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  • The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
  • Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 453 million infections and over 6 million deaths.
  • Keep up to date with the latest research and information about COVID-19 here.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently monitoring five variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron.

03/11/2022 09:01 GMT — Ayurvedic compound may serve as ‘starting point’ for COVID-19 treatment

Researchers are investigating the bark of the neem tree as a potential COVID-19 treatment. They found that an extract from the tree’s bark may have antiviral benefits and help reduce symptoms. The scientists believe Azadirachta indica may act as a pan-antiviral, capable of treating future emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Read more about the recent research here.

03/11/2022 08:52 GMT — Study joins search for variant-proof approach to SARS-CoV-2 treatment

Rapidly mutating spike proteins in SARS-CoV-2 threaten to thwart mRNA vaccines and other COVID-19 medications. However, researchers have identified other targets within the virus. A new study using a new screening methodology proposes a list of existing drugs worthy of further investigation.

Read more about the study here.

03/10/2022 14:37 GMT — Delta and Omicron recombinant virus detected in France, research suggests

New research claims to have found the first solid evidence of an Omicron and Delta recombinant virus, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it will be “tracking and discussing” the situation.

The recombination was identified in three individuals in France, and estimates suggest that it has been circulating since early January 2022.

The researchers said that the hybrid version of the coronavirus combines the backbone of the Delta variant with the spike protein of the Omicron variant. Genetic recombination is a process in which two variants infect the same host cell.

First reports about this recombination surfaced on virus research bulletin boards, which also indicated multiple cases in Europe.

It is too soon to know whether these “Deltamicron” infections will be very transmissible or cause severe disease, says Philippe Colson of IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille, France, and lead author of the study.

Earlier, reports had surfaced about “Deltacron” in Cyprus. However, many experts thought it was likely a result of lab contamination during the sequencing process.

Read MNT‘s previous coverage on Deltacron here.

03/10/2022 10:35 GMT — Austria suspends COVID-19 vaccine mandate, citing milder Omicron

Austria has suspended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which it had imposed before the highly contagious Omicron subvariant became the dominant strain.

The mandate, which took effect in February, brought fines up to 3,600 euros, about $4,000, for most adults who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. However, police enforcement of the measure was not scheduled to begin until March 15.

Despite a high number of daily COVID-19 cases, Austria’s constitutional minister, Karoline Edtstadler, said that the vaccine mandate was “not proportionate” to the danger posed by Omicron, which seems to cause less severe symptoms and outcomes.

Austria was one of the first countries to issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Many European countries have recently been lifting protective measures against COVID-19, with Germany and France expected to join others at the end of the month.

Read more about Omicron symptoms here.

03/10/2022 09:48 GMT — COVID-19 severity: Blood group may influence risk

A recent study has identified a causal link between specific blood proteins and the risk of hospitalization, the need for respiratory support, or the risk of death from severe COVID-19. While certain blood proteins were associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19, others were protective.

Read Medical News Today’s coverage of the research here.

03/09/2022 16:15 GMT — WHO reverses position on booster doses

In a recent statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it “strongly supports urgent and broad access to current COVID-19 vaccines for primary series and booster doses,” as vaccines and boosters continue to protect against severe disease in the face of Omicron.

This represents a shift from the previous stance that the organization announced in September 2021, when it repeatedly warned against the widespread distribution of booster shots to people without any underlying health conditions.

At the time, WHO stressed the fact that rolling out boosters would accentuate inequities in vaccine access, and it prompted higher income countries to give the extra doses to countries with lower vaccination rates instead.

In the new statement, the WHO has also cautioned that “to ensure [that] COVID-19 vaccines provide optimal protection into the future, they may need to be updated,” as new variants emerge.

Read the statement in full here.

03/09/2022 10:12 GMT — All US state mask mandates will be lifted by the end of March

Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington are the only states with mask mandates still in effect. The mandates in both Oregon and Washington will end on Friday, March 11, at 11:59 p.m. Yesterday, David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, announced that they would lift the final U.S. mask mandate before March 26.

In his announcement, Ige said, “I do believe that we are the last community to release the mask mandate, because we care about each other, and we care about our community, and we are all willing to sacrifice to keep each other healthy and safe.”

