EScAPE Newsletter, Issue #42

Reports that are of interest for the week

COVID-19 vaccination and deaths amongst US veterans
Researchers examined infection and deaths by vaccination status in 780,225 US veterans from February 1, 2021 to October 1, 2021. They found that the percentage of COVID-19 positivity was higher in unvaccinated veterans by about 25.8% and that risk of death was highest in unvaccinated veterans. However, risk of death due to variants was also high despite vaccination status.

New protein-based Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t need cold storage: Study
The current available Covid-19 vaccines require cold storage and high manufacturing capacity, making it difficult to produce and distribute them widely. This new vaccine was freeze dried and then reconstituted without losing efficacy.

UK scientists find gene that may double risk of COVID-19 death
Studies have found a gene that prevents cells lining airways and the lungs from responding to the virus. It also found that around 60% of people with South Asian ancestry carry the variant as well as 15% of European ancestry and 2% of Afro-Caribbean descent.

Antiviral pill cuts COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths by 89%, Pfizer says
Pfizer recently announced a new pill, PAXLOVID, that cuts COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths by 89% when taken within three days of symptom onset. Scientists completed a placebo controlled clinical trial to test the pill and the data monitoring committee recommended the trial be stopped so that people with the placebo could take the actual drug because of how clearly effective it was.

Christmas may be tough as COVID not over, England’s deputy medical officer says
England’s deputy chief medical officer warns people to behave with caution and come forward with booster shots as Christmas comes. The deputy chief also talked about COVID-10 fatigue and says that there may be some hard months moving forward.

Preferences and patterns of response to public health advice during the COVID-19 pandemic
Medical advice to the public during COVID-19 has been one of the largest struggles of leadership, specifically, whether to provide public advice that is medically optimal or advice that is less protective but more likely to be followed. This article goes into studies done by NYU researchers on the tradeoffs between the two

Why scientists worldwide are watching UK COVID infections
Throughout the pandemic, the UK has been one country that foreshadowed what came elsewhere. It was one of the first countries to trust vaccine coverage and public responsibility to control the virus. However, now that winter is here the world is watching how the UK reacts to the virus to predict what may happen in other countries.

African scientists race to test COVID drugs - but face major hurdles
Many African scientists and researchers are struggling to find participants to do clinical trials on different COVID-19 drugs. Only 2.7% of people in Nigeria have been at least partially vaccinated and there are estimates that it could take at least until September 2022 for 70% of Africa to be fully vaccinated.