Coronavirus Information Roundup, June 27-July 3

The gadgets beneath are highlights from the free publication “Good, helpful, science stuff about COVID-19.” To obtain publication points each day in your inbox, join right here. Please think about a month-to-month contribution to assist this article.

Information this week included phrase {that a} Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate to guard in opposition to the brand new coronavirus is displaying optimistic progress in small sample-size, human testing for security and effectiveness (section I and section II). It’s price noting {that a} scientific report on these outcomes, posted on-line 7/1/20, has not been formally printed and reviewed by specialists for flaws. For vaccine information, one merchandise I’m paying extra consideration to at this time is a 6/19/20 report by Ryan Cross at Chemical & Engineering Information, which states that efforts to develop a vaccine to guard in opposition to SARS-CoV-2 are progressing quicker than anticipated. “Vaccines for COVID-19 are more likely to first be obtainable by means of [Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA],” Cross writes, which implies that sure teams of individuals may very well be vaccinated earlier than a vaccine is formally accredited by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration. In a current episode of his podcast “Within the Bubble,” well being coverage chief Andy Slavitt stated he has heard rumors that such an EUA transfer may happen in October. 

This 6/30/20 story by Carl Zimmer in The New York Instances explores early insights into why “most contaminated individuals don’t cross on the coronavirus to another person. However a small quantity cross it on to many others in so-called superspreading occasions.” A College of California, Los Angeles, illness ecologist and an Emory College epidemiologist agree that “circumstances” and occasions (comparable to a bar full of individuals) drive superspreading, not particular person biology, the story states. Different SARS-CoV-2 case clusters have occurred in well being care services, nursing houses, day care facilities, eating places, workplaces and reside live shows, in accordance with a current report printed by the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management that’s famous within the story. “It could be potential to keep away from crippling, across-the-board lockdowns by concentrating on the superspreading occasions,” Zimmer writes.

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Leah Douglas at FERN (Meals & Surroundings Reporting Community) reported on 7/2/20 that at the very least 30,623 U.S. meatpacking staff, 3,316 meals processing staff (making “frozen dinners, baked items, and dairy merchandise”), and three,619 farmworkers have examined optimistic for SARS-CoV-2 and at the very least 113 meatpacking staff, 13 meals processing staff and a pair of farmworkers have died of COVID-19. The unfold of the virus will not be slowing amongst staff within the meals business, Douglas reported individually on 6/22/20. Zoom in on a map on this web page, which reportedly is up to date each weekday, for particulars about services and farms the place you reside.

Two new research within the New England Journal of Drugs (NEJM) element almost 300 circumstances of the post-COVID-19 multisystem inflammatory syndrome in kids, writes Helen Branswell at STAT (6/29/20). One examine reported that 4 kids with the situation died and a few 80 % of the kids with the situation had been handled in an intensive care unit; the second examine reported two deaths in kids with the syndrome, Branswell writes. An NEJM editorial written by an infectious illnesses researcher at Imperial School London expresses concern that the inflammatory situation is much extra widespread than studies point out, the story suggests.

A 6/27/20 story by Sam Knight at The New Yorker profiles Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet since 1995. The UK-based Lancet is likely one of the most revered medical journals on the planet. “In a fashion that’s uncommon for the editor of a scientific journal, Horton has leaped into the politics of the pandemic,” Knight writes.

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Most readers right here most likely know that whereas it’s clever, advisable, and sometimes mandated to put on a material face masks in public as a result of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the science behind these suggestions and laws is a bit of complicated and shaky. For extra element, I not too long ago listened intently to a 6/3/20 episode of a podcast (a transcript additionally obtainable on the identical web page) printed by the Middle for Infectious Illness Analysis and Coverage (CIDRAP) on the College of Minnesota. In it, CIDRAP Director Michael Osterholm emphasizes how little related analysis exists to assist claims that material masks, which match loosely and all the time enable some leakage at their perimeter, defend most of the people from a virus comparable to SARS-CoV-2 that’s now thought to unfold primarily by small particles that float within the air. My primary takeaway from all that is to stick, particularly indoors, to distancing at the very least six toes from others when in public and to not let mask-wearing lull me right into a false sense of safety. Quoting from an April 2020 report put out by a U.S. Nationwide Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Drugs committee on which he served, Osterholm stated within the podcast: “There are not any research of people carrying selfmade material masks in the midst of their typical actions, subsequently now we have solely restricted and oblique proof concerning the effectiveness of such masks defending others when made or worn by most of the people regularly.” He provides that material masks “could present some profit in lowering the danger of virus transmission, however at finest it will possibly solely be anticipated to be restricted. Distancing stays an important threat discount motion [the general public] can take.”

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I’ve not too long ago observed a pair items that residence in on the potential position of “T cell immunity” in restoration from SARS-CoV-2 infections. First: This 6/25/20 essay in The Guardian by viral immunologist Zania Stamataki on the College of Birmingham, UK, outlines the basics of “what antibodies reveal about our immune response to COVID-19, and the way protecting immunity works.” Briefly, she explains that antibodies aren’t the entire story of our immune response. And that’s good to recollect given a current, small examine suggesting that antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 won’t final greater than a pair months, at the very least in individuals who by no means develop signs. Stamataki’s essay will get very helpful to me across the seventh paragraph, the place it begins to sketch the “two main sorts” of immune cells that may bear in mind an an infection, such that our our bodies can name on them to guard us in opposition to reinfection. These are B cells, which produce antibodies, and T-cells, which “could also be adequate to manage an infection within the absence of antibodies.” Extra intriguing materials comes when Stamataki notes a discovering, posted on-line 6/22/20 and never formally assessed but for flaws, that some individuals uncovered to the virus made T cells in response to it however didn’t make detectable antibodies. In sum, the essay states that “immunological reminiscence is feasible.” Stamataki additionally writes that “T cells’ reminiscence of SARS-CoV-2 could last more than antibodies, as is the case with different coronaviruses.” So, there’s nothing agency right here past immune system fundamentals, however I discovered it intriguing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)Robin LloydRobin Lloyd is a science author primarily based in New York Metropolis and a contributing editor at Scientific American.Credit score: Nick Higgins

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