There is so much negativity in the news about COVID-19, we want to give you all the positive good news that is happening with research, clinical trials, improvements, vaccines and anything that we can be positive about that you may not have seen.


Latest stories

Vaccinations reduce chance of Covid death in India to 0.4%, says ICMR study


Vaccines targeting Covid-19 are able to curb deaths and hospitalization in patients substantially, including those infected by the highly-transmissible delta variant that drove India’s devastating second wave and is now triggering curbs from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

About 0.4% died among those who got infected after inoculation — called breakthrough infections — while nearly 10% needed hospitalization, according to a new study by researchers led by Indian Council of Medical Research’s Nivedita Gupta. The study, which analyzed genome sequencing data of 677 Covid patients, found 86% of the fully-vaccinated cases were due to the delta variant.

The findings underscore the crucial role of shots in preventing extreme outcomes among Covid-19 sufferers and allays doubts around vaccine efficacy, especially with respect to the Delta variant that has rapidly spread to at least 104 countries.

“This clearly suggests that vaccination reduces severity of disease, hospitalisation and mortality,” said the study. “Therefore, enhancing the vaccination drive and immunising the populations quickly would be the most important strategy to prevent further deadly waves of Covid-19 and would reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”


‘Super-antibodies’ could curb COVID-19 and help avert future pandemics

Companies are designing next-generation antibodies modeled on those taken from unique individuals whose immune systems can neutralize any COVID-19 variant—and related coronaviruses, too.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in late May to sotrovimab, providing a new therapeutic weapon in the fight against SARS-CoV-2—and future coronaviruses with pandemic potential.

According to analysts and researchers alike, so-called super-antibodies such as sotrovimab should have an edge over first-generation monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies for COVID-19 because of their broad neutralization capacity in the face of emerging virus variants. “Physicians aren’t going to sequence what version of the virus people have, so they’ll go for the antibodies that have the higher barrier to resistance or the ones that work on [known] variants,” says Phil Nadeau, an analyst at Cowen.


Antibodies after mild covid-19 last for at least a year and also bind the new Delta variant


The COMMUNITY study, which examines long-term immunity after covid-19, has now followed participants for one year and sees that the vast majority still have high levels of antibodies one year after infection. It has been investigated whether the antibodies bind both to the original virus and to a number of new variants, including Alpha (formerly called B 1.117) and Delta, which are currently spreading in Sweden and Europe. The results suggest continued good protection one year after natural infection.

In the spring of 2020, samples were collected from more than 2,000 employees at Danderyd Hospital, where about 19 percent were shown to have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. Samples were also collected from more than 100 inpatient covid-19 patients. Now a year has passed and the 12-month follow-up has been completed.

The study took a closer look at a group of study participants who fell ill in the spring of 2020 and who have not yet been vaccinated. In this group, it has been possible to study immunity after natural infection over a period of one year. The results show that over 80 percent of those who had mild symptoms in the spring of 2020 still, a year later, have measurable antibody levels. Corresponding analyzes have also been performed in the group of patients who were hospitalized for covid-19, and all have continued measurable antibody levels one year after the infection.

The researchers have also looked at the ability of antibodies to bind the new virus variants, and found that they also bind the Alpha and Delta variants, which now account for the majority of the spread in Sweden and Europe.


Covid patient’s own blood cells could treat lung scarring


A therapy made from a Covid patient’s own blood is being trialled to treat lung scarring that’s left after hospitalisation.

Doctors at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London have begun a small trial using patients’ white blood cells.

The Monocytes as an Anti-fibrotic treatment after COVID-19 (MONACO) cell therapy study is the world’s first Phase 1 trial for the condition that has advanced to a stage where it has been given to patients.

Early estimates indicate that 2% of all patients who had COVID-19, including those who were not hospitalised, will have suffered a degree of fibrotic lung scarring as a result of the infection. This estimate is even higher in patients who were admitted to intensive care. These statistics indicate that globally over 3.5 million people may have a degree of post COVID-19 lung scarring to date.

Lung scarring causes a significant decline in lung function, a long term debilitating reduction in exercise capacity and reduced quality of life in these patients.

The development of the MONACO Cell Therapy Study and production of the treatment were supported by the world class infrastructure and facilities of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The novel cell therapy used in this study was manufactured within the cutting edge facilities, and with the expert support of highly trained staff within the NIHR BRC’s Advanced Therapies Manufacturing platform at Guy’s Hospital.

Five patients with fibrotic lung disease following recovery from COVID-19, were the first people in the world to receive the experimental cell therapy treatment within the NIHR Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at Guy’s Hospital.


Washington state reaches COVID vaccine goal: 70% of residents 16 and up have at least one shot


Washington state has reached its goal of 70% of residents 16 years and older initiating vaccination against the coronavirus.

That’s almost 8 million doses to 4.3 million Washingtonians with 3.9 million fully vaccinated people, officials with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday during a news briefing.

