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  • The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
  • Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 440 million infections and over 5.9 million deaths.
  • Keep up to date with the latest research and information about COVID-19 here.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently monitoring five variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron.

03/03/2022 10:32 GMT — President Biden announces National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

President Joe Biden has announced the White House’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. It describes how they will continue to reduce the impact of COVID-19 while preparing for future variants. “We know how to keep our businesses and our schools open with the tools that we have at our disposal,” explains White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.

In the plan, it reads, “We are not going to just ‘live with COVID.’ Because of our work, we are no longer going to let COVID-19 dictate how we live.”

03/03/2022 10:29 GMT — Vaccine protection wanes in adolescents 5 months after second dose

Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine protect adolescents from severe disease and death.

However, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines are less effective against Omicron. The data also show that protection wanes 5 months after the second dose.

In the new report, the CDC concludes: “All eligible children and adolescents should remain up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, including a booster dose for those aged 12–17 years.”

Find more live updates here.

03/02/2022 15:55 GMT — South African Omicron data offer renewed hope

A recent study that appears in NEJM offers new hope that the worst of the pandemic may be winding down. Data from the Gauteng province of South Africa — where health experts first identified the Omicron variant in November 2021 — suggest that there have been significantly fewer hospitalizations and deaths from infections with this SARS-CoV-2 variant.

More importantly, the research showed that among younger and older populations — including the unvaccinated — there is a high percentage of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which may explain the lower rate of deaths and hospitalizations.

And among a high percentage of the population, the immunity to SARS-CoV-2 was “hybrid,” meaning that it was given partly by vaccines and partly from previous infection with the virus.

“Our findings support the optimism expressed at the beginning of 2022 in South Africa that a turning point had been reached in the pandemic. Many in high income countries dismissed this view as not applicable to their settings despite high vaccine coverage. But their experience has since generally aligned with South Africa’s,” wrote study author Prof. Shabir A. Madhi for The Conversation.

03/02/2022 15:30 GMT — Risk of vaccine-related inflammatory syndrome in children is 1 in 1 million

A large recent study published in The Lancet has reviewed data on more than 21 million children and adolescents aged 12–20 years who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over a period of 9 months.

The authors of the study found a total of 21 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), suggesting that this rare complication occurred in 1 per 1 million vaccinated people.

This rate is much lower than the rate at which unvaccinated individuals experience MIS-C if they contract SARS-CoV-2, which is 200 cases per 1 million.

“Our findings suggest that MIS-C after COVID-19 vaccination is rare,” conclude the study authors.

Access the full paper here.

03/02/2022 11:00 GMT — Omicron subvariants BA.1 vs. BA.2: What the latest data say

Recent data indicate that the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, or the “stealth” variant, has been outcompeting the previously dominant BA.1 subvariant in several countries.

According to some new studies, BA.2 may be even more transmissible than BA.1, as well as slightly better at evading immunity.

Nevertheless, clinical data do not suggest a significant difference in the severity of disease caused by BA.2 versus BA.1.

Read more about this in our dedicated article.

03/02/2022 10:47 GMT — England health workers no longer required to get vaccinated from March

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom, Sajid Javid, has said that health and social care workers in England will no longer be required by law to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

This decision is due to go into effect on March 15, amid worries that the vaccination requirement may leave the National Health Service (NHS) even shorter staffed.

03/01/2022 16:30 GMT — Hong Kong mortality rates among the highest in the world, New Zealand to expect peak cases, hospitalizations

Mortality rates in Hong Kong are now among the highest in the world, with 117 new deaths recorded on Tuesday. Ninety-one percent of these deaths were among people who had not received full vaccinations.

According to Bloomberg, which used data from Johns Hopkins University, Hong Kong has the highest mortality rate among high income countries.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield announced that there were almost 100,000 COVID-19 active cases across the motu, with peak cases and hospitalizations likely to occur in the next few days.

“I know that such a high daily case number can be concerning for people to hear, and many of us will now have whānau members who now have COVID-19, but it’s important to remember that COVID-19 now is a very different foe to what it was at the beginning of the pandemic,” Dr. Bloomfield said.

Read more about these stories here and here.

