Reports now feature news of a 90-year old woman who died from COVID-19 having the first recorded case of contracting two variants at same time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the coronavirus delta variant is the most dominant strain in the United States. It represents over 50% of cases across the country.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced Thursday that they are developing a booster shot to target the delta variant. The authorized Covid vaccines appear to work well at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death from the delta variant. But pockets of the country remain unvaccinated and therefore at risk.
Delta’s speed and high transmissibility makes it able to “pick off the more vulnerable more efficiently than previous variants,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a news conference on June 21.
A new study shows that the complete 2-dose set is proving effective in protecting against this particular variant. A minor surge is occurring compared to last summer.
While data show that the Covid-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are effective against the variant, a study published in the journal Nature on Thursday suggests that it takes both doses of either the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE or AstraZeneca PLC vaccines to create that protection. One shot barely protects against the Delta variant, the study found, and natural immunity as a result of infection was less protective against Delta than against the Alpha variant, which was previously the dominant U.S. strain. The Delta variant is also resistant to some antibodies manufactured as treatments. The study didn’t evaluate the Moderna Inc. or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
…Despite the rising numbers, epidemiologists say they expect a smaller surge now compared with those last summer and this past winter. The young are at highest risk: Vaccination rates are low among young adults, and children under age 12 aren’t yet authorized to receive the vaccine.
When children go back to school this fall, “the burden of disease will shift to children in a way we haven’t seen before,” said Caitlin Rivers, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Children generally become mildly ill with Covid-19, but some do experience complications, quarantines are disruptive and clusters of infection in schools can lead to outbreaks in the wider community, Dr. Rivers said.
New reports are coming out about the “epsilon variant,” which scientists observed in California during last winter’s surge. Epsilon cases have been widespread in the United States and reported in at least 34 other countries. A new study recently published in Science aims that the Epsilon variant can completely escape lab-made antibodies and reduce the effectiveness of the antibodies generated in the plasma of the vaccinated people.
In an international project led by the University of Washington in Seattle and Vir Biotechnology, scientists visualised this variant’s infection machinery to see what is different from the original configuration of the pandemic coronavirus, and what the implications of these changes are.
The researchers tested the resilience against the Epsilon variant of plasma taken from people who were exposed to the virus, as well as people who had been vaccinated. The neutralising potency of the plasma against the Epsilon variant of concern was reduced about 2 to 3.5 fold.
The researchers found that the Epsilon mutations were responsible for rearrangements in critical areas of the spike protein; electron cryomicroscopy studies showed structural changes in these areas.
And while the press continues to push the public to get vaccinations and boosters, reports emerged of a 90-year old dying….infected with two variants.
A 90-year-old Belgian woman who died from COVID-19 in March contracted both the UK and South African strain simultaneously, researchers said at a press conference on Sunday.
Her case, which was discussed at this year’s European Congress on Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) as part of Belgian research, is believed to be the first of its kind.
The woman, who reportedly was not vaccinated, got sick in March and was treated at a hospital close to Brussels, according to Belgian broadcaster VRT.
Of course, the reports do not emphasize that the elderly are more vulnerable to the severe health effects of coronavirus infection.
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