LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: A woman wearing a face mask walks past a piece of street art depicting an NHS worker on April 21, 2020 in the Shoreditch area of London, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)Share on Pinterest
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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 192 million infections and more than 4 million deaths.
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection causes COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 has now been reported on every continent.
  • Keep up to date with the latest research and information about COVID-19 here.
  • For vaccine information, visit our live vaccine updates article.

07/23/2021 09:15 GMT — COVID-19: ‘Large numbers of patients will develop complications’

In a study of patients hospitalized in the United Kingdom with SARS-CoV-2 infection, approximately half of them developed at least one complication. The complication rate was high among all age groups with and without preexisting health conditions. The findings appear in The Lancet.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

07/22/2021 09:52 GMT —  US cases more than double in 2 weeks

On July 6, the 7-day rolling average for daily new cases in the United States was 13,700. On July 20, it had risen to 37,000. U.S. officials believe the increase is due to the delta variant and falling vaccination rates. 

As it stands, only 56.2% of U.S. adults have had at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine.

Find more live updates here.

07/22/2021 09:36 GMT — Long COVID: Number of symptoms in first week may predict risk

A new review reports that individuals with more than five symptoms during the first week of a SARS-CoV-2 infection were at increased risk of developing long COVID. Age, sex, comorbidities, and hospitalization during the initial phase of illness also predicted the development of this form of the condition.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

07/21/2021 13:32 GMT — Long COVID research gets funding boost

The British government is providing £19.6 million in funding for 15 new research projects into long COVID. The projects will aim to better understand the condition and identify successful treatments. 

Prof. Amitava Bannerjee, from University College London, leads one of the projects. 

A cardiologist and associate professor in clinical data science, Prof. Bannerjee has received £6.8 million for the largest long COVID trial to date, which will recruit at least 4,500 people with the condition. 

“Individuals with long COVID have long been asking for recognition, research and rehabilitation,” Prof. Bannerjee comments. “In our 2-year study across 6 clinical sites around England, we will be working with patients, health professionals, [and] scientists across different disciplines, as well as industry partners, to test and evaluate a new ‘integrated care’ pathway from diagnosis to rehabilitation, and potential drug treatments in the largest trial to date.”

“We will also be trying to improve inequalities in access to care and investigating how long COVID compares with other long-term conditions in terms of use of healthcare and burden of disease, which will help to plan services,” he continues. 

Read more about long COVID here.

07/21/2021 13:12 GMT — Geneticists criticize poor sequencing efforts in US

Genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 is vital for tracking the spread of existing virus variants and identifying new variants of concern. However, two scientists say that the United States has failed to contribute adequately to these global surveillance efforts.

Writing in the journal PLOS Genetics, the geneticists from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, blame poor central coordination and, until recently, a lack of funding.

Read our full coverage here.

07/20/2021 15:00 GMT — Long COVID: 26% of people not fully recovered after 6 months

New research finds that more than a quarter of people with COVID-19 do not fully recover after 6–8 months. The study analyzed data from 431 individuals who had contracted SARS-CoV-2 and found that 26% of them experienced long-term symptoms of COVID-19 six to eight months after infection.

These symptoms included fatigue, dyspnea, and depression.

Read MNT’s full coverage of the story here.

07/20/2021 14:15 GMT — Quarter-dose of Moderna vaccine still creates long-lasting immune response

New research, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, finds that two shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, each containing only one quarter of the standard dose, were enough to trigger a long-lasting immune response.

The results are based on the analysis of blood samples from 35 participants who were enrolled in the original Moderna trial. Each participant received two 25-microgram (mg) shots of the vaccine 28 days apart. The standard dose of the Moderna vaccine is currently 100 mg.

Out of 35 participants, 33 developed an immune response after the first dose. Six months after the second shot, 29 out of 33 participants (88%) had neutralizing antibodies, which stop the virus from infecting healthy cells.

“It is quite remarkable — and quite promising — that you can easily detect responses for that long a time,” says study co-author Daniela Weiskopf, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California.

Find out more here.

07/20/2021 13:56 GMT — Are COVID-19 vaccine boosters the way forward?

Read the full article here.

07/19/2021 14:23 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 antibodies still present at least 9 months after original infection, Italian population study shows

A new study, based on tests on the population of the Italian town Vo’, suggests that antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remain present in the body at least 9 months after the original infection.

This is regardless of whether the infection was symptomatic or asymptomatic, the data indicate. These results appeared in the journal Nature Communications today.

As many as 2,602 residents of the town agreed to undergo blood tests determining the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. All of them had tested positive for infection with the coronavirus in February or March 2020.
They agreed to further blood tests measuring the presence of antibodies on two follow-up occasions in May and November 2020.

