Great news! Moderna has vaccines against B.1.351 ready to for Phase 1 trials! They are going to do a test with three different arms, with two shots of the COVID Classic (as normal) and then a half dose of either:
- a vax against B.1.351 and only B.1.351,
- a vax that’s a mixture of the B.1.351 vaccine and the COVID Classic vaccine, or
- COVID Classic only
They will also do a test to evaluate:
- two doses of the B.1.351 one
- two doses of the B.1.351/Classic mix
Pfizer said they were going to do a test of a counter-variant booster also. They said that they think that their current vax is good enough for B.1.351, but they want to do a trial run to test the process for updating the vaccine for a novel strain — because there probably will come a time when we need to switch strains in a hurry. (However, unlike Moderna, which has vax in hand, this was a statement of intent, not an announcement that a trial had started.)
Ho-hum, another study which shows that the Pfizer vaccine works as well in Israel as it did in tests. This one is bigger and peer-reviewed, but is just yet another piece of evidence that the mRNA vaccines are fucking amazing.
Moderna announced capital investments to allow them to make 1.4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine in 2022. Moderna also said that its production plan for 2021 had increased, to 700 million doses from 600 million, and that it was trying to “potentially deliver up to 1 billion doses in fiscal year 2021.”
Usually, people think you vaccinate old people to reduce mortality, but young people to reduce years of life lost. This paper shows a model which says that vaccinating old people also gives you a better reduction in years of life lost.
Some Italian scientists have found some really effective antibodies. What does this mean? Well, the Regeneron treatment contains two monoclonal antibodies, but they aren’t that broadly effective. These antibodies look like they would be better.
This is just me speculating, but I bet you could make an mRNA liquid which instructed the body to make tons of that antibody. You could then use that shot as a treatment when someone already has COVID-19. If I understand how mRNA and antibodies work. (Though maybe it’s not easy to figure out how to make the mRNA to produce a specific antibody.)
One paper said that tocilizumab was an effective treatment, one said it was not. The editors have some suggestions as to why, but the most likely is that when tocilizumab was effective, most of the patients (in both arms) were getting steroid treatments.
Variants of Interest
They’ve found two new strains in New York, both called B.1.526 (don’t ask me why) and making up about a quarter of their cases. One has the E484K mutation (which is also in P.1 and B.1.351, and which they think makes COVID Classic vaccines less effective), one has a S477N mutation which might make it more transmissible. It is admittedly early get too scared, but the E484K (aka “eek”) mutation keeps unsavory company.
I recommend this article about the protective and harmful effects of two genetic sequences inherited from Neanderthals. There’s too much to summarize briefly.