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Travelers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, November 18, 2021. Al Seib/Getty Images
  • The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
  • Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 264 million infections and more than 5.2 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.

12/03/2021 09:55 GMT — Omicron detected in 5 states

So far, scientists have detected 10 Omicron cases total in five U.S. states: California, Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, and New York. Although officials have not announced details of all the cases, the Hawaii, Minnesota, and California cases are reportedly of mild to moderate severity.

According to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, there is “no cause for alarm.” She continues:

“We don’t have more information at this time, but we suspect there will be more cases emerging, and the best thing everyone can do is to realize we are not defenseless against this variant at all, that vaccines, we know, are going to ensure there is less severe symptoms.”

Read more about the Omicron variant here.

12/03/2021 09:39 GMT — Can you ‘detox’ from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Increasing numbers of people are searching for information on how to “detox” after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, fearing it could have detrimental effects. In a new Special Feature, MNT explores this recent phenomenon.

Read the feature here.

12/03/2021 09:29 GMT — Blood biomarker may predict mortality in COVID-19 patients

A new study identifies viral RNA as a blood biomarker that may help predict which patients with COVID-19 have the greatest risk of dying. The researchers believe that their discovery could help medical professionals identify patients with the highest mortality risk.

Read more about the research here.

12/02/2021 10:51 GMT — ‘Exponential growth’ of Omicron cases in South Africa

According to Dr. Michelle Groome of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), there has been an “exponential increase” in SARS-CoV-2 infections in South Africa during the past 2 weeks. Last Wednesday, South Africa registered 1,275 cases. The number of cases it registered yesterday was 8,561.

Of the virus genomes that the NICD sequenced, 74% were the Omicron variant.

Scientists do not yet know whether the variant is more transmissible or virulent than Delta. They also do not know how well current vaccines will protect against severe disease.

However, officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) expect data to arrive “within days.”

Find more about Omicron here.

12/02/2021 10:45 GMT — COVID-19 protection wanes 90 days after second Pfizer vaccine

A recent study investigated whether a person’s COVID-19 immunity wanes after they receive the second Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine dose. The authors found that there was a 2.37-fold higher risk of contracting the virus after 90 days from the second vaccination and a 2.82-fold higher likelihood after 150 days or more.

Read more about the study here.

12/02/2021 10:23 GMT — WHO update on the Omicron variant

12/01/2021 14:50 GMT — Unvaccinated travelers no longer to be able to board planes or trains in Canada

As of November 30, unvaccinated travelers aged 12 and older are no longer be able to board planes or passenger trains in Canada. Negative COVID-19 tests are no longer accepted as an alternative to vaccination confirmation, bar a few exceptions.

Those who qualify for an exemption will be allowed to submit proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government’s website states.

The policy officially came into effect on October 30, but the federal government allowed a “transition period” when people who were not fully vaccinated could provide proof of a negative PCR test taken in the 72 hours before departure.

Canada currently has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with 86% of the population over the age of 12 fully vaccinated.

Read more about vaccine mandates here.

12/01/2021 11:21 GMT — Omicron variant was in Europe ‘at least 10 days ago’

The new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was present in the Netherlands earlier than thought, Dutch health officials said on Tuesday.

Two test samples taken in the country between November 19 and 23 have tested positive for the Omicron variant, meaning the first cases in the country were not the passengers who came from South Africa last Friday.

It is unclear whether these people had recently traveled to southern Africa.

Sample tests in Belgium and Germany have also confirmed that the variant was in the countries before November 24, when South Africa reported the variant to the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, experts still believe the first confirmed case of Omicron occurred in Botswana on November 9, according to the WHO.

Read more about the Omicron variant here.

12/01/2021 10:41 GMT — Austria extends COVID-19 lockdown by another 10 days

Austria has extended the country’s COVID-19 lockdown by another 10 days until December 11, marking 20 consecutive days of tighter restrictions.

The chancellor introduced the lockdown last Monday to halt the recent surge and prevent new infections ahead of the holiday season. Since the lockdown began, new daily infections have fallen from over 15,000 to below 9,000.

The move comes after the country reported its first Omicron case on Tuesday. It also follows the mid-November announcement that unvaccinated people would only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, such as working or buying food.

Austria’s vaccination progress has stalled, with only about 66.8% of the population fully vaccinated.

Read more COVID-19 updates here.

11/30/2021 13:00 GMT — Study reveals acute effects of severe COVID-19 on the brain

A new, large international study finds that about 1 in 100 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 may go on to develop complications such as stroke, brain hemorrhage, and other potentially fatal conditions affecting the central nervous system.