03/08/2022 15:05 GMT — Pfizer will provide 10 million courses of Paxlovid in low and middle income countries

Pfizer has committed to providing 10 million courses of the COVID-19 antiviral treatment known as Paxlovid to low and middle income countries this year.

Pfizer has also said it will cut the price of the drug in countries with a lower income, but it has not yet specified by how much, according to Reuters.

Nongovernmental organization activists say the 10 million doses are not enough to meet the demand for this drug in these countries.

Read the full story here.

03/08/2022 14:50 GMT — Long COVID’s cardiovascular implications

As millions of people across the globe are living with long COVID, Medical News Today delves into the topic by exploring a key aspect of the condition: the cardiovascular event known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

In the new “In Conversation” podcast, MNT spoke to three experts and an activist with long COVID about the cardiovascular complications of COVID-19.

Specifically, we asked: what is POTS, and what are its symptoms? What may cause this syndrome? Who is at risk, and what might be effective ways to treat it?

Read the full MNT feature and listen to the podcast here.

03/07/2022 15:38 GMT — 4th shots and COVID-19 boosters: Why and when best to get it

Studies indicate that immunity conferred by a past Omicron infection is not enough to prevent reinfection or protect against other variants.

However, while real-world data show that a third dose is necessary for better protection against severe disease or hospitalization due to infection with this SARS-CoV-2 variant, receiving a fourth vaccine dose may not be required for everyone.

Read our in-depth explainer about additional vaccine boosters here.

03/07/2022 15:35 GMT — How ventilation, filtration, and humidity may prevent coronavirus transmission

A recent study by researchers from the University of Oregon found that higher ventilation, filtration, and humidity levels decreased the amount of SARS-CoV-2 particles in the air.

The study, which appears in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, measured the amount of virus particles that 11 students with COVID-19 released during certain activities.

“There are lots of mathematical models to estimate the effectiveness of indoor air disease transmission risk mitigation strategies, such as ventilation, filtration, and humidification, but to increase confidence, it is important to quantify these models in a physical setting,” explained senior author Dr. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg.

Read our full coverage of this story here.

03/07/2022 15:25 GMT — Vaccinated less likely to develop long COVID

new study that has not yet undergone peer review has found an association between receiving two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before a SARS-CoV-2 infection and reduced long COVID symptoms after 12 weeks.

The study is based on data collected and analyzed by the UK Health Security Agency.

“This study provides good evidence that having preexisting immunity with vaccination before getting COVID-19 gives some protection from long COVID,” Dr. Davey Smith, professor of medicine at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla — who was not involved in this study — told Medical News Today.

Read this story in full here. 

03/03/2022 10:32 GMT — President Biden announces National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan 

President Joe Biden has announced the White House’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. It describes how they will continue to reduce the impact of COVID-19 while preparing for future variants. “We know how to keep our businesses and our schools open with the tools that we have at our disposal,” explains White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.

In the plan, it reads, “We are not going to just ‘live with COVID.’ Because of our work, we are no longer going to let COVID-19 dictate how we live.”

03/03/2022 10:29 GMT — Vaccine protection wanes in adolescents 5 months after second dose

Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine protect adolescents from severe disease and death.

However, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines are less effective against Omicron. The data also show that protection wanes 5 months after the second dose.

In the new report, the CDC concludes: “All eligible children and adolescents should remain up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, including a booster dose for those aged 12–17 years.”

Find more live updates here.

03/02/2022 15:55 GMT — South African Omicron data offer renewed hope

A recent study that appears in NEJM offers new hope that the worst of the pandemic may be winding down. Data from the Gauteng province of South Africa — where health experts first identified the Omicron variant in November 2021 — suggest that there have been significantly fewer hospitalizations and deaths from infections with this SARS-CoV-2 variant.

More importantly, the research showed that among younger and older populations — including the unvaccinated — there is a high percentage of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which may explain the lower rate of deaths and hospitalizations.

And among a high percentage of the population, the immunity to SARS-CoV-2 was “hybrid,” meaning that it was given partly by vaccines and partly from previous infection with the virus.

“Our findings support the optimism expressed at the beginning of 2022 in South Africa that a turning point had been reached in the pandemic. Many in high income countries dismissed this view as not applicable to their settings despite high vaccine coverage. But their experience has since generally aligned with South Africa’s,” wrote study author Prof. Shabir A. Madhi for The Conversation.

