Vaccines effective vs variants despite diminished antibodies; kids may be as contagious as adults

Reuters’ roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 includes a study by Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) published recently in the journal Nature that explored how vaccines protect against variants despite diminished antibodies.

Contending with Long Covid

Jason Maley, MD (Pulmonary, BIDMC), who leads BIDMC’s Critical Illness and COVID-19 Survivorship Program and has worked with hundreds of COVID-19 long-haulers, said individual patients report unique constellations of symptoms, but fatigue is the cohort’s most common—and longest-lasting—complaint. In addition to improving quality of life for its patients, Maley’s program seeks to uncover the biological underpinnings of the debilitating condition, which affects a still-unknown percentage of the virus’s survivors

Immunocompromised and Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

In a study published in JAMA led by Ai-ris Collier, MD (OBGYN, BIDMC) and Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) researchers evaluated the immunogenicity of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in pregnant and lactating women who received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, finding that both triggered immune responses.

Evidence Suggests COVID-19 Vaccines Remains Effective Against Variants

The emergence of new and more infectious variants...

Mixing COVID-19 vaccines appears to boost immune responses

Early data suggest mixing COVID-19 vaccines may actually be beneficial to boost immune responses. In three recent studies, researchers have found that following one dose of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine produces strong immune responses, as measured by blood tests. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said two different vaccines may be more potent than either vaccine alone.

U.S. Moves Closer To Biden’s July 4 COVID-19 Vaccination Goal

s President Biden aims to have 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4, NPR’s Allison Aubrey discussed with experts their thoughts on if the country is on track to meet the target and answered questions including the need for vaccine booster shots. Aubrey also spoke with Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) about why it's just too soon to determine any specific booster strategy.

Studies Confirm COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Safe, Effective for Pregnant Women

Two new studies show that the two COVID-19 mRNA vaccines now available in the U.S. appear to be completely safe for pregnant women. In one study, published in JAMA, an NIH-supported team led by Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC), wanted to learn whether vaccines would protect mother and baby. To find out, they enrolled 103 women, aged 18 to 45, who chose to get either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines from December 2020 through March 2021. After vaccination, women in all groups produced antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The researchers also found those antibodies in infant cord blood and breast milk, suggesting that they were passed on to afford some protection to infants early in life.

US health agencies will decide if COVID-19 booster shots are needed – not vaccine companies

The CDC’s independent group of scientists, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Processes, will meet and make a recommendation to CDC on booster shots, in the same way it has done with previously authorized coronavirus vaccines. Medical experts interviewed by ABC News concurred that booster shots are likely, but not necessarily inevitable, at least for this fall. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said that it is not yet clear whether we will need a booster shot this fall, winter, and if so, what that booster shot should be, but that the decision needs to be made based on public health solely and not on economic incentives of the vaccine developing companies.

Video: Boston doctor discusses COVID-19 vaccination progress in Massachusetts, Northeast

Preeti Mehrotra, MD (Infection Control, BIDMC) spoke about the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rates, which outpace that of other parts of the country, and what it means to individual families. Mehrotra also noted that her sense of comfort is slowly growing but that there is still work to do.