The results indicated that 98.8% of the participants still showed detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in November.

“We found no evidence that antibody levels between symptomatic and asymptomatic infections differ significantly, suggesting that the strength of the immune response does not depend on the symptoms and the severity of the infection,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Ilaria Dorigatti, from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.

“However,” she cautions, “our study does show that antibody levels vary, sometimes markedly, depending on the test used. This means that caution is needed when comparing estimates of infection levels in a population obtained in different parts of the world with different tests and at different times.”

07/19/2021 12:36 GMT — COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy less prominent in low- and middle-income countries

According to research recently published in the journal Nature Medicine, there is less COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among populations from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs),compared with those from high-income countries.

The research included seven studies conducted in low-income countries (Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda), five studies from lower-middle-income countries (India, Nepal, Nigeria, and Pakistan), and one study conducted in an upper-middle-income country (Colombia).

For contrast, it also looked at findings from two high-income countries that have been particularly active in the development of COVID-19 vaccines: the United States and Russia.

The findings indicate that in LMICs, the the average vaccine acceptance rate was 80.3%. They also showed that even the LMICs with the lowest rates — Burkina Faso and Pakistan — were doing better in terms of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance than the U.S. and Russia.

In both Burkina Faso and Pakistan, the vaccine acceptance rate was 66.5%. In the U.S., it stood at 64.6%, and in Russia at 30.4%.

Research co-author Dr. Alexandra Scacco, a senior research fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, notes that “Across countries, we observe that acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is generally somewhat lower than for other vaccines, perhaps because of their novelty.”

“However,” Dr. Scacco adds, “the consistently pro-vaccine attitudes we see in [LMICs] give us reason to be optimistic about uptake.”

07/19/2021 12:13 GMT — Azithromycin is not effective in treating early COVID-19, clinical trial finds

The Azithromycin for COVID-19 Trial, Investigating Outpatients Nationwide (ACTION trial) has now concluded, and the authors recently reported the study findings in JAMA.

Azithromycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and even though doctors do not typically use antibiotics to treat viral infections, they have been prescribing this drug worldwide for the treatment of COVID-19 outside of the hospital.

The ACTION trial involved 263 participants who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infections within 7 days before entering the study. During the study, 171 took azithromycin, and 92 received a placebo.

None of the participants were hospitalized with COVID-19 when they joined the study.

The trial results indicated that the antibiotic was no more effective than the placebo in treating SARS-CoV-2 infections.

According to lead author Dr. Catherine Oldenburg, ScD, MPH, an assistant professor at the Francis I. Proctor Foundation at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), “[t]hese findings do not support the routine use of azithromycin for outpatient SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

“The hypothesis is that it has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent progression if treated early in the disease. We did not find this to be the case,” she adds.

07/16/2021 14:53 GMT — Heart medications do not affect COVID-19 outcomes, study finds

Although people with cardiovascular disease have a higher risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, less is known about the interaction between cardiovascular medications and COVID-19.

By analyzing hundreds of observational and research studies, scientists recently concluded that cardiovascular drugs do not affect COVID-19 outcomes. The research appears in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Read MNT’s full coverage of the study here.

07/16/2021 14:18 GMT — Delta plus variant of SARS-CoV-2: How does it compare with the delta variant?

Read the full article here.

07/16/2021 09:51 GMT — Study identifies more than 200 symptoms of long COVID

The largest international study of its kind has identified 203 symptoms related to long COVID. The study, which appears in EClinicalMedicine, enrolled 3,762 participants from 56 countries. The most common symptoms were fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and a feeling of malaise following exertion.

Other symptoms included visual hallucinations, itchy skin, sexual dysfunction, changes in menstruation, memory loss, tinnitus, and diarrhea.

The researchers who carried out the study all either had or are still experiencing long COVID. In their paper, they conclude:

“Patients with long COVID report prolonged, multisystem involvement and significant disability. By 7 months, many patients have not yet recovered (mainly from systemic and neurological/cognitive symptoms), have not returned to previous levels of work, and continue to experience significant symptom burden.”

“While there has been a lot of public discussion around long COVID, there are few systematic studies investigating this population,” explains senior author Dr. Athena Akrami, “hence relatively little is known about its range of symptoms and their progression over time, the severity, and expected clinical course (longevity), its impact on daily functioning, and expected return to baseline health.”

07/16/2021 09:36 GMT — Mask mandate returns to Los Angeles County

Following an increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections, Los Angeles County officials have reintroduced the mask mandate. Residents must now wear masks when indoors. The University of California has also announced that people must be fully vaccinated before they can return to campus.