A vaccination rate of 70% had been set as a goal nationally by President Joe Biden and in Washington by Gov. Jay Inslee, who had promised an early reopening of the state if the goal was reached before June 30, which did not happen. The state’s COVID-19 restrictions were eased on the last day of June.


Only 1% COVID Cases And Deaths Occurred In Fully Vaccinated New Yorkers This Year


Since the start of the year, unvaccinated New Yorkers have comprised the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. That’s the takeaway from new data released Wednesday by the New York City Department of Health.

Of the half a million cases recorded between New Year’s Day and June 15th, just over 495,000 occurred in people who weren’t fully vaccinated. Compare that against about 5,200 infections in residents with all their shots. Likewise, those without a full course of shots accounted for approximately 8,000 COVID deaths over this period. The fully vaccinated experienced just 94 deaths.

“As the city’s doctor, what keeps me up at night is thinking about those New Yorkers who are still unvaccinated,” Dr. Dave Chokshi, New York City Health Commissioner, said at a press briefing on Wednesday. “I think about how much suffering COVID-19 caused in our city over the past year and a half. I think about the grief and the trauma and the empty chairs around the dinner table. The good news is so much of that suffering is now avoidable because of the vaccine.”

Overall, New Yorkers who weren’t fully vaccinated comprised 98 percent of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.


How effective are coronavirus vaccines against the Delta variant?


As rising coronavirus infections force some countries to reimpose restrictions, scientists and drugmakers are racing to answer a crucial question: how well do the current vaccines protect against the Delta variant?

On one point, most observers agree. The leading shots, studies show, still offer strong protection against severe disease and hospitalisation.

“Real-world effectiveness studies with a number of vaccines show good protection especially against severe disease,” Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, told the Financial Times. “The most important priority just now is to scale up vaccination coverage in all countries.”

So called “real-world” analysis of 14,019 cases of the Delta variant in the UK, released by Public Health England in June, found the BioNTech/Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were, respectively, 96 per cent and 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation after two doses.

Late on Thursday, Pfizer reiterated it believed its shot worked against Delta, especially after a potential third booster dose. But it also added it planned to study a variant-targeted inoculation, with trials slated to start as early as next month.


This ‘super antibody’ for COVID fights off multiple coronaviruses


Scientists have uncovered an antibody that can fight off not only a wide range of SARS-CoV-2 variants, but also closely related coronaviruses1. The discovery could aid the quest to develop broad-ranging treatments and vaccines.

Tyler Starr, a biochemist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, and his co-authors set out to shed light on a problem facing antibody treatments for COVID-19: some variants of SARS-CoV-2 have acquired mutations that enable the virus to escape the antibodies’ grasp.

The researchers examined 12 antibodies isolated from people who had recovered from COVID-19 by Vir Biotechnology, a company based in San Francisco, California, that was involved in the study. Those antibodies latch on to a fragment of viral protein that binds to receptors on human cells. Many antibody therapies for SARS-CoV-2 infection grab the same protein fragment, called the receptor binding domain.

The researchers compiled a list of thousands of mutations in the binding domains of multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. They also catalogued mutations in the binding domain on dozens of SARS-CoV-2-like coronaviruses that belong to a group called the sarbecoviruses. Finally, they assessed how all these mutations affect the 12 antibodies’ ability to stick to the binding domain.

It’s good news that the team has identified antibodies that can bind to a range of sarbecoviruses, says Arinjay Banerjee, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. “The biggest question that remains is, what about viruses that we don’t know exist yet?”

Although scientists can’t test an antibody’s activity against an unknown virus, Banerjee adds, pan-sarbecovirus treatments and vaccines would help to prepare the world to fight the next coronavirus that jumps from wildlife into humans.


New Zealands’s first mass vaccination event to be held in Auckland at end of July


The country’s first mass Covid-19 vaccination event will be held in south Auckland at the end of the month.

On Wednesday, Covid-19 Response Health Minister Chris Hipkins announced the event will be held at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, over the weekend of Friday, July 30 to Sunday, August 1.

More than 15,000 people are set to be vaccinated over those three days, Hipkins said. Another mass vaccination event will be held six weeks later for second doses.

It comes after a mass vaccination event at the centre planned earlier this month was postponed due to tight supply of the vaccine.


Rapid lateral flow tests 95% effective at detecting COVID if used when symptoms start, study shows


Rapid lateral flow tests are 95% effective at detecting coronavirus if they are used at the onset of infection or as soon as symptoms start, a new study suggests.

Scientists have previously said that lateral flow tests (LFTs) are less sensitive at picking up COVID-19 cases than laboratory tested PCR swabs.

But a study of more than 2,500 people with flu-like symptoms has shown that LFTs picked up 95% of the coronavirus cases that the PCR tests did.

It also correctly identified 89% of COVID cases as negative.

LFTs function like pregnancy tests and look for coronavirus proteins to detect cases and take just 30 minutes.

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests are laboratory tested and can take up to three days to process.

The research, carried out by experts at Queen Mary University of London, Oxford University, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna and the Medical University of Graz, is the first to compare the two forms of testing on a group of this scale.