COVID-19 Update | November 18, 2022

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | November 18, 2022

November 18, 2022

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 November 18, 2022. Notable advancements include:

  • Moderna’s updated COVID-19 booster vaccine elicits a stronger immune response against omicron and its subvariants than the original vaccine and booster doses.
  • Research published in the journal Nature, suggests it has found a drug that could potentially offer a new type of protection against COVID-19 by attacking proteins responsible for the virus’s replication.
  • Pfizer’s Antiviral drug for COVID-19, Paxlovid, may reduce risk of Long COVID-19 in eligible patients according to a new study.

Recent News

  • Seeking broad, durable protection, Pfizer and BioNTech move T-cell enhancing COVID-19 vaccine into clinicFierce Biotech – November 17, 2022Pfizer and BioNTech have opened a new front in their push to develop a better COVID-19 vaccine. After moving a shot with an enhanced spike protein design into the clinic, the partners have now set out to turn another arm of the immune system against the virus by trialing a T-cell enhancing vaccine prospect. Real-world use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s approved mRNA vaccine Comirnaty has shown how protection fades over time, both because of the emergence of new variants and reductions in antibody levels.
  • COVID-19 vaccines were a success, but mRNA still has a delivery problem. Two startups have an unorthodox solutionStat News – November 16, 2022While billions of vaccine doses administered during the pandemic have generated reams of data about the safety and effectiveness of mRNA, they haven’t answered one of the field’s biggest questions: How do you send messenger RNA exactly where it needs to go in the body? That’s because, for mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines like those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, a shot in the arm did the trick. But in cases where mRNA is harnessed for other uses — such as targeting a specific set of tumor cells in a part of the body that’s hard to access — delivery won’t be so straightforward. Jacob Becraft’s company, based in Cambridge, Mass., is one of a few that are focused on engineering mRNA so that it’s only used to produce protein in certain cells — a process known as translation — regardless of where the molecule ends up in the body.
  • Data Support Use of Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine as BoosterPharmacy Times – November 15, 2022Topline results from Novavax’s phase 3 Boosting Trial for the SARS-CoV-2 rS Variant Vaccines (COVID-19) found that the company’s BA.1 vaccine candidate met the primary strain-change endpoint. Further, the data show that the neutralizing responses produced by the BA.1 vaccine neutralizing responses were greater than those of the prototype among individuals not previously exposed to COVID-19, which enables a shift to a new variant vaccine if necessary, according to Novavax.
  • How the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough is changing the way Pfizer thinks about the futureCNBC – November 15, 2022Pfizer’s chief business innovation officer Aamir Malik says the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine development has led the pharmaceutical giant to rethink how long it should take to bring new drugs to market. From AI to redesign of clinical trials, the pharma company sees the potential to cut years off the traditional timeline for bringing new medicines to market, Malik said at the recent CNBC Work Summit.
  • Moderna data supports use of omicron booster over original vaccineBiopharma Dive – November 14, 2022A updated COVID-19 booster vaccine developed by Moderna sparks a stronger immune response against omicron and its subvariants than the original vaccine, the company said, supporting the federal government’s decision to authorize the shot before the data were accrued. In a press release, Moderna revealed the first results from human tests of the vaccine, now called mRNA-1273.222 and containing components that fight forms of omicron as well as the original COVID-19. The data show the level of virus-fighting antibodies generated by the new vaccine compared to the original, but not yet how well each shot protects against infection and disease.
  • Novel drug could help to fight both COVID-19 and cancerNews Medical Life Sciences – November 14, 2022Scientists are still searching for ways to treat severe infections, including in people who cannot get vaccinated or in the event that dangerous new strains of the virus arise that could bypass vaccine protection. Now, a new study from a team of researchers led by Amy S. Lee, PhD, shows that a chaperone protein known as GRP78, implicated in the spread of other viruses, plays an essential role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The study also shows that blocking the production of GRP78, or inhibiting its activity with a new targeted drug, greatly reduced the replication of SARS-CoV-2. The research published in the journal Nature, suggests this drug could potentially offer a new type of protection against COVID-19, one that might remain effective even as new strains develop.
  • Novavax details trial results for omicron-targeting booster shotsBioPharmaDive – November 8, 2022Novavax disclosed results from a late-stage clinical trial testing updated versions of its COVID-19 vaccine, weeks after the data were originally expected to be available. Study results showed a bivalent booster targeting the BA.1 and BA.5 omicron strains of the coronavirus failed to raise antibody levels by more than Novavax’s current vaccine or a monovalent vaccine aimed solely at BA.1. The trial tested the three shots in adults aged 18 to 64 years old who were previously vaccinated with three doses of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Paxlovid May Reduce Risk of Long COVID-19 in Eligible Patients, Study FindsThe New York Times – November 7, 2022People who took the antiviral drug Paxlovid within a few days after being infected with COVID-19 were less likely to be experiencing long COVID-19 several months later, a large new study found. The findings suggest that for people who are medically eligible for the antiviral — older adults or people with certain health problems — Paxlovid not only reduces the odds that they will be hospitalized or die from a coronavirus infection, but also lowers their risk of long-term symptoms.
  • A combination vaccine for flu and COVID-19 is in the works. Here’s what to know.USA Today – November 7, 2022As the holiday season draws near, more Americans may be sporting two Band-Aids after receiving both their flu shot and the new COVID-19 bivalent booster. Vaccine developers are looking to relieve people from the unpleasantness of getting two shots by creating one that offers strong protection against both viruses. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, companies that have led the COVID-19 vaccination strategy, say they’re beginning trials to assess the safety, efficacy and dosage of their candidate vaccine that combines four flu strains and two coronavirus strains.

Rely on California Biotechnology Foundation to monitor breaking news and provide updates on the latest advancements in COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.

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If you have any questions about informational briefings contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].