The study has not yet been peer reviewed, however.

Read MNT’s coverage of the research here.

11/30/2021 12:30 GMT — First cases of Omicron variant detected in Japan, La Reunion

According to the Associated Press, Japan has just confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The variant occurred in a male diplomat in his 30s who had just arrived from Namibia, his country of origin. The man was isolated at the airport and is now receiving treatment at a hospital.

The variant was also detected in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, according to Reuters. The person who contracted it is a 53-year-old male who had briefly stopped in South Africa on his way to Mozambique.

Read more about the cases here and here.

11/29/2021 15:51 GMT — Why the Omicron variant has scientists worried

A new SARS-CoV-2 variant — Omicron —has a large number of mutations in the part of its genome that encodes the spike protein. This suggests that it may evade some of the immune protection afforded by vaccines and past infections. In a new feature, we explore what we know so far.

Read the feature here.

11/29/2021 12:41 GMT  — Antibodies from COVID-19 vaccine may reduce by 57% after 6 months

A recent study, which has been accepted for publicationand is available as a preprint, concludes that the antibodies that the body produces in response to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may reduce by 57% after 6 months.

Read more about the study here.

11/29/2021 12:39 GMT — Study shows how vitamin D could halt lung inflammation in COVID-19

A special form of Vitamin D not found over the counter may be able to combat lung inflammation caused by immune cells, a new study suggests. The research shows vitamin D has a “switch-off” mechanism for inflammation, which could work in cases of severe COVID-19.

Read more about the research here.

11/24/2021 09:42 GMT — COVID-19 linked to lingering sleep problems and fatigue

Researchers recently analyzed health records of almost 12 million people in the United Kingdom to assess whether there is a link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and psychiatric conditions. They found an association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and sleep problems and fatigue, but not depression and anxiety.

Read more on this study here.

11/24/2021 09:42 GMT — Experiencing long neuro-COVID

Medical News Today’s Through My Eyes series provides a platform for people to share how a particular medical condition has affected their lives. In the most recent edition, we hear from a doctor who is living with long neuro-COVID.

Read the full feature here.

11/23/2021 15:30 GMT — The value of mask-wearing and physical distancing affirmed by analysis

A new meta-analysis of existing research finds that mask-wearing reduces the incidence of coronavirus infections by 53%. It also links physical distancing to a 25% reduction in SARS-CoV-2 incidence. 

The analysis appears in The BMJ. However, an editorial published by the same journal questions these high percentages.

Read MNT’s coverage of both articles here.

11/23/2021 13:30 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 in white-tailed deer: Should we worry?

Recently, several reports have noted the spread of the coronavirus to white-tailed deer in the United States.

In a Special Feature, MNT reviews this emerging evidence and asks: Should we be concerned that the virus is now infecting wildlife? Are there any other animal reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2 out there? Will SARS-CoV-2 mutate by living in other species, and by doing so, will it become more or less dangerous to humans?

Find out what the evidence and experts say on the matter here.

11/22/2021 14:42 GMT — Common antidepressant may reduce COVID-19 death risk

According to a recent study that appears in JAMA Network Open, people taking commonly prescribed antidepressants fluoxetine or fluvoxamine were 26% less likely to die because of severe COVID-19 following infection with the virus that causes this disease.

Yet some researchers question the validity of these results. In a comment for Medical News TodayDr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, called the study “very provocative.”

Read our full coverage of this story here.

11/22/2021 13:53 GMT — Protests across Europe as EU countries introduce new restrictions

As countries across the European Union introduce new pandemic-related restrictions, such as making the vaccination “green pass” a requirement for most spaces and activities, people unhappy with these enforced rules have been protesting in some major cities.

Anti-COVID-restriction protests have recently taken place in Brussels, Rotterdam, and Vienna, among other places.

11/19/2021 09:42 GMT — New restrictions in Czech Republic and Slovakia target unvaccinated

On Thursday, Czech and Slovak officials introduced new restrictions that predominantly affect unvaccinated individuals. A person can no longer access venues, including hotels, bars, restaurants, museums, and hairdressers, by showing a negative coronavirus test. Access will only be possible for individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 or received a vaccine.

The Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says, “The situation is serious, and we again urge everyone to get vaccinated.”

11/19/2021 09:35 GMT — AstraZeneca announces results of antibody-based COVID-19 drug

Hot on the heels of Pfizer and Merck, AstraZeneca has announced the results of a recent phase 3 trial of a new COVID-19 drug called AZD7442. The drug, delivered as an injection, reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 83% compared with placebo.