03/02/2022 15:30 GMT — Risk of vaccine-related inflammatory syndrome in children is 1 in 1 million

A large recent study published in The Lancet has reviewed data on more than 21 million children and adolescents aged 12–20 years who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over a period of 9 months.

The authors of the study found a total of 21 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), suggesting that this rare complication occurred in 1 per 1 million vaccinated people.

This rate is much lower than the rate at which unvaccinated individuals experience MIS-C if they contract SARS-CoV-2, which is 200 cases per 1 million.

“Our findings suggest that MIS-C after COVID-19 vaccination is rare,” conclude the study authors.

Access the full paper here.

03/02/2022 11:00 GMT — Omicron subvariants BA.1 vs. BA.2: What the latest data say

Recent data indicate that the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, or the “stealth” variant, has been outcompeting the previously dominant BA.1 subvariant in several countries.

According to some new studies, BA.2 may be even more transmissible than BA.1, as well as slightly better at evading immunity.

Nevertheless, clinical data do not suggest a significant difference in the severity of disease caused by BA.2 versus BA.1.

Read more about this in our dedicated article.

03/02/2022 10:47 GMT — England health workers no longer required to get vaccinated from March

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom, Sajid Javid, has said that health and social care workers in England will no longer be required by law to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

This decision is due to go into effect on March 15, amid worries that the vaccination requirement may leave the National Health Service (NHS) even shorter staffed.

03/01/2022 16:30 GMT — Hong Kong mortality rates among the highest in the world, New Zealand to expect peak cases, hospitalizations

Mortality rates in Hong Kong are now among the highest in the world, with 117 new deaths recorded on Tuesday. Ninety-one percent of these deaths were among people who had not received full vaccinations.

According to Bloomberg, which used data from Johns Hopkins University, Hong Kong has the highest mortality rate among high income countries.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield announced that there were almost 100,000 COVID-19 active cases across the motu, with peak cases and hospitalizations likely to occur in the next few days.

“I know that such a high daily case number can be concerning for people to hear, and many of us will now have whānau members who now have COVID-19, but it’s important to remember that COVID-19 now is a very different foe to what it was at the beginning of the pandemic,” Dr. Bloomfield said.

Read more about these stories here and here.

03/01/2022 14:20 GMT — Pfizer vaccine only 12% effective in 5–11-year-old kids

According to new data that Pfizer-BioNTech released, the COVID-19 vaccine is only 12% effective against Omicron infections in children aged 5–11 years.

The protection wanes off more quickly and steeply than in children and adolescents aged 12–17 years, the data show. The information appears as a study on the preprint server MedRXiv and has not yet undergone peer review.

Specifically, between December 13, 2021, and January 30, 2022, the vaccine effectiveness dropped from 66% to 51% in 12–17-year-olds and from 68% to 12% in 5–11-year-olds.

“However, vaccination of children 5–11 years was protective against severe disease and is recommended,” the preprint study concludes.

Read more about the study here.

02/28/2022 14:20 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 came from Wuhan market and not Chinese lab, twin studies say

Two new studies (1,2) are adding to evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that sparked the COVID-19 pandemic, came from a market in Wuhan and not a Chinese government laboratory.

Although the studies have not yet undergone peer review, they make it “extraordinarily clear” that the site of origin was Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, according to Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist and co-author of both studies.

The research examines the geographical clusters of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and links them to genetic samples collected from the market and the first COVID-19 patients.

A joint study that China and the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted last year had already ruled out the theory that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered in a lab.

Read MNT‘s previous coverage on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 here.

02/28/2022 11:30 GMT — COVID-19 and dementia: Is there a link?

COVID-19 causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, but in some individuals, the after-effects can linger for months. Some of these effects are neurological, with possible symptoms including brain fog, anxiety, and difficulties with memory. This has led scientists to investigate whether COVID-19 could increase the risk of dementia. MNT explores the evidence so far.

Read more here.

02/25/2022 15:10 GMT — Emergency room visits among teenage girls doubled during the pandemic

Emergency rooms across the United States reported a significant increase in the number of visits from teenage girls dealing with eating disorders and other mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency said that it observed this troubling trend among girls aged 12–17 years, which was worsened by pandemic-related stressors such as the “lack of structure in daily routine, emotional distress, and changes in food availability.”

