COVID-19 Publications

24

Mar, 2021

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection: a key strategy to keeping schools and universities open

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Authors: Archana Koirala, Nicholas Wood, Kristine Macartney

Published in: The Lancet

 

Introduction: Education has been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of access to education has exacerbated the divide between rich and poor and left vulnerable children exposed to domestic violence and hunger. The best way of keeping educational institutions open for in-person learning is to control transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the wider community1 and to ensure rapid identification of infected staff and students to support timely and tailored public health responses. A comprehensive testing strategy is a core tenet in control, especially as a majority (40–60%) of children and young people have asymptomatic COVID-19,2 and individuals who are pre-symptomatic also present a transmission risk. Mitigation measures such as physical distancing, use of masks, and ensuring adequate ventilation within classrooms are also key, especially when community based transmission exists.

SARS-CoV-2 infection can be diagnosed by two methods: direct testing for the viral RNA with highly sensitive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests or viral antigen detection tests, which identify active (or resolving) infection on a nasal, oropharyngeal, or salivary sample and allow early case identification to contain outbreaks. Testing for antibodies against the virus diagnose previous or recent infection (with onset of 10 or more days previously). The delayed nature of virus-specific antibody testing precludes it as tool for rapid outbreak suppression; rather, its predominant public health utility is to understand infection and transmission rates and patterns in a community or clusters.

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19

Mar, 2021

Vaccinating Children against Covid-19 — The Lessons of Measles

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Authors: Perri Klass, M.D. and Adam J. Ratner, M.D., M.P.H.

Published in: The New England Journal of Medicine

 

Introduction: Imagine a highly contagious virus circulating in the community. Many infected children have fever and some general misery but recover without incident. Rarely, devastating complications occur, leading to hospitalization, severe illness, and occasional deaths. Susceptible adults fare worse, with higher rates of poor outcomes. Would you want your child vaccinated against this disease?

You guessed we were talking about measles, right?

As the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are rolled out to the highest-risk groups, the current stage of the Covid-19 pandemic is pregnant with possibility. Even as cases multiply and new restrictions loom, we gaze longingly toward the next few months, hoping vaccines will deliver us. Vaccination could liberate us to return to school or work, celebrate holidays, eat in restaurants, travel, run marathons, and [fill in your own deprivations]. Early announcements of vaccine efficacy send stocks soaring, and suddenly everyone knows about phase 3 trials and cold-chain logistics. We look to vaccines to give us back our world.

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19

Mar, 2021

Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 patients dying in Italy Report based on available data on March 1st, 2021

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Authors: Luigi Palmieri, Elvira Agazio, Xanthi Andrianou, Pierfrancesco Barbariol, Antonino Bella, Eva Benelli, Luigi Bertinato, Matilde Bocci, Stefano Boros, Giovanni Calcagnini, Marco Canevelli, Federica Censi, Alessandra Ciervo, Elisa Colaizzo, Martina Del Manso, Corrado Di Benedetto, Chiara Donfrancesco, Massimo Fabiani, et al.

Published in: Epicentro

 

Sample: The present report describes the characteristics of 96,149 SARS-CoV-2 patients dying in Italy*, as reported by the Integrated Covid-19 Surveillance System coordinated by the National Institute of Health-ISS. Geographic distribution across the 19 regions and 2 autonomous provinces of Trento and Bozen is presented in Table 1. Absolute number and percentage of deaths are reported according to the 3 phases that characterized the pandemic from the beginning in 2020 to the 1st of March 2021: the first wave (March-May 2020), the low incidence phase (June-September 2020), and the second wave (October 2020 – March 2021), the latter is still ongoing. The surveillance data on deaths are constantly updated and consolidated and both activities require time to be carried out. Each Region has its own organization for updating data and related execution times. Therefore, when reading the data by Region, it is necessary to take into account that the timing of notification, control, verification and updating of data varies from Region to Region and from period to period; this may involve variations (increasing and/or decreasing) and differences both with the data already published in the previous reports, and with the data published by the Civil Protection. It should also be considered that the regional differences in the percentage of deaths reported in the table should not be interpreted in terms of risk. In fact, case fatality depends on the number of infections occurring in each region over a period of time compatible with the possible observation of the fatal event. In this regard, it should also be taken into account that the difference between the number of infections and the notified cases may vary regionally and over time as a function of different test access strategies adopted during the epidemic, thus distorting the comparison of regional case fatality.