03/01/2022 14:20 GMT — Pfizer vaccine only 12% effective in 5–11-year-old kids

According to new data that Pfizer-BioNTech released, the COVID-19 vaccine is only 12% effective against Omicron infections in children aged 5–11 years.

The protection wanes off more quickly and steeply than in children and adolescents aged 12–17 years, the data show. The information appears as a study on the preprint server MedRXiv and has not yet undergone peer review.

Specifically, between December 13, 2021, and January 30, 2022, the vaccine effectiveness dropped from 66% to 51% in 12–17-year-olds and from 68% to 12% in 5–11-year-olds.

“However, vaccination of children 5–11 years was protective against severe disease and is recommended,” the preprint study concludes.

Read more about the study here.

02/28/2022 14:20 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 came from Wuhan market and not Chinese lab, twin studies say

Two new studies (1,2) are adding to evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that sparked the COVID-19 pandemic, came from a market in Wuhan and not a Chinese government laboratory.

Although the studies have not yet undergone peer review, they make it “extraordinarily clear” that the site of origin was Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, according to Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist and co-author of both studies.

The research examines the geographical clusters of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and links them to genetic samples collected from the market and the first COVID-19 patients.

A joint study that China and the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted last year had already ruled out the theory that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered in a lab.

Read MNT‘s previous coverage on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 here.

02/28/2022 11:30 GMT — COVID-19 and dementia: Is there a link?

COVID-19 causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, but in some individuals, the after-effects can linger for months. Some of these effects are neurological, with possible symptoms including brain fog, anxiety, and difficulties with memory. This has led scientists to investigate whether COVID-19 could increase the risk of dementia. MNT explores the evidence so far.

Read more here.

02/25/2022 15:10 GMT — Emergency room visits among teenage girls doubled during the pandemic

Emergency rooms across the United States reported a significant increase in the number of visits from teenage girls dealing with eating disorders and other mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency said that it observed this troubling trend among girls aged 12–17 years, which was worsened by pandemic-related stressors such as the “lack of structure in daily routine, emotional distress, and changes in food availability.”

Teenage girls also made more visits for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in 2021, the data showed.

Read more here about how the pandemic has affected eating habits.

02/25/2022 09:04 GMT — COVID-19 and disordered eating: How the pandemic has impacted eating habits

In a new feature, Medical News Today investigates whether the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected people’s eating patterns. To explore this topic, we speak with two experts to help determine the relationship between disordered eating and the pandemic.

Read the full feature here.

02/25/2022 09:03 GMT — Beyond Omicron: How vaccines, transmission will shape the next variant

In a recent article, Medical News Today spoke with experts about what the future of SARS-CoV-2 might hold. We ask whether the next variant will be weaker than Omicron, discuss endemicity, and ask how vaccination might impact future variants.

Read more here.

02/25/2022 08:36 GMT — Sanofi and GSK seek approval for new COVID-19 vaccine

Sanofi and GSK have announced positive results from late stage trials on their experimental COVID-19 vaccine. They plan to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency. As the vaccine is protein-based rather than mRNA-based, it is easier to transport and store.

According to the press release, in phase 3 efficacy trials, the vaccine was 100% effective against severe COVID-19 and hospitalization and 77% effective against moderate to severe disease.

However, it is worth noting that there were relatively few cases of severe COVID-19 among the trial participants. Once the trial is over later this year, the pharmaceutical companies plan to publish their data in a peer-reviewed journal.

02/24/2022 10:29 GMT — COVID-19 vaccines and blood clots: Two large studies investigate

Two large studies have found a small increase in the absolute risk of rare blood clots called intracranial venous thromboses following a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The authors stress, however, that the benefit of vaccination — its capacity to protect against severe COVID-19 — far outweighs the risks.

They found no evidence of increased risks following a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Read more about the studies here.

02/24/2022 10:10 GMT — COVID-19 survivors: Increased risk of mental health issues

A study tracking COVID-19 survivors found them more likely to develop mental health issues than other people over the year following diagnosis. The researchers saw an increased risk even for those whose COVID-19 was mild enough that they did not require hospitalization.

Read more about the study here.

02/24/2022 09:56 GMT — SARS-CoV-2 infection damages hamsters’ testicles

In a recent study, scientists infected hamsters with SARS-CoV-2. They compared any changes in the hamsters’ testicles with those of hamsters infected by an influenza virus.

