COVID-19 Round-Up: Sharks May Help Fight Future Coronavirus Outbreaks; and More

mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Less Protective in Elderly With Comorbidity

Among elderly veterans with a high burden of comorbidity, messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccination is 69 percent effective against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and 86 percent effective against SARS-CoV-2-related death, according to a study published online Dec. 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The groups were well matched; individuals were predominantly male and had advanced age (mean, 68.7 years), diverse racial and ethnic distribution, and considerable comorbidity burden. The researchers found that at seven or more days after the second dose, vaccine effectiveness was 69 percent against SARS-CoV-2 infection and 86 percent against SARS-CoV-2-related death. There was a decrease in vaccine effectiveness with increasing age and comorbidity burden.

Could Sharks Help Fight the Coronavirus of the Future?

Far from terrorizing people as they did in “Jaws,” sharks may offer humanity hope in fending off future coronavirus outbreaks, new research suggests.

“These small antibody-like proteins can get into nooks and crannies that human antibodies cannot access,” said study co-leader Aaron LeBeau, a professor of pathology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“They can form these very unique geometries,” he explained in a university news release. “This allows them to recognize structures in proteins that our human antibodies cannot.”

Sickle Cell Disease May Up Risk for Poor COVID-19 Outcomes

Sickle cell disease is associated with a fourfold increased risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization and a more than twofold increased risk for COVID-19-related death, according to a research letter published online July 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers found that sickle cell disease was associated with increased risks for COVID-19-related hospitalization (hazard ratio [HR], 4.11) and death (HR, 2.55). Adults with sickle cell disease accounted for 0.79 percent of hospitalizations and 0.20 percent of deaths, while they made up 0.04 percent of the cohort. Individuals with sickle cell trait also had a higher risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization (HR, 1.38) and death (HR, 1.51).