In the experimental group, 6 months after treatment, there were no cases of severe disease or deaths.

Similarly, as the press release states, the “trial showed 88% reduced risk of severe COVID-19 or death when treated within 3 days of symptom onset.”

Importantly, 75% of the study participants had comorbidities that put them at increased risk of developing severe disease.

Principal investigator Hugh Montgomery, professor of intensive care medicine at University College London, says: 

“These compelling results give me confidence that this long-acting antibody combination can provide my vulnerable patients with the long-lasting protection they urgently need to finally return to their everyday lives. Importantly, 6 months of protection was maintained despite the surge of the Delta variant among these high-risk participants who may not respond adequately to vaccination.”

Read about Merck’s antiviral drug here.

11/18/2021 10:30 GMT — Thanksgiving 2021: ‘Unvaccinated individuals pose the greatest threat’

Last year, many people in the United States skipped annual in-person holiday gatherings. Now, after nearly 2 years of social distancing, people are poised to join celebrations once again. However, safety remains a priority. According to a recent survey, the mood among U.S. adults could best be described as cautious.

Read more here.

11/18/2021 10:28 GMT — Outdoor exercise lessened anxiety, depression during COVID-19 lockdowns

A new study highlights the importance of being active and spending time outdoors, even during a pandemic. It found that people who exercised more during lockdowns experienced less anxiety and depression than those who did not exercise. The study also found that people who spent more time outdoors had lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Read more about the study here.

11/17/2021 11:15 GMT — Long COVID may affect how women recover from exercise

Women presenting with specific long COVID symptoms may notice differences in how they respond to and recover from exercise, a new study has found.

The research revealed that women with long COVID experienced heart rate irregularities in response to physical activity, which could impact their exercise tolerance and ability to carry out daily activities.

The study authors associate lingering symptoms such as shortness of breath and joint and muscle aches with decreased heart rate recovery after exercise.

The study highlights a need for targeted rehabilitation programs for women.

Read more about the study here.

11/17/2021 10:50 GMT — Benefits outweigh risks with dexamethasone treatment in severe COVID-19

New research has shown that individuals with severe COVID-19 who undergo treatment with a steroid drug called dexamethasone are not at an increased risk of death or ICU admission.

Steroids can have adverse side effects, such as causing elevated blood sugar levels, which can constitute a serious health risk for patients with or without diabetes.

However, the researchers found that those who received treatment with dexamethasone had a 56% reduced risk of death or ICU admission from COVID-19.

The study confirmed dexamethasone as a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, even in patients with diabetes.

Read more about the study here.

11/16/2021 16:00 GMT — Pfizer agrees to license-sharing deal on Paxlovid

Pfizer has agreed to share the license on its drug candidate Paxlovid in a deal that could enable several countries around the globe to manufacture the pill.

Charles Gore, executive director of Medicines Patent Pool, a nonprofit group focused on medicines access, commented on the development, saying: “This license is so important because, if authorized or approved, this oral drug is particularly well-suited for low- and middle-income countries and could play a critical role in saving lives, contributing to global efforts to fight the current pandemic.”

According to lab studies, Paxlovid is safe and effective. Pfizer also reported it reduced the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by 89% when administered soon after symptom onset.

The drug manufacturer plans to seek authorization for Paxlovid from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imminently.

Read the full story here.

11/16/2021 14:30 GMT — COVID-19 in the UK: England and Wales register highest number of deaths since March 2021

According to the Office for National Statistics, England and Wales have recently seen the highest number of COVID-19 deaths since early March this year.

According to data released today, 11,550 deaths involving COVID-19 were registered in England and Wales in the week ending November 5, 2021.

This represented 563 more deaths than the previous week and a 16.8% increase above the 5-year average.

This number was also the highest in England since March 19, 2021, and in Wales since March 5, 2021.

Read more here.

11/15/2021 11:27 GMT — Austria introduces COVID-19 lockdown for unvaccinated citizens as infections surge

Around 2 million people in Austria who are either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will only be able to leave their houses for limited reasons, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Sunday, extending the lockdown nationwide.

The measure, which will be effective from Monday and initially last 10 days, will only allow unvaccinated people to leave their homes for reasons such as going to work, shopping for essentials, or exercising.

“We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately, it is necessary,” Schallenberg said.

The decision comes as the country tries to encourage more people to get vaccinated to combat a rise in infections.

With 65% of its population fully vaccinated, Austria has one of the lowest uptake rates in western Europe.