Teenage girls also made more visits for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in 2021, the data showed.

Read more here about how the pandemic has affected eating habits.

02/25/2022 09:04 GMT — COVID-19 and disordered eating: How the pandemic has impacted eating habits

In a new feature, Medical News Today investigates whether the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected people’s eating patterns. To explore this topic, we speak with two experts to help determine the relationship between disordered eating and the pandemic.

Read the full feature here.

02/25/2022 09:03 GMT — Beyond Omicron: How vaccines, transmission will shape the next variant

In a recent article, Medical News Today spoke with experts about what the future of SARS-CoV-2 might hold. We ask whether the next variant will be weaker than Omicron, discuss endemicity, and ask how vaccination might impact future variants.

Read more here.

02/25/2022 08:36 GMT — Sanofi and GSK seek approval for new COVID-19 vaccine

Sanofi and GSK have announced positive results from late stage trials on their experimental COVID-19 vaccine. They plan to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency. As the vaccine is protein-based rather than mRNA-based, it is easier to transport and store.

According to the press release, in phase 3 efficacy trials, the vaccine was 100% effective against severe COVID-19 and hospitalization and 77% effective against moderate to severe disease.

However, it is worth noting that there were relatively few cases of severe COVID-19 among the trial participants. Once the trial is over later this year, the pharmaceutical companies plan to publish their data in a peer-reviewed journal.

02/24/2022 10:29 GMT — COVID-19 vaccines and blood clots: Two large studies investigate

Two large studies have found a small increase in the absolute risk of rare blood clots called intracranial venous thromboses following a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The authors stress, however, that the benefit of vaccination — its capacity to protect against severe COVID-19 — far outweighs the risks.

They found no evidence of increased risks following a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Read more about the studies here.

02/24/2022 10:10 GMT — COVID-19 survivors: Increased risk of mental health issues

A study tracking COVID-19 survivors found them more likely to develop mental health issues than other people over the year following diagnosis. The researchers saw an increased risk even for those whose COVID-19 was mild enough that they did not require hospitalization.

Read more about the study here.

02/24/2022 09:56 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 infection damages hamsters’ testicles

In a recent study, scientists infected hamsters with SARS-CoV-2. They compared any changes in the hamsters’ testicles with those of hamsters infected by an influenza virus.

In the hamsters with SARS-CoV-2, the team identified a “varying degree of testicular inflammation, hemorrhage, and necrosis” and a reduced ability to produce sperm.

Although this was an animal study, the authors believe that “Long term follow-up of sperm count and sex hormone profile of convalescent COVID-19 males is warranted.”

Find more live COVID-19 updates here.

02/23/2022 16:55 GMT — 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccine 99% effective against hospitalization with Omicron, Delta

Three doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine were more than 99% effective against hospitalization with the Omicron or Delta variant, according to a new study in Nature Medicine.

However, while 3 doses were 75.5% effective against Omicron infection for people with a healthy immune system, this figure dropped to 29.4% for people with a compromised immune system.

The study also showed that vaccine effectiveness against Omicron infection waned within 3 months of the second dose. The researchers suggested a shorter interval between the second and third doses and follow-ups for people with a weakened immune system.

Read more COVID-19 updates here.

02/23/2022 10:18 GMT — UK to offer extra COVID-19 booster to most vulnerable people

The United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said it will start offering an additional dose of COVID-19 booster to people with a higher risk of severe disease this spring.

Under the new plan, people aged 75 and above, residents in care homes for older adults, and those aged 12 or older who have weakened immune systems, or immunosuppression, will be eligible for the additional booster. For older populations, this will be the fourth dose, and it will be the fifth for people with weakened immunity.

The additional booster will be available 6 months after the most recent dose.

The JCVI also said a further booster will likely be recommended for those at high risk in fall 2022.

Read more updates here.

02/23/2022 09:50 GMT — Corbevax COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency approval for 12–18 year-olds in India

Corbevax, a protein subunit vaccine manufactured by Biological E., became India’s third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for children aged 12–18.

The announcement came on Monday after the Health Ministry gave emergency use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine. Corbevax now joins Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccines that have EUA for use in children aged 12 and above.

Corbevax had received EUA for use in adults in late December.

Read more about globally authorized COVID-19 vaccines here.

