COVID-19 Update | August 14, 2023

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | August 14, 2023

August 14, 2023

The California Biotechnology Foundation is committed to keeping you up to date about COVID-19 testing, treatment and prevention advancements. The following resources track what progress has been made as of August 14, 2023. Notable advancements include:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Pfizer could authorize a new vaccine by the end of the month ahead of a potential fall and winter COVID-19 surge.
  • According to new research, lab data in cells has shown that siRNA has the potential to treat COVID-19 infection better than existing antivirals.
  • According to new study results, a new device created by researchers at Washington University can detect COVID-19 in just one or two breaths and provide results in less than 1 minute.

Recent News

  • Universal siRNA COVID-19 treatment shows promise in the lab
    Medical X Press – August 10, 2023
    Lab data in cells has shown that siRNA has the potential to treat COVID-19 infection better than existing antivirals, according to new research from UNSW’s Kirby and RNA Institutes, published in Antiviral Research. siRNA—which stands for short interfering RNA—are a tiny type of RNA, much smaller than the mRNA currently used in vaccines. They work by interfering and disrupting the protein production of a gene, including those from viruses. In the lab, Dr. Chantelle Ahlenstiel and her team from the Kirby Institute have been using cell lines to test how effectively siRNA therapeutics can stop SARS-CoV-2 from replicating.
  • ‘Elegant’ study connects COVID-19 with mitochondria gene disruptions, paving way for new treatments
    Fierce Biotech – August 10, 2023
    Scientists and clinicians studying COVID-19 have long suspected that the disease doesn’t just affect the lungs, but many other organ systems too. Now, researchers have identified a mechanism that could explain why and reveal new pathways to find treatments for long COVID-19. In a study published in Science, a team led by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the COVID-19 International Research Team presented data from experiments on human tissue samples and animal models showing that SARS-CoV-2 suppresses the genes in mitochondria, a component of cells that generates the energy they need to function. The changes were found throughout the lungs, brain, heart, kidneys, liver and lymph nodes during the acute stages of infection, and in some organs remained even after the virus itself had been cleared.
  • CT imaging reveals that COVID-19 vaccination may protect against severe lung pathology
    News Medical & Life Sciences – August 9, 2023
    A recent vaccine study determines how COVID-19 vaccination influences lung-sequelae-related pathology and the manifestation of severe infection. A total of 100 patients were ultimately included in the study, each of whom had follow-up CT scans at one, three, and six months. The selected participants were vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whereas the control group included unvaccinated individuals. A total of 900 lung CT images of COVID-19 patients with pneumonia who were admitted between August 2021 and November 2022 were investigated.
  • New variant EG.5 is on the rise as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations go up
    CNN Health – August 9, 2023
    There’s a new COVID-19 variant topping the leaderboard in the United States: EG.5. Nationally, EG.5 is causing about 17% of new COVID-19 cases in the country, compared with 16% for the next most common lineage, XBB.1.16, according to the latest estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. EG may sound like a whole new flavor of the virus, but it’s not; it’s a spinoff of the XBB recombinant strain of the Omicron family. And it represents another incremental tweak to the virus rather than a major evolutionary leap like the original Omicron strain.
  • Three Shots for Fall: What You Need to Know
    The New York Times – August 4, 2023
    Most Americans have had one or more shots of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. New this year are the first shots to protect older adults and infants from respiratory syncytial virus, a lesser-known threat whose toll in hospitalizations and deaths may rival that of flu. Federal health officials are hoping that widespread adoption of these immunizations will head off another “tripledemic” of respiratory illnesses, like the one seen last winter. For people with insurance, all of the vaccines should be available for free.
  • Bivalent COVID-19 booster protects against poor outcomes better than 1-strain 4th dose
    CIDRAP – August 3, 2023
    A fourth dose of the bivalent (two-strain) COVID-19 vaccine is substantially more effective against medical treatment and hospitalization than a fourth monovalent (single-strain) dose among both previously infected and never-infected people who had received three monovalent doses, concludes an observational study published yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. A team led by Singapore Ministry of Health researchers used national healthcare data to retrospectively compare the effectiveness of a fourth dose of the bivalent or monovalent COVID-19 vaccine against medical treatment and hospitalization among 2,749,819 adults from October 14, 2022, to January 31, 2023, by previous infection status.
  • New breath test shows promise for rapid COVID-19 detection
    CIDRAP – August 2, 2023
    A new device created by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis can detect SARS-CoV-2 in just one or two breaths and provide results in less than 1 minute. Study results are published in ACS Sensors. The test could be more accurate than at-home tests and faster than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or swab-based tests, which can take at least 15 minutes to produce results. The device, created by 3D printers, was tested using eight participants (two negative for COVID-19, six positive as indicated by PCR testing), who breathed two, four, and eight times into a flexible tube.
  • Pfizer: FDA Authorization for Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Expected in August
    U.S. News & World Report – August 2,2023
    Progress toward an updated COVID-19 shot in the fall is inching forward. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the Food and Drug Administration could authorize the company’s new vaccine by the end of the month ahead of a potential fall and winter COVID-19 wave. Originally, federal officials had proposed September for the rollout of the fall COVID-19 shots, which have been updated to combat the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5. But the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NPR this week that the shots will be available “probably in the early October time frame.”
  • New study spotlights effective strategy against COVID-19 variants: the E7 monoclonal antibody
    News Medical & Life Sciences – August 1, 2023
    Over the last 20 years, three significant outbreaks have occurred due to zoonotic COVID-19: SARS-CoV, Middle East respiratory syndrome , and the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Neutralizing antibodies , formed through natural infection or vaccination, play crucial roles in combating these infections. However, the emergence of variants of concern  challenges this defense. Consequently, therapeutic monoclonal antibodies , developed rapidly as a part of the global response to COVID-19, have been crucial.
  • U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations climb for second straight week. Is it a summer surge?
    CBS News – August 1, 2023
    Weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen by more than 12% across the country, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marking a second straight week of this key indicator of the virus climbing. At least 8,035 hospital admissions of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were reported for the week of July 22 nationwide, the CDC said, up from 7,165 during the week before. Another important hospital metric has also been trending up in recent weeks: an average of 0.92% of the past week’s emergency room visits had COVID-19, up from 0.51% through June 28. The new figures come after months of largely slowing COVID-19 trends nationwide since the last wave of infections over the winter, and again mark the largest percent increases in these key indicators of the virus.

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If you have any questions about hosting informational briefings for your colleagues serving in the legislature, contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].