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January 14, 2022

Covid-19 roundup: Could the common cold lead to protection against Covid-19?

Daily Briefing

    FDA reduces the interval for Moderna boosters to five months, a new analysis finds that doubling the current rate of boosters may significantly reduce Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.

    • A small study published in Nature Communications suggests that immunity against common cold coronaviruses may also provide some protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. For the study, researchers at the Imperial College London analyzed blood samples from 52 participants who lived with someone with a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis in September 2020. The researchers found that the 26 participants who did not develop Covid-19 had "significantly higher levels" of pre-existing T-cells found after common cold coronaviruses. According to the researchers, these results could influence the development of future Covid-19 vaccines, which could focus on the coronavirus proteins targeted by T cells. "The spike protein is under intense immune pressure from vaccine-induced antibody which drives evolution of vaccine escape mutants," the researchers wrote. "In contrast, the internal proteins targeted by the protective T cells we identified mutate much less. Consequently, they are highly conserved between the various SARS-CoV-2 variants, including omicron." According to the researchers, some limitations of the study include its small sample size and lack of ethnic diversity, with most participants being of white European descent. (Head, Imperial College London, 1/10; Coleman, The Hill, 1/10)
    • Moderna last week donated 2.7 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to Mexico as the country faces another surge in cases, The Hill reports. According to the Mexican government, the donated doses will go to teachers as the country aims to fully return to in-person learning. "We are grateful to receive this donation, which will undoubtedly help more boys, girls, and youths to come to classrooms with greater safety and confidence," said Education Secretary Delfina Gómez. According to The Hill, 57% of Mexico's population is currently fully vaccinated. (Lonas, The Hill, 1/8)
    • Children who have recovered from Covid-19 may be at an increased risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, according to a new CDC study. For the study, researchers looked at two separate insurance claims databases to estimate the prevalence of new diabetes diagnoses in children under 18 who had Covid-19 or were known to be infected with the coronavirus. The IQVIA database contained 80,893 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 between March 1, 2020, and Feb. 26, 2021, while the HealthVerity database contained around 440,000 patients who tested positive between March 1, 2020, and June 28, 2021. Overall, the researchers found an increase in diabetes prevalence in both data sets. In the IQVIA data set, there was a 2.6-fold increase in new diabetes cases among children who had Covid-19, but a smaller 30% increase in the HealthVerity data set. "Even a 30% increase is a big increase in risk," said Sharon Saydah, a CDC researcher and the study's lead author. Overall, Saydah and colleagues said that the findings underscore the importance of vaccination for all eligible children and adolescents, as well as the importance of health care providers monitoring their pediatric patients for diabetes following a coronavirus infection. (Rabin, New York Times, 1/7; Monaco, MedPage Today, 1/7)
    • FDA last week shortened the booster interval for Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine—mirroring a decision the agency previously made about booster timeline for Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine. Under the updated authorization, Moderna recipients who are 18 and older will be eligible for a booster dose five months after their second dose, rather than the previously required six months. In a statement, Peter Marks, FDA's vaccine chief, said vaccination is the "best defense against Covid-19" and that a shortened interval for boosters may help the United States as it faces a surge of cases from the highly contagious omicron variant. (AP/Modern Healthcare, 1/7)
    • Doubling the current pace of Covid-19 booster uptake in the United States could prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths, according to a new analysis by the Commonwealth Fund. Using a simulation model to predict the trajectory of Covid-19 cases over the next few months, researchers found that at the country's current pace of boosters—around 770,000 shots daily—the nation would experience 110 million new infections, 1.7 million hospitalizations, and 210,000 deaths over the next four months. However, by doubling the daily pace of boosters administered, the United States could prevent around 14 million infections, more than 400,000 hospitalizations, and 41,000 deaths by the end of April. Tripling the rate of boosters would further reduce the expected numbers of hospitalizations and deaths by 35% and 30%, respectively. "As omicron spreads, our findings highlight the urgent need to administer boosters as quickly as possible to everyone who is eligible," the researchers concluded. (Bean, Becker's Hospital Review, 1/10)
    • CDC last week recommended booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for 12-to-17-year-olds following a 13-1 vote by its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Under CDC's updated recommendations, individuals in this age group will be eligible for a booster dose five months after their primary vaccination series. "It is critical that we protect our children and teens from Covid-19 infection and the complications of severe disease," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. According to Axios, CDC's decision comes after FDA earlier expanded its authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech's booster shots to include 12-to-15-year-olds. (Doherty, Axios, 1/6)

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