Tulane Outbreak Daily – August 5, 2020

Featured Headlines

Do You Want to Be a Vaccine Volunteer? – New York Times

How do you sign up for a trial? Who is eligible? Will you be paid? Could an experimental shot protect you? Could you get sick? Who covers the costs if you do? Here’s what you need to know.

NIH launches clinical trials for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment – NBC News

While treatments such as remdesivir and dexamethasone can help very ill patients, there’s a need for treatments that work in more mild cases.

Yes, we need a vaccine to control Covid-19. But we need new treatments, too – STAT

Hopes for a relatively quick return to normalcy are riding high on promising news about Covid-19 vaccines. Nearly 200 vaccines are in development worldwide. And with six of them already being tested in Phase 3 clinical trials, the possibility exists that a vaccine could be ready by the end of the year

World’s largest vaccine maker bets on Oxford coronavirus candidate – Nature

The Serum Institute of India is getting ready to make millions of doses of a promising COVID-19 vaccine. Plus: watch human sperm corkscrew around to swim faster and lessons from astronomy’s big move into the cloud.

SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine design enabled by prototype pathogen preparedness – Nature

A vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is needed to control the global coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19) public health crisis. Atomic-level structures directed the application of prefusion-stabilizing mutations that improved the expression and immunogenicity of betacoronavirus spike proteins1. Using this established immunogen design, the release of SARS-CoV-2 sequences triggered immediate rapid manufacturing of an mRNA vaccine expressing the prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike trimer (mRNA-1273). Here we show that mRNA-1273 induces both potent neutralizing antibody responses to wild-type (D614) and D614G mutant2 SARS-CoV-2 and CD8 T cell responses, and protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection in the lungs and noses of mice without evidence of immunopathology. mRNA-1273 is currently in Phase 3 efficacy evaluation.

These airports are leading coronavirus testing for international travelers – Washing Post

With the global reported case numbers for coronavirus exceeding 18 million, airports around the world are figuring out how to accept travelers while limiting exposure for their own citizens. For some, that effort is to test inbound travelers for the coronavirus on arrival. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testing is important in identifying people who may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and may spread the virus unknowingly.

Nine Important Things We’ve Learned about the Coronavirus Pandemic So Far – Scientific American

We’re in a terrifying and confusing pandemic, with new and sometimes conflicting information about COVID-19 emerging all the time. In the early days, a lot of public health advice was based on what we knew about previous disease outbreaks. But this new coronavirus behaves in unexpected ways, and it’s hard to keep up. What’s more, people tend to remember the first things they learn about a new subject, a phenomenon called “anchoring bias,” and it’s psychologically challenging to replace old information with new knowledge. Here are nine of the most important things we’ve learned about SARS-CoV-2 in the past seven months and why we didn’t fully understand or appreciate them at first.

Virus Hunters Sift Through Sewage to Detect Covid-19 Hotspots – Bloomberg

Wearing face shields, masks, two layers of gloves and navy cotton overalls, two scientists carefully lift off a metal manhole cover to reveal the cumulative waste of some 400 migrant workers.

Clinical Considerations

COVID-19 and children: Doctors see link between virus and neurological side effects – NBC News

Emerging research highlights a connection between COVID-19 and significant neurological effects in young brains. Nia Haughton, 15, occasionally struggles to find the right words, and her memory can be patchy, but as she describes her lengthy treatment in a London hospital as she sits on a low wall beside her home, her account still has the power to shock. [Related Study JAMA]

Coronavirus Patients Cope With Fatigue, Hair Loss After Recovery – CBS Boston

Loss of hair, unusual fatigue and shortness of breath are all symptoms some people are experiencing after recovering from COVID-19. Both Tracey Otto of Scituate and Deb Buonopane of Quincy say they’ve lost a lot of their hair. “My hair’s been coming out in clumps a month after coronavirus. It’s very devastating and somewhat depressing,” Buonopane said.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Across the Placenta – NEJM

Neonatal SARS-CoV-2 infection has been reported in the setting of maternal COVID-19, but whether the virus was transmitted across the placenta, during the birth process, or after birth remains unclear. In this case study, investigators in France present the strongest evidence to date for transplacental SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Official Reporting for August 3, 2020

World Health Organization


Confirmed Cases: 18,354,342

Deaths: 696,147


Confirmed Cases: 18,519,579

Deaths: 700,539

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 18,624,056

Deaths: 702,479

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 4,748,806
Total deaths: 156,311

Surveillance Headlines


U.S.: US entering ‘different’ phase of coronavirus outbreak – CNN

Georgia: Second grader tests positive for coronavirus after attending the first day of school in Georgia – CNN

Hawaii: COVID-19 hospitalizations surge as Hawaii continues to see triple digit numbers – KHON

Alaska: Uncruise ship is back in Juneau with COVID-19 case – KTOO News


France, Spain, Switzerland: Belgium Bans Travel To 12 Covid Red Zones Europe – Forbes

