The Lambda Coronavirus Variant Has Arrived In Australia Here’s What We Know So Far

We’ve seen the Alpha, Kappa and Delta variants cross our borders, but it turns out another strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has reached our shores.

The variant, named Lambda by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month, was detected in an overseas traveller who was in hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April, according to national genomics database AusTrakka.

Some reports suggest the new variant could be fast spreading and difficult to tackle with vaccines. So what sets this variant apart from others and should we be concerned?

Here’s what we know so far.

Where did it originate?

Previously known as C.37, Lambda was first detected in Peru in December 2020. Since then, it’s spread to 29 countries, seven of which are in South America.

In April and May this year, Lambda accounted for over 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Peru, with a high proportion of cases also in Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador.

On 14 June, Lambda was listed as a ‘variant of interest’ by the World Health Organization due to its vast spread in South America.

Variants of interest are listed as such because they have the potential to be more infectious and severe, but haven’t yet had the devastating impact of those listed as variants of concern.

On 23 June, Public Health England classified it as a ‘variant under investigation’, after six cases were detected in the UK to date, which were all linked to overseas travel.

What makes it different from other variants?

There are now 11 official SARS-CoV-2 variants listed by the WHO.

All SARS-CoV-2 variants are distinguished from one another by mutations in their spike proteins — the components of the virus that allow it to invade human cells.

For instance, the Delta variant first detected in India has two key spike protein mutations — T478K and L452R  — that allow it to infect cells more easily and evade the body’s immune response.

According to research published last week but yet to be peer reviewed,  Lambda has seven unique spike protein mutations.

A Chilean team of scientists analysed blood samples from health workers in Santiago who had received two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech in China.

They found  the Lambda variant has a mutation called L452Q, which is similar to the L452R mutation seen in the Delta and Epsilon variants.

As the L452R mutation is thought to make Delta and Epsilon more infectious and resilient against vaccination, the team concluded that Lambda’s L452Q mutation might also help it spread far and wide.

While it’s possible that Lambda is indeed more infectious than other variants, it’s too early to know for sure, said Kirsty Short, a virologist at the University of Queensland.

“It’s very preliminary,” said Dr Short, who was not involved in the study.

“It’s a good starting point, but I certainly wouldn’t infer anything from that into the clinic.”

Are vaccines still effective against the Lambda variant?

The study also found signs that Lambda’s unique spike mutations could help it slip past the body’s immune response.

The results of the study suggested that the CoronaVac vaccine produces fewer neutralising antibodies — proteins that defend cells against infections — in response to the Lambda variant.

But according to Paul Griffin, who specialises in infectious diseases and vaccines at the University of Queensland, it’s important to remember that these antibodies are just one aspect of immunity.

“We know that [neutralizing antibodies] only tell a part of the story,” said Dr Griffin, who was not involved in the study.

“If that further immunity remains intact, then even with a reduction in neutralizing antibodies, sometimes that protection can still be enough.”

It’s also worth remembering that different vaccines work in different ways to respond to the virus and its variants.

“You can’t really extrapolate from one vaccine,” Dr Short said.

CoronaVac uses inactive versions of SARS-CoV-2 to kick the immune system into gear.

On the other hand, Pfizer contains a single strand of the genetic code that builds the virus’s spike proteins, while AstraZeneca contains a double-strand.

Dr Griffin said that more traditional inactivated vaccines like CoronaVac have proven to be less effective overall than others.

“As a broad category, the inactivated ones have been a little bit underwhelming, particularly compared to others that have such high rates of efficacy,” said Dr Griffin, who was not involved in the study.

While not much is known about how effective the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are against Lambda, their response to the Delta variant can offer clues.

A recent study from the UK found that two doses of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca are over 90 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation due to the Delta variant.

Should Australia be worried?

While there has only been one case of Lambda recorded in hotel quarantine in Australia so far, it’s worth keeping an eye on the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants around the world, Dr Short said.

“There’s a reason why it’s a variant that we’re watching and looking into more, but it’s certainly not at a point of panic or anything like that.”

Dr Griffin added that Lambda would need to out-compete Delta to become a major concern. “That’s certainly not what we’re seeing,” he said.  But as more people get infected, the more chance the virus has to evolve into new variants, Dr Short said.

The best way to tackle this is to focus on getting more people vaccinated, not just in Australia, but globally. “What this should emphasise to everyone is that we need global effort in the vaccination campaign,” Dr Short said.