Since California fully reopened on June 15, cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections have increased, particularly among those unvaccinated. For the past week, Los Angeles County has recorded more than 1,000 new cases each day.

During a press briefing, when the new restrictions were announced, Dr. Muntu Davis, a public health officer for Los Angeles County, said that there was now “substantial community transmission […] The next level is high transmission, and that’s not a place where we want to be.” 

He explained that this is “an all-hands-on-deck moment.”

07/15/2021 09:20 GMT — Australia: State of Victoria enters snap lockdown

Following reports of two cases of COVID-19 in the Australian state of Victoria, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a “short, sharp lockdown.” The restrictions will last until 11:59 p.m. next Tuesday. This is the state’s third lockdown of 2021.

Read more about the situation in Australia here.

07/15/2021 09:06 GMT — COVID-19 vaccine distribution: Health and socioeconomic data key for equity

A recent study, which appears in PLOS Medicine, investigated whether considering localized estimates of health and socioeconomic factors could improve vaccine rollouts.

The results suggest that these factors together explain 43% of the variability in deaths across counties in the United States.

Read more about this study here.

07/14/2021 10:37 GMT — Rare neurological side effects with J&J and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines

Some people have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, after receiving the Johnson & Johnson or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, prompting some regulators to add warnings. 

Read more here.

07/14/2021 10:32 GMT — CoronaVac vaccine data shows high levels of protection

Two new studies report that the inactivated CoronaVac vaccine is highly effective in protecting against severe COVID-19 that requires hospital treatment. Data from more than 10 million people in Chile suggest that the vaccine is 87.5% effective in preventing hospitalization. 

Read our full analysis of the research here.

07/14/2021 08:58 GMT — Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine: Article highlights

07/13/2021 12:10 GMT — UK confirms it will go ahead with COVID-19 unlocking, scientists have mixed opinions

Yesterday, U.K.’s prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed in a press conference that England will go ahead with the final stage of ending COVID-19 lockdown. 

On July 19, most domestic legal restrictions will be lifted, with the exception of the obligation to self-isolate if one has tested positive or been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus. Border control measures will also stay in place. 

Mask wearing and social distancing will no longer be compulsory, but will be down to personal choice.  

Medical News Today has been in touch with various experts who have given their mixed opinions on the decision. 

Read MNT’s feature here and more about the announcement here.

07/13/2021 12:05 GMT — Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine: What we know

Russia has started rolling out its Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine, also known as Gam-COVD-Vac. However, some global health authorities argue that more tests are necessary to confirm the vaccine’s effectiveness before releasing it for mass circulation.

Medical News Today reviews the evidence that we have so far on the topic, in a feature which you can read here.

07/13/2021 12:05 GMT — Beta variant may pose 31% higher risk of mortality

A new large-scale study appearing in the journal The Lancet Global Health finds that the beta variant of the new coronavirus may pose a higher risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death compared with the alpha variant.

The study used data from the DATCOV national active surveillance system for COVID-19 admissions to hospitals across South Africa. The researchers compared the first wave in South Africa, which peaked in July 2020, with the second, larger wave, which peaked in January 2021. In the second wave, the SARS-CoV-2 beta (501Y.V2) variant predominated.

The analysis found a 31% higher risk of in-hospital mortality in the second wave compared with the previous one.

However, the authors ask that their findings be interpreted with caution, as they used the second wave data as a “proxy” for the dominant variant. The researchers did not have access to data on the variant that each individual had.

Read the full study here.

07/12/2021 12:11 GMT — Two cases suggest fecal transplants may treat SARS-CoV-2 infection

A new paper published in the journal Gut outlines a surprising finding: Fecal transplants may help treat SARS-CoV-2 infections.

The evidence comes from two case studies in which doctors performed fecal transplants to treat infections with Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that sometimes infects hospitalized patients.

The two people who received fecal transplants also had COVID-19. Following the transplants, the doctors were surprised to find that their patients’ COVID-19 symptoms also resolved.

“Recent publications demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 may undergo prolonged shedding in stool and that gut microbiome perturbations associate with COVID-19 severity,” the study authors explain in their paper.

Read the story in full here.

07/12/2021 11:07 GMT — Did US adults act on faith or science as COVID-19 struck?

A study that recently appeared in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology looked at how people’s perspectives in life may have affected their reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study authors found that people with a “science mindset” tended to be more concerned about the impact of COVID-19.

Moreover, they “found that people [in general] relied mostly on science in making sense of the global pandemic that disrupted all of our lives,” as first author Dr. Kathryn Johnson told MNT.

Read the story in full here.

