Sources and updates, October 15

  • Directory of COVID-19 advocacy groups: The COVID Advocacy Initiative, a group working to advocate for better COVID-19 safety measures and form connections among