 By: ABC Health & Wellbeing Gemma Conroy

Source: The Lambda coronavirus variant has arrived in Australia. Here’s what we know so far – ABC News

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Long Working Hours Killing 745,000 People a Year, Study Finds

 

The first global study of its kind showed 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), also showed almost three quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men.

Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.Five weeks ago, a post on LinkedIn from 45-year-old Jonathan Frostick gained widespread publicity as he described how he’d had a wake-up call over long working hours.

The regulatory program manager working for HSBC had just sat down on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the working week ahead when he felt a tightness in his chest, a throbbing in his throat, jawline and arm, and difficulty breathing.

“I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999,” he said.While recovering from his heart-attack, Mr Frostick decided to restructure his approach to work. “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore,” he said.

His post struck a chord with hundreds of readers, who shared their experiences of overwork and the impact on their health.Mr Frostick doesn’t blame his employer for the long hours he was putting in, but one respondent said: “Companies continue to push people to their limits without concern for your personal well-being.”

HSBC said everyone at the bank wished Mr Frostick a full and speedy recovery.”We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance. Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing.

“The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

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While the WHO study did not cover the period of the pandemic, WHO officials said the recent jump in remote working and the economic slowdown may have increased the risks associated with long working hours.

“We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10%,” WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

The report said working long hours was estimated to be responsible for about a third of all work-related disease, making it the largest occupational disease burden.

The researchers said that there were two ways longer working hours led to poor health outcomes: firstly through direct physiological responses to stress, and secondly because longer hours meant workers were more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, less sleep and exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

Andrew Falls, 32, a service engineer based in Leeds, says the long hours at his previous employer took a toll on his mental and physical health.”Fifty to 55 hour weeks were the norm. I was also away from home for weeks on end.”

“Stress, depression, anxiety, it was a cauldron of bad feedback loops,” he says. “I was in a constant state of being run down.”After five years he left the job to retrain as a software engineer. The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic were putting in an average of six hours of unpaid overtime a week. People who did not work from home put in an average of 3.6 hours a week overtime, the ONS said.

The WHO suggests that employers should now take this into account when assessing the occupational health risks of their workers. Capping hours would be beneficial for employers as that had been shown to increase productivity, Mr Pega said. “It’s really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

Source: Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds – BBC News

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References

“Spain introduces new working hours law requiring employees to clock in and out”. Idealista. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

The Best Face Masks For Exercising

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There’s no question that wearing face masks is an extremely important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it comes to wearing them while exercising, not every health authority agrees on best practices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone wear face masks in public to protect themselves and others, so that would presumably include public spaces where you will be around others like a gym. On the other hand, the World Health Organization said that wearing a mask while exercising is not a good idea because it can make it difficult to breathe, mainly because the mask gets wet from sweat. So where does this leave you if you’re worried about protecting yourself and others while you exercise?

Infectious disease expert Dr. Sandra Kesh told CNET that you should avoid going to group workouts or exercise classes for the time being. And keep in mind, even if you’re social-distancing at a gym, having many people inside and lots of heavy (unmasked) breathing creates an environment where the virus might spread more easily.

For your safety and the safety of others, you shouldn’t exercise without a mask indoors around other people you don’t know. If you really cannot stand wearing a mask, take your exercise outside.

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For those who are really eager to go back to their gyms and fitness studios, where masks might be required or not, here are a few masks that are breathable, moisture-wicking and designed for working out.

What to look for in face masks for exercise

Fabric

Fabric is one of the most important factors when it comes to exercising with a mask. For everyday activities, cloth masks are fine. But with exercise, cotton becomes damp really fast, which can make it harder to breathe and can promote bacterial growth. So for this reason, masks made with fabrics that are similar to the ones used in activewear (like spandex or polyester) are your best bet. But still, you want the mask to be breathable and comfortable while you move.

Fit

There’s nothing worse than having a face mask sag or fall off while you’re moving. First, it’s just annoying. Second, it will disrupt your workout if you have to stop to fix it, and you’ll likely have to touch your face — which you should avoid doing to stay safe.

Look for a face mask that’s adjustable or comes in different sizes so you can find the best fit for you. Stretchy ear loops or elastic tends to fit snugly and won’t slide around as much as the masks that tie around your head.

