By Nancy Lapid
(Reuters) – Following is an overview of some of the latest research on the new coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The South African variant may resist the current antibody treatment
The variant of the new coronavirus identified in South Africa may resist or ‘escape’ antibodies that neutralize earlier versions of the virus, scientists have found. It “shows complete escape” from three classes of monoclonal antibodies produced to treat patients with COVID-19, and shows “significant or complete”
The Pfizer / BioNTech shot probably protects against the British version
According to laboratory tests, the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE is likely to protect against the more infectious variant of the virus, found in the UK and now spreading around the world. The researchers took blood samples from 16 people who received the vaccine and exposed their blood to a synthetic virus or pseudovirus that was designed to have 10 mutations found in the UK variant. The antibodies that developed in response to the vaccine effectively neutralized the pseudovirus, according to a report released Tuesday by bioRxiv before a peer review. “This makes it very unlikely that the UK option will escape the protection provided by the vaccine,” said Jonathan Stoye, a virus scientist at Britain’s Francis Creek Institute who was not involved in the study. Similar experiments are needed with the more relevant version, first discovered in South Africa, he suggested. AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna Inc and CureVac NV are also testing whether their respective vaccines will protect against rapidly spreading variants. (https://bit.ly/35X6Wa4; https://reut.rs/3p1TCZz)
The immune system will remember how to produce COVID-19 antibodies
People who have recovered from COVID-19 are likely to achieve a rapid and effective response to the virus if they encounter it again, as the “cells” of their immune system will remember how to produce the antibodies needed to fight it. shows a new study. The researchers followed 87 COVID-19 survivors for six months and found that while antibody levels against the virus could decline over time, the number of B cells in memory remained unchanged. The antibodies produced by these cells are more potent than the patient’s original antibodies and may be more resistant to mutations in the thorn protein that the virus uses to penetrate the cells, they said. They found, for example, that antibodies could recognize and neutralize at least one of the mutations in the South African variant of the virus that has caused concern among health experts. Even if antibody levels drop, cells will remember how to do them when needed, according to study leader Michelle Nusenzweig of Rockefeller University, whose findings were reported Monday in Nature. If this is true at six months, as in this study, it can be assumed that it is probably still true for longer periods, he added. People who have recovered from COVID-19 “may become infected, but the immune system will be prepared to fight the infection,” Nusenzweig said. (https://go.nature.com/3nWtwWo)
Mortality is higher when intensive care units are packed with patients with COVID-19
The more complete the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is with patients with COVID-19, the higher the mortality rate among these patients, new data show. When researchers tracked the results of 8,515 COVID-19 patients admitted to 88 U.S. veterans’ hospitals in 2020, they found that survival rates improved between March and August. However, throughout the study period, the risk of death was almost doubled when at least 75% of the intensive care unit beds were filled with patients with COVID-19, compared with no more than 25% of the beds of the intensive care unit. Mortality from COVID-19 “increases during periods of peak demand,” said Dr. Dawn Bravata of Richard L Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, who led the study published Tuesday at the JAMA Network Open. “The more the public can do to avoid infections, the better,” she added. In addition, Bravata said, “facilities within a healthcare system or in a geographic region should work together to triage critically ill patients with COVID-19 to sites in a larger intensive care unit to reduce workload. at any establishment. ” (https://bit.ly/3oYfWDa; https://bit.ly/35VHpOk)
Open https://tmsnrt.rs/3a5EyDh in an external Reuters schedule browser for vaccines and treatments under development.
(Report by Nancy Lapid, Linda Carroll, Kate Keland and Ludwig Burger; Edited by Bill Bercrot)