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Archive for the ‘Vaccinology’ Category


Comparing COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule Combinations, or “Com-COV” – First-of-its-Kind Study will explore the Impact of using eight different Combinations of Doses and Dosing Intervals for Different COVID-19 Vaccines

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

The UK’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout commenced in December, and requires an individual to receive two doses of the same vaccine, either Pfizer/BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or AstraZeneca/Oxford’s ChAdOx1, with a maximum interval of 12 weeks between doses. As of February 3, 10 million first doses have been administered.

Com-COV has been classified as an “Urgent Public Health” study by the National Institutes for Health and Research (NIHR), and it’s hoped that the data produced may offer greater flexibility for vaccine delivery going forward.

“Given the inevitable challenges of immunizing large numbers of the population against COVID-19 and potential global supply constraints, there are definitely advantages to having data that could support a more flexible immunization program, if ever needed and approved by the medicines regulator,” Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer and senior responsible officer for the study, said in a press release.

The study will run for a 13-month period and will recruit over 800 patients across eight sites in the UK, including London – St George’s and UCL, Oxford, Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Liverpool.

Com-COV has eight different arms that will test eight different combinations of doses and dose intervals. This is tentative and subject to change should more COVID-19 vaccines be approved for use in the UK. The eight arms include the following dose combinations:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech and Pfizer/BioNTech – 28 days apart
  • Pfizer/BioNTech and Pfizer/BioNTech – 12 weeks apart – (control group)
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca and Oxford/AstraZeneca – 28 days apart
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca and Oxford/AstraZeneca – 12 weeks apart – (control group)
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech – 28 days apart
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech – 12 weeks apart
  • Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca – 28 days apart
  • Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca – 12 weeks apart

Aside from the logistical benefits of using alternative vaccines, there is scientific value to exploring how different vaccines and doses affect the human immune system.

Dr Peter English, consultant in communicable disease control, pointed out that the antigen used across the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines is the same Spike protein. Therefore, the immune system can be expected to respond just as well if a different product is used for boosting. “It is also the case that many vaccines work better if a different vaccine is used for boosting – an approach described as heterologous boosting,” English said, referencing previously successful trials using Hepatitis B vaccines.

“It is also even possible that by combining vaccines, the immune response could be enhanced giving even higher antibody levels that last longer; unless this is evaluated in a clinical trial we just won’t know,” added Van-Tam.

If warranted by the study data, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency may consider reviewing and authorizing modifications to the UK’s vaccine regimen approach – but only time will tell.

“We need people from all backgrounds to take part in this trial, so that we can ensure we have vaccine options suitable for all. Signing up to volunteer for vaccine studies is quick and easy via the NHS Vaccine Research Registry,” Professor Andrew Ustianowski, national clinical lead for the NIHR COVID Vaccine Research Program, said

SOURCE

First-of-its-Kind Study Will Test Combination of Different COVID-19 Vaccines | Technology Networks

https://www.technologynetworks.com/biopharma/news/first-of-its-kind-study-will-test-combination-of-different-covid-19-vaccines-345245?utm_campaign=NEWSLETTER_TN_Biopharma

WATCH VIDEO

Different Types of COVID-19 Vaccines With Dr Seth Lederman Video | Technology Networks

https://www.technologynetworks.com/biopharma/videos/different-types-of-covid-19-vaccines-with-dr-seth-lederman-345207

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Google Cloud launches Vaccine Management Tools using ML & AI for Vaccine Distribution Efforts

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

Google Cloud announced Monday new artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to help with vaccine rollout efforts from vaccine information and scheduling, to distribution and analytics, to forecasting and modeling COVID-19 cases.

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/tech/google-cloud-rolls-out-tools-for-vaccine-logistics-as-tech-giants-jump-into-distribution?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal&mrkid=993697&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWldZMVlXVmlNelprWXpNMyIsInQiOiJEQ3BsYnRMQTBPQU1HNDBqVFVhQnpKV3BlRUdIbXRBMWgwWFFEYktjWnc3XC9xWm9tNUNJcnNNR3M5cjNuZEhoYlFRQzZFTXAxU1NFUnFQc2o4Q09HYjBFMFRhejBMaWhuN1FLalU1U2xQQWV3bm1iZEtJQkk1aWRGVkVSOFVcL2tIIn0%3D

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Rise of a trio of mutated viruses hints at an increase in transmissibility, speeding the virus’ leaps from one host to the next

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

“We have uncontrolled viral spread in much of the world,” says Adam Lauring, an infectious disease physician and virologist at the University of Michigan. “So the virus has a lot of opportunity to evolve.”

“The variants may be more transmissible, but physics has not changed,” says Müge Çevik, an infectious disease physician at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Many changes don’t affect the virus’ function, and some even harm SARS-CoV-2’s ability to multiply, but they keep happening. “Viruses mutate; that’s what they do,” says Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut.

U.K., Brazil, and South Africa. In the United Kingdom, variant B.1.1.7 likely drove the region’s record-setting spike of COVID-19 cases in January. The variant is now circulating in more than 60 countries, including the United States—and projections suggest it will become the most common virus variety in the U.S. by mid-March.

