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Vaccines are progressing and a new, potentially powerful treatment for SARS-CoV-2
SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines Vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca continue to make progress in their...
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How to beat COVID-19
It was not on purpose, but Dane County did a good experiment that shows how simple public health measures...
Read more
A new weapon against SARS-CoV-2
Holy COVID inhibition Batman. Hung et. al may have found a powerful weapon against SARS-CoV-2. A study...
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Interferon beta
News of a clinical trial out of the UK shows that interferon β may be the first promising treatment...
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Moderna's mRNA vaccine passes important first hurdle.
Many of you probably already heard that the Moderna vaccine raised a strong immune response in all participants...
Read more
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Vaccines are progressing and a new, potentially powerful treatment for SARS-CoV-2

  SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines Vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca continue to make progress in their phase 3 trials. Pfizer-BioNTech reported that they will know by mid-October to early November the results of their trial and that they have expanded the trial to include more risky patients (i.e elderly, teenagers, and those with HIV). Moderna also reported that the results of their trial should come in November. Many people have been vaccinated in these trials and now the companies have to wait...

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How to beat COVID-19

  It was not on purpose, but Dane County did a good experiment that shows how simple public health measures can have profound effects. In late May, early June, Wisconsin moved into phase 3 of its reopening plan allowing gyms, bars, and restaurants to have some indoor activity. Unfortunately, many young people went back to the bars and ignored social distancing rules. This caused a rapid increase in cases starting on June 16th. Cases peaked on June 30th and began declining. Did COVID-19 run its cou...

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A new weapon against SARS-CoV-2

  Holy COVID inhibition Batman. Hung et. al may have found a powerful weapon against SARS-CoV-2. A study of a known candidate drug (GC376) used to treat feline infectious peritonitis virus, is showing potent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2. The drug is an M protease inhibitor. These proteases are common in RNA viruses. The virus genome mimics an mRNA and is translated at the host ribosome. The problem is, eukaryotic ribosomes only make one protein from one mRNA, but the virus has a number of proteins t...

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Interferon beta

  News of a clinical trial out of the UK shows that interferon β may be the first promising treatment against COVID-19. In the trial, a nebulizer was used to deliver the drug directly to the lungs where the infection was occurring. This is crucial because SARS-CoV-2 encodes functions that block the release of this cytokine. Interferon β decreases the chances of severe disease by 79%. This could be a very big deal in the fight against COVID-19, but the study is small, 109 patients, and ne...

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Moderna's mRNA vaccine passes important first hurdle.

  Many of you probably already heard that the Moderna vaccine raised a strong immune response in all participants that finished the initial trial. Moderna also has a press release about the results. I took the time to go read the paper in JAMA. If I had to sit down and write the ideal results I would want from a Phase 1 vaccine trial, these would be close. The vaccine doses were 25 µg, 100 µg, and 250 µg and all raised a strong antibody (Ab) response against the virus that wa...

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Taking care of a family member, caregiving, does not impact your health

  In the U.S. it is estimated that at least 17 million people care for loved ones with significant health problems. For years there has been a concern in the medical community that taking care of a family member with a chronic illness (Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, other dementias, etc.) takes a health toll on the caregiver. Recent research by Professor David Roth and coworkers of John Hopkins University School of Medicine took another look at the risks associated with caregiving. An i...

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A review of vaccine efforts against SARS-CoV-2

  The Journal of Virology published a review by Moore and Klasse that summarizes the herculean efforts to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in as small a time frame as possible. They dive deeply into the antibody response against SARS-CoV-2 and what this may portend for vaccine efforts. Here are some of the highlights from the review: Antibody response to COVID-19 case vary greatly. Almost everyone tested who had symptoms raises an antibody (Ab) response against the virus in the form of IgM, I...

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What does being immune to an infectious disease mean?

  There is a ton of talk, justifiably so, about developing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and whether is it long-lasting? Many reports I see in the news media are focused on the antibody titer, equating antibody presence with immunity. That is a common misconception. The human immune system has many different parts that can be roughly divided into innate immunity, antibody immunity, and cell-mediated immunity. Antibodies are only one part of the immune system. When your body encounters a virus, your cel...

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Latest News on COVID-19

  Hydroxychloroquine The NIH halted trials of hydroxychloroquine. While the drug did not show significant harm to patients, it did not show any benefit. This illustrates the difficulty of drug trials. To show benefit a test group needs to be large enough (in the thousands in my opinion) and include a control group. The more subtle an effect, the larger the control group needs to be to show a benefit. Also, the control group has to be carefully balanced with the test group to remove as many potent...

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A chapter on COVID-19

  In one of the microbiology courses that I teach, my students will be learning about SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). To help them learn more about it, I have written a chapter about SARS-CoV-2 describing the latest finding on the illness. I have decided to make this chapter available to the public and if you are interested I encourage you to read it.

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