02/23/2022 09:30 GMT — Does Omicron infection protect against other variants?

Since Omicron became so widespread worldwide, scientists have been trying to determine whether having an Omicron infection could protect against other variants.

Researchers from South Africa carried out a study and found that people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 and then contracted the Omicron variant had increased protection against both the Delta and Beta variants.

Meanwhile, those who were unvaccinated but had contracted Omicron mounted immunity only to Omicron infections.

Read more of MNT‘s coverage of the study here.

02/22/2022 16:00 GMT — Can brain stimulation treat long COVID ‘brain fog’?

Researchers at the SAVIR-Center in Magdeburg, Germany, tested the benefits of noninvasive brain stimulation for improving long COVID symptoms — such as “brain fog” and visual impairment — in two people.

Both showed improvement in cognitive tests after treatment, as well as improvement in visual field loss.

Read MNT’s full coverage here.

02/22/2022 15:30 GMT — COVID-19 during pregnancy: How the placenta is involved

Two new studies have examined the placentas of women who had COVID-19 while pregnant to understand the effect of the coronavirus on this organ and on maternal and birth outcomes after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

One of the studies documented cases of so-called placentitis — an inflammation of the placenta in pregnant mothers with COVID-19 — which led to stillbirths.

The other study examined the “defense mechanisms” that the placenta puts into place to combat SARS-CoV-2 infection and prevent maternal-fetal transmission.

Read MNT’s full coverage of the two studies here.

02/22/2022 15:00 GMT — CDC: 2-dose vaccination during pregnancy 61% effective against hospitalization in infants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a report that explains the effectiveness of vaccination during pregnancy against hospitalizing infants with COVID-19. The report uses case-control research conducted in 20 pediatric hospitals in 17 states during July 1, 2021 and January 17, 2022. The research involved 379 hospitalized infants younger than 6 months: 176 had COVID-19, and 203 did not, acting as controls. 

The CDC report notes that maternal completion of 2 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was 61% effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalization among infants younger than 6 months. 

Completing the vaccination cycle early in the pregnancy yielded an effectiveness of 32% while completing it later in the pregnancy had an 80% effectiveness.

Read the full report here.

02/21/2022 15:44 GMT — England will offer vaccine to 5–11-year-olds

In England, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has concluded that, since a “very small number of children [experience] serious illness and hospitalization” with a SARS-CoV-2 infection, they would benefit from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

As a result, health services in England will soon offer low dose COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 5–11 years. 

Children whose parents decide to immunize them against SARS-CoV-2 will receive two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at an interval of at least 12 weeks.

“The [National Health Services] will prepare to extend this nonurgent offer to all children during April, so parents can, if they want, take up the offer to increase protection against potential future waves of COVID-19 as we learn to live with this virus,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said.

02/21/2022 15:25 GMT — COVID-19: Why vitamin D levels may be key

A recent study that appears in PLOS ONE suggests that people with low vitamin D levels prior to contracting SARS-CoV-2 may be more likely to develop severe COVID-19.

The risk of severe disease for those with vitamin D deficiency is 14 times higher than that of their peers, the study indicates.

However, researchers not involved in this study point out that the way in which appropriate levels of vitamin D might help mitigate the risk of severe COVID-19 remains unclear.

Read more about this study here.

02/21/2022 15:25 GMT — Italy recommends fourth shot for some

On Sunday, February 20, Italy’s ministry of health announced that it will soon recommend a second mRNA vaccine booster dose — or a fourth shot — for people with weakened immune systems. The guidance for the second booster indicates that it should be administered at least 120 days after the last COVID-19 vaccine dose.

This news coincides with a report that Italy registered as many as 42,081 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. 

02/21/2022 13:37 GMT — UK to eliminate self-isolation requirement

The United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that he intends to remove the requirement to self-isolate for people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

This further easing of pandemic-related restrictions is set to occur this week.

Currently, people in the U.K. who have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection are required by law to self-isolate for at least 5 days.”

Covid will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms,” Johnson states.

02/18/2022 11:25 GMT — COVID-19 case numbers declining but still high in the US

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is dropping sharply. The U.S. is averaging roughly 140,000 new cases each week, which is a 64% reduction over the last 2 weeks. The number of deaths is dropping less sharply — roughly 2,300 deaths each day, a decline of 13% in 2 weeks.