An independently arising lineage called P.1 might also be driving a wave of cases in Manaus, Brazil, where it accounted for nearly half of new COVID-19 infections in December. On January 26, Minnesotan officials reported the first U.S. case of P.1 in a resident who previously traveled to Brazil. And a third lineage raising alarms, known as B.1.351, was first spotted amid a December wave of infections in South Africa. On January 28, the first known U.S. cases of the variant were reported in South Carolina.

One specific mutation, known as N501Y, popped up independently in all three variants, suggesting it could provide an advantage to the virus. “That’s a sign that there is natural selection going on,” Lauring says. The N501Y mutation affects the virus’ spike protein, which is the key it uses to unlock entry into its host’s cells.

Another possibility is that new variants cause people who are infected to harbor more copies of the virus. This results in greater viral “shedding” in airborne droplets spewed when people talk, sing, cough, and breath.

mutations in 501Y.V2 could diminish the effectiveness of antibodies in the blood of people previously infected with the virus. But understanding whether that could lead to more re-infections, or if it could affect vaccine efficacy.

Dramatically scale up production of high-filtration masks for the general public.

Based on:

Why some coronavirus variants are more contagious‹and how we can stop them

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2021/01/why-some-coronavirus-variants-are-more-contagious/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=SpecialEdition_20210129

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Allocation and Prioritization of Vaccine Dose Administration Schedules: Cover more people or Adhere to Immunization Protocol

Curators:

This curation has four parts:

Part 1:

Waiting on the Covid booster would allow more people to be vaccinated sooner.

  • By Michael Segal, MD, PhD

Part 2:

Expert Opinion by Clinical Authority in Practice of Cardiac Imaging:

  • The Voice of Dr. Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

Part 3:

Expert Opinion by Scientific Authority in Population Biology

  • The Voice of Prof. Marcus W. Feldman, PhD

Part 4:

Summary

  • The Voices of Prof. Stephen J. Williams, PhD and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Introduction

Aviva Lev-Ari
@AVIVA1950

We agree the protocol should not be changed

Quote Tweet

Pearl Freier
@PearlF
FDA’s Peter Marks explained why the 2 dose regimen for Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine shouldn’t be changed to 1 dose in attempt to reach more patients while there’s limited supply. Aside from 95% effectiveness w/ 2 dose regimen based on clinical data, he said no one knows how long 1/n

Pearl Freier
@PearlF

Replying to

1 dose would be effective for & no one knows if only given 1 dose if patient would get an immune response that “would just dwindle” “And we know that can happen because we know already that people who get very mild covid-19 tend to lose their immune responses pretty quickly.” 2/n

Pearl Freier
@PearlF

We need to make sure that those who get the vaccine regimen are people who know they’ve gotten that protection [95% effective]. Because that’s something we know, whereas the other [1 dose] is conjecture. And I would hate for people to change their behavior on the basis of 3/n

Pearl Freier
@PearlF

one dose of vaccine where we don’t know what’s really happening.” Peter Marks/FDA said (6 min mark) youtube.com/watch?v=uePet5 (
Research!America Alliance Member Meeting with Dr. Peter Marks
With several COVID-19 vaccine candidates under FDA review, Dr. Peter Marks, Director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), joined us …
youtube.com

 (she/her/hers)

@lisabari

Replying to

It will be really interesting to learn more about the immune response from J&J’s one dose regimen.

Pearl Freier
@PearlF

I think they’re expecting data from J&J in January

Part 1:

Waiting on the Covid booster would allow more people to be vaccinated sooner.

By Michael Segal, MD, PhD

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-shot-instead-of-two-at-saving-lives-11607643152

A Shot (Instead of Two) at Saving Lives

Waiting on the Covid booster would allow more people to be vaccinated sooner.

By Michael Segal

Dec. 10, 2020 6:32 pm ET

Recent days brought good news and bad news about coronavirus vaccines. The developments could add up to months of delay in getting most Americans inoculated. But there’s a way to make use of the good news to speed up herd immunity.

The bad news is that in July the U.S. passed up an opportunity to secure by June 2021 more than 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, now expected to receive emergency-use authorization in the next few days. Instead, officials followed a balanced-portfolio strategy that reserved as many as 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, whose prospects are unclear.

The good news is that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines performed at the upper end of expectations, with 95% efficacy after two doses. And intriguingly, Pfizer’s submission to the Food and Drug Administration shows that the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing disease had largely kicked in by two weeks after the first dose, and there was no dramatic increase in efficacy after the booster was given three weeks later.

The protocol in Pfizer’s clinical trial was to give all participants two doses. The FDA is likely to approve this protocol, and standard procedure is to prescribe a drug according to protocol. But we are in a pandemic and supplies of vaccine are inadequate. There’s an alternative: vaccinating as many people as possible with a first dose and waiting on the booster until supplies are plentiful.