Antimicrobial features

Since sweat and moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria, masks that have some type of filter or antimicrobial coating are ideal (many of the masks below do have these features). While these may not actually kill or destroy a virus particle, it doesn’t hurt to have these extra barriers in place.

Also, understand that no mask on this list can offer a 100% guarantee that it will protect you from the virus, no matter how many fancy features they have. But wearing a mask is simply another tool that can act as an extra barrier to help stop the spread, and help protect you and others.

Keep reading for six of the best face masks for your workouts.

Under ArmourUnder Armour designed the UA Sportsmask with athletes in mind, but any avid exerciser will find the mask useful if you’re looking to upgrade from a standard cloth face mask. The mask is made with three different layers designed to allow airflow while also protecting you.

One layer of the mask has an antimicrobial treatment called “PROTX2” which the brand says, “has been shown in laboratory tests to destroy the coronavirus, and is being reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to confirm the efficacy of the substance as it is applied to the UA Sportsmask.”

$30 at Under Armour

The WellThe Well Movement mask is 50% cotton, so it may not hold up during serious sweat sessions, but for most activities, it will perform better than a 100% cotton mask since it’s also made of sweat-friendly polyester and spandex. The mask contains antimicrobial properties to help prevent bacteria growth.

The ear loops are adjustable, which is a huge plus for fit and comfort. The fabric also provides some UV protection, which is great if you’re spending a lot of time walking or exercising outside — but don’t forget to wear sunscreen too.

$18 at The Well

Carbon38Carbon38 The Mask Kit comes with two masks, plus a laundry bag for washing. The masks are made with a blend of polyester and cotton, so they’re fast-drying and help you stay cool. The ear loops are adjustable for a snug fit, and the masks come in two sizes.

Carbon38 says the masks are made with a multilayer filtration system to help protect you, plus the fabric has antibacterial properties.

$29 at Carbon38

AdidasAdidas face masks are machine washable and made with soft, breathable material that’s a blend of recycled polyester and elastane. They come in two different sizes for the best fit, and Adidas provides guidelines on how to measure your face to make sure you get the right size.

$16 at Adidas

OnzieWorking out in yoga clothing is way more comfortable than regular clothes, so why not take the same approach to your face mask? Yoga and athletic wear brand Onzie uses upcycled yoga fabrics to create face masks that are stretchy and dry quickly — just like your favorite leggings.

Just a heads up: Because the brand is reusing fabric from yoga wear, you can’t choose specific colors and patterns, but it’s definitely worth it for a more sustainable mask option.

$24 at Onzie

KoralKoral uses the same antimicrobial performance fabric to make its face masks as its activewear, which means they’re stretchy and fast-drying. It also provides UV protection. After wearing this mask out on a jog or walk, you can toss it in the wash, since the mask is machine-wash friendly.

Mercey Livingston headshot
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Italy’s Cassandra The Scientist Who Challenged WHO Guidelines

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ROME (Reuters) – Andrea Crisanti says his one regret is that he didn’t yell loudly enough at the beginning, when the dead had yet to pile up.

The Italian virologist has become a medical celebrity at home, a contrarian who broke with initial  World Health  Organization  (WHO) guidelines  on testing for the new coronavirus, deeming them narrow and “stupid” — something the U.N. agency denies.

While the WHO was advising governments back in January to only test people showing symptoms of the virus, Crisanti, professor of microbiology at Padua University, was convinced that some people could catch the disease and spread it without even realising they were ill.

To combat such symptomless transmission, the 65-year-old scientist called for broad testing even before the first flare-up came to light in Italy in February. However, his request was rejected by officials in his northern Veneto region, who relied initially on guidance from national and international health authorities.

“All infectious diseases have an asymptomatic transmission component. The longer the asymptomatic period, the more it has the ability to transmit,” Crisanti told Reuters this month. “The WHO guidelines were wrong.”

More than 34,700 people have died in Italy from COVID-19 over the past four months – the world’s fourth-highest tally after the United States, Brazil and Britain.

There are multiple reasons for the large Italian death toll, including the substantial number of vulnerable, elderly people in the country, failures to isolate patients in some care homes and problems triggered by an overstretched health service. Crisanti believes Italy’s testing strategy also needs to be scrutinized in any eventual review of the pandemic.

The WHO has repeatedly defended its response to the crisis, saying it acted “quickly and decisively” on the new illness. In its own early guidelines, the organization also stated that nations needed to “eventually test more broadly” to better assess the full extent of contagion.