In the hamsters with SARS-CoV-2, the team identified a “varying degree of testicular inflammation, hemorrhage, and necrosis” and a reduced ability to produce sperm.

Although this was an animal study, the authors believe that “Long term follow-up of sperm count and sex hormone profile of convalescent COVID-19 males is warranted.”

Find more live COVID-19 updates here.

02/23/2022 16:55 GMT — 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccine 99% effective against hospitalization with Omicron, Delta

Three doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine were more than 99% effective against hospitalization with the Omicron or Delta variant, according to a new study in Nature Medicine.

However, while 3 doses were 75.5% effective against Omicron infection for people with a healthy immune system, this figure dropped to 29.4% for people with a compromised immune system.

The study also showed that vaccine effectiveness against Omicron infection waned within 3 months of the second dose. The researchers suggested a shorter interval between the second and third doses and follow-ups for people with a weakened immune system.

Read more COVID-19 updates here.

02/23/2022 10:18 GMT — UK to offer extra COVID-19 booster to most vulnerable people

The United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said it will start offering an additional dose of COVID-19 booster to people with a higher risk of severe disease this spring.

Under the new plan, people aged 75 and above, residents in care homes for older adults, and those aged 12 or older who have weakened immune systems, or immunosuppression, will be eligible for the additional booster. For older populations, this will be the fourth dose, and it will be the fifth for people with weakened immunity.

The additional booster will be available 6 months after the most recent dose.

The JCVI also said a further booster will likely be recommended for those at high risk in fall 2022.

Read more updates here.

02/23/2022 09:50 GMT — Corbevax COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency approval for 12–18 year-olds in India

Corbevax, a protein subunit vaccine manufactured by Biological E., became India’s third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for children aged 12–18.

The announcement came on Monday after the Health Ministry gave emergency use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine. Corbevax now joins Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccines that have EUA for use in children aged 12 and above.

Corbevax had received EUA for use in adults in late December.

Read more about globally authorized COVID-19 vaccines here.

02/23/2022 09:30 GMT — Does Omicron infection protect against other variants?

Since Omicron became so widespread worldwide, scientists have been trying to determine whether having an Omicron infection could protect against other variants.

Researchers from South Africa carried out a study and found that people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 and then contracted the Omicron variant had increased protection against both the Delta and Beta variants.

Meanwhile, those who were unvaccinated but had contracted Omicron mounted immunity only to Omicron infections.

Read more of MNT‘s coverage of the study here.

02/22/2022 16:00 GMT — Can brain stimulation treat long COVID ‘brain fog’?

Researchers at the SAVIR-Center in Magdeburg, Germany, tested the benefits of noninvasive brain stimulation for improving long COVID symptoms — such as “brain fog” and visual impairment — in two people.

Both showed improvement in cognitive tests after treatment, as well as improvement in visual field loss.

Read MNT’s full coverage here.

02/22/2022 15:30 GMT — COVID-19 during pregnancy: How the placenta is involved

Two new studies have examined the placentas of women who had COVID-19 while pregnant to understand the effect of the coronavirus on this organ and on maternal and birth outcomes after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

One of the studies documented cases of so-called placentitis — an inflammation of the placenta in pregnant mothers with COVID-19 — which led to stillbirths.

The other study examined the “defense mechanisms” that the placenta puts into place to combat SARS-CoV-2 infection and prevent maternal-fetal transmission.

Read MNT’s full coverage of the two studies here.

02/22/2022 15:00 GMT — CDC: 2-dose vaccination during pregnancy 61% effective against hospitalization in infants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a report that explains the effectiveness of vaccination during pregnancy against hospitalizing infants with COVID-19. The report uses case-control research conducted in 20 pediatric hospitals in 17 states during July 1, 2021 and January 17, 2022. The research involved 379 hospitalized infants younger than 6 months: 176 had COVID-19, and 203 did not, acting as controls. 

The CDC report notes that maternal completion of 2 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was 61% effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalization among infants younger than 6 months. 

Completing the vaccination cycle early in the pregnancy yielded an effectiveness of 32% while completing it later in the pregnancy had an 80% effectiveness.

Read the full report here.