Find information on the latest COVID-19 research here.

02/18/2022 09:18 GMT — UK: NHS Confederation speaks out against PM’s COVID-19 exit strategy

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, is expected to scrap free tests and self-isolation rules on Monday. The National Health Service (NHS) Confederation recently announced that, according to a survey, 75% of senior NHS staff in England do not want self-isolation rules to end.

Discussing the survey’s results, the NHS Confederation writes that “Over 90% of more than 300 health leaders who responded showed strong support for the continued provision of free tests for key workers and the public, as well as retaining the use of masks in healthcare settings.”

02/18/2022 09:02 GMT — Long COVID: Risk factors and how to mitigate them

After recovering from COVID-19, many people experience long-term symptoms. This syndrome is known as long COVID. In a recent feature, Medical News Today spoke with three experts about the risk factors for this condition and whether people can help mitigate some of these risks.

Read the full feature here.

02/17/2022 09:30 GMT — Can COVID-19 vaccines teach T cells to recognize Omicron?

A recent study investigated whether T cells, which COVID-19 vaccines induce, recognize variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. T cells play a crucial role in the immune response against disease. The results of the study suggest that SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern — including Delta and Omicron — are effectively recognized by T cells in the body.

Read more about this study here.

02/17/2022 09:29 GMT — How does COVID-19 affect the heart?

A new study, which appears in Nature Medicine, takes a close look at the incidence of heart conditions following COVID-19. The researchers find evidence of a wide range of heart issues for up to 1 year after recovery.

Read more about the research here.

02/16/2022 14:30 GMT — Vaccines reduce long COVID risk and may ease symptoms in unvaccinated people, UK data show

large review of 15 studies by the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency has shown not only that people who have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are less likely to develop long COVID but also that getting vaccinated can reduce symptoms among those previously unvaccinated.

In the studies on long COVID symptoms, fully vaccinated people were less likely than unvaccinated people to develop long-term symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and loss of smell.

The review also found that, on average, unvaccinated people living with long COVID saw an improvement in their symptoms after vaccination or had fewer symptoms overall than those who remained unvaccinated.

Scientists say that vaccines may achieve this by clearing the remaining viruses or viral particles in the body, and thereby reducing inflammation.

However, some unvaccinated people with long COVID reported worsened symptoms after getting the vaccine.

Read more about long COVID in the U.K. here.

02/16/2022 14:10 GMT — UK trial seeks volunteers for Omicron-specific vaccine

A new vaccine trial in the United Kingdom is looking for around 3,000 volunteers to test a COVID-19 vaccine booster created specifically to target the Omicron variant.

Half of these volunteers will receive a dose of Moderna’s current booster, Spikevax, and the remaining participants will receive an updated formula containing genetic material that specifically fights the Omicron variant.

Participants must not have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 since November 2021 and must have had their last vaccine dose at least 3 months ago.

The clinical trial will be led by a team at St George’s Hospital, in London, and it starts this week.

Moderna is currently conducting a similar trial in the United States. Pfizer is also expected to launch its trial for an Omicron-specific booster.

Read more about the trial here.

02/16/2022 12:10 GMT — 3 doses of Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine more effective than 2

A new study has shown that a third dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is much more effective in preventing infection and hospitalization compared with 2 doses alone, even months after being vaccinated.

The research, which appears in the journal The Lancet Regional Health – Americas, found that the effectiveness of 3 doses was 88% against infection and 97% against hospitalization within the first 3 months. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of 2 doses against infection declined from 85% to 49% up to 8 months following vaccination.

The study adds to research showing the importance of boosters, especially for people aged 75 years or older and those with a compromised immune system.

Read more COVID-19 updates here.

02/16/2022 11:30 GMT — mRNA boosters after CoronaVac almost triple protection against COVID-19

A booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine administered 6 months after two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine greatly increases immunity, a study has found.

Inactivated virus vaccines are some of the world’s most widely used COVID-19 vaccines. However, studies have shown that the CoronaVac and Sinopharm vaccines have failed to retain high protection against infection with newer SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The researchers found that the third dose increased effectiveness against infection to 92.7%, up from 34% provided by 2 doses.

The findings support administering an mRNA booster vaccine dose after two doses of CoronaVac, particularly for the elderly, as has been the case in countries like Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia.