Read more COVID-19 updates here.

11/15/2021 11:02 GMT — China outbreak: University in lockdown

Following an outbreak in the Chinese city of Dalian, around 1,500 students are now in lockdown in their accommodation. After officials registered a number of cases, they arranged the transfer of hundreds of students to hotels for observation. 

The move is part of China’s zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19 control. The country’s vaccination rate is one of the highest in the world, and the government is rolling out booster shots as they approach winter. 

11/12/2021 11:00 GMT — Does COVID-19 always confer immunity against future infection?

A recent unpublished study explores a type of antibody called core anti-N antibodies. The authors claim that one-fifth of people who have had COVID-19 do not have these antibodies and therefore may not have adequate protection against future infections.

Read more here.

11/12/2021 08:23 GMT — Heart inflammation in cats and dogs: SARS-CoV-2 possible culprit

Researchers recently conducted a study to investigate whether there is a link between a spike in cardiac inflammation among cats and dogs and SARS-CoV-2. The researchers conclude that pets can contract the Alpha variant of the virus, but they note that the sample size was small.

Read more about the study here.

11/11/2021 13:43 GMT — COVID-19 vaccines for children: What are the side effects?

In a recent Special Feature, Medical News Today investigates the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children and hears from the experts. We also discuss the potential side effects that children receiving the vaccines may face.

Read the feature here.

11/11/2021 11:32 GMT — Cause of neurological COVID-19 symptoms explored

Scientists now know that COVID-19 can be associated with neurological symptoms. At the Neuroscience 2021 conference, researchers outlined recent findings about the relationship between COVID-19 and the brain. In a new Medical News Today article, we speak with some of the scientists.

Read more here.

11/10/2021 12:45 GMT — Time of day affects the accuracy of COVID-19 tests

A new study suggests that the time of day a person takes a COVID-19 test may affect the likelihood of an inaccurate result.

The study found that when participants took a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test, the highest number of accurate positive results occurred when they took it midafternoon. In contrast, if they took the test in the evening, there was a higher likelihood of false positives.

This could be down to the circadian cycle of SARS-CoV-2, the researchers said.

Read more about the study here.

11/10/2021 11:40 GMT — Pfizer seeks FDA approval to offer all adults COVID-19 boosters

Pfizer and BioNTech requested on Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorize booster shots of their COVID-19 vaccine for everyone in the United States aged 18 and older, based on new data.

If the FDA approves this, which could happen before the holiday season kicks off, according to The New York Times, more than 193 million adults would be eligible.

The FDA has already authorized a third dose of the vaccine for those aged 65 and older and all people with a high risk of COVID-19.

resident Joe Biden’s administration had planned for everyone in the country to be offered a booster dose in September, but the FDA’s scientific advisers rejected it, citing the two-dose regimen’s efficacy.

Read MNT‘s coverage of the effectiveness of booster doses here. 

11/09/2021 15:50 GMT — Countries in eastern Europe hit record number of infections

The global number of COVID-19 cases has reached 250 million, with Russia and eastern Europe hitting a record number of infections, reports Reuters. 

The Reuters analysis also notes that the daily average number of cases has dropped by 36% globally. However, SARS-CoV-2 infections are still on the rise in 55 out of 240 countries, with Russia, Ukraine, and Greece hitting record levels of daily cases since the pandemic started. 

Recently, MNT has also reported on the record high numbers of daily COVID-19 cases in Romania, another eastern European country.

Find out more here, and read MNT’s coverage here.

11/09/2021 15:45 GMT — Only 4 in 5 people who have had COVID-19 develop antibodies, ZOE study suggests

The health science company ZOE has just released the results of its latest analysis of data from the ZOE COVID Study — a research program led by Prof. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London in the United Kingdom.

According to this data analysis, only 4 in 5 people who have had COVID-19 go on to develop so-called anti-N antibodies — that is, antibodies that recognize a molecule inside the coronavirus called the nucleocapsid (N). The ZOE COVID Study examined data entered by 8,193 contributors in the ZOE app, of whom 6,609 (80.67%) tested positive for anti-N antibodies, according to a press release seen by MNT.

When examining the data more closely, the ZOE scientists discovered that people who had more COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to have gained antibodies. By contrast, people with underlying health conditions or who smoked were less likely to develop antibodies.

Prof. Spector, who is also the co-founder of ZOE, says, “It’s interesting to observe that, unlike vaccination, it’s not just older, frailer, or overweight adults who gain least protection from a previous infection, but rather anyone with poorer overall health.”

