The objects beneath are highlights from the free publication “Smart, useful, science stuff about COVID-19.” To obtain publication points each day in your inbox, join here. Please contemplate a monthly contribution to help this text.

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

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

Leah Douglas at FERN (Meals & Surroundings Reporting Community) reported on 7/2/20 that no less than 30,623 U.S. meatpacking staff, 3,316 meals processing staff (making “frozen dinners, baked items, and dairy merchandise”), and three,619 farmworkers have examined constructive for SARS-CoV-2 and no less than 113 meatpacking staff, 13 meals processing staff and a couple of farmworkers have died of COVID-19. The unfold of the virus isn’t slowing amongst staff within the meals business, Douglas reported individually on 6/22/20. Zoom in on a map on this page, which reportedly is up to date each weekday, for particulars about services and farms the place you reside.

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

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

Most readers right here in all probability know that whereas it’s clever, advisable, and sometimes mandated to put on a fabric face masks in public because of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the science behind these suggestions and laws is just a little complicated and shaky. For extra element, I lately listened intently to a 6/3/20 episode of a podcast (a transcript additionally accessible on the identical web page) revealed by the Middle for Infectious Illness Analysis and Coverage (CIDRAP) on the College of Minnesota. In it, CIDRAP Director Michael Osterholm emphasizes how little related analysis exists to help claims that fabric masks, which match loosely and all the time permit some leakage at their perimeter, shield most of the people from a virus reminiscent of SARS-CoV-2 that’s now thought to unfold primarily by small particles that float within the air. My most important takeaway from all that is to stick, particularly indoors, to distancing no less than six toes from others when in public and to not let mask-wearing lull me right into a false sense of safety. Quoting from an April 2020 report put out by a U.S. Nationwide Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medication committee on which he served, Osterholm mentioned within the podcast: “There are not any research of people carrying home made material masks in the midst of their typical actions, due to this fact we’ve got solely restricted and oblique proof concerning the effectiveness of such masks defending others when made or worn by most of the people frequently.” He provides that fabric masks “could present some profit in lowering the chance of virus transmission, however at greatest it might solely be anticipated to be restricted. Distancing stays a very powerful danger discount motion [the general public] can take.”

I’ve lately seen a pair items that house in on the potential position of “T cell immunity” in restoration from SARS-CoV-2 infections. First: This 6/25/20 essay in The Guardian by viral immunologist Zania Stamataki on the College of Birmingham, UK, outlines the basics of “what antibodies reveal about our immune response to COVID-19, and the way protecting immunity works.” Briefly, she explains that antibodies aren’t the entire story of our immune response. And that’s good to recollect given a current, small research suggesting that antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 won’t final greater than a pair months, no less than in individuals who by no means develop signs. Stamataki’s essay will get very helpful to me across the seventh paragraph, the place it begins to sketch the “two main varieties” of immune cells that may keep in mind an an infection, such that our our bodies can name on them to guard us in opposition to reinfection. These are B cells, which produce antibodies, and T-cells, which “could also be ample to regulate an infection within the absence of antibodies.” Extra intriguing materials comes when Stamataki notes a discovering, posted on-line 6/22/20 and never formally assessed but for flaws, that some individuals uncovered to the virus made T cells in response to it however didn’t make detectable antibodies. In sum, the essay states that “immunological reminiscence is feasible.” Stamataki additionally writes that “T cells’ reminiscence of SARS-CoV-2 could last more than antibodies, as is the case with different coronaviruses.” So, there’s nothing agency right here past immune system fundamentals, however I discovered it intriguing.

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