From the very first hours of the coronavirus pandemic, the scientific community has devoted its entire might to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Researchers have been progressively gaining fresh, significant insights regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the body, potential cure and protections, and the long-term consequences that the pandemic may have on our society. While it is close to impossible to stay informed about every tiny development, we endeavoured to compile the significant advances humanity made in COVID-19 research in the past week.
Third dose of COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised people: WHO
On Monday, the World Health Organisation issued a vaccine advisory recommending that all COVID-19 vaccines approved by the WHO be given an extra dosage to immunocompromised people. Such individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination after a standard primary vaccine series and are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease.
Furthermore, WHO stated that patients over the age of 60 should be offered a third COVID-19 vaccination dose if they have been fully immunised with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.
Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) went on to say that while implementing this advice, governments should first aim for maximum two-dose coverage in that population, then begin administering the third dosage with the oldest age categories. Experts stress that the third dose should be administered only to immunocompromised people.
“Giving those booster doses to individuals who have already had the benefit of a primary response is like putting two life jackets on somebody and leaving others without any lifejacket,” Kate O’Brien, WHO vaccine director, said.
Covaxin bags approval for children between ages 2 and 18
On Tuesday, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) gave the green light to India’s indigenous COVID vaccine, Covaxin, for its usage among children aged 2 to 18. The trials are being conducted on 525 people at several locations, including AIIMS in Delhi, AIIMS in Patna, and Meditrina Institute of Medical Sciences in Nagpur, with two dosages given 28 days apart.
Bharat Biotech eventually published Covaxin’s phase-3 study on July 2, ending all suspicions and revealing a 77.8% overall efficacy. Covaxin is 93.4% successful in instances with severe symptoms, 78% effective in situations with mild and moderate symptoms, and 63% effective in asymptomatic cases. The vaccine also showed 65.2% efficacy against COVID-19’s Delta form.
Covaxin is the first vaccine for inoculating children in India, while Zydus Cadila’s ZyCOV-D has already been authorised for children over the age of 12.
Russian spies stole AstraZeneca’s formula?
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is pretty similar to the Oxford-designed vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and used by the Centre in its vaccination push.
Now, several British tabloids allege that Russian agents stole the formula for the COVID-19 vaccine that AstraZeneca produced with Oxford University experts, and used it to create the Sputnik V jab. Sources also state that the blueprint and vital information were stolen by a foreign agent in person.
Sputnik has, however, dismissed the claims, calling them fake news and blatant lies. The organisation stated that Sputnik V and AstraZeneca use different platforms and that Sputnik V is based on a well-studied human adenoviral platform whose efficacy and safety have been proven over decades.
Why did the Nobel committee skip COVID-19 vaccine creators?
While the entire scientific community was waiting for the Nobel committees to honour vaccine research that has saved countless lives with bated breath, this year’s science Nobels were awarded to fundamental discoveries that had been predicted to win for years. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work in favour of a COVID-19 Nobel this year. The deadline for nominations for this year’s prize was February 1. By then, their impact on the pandemic was not fully understood. It remains to be seen if the vaccine creators get recognition from the Nobel committee for their revolutionary and life-saving work in the coming years.
Severe COVID infection in mothers could lead to premature birth
According to a team of researchers, the more seriously a mother is infected with COVID-19, the more likely she is to give birth prematurely. The rate of preterm birth in over 1,000 pregnant women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—was found to be a function of the severity of infection, according to the researchers. Preeclampsia, a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy, is more likely if the COVID-19 infection is severe. Every year, the illness causes 76,000 maternal fatalities and more than 5,00,000 baby deaths.
Drugs used to treat diabetes, obesity and ageing could treat COVID-19
Biomolecular links between COVID-19, ageing and diabetes have been identified by a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal in a review. Because of the same biochemical processes involved with these disorders, the researchers also give evidence of several current prospective anti-ageing medications, such as Rapamycin, that can be examined for COVID-19 treatment. The medicine Metformin, which is typically used to manage blood sugar, is another example.
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