The Pfizer study wasn’t designed to put a number on first-dose efficacy, but the data in Pfizer’s “cumulative incidence curves” suggest at least 75% efficacy for two weeks after one dose. The question is whether to use the 100 million doses on 50 million people, of whom two doses would protect roughly 47.5 million, or to give one dose each to 100 million people and protect at least 75 million.

States have the authority to allocate vaccines as they choose, but they’re unlikely to deviate from the study protocol unless a federal authority—whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a coronavirus “czar”—suggests this as an option.

Even under such an approach, some essential personnel—such as doctors and nurses who work directly with coronavirus patients and health aides who work in multiple nursing homes—should get two doses as soon as possible, given their high-risk role in the pandemic response.

The U.S. will have more than these 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Some will come from Moderna, and the federal government could use the Defense Production Act to snatch some Pfizer doses that the company contracted to sell to other countries. Even so, supply will be constrained at first, and officials need to think clearly and flexibly about how to allocate the limited doses that will be available soon.

Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina expressed his disappointment with society’s decision making during the pandemic: “I’m just astounded by the dysfunction, the willingness to just stay the course as hundreds of thousands of people die, and the unwillingness to innovate in literally any way.” Here’s a simple innovation that could save many lives.

Dr. Segal is a neurologist and neuroscientist.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the December 11, 2020, print edition.

Part 2:

Expert Opinion by Clinical Authority in Practice of Cardiac Imaging:

The Voice of Dr. Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

From: Justin MDMEPhD <jdpmdphd@gmail.com>

Date: Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 10:40 PM

To: “Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN” <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: Re: I NEED YOUR EXPERT OPINION on Mickey Segal’s WSJ op-ed on vaccine dose allocation

Michael Segal proposes off-label use of the Pfizer 2-injection Covid-19 vaccine, based on data that suggested “75% protection at 2 weeks.” There was no controlled study reported of any sustained benefit from the single injection beyond 2 weeks, because those who received a first injection of vaccine received the designed booster at 2 weeks. Dr. Segal suggests it would be irresponsible to use the medication in the manner designed and tested. Instead, he could have proposed a study to determine the duration and degree of benefit from a single dose injection. However, one might argue that could delay the release of an effective regimen for the possibility that his proposed 1 dose regimen might be adequate for some, and possibly for more than the two weeks observed. Even if his guess is correct on both counts, both in his guess that the partial benefit at two weeks might be adequate and that it might last longer than the observed two weeks, it could still be deemed irresponsible to impose his guess for obvious reasons. His guess might be wrong, and could deprive many of the regimen that was validated as effective. Diverting an effective validated regimen to a guess could put many in harms way who would have been protected by the designed 2 dose regimen. He admits to low confidence in his recommendation when he proposes that essential workers should get the validated 2-dose regimen. Why does his recommendation stop there – why not propose a quarter dose to 4 times as many, or 1/8 dose to 8 times as many? Why apply the argument just to the two-dose regimen? He could also guess that a half dose of the single injection successful vaccines might be adequate. The motivation to second guess supply choices and doses is understandable, but it is not sound, as it is just a guess, not a validated regimen.

In addition, he also argues for 20-20 hindsight in the government distributing funds to mulitiple vaccines, instead of disproportionate purchase from Pfizer. Trials are limited in size, and further data will be collected on those vaccinated. Balanced investment may save more lives, not fewer, depending on those outcomes.

On Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 8:20 PM Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu> wrote:

Dear Dr. Pearlman,

Please send me 1/2 –1 page as a Critic of 

  • Mickey Segal’s WSJ op-ed on vaccine dose allocation, below

Part 3:

Expert Opinion by Scientific Authority in Population Biology

The Voice of Prof. Marcus W. Feldman, PhD

From: Marcus W Feldman <mfeldman@stanford.edu>

Date: Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 6:52 PM

To: “Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN” <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: Re: Mickey Segal’s WSJ op-ed on vaccine dose allocation

RE Segal’s note:

We need more details on the longer term efficacy of the one-dose regimen. Once we have such data, the question of whether 100 million one-dose treatments will be more protective of the population than 50 million two-dose treatments can be addressed. The question of how many hospitalizations and/or deaths would be avoided by going straight to the one-dose regimen can’t be answered. Both approaches leave unanswered whether the transmission of the virus from a vaccinated person is reduced. I would estimate that we need 300 million 2-dose treatments to vaccinate all under 16 year olds.

On Dec 13, 2020, at 1:56 PM, Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu> wrote:

Dear Prof. Feldman,

Please send me 1/2 –1 page as a Critic of 

  • Mickey Segal’s WSJ op-ed on vaccine dose allocation, below

Part 4:

Summary

The Voices of Prof. Stephen J. Williams, PhD and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The Voice of Prof. Stephen J. Williams, PhD

In light of just approved Moderna vaccine, AstraZenaca & JNJ forthcoming vaccine and the approved Pfizer BioNTech coverage should be over 200 million in US, making rationing of second booster shot unnecessary.  However, there is still a concern among the developing and underdeveloped nations that access to these vaccines will be restricted.

The following curation are articles related to this matter from the AAAS and CDC.

