COVID-19 Update | November 3, 2023

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | November 3, 2023

November 3, 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 November 3, 2023. Notable advancements include:

  • According to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, maternal COVID-19 vaccination offers infants immunity for up to 6 months.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech announced successful results from a recent study of their combined COVID-19 and influenza vaccine moving the vaccine into a phase 3 trial.
  • According to a new study, bivalent boosters offer protection against critical illness for people who had previously received only two doses of the original mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Recent News

  • Prior COVID-19 infection lowers risk of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in kids
    Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at University of Minnesota – November 1, 2023
    A pair of studies sheds new light on the COVID-19–related multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), with Dutch researchers finding that previous COVID-19 infection helps protect children against the condition, and a US study showing that low-dose corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulin were tied to shorter hospital stays and less severe disease. For the first study, a team led by Leiden University researchers conducted an international study involving 564 hospitalized pediatric COVID-19 or MIS-C patients from March 2020 to December 2022.
  • Study: Paxlovid safe, effective in pregnancy
    Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at University of Minnesota – November 1, 2023
    A study based on 211 pregnant women given the antiviral drug nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid) during pregnancy for acute COVID-19 infections shows no increased risk of adverse events in the women or their babies and a reduced risk of complications called the maternal morbidity and mortality index (MMMI). The findings, published today in Nature Medicine, suggest the drug is safe to use in pregnancy and is effective in reducing MMMI risk but not COVID-19-related hospitalizations.
  • Study provides deeper insight into safety of COVID-19 vaccines for couples planning pregnancy
    News Medical & Life Sciences – October 30, 2023
    Multiple studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines do not lead to infertility or pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, but many people are still wary of adverse effects from the vaccine on pregnancy. A new study led by Boston University School of Public Health researchers now provides deeper insight into the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people planning to become pregnant. Published in the journal Human Reproduction, the study found no increased risk of early or late miscarriage as a result of male or female partners getting a COVID-19 vaccine prior to conceiving.
  • Study highlights potential role of statin drug in critical COVID-19 cases
    Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at University of Minnesota – October 26, 2023
    Simvastatin, the widely available statin drug used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, has a 96% probability of improving outcomes for critically ill COVID-19 patients and a 92% chance of improving survival at 3 months, according to new results from the ongoing Randomized Embedded Multifactorial Adaptive Platform for Community Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) trial. The global trial began in March 2020 and is ongoing. The goal of the multicenter, international trial is to see how and if different known treatments, including essential medicines, could aid COVID-19 patients. Previously, simvastatin had been shown to reduce pulmonary and systemic inflammation in mouse and human models of lung injury, suggesting possible use in acute respiratory distress syndrome seen in critically ill and hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
  • Bivalent boosters offer added protection for previously vaccinated people, study shows
    Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at University of Minnesota – October 26, 2023
    Bivalent boosters offer some restored protection against critical illness and hospital admission for people who had previously received only two doses of the original mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, according to a study yesterday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The test-negative case-control study was based on data in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California network. The relative vaccine effectiveness for people who received a Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster was compared to those who received two doses of the original mRNA vaccine. All study participants visited clinics for respiratory infections, and were tested for COVID-19 via polymerase chain reaction tests. The study included 24,246 COVID-19 cases and 99,173 test-negative controls. Of the COVID-19 cases, 20,555 infections were caused by Omicron BA.4/5, and 3,691 were related to the XBB strain.
  • Pfizer, BioNTech say combo flu, COVID-19 shot met goal in study
    Biopharma Dive – October 26, 2023
    Pfizer and BioNTech said their combined COVID-19 and influenza vaccine succeeded in an early study, following closely on the heels of rival Moderna. The Phase 1/2 study included healthy adults aged 18 to 64 years old. Researchers found “robust” immune responses to various strains of the flu and COVID-19 with a side effect profile similar to the existing COVID-19 shot, the companies said. The companies now plan to move the vaccine into a Phase 3 trial, which should begin in coming months. Moderna, which claimed success for its own combination shot earlier this month, announced the dosing of its first Phase 3 patient. The company aims to bring its option to the market in 2025.
  • It’s COVID-19 Season. What Are the New Rules for Staying Safe?
    The New York Times – October 25, 2023
    We want to be done with COVID-19. But the virus isn’t done with us. While cases are not as high as they were at the end of this summer, newer variants are spreading, and experts predict that the patterns often seen over the last three years of the pandemic — the temperature drops, people cluster indoors, cases rise — will play out again this fall. That means it might be time to take stock (yes, again) of how you can minimize your risk. “It continues to be a moving target, and I think that continues to be hard for people,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco. As the holiday season approaches, here is a quick refresher on how to navigate the pandemic.
  • Deep-learning models predict COVID-19 cases globally with high accuracy
    News Medical & Life Sciences – October 24, 2023
    In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, researchers developed and trained an artificial intelligence (AI) deep learning model to predict the number of COVID-19 cases 14 days into the future. This model uses a combination of daily confirmed cases, region-specific government policy, reproduction numbers, and flight details from the previous 30 days to accurately predict future COVID-19 outbreaks. Model validation using COVID-19 data from 190 countries reveals that the model has error rates as low as 33%, improving accuracy for countries with multiple COVID-19 waves. Deep learning models such as this may help safeguard us from future pandemics by providing policymakers with the best information to utilize their available resources.
  • Maternal COVID-19 vaccination offers infants immunity for up to 6 months
    STAT News – October 23, 2023
    The risks of severe neonatal morbidity, neonatal death, and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit were all significantly lower during the first month of birth in infants whose mothers were vaccinated against COVID-19, and protection against the virus continued for up to six months after birth, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. “We hypothesized that this might be because we know that severe Covid in pregnancy is associated with pregnancy complications and so by protecting the mom, you would expect that perhaps incidence would be at a lower risk for some of those severe outcomes,” said Sarah Jorgensen, a researcher and pharmacist at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto and the first author on the study.

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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].