02/21/2022 15:44 GMT — England will offer vaccine to 5–11-year-olds

In England, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has concluded that, since a “very small number of children [experience] serious illness and hospitalization” with a SARS-CoV-2 infection, they would benefit from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

As a result, health services in England will soon offer low dose COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 5–11 years. 

Children whose parents decide to immunize them against SARS-CoV-2 will receive two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at an interval of at least 12 weeks.

“The [National Health Services] will prepare to extend this nonurgent offer to all children during April, so parents can, if they want, take up the offer to increase protection against potential future waves of COVID-19 as we learn to live with this virus,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said.

02/21/2022 15:25 GMT — COVID-19: Why vitamin D levels may be key

A recent study that appears in PLOS ONE suggests that people with low vitamin D levels prior to contracting SARS-CoV-2 may be more likely to develop severe COVID-19.

The risk of severe disease for those with vitamin D deficiency is 14 times higher than that of their peers, the study indicates.

However, researchers not involved in this study point out that the way in which appropriate levels of vitamin D might help mitigate the risk of severe COVID-19 remains unclear.

Read more about this study here.

02/21/2022 15:25 GMT — Italy recommends fourth shot for some

On Sunday, February 20, Italy’s ministry of health announced that it will soon recommend a second mRNA vaccine booster dose — or a fourth shot — for people with weakened immune systems. The guidance for the second booster indicates that it should be administered at least 120 days after the last COVID-19 vaccine dose.

This news coincides with a report that Italy registered as many as 42,081 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. 

02/21/2022 13:37 GMT — UK to eliminate self-isolation requirement

The United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that he intends to remove the requirement to self-isolate for people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

This further easing of pandemic-related restrictions is set to occur this week.

Currently, people in the U.K. who have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection are required by law to self-isolate for at least 5 days.”

Covid will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms,” Johnson states.

02/18/2022 11:25 GMT — COVID-19 case numbers declining but still high in the US

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is dropping sharply. The U.S. is averaging roughly 140,000 new cases each week, which is a 64% reduction over the last 2 weeks. The number of deaths is dropping less sharply — roughly 2,300 deaths each day, a decline of 13% in 2 weeks.

Find information on the latest COVID-19 research here.

02/18/2022 09:18 GMT — UK: NHS Confederation speaks out against PM’s COVID-19 exit strategy

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, is expected to scrap free tests and self-isolation rules on Monday. The National Health Service (NHS) Confederation recently announced that, according to a survey, 75% of senior NHS staff in England do not want self-isolation rules to end.

Discussing the survey’s results, the NHS Confederation writes that “Over 90% of more than 300 health leaders who responded showed strong support for the continued provision of free tests for key workers and the public, as well as retaining the use of masks in healthcare settings.”

02/18/2022 09:02 GMT — Long COVID: Risk factors and how to mitigate them

After recovering from COVID-19, many people experience long-term symptoms. This syndrome is known as long COVID. In a recent feature, Medical News Today spoke with three experts about the risk factors for this condition and whether people can help mitigate some of these risks.

Read the full feature here.

02/17/2022 09:30 GMT — Can COVID-19 vaccines teach T cells to recognize Omicron?

A recent study investigated whether T cells, which COVID-19 vaccines induce, recognize variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. T cells play a crucial role in the immune response against disease. The results of the study suggest that SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern — including Delta and Omicron — are effectively recognized by T cells in the body.

Read more about this study here.

02/17/2022 09:29 GMT — How does COVID-19 affect the heart?

A new study, which appears in Nature Medicine, takes a close look at the incidence of heart conditions following COVID-19. The researchers find evidence of a wide range of heart issues for up to 1 year after recovery.

Read more about the research here.

02/16/2022 14:30 GMT — Vaccines reduce long COVID risk and may ease symptoms in unvaccinated people, UK data show

large review of 15 studies by the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency has shown not only that people who have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are less likely to develop long COVID but also that getting vaccinated can reduce symptoms among those previously unvaccinated.

In the studies on long COVID symptoms, fully vaccinated people were less likely than unvaccinated people to develop long-term symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and loss of smell.

The review also found that, on average, unvaccinated people living with long COVID saw an improvement in their symptoms after vaccination or had fewer symptoms overall than those who remained unvaccinated.