CDC advisory panel takes first shot at prioritizing who gets the first shots of COVID-19 vaccines
By Jon CohenDec. 1, 2020 , 8:25 PM
Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Health care workers and elderly people living in long-term care facilities should receive top priority for COVID-19 vaccines in the United States if, as expected, one or more becomes available next month in limited supply. That’s what a group that advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on such fraught issues decided today in a near-unanimous vote.

After hearing detailed presentations from CDC scientists who explained the rationale for this specific prioritization scheme, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 13 to one to support their proposal. Under the scheme, the first phase of vaccination, known as 1a, would begin with about 21 million health care workers and about 3 million adults who live in long-term care facilities. As spelled out in the 4-hour-long virtual meeting, these groups are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, and protecting them first, in turn, reduces the burden on society.

“I agree strongly with the decision of the committee,” says Stanley Perlman, a veteran coronavirus researcher and clinician at the University of Iowa who advised ACIP but is not part of it. “The discussions were incredibly thoughtful with everyone recognizing that we needed to make difficult choices. Of course, these allocation issues will become irrelevant once there are enough doses of useful vaccines.”

‘Just beautiful’: Another COVID-19 vaccine, from newcomer Moderna, succeeds in large-scale trial
By Jon CohenNov. 16, 2020 , 7:00 AM
Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

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Now, there are two. Another COVID-19 vaccine using the same previously unproven technology as the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, the U.S. and German companies that reported success on 9 November, appears to work remarkably well. And this time, the maker, U.S. biotech Moderna, is releasing a bit more data to back its claim than the other two companies.

An independent board monitoring Moderna’s 30,000-person vaccine trial met on Sunday and reported to the company and U.S. government health officials that only five people in the vaccinated group developed confirmed cases of COVID-19, whereas 90 people who received placebo shots became ill with the disease. That’s an efficacy of 94.5%, the company reported in a press release this morning. Although the clinical trial measurement may not translate into an equally high level of real-world protection, the success indicates the vaccine is Iikely more than effective enough to stop the pandemic if it can be widely distributed.

“That efficacy is just beautiful, and there’s no question about the veracity of it either,” says Lawrence Corey, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who co-led the clinical trials network that is testing the vaccine.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine ready to ship pending FDA approval -U.S. health chief

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-usa-azar-idUSKBN28R265?taid=5fdc062c54859c0001437b9b&utm_campaign=trueanthem&utm_medium=trueanthem&utm_source=twitter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday said nearly 6 million doses of Moderna Inc’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine were poised to ship nationwide as soon as it secures Food and Drug Administration approval. Azar, in an interview on CNBC, said federal health officials had allotted 5.9 million doses to send to the nation’s governors, who are managing each state’s distribution. “We’re ready to start shipping this weekend to them for rollout Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of next week. We’re ready to go,” he said. An FDA panel of outside advisers is weighing the safety and effectiveness of Moderna’s vaccine candidate at a meeting on Thursday. The agency will weigh the committee’s conclusions in making its approval decision.

The strategy seems to have been produce multiple vaccines from multiple sources which reduce the strain on manufacturing of required doses.
However, many underdeveloped nations as well as developing nations are worried about the nationalism of access to these vaccines.  Please read below:

Abstract

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (AfSD) has the vision to leave no one behind, particularly low-income countries. Yet COVID-19 seems to have brought up new rules and approaches. Through document and critical discourse analysis, it emerges that there has been a surge in COVID-19 vaccines and treatments nationalism. Global solidarity is threatened, with the USA, United Kingdom, European Union and Japan having secured 1.3 billion doses of potential vaccines as of August 2020. Vaccines ran out even before their approval with three candidates from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca having shown good Phase III results in November 2020. Rich countries have gone years ahead in advance vaccines and treatments purchases. This is a testimony that the 2030 AfSD, especially SDG 3 focusing on health will be difficult to achieve. Low-income countries are left gasping for survival as the COVID-19 pandemic relegates them further into extreme poverty and deeper inequality. The paper recommends the continued mobilisation by the World Health Organisation and other key stakeholders in supporting the GAVI vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (COVAX) global vaccines initiative that seeks to make two billion vaccine doses available to 92 low and middle-income countries by December 2021.

Others have voiced their concerns on this matter:

 

Reserving coronavirus disease 2019 vaccines for global access: cross sectional analysis

From: Anthony D So 1 2Joshua Woo 2 BMJ2020 Dec 15;371:m4750. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m4750.

Abstract

Objective: To analyze the premarket purchase commitments for coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) vaccines from leading manufacturers to recipient countries.

Design: Cross sectional analysis.

Data sources: World Health Organization’s draft landscape of covid-19 candidate vaccines, along with company disclosures to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, company and foundation press releases, government press releases, and media reports.

Eligibility criteria and data analysis: Premarket purchase commitments for covid-19 vaccines, publicly announced by 15 November 2020.

Main outcome measures: Premarket purchase commitments for covid-19 vaccine candidates and price per course, vaccine platform, and stage of research and development, as well as procurement agent and recipient country.