Unlike some countries, such as Germany and South Korea, Italy decided to adhere rigidly to the initial testing advice. An official in the health ministry in Rome said the guidance was based on the scientific evidence available at the time.

“Five months after the outbreak of the virus there are still many things we do not know about it. This is not the moment to say what went right and what went wrong,” said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

PRESSURE

As news of the mystery illness started to emerge from China in early January, Crisanti said he immediately believed the virus could be transmitted by asymptomatic patients.

A month before Italy reported its first official death from the disease on Feb 21, his university laboratory developed a test to detect the virus and obtained enough diagnostic reagents to make 500,000 swabs.

However, health authorities in Veneto, a region of five million people, blocked his first planned testing programme in February, when he sought permission to swab students returning from China’s Lunar New Year holidays, regardless of whether they had symptoms. In a letter seen by Reuters, dated Feb. 11, the regional health body asked which relevant organization was recommending such action and questioned who would pay.

In the face of resistance, Crisanti dropped the plan. “Under a lot of pressure, I let myself be swayed to minimise the gravity of the situation,” he said. The regional health authority declined to comment on the incident.

Other voices were also starting to raise the alarm about asymptomatic transmission. In Germany, Camilla Rothe and fellow medics at Munich University Hospital had come to the same conclusion as Crisanti after looking into Germany’s first coronavirus case – a local businessman infected by a Chinese colleague who had been unaware that she was ill here

But Crisanti says much of the scientific world ignored the evidence that was starting to accumulate. Discouraged, he headed to Australia for a conference on malaria and was still travelling when news broke that Italy had discovered its first cases — in Veneto and the adjacent region of Lombardy. He returned home immediately.

While the Lombardy outbreak initially struck a cluster of 10 towns, Veneto was fortunate that its early flare-up was confined to a single small town near Padua, Vo Euganeo, which had a population of just 3,000.

Taking on board the advice of his health experts including Crisanti, Veneto governor Luca Zaia said he ignored central government recommendations and allowed tests for all Vo’s residents, regardless of whether they felt ill. The results revealed that almost 3% were infected by the disease, yet most of them had no symptoms – evidence Crisanti says that supported the theory of asymptomatic transmission.

“VERY RARE”

The issue continues to spark disagreement between scientists and the WHO.

This month, Crisanti joined a chorus of criticism over a WHO official’s remark that such asymptomatic transmission was “very rare”. The official, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on the pandemic, later qualified her comment, saying up to 40% of transmissions may be asymptomatic.

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The Italian Health Ministry official said it was too soon to judge the WHO position. “This is not the moment to draw a conclusion about the WHO handling of the pandemic. There will be the right time and the right place.”

All those found to be infected in Vo were placed under mandatory quarantine and despite continued assertions from national authorities that mass testing was unnecessary, Zaia told reporters that he accepted a request from Crisanti to conduct a second round of swabs in Vo.

This showed that only six residents had the virus. They were put in isolation and by the middle of March the contagion had been stamped out in the town.

Widescale testing has continued across the region and by June 28, Veneto had carried out 944,010 swab tests against 1,022,440 in Lombardy, despite having half the population of its larger neighbour.

Lombardy leaders have said they did not have the capacity to handle further testing. They also say the virus was more diffuse in their region, making it harder to contain than in Veneto. As of Sunday, Lombardy had registered 93,761 cases and 16,639 deaths against 19,275 cases and 2,008 deaths in Veneto.

By Giselda Vagnoni

Coronavirus: la conoscenza è l’antidoto alla paura “Diamo la parola agli scienziati”: la nuova campagna del Comune di Padova di informazione e approfondimento per i cittadini Intervista al professore Andrea Crisanti, professore di microbiologia e virologia dell’Università degli Studi di Padova

Unpacking the New WHO Controversy Over Asymptomatic COVID-19 Transmission

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For months, researchers have warned that people without any COVID-19 symptoms could still be silent carriers of the disease, making it that much harder to get the pandemic under control—and that much more important to take precautions like social distancing and wearing a mask, even if you feel fine.

So it came as a surprise when Maria Van Kerkhove, the Wodiseaserld Health Organization’s (WHO) technical lead for COVID-19, said at a press briefing on June 8 that asymptomatic transmission appears to be “very rare.” Her statement came just days after the organization directed healthy people living in areas with widespread community transmission to wear fabric face masks in public to help contain the advance of the disease.