“Our data shows that the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, even if you have had the virus previously, is to have two doses of vaccine and the booster when offered and to take sensible precautions, such as wearing a mask.”

11/08/2021 14:26 GMT — New antiviral COVID-19 pill from Pfizer safe and effective in lab tests

A clinical trial has found that a new pill to treat COVID-19 can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by almost 90% in vulnerable adults.

The drug, named PAXLOVID and developed by Pfizer, is to be used within days after symptoms develop in people at high risk of severe disease.

The news comes a day after molnupiravir, the first oral antiviral treatment against SARS-CoV-2, received approval for use by the United Kingdom.

Read more about the drug here.

11/08/2021 11:33 GMT — COVID-19: Situation in the UK

Speaking with Sky News about the situation in England, NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said, “As we look into winter, I think we’re very clear this is going to be a difficult winter, and the things we encourage people to do is anything they can do to protect themselves, so that’s the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s the flu vaccination in particular.”

To address these concerns, people in England can now book their booster shots 1 month before they become eligible. This includes people over 50 years and anyone at increased risk of severe COVID-19.

However, some experts are concerned that the government is sending out mixed messages. According to Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association Council:

“I think this is a very confusing public health message from the government. Because on the one hand, it’s concerned about the level of infections and is really urging everyone to have the vaccine, but on the other hand, it’s telling people that they can actually mix freely, without any infection control measures, and they can actually mix without face coverings, without physical distancing, with crowding in indoor spaces.”

11/05/2021 11:34 GMT — Study charts decline in vaccine protection over time

A recent study assessed vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection and related death over time. The researchers found that, overall, protection against infection dropped from 87.9% to 48.1% between February and October 2021.

The decline was greatest for the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine, with effectiveness dropping to 13.1%.

Vaccinated people who developed the infection still had protection against fatal illness, but to a lesser extent. From July to October 2021, protection against death in people aged 65 or younger varied by vaccine:

  • J&J: 73%
  • Moderna: 81.5%
  • Pfizer: 84.3%

The authors conclude that their “Findings support continued efforts to increase vaccination, booster campaigns, and multiple, additional layers of protection against infection.”

11/05/2021 11:31 GMT — Do vaccines protect better than infection-induced immunity?

A recent study compared the level of immunity afforded by a previous infection with the protection provided by a COVID-19 vaccine. The results suggest that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are around five times more effective at preventing hospitalization than a previous infection.

Read more about the study here.

11/05/2021 10:51 GMT — Delta variant: Why vaccines alone are not enough

Researchers recently conducted a study to investigate the transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant among vaccinated individuals in the same household. They found that while vaccinated individuals may be less likely to get the infection, they are just as likely to pass on the virus if they contract it.

Read more about the research here.

11/04/2021 13:39 GMT — COVID-19 booster shot reduces risk of severe disease by 92%

Researchers recently analyzed the effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in preventing severe COVID-19. They found that people who received the booster shot had a 93% lower risk of hospital admissions than individuals who had their second shot at least 5 months prior.

Similarly, people with a third dose had a 92% lower risk of severe disease and an 81% lower risk of death from COVID-19.

Read more about the study here.

11/04/2021 11:36 GMT — UK medicines regulator approves molnupiravir

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom has approved molnupiravir — a pill designed to treat COVID-19. Clinical trials found that the drug, developed by Merck, halved the risk of hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19.

The MHRA has approved the drug for use in people with mild to moderate symptoms and at least one risk factor for developing severe COVID-19.

 In a statement, health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today is a historic day for our country, as the U.K. is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for [COVID-19].”

Find more information about molnupiravir here.

11/03/2021 10:27 GMT — CDC recommends Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5–11

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally recommended Tuesday that children 5–11 years old receive the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine, which contains a third of the amount given to teens and adults, had already been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The decision came after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed the recommendation by a CDC advisory committee.

“We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated, and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Walensky.

More than 8,300 kids aged 5–11 have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the United States, with a third requiring intensive care.

“As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated,” Dr. Walensky added.

11/03/2021 09:36 GMT — Antidepressant cuts risk of COVID-19 hospitalization, death by 32%

An inexpensive and widely available antidepressant significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death for people at high risk of severe COVID-19, a clinical trial has found.

If taken early in the course of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, fluvoxamine may prevent the immune system from being hyperactivated, which can lead to a cytokine storm, a life threatening systemic inflammatory syndrome. Cytokine storms often develop in severe COVID-19 cases and have led to many fatalities.