Results: As of 15 November 2020, several countries have made premarket purchase commitments totaling 7.48 billion doses, or 3.76 billion courses, of covid-19 vaccines from 13 vaccine manufacturers. Just over half (51%) of these doses will go to high income countries, which represent 14% of the world’s population. The US has reserved 800 million doses but accounts for a fifth of all covid-19 cases globally (11.02 million cases), whereas Japan, Australia, and Canada have collectively reserved more than one billion doses but do not account for even 1% of current global covid-19 cases globally (0.45 million cases). If these vaccine candidates were all successfully scaled, the total projected manufacturing capacity would be 5.96 billion courses by the end of 2021. Up to 40% (or 2.34 billion) of vaccine courses from these manufacturers might potentially remain for low and middle income countries-less if high income countries exercise scale-up options and more if high income countries share what they have procured. Prices for these vaccines vary by more than 10-fold, from $6.00 (£4.50; €4.90) per course to as high as $74 per course. With broad country participation apart from the US and Russia, the COVAX Facility-the vaccines pillar of the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator-has secured at least 500 million doses, or 250 million courses, and financing for half of the targeted two billion doses by the end of 2021 in efforts to support globally coordinated access to covid-19 vaccines.

Conclusions: This study provides an overview of how high income countries have secured future supplies of covid-19 vaccines but that access for the rest of the world is uncertain. Governments and manufacturers might provide much needed assurances for equitable allocation of covid-19 vaccines through greater transparency and accountability over these arrangements.

The Voice of Adina Hazan, PhD

I have a few issues with the proposal and the asserted outcomes:

The author suggests that back in July 2020 “the U.S. passed up an opportunity to secure by June 2021 more than 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine…[by] follow[ing] a balanced-portfolio strategy”. By stating that the U.S. “passed up an opportunity” at that time when all available evidence could not indicate which vaccine would prove successful is taking a “hindsight is 2020” approach. Instead, an all-or-nothing portfolio in July 2020 for one vaccine over another would have been at best unwise and at worst could have passed up the “right” vaccine.

In addition, the author’s core suggestion is that every person in America and the world needs the vaccine at the same time, aka as soon as possible. Considering the incredibly striated outcomes of patients that contract COVID-19, this is not the case. We know that males up until 85 years old with have a much worse prognosis than women, for example1. In addition, all data suggests that the lowest risk group is children, with a death rate in the U.S. of 0.1%1. Trying to vaccinate all children with a vaccine whose long-term effects are, at this time, unknown, for a disease with such a low death rate is not urgent and may warrant waiting for more evidence. Instead of trying to inoculate everyone as fast as possible, the two-dose approach that is currently implemented ensures that those most at risk receive the maximum protection, instead of leaving them at higher risks even after vaccination. In this way, the vaccine will do what it was originally intended to do: protect the most vulnerable immediately, and in turn begin to alleviate the strain on the overall population as a result of this disease.

  1. S. CDC website (Deaths by Age Group, 12/18/2020)

The Voice of Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

  • I recommand to adhere to administration protocol.
  • I agree with Dr. Joel Jertock:

It is very clear that the current COVID vaccination protocols call for two shots, three weeks apart, for maximum protection.

Limiting personnel to a single shot, “to spread the available vaccines further” just means wasting those doses.  It is similar to taking an antibiotic for only 5 days instead of the recommended 10 days, “to make the pills last longer.”

References on Vaccine Development 

Development of Medical Counter-measures for 2019-nCoV, CoVid19, Coronavirus

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The complication of Pfizer’s Vaccine Distribution’s Plan

Reporter : Irina Robu, PhD

Even though Pfizer announcing the development of safe and effective vaccine is cause for celebration, scientists and public experts face  the challenge of how to quickly make millions of doses of the vaccine and getting them to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. But Pfizer distribution of vaccines rely on a network of companies, federal and state agencies and on the ground health workers in the midst of a pandemic that is spreading at a high rate in United States.

Before Pfizer can begin shipping its vaccine, federal and state governments must inform Pfizer of how many doses are needed along with syringes, needles and other supplies needed to administer the vaccine. In addition, employees at the locations should be trained to store and administer the vaccine and to ensure that after people are vaccinated, they return for a second dose.

The complication of Pfizer’s vaccine is that it has to be stored at minus 70 degree Celsius until before it is injected.  Pfizer is making the vaccine at facilities in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Puurs, Belgium. The doses distributed in the United States will mostly come from Kalamazoo. When they receive emergency authorization from FDA, Pfizer will send limited doses to large hospitals, pharmacies and other vulnerable groups. At the same time, nine other candidates are also in the final stage of testing.

In Kalamazoo, vaccines will go into vials, vi will go into trays (195 vials per tray) and the trays will go into specially designed cooler-type boxes (up to five trays per box).The reusable boxes, each toting between 1,000 and 5,000 doses and stuffed with dry ice, are equipped with GPS-enabled sensors. Pfizer employees will be able to monitor the boxes’ locations and temperatures as FedEx and UPS transport them to hospitals and clinics nationwide.