Scientists say that vaccines may achieve this by clearing the remaining viruses or viral particles in the body, and thereby reducing inflammation.

However, some unvaccinated people with long COVID reported worsened symptoms after getting the vaccine.

Read more about long COVID in the U.K. here.

02/16/2022 14:10 GMT — UK trial seeks volunteers for Omicron-specific vaccine

A new vaccine trial in the United Kingdom is looking for around 3,000 volunteers to test a COVID-19 vaccine booster created specifically to target the Omicron variant.

Half of these volunteers will receive a dose of Moderna’s current booster, Spikevax, and the remaining participants will receive an updated formula containing genetic material that specifically fights the Omicron variant.

Participants must not have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 since November 2021 and must have had their last vaccine dose at least 3 months ago.

The clinical trial will be led by a team at St George’s Hospital, in London, and it starts this week.

Moderna is currently conducting a similar trial in the United States. Pfizer is also expected to launch its trial for an Omicron-specific booster.

Read more about the trial here.

02/16/2022 12:10 GMT — 3 doses of Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine more effective than 2

A new study has shown that a third dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is much more effective in preventing infection and hospitalization compared with 2 doses alone, even months after being vaccinated.

The research, which appears in the journal The Lancet Regional Health – Americas, found that the effectiveness of 3 doses was 88% against infection and 97% against hospitalization within the first 3 months. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of 2 doses against infection declined from 85% to 49% up to 8 months following vaccination.

The study adds to research showing the importance of boosters, especially for people aged 75 years or older and those with a compromised immune system.

Read more COVID-19 updates here.

02/16/2022 11:30 GMT — mRNA boosters after CoronaVac almost triple protection against COVID-19

A booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine administered 6 months after two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine greatly increases immunity, a study has found.

Inactivated virus vaccines are some of the world’s most widely used COVID-19 vaccines. However, studies have shown that the CoronaVac and Sinopharm vaccines have failed to retain high protection against infection with newer SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The researchers found that the third dose increased effectiveness against infection to 92.7%, up from 34% provided by 2 doses.

The findings support administering an mRNA booster vaccine dose after two doses of CoronaVac, particularly for the elderly, as has been the case in countries like Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia.

Read more about CoronaVac here.

02/15/2022 14:45 GMT — Two antibiotics may have an antiviral effect against COVID-19

A new, small study suggests that treating COVID-19 with a combination of either of two antibiotics plus one steroid may be as effective as standard care and cause fewer side effects. 

The combination involved either the antibiotic ceftazidime or the antibiotic cefepime plus the steroid dexamethasone. By comparison, standard care may involve seven or more different drugs.

However, healthcare professionals and researchers continue to stress that antibiotics are rarely effective against viruses and highlight the dangers of overusing these drugs for antibiotic resistance. 

Read MNT’s full coverage of the new study here.

02/15/2022 12:30 GMT — Almost one-third of older adults develop new conditions after COVID-19

A new study finds that almost 1 in 3 older adults who received a COVID-19 diagnosis went on to develop new conditions in the long term, compared with one-fifth of older adults who never had COVID-19.

In older adults, COVID-19 raised the risk of conditions including respiratory failure, fatigue, high blood pressure, memory problems, kidney injury, mental health diagnoses, heart rhythm disorders, and hypercoagulability — which is when blood clots tend to form more easily.

The risk of these conditions, or sequelae, was much lower in people who had less severe disease.

Head here for MNT’s full study coverage, which features interviews with the study author and other experts.

02/15/2022 12:20 GMT — Booster protection wanes after 4 months, CDC report finds

A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines was higher after the booster shot than after the second vaccine dose but that it started waning by the fourth month.

The report examined the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19-related emergency unit visits and hospitalizations in the period when Omicron was the predominant variant.

The researchers found that in the first 2 months after the third, booster, dose, this effectiveness was at 87% for emergency care visits and 91% for hospitalizations. However, this dropped to 66% and 78%, respectively, by the fourth month.

Read the full CDC report here.

02/14/2022 12:37 GMT — How are COVID-19 deaths counted, and what does this mean?

In slightly more than 2 years, authorities have recorded 5.75 million COVID-19 deaths worldwide. Some people believe that this is an overestimate of the actual mortality from the disease. Others think COVID-19 has caused many more deaths than the official figures show.