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19

Mar, 2021

Virological and immunological features of SARS COV 2 infected children who who developed neutralizing antibodies

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Authors: Nicola Cotugno, Alessandra Ruggiero, Francesco Bonfante, Paolo Rossi, Anita De Rossi, Paolo Palma et al.

Published in: Cell Reports

 

Summary: As the global COVID-19 pandemic progresses, it is paramount to gain knowledge on adaptive immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in children to define immune correlates of protection upon immunization or infection. We analyzed anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and their neutralizing activity (PRNT) in 66 COVID-19-infected children at 7 (±2) days after symptom onset. Individuals with specific humoral responses presented faster virus clearance and lower viral load associated with a reduced in vitro infectivity. We demonstrated that the frequencies of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+CD40L+ T cells and Spike-specific B cells were associated with the anti-SARS- CoV-2 antibodies and the magnitude of neutralizing activity. The plasma proteome confirmed the association between cellular and humoral SARS-CoV-2 immunity, and PRNT+ patients show higher viral signal transduction molecules (SLAMF1, CD244, CLEC4G). This work sheds lights on cellular and humoral anti-SARS-CoV-2 responses in children, which may drive future vaccination trial endpoints and quarantine measures policies.

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2

Mar, 2021

Johnson & Johnson has planned trials of its vaccine that will include infants.

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Johnson & Johnson plans to test its coronavirus vaccine in infants and even in newborns, as well as in pregnant women and in people who have compromised immune systems.

The bold plan for expanded clinical trials met with the approval of Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Harvard’s Boston Children’s Hospital and a member of the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee that reviewed the company’s vaccine data.

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23

Feb, 2021

What does 95% COVID-19 vaccine efficacy really mean?

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Author: Piero Olliaro

Published in: The Lancet

Introduction: It is imperative to dispel any ambiguity about how vaccine efficacy shown in trials translates into protecting individuals and populations. The mRNA-based Pfizer1,2 and Moderna3 vaccines were shown to have 94–95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, calculated as 100 × (1 minus the attack rate with vaccine divided by the attack rate with placebo). It means that in a population such as the one enrolled in the trials, with a cumulated COVID-19 attack rate over a period of 3 months of about 1% without a vaccine, we would expect roughly 0·05% of vaccinated people would get diseased. It does not mean that 95% of people are protected from disease with the vaccine—a general misconception of vaccine protection also found in a Lancet Infectious Diseases Editorial.

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19

Feb, 2021

Carlo Giaquinto and Francesco Bonfante talk about Covid 19 testing at Penta

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We recently met with Carlo Giaquinto – Penta President and Francesco Bonfante – Virologist at IZSVe to have some scientific opinion on Covid 19 testing. (more…)

26

Jan, 2021

Prof. Timo Vesikari talks to us about COVID-19 vaccines and children

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In December 2020 Penta held its annual Scientific Meeting. Despite the unusual get together due to COVID-19, we shared great science together. Among the experts invited was Timo Vesikari, a vaccine specialist who provided an insightful overview of the current scenario around COVID-19 vaccine development. He agreed to an interview with us and shed some light on our understanding of COVID-19 vaccines and how they impact children.

Read the interview here

20

Jan, 2021

Inferring the effectiveness of government interventions against COVID-19

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Published in: The Science Mag

 

Abstract: Governments are attempting to control the COVID-19 pandemic with non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). However, the effectiveness of different NPIs at reducing transmission is poorly understood.

We gathered chronological data on the implementation of NPIs for several European, and other, countries between January and the end of May 2020. We estimate the effectiveness of NPIs, ranging from limiting gathering sizes, business closures, and closure of educational institutions to stay-at-home orders.

To do so, we used a Bayesian hierarchical model that links NPI implementation dates to national case and death counts and supported the results with extensive empirical validation. Closing all educational institutions, limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, and closing face-to-face businesses each reduced transmission considerably. The additional effect of stay-at-home orders was comparatively small.

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20

Jan, 2021

Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots

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Data gathered worldwide are increasingly suggesting that schools are not hotspots for coronavirus infections. Despite fears, COVID-19 infections did not surge when schools and day-care centres reopened after pandemic lockdowns eased. And when outbreaks do occur, they mostly result in only a small number of people becoming ill.

However, research also shows that children can catch the virus and shed viral particles, and older children are more likely than very young kids to pass it on to others. Scientists say that the reasons for these trends are unclear, but they have policy implications for older children and teachers.

Globally, COVID-19 infections are still much lower in children than among adults, says Walter Haas, an infectious-diseases epidemiologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. “They seem rather to follow the situation than to drive it.”

Read the full article by Dyani Lewis here

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