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Trump extends US ‘social distancing’ guidelines to April 30

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President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30 after suggesting that the coronavirus death rate would likely peak in two weeks.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won,” Trump said at an evening press briefing. “Therefore we will be extending our guidelines to April 30.”

The president has previously said he wants to reopen the country for business by Easter, on April 12, despite warnings from public health experts that loosening restrictions would result in unnecessary death and economic damage.

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Moderna Covid-19 vax shows promise in mouse studies

Recently, Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has shown successful results in monkeys as well.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

New York, Aug 6 : Pharmaceutical company Moderna’s investigational vaccine mRNA-1273 currently in clinical stage has protected mice from the SARS-CoV-2 infection that causes Covid-19.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, show that the investigational vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies in mice when given as two intramuscular injections of a 1-microgram (mcg) dose three weeks apart.

Additional experiments found that mice were given two injections of the 1-mcg dose and later challenged with SARS-CoV-2 virus either five or 13 weeks after the second injection was protected from viral replication in the lungs and nose.

Importantly, mice challenged seven weeks after only a single dose of 1 mcg or 10 mcg of mRNA-1273 were also protected against viral replication in the lungs.

According to the researchers, the investigational vaccine also induced robust CD8 T-cell responses in the mice.

It did not induce the type of cellular immune response that has been linked to vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease (VAERD), they said.

This rare, allergic-type inflammation was seen in individuals vaccinated with a whole-inactivated respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine in the 1960s.

VAERD can occur when a vaccine induces an immune response that is not strong enough to protect against infection.

The investigators vaccinated mice with sub-protective doses of mRNA-1273 and then challenged the mice with SARS-CoV-2.

The mice showed no evidence of enhanced lung pathology or excessive mucus production, indicating the vaccine did not cause enhanced disease, the authors write.

The authors noted that the data from these studies, combined with data from studies in nonhuman primates and Phase 1 clinical testing, support the evaluation of mRNA-1273 in clinical efficacy trials.

They also explained how their prior research on a candidate MERS-CoV vaccine paved the way for a rapid response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“This is a demonstration of how the power of new technology-driven concepts like synthetic vaccinology facilitates a vaccine development program that can be initiated with pathogen sequences alone,” the authors wrote.

Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, along with collaborators from the University of North Carolina, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Texas at Austin conducted the preclinical research.

NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) scientists worked with investigators from the University of Texas at Austin to identify the atomic structure of the spike protein on the surface of the novel coronavirus. This structure was used by VRC and Moderna in the development of the vaccine candidate.

Recently, Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has shown successful results in monkeys as well.

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With 56k new Covid cases, India’s tally mounts to 19.6L

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New Delhi, Aug 6 : With 56,282 new coronavirus cases and 904 deaths in the last 24 hours, the total tally in India rose to 19,64,537 and 40,699 deaths, the data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed on Thursday.

Currently, 5,95,501 cases are active and 1,328,336 people have recovered from the disease. The recovery rate has reached a new high of 67.19 per cent. In the last 24 hours, 6,64,949 samples have been tested.

Six major states in India have recorded more than one lakh cases in the last six months since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Maharashtra has the highest number of cases, followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

Maharashtra remains the worst-hit state with 4,68,265 cases and 16,476 deaths. Tamil Nadu comes in second with 2,73,460 cases and 4,461 deaths.

On the other hand, with the deadly virus spreading rapidly all over the country, there are eight states and union territories – Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Ladakh, Mizoram, Arunanchal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar Islands where there are less than 1,000 active cases.

In a press briefing earlier this week, Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that 82 per cent of the total cases are limited to ten states and union territories and that fifty districts account for 66 per cent of the total caseload.

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Indian-origin scientists find novel way to treat severe Covid-19

The observational study included 255 Covid-19 patients being treated with IL6ri during stage IIB (149 patients) and stage III (106 patients) of the disease.

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Coronavirus Treatment

New York, Aug 5 : A team of Indian-origin researchers has found that patients experiencing severe Covid-19 symptoms had improved outcomes when administered an Interleukin-6 (IL6ri) inhibitor, sarilumab or tocilizumab — used in treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other several inflammatory conditions.

The treatment was more effective when administered earlier in the disease course, reducing mortality rate and the need for intubation.

Published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the results showed that Interleukin-6 inhibitors appear to be a more effective treatment method as compared to other options, including remedesvir and dexamethasone, which are recommended and are being currently used to check the pandemic.

“At a time when treatments are being tested with urgency amid the Covid-19 pandemic, our study results offer some hope towards finding solutions to better treat patients infected by this disease,” said study researcher Manish Sagar from the Boston University in the US.

According to the study, elevated IL-6 levels may mediate the severe systemic inflammatory responses that occur in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome or Covid-19 infection.

The observational study included 255 Covid-19 patients being treated with IL6ri during stage IIB (149 patients) and stage III (106 patients) of the disease.

Once an appropriate patient was identified, he/she was given IL6ri (sarilumab or tocilizumab) based on iteratively reviewed guidelines.

The IL6ri was initially reserved for critically-ill patients, but after review, the treatment was liberalised for patients with lower oxygen requirements.

The IL6ri recipients had considerably higher supplementary oxygen requirements, indicating more advanced disease than patients in previous remdesivir and dexamethasone trials, and would have been expected to have a higher mortality rate.

The study’s sampling-with-replacement analysis found that the patients who received IL6ri had a lower mortality rate than patients in the intervention and control groups of remdesivir and dexamethasone trials.

The 22.9 per cent mortality rate for the 105 Boston Medical Center patients that required ICU care (41.1 per cent) was considerably lower than previously published 45-50 per cent mortality in other ICU studies.

“The greatest benefit of IL6ri use was seen in patients who received the drug in an earlier stage, prior to critical respiratory decompensation, showing the importance of prompt testing and treatment,” said study researcher Pranay Sinha.

“We hope these findings can help guide physicians as we seek solutions to reduce mortality, increase extubation, reduce the length of stay in the hospital, and have more patients discharged from the hospital alive,” Sinha added.

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