In an interview with TIME following the press briefing, Van Kerkhove said she did not mean to suggest that asymptomatic people cannot spread COVID-19. “I did not say that asymptomatic cases cannot transmit; they can,” Van Kerkhove says. “The question is, do they? And if they do, how often is that happening?”

Van Kerkhove says there’s not yet a clear answer, but the WHO’s analyses suggest symptomatic individuals are responsible for most coronavirus transmission. (She also clarified during a June 9 briefing that her comments were in response to a journalist’s question, and did not constitute official WHO policy.) The WHO laid out its thinking in its latest guidance on face masks, which was circulated on June 5, and was based on a number of reports that examined COVID-19 community spread and transmission dynamics, as well as not-yet-published findings from contact-tracing reports from multiple WHO member states.

Few of the cited papers explicitly examined population-level asymptomatic transmission rates. One, a preprint (i.e., not-yet peer-reviewed) research review posted to the site MedRxiv on June 4, analyzed four previous studies (two published and two preprint) that estimated asymptomatic transmission rates. The highest estimate was a transmission rate of 2.2%, suggesting “asymptomatic spread is unlikely to be a major driver of clusters or community transmission of infection.”

The WHO’s guidance also notes that some studies that have found evidence for asymptomatic transmission had small sample sizes, which would make their findings less statistically relevant. In addition, the WHO said, some of these studies did not rule out alternative explanations for how some patients may have contracted the virus, like touching a contaminated surface.

However, just last week, researchers from the Scripps Research Translational Institute published a paper estimating that asymptomatic individuals account for up to 45% of coronavirus cases, and noted that “the viral load of such asymptomatic persons has been equal to that of symptomatic persons, suggesting similar potential for viral transmission.”

One of the study’s author’s, Scripps Director Dr. Eric Topol, criticized the WHO’s comments on Twitter, writing that “there are several studies not included in [the WHO’s] brief statement that counter the scant data provided here.”

Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington, wrote on Twitter that the WHO’s conclusions were based on “thin evidence,” at least when taking into account what has been published publicly.

Bergstrom also said the organization should have more clearly distinguished between people who are “truly” asymptomatic—those who never show symptoms—and those who may unwittingly spread the disease in the days before they become symptomatic. Topol’s study on asymptomatic transmission found that few people who test positive without symptoms go on to develop them, but studies suggest it takes an average of five days after exposure to the virus for symptoms to surface. People in this phase would be considered pre-symptomatic, not asymptomatic, but it’s difficult to tell the difference.

“Even if truly asymptomatic spread is very rare, pre-symptomatic transmission is likely to be important,” Bergstrom wrote on Twitter. “We still need to wear masks and distance to avoid spreading the virus during this period, probably concentrated in days 3-6 after infection.”

Van Kerkhove acknowledged that distinction when speaking with TIME after the press briefing, and added that it can be difficult to distinguish between a mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic person. Some people may not associate mild symptoms—like fatigue or muscle aches—with COVID-19, but these individuals would still technically be symptomatic and capable of spreading the virus, Van Kerkhove says.

With so much uncertainty, Van Kerkhove says more research on transmission patterns and asymptomatic carriers is required. She says people should continue following public-health guidance such as wearing fabric face masks when social distancing is not possible, and should stay home if they feel unwell. Doing so, in conjunction with robust contact tracing and isolation of people with symptoms, will help keep COVID-19 spread under control, she says.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Van Kerkhove says. “We’re not saying that [asymptomatic spread is] not happening. But we’re saying more transmission is happening among symptomatic individuals. People are looking for a binary, and it’s not that.”

Bergstrom was more direct. The WHO’s statement “seems to suggest that people without symptoms don’t spread COVID19,” Bergstrom tweeted. “Does this mean shoppers, students, protesters, etc., don’t need masks/ distancing? No.”

By:  Jamie Ducharme

Source: https://time.com

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China has reported 130 new cases of COVID-19 in people who do not display any symptoms. It is the first time the national tally is taking into account asymptomatic infections. Fears are rising that China could see a third wave of coronavirus infections as lockdowns across Hubei province are lifted. Subscribe to our channel here: https://cna.asia/youtubesub Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: https://cna.asia/telegram

Scientists Raise Questions About Moderna Vaccine In Market-Shaking Report

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Vaccine experts expressed skepticism about the Covid-19 vaccine trial results announced by biotech company Moderna on Monday, telling the medical publication Stat News that the company has yet to release significant data to support its claim that its drug successfully produced antibodies in human trials.