Most countries record every death and its cause, providing a permanent legal record. The doctor who records the death must note the primary cause and any contributing factors on the death certificate.

Medical News Today has looked at the evidence and spoken with experts to uncover the truth behind the numbers.

“My view is that the current number of COVID-19 deaths is an undercounting simply because those deaths reflect the ones we know about, and not every death caused by this disease was recorded or diagnosed as such,” Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a distinguished professor and chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told MNT.

Read our Special Feature in full here.

02/14/2022 12:21 GMT — Sweden recommends second booster dose for older adults

The Health Agency of Sweden now recommends that all adults aged 80 years and over receive a second booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, administered at least 4 months after the first. For many, this would be the fourth dose to date.

“A booster dose strengthens protection. Therefore we believe people 80 years or older will benefit from a second booster dose,” chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has said.

Five COVID-19 vaccines currently have authorization in Sweden: Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty, Moderna’s Spikevax, and Novavax’s Nuvaxovid.

02/14/2022 11:50 GMT — Singapore grants interim authorization for Nuvaxovid

On Monday, February 14, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore announced that it has granted interim authorization for the use of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid.

Nuvaxovid will be delivered to those aged 18 years and older, and according to the HSA, “The first batch of [vaccine doses] is expected to arrive in Singapore in the next few months.”

Read about Nuvaxovid and its potential side effects here.

02/11/2022 09:22 GMT — Could antihistamines help treat long COVID?

A recent paper describes the experiences of two individuals with long COVID whose symptoms improved after taking over-the-counter antihistamines. According to the study, both experienced “significant improvement in symptoms and ability to perform activities of daily living.” The authors hope that others will run larger studies to investigate further.

Find more live updates here.

02/11/2022 09:01 GMT — Household transmission: SARS-CoV-2 particles found outside of self-isolation rooms

A recent study investigated whether airborne SARS-CoV-2 particles were present outside of isolation rooms in homes containing one household member with a positive test result. The researchers found that aerosols of small respiratory droplets containing airborne SARS-CoV-2 RNA were present both inside and outside of these rooms.

Read MNT’s coverage of the research here.

02/11/2022 08:53 GMT — UK data shed light on long COVID

According to the latest data, 2.1% of the United Kingdom population, or 1 in 48 people, are experiencing long COVID. The analysis showed that more than half a million people have been experiencing lingering symptoms for at least a year.

Read more here.

02/10/2022 11:28 GMT — Omicron ‘stealth variant’ now dominant in South Africa

In South Africa, the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant now accounts for almost all new coronavirus infections. Although the sub-variant appears to be more transmissible, there is no evidence that it causes more severe disease.

Read more about the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant here.

02/10/2022 09:50 GMT — UK prime minister plans to remove COVID-19 rules 1 month early

The United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that if “the current encouraging trends in the data continue,” he will lift all COVID-19 restrictions on February 24. These changes will remove the requirement to self-isolate following a positive test.

Some travel restrictions are likely to stay in place and, as Johnson’s spokesperson explained, “in the same way [as for] someone with flu, we wouldn’t recommend they go to work, we would never recommend anyone goes to work when they have an infectious disease.”

Many experts did not expect this decision so soon. As Prof. Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, U.K., explains:

“Today’s comments from the Prime Minister were quite a surprise, at least to me. At some point, it is going to be the case that all remaining restrictions are dropped, including the need to self-isolate, though I certainly didn’t expect that to happen this month.”

Prof. Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, U.K., also believes the move is premature:

“Removing the requirement for isolation in the face of high infection levels will inevitably result in increased spread of the virus. […] We need to remain vigilant for the arrival of new variants and not let our guard down — testing, tracing, and virus genome surveillance are vital.”

02/10/2022 09:34 GMT — Loss of smell gives clues about long COVID

A new study investigating loss of smell associated with COVID-19 suggests that the infection of neighboring cells may trigger a reorganization in the nuclei of these sensory neurons. The findings may shed light on the causes of other lingering neurological effects, such as brain fog, headaches, and depression.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

02/09/2022 14:20 GMT — Long COVID: Abnormal immune activity found 8 months post infection

A new study has found that long COVID may cause long-term disturbances to the immune system, leading to dysfunctional immune activity 8 months after the initial infection.