The minute Pfizer coolers reach their destinations, hospitals or pharmacies will have a few alternatives of  how to store the vaccine. The easiest option is using ultracold freezers, but they can stash the trays in conventional freezers for up to five days. The destinations can keep the vials in the cooler for up to 15 days as long as they replenish the dry ice and don’t open it more than twice a day.

The chief executives at Pfizer and BioNTech suggest that Pfizer is able to produce up to 50 million doses per year and only half of those will go to US. But since two doses are needed for each person, only 12.5 million doses can be vaccinated.

The other challenge is distributing the vaccine in rural areas, where if not administering the doses fast enough it can go bad. Even though Pfizer has developed and tested an effective vaccine, figuring out how to distribute it is the hardest challenge Pfizer will face.

SOURCE

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Sex Differences in Immune Responses that underlie COVID-19 Disease Outcomes

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN and Irina Robu, PhD COVID-19 is a non-discriminatory virus, it can infect anyone from young to old, but it seems that older men are twice more susceptible to it and most likely to become severely sick and die in comparison to women of the same age. Researchers from Yale university, published an article suggesting that men, particularly those over the age of 60 may need to depend more on vaccines to protect themselves from infection. According to their research published in Nature in August 2020, known sex differences between men and women pose challenges to the immune system. Women mount faster and stronger immune responses, possibly because their bodies are equipped to fight pathogens that threaten unborn or newborn children. Over time, an immune system in a constant state of high alert can be harmful. The findings underline the necessity for companies developing coronavirus vaccines to analyze their data by sex and may influence decisions about dosing. Dr. Iwasaki’s team from Yale  analyzed immune responses in 17 men and 22 women who were admitted to the hospital soon after they were infected with the coronavirus. The investigators collected blood, nasopharyngeal swabs, saliva, urine and stool from the patients every three to seven days. The researchers also analyzed data from an additional 59 men and women who did not meet those criteria. Over all, the scientists found, the women’s bodies produced more T cells, which can kill and stop the infection from spreading. Men on the other hand presented  a much weaker activation of T cells and that delay was linked to how sick the men became. The older the men, the weaker their T cell responses. Even though the study provided some more information about why men become sicker when diagnosed with coronavirus than women,  it did not offer a clear reason for the differences between men and women. SOURCE https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2700-3
Article

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Sex differences in immune responses that underlie COVID-19 disease outcomes

Abstract

A growing body of evidence indicates sex differences in the clinical outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)1–5. However, whether immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 differ between sexes, and whether such differences explain male susceptibility to COVID-19, is currently unknown. In this study, we examined sex differences in
  • viral loads,
  • SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody titers,
  • plasma cytokines, as well as
  • blood cell phenotyping in COVID-19 patients.
By focusing our analysis on patients with moderate disease who had not received immunomodulatory medications, our results revealed that
  • male patients had higher plasma levels of innate immune cytokines such as IL-8 and IL-18 along with more robust induction of non-classical monocytes. In contrast,
  • female patients mounted significantly more robust T cell activation than male patients during SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was sustained in old age.
  • Importantly, we found that a poor T cell response negatively correlated with patients’ age and was associated with worse disease outcome in male patients, but not in female patients.
  • Conversely, higher innate immune cytokines in female patients associated with worse disease progression, but not in male patients.
  • These findings reveal a possible explanation underlying observed sex biases in COVID-19, and provide an important basis for the development of
  • a sex-based approach to the treatment and care of men and women with COVID-19.

Author information

Affiliations

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Akiko Iwasaki.

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Online Event: Vaccine matters: Can we cure coronavirus? An AAAS Webinar on COVID19: 8/12/2020

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams. PhD

Source: Online Event

Top on the world’s want list right now is a coronavirus vaccine. There is plenty of speculation about how and when this might become a reality, but clear answers are scarce.Science/AAAS, the world’s leading scientific organization and publisher of the Science family of journals, brings together experts in the field of coronavirus vaccine research to answer the public’s most pressing questions: What vaccines are being developed? When are we likely to get them? Are they safe? And most importantly, will they work?

link: https://view6.workcast.net/AuditoriumAuthenticator.aspx?cpak=1836435787247718&pak=8073702641735492

Presenters

Presenter
Speaker: Sarah Gilbert, Ph.D.

University of Oxford
Oxford, UK
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Presenter
Speaker: Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
Bethesda, MD
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Presenter
Speaker: Kathryn M. Edwards, M.D.

Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
Nashville, TN
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Presenter
Speaker: Jon Cohen

Science/AAAS
San Diego, CA
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Presenter
Moderator: Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Science/AAAS
Washington, DC
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Dmitry Korkin is a professor of bioinformatics and computational biology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he specializes in bioinformatics of complex disease, computational genomics, systems biology, and biomedical data analytics. I came across Dmitry’s work when in February his group used the viral genome of the COVID-19 to reconstruct the 3D structure of its major viral proteins and their interactions with human proteins, in effect creating a structural genomics map of the coronavirus and making this data open and available to researchers everywhere. We talked about the biology of COVID-19, SARS, and viruses in general, and how computational methods can help us understand their structure and function in order to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines.
This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast.
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OUTLINE: 0:00 – Introduction 2:33 – Viruses are terrifying and fascinating 6:02 – How hard is it to engineer a virus? 10:48 – What makes a virus contagious? 29:52 – Figuring out the function of a protein 53:27 – Functional regions of viral proteins 1:19:09 – Biology of a coronavirus treatment 1:34:46 – Is a virus alive? 1:37:05 – Epidemiological modeling 1:55:27 – Russia 2:02:31 – Science bobbleheads 2:06:31 – Meaning of life
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Contagious

We are in the midst of a pandemic that is impacting people and society in ways that are hard to grasp. The most apparent impact is on physical health. It also effects our attitudes in society, our economy and our cultural life. Throughout history, humanity has had to face the challenge of understanding, managing and fighting viruses.

In the exhibition Contagious we are highlighting Nobel Prize-awarded researchers who have expanded our knowledge about viruses, mapped our immune system and developed vaccines. We also examine the perspectives from Literature and Economics Laureates about the impact of epidemics on life and society. Visit us at the museum or on these pages.

Museums have an important role to play in times of crisis, since they can help people tackle existential questions and provide a broader context. The Nobel Museum is about ideas that have changed the world. The Nobel Prize points to the ability of humans to find solutions to difficult challenges that we face time and time again. It is a source of hope, even in the midst of the crisis.

SOURCE

Nobel Prize Museum

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/whats-on/contagious/?utm_content=contagious_text

Coronavirus

On March 11 this year, the World Health Organization announced that the spread of the coronavirus should be classified as a pandemic, that is “an infectious disease that spreads to large parts of the world and affects a large proportion of the population of each country”. Today, nobody knows how many will die in this pandemic, or when, or if, we can have a vaccine against the disease.

SARS-CoV-2, or Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, is an RNA virus from the family coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease covid-19.

The virus was detected at the end of last year in the Wuhan sub-province of China, and in most cases causes milder disease symptoms that disappear within two weeks. But sometimes, especially in certain groups such as the elderly and people with certain other underlying illnesses, the infection becomes more severe and can in some cases lead to death.

The virus is believed to have zoonotic origin, that is, it has been transmitted to humans from another animal. Where the origin of the disease comes from, that is to say from which host animal the virus originates, is still unknown. However, the virus has close genetic similarity to a corona virus carried by some bats, which might indicate where the virus comes from.

This model shows the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the illness covid-19. The globe-shaped envelope has a membrane of fat-like substances. Inside the envelope are proteins bound to RNA molecules, that contain the virus’s genes. Short spikes of proteins and longer spikes of glycoprotein stick out of the envelope and attach to receptors on the surface of attacked cells. The spikes, which are bigger at the top, give the virus its appearance reminiscent of the Sun’s corona. This where the coronavirus’s name comes from.

Testing is an important tool for tracking and preventing the spread of infection during an epidemic.

One type of test looks at if a person is infected by looking for traces of the virus’s RNA genetic material. The test is taken using a swab stick inserted into the throat. The small amounts of RNA or DNA that attach to the swab are analyzed using the PCR technique, which was invented by Kary Mullis in 1983. Ten years later he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Another type of test looks for antibodies to the virus in the blood. This indicates that the person has had the disease.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/coronavirus/

The first virus ever discovered

We have understood since the 19th century that many diseases are caused by microscopic bacteria that cannot be seen by the naked eye. It turned out that there were even smaller contagions: viruses. Research on viruses has been recognized with several Nobel Prizes.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/the-first-virus-ever-discovered/

Spanish flu

The worst pandemic of the 20th century was the Spanish flu, which swept across the world 1918–1920.

The Spanish flu was caused by an influenza virus. American soldiers at military facilities at the end of World War I were likely an important source of its spread in Europe. The war had just ended, and the pandemic claimed even more lives than the war. Between 50 and 100 million people died in the pandemic.

The Red Cross, an international aid organization, which received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts during the war, also took part in fighting the Spanish flu. International Committee of the Red Cross received the prize in 1917, 1944 and 1963.

This photo shows personnel from the Red Cross providing transportation for people suffering from the Spanish flu in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/spanish-flu/

Polio

Polio is an illness that often affects children and young people and that can lead to permanent paralysis.

Polio is a highly infectious RNA virus belonging to the genus Enterovirus. The virus only infects humans and enters the body via droplets such as sneezing and coughing, or through contact with infected people’s feces. Usually, polio infects our respiratory and intestinal tract, but sometimes the virus spreads to the spinal cord and can then cause paralysis. The virus mainly affects children, but most of those infected show no or very mild symptoms.

Vaccines are a way to help our immune system fight viruses. The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism against attacks from viruses and bacteria. A number of Nobel Laureates have researched the immune system and contributed to the development of vaccines.

Hepatitis B

The virus can infect people without them becoming sick. Discoveries in the 1960s enabled both vaccines and tests to prevent the spread.

