October 1 (Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the results and that has not yet been certified by peer review.
Delta variant increases risk for pregnant women
Compared to coronavirus cases earlier in the pandemic, Delta variant infections lead to worse outcomes for unvaccinated pregnant women, new data suggests. Doctors studied 1,515 pregnant women with COVID-19 who received care from a large public health system in Dallas from May 2020 to September 4, 2021. In total, 82 women – of whom 81 were not vaccinated – developed serious illness, including 10 who needed ventilators and two who died. The proportion of severe or critical cases among pregnant women was around 5% until early 2021, and was “largely non-existent” in February and most of March 2021, the researchers said in a statement. In late summer, at the height of the Delta variant outbreak, the proportion of pregnant COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization increased from 10% to 15%, they reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Pregnant women face a higher risk of complications with any type of severe respiratory infection, so these results of the higher risk of the Delta variant further underscore the need for them to be vaccinated against COVID-19, According to study director, Dr. Emily Adhikari of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said in a statement. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday called for “urgent action” to increase COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant people, recently pregnant, including those who are breastfeeding or may become pregnant in the future. ‘future, stating that “the benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks.”
Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine antibodies disappear within 7 months
Six months after receiving the second dose of the two-shot vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE, many recipients no longer have vaccine-induced antibodies that can immediately neutralize disturbing variants of the coronavirus, suggests a new study. The researchers analyzed blood samples from 46 healthy adults, mostly young or middle-aged, after receiving both doses and again six months after the second dose. “Our study shows that vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine induces high levels of neutralizing antibodies against the original vaccine strain, but these levels decrease almost 10-fold in seven months” after the initial dose, Bali Pulendran of Stanford University and Emory University’s Mehul Suthar said via email. In about half of all subjects, neutralizing antibodies that can block infection against coronavirus variants such as Delta, Beta and Mu were undetectable six months after the second dose, their team reported on bioRxiv on Thursday before the exam. by peers. Neutralizing antibodies are not the immune system’s only defense against the virus. Yet they “are critically important for protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2,” Pulendran and Suthar said. “These results suggest that administration of a booster dose approximately 6 to 7 months after the initial vaccination is likely to improve protection against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.”
Merck’s experimental pill halves hospitalizations and deaths
Merck & Co’s investigational oral antiviral drug (MRK.N) for COVID-19, molnupiravir, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50% for patients with mild to moderate infections who presented with risk factors for serious illness, according to an interim clinical trial results announced by the company on Friday. A planned interim analysis of 775 patients in the Merck study found that 7.3% of those who received molnupiravir twice daily for five days were either hospitalized or died 29 days after treatment, compared with 14. 1% of patients on placebo. There were no deaths among those who received molnupiravir, but eight in the placebo group. Due to the positive results, the phase III trial was terminated prematurely on the recommendation of external monitors. “An oral antiviral that can have such an impact on the risk of hospitalization would be a game-changer,” said Amesh Adalja, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who was not involved in the study. Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics plan to apply for emergency use authorization in the United States for the pill as soon as possible and to submit applications to regulatory agencies around the world. If licensed, molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the virus’s genetic code, would be the first oral antiviral drug for COVID-19.
Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.
Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Deena Beasley; Editing by Bill Berkrot
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