COVID-19 Update | October 20, 2023

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | October 20, 2023

October 20, 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 October 20, 2023. Notable advancements include:

  • Virginia Tech researchers have developed a new drug design framework to fight COVID-19 and potentially other illnesses.
  • Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccines offer strong protection for children ages 4 years and younger according to new study results.
  • A recent study shows, that Codagenix’s COVID-19 intranasal vaccine produces robust immune response protecting against possible infection and transmission.

Recent News

  • Virginia Tech researchers develop new drug design framework to fight COVID-19
    News Medical & Life Sciences – October 19, 2023 
    As the COVID-19 pandemic scattered and isolated people, researchers across Virginia Tech connected for a data-driven collaboration seeking improved drugs to fight the disease and potentially many other illnesses. A multidisciplinary collaboration spanning several colleges at Virginia Tech resulted in a newly published study, “Data Driven Computational Design and Experimental Validation of Drugs for Accelerated Mitigation of Pandemic-like Scenarios,” in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. The study focuses on using computer algorithms to generate adaptations to molecules in compounds for existing and potential medications that can improve those molecules’ ability to bind to the main protease, a protein-based enzyme that breaks down complex proteins, in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 mRNA vaccines offer strong protection for young kids, data reveal
    Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at University of Minnesota – October 17, 2023 
    A study in JAMA Network Open based on outcomes seen among Singaporean children ages 4 years and younger showed good protection for two doses of monovalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines during an Omicron surge. The authors said the findings support vaccinating this age-group, despite low incidence of severe disease or hospitalization. The study was conducted from October 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, after all Singaporean children ages 1 to 4 had been vaccinated with mRNA two-dose vaccines in a community vaccination campaign following approval of vaccines for this age-group in August 2022.
  • Review estimates 69% 3-dose vaccine efficacy against long COVID-19
    Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at University of Minnesota – October 13, 2023
    A meta-analysis today in Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology estimates a vaccine effectiveness (VE) of 69% for three doses of COVID-19 vaccine against long COVID-19, while two doses offer 37% efficacy. Led by researchers at the University of Iowa, the meta-analysis involved 24 studies on COVID-19 VE against long COVID-19 among recipients of at least two doses of a vaccine before or after infection from December 2019 to June 2023.
  • Yes, everyone should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine
    STAT News – October 13, 2023 
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone in the U.S. 6 months and older receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine targeting the XBB.1.5 variant. Since then, some notable voices, including Paul Offit, have publicly questioned whether the updated vaccine is needed for those who are not in a high-risk group. He recently wrote, “At this point in the pandemic, it is hard to make a case for vaccinating everyone. Let’s focus on those who are most likely to benefit. Otherwise, we run the risk of further confusing and frustrating the American public.” Of course there is room for reasonable debate on this important topic.
  • You can give blood after getting vaccination for flu, COVID-19 or RSV
    American Red Cross – October 12, 2023
    As temperatures cool for much of the country, and cold and flu season arrives, the American Red Cross is sharing this important reminder, that it’s okay to give blood after getting a vaccination for flu, COVID-19 or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). While receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccine has become a regular part of flu season for many, the RSV vaccine is now also recommended for people 60 and older, to protect against this cold-like illness that has grown to impact many each year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the upcoming fall and winter are expected to see similar infection and hospitalization numbers as last year for influenza, RSV and COVID-19. Based on trends, some areas could see higher numbers than last year. With an increase in flu cases already being seen in some communities, more healthy individuals will be needed to roll up a sleeve to donate.
  • Research findings could explain why young kids rarely get very sick from COVID-19
    Standford Medicine News Center – October 12, 2023 
    As a rule, infants and young children rarely develop severe or enduring cases of COVID-19. And those who do almost invariably suffer from some other serious medical problem. It’s not that kids don’t get infected. They do. More than 90% of kids age 4 and under in the United States test positive for previous or current infection by COVID-19, the coronavirus that causes this respiratory infection. Yet, although kids under 5 represent about 6% of the U.S. population, they account for fewer than 0.1% of COVID-19 deaths in this country. Researchers are intent on finding out why.
  • Study Shows COVID-19 Intranasal Vaccine Candidate Produces Robust Immune Response
    Infectious Diseases Society of America – October 11, 2023 
    Two doses of a live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccine candidate produce a broad cellular immune response when administered intranasally, according to research presented at IDWeek 2023. The data come from a phase 1 placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluating the safety and immunogenicity of CoviLiv, a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate synthetically engineered by Codagenix Inc. Data show that participants who received two doses of 5 x 106 PFU of CoviLiv showed robust induction of both humoral and cellular immune responses. T-cell reactivity was demonstrated to be specific for multiple viral antigens beyond the frequently mutating spike protein. The first-in-human trial is a primary vaccination series study conducted on healthy adults prior to the development of mRNA vaccines that are now approved for broad public use, including in the United States.
  • Nirmatrelvir, Ritonavir Treatment Associated With Reduced Risk of COVID-19 Hospitalization, Death in Extremely Vulnerable Patients
    Pharmacy Times – October 10, 2023 
    Nirmatrelvir and ritonavir an oral antiviral drug combination that targets a significant protease enzyme in COVID-19. This treatment was approved based on interim efficacy and safety data that was conducted prior to the Omicron variant’s emergence. A prior study found that, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir significantly reduced the primary composite end point of 28-day risk of death or hospitalization due to COVID-19, and by day 28, there were 0 deaths in the nirmatrelvir and ritonavir patient cohorts. To further evaluate the combination’s efficacy, a retrospective cohort study published in JAMA Network Open analyzed the 28-day risk of death or hospitalization due to COVID-19 in 4 groups with elevated risk of complications who received nirmatrelvir and ritonavir.
  • Updated Novavax COVID-19 vaccine shipped to distributors, to be available this week
    Reuters – October 9, 2023 
    Vaccine maker Novavax Inc said it has shipped millions of doses its updated COVID-19 shots to distributors after receiving the go-ahead from U.S. regulators. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the updated vaccine for emergency use in individuals aged 12 years and older, but batches of the shots needed additional clearance from the FDA before they could be released. Novavax said it expects the shots to be available at U.S. pharmacies. The Maryland-based company, whose COVID-19 vaccine is its lone marketed product, has adopted cost-cutting measures and is counting on commercial sales of its updated shot to help it stay afloat. The company has said it may not be able to remain solvent otherwise.

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 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].