Read more about CoronaVac here.

02/15/2022 14:45 GMT — Two antibiotics may have an antiviral effect against COVID-19

A new, small study suggests that treating COVID-19 with a combination of either of two antibiotics plus one steroid may be as effective as standard care and cause fewer side effects. 

The combination involved either the antibiotic ceftazidime or the antibiotic cefepime plus the steroid dexamethasone. By comparison, standard care may involve seven or more different drugs.

However, healthcare professionals and researchers continue to stress that antibiotics are rarely effective against viruses and highlight the dangers of overusing these drugs for antibiotic resistance. 

Read MNT’s full coverage of the new study here.

02/15/2022 12:30 GMT — Almost one-third of older adults develop new conditions after COVID-19

A new study finds that almost 1 in 3 older adults who received a COVID-19 diagnosis went on to develop new conditions in the long term, compared with one-fifth of older adults who never had COVID-19.

In older adults, COVID-19 raised the risk of conditions including respiratory failure, fatigue, high blood pressure, memory problems, kidney injury, mental health diagnoses, heart rhythm disorders, and hypercoagulability — which is when blood clots tend to form more easily.

The risk of these conditions, or sequelae, was much lower in people who had less severe disease.

Head here for MNT’s full study coverage, which features interviews with the study author and other experts.

02/15/2022 12:20 GMT — Booster protection wanes after 4 months, CDC report finds

A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines was higher after the booster shot than after the second vaccine dose but that it started waning by the fourth month.

The report examined the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19-related emergency unit visits and hospitalizations in the period when Omicron was the predominant variant.

The researchers found that in the first 2 months after the third, booster, dose, this effectiveness was at 87% for emergency care visits and 91% for hospitalizations. However, this dropped to 66% and 78%, respectively, by the fourth month.

Read the full CDC report here.

02/14/2022 12:37 GMT — How are COVID-19 deaths counted, and what does this mean?

In slightly more than 2 years, authorities have recorded 5.75 million COVID-19 deaths worldwide. Some people believe that this is an overestimate of the actual mortality from the disease. Others think COVID-19 has caused many more deaths than the official figures show.

Most countries record every death and its cause, providing a permanent legal record. The doctor who records the death must note the primary cause and any contributing factors on the death certificate.

Medical News Today has looked at the evidence and spoken with experts to uncover the truth behind the numbers.

“My view is that the current number of COVID-19 deaths is an undercounting simply because those deaths reflect the ones we know about, and not every death caused by this disease was recorded or diagnosed as such,” Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a distinguished professor and chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told MNT.

Read our Special Feature in full here.

02/14/2022 12:21 GMT — Sweden recommends second booster dose for older adults

The Health Agency of Sweden now recommends that all adults aged 80 years and over receive a second booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, administered at least 4 months after the first. For many, this would be the fourth dose to date.

“A booster dose strengthens protection. Therefore we believe people 80 years or older will benefit from a second booster dose,” chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has said.

Five COVID-19 vaccines currently have authorization in Sweden: Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty, Moderna’s Spikevax, and Novavax’s Nuvaxovid.

02/14/2022 11:50 GMT — Singapore grants interim authorization for Nuvaxovid

On Monday, February 14, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore announced that it has granted interim authorization for the use of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid.

Nuvaxovid will be delivered to those aged 18 years and older, and according to the HSA, “The first batch of [vaccine doses] is expected to arrive in Singapore in the next few months.”

Read about Nuvaxovid and its potential side effects here.

02/11/2022 09:22 GMT — Could antihistamines help treat long COVID?

A recent paper describes the experiences of two individuals with long COVID whose symptoms improved after taking over-the-counter antihistamines. According to the study, both experienced “significant improvement in symptoms and ability to perform activities of daily living.” The authors hope that others will run larger studies to investigate further.

Find more live updates here.

02/11/2022 09:01 GMT — Household transmission: SARS-CoV-2 particles found outside of self-isolation rooms

A recent study investigated whether airborne SARS-CoV-2 particles were present outside of isolation rooms in homes containing one household member with a positive test result. The researchers found that aerosols of small respiratory droplets containing airborne SARS-CoV-2 RNA were present both inside and outside of these rooms.

Read MNT’s coverage of the research here.