COVID SCIENCE-UK variant linked to high viral loads, Neanderthal gene offers protection

The following is a summary of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. British coronavirus variant associated with higher viral loads

The highly infectious variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus that was circulating in Britain is linked to higher loads of the virus in swab samples obtained from the nose and back of the throat, according to a research report published on medRxiv Sunday before the peer review. About 35% of patients infected with the variant form had very high levels of the virus in their samples, compared to 10% of patients without the variant, study leader Michael Kidd of Public Health England and the United Kingdom told Reuters. University of Birmingham. Higher viral loads have been linked to worse outcomes for COVID-19. The tests were carried out at the Birmingham Turnkey Lab. Kidd said further study is needed to confirm or deny the results. If this is confirmed, he hopes scientists will study how this particular variant manages to make more copies of itself in infected patients. ( Neanderthal gene protects against COVID-19

A specific form of a protein transmitted by Neanderthals protects against severe COVID-19, and drugs that increase levels of this protein could potentially help treat the disease, according to a study published Thursday on medRxiv ahead of the review by them. peers. The protein, called OAS1, is involved in the body’s response to viruses. People with higher levels of the Neanderthal-linked form of OAS1 are less susceptible to COVID-19, and if infected they are at lower risk of hospitalization, intubation and death, the researchers found. “This protective form of AEO1 is present among sub-Saharan Africans but was lost when the ancestors of modern Europeans migrated out of Africa. It was then reintroduced into the European population through mating with Neanderthals” who lived over 40,000 years old. A few years ago, said co-author Brent Richards of the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal. An earlier study linked a group of genes inherited from Neanderthals at higher risks of hospitalization from COVID-19. “These findings further implicate Neanderthal ancestry in the severity of COVID-19,” Richards said. ( Key to early antibody production for recovery from COVID-19

The rate at which patients produce antibodies – rather than the volume of antibodies they produce to fight the new coronavirus – determines whether they will survive COVID-19, new data suggests. Researchers who studied more than 200 patients with COVID-19, including 179 hospitalized, found that those who produced so-called neutralizing antibodies within 14 days of symptom development eventually recovered, while those who did not. of neutralizing antibodies before more than 14 days had passed developed higher viral loads and more severe illness. “It is not known why antibodies generated after this date are unable to promote viral clearance and recovery in COVID-19 patients,” the researchers said in a report released on medRxiv ahead of the peer review. Study leader Akiko Iwasaki of Yale University School of Medicine tweeted on Saturday: “It is possible that the virus is somehow becoming resistant by hiding in inaccessible tissue.” The new findings, she added, suggest that therapy with so-called monoclonal antibody drugs – such as those from Regeneron given to US President Donald Trump – will likely work only if used soon after infection. . ( Open in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines and treatments in development.