Hepatitis B can infect humans and apes, and is most common in West Africa and in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease also occurs in the rest of Africa, as well as in areas from the Caspian Sea through to China and Korea and further down to Southeast Asia.

Baruch Blumberg discovered the virus behind hepatitis B and developed a vaccine against the disease.

There are many varieties of hepatitis, or jaundice, that cause inflammation in the liver. When studying blood proteins from people from different parts of the world at the end of the 1960s, Baruch Blumberg unexpectedly discovered an infectious agent for hepatitis B. He showed that the infectious agent was linked to a virus of previously unknown type. The virus can infect people without them becoming sick. The discoveries enabled both vaccines and tests to prevent the spread through blood transfusions.

Baruch Blumberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1976. He has summarized what the Nobel Prize meant to him.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/hepatitis-b/

Yellow fever

Each year, Yellow fever causes about 30,000 deaths. The vaccine against yellow fever was produced in the 1930s. A work awarded the Nobel Prize.

Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by a virus that is spread by mosquitos in tropical areas of Africa and South America.

Each year, Yellow fever causes about 200,000 infections and 30,000 deaths. About 90% of the cases occur in Africa. The disease is common in warm, tropical climates such as South America and Africa, but it is not found in Asia.

You may think that the number of people infected would be decreasing, but since the 1980s the number of yellow fever cases has unfortunately increased. This is believed to be due to the fact that more and more people are living in cities, that we are traveling more than before, and an increased climate impact.

Since there is no cure for the disease, preventive vaccination is a very important measure. Max Theiler successfully infected mice with a virus in the 1930s, which opened the door to more in-depth studies. When the virus was transferred between mice, a weakened form of the virus was created that gave monkeys immunity. In 1937, Theiler was able to develop an even weaker version of the virus. This version could be used as a vaccine for people.

Max Theiler was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/yellow-fever/

HIV/AIDS

In the early 1980s, reports began to emerge about young men that suffered from unusual infections and cancers that normally only affect patients with weakened immune systems. It turned out to be a previously unknown epidemic, HIV, which spread rapidly across the world.

HIV, which is an abbreviation of human immunodeficiency virus, is a sexually transmitted retrovirus that attacks our immune system. An untreated infection eventually leads to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. In 2008, French scientists Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the detection of human immunodeficiency virus.

Watch the interview where Françoise Barré-Sinoussi talks about what it is like to meet patients affected by the virus she discovered.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/hiv-aids/

 

Viruses captured in photos

Viruses are incredibly small and cannot be seen in normal microscopes.

The electron microscope, which was invented by Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll in 1933, made it possible to take pictures of much smaller objects than was previously possible. Ernst Ruska’s brother, Helmut Ruska, was a doctor and biologist, and used early electron microscopes to make images of viruses and other small objects. The tobacco mosaic virus was the first virus captured on film. The development of the electron microscope has enabled increasingly better images to be taken.

Ernst Ruska was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Röhrer, who developed the scanning electron microscope.

Read more about Ernst Ruska – his life and research. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1986/ruska/facts/

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/viruses-captured-in-photos/

 

Epidemics and literature

When epidemics and pandemics strike the world, it isn’t just the physical health of people that are impacted but also ways of life, thoughts and feelings. Nobel Laureates in literature have been effected by epidemics and written about life under real and fictive epidemics.

The coronavirus crisis has had a dramatic impact on our lives and our view of our lives. Olga Tokarczuk is one of the authors who has reflected on this.

Tokarczuk argues that the coronavirus has swept away the illusion that we are the masters of creation and that we can do anything since the world belongs to us. She wonders if the pandemic has forced us into a slower, more natural rhythm in life, but also worries about how it may increase distrust of strangers and worsen inequality among people.

Orhan Pamuk has worked for many years on a novel about a bubonic plague epidemic that struck primarily Asia in 1901. The coronavirus crisis has caused him to consider the similarities between the ongoing pandemic and past epidemics throughout history.

He sees several recurring behaviors when epidemics strike: denial and false information, distrust of individuals belonging to other groups, and theories about a malicious intent behind the pandemic. But epidemics also remind us that we are not alone and allow us to rediscover a sense of solidarity. He writes in The New York Times.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/epidemics-and-literature/

Economics Laureates on the current pandemic

Pandemics have wide-ranging impacts on the economy. Paul Romer and Paul Krugman are two economists who have been active in the public discourse during the coronavirus crisis.

Paul Romer has expressed concerns about the pandemic’s effects on the economy but is optimistic about the possibilities of technology. He supports widespread testing. Those who are infected have to stay home for two weeks while others can work and take part in other ways in society.

Paul Romer was awarded the prize “for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis.” Paul Romer has demonstrated how knowledge can function as a driver of long-term economic growth. He showed how economic forces govern the willingness of firms to produce new ideas.

His thoughts are developed in his lecture during the Nobel Week 2018.

https://nobelprizemuseum.se/en/economics-laureates-on-the-current-pandemic/

 

Other SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/

 

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via Key Immune System Genes Identified to Explain High COVID Deaths and Spread in Northern Italy Versus Fewer Cases and Deaths in the South

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