Doctors have been using the drug to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder for decades.

Read MNT‘s coverage of the research here.

11/02/2021 15:35 GMT — COVID-19 vs. COVID-19 vaccine: Risk of neurological complications

Scientists in the United Kingdom have compared the risk of neurological complications in people who tested positive for the coronavirus infection with those who have received a first dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

The study, which appears in Nature Medicine, found that the risk of neurological complications is higher in people with a positive COVID-19 test.

Read MNT’s full coverage here.

11/02/2021 15:00 GMT — Mortality rates on the rise in the United Kingdom

According to the latest data released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the United Kingdom, COVID-19 deaths are on the rise in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. For example, the ONS notes that there were 974 deaths with COVID-19 in the week ending October 22, 2021, which is a 9.2% increase from 892 deaths the week before.

Also, mortality rates increased between August and September 2021 in England and Wales. In September 2021, England registered 64.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 45.7 in August.

The report stresses the importance of mask wearing and vaccines. In England, unvaccinated people were 32 times more likely to die of COVID-19.

Read the full data roundup here.

11/01/2021 12:49 GMT — FDA may only complete review of Moderna vaccine for teens in January 2022

According to new reports, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has informed Moderna that it will only be able to complete a review of its COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents aged 12–17 early next year.

This contradicts Moderna’s expectations that its COVID-19 shot would be authorized for this age group in the next few weeks.

11/01/2021 12:45 GMT — US and UAE authorize Pfizer vaccine for 5–11-year-olds

On Friday, October 21, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5–11.

On Monday, November 1, United Arab Emirates (UAE) health authorities followed suit, also granting EUA for the Pfizer vaccine in 5–11-year-olds.

11/01/2021 12:25 GMT — Australia eases border restrictions first time in over 18 months

As of Monday, November 1, Australia has eased some international border restrictions for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow millions of people in without the requirement to quarantine.

For now, the relaxed rules apply only to Australian citizens abroad, and many have already taken advantage of this to come and see family members they have not had face-to-face contact within months or, in some cases, years.

From November 21, Australian authorities will further ease restrictions to also allow the quarantine-free entry of Singaporean citizens.

10/29/2021 09:27 GMT — Did ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ increase COVID-19 cases in England?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the United Kingdom’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme to boost restaurant and pub trade after lockdowns during spring 2020. A recent analysis suggests the scheme may have driven COVID-19 cases up in England last year.

Read more about the analysis here.

10/29/2021 09:25 GMT — What are ‘escape variants,’ and how are vaccine producers preparing for them?

Escape variants are variants that can evade the immunity that people acquire through vaccines and previous infections. Although scientists have not yet identified any escape variants, vaccine manufacturers are preparing in advance. A recent MNT article investigates.

Read the article here.

10/28/2021 09:32 GMT — Cost-effective antidepressant may help treat COVID-19

A recent analysis shows that early treatment of COVID-19 with a low-cost antidepressant called fluvoxamine may reduce the risk of severe outcomes. According to the authors, among high risk participants, fluvoxamine reduced the risk of hospitalization, compared with people who took a placebo.

The data came from the TOGETHER trial and included information from 741 people with COVID-19 who took fluvoxamine in an emergency care setting.

Co-principal investigator Dr. Edward Mills, of McMaster University, in Canada, explains why the results are important:

“COVID-19 still poses a risk to individuals in countries with low resources and limited access to vaccinations. Identifying inexpensive, widely available, and effective therapies against COVID-19 is therefore of great importance, and repurposing existing medications that are widely available and have well-understood safety profiles is of particular interest.”

10/28/2021 09:16 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 infection: What is the role of genes?

A new review summarizes current evidence about the role of genetic factors in a person’s response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The authors conclude that people with certain gene variants, especially those that code for proteins involved in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2, may be more susceptible to severe COVID-19.

Read MNT’s coverage of the review here.

10/27/2021 09:26 GMT — Are stem cell treatments for COVID-19 overhyped science?

Although stem cell treatments offer hope in the fight against COVID-19, findings from preliminary studies are mostly being exaggerated, a new report argues.

The report, prepared by a group of researchers from the University of California, Irvine, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, NY, and the University of Melbourne in Australia, highlights the dangers of misinformation around cell-based treatments for COVID-19 and calls for their stronger regulation.

Most cell-based treatments are in the early stages and require further tests to prove their effectiveness. Furthermore, unproven, unlicensed treatments and medical products could be potentially harmful to public health.

Read MNT‘s coverage of the report here.