07/09/2021 14:00 GMT — Can COVID-19 vaccines affect periods?

Read the full feature here.

07/09/2021 10:03 GMT — Pfizer chases authorization for third dose of vaccine

Yesterday, Pfizer announced that it will seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a third dose of its vaccine. Although the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine protects against the delta variant, a booster shot may enhance the immune response and provide longer-lasting protection.

Read more on this story in our live vaccine updates article.

07/09/2021 09:45 GMT — Further evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was not from a ‘lab leak’

Since the early days of COVID-19, rumors have circulated that SARS-CoV-2 initially entered humans following a “leak” at one of Wuhan’s laboratories. A recent paper, which has not been peer-reviewed and is available on a preprint server, takes a detailed look at this theory.

Following an investigation, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.” However, the theory persists.

The recent paper critically appraises the lab leak theory and compares it with the zoonotic origin theory — that the virus jumped from an animal to a human at one of Wuhan’s wet markets.

One of the authors, Prof. David L. Robertson, a Medical Research Council investigator based at the University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom, explained their conclusions:

“In a review of the evidence, as a group of experts in virus evolution and molecular virology, we concluded the most parsimonious explanation for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic spillover event. […] The ‘lab leak’ scenario alternates between ‘it was made in a lab’ and ‘it was an accidental release of a natural virus,’ neither of which there’s any evidence for.”

Speaking about the paper, Prof. James Wood, head of Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the study, said:

“This manuscript represents a very considered review of all virological and epidemiological evidence regarding the origins of the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-COV-2. The authors, who are acknowledged experts in their fields, concluded that there is a substantial body of scientific evidence supporting a zoonotic origin for SARS-CoV-2.”

Prof. Wood also explained that “while nothing can be absolutely certain regarding the origin of the pandemic, it is important that we note the conclusions of this review and start to act to introduce changes that can reduce the likelihood of further events occurring.”

07/08/2021 11:15 GMT — What is the lambda variant?

The lambda variant, previously called C.37, was first identified in Peru in August 2020. Although it is not considered a variant of concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a variant of interest in June.

So far, scientists have identified the lambda variant in at least 26 countries, including the Americas, Europe, and Oceania. In Peru, it now accounts for the majority of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Recently, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that 11 cases have been identified in Canada.

Speaking with the BBC, Dr. Alicia Demirjian, the COVID Incident Director at Public Health England (PHE), explains that currently, there is “limited evidence available about this variant.” She continued:

“PHE, together with academic partners, is undertaking investigations to better understand the impact of the mutations on the behavior of the virus. We are closely monitoring the situation in those countries where this variant is prevalent, and where cases are detected in the United Kingdom, we are testing contacts and will undertake targeted case finding if required.”

One study, which appears on a preprint server and has not yet been peer-reviewed, investigated whether the variant is more transmissible. The authors also tested how effective the CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine might be at preventing infection. They conclude:

“Our results indicate that mutations present in the spike protein of the lambda variant of interest confer increased infectivity and immune escape from neutralizing antibodies elicited by CoronaVac.”

07/08/2021 09:36 GMT — COVID-19 vaccines, immunity, and new variants: The role of T cells

Some SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern can evade neutralizing antibodies in vaccinated people. However, a recent study investigating these variants in individuals immunized with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines found that the T cell response, unlike the antibody response, was not majorly disrupted.

Read more about the study here.

07/08/2021 09:32 GMT — Why have COVID-19 cases suddenly surged in Australia?

Australia has handled the pandemic better than many other nations, experiencing a relatively low rate of infections and recording comparatively fewer deaths. However, recently, there has been an increase in cases. In a new Special Feature, MNT asks why.

Read the feature here.

07/07/2021 14:15 GMT — ’Virus evolved in nature,’ experts say

Writing in The Lancet, an international group of experts calls for “solidarity and rigorous scientific data” and suggests that studies investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2 must continue. They put the question of how the virus evolved to cause infections in humans at the center of future studies. 

“We believe the strongest clue from new, credible, and peer-reviewed evidence in the scientific literature is that the virus evolved in nature, while suggestions of a laboratory-leak source of the pandemic remain without scientifically validated evidence that directly supports it in peer-reviewed scientific journals,” they write. 

Insights into the origins and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 will likely take years, they add, but will help prepare for the next pandemic “whenever it comes and wherever it begins.”

Find out more here.

07/07/2021 10:52 GMT — Call to share vaccines with poorer nations immediately

A Nature news feature highlights the stark inequities in global vaccinations. While richer countries are increasingly moving toward easing restrictions, poorer nations do not have this luxury. Only 2% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Read more here.

