Top COVID-19 Research: Timely, Curated and Vetted by Experts

From the Curator-in-Chief's Desk—March 18, 2022

Lynn Enquist
Lynn Enquist, Ph.D., Curator-in-Chief
Global COVID-19 Cases Rise

After weeks of declining COVID-19 cases, global cases increased 10% this week. A sharp rise in cases in the Western Pacific, including China, are caused by infections with the Omicron variant. In the U.S., Omicron causes almost all new cases, and the more transmissible Omicron BA.2 lineage makes up about 25% of cases. Because of increased cases and waning immunity, both Moderna and Pfizer & BioNTech applied for Emergency Use Authorization for a fourth vaccine dose by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week. A fourth dose of an mRNA vaccine appears to increase neutralizing antibody titers against Omicron and lower the risk of infection based on data reported in preprints, but the longevity of protection from a fourth dose is unknown. Find the latest science about boosters in the Vaccine Boosters section of the registry.

Vaccines Protect Against Severe COVID-19

While cases increase, COVID-19-related deaths have not seen a corresponding rise, most likely because of natural and vaccine-induced immunity along with the use of effective therapeutics. Current vaccines induce high protection against severe COVID-19. In their preprint, Baum, U., et al. estimated vaccine effectiveness against severe COVID-19 among almost 900,000 elderly individuals. The authors reported an over 95% vaccine efficacy against hospitalization after 3 doses of the Pfizer & BioNTech mRNA vaccine for at least 60 days after the final dose, and efficacy remained high during Omicron’s emergence. And vaccines appear effective against both the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron lineages. Chemaitelly, H., et al. found a third mRNA vaccine dose induced high protection against COVID-19 hospitalization and death from BA.1 and BA.2 infections in a preprint, and Yu, J., et al. demonstrated similar neutralizing antibody titers against both BA.1 and BA.2 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Current vaccines and public health measures can reduce infections and deaths from Omicron.

Resources to Probe Viral Biology

This week, COVID-19 Research Registry Virtual Journal Club presenter Dr. Melanie Ott highlighted a SARS-CoV-2 virus-like particles (VLP) tool that enables rapid analysis of variant mutations and virus neutralization. Research tools and resources such as the VLP system offer the scientific community an easy and accessible approach to screen novel mutations and their impacts on viral fitness and immune escape. Thank you to Ott for her excellent presentation and to panelists Drs. Ilhem Messaoudi and Thomas Gallagher for sharing their ideas and insights as well as Drs. Abdullah Syed and Taha Taha for joining to share more details about the VLP system. For those who missed the March session, a recording will be available in about a week, and all the past sessions are available at the registry virtual journal club archive.

Lynn Enquist, Ph.D.
COVID-19 Research Registry Curator-in-Chief

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BASIC VIROLOGY

How is the genome of SARS-CoV-2 evolving? What mechanism does the coronavirus use to target human cells? How does the immune system react to SARS-CoV-2?

 

CLINICAL DIAGNOSTICS

Will serology provide the ultimate answer? Does the existence of the antibody equal protection due to antibody neutralization? How often should patients be tested?

TREATMENT

What are the results of the newest treatment? What drugs are in the pipeline? What are the latest outcomes from clinical trials?
 

 

PREVENTION

What are the different kinds of vaccines? Do coronaviruses evolve to escape vaccines? What have we learned from work with Ebola virus and SARS vaccines development?

EPIDEMIOLOGY

How does a pandemic start? How long will this pandemic last: can data models give us some hints? COVID-19 affects people differently depending on their age, how does this affect transmission? How does social distancing influence transmission rates?

 

GENERAL REVIEWS

Scientifically speaking, what is a coronavirus? What are the similarities and differences in structure and activities of SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2? What is the PK/PD of Remdesivir?

Biweekly Commentary Letter

March 4, 2022

By Zhengli Shi, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Shi is a curator of the registry. 

"SARS-CoV-2 prolonged infection during advanced HIV disease evolves extensive immune escape" by Cele, S., et al., published in Cell Host & Microbe on Feb. 9 2022. 

Educational Resources