2021-11-04 General

Genetics

This preprint talks about using virus-like particles to study viruses. It looks enough like SARS-CoV-2 that it can get into cells, but then it can’t replicate. Essentially, it’s shooting blanks.


This study identified a specific gene variant (which comes from Neanderthals!) which gives a 2x risk of respiratory failure. About 60% of people of South Asian descent have this variant, and about 15% of those of European descent do and only about 2% of those of African descent.

Treatments

From this tweet, the trade name of the new take-it-pill is Lagevrio.

Pathology/Brain/Long COVID

This preprint makes an extremely compelling case that SARS-CoV-2 does invade nerve cells.


This article summarizes other studies, all from the same conference, which also show neurological manifestations. Those studies say:

  • There are no ACE2 receptors on neurons, so hth do SARS-CoV-19 virions get to the brain? The authors say it looks like the NRP1 and furin proteins are somehow involved in getting them into the brain.
  • In mice, the nerves which send touch/pain information to the brain can get infected with SARS-CoV-2.
  • Preliminary results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 enters the nervous system via the olfactory bulb.
  • Patients with COVID-19 have different brainwave patterns than non-infected people, and those effects are sometimes still present after three months.

Vaccines

This big study of veterans in the US (where, remember, they had a short dosing interval) found a significant drop in vaccine effectiveness against infection from February to October 2021 (relative to unvaccinated):

BrandVE in MarchVE in September
J&J86%13%
Moderna89%56%
Pfizer87%43%

Here’s the info in graphical form:

Partly, that might be due to Delta. This graph shows the risk of infection by vaccination status for all ages; you can see a huge change in the slope of the infection curves in July.

For those who tested positive after Delta became prevalent (after 1 July), the effectiveness against death was:

BrandAgeEffectiveness
J&Jany73.0%
Modernaany81.5%
Pfizerany84.3%
J&Jover 6552.2%
Modernaover 6575.5%
Pfizerover 6570.1%

This shows the risk of death over time for the three different types of vaccines and the unvaccinated:

Mitigation Measures

This article reports that StatCan found that Canadians bought a lot more weed and booze during the pandemic than before.

Recommended Reading

This article says that researchers have found that a mutation in the nucleocapsid — a capsule which encloses the mRNA payload inside the “ball” part of the virion — which makes Delta ten times more effective at replicating. I don’t think this knowledge helps with antibodies (because they operate outside the cell, where the particular mutated nucleocapsid is hidden inside the virion), but maybe there’s some way to get cells to recognize that protein and call T cells to kill themselves. (Have I mentioned that I am not a biologist of any form, and am learning stuff this as I go?)

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