07/06/2021 15:30 GMT — Delta plus variant of SARS-CoV-2: How does it compare with the delta variant? 

A new MNT feature explores the differences between the SARS-CoV-2 variant that has just emerged — called the delta plus variant — and the preexisting delta variant, which is currently dominant in the United Kingdom.

The former is a sublineage of the latter, with only one known mutation in the virus’ spike protein differentiating the two.

The MNT article looks at the current evidence regarding the transmissibility of the new variant and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against it.

Read the entire article here.

07/06/2021 14:15 GMTUK will lift most legal restrictions on July 19, says prime minister

Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s prime minister, announced yesterday that on July 19, the vast majority of COVID-19 legal restrictions will be lifted. The rules that will no longer be in place include:

  • physical distancing in public places
  • the rule of six inside private homes
  • work from home restrictions
  • the obligation to wear face masks

“I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over, and it will certainly not be over by [July] 19th,” Johnson said. “We must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from [COVID-19].” The plan will be confirmed on July 12, after the government has reviewed the latest data.

Several experts have reacted to Johnson’s announcement. Prof. Richard Tedder, who is a senior research investigator in medical virology at Imperial College London, said:

“Using these vaccines in the present way to ‘free up our behavior’ comes with the very real risk of facilitating the escape of variants which will be even more resistant to vaccines and potentially more infectious. Failing to recognize this is playing with fire. The repeated mantra ‘look at the infection rate, and the low disease rate’ is truly dangerous.”

On the other hand, Prof. Dominic Wilkinson, who is a professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford, drew attention to the multifaceted nature of the problem.

“The key issue is one of proportionality. […] Restrictions will only continue to be proportionate if their public health benefits are still sufficient to outweigh these costs.”

Choosing when to unlock “depends on what we choose to prioritize,” Prof. Wilkinson said. “Like all major policy decisions during this pandemic, decisions about relaxing restrictions are not purely scientific. These are ethical questions.”

Read the full story here and more expert reactions here.

07/05/2021 14:47 GMTRussian Orthodox Church urges believers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, calling those who refuse it ‘sinful

As Russia reported 24,353 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, July 5, 2021, the country’s Christian Orthodox Church took a public stance against vaccine hesitancy, Reuters reports.

Metropolitan Hilarion, who is the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, said that refusing the COVID-19 vaccine is “a sin for which [people] will have to atone throughout their lives” in a televised statement.

“I see situations every day where people visit a priest in order to confess that they had refused to vaccinate themselves or their close ones and unwillingly caused someone’s death,” the prelate noted.

“The sin is thinking of oneself but not of another person,” he went on to add.

07/05/2021 14:14 GMT — Can COVID-19 vaccines affect periods?

Some anecdotal reports suggest that, occasionally, menstruating people experience changes to their periods after a COVID-19 vaccine. According to some of these reports, people may experience heavier, more painful, or longer-than-usual periods following a COVID-19 shot.

Medical News Today has spoken to Dr. Katharine Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Public Health Sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, and Dr. Kathryn Clancy, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to find out more about how these changes might manifest, who might experience them, and why.

We also spoke to two physicians — Dr. Tara Scott and Dr. Kathleen Jordan — and four women who experienced changes to their periods after a COVID-19 vaccine.

“[I]t would have been good to be prepared for [this possibility] ahead of time and for the scientific community to take this impact [of COVID-19 vaccines] seriously, as women do tend to just suffer through it,” one of these women told us.

To find out more, read our Special Feature.

07/02/2021 13:36 GMT — Longer gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses may increase immune response

A new study provides reassurance that a longer gap between the first and second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will not compromise a person’s immune response. A gap of up to 45 weeks actually led to a stronger immune response compared with the recommended interval.

Read more about the study here.

07/02/2021 12:29 GMT — J&J vaccine protects against delta variant

In a press release, Johnson & Johnson announced that according to recent data, its single-shot vaccine “generated strong, persistent activity against the rapidly spreading delta variant and other highly prevalent SARS-CoV-2 viral variants.” The company also explains that the protection persisted for the full 8 months that researchers have evaluated to date.

Read more about the announcement here.

07/02/2021 09:59 GMT — India confirms 400,000 COVID-19 deaths

Today, Indian officials announced that 400,000 people in the country had died of COVID-19.

Around 200,000 of these deaths had occurred in the past 2 months, and 853 had occurred in the last 24 hours. These figures, however, are likely to be underestimates.

Overall, India has now detected 30.4 million SARS-CoV-2 infections, with 46,617 new cases registered in the past 24 hours.

