Top COVID-19 Research: Timely, Curated and Vetted by Experts
From the Curator-in-Chief's Desk—June 18, 2021
This week marks 6 months since COVID-19 vaccines were administered outside a clinical trial in the U.S. In that time, over 300 million vaccine doses have been administered and more than 44% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, this week also marked over 600,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. and over 3.8 million deaths globally. This is a somber reminder that the pandemic is far from over.
The CDC classified the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) as a variant of concern this week. Currently, this variant makes up about 10% of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Sheikh, A., et al. reported the risk of hospitalization doubled for individuals infected with the Delta variant vs the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant. The authors also found that the AstraZeneca AZD1222 and Pfizer and BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccines were effective against the Delta variant at preventing infection and hospitalization. Novavax announced its NVX-CoV2373 nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine is over 93% effective against variants of concern and interest, with a 100% vaccine efficacy against moderate and severe COVID-19. For individuals hospitalized because of severe disease, Horby, P., et al. determined that the monoclonal antibody cocktail REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) reduced 28-day mortality by 20% among seronegative patients. Additionally, Weinreich, D., et al. demonstrated administration of the REGEN-COV cocktail to outpatients significantly reduced SARS-CoV-2 viral load and COVID-19 related hospital visits as compared to individuals who received a placebo.
This week’s commentary comes from Dr. Vito Martella, Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Universita degli studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy, on the article “Infection, recovery and re-infection of farmed mink with SARS-CoV-2.” Outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been observed in farmed minks. To understand the long-term impact of an outbreak, Ramussen, T., et al. analyzed minks from a mink farm over 2 months after an initial SARS-CoV-2 outbreak occurred. Over 75% of animals tested were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Based on sequencing, the viruses isolated during the initial outbreak and months later by Ramussen and colleagues were closely related, indicating seropositive minks were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 reinfection less than 3 months after initial infection. Martella suggests these results will be important for developing mitigation measures for minks and other susceptible farmed animals. To continue this discussion, I invite you to join ASM’s new online member community platform, ASM Connect, where we will post the commentary as an opportunity to broaden the engagement with these articles.
Next week, World Microbe Forum is taking place from June 20-24. This global, online meeting is a collaboration with ASM, FEMS, ASLM and ASV and will bring together researchers, industry professionals, students, educators and leaders in the microbial sciences from across the world. The Registry will host the session “COVID-19 Research Registry: A Year of Progress” where some of our curators will provide an update on the advancement of SARS-CoV-2 research in the last year. Registration is open, and we hope you can join us at World Microbe Forum.
How is the genome of SARS-CoV-2 evolving? What mechanism does the coronavirus use to target human cells? How does the immune system react to SARS-CoV-2?
Will serology provide the ultimate answer? Does the existence of the antibody equal protection due to antibody neutralization? How often should patients be tested?
What are the results of the newest treatment? What drugs are in the pipeline? What are the latest outcomes from clinical trials?
What are the different kinds of vaccines? Do coronaviruses evolve to escape vaccines? What have we learned from work with Ebola virus and SARS vaccines development?
How does a pandemic start? How long will this pandemic last: can data models give us some hints? COVID-19 affects people differently depending on their age, how does this affect transmission? How does social distancing influence transmission rates?
Scientifically speaking, what is a coronavirus? What are the similarities and differences in structure and activities of SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2? What is the PK/PD of Remdesivir?
Biweekly Commentary Letter
By Vito Martella, DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Universita degli studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy. Martella is one of the curators of the registry.
“Infection, recovery and re-infection of farmed mink with SARS-CoV-2” by Rasmussen, T., et al., published on bioRxiv on May 7, 2021.
View the Commentary on ASM Connect View Past Commentaries
- What scientists know about new, fast-spreading coronavirus variants May 24, 2021.
- Coronapod: The variant blamed for India's catastrophic second wave May 14, 2021 (8:36).
- Antibody (Serology) Tests for COVID-19: a Case Study May 12, 2021.
- Pfizer COVID vaccine protects against worrying coronavirus variants May 6, 2021.
- One million coronavirus sequences: popular genome site hits mega milestone April 23, 2021.
- COVID-360: A Collaborative Effort to Develop a Multidisciplinary Set of Online Resources for Engaging Teaching on the COVID-19 Pandemic March 2021 (J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ.).
- Dr. Vaughn Cooper: "Evolutionary biology of SARS-CoV-2" March 23, 2021 (YouTube 1:01:46).
- COVID-19 Conversations: Variants and Vaccines March 17, 2021 (1:27:06).
- Scientific panel discussion on the new variant, 501Y.V2 Jan. 18, 2021 (1:58:28).
- Dr. Vaughn Cooper: "The ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2" April 1, 2020 (YouTube11:21).
- Dr. Pamela Bjorkman: "Intro to Viruses, Antivirals, and Vaccines" April 10, 2020 (YouTube 52:57).
- Dr. Scott Page: "Understanding Fatality Rate Models" April 3, 2020 (YouTube 10:12).
- Minute Physics: "How to tell if we’re beating Covid-19" March 27, 2020 (YouTube 7:15).
- 3 Blue 1 Brown "Simulating an Epidemic" March 27, 2020 (YouTube 2:07).
- Dr. Britt Glaunsinger: "Coronaviruses 101, Focus on Molecular Virology" March 25, 2020 (YouTube 1:02:18).
- Dr. Vaughn Cooper: "Evolutionary Biology of Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2" March 24, 2020 (YouTube 11:48).
- Pennings and colleagues: "How does SARS-CoV-2 spread?" March 24, 2020 (Vimeo 8:25).
- Dr. Nick Jewell: "The Exponential Power of Now" March 19, 2020 (YouTube 1:06:00).
- Online Marty: "Disease Spread Simulation" March 18, 2020 (YouTube 2:52).
- Pennings and colleagues: "Coronavirus in numbers" March 11, 2020 (Vimeo 10:18).
- Pennings: "SARS-CoV-2 and phylogenetic trees" March 2, 2020 (Vimeo 14:15).
- University of Pennsylvania: "Coronavirus Outbreak Symposium" April 3, 2020 (YouTube).
- Audio Interview: The Real-World Effectiveness of Covid-19 Vaccination Feb. 25, 2021.
- Audio Interview: Covid-19 in South Africa and a New SARS-CoV-2 Variant Jan. 14, 2021.
- Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (AAC) Podcast: Therapeutic approaches for COVID-19: Myths and Facts May 5, 2020.
- Analysis of a COVID-19 Clinical Trial to Emphasize Experimental Design and Quantitative Reasoning in an Introductory Biology Course March 2021 (J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ.).
- Genome Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 Case Study: An Undergraduate Online Learning Activity To Introduce Bioinformatics, BLAST, and the Power of Genome Databases March 2021 (J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ.).
- “COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and the Pandemic” (MIT Free Course).
- Coursera: "Fighting COVID-19 with Epidemiology: A Johns Hopkins Teach-Out" (Free Course).
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