2021-05-20 General

Vaccines

SinoVac/CoronaVac did a clinical trial in kids down to age 3. They found that compared to adults, the kids had better immune responses and fewer side-effects. They also tested full-doses vs. half-doses, and while a half-dose might be enough for the smallest kids, it interestingly didn’t make the side-effects any better. That surprised me: I have been thinking that probably the reason the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaxxes are so strong (compared to, like, flu or measles) is because they made the dose too high because they were in a hurry.

Disease

They found a not-seen-before coronavirus in Malaysia: this one from dogs! (Chill, it doesn’t seem to spread from person-to-person.) An interesting thing about it is that they found it with a pan-coronavirus test, just because they were curious about “what else is out there?”. It makes me wonder if there are a bunch more relatively mild coronaviruses circulating out there, and if this might help explain why some countries are/were managing COVID-19 better than would otherwise be expected.


This paper describes a really beautiful experiment. They took mice and genetically altered them to have a human immune system, and then started knocking out all of the pieces of the immune system to find out which ones were important in clearing (i.e. “getting rid of”) COVID-19 virions.

  • Knocking out the innate immune system (the one which LAVs boost): no significant difference.
  • Knocking out the B cells/antibodies: diminished capacity to clear, but still able to clear.
  • Knocking out either helper T cells or killer T cells: reduced capacity to clear. If the helper T cells were knocked out, there weren’t as many antibodies produced. (This is not a surprise, helper T cells, well, help.)
  • Knocking out all B cells and helper T cells wasn’t nearly as bad as knocking out all B cells and killer T cells.

They also transferred either serum (with antibodies) or T cells from mice which had recovered into “naive” mice (i.e. which hadn’t been either infected or vaccinated), and found that serum gave more protection than T cells. (This is strange, since convalescent plasma is of no help after hospitalization. I guess this means you need to get the antibodies before you get sick.)

They then took COVID Classic and B.1.351 and put it in mice which had depleted killer T cells and were either convalescent/vaccinated or naive. All the convalescent/vaccinated mice recovered; all the naive mice died.

This all suggests that it’s all about the antibodies, ’bout the antibodies — but ya gotta have helper T cells to help make the antibodies.


This preprint says that COVID-19 can infect deer mice easily, which means that COVID-19 could escape into the wild and stay there. Put another way: we are not going to get rid of this disease.

Science

Did you know that you can order pathogenic viruses by mail? There’s not much, in fact, to keep you from ordering anthrax or even smallpox. California thinks that’s dangerous, and has proposed laws against that.

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