesivir group and 11.6% for the placebo group.

Health
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson donate plasma to help find Covid-19 vaccine
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson donate plasma to help find Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Nehrams2020 (Public Domain)

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, who both recently recovered from a Covid-19 infection, stated that they are donating their plasma to UCLA help scientists develop a potential treatment for Covid-19. Both Hanks and Wilson participate in a medical study that tries to develop a treatment that relies on antibodies to fight infections.