Norway: Norwegian cruise line cancels operations after dozens test positive – Euronews


Coronavirus Cases Across Asia Are Again On The Rise – NPR


Australia’s Virus Hotspot State Sees New Record Case Total – Bloomberg

Science and Tech

Immunology Is Where Intuition Goes to Die – The Atlantic

here’s a joke about immunology, which Jessica Metcalf of Princeton recently told me. An immunologist and a cardiologist are kidnapped. The kidnappers threaten to shoot one of them, but promise to spare whoever has made the greater contribution to humanity. The cardiologist says, “Well, I’ve identified drugs that have saved the lives of millions of people.” Impressed, the kidnappers turn to the immunologist. “What have you done?” they ask. The immunologist says, “The thing is, the immune system is very complicated …” And the cardiologist says, “Just shoot me now.”

Fighting COVID-19 by luring the virus away from human cells with a decoy target – Fierce Biotech

Sars-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, infects a person by first binding its spike protein to the ACE2 receptor on the surface of human cells. Blocking this process could theoretically inhibit infections when tissues are exposed to the virus. A research team led by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, suggests that a variant of the receptor—one with an even stronger ability to bind to the coronavirus—might work as a therapeutic candidate against COVID-19 by acting as a decoy to lure the virus away.


Nucleotide Analogues as Inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 Polymerase, a Key Drug Target for COVID-19 – ACSPub

SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic. On the basis of our analysis of hepatitis C virus and coronavirus replication, and the molecular structures and activities of viral inhibitors, we previously demonstrated that three nucleotide analogues (the triphosphates of Sofosbuvir, Alovudine, and AZT) inhibit the SARS-CoV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). We also demonstrated that a library of additional nucleotide analogues terminate RNA synthesis catalyzed by the SARS-CoV-2 RdRp, a well-established drug target for COVID-19. Here, we used polymerase extension experiments to demonstrate that the active triphosphate form of Sofosbuvir (an FDA-approved hepatitis C drug) is incorporated by SARS-CoV-2 RdRp and blocks further incorporation. Using the molecular insight gained from the previous studies, we selected the active triphosphate forms of six other antiviral agents, Alovudine, Tenofovir alafenamide, AZT, Abacavir, Lamivudine, and Emtricitabine, for evaluation as inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 RdRp and demonstrated the ability of these viral polymerase inhibitors to be incorporated by SARS-CoV-2 RdRp, where they terminate further polymerase extension with varying efficiency. These results provide a molecular basis for inhibition of the SARS-CoV-2 RdRp by these nucleotide analogues. If sufficient efficacy of some of these FDA-approved drugs in inhibiting viral replication in cell culture is established, they may be explored as potential COVID-19 therapeutics.

Lung Link – Clinical trial to test cystic fibrosis drug for severe COVID-19 pneumonia – Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital will soon begin testing an existing drug, dornase alfa, in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and respiratory failure. The randomized, controlled clinical trial aims to enroll 60 adults and children over age 3 who require mechanical ventilation.


Covid-19 Vaccine Trials Have a Problem: Minority Groups Don’t Trust Them – Wall Street Journal

Researchers and companies developing Covid-19 vaccines are taking new steps to tackle a longtime challenge: People who need the vaccines most urgently, including Blacks and Latinos, are least likely to participate in clinical trials to determine whether they work safely. Racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to be hospitalized and die from the new coronavirus, partly due to socioeconomic factors and underlying health conditions, data show.

NIH-Moderna investigational COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in mouse studies – NIH

The investigational vaccine known as mRNA-1273 protected mice from infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to research published today in Nature. Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the biotechnology company Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with collaborators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, and the University of Texas at Austin conducted the preclinical research. NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) scientists worked with investigators from the University of Texas at Austin to identify the atomic structure of the spike protein on the surface of the novel coronavirus. This structure was used by VRC and Moderna in the development of the vaccine candidate.

Scientists Are Optimistic About New Vaccine Studies From Novavax – New York Times

The company has received a $1.6 billion grant from the government’s Operation Warp Speed to have 100 million doses ready by early 2021.



Infection Prevention

Susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2 to UV Irradiation – American Journal of Infection Control

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic became a global health burden. We determined the susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2 to irradiation with ultraviolet light. The virus was highly susceptible to ultraviolet light. A viral stock with a high infectious titer of 5 × 106 TCID50/ml was completely inactivated by UVC irradiation after nine minutes of exposure. The UVC dose required for complete inactivation was 1048 mJ/cm2. UVA exposure demonstrated only a weak effect on virus inactivation over 15 minutes. Hence, inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 by UVC irradiation constitutes a reliable method for disinfection purposes in health care facilities and for preparing SARS-CoV-2 material for research purpose.


Published Research

Neurologic and Radiographic Findings Associated With COVID-19 Infection in Children – JAMA

COVID-19 study in Australia confirms low transmission in educational settings – Science Daily

Pre-Pub (not yet peer reviewed, should not be regarded as conclusive)

Coping in Quarantine

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