07/02/2021 09:41 GMT — Moderna, Pfizer vaccines reduce severity and viral load for those who still contract SARS-CoV-2

A recent study investigated how well the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines prevented and attenuated COVID-19 in real-world conditions. The authors conclude that they were “highly effective” at preventing infection. Also, those who did contract the virus experienced less severe symptoms and a shorter illness.

Read more about this study in our live vaccine updates article.

07/01/2021 09:41 GMT — U.K.’s NHS plans winter COVID-19 booster for over 50s

Experts have advised the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) that 30 million of the U.K.’s most vulnerable should receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose as winter approaches.

Find more COVID-19 vaccine updates here.

07/01/2021 09:04 GMT — COVID-19: Women’s paid work hardest hit by child care closures

A recent study in the United States compared states that closed child care facilities in 2020 with those that did not. The authors found an association with worse employment outcomes for women in the closure states. They call for greater availability of paid parental leave and tax credits to support parents who have to take time out from work.

Read more here.

06/30/2021 09:43 GMT — Moderna COVID-19 vaccine effective against a model of the delta variant

In a new study, not yet peer-reviewed, scientists from Moderna found that antibodies from vaccinated clinical trial volunteers could effectively neutralize a model virus that carries the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with the delta variant mutations.

The team investigated how well serum from eight trial volunteers could neutralize the model virus, or pseudovirus. They made a number of these pseudoviruses to represent the delta variant and other variants of concern, including the alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, and the beta variant, first identified in South Africa.

Read more here.

06/30/2021 09:13 GMT — Multisystem inflammatory syndrome affects Black, Latino children most

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a potentially life threatening condition that can result from a SARS-CoV-2 infection. A new study finds that MIS-C disproportionately affects Black and Latino children, with Black children having a significantly higher risk of the condition.

Doctors can successfully treat MIS-C if they detect it early. However, children with MIS-C may be asymptomatic, with no outward sign that infection has even occurred. 

Read more about the study here.

06/29/2021 15:15 GMT — Mixing COVID-19 vaccines is effective, study suggests

Oxford Vaccine Group’s Com-Cov vaccine trial has examined the benefits of mixing different brands of COVID-19 vaccines between the first and the second dose.

Namely, the trial examined the efficacy of two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, two doses of AstraZeneca, and one of them followed by the other in 850 people aged 50 years and older.

The results revealed that all combinations worked well, triggering an immune response.

To find out more, head here.

06/29/2021 12:50 GMT — More evidence that Pfizer vaccine offers long-term protection

A new study appearing in the journal Nature suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine offers long-lasting protection.

The study, led by Dr. Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist at Washington University, in St. Louis, MO, examined the body’s immune response as it manifests in the so-called germinal centers. Germinal centers are B cell structures in the lymph nodes.

The team found that the B cells persisted in the germinal centers in the lymph nodes for almost 4 months after vaccination. Usually, these decline after 4–6 weeks, an immunologist explained to The New York Times.

Find out more here.

06/28/2021 11:21 GMT — Australia faces a ‘critical time’ amid new COVID-19 outbreaks caused by the delta variant

New outbreaks of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 have led the Australian government to place Sydney in a 2-week lockdown, which started last weekend, Reuters reports.

Around 80% of Australia’s population are now either under renewed lockdown or facing increased pandemic restrictions, all in an effort to stop the emerging variant from spreading further.

“I think we are entering a new phase of this pandemic, with the more contagious delta strain,” federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, noting that the country was at a “critical time.”

“With this strain, we are seeing almost 100% transmission within households,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian also warned.

06/28/2021 10:11 GMT — Can airborne pollen help spread SARS-CoV-2?

In a recent study that appears in the journal Physics of Fluids, researchers from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus modeled the spread of pollen through a nearby crowd of people.

The model revealed that larger crowds of people can temporarily trap the airflow, as well as the pollen it carries, which suggests that the pollen could spread SARS-CoV-2, assuming the virus attaches to it.

Read more about the study here.

06/28/2021 10:03 GMT — COVID-19-related multisystem inflammatory syndrome not exclusive to children

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) is a serious health complication that, specialists have noticed, occurs in some children who develop COVID-19.

While children appear to be more likely to experience this complication, doctors have also identified it in some adults who have tested positive for COVID-19.

A new case study recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal now emphasizes that doctors should remain aware of the fact that MIS can also occur in adults, and take that into consideration when issuing a diagnosis.

Read the story in full here.

06/25/2021 13:18 GMT — Delta variant and breakthrough infections in Israel

Breakthrough infections can occur when people have a SARS-CoV-2 infection despite being vaccinated. Israel has recently reported a rise in new infections, believed to be due to the delta variant, despite having high vaccine coverage.

Find out more here.

06/25/2021 13:07 GMT — Which vaccines are effective against the delta variant?

