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Coronavirus Watch

Pfizer jab less effective in children aged 5-11 than in adolescents

New data suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine works substantially less well at preventing infection and hospitalisations in children aged 5 to 11 than it...

Two new studies link coronavirus origins to China's Huanan live-animal market

Two preprint studies posted this past weekend (26 February) offer further evidence that the coronavirus originated in animals and spread to humans in late...

CDC: Most of US no longer needs to be under masking mandates

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new mask-wearing mandates, based on healthcare indicates in the various counties – meaning...

Smaller dose of anticoagulants equally effective and less bleeding risk in severe COVID

Patients with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit (ICU) prescribed full-dose blood thinners are significantly more likely to experience heavy bleeding than patients prescribed...

Lingering cardiac dysfunction 3-4 months after severe COVID – Norwegian cohort study

Patients recovering from COVID-19 showed cardiac dysfunction on trans-thoracic echocardiography three to four months after hospital discharge, according to a Norwegian study in the...

Omicron: FDA limits use of some monoclonal antibodies for COVID treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said the monoclonal antibody combinations bamlanivimab/etesevimab and casirivimab/imdevimab (REGEN-COV) should be used only for COVID-19 patients...

Long COVID breathlessness: Novel scans uncover hidden lung damage

Some people with long COVID may have hidden damage to their lungs, a small pilot study in the UK suggests. Scientists used a novel xenon...

Convalescent plasma may benefit some COVID-19 patients with comorbidities

Transfusions of blood plasma donated by people who have already recovered from infection with the pandemic virus may help other patients hospitalised with COVID-19,...

Machine-learning model uses single blood test to predict COVID-19 survival

A single blood sample from a critically ill COVID-19 patient can be analysed by a machine learning model, using blood plasma proteins to predict...

COVID hospitalisation linked to double the risk of readmission/death – UK cohort study

People who were hospitalised for COVID-19 and survived for at least a week after discharge, were more than twice as likely to die or...

Long-term damaged sense of smell in 50% of 1st wave COVID cases – Karolinska study

Nearly half of those who became ill with COVID-19 in the first wave of infections may have long-term and even permanent changes to their...

Wine drinking associated with lower COVID risk, but not beer, cider and spirits – UK Biobank analysis

Consumption of red wine, white wine and champagne above the guidelines protected against COVID-19, while consumption of beer, cider and spirits increased the risk,...

CDC shifts the definition of what it means to be 'fully vaccinated'

The definition of what it means to be “fully vaccinated” is evolving even as the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has...

FDA greenlights Veklury for children and adult patients with mild-to-moderate COVID

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expanding the use of the antiviral remdesivir drug Veklury to certain non-hospitalised adults and paediatric patients for...

More COVID deaths for sub-Saharan children than anywhere else

Infants younger than a year in Africa have nearly five times (4,89) the risk of dying from COVID than adolescents aged 15 to 19,...

Vaccines provide ongoing prevention of hospitalisation and death – Large US study

All three COVID-19 vaccines had durable effectiveness in reducing the risks of hospitalisation and death, found a US analysis of 10.6m people. The study found...

Maternal COVID infection increases preterm/low birth/stillbirth rate in unvaccinated women

Unvaccinated pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to have poor birth outcomes, including preterm birth, small for gestational age, low birth weight, and...

COVID in late pregnancy linked to more complications – University of Edinburgh

A University of Edinburgh study has revealed that women who have COVID-19 towards the end of their pregnancy are vulnerable to birth-related complications, and...

Cannabinoids in hemp prevent coronavirus from entering human cells – Oregon State

Cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp, have the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, found research by Oregon State University. Findings...

SA-German study shows boosters protect but unlikely to prevent Omicron

A study by South African and German scientists has provided the first evidence in the world that even three vaccine doses might not be...

SA cohort study shows reduced chance of death or severe illness with Omicron

Unvaccinated people infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus may be less prone to severe illness and requiring hospital care or dying than was...

Stress, anxiety and depression may increase risk of COVID-19 infection – Prospective cohort study

A British study has found that people who experienced increased stress, anxiety and depression at the start of the pandemic, were at greater risk...

Casirivimab-imdevimab reduces symptomatic COVID-19 in phase 3 trial

A phase 3 clinical trial published in JAMA has found that only 29,0% of 314 asymptomatic COVID-19–infected people living with an infected household member...

Omicron has higher asymptomatic carriage rate – Ubuntu study

Preliminary findings from SA clinical trials suggest the Omicron coronavirus variant has a much higher rate of asymptomatic carriage than earlier variants. The studies, one...

T-cells from common colds cross-protect against COVID – Imperial College London

High levels of T-cells from common cold coronaviruses can provide protection against COVID-19, an Imperial College London study has found, which could inform approaches...

Warning from WHO and EU regulator against repeat COVID boosters

European Union regulators have warned that frequent COVID-19 booster shots could adversely affect the immune system and might not be feasible. Repeat booster doses...

Severe outcomes rare after two COVID jabs – CDC and NIH

Two COVID-19 vaccine studies published this week respectively identify risk factors for severe outcomes among adults given two doses and describe cancer patients’ antibody...

Israeli health chief: Swab throat as well as nose to detect Omicron variant

People self-testing for COVID-19 should swab their throat as well as their nose when using rapid antigen kits, to increase the chances of detecting...

Guidelines on COVID-19 and indoor ventilation – CDC, WHO and NICD

International agencies have issued reminders to people to be aware of the risk of COVID-19 spreading in enclosed spaces. They have also published guidelines...

COVID vaccination not linked to premature birth or unusually small babies – CDC study

COVID vaccinations during pregnancy present no greater risk of premature birth or of unusually small babies than for vaccinated women, a US study has...

Microclot formation may have ‘long COVID’ implications – Stellenbosch

An overload of inflammatory molecules trapped inside microscopic blood clots could be behind long COVID, according to a Stellenbosch University study in Bioscience Reports. Prof...

Omicron variant: Clinical severity and hospitalisation profile in South Africa

A new South African study suggests that the Omicron variant boosts immunity to Delta and might displace it, while another found that it may...

NHS rolls out two new antivirals to reduce COVID19 hospitalisation

Britain’s National Health Service (NHI) has started treatment the monoclonal antibody treatments sotrovimab and molnupiravir to reduce the hospitalisation of COVID-19 patients, and is...

Namilumab shows benefit for COVID pneumonia patients – Small UK trial

The proof-of-concept CATALYST trial has identified namilumab as offering benefit over usual care for some patients hospitalised with COVID-19 pneumonia. The trial tested UK-based bio-pharmaceutical company Izana...

Metabolic syndrome boosts risk of ARDS and death in COVID patients — 26-country study

Patients hospitalised with COVID-19, who had a combination of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or other conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, were at much...

J&J booster 84% effective against hospitalisation — Sisonke 2

A booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine was 84% effective at preventing hospitalisation of South African healthcare workers who became infected...

COVID incubation exceeds a fortnight in 10% of Chinese patients

A modelling study of COVID-19 patients in China in 2020 published in BMC Public Health estimates that some 10% had incubation periods that were...

Substantial degree of vaccine hesitancy in Africa and its diaspora — UCT study

There is a substantial degree of vaccine hesitancy among Africans living on the continent, as well as in the diaspora, found a University of...

Pfizer’s anti-COVID oral tablets show robust efficacy

Pfizer has said its oral COVID-19 antiviral, nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid), reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89% if taken within three days of...

Rapid antigen test found more effective than PCR assay — Large US study

A rapid antigen detection test for SARS-CoV-2 proved more effective than expected compared with virus detection rates using the established standard test, the polymerase...