The research, from scientists in Australia, showed that long COVID was associated with increased levels of specific immune biomarkers.

In addition to elevated levels of interferons, a type of protein that cells make in response to the presence of viruses, the researchers saw that COVID-19 long haulers had highly activated immune cells.

The findings could help experts better understand long COVID, an emerging chronic condition.

Read more of MNT‘s coverage of the study here.

02/09/2022 12:47 GMT — Chinese scientists develop new COVID-19 test that gives results in 4 minutes

Chinese scientists have created a new type of COVID-19 test that employs microelectronic technology and detects SARS-CoV-2 RNA in less than 4 minutes.

The test, which uses an electromechanical biosensor that analyzes samples from the back of the throat and nose, has been as “accurate as a PCR,” according to the team of researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai who developed it.

The test delivered a correct diagnosis for 33 patients and did not produce any false positives for the 54 healthy participants.

The results appear in a peer-reviewed article in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

If developed further, the test has the potential to be a game changer in mass testing by cutting out the need for laboratory analysis. The researchers say it could be especially handy at airports and hospitals.

Read more about COVID-19 tests here.

02/08/2022 12:45 GMT — ‘Stealth’ Omicron is more infectious than Omicron, but vaccines still protect

A new Danish study has compared the transmissibility of the new Omicron subvariant — commonly called “stealth” Omicron — with that of the previously dominant Omicron variant. It has also considered the efficacy of vaccines in the face of the two variants. 

The study concluded that stealth Omicron is more transmissible than Omicron and that vaccines provide less protection against the former. However, stealth Omicron was less likely than Omicron to transmit from vaccinated people who did contract an infection.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

02/08/2022 11:30 GMT — Four US states plan to drop school mask mandates

The governors of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Oregon announced their decisions to lift mask mandates in schools by the end of February or March.

As the rationale for their decisions, the officials cited the rapid decline in Omicron cases, as well as the need to regain a sense of normalcy and find ways to live with the virus.

According to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, as the Associated Press reports, COVID-19 cases in the state have dropped by 50%, and hospitalizations declined by one-third since last week.

Read the full story here.

02/07/2022 15:51 GMT — Brief incubation, high viral shedding: COVID-19 human challenge trial results

In just-published results, a COVID-19 human challenge trial that researchers conducted in the United Kingdom has given unique insights into the progress of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Medical News Today dives into the details.

Read more here.

02/07/2022 15:47 GMT — High risk of death or readmission after COVID-19 hospitalization

A new study finds that people hospitalized with COVID-19 have an increased risk of death or readmission afterward. The risk of death post-hospitalization is highest for individuals with preexisting dementia.

Read more here.

02/04/2022 09:58 GMT — Tonga experiences its first COVID-19 outbreak

Two years into the pandemic, the island nation of Tonga has registered its first cases of COVID-19. Last month, the islanders experienced a volcanic eruption and tsunami. When fresh water and supplies arrived, SARS-CoV-2 arrived in tow. The nation is now controlling the small outbreak with an open-ended lockdown.

The isolated geography, a swift initial lockdown in 2020, and a strong vaccination program have kept the virus at bay until now. Around 61% of Tongans are fully vaccinated, but because there had been no exposure to the virus, levels of natural immunity are low.

Tongan resident Paula Taumoepeau told AP News, “We have pretty limited resources, and our hospitals are pretty small. But I’m not sure any health system can cope. We are lucky we’ve had 2 years to get our vax rate pretty high, and we had a pretty immediate lockdown.”

02/04/2022 09:04 GMT — The neurological impact of COVID-19

The neurological complications of COVID-19 are common and can range from decreased mental clarity to stroke. A recent perspective article, which appears in the journal Science, outlines what we know about these complications so far and why they might occur.

Read more about the paper here.

02/03/2022 15:43 GMT — UK now counts reinfections in official stats

Starting this week, the United Kingdom has switched how it tracks SARS-CoV-2 infections. Previously, only first infections were counted. Now, as reinfections become more commonplace, they will also be tracked. This will give officials a better understanding of how the epidemic is behaving in the U.K.

According to Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia in the U.K., “The fact that reinfections have become much more common since the emergence of the Omicron variant meant that not reporting such reinfections was no longer tenable.”

