Top COVID-19 Research: Timely, Curated and Vetted by Experts

From the Curator-in-Chief's Desk—Sept. 10, 2021

Lynn Enquist
Lynn Enquist, Ph.D., Curator-in-Chief
Are COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Needed?

The longevity of protection induced by COVID-19 vaccines is unknown. Presented in a preprint and yet to be peer reviewed, Kertes, J., et al. observed a decline in IgG antibody levels 6 months after Pfizer & BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccination, with the sharpest decline for those 60 years and older. To understand ways to increase antibody levels, Flaxman, A., et al. noted increasing the interval between the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine from 8-12 weeks to 44-45 weeks resulted in higher antibody titers 28 days post the second dose. Additionally, those who received a third dose had elevated antibody titers and T cell responses, consistent with data in a preprint from Wang, K., et al.

While many countries are considering a "booster" vaccine dose in the hopes of increasing protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection, colleagues and I recently highlighted the gaps in the current science about boosters. Typically, antibody titers are expected to decline over time. More studies are needed to determine the longevity of protection from vaccines and when a booster dose will be most effective. Over 5.6 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but only 1.9% of people in low-income countries have received at least 1 dose. Though we are in the middle of a pandemic, it is critical that we take a pause and consider a more global approach based on solid data to ensure we cover all aspects of science, public health and ethics.

First DNA COVID-19 Vaccine Authorized

The first DNA COVID-19 vaccine has been granted Emergency Use Authorization in India. Developed by Zydus Cadila, the ZyCoV-D vaccine encodes the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Host cells transcribe the gene and produce the protein that is recognized by the immune system. Based on clinical trials of over 28,000 individuals, ZyCoV-D is 67% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Analyzing another nucleic acid based vaccine, Dagan, N., et al. determined the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine is over 90% effective against infection and 89% effective against COVID-19 hospitalizations for pregnant women. Global vaccinations with an arsenal of effective vaccines will help slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 Variants Impact Protective Immunity

SARS-CoV-2 continues to adapt, leading to emerging variants of interest and concern. Mlcochova, P. et al. found the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant exhibits higher replication efficiency and resistance to neutralizing antibodies from vaccinated and convalescent individuals as compared to the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant. In their preprint, Uriu, K., et al. reported reduced neutralization by convalescent and vaccinee sera of the Mu (B.1.621) variant, which is the most recently designated variant of interest. Dr. Jesse Bloom will address how viral evolution impacts protective immunity in the next COVID-19 Research Registry Virtual Journal Club on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Panelists Drs. Sarah Cobey, Katia Koelle and Dylan Morris and moderator Dr. Vaughn Cooper will join to discuss the role of adaptive evolution in coronavirus evasion of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity.

Lynn Enquist, Ph.D.
COVID-19 Research Registry Curator-in-Chief


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

Sept. 3, 2021

By Tom Gallagher, Ph.D.Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, Il.  Gallagher is one of the curators of the registry.  

SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617 is resistant to bamlanivimab and evades antibodies induced by infection and vaccination by Hoffmann, M., et al., published in Cell Reports on July 20, 2021. 

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Coronavirus experts and ASM staff working together to bring forward the top COVID-19 research studies to the community.

suggestions for research to be highlighted in the COVID-19 Registry.