As the American press gins up more pandemic panic in its quest to impact the November election, perhaps it is an excellent time to step back and review some stories that haven’t received attention because they stray from the fear-based narrative.

To begin with, a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca yielded ‘encouraging’ results in the first large, early-stage human trial.

The researchers are calling their experimental vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222). It combines genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause infections in chimpanzees. The phase one trial had more than 1,000 participants in people ages 18 to 55.

…The researchers said the vaccine produced antibodies and killer T-cells to combat the infection that lasted at least two months. Neutralizing antibodies, which scientists believe is important to gain protection against the virus, were detected in participants. The T-cell response did not increase with a second dose of the vaccine, they said, which is consistent with other vaccines of this kind.

“The immune system has two ways of finding and attacking pathogens — antibody and T cell responses,” Oxford professor Andrew Pollard said in a release. “This vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells. We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period.”

The two-pronged approach is instrumental in protecting the coronavirus.

The antibodies prevent healthy cells from becoming infected, and the T-cells work to kill cells that have already become infected.

“Having both of these after vaccination — sometimes after a single dose, but much better after a second dose — is pretty encouraging,” says [study co-author Adrian] Hill, who directs the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.

A large follow-up study is set to begin in the United States in the next few weeks with 30,000 patients.

Additionally, a recent study suggests that for people admitted to intensive care units for severe COVID-19 infection, the rate of death has declined by about one-third since the start of the pandemic.

Shortly after the first few patients with the virus were identified in December, the number of positive cases exponentially increased — but now, so has our understanding of strategies to mitigate viral spread and therapies to treat patients.

“As we learn more about this virus and its effect on the critically ill, we become better at treating it and its complications,” said Dr. Eric Cioe Pena, director of global health at Northwell Health.

The study, which was conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom and published in the journal Anaesthesia, offers a hopeful message to front-line workers actively taking care of critically ill patients. The authors systematically reviewed and performed a meta-analysis on all studies that looked at ICU deaths for adult patients around the world admitted with COVID-19. The death rate for these patients in May was about 40%, down from nearly 60% at the end of March.

Finally, an important new finding as we enjoy the summer season is that a study by researchers at Kansas State University shows that mosquitoes are unable to spread the novel coronavirus.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) disseminated this information to the public early on in the pandemic, the researchers spent time investigating three common mosquito species to provide conclusive data their notion.
“To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes,” WHO said on their COVID-19 “mythbusters” page.

Piggybacking on this idea, the researchers said that “while the World Health Organization has definitively stated that mosquitoes cannot transmit the virus, our study is the first to provide conclusive data supporting the theory,” and added that they demonstrated that even under extreme conditions, SARS-CoV-2 virus is unable to replicate in these mosquitoes and therefore cannot be transmitted to people even in the unlikely event that a mosquito fed upon a viremic host.”

If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that there is good reason to validate the findings of WHO.

 

 
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