06/25/2021 13:07 GMT — The ‘Great Gamble’: The story of CoWIN, India’s vaccination portal

Since January 2021, the Indian government has faced the daunting task of vaccinating 1.3 billion people, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population. In an exclusive report for Medical News Today, we hear how technology has been both an enabler and barrier in this process. 

Read the full story here

06/24/2021 15:00 GMT — FDA will add warning to Moderna, Pfizer vaccine fact sheets about ‘extremely rare side effect’

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to add a warning to Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets about the very rare risk of developing heart inflammation after receiving the injection.

The news comes after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety panel has reviewed the evidence and concluded there is a “likely association” between cases of myocarditis and pericarditis and receiving the Moderna and Pfizer shots in people aged 30 years and younger.

Read more here.

06/24/2021 12:03 GMT — India classifies delta plus SARS-CoV-2 variant as a ‘variant of concern

On June 22, Indian authorities advised that the delta plus variant of SARS-CoV-2 — also scientifically known as AY.1 — is now classified as a “variant of concern.”

This is because available data regarding the delta plus variant indicate it spreads more easily than preexisting variants.

It may also be resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy, which doctors use to fight the virus in people who have contracted SARS-CoV-2.

06/23/2021 11:54 GMT — Can the common cold protect from COVID-19?

When researchers infected a cell model with a common cold virus and then exposed it to SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus was unable to replicate.

The scientists were studying the dynamics of how SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the upper respiratory tract, to better understand the body’s early immune responses.

Read our coverage of the study here.

06/23/2021 11:42 GMT — COVID-19: Which vaccines are effective against the delta variant?

Research suggests the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in India, is more transmissible than previous variants and more likely to require hospital treatment. In a Special Feature, we explore how well COVID-19 vaccines work against the delta variant.

Read the full feature here.

06/22/2021 15:15 GMT — Daily COVID-19 cases in India drop below 50,000

The number of daily COVID-19 cases in India has dropped below 50,000 for the first time in 3 months, reports the BBC.

Additionally, the country has ramped up its vaccination program, with 8 million vaccine doses administered on Monday.

The number of new daily infections is now 42,640, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Center. In total, the country has administered 288,766,201 vaccine doses, while 50,569,129 — 3.7% of the total population — has been fully vaccinated.

Find out more here.

06/22/2021 14:30 GMT — COVID-19 may promote the spread of drug-resistant ‘superfungus’

Earlier this year, scientists led by Dr. Arnaldo Colombo, head of the Special Mycology Laboratory at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, analyzed samples from the first two cases of a potentially fatal fungal infection called Candida auris (C. auris).

The cases of infection occurred in December 2020 in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of a hospital in northeast Brazil. In March 2021, the scientists were reporting that the fungus was still vulnerable to antifungal drugs.

Since then, however, the scientists have found a sharp increase in the resistance of C. auris to the drug fluconazole and a class of drugs called echinocandins. The scientists discovered this by analyzing samples from the same hospital.

Meanwhile, cases of drug-resistant C. auris have also been on the rise in the United States during the pandemic, report the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cases of C. auris have a mortality rate of 30–60%.

The CDC suggests that outbreaks may be due to factors such as limited availability of gloves and gowns in hospitals or the reuse of these items.

Read the entire story on MNT here.

06/21/2021 12:23 GMT — Delta variant cases on the rise, accounting for 99% of new COVID-19 cases in the UK

In its weekly update on June 18, Public Health England (PHE) — an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom — noted that as many as 99% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.K. are due to the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

PHE also announced that new COVID-19 cases in the country had increased by 33,630 since the previous week. The updated total of confirmed new cases is now 75,953.

As of June 14, 806 people in the U.K. have been hospitalized due to infections with the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Of these, 527 people had not had a COVID-19 vaccine, while 84 were fully vaccinated.

Read more about the delta variant here.

06/21/2021 11:33 GMT — Flu may cause more problems than COVID-19 this winter, UK government advisor suggests

Prof. Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in the United Kingdom, has warned that the flu might become a more pressing problem than COVID-19 this winter.

He made these comments in an interview with the BBC.

Given the low rates of flu cases this past year, Prof. Harnden said, the population may not have had a chance to build up immunity to flu viruses.

“I will emphasize that actually flu could be potentially a bigger problem this winter than [COVID-19],” Prof. Harnden noted.

“We’ve had a very, very low prevalence of flu for the last few years, particularly virtually nil during lockdown, and we do know that when flu has been circulating in very low numbers, immunity drops in the population, and it comes back to bite us. So flu can be really, really important this winter,” he warned.