Prof. Hunter provides an insight into how this will affect the number of reported cases: there were 2,768,188 first infections in January and 305,858 reinfections.

“So far in January, there have been 2,768,188 [first infections] and 305,858 […] reinfections, continuing this upward trend in proportion of infections due to reinfection.”

“The addition of reinfections,” he explains, “has increased the headline number of infections marginally. Nevertheless, although the proportion of all infections that are due to reinfection is still relatively small, this proportion is increasing, and we can expect this to grow.”

02/03/2022 10:13 GMT — Study finds ‘no adverse association between COVID-19 vaccination and fertility’

Some earlier research has concluded that COVID-19 vaccinations do not appear to reduce fertility. A new study adds to this evidence, finding that the vaccines do not affect fertility in males or females. However, SARS-CoV-2 infection in males does seem to have short-term effects on fertility.

Find out more here.

02/03/2022 10:04 GMT — Antivirals work against Omicron, some antibody treatments do not

A new study has found that most antibody treatments were less effective against the Omicron variant than against earlier variants. However, the antiviral drugs remdesivir and molnupiravir and a candidate drug designed by Pfizer maintained their effectiveness.

Read more about the study here.

02/02/2022 13:33 GMT — One nasal droplet enough to contract COVID-19, landmark trial suggests

Being exposed to a single nasal droplet of SARS-CoV-2 particles is enough to cause a person to develop COVID-19, according to a landmark human challenge trial.

The pioneering study, in which researchers deliberately exposed 36 healthy young volunteers to SARS-CoV-2, also showed that people typically developed COVID-19 symptoms rather quickly, in as little as 42 hours.

On average, the researchers found people were most likely to pass on SARS-CoV-2 at 5 days into the infection.

The findings have not been peer-reviewed, but the preliminary report is available on Springer Nature’s pre-print server.

Read more about the study here.

02/02/2022 11:38 GMT — Long COVID: Gut bacteria may be key

A new study has found the first evidence of a possible connection between long COVID and gut dysbiosis — changes in the community of microorganisms in the gut.

The researchers discovered that people with long COVID experienced distinct changes in their gut microbiota.

Those who had severe COVID-19 also appeared to have more extreme dysbiosis, with fewer “friendly” bacteria in their gut.

The study highlights the need to investigate probiotics, dietary changes, and fecal transplants as potential treatments for long COVID.

Read more here.

02/02/2022 11:30 GMT — Study identifies four factors that may predict long COVID risk

A new study has found four biomarkers that may predict whether a person goes on to develop long COVID.

Among the factors that researchers identified is the presence of certain autoantibodies associated with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Having preexisting type 2 diabetes is another factor.

Although more research is needed to confirm the findings, the study brings scientists closer to understanding the biological mechanisms of long COVID.

Read MNT‘s coverage of the study here.

02/02/2022 10:45 GMT — Pfizer asks FDA to authorize COVID-19 shot for children under 5

Pfizer and BioNTech announced late Tuesday that they had officially submitted safety and efficacy data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to receive authorization to make their COVID-19 vaccine available for children aged between 6 months and 5 years.

The news comes hours after media reports surfaced about the FDA urging the companies to submit an application.

The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine in question is two 3-microgram doses, a tenth of what healthcare professionals administer to adults.

If the vaccine receives FDA authorization, it will become the first COVID-19 shot available for children under 5 years of age.

Read more here about COVID-19 vaccines for children.

02/01/2022 15:00 GMT — Pfizer vaccine for kids under 5 may be ready by the end of this month, sources claim

According to anonymous sources that the Washington Post has cited, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 5 could be available by the end of February.

According to the sources, Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to submit a request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization this Tuesday.

The FDA has urged the manufacturers to submit data on the two-dose regimen of the vaccine while they are still collecting data on a three-dose regimen. 

Read the story in full here.

02/01/2022 14:20 GMT — Omicron survives longer on plastic surfaces and skin

A new preprint study finds that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 lasts much longer on plastic surfaces and skin compared with previous variants. The study has not yet been peer reviewed.

According to the findings, Omicron survives on plastic for almost 200 hours and on skin for about 21 hours. This may add to the virus’s transmissibility, but the researchers do not yet know for certain.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.