KEY FACTS

On Monday Moderna announced in a press release that “positive” data was collected from an early-stage human trial of a coronavirus vaccine, sending its stock valuation and the Dow Jones surging.

But two vaccine experts interviewed by Stat noted that Moderna has yet to publish its studies in scientific journals, and pointed out that the company disclosed results from only eight of the 45 subjects, meaning the majority of the outcomes remains unknown.

The Stat report sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling in its final hour of trading Tuesday afternoon as skepticism over the vaccine’s readiness hit the market.

The experts also noted the silence from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, Moderna’s partner in developing the vaccine, which declined to comment on the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company’s Monday announcement, which is abnormal for the institute that usually tauts its success, according to Stat.

“When a company like Moderna with such incredibly vast resources says they have generated SARS-2 neutralizing antibodies in a human trial, I would really like to see numbers from whatever assay they are using,” John “Jack” Rose, a vaccine researcher from Yale University, told Stat.

It remains unclear whether the Covid-19 antibodies produced by the body as a result of vaccination are as good as antibodies produced by the body from surviving coronavirus.

When Stat asked Moderna about this, they said antibody level information “will be disclosed in an eventual journal article from NIAID.”

Chief Critic

“It’s a bit of a concern that they haven’t published the results of any of their ongoing trials that they mention in their press release. They have not published any of that,” Johns Hopkins University vaccine researcher Anna Durbin told Stat.

Key Background

On Monday, Moderna announced “positive” results from an early-stage human trial of their preventative COVID-19 vaccine, driving stock market gains, which boosted Moderna’s market cap to a $29 billion valuation—without a single product on the market— according to Stat.

Moderna is expected to launch a phase 2 trial of the vaccine in the coming weeks, with phase three expected to occur in July. Moderna has yet to mention when the vaccine will be available to consumers. Though the company received $500 million in federal cash to bring the vaccine to market, and do so fast, according to Forbes. And the new co-chair of the White House vaccine project is Moncef Slaoui, a former Moderna executive, who reportedly divested his $12.4 million in Moderna stock options on Monday.

Moderna’s vaccine works by using mRNA (“messenger RNA”) that when injected, signals the body to produce Covid-19 antibodies without actually making the person sick from Covid-19. But there are over 100 other companies working to develop a coronavirus vaccine, with eight (including Moderna) at the human trial phase, according to the World Health Organization.

Further Reading

Vaccine experts say Moderna didn’t produce data critical to assessing Covid-19 vaccine (Stat)

Moderna Reveals ‘Positive’ Data In Coronavirus Vaccine Trial, Markets Spike (Forbes)

FDA ‘Fast Tracks’ First Coronavirus Vaccine From Moderna (Forbes)

Fueled By $500 Million In Federal Cash, Moderna Races To Make A Billion Doses Of An Unproven Cure (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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I’m the Under 30 Editorial Community Lead at Forbes. Previously, I directed marketing at a mobile app startup. I’ve also worked at The New York Times and New York Observer. I attended the University of Pennsylvania where I studied English and creative writing. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamsternlicht.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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The results of one small study on a possible coronavirus vaccine with humans are in, and they appear to show encouraging results. Reporting for TODAY, NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres says “we’re keeping our fingers crossed.” » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY About: TODAY brings you the latest headlines and expert tips on money, health and parenting. We wake up every morning to give you and your family all you need to start your day. If it matters to you, it matters to us. We are in the people business. Subscribe to our channel for exclusive TODAY archival footage & our original web series. Connect with TODAY Online! Visit TODAY’s Website: http://on.today.com/ReadTODAY Find TODAY on Facebook: http://on.today.com/LikeTODAY Follow TODAY on Twitter: http://on.today.com/FollowTODAY Follow TODAY on Instagram: http://on.today.com/InstaTODAY Follow TODAY on Pinterest: http://on.today.com/PinTODAY #Vaccine #Coronavirus #TodayShow

WHO Approves World’s First-Ever Dengue Vaccine — TIME

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday endorsed the world’s first-ever vaccine for dengue fever, a potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus that threatens to infect close to half of the world’s population. Unlike malaria, there is no established cure for dengue fever, which can cause severe nausea, bone pain, headaches, rashes, bleeding and even death. The…

via WHO Approves World’s First-Ever Dengue Vaccine — TIME

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