06/17/2021 15:23 GMT — The delta variant of SARS-CoV-2

06/17/2021 14:41 GMT — CureVac experimental vaccine just 47% effective against COVID-19

Yesterday, CureVac announced the second interim analysis of data on its experimental COVID-19 mRNA vaccine — CVnCoV. The analysis used data from about 40,000 participants. According to the press release: “CVnCoV demonstrated an interim vaccine efficacy of 47% against COVID-19 disease of any severity and did not meet prespecified statistical success criteria.”

Find more vaccine updates here.

06/17/2021 11:33 GMT — France eases COVID-19 restrictions

On Wednesday, France eased a number of COVID-19 measures. People in France no longer need to wear face masks outside unless they are in crowded areas. Also, their 8-month-long curfew will be lifted this Sunday.

“It’s actually improving more rapidly that we had hoped for,” announced French Prime Minister Jean Castex. “My dear fellow citizens, I say it, I feel it: We are experiencing an important moment, a happy moment of return to a form of normal life again.”

To date, 58% of adults in France have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more live updates here.

06/17/2021 11:15 GMT — The delta variant of SARS-CoV-2: What do we know about it?

The delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread rapidly across many parts of the world. In a recent Special Feature, Medical News Today explains what we know so far.

Read the article here.

06/15/2021 11:40 GMT — Whose drinking habits changed during the pandemic?

Data from almost 32,000 alcohol users from 21 European countries from late April to late July 2020 indicate that drinking in Europe declined on average during the first months of the pandemic. However, drinkers from the United Kingdom stood out for reporting an increase in overall alcohol consumption.

A decline in the frequency of heavy episodic, or binge, drinking events likely drove the decrease in overall alcohol consumption, the study authors suggest.

Read the full story here.

06/15/2021 17:35 GMT — EU formally launches ‘Digital COVID certificate’

The European Commission has formally signed the legislation required to create a COVID-19 digital passport, called the “EU Digital COVID-19 certificate.”

As of July 1, citizens from the 27 EU member states will be able to use these certificates to prove their vaccination status, if they have previously had the virus and recovered, and the results of their latest PCR test.

Find out more about the story here and more about the digital certificate here.

06/15/2021 16:35 GMT — Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines highly effective against the Delta variant

A new analysis from Public Health England found that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are effective after two doses against the Delta variant of the new coronavirus.

The results stem from an analysis of 14,019 people who had contracted the Delta variant — 166 of whom were hospitalized — between April 12 and June 4, 2021. 

The analysis found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses” and that “the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalization after two doses.”

Read more here.

06/14/2021 13:25 GMT — India eases up pandemic restrictions as the UK delays end of lockdown amid rise in new cases

Authorities in New Delhi and elsewhere in India have announced that they are cautiously lifting some pandemic restrictions, as the country has reached the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in over 2 months.

On Monday, June 14, there were 70,421 new SARS-CoV-2 infections, which is the lowest daily increase in confirmed cases since the end of March.

In Delhi, all shops and malls may now reopen for business. Bars, gyms, salons, cinemas, and parks, on the other hand, must remain shut.

However, Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal cautioned: “If we see coronavirus cases are going up, we will have to reimpose strict restrictions.”

At the same time, in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely announce a delay in the full end of lockdown, which he had initially set for June 21.

Some restrictions may remain in place for several more weeks, following an increase in new COVID-19 cases. Some health experts attribute it to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which may be 60% more transmissible than the previous dominant strain.

“We’re continuing to look at the data, no final decision has been taken, and the right time to fill everybody in on what we’re going to do with … June the 21st is tomorrow,” Johnson told the press on Sunday, June 13.

06/14/2021 11:19 GMT — Is SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets more common than we thought?

According to a small new study from Brazil — whose results appear in PLOS ONE — more cats and dogs may be affected by SARS-CoV-2 infections than scientists had previously thought.

Looking at 29 dogs and 10 cats in various households, the study authors found that 31% of all the dogs and 40% of all the cats in the study tested positive for an infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Of the 13 animals that tested positive, six appeared to have mild symptoms, while the rest showed none.

Following these findings, the study authors advise that “[i]f a person inside the household becomes sick, [they should] isolate […] from everyone else, including pets.”

Read the full story here.

06/11/2021 14:29 GMT — Fainting and vaccination: What to know and what to do

Read more here.

06/11/2021 14:16 GMT — Pfizer vaccine neutralizes the delta SARS-CoV-2 variant

In a new paper, which appears in Nature, the authors conclude that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective against the delta, or B.1.617.2, SARS-CoV-2 variant, which scientists first identified in India. For their experiment, they used blood samples from people who had received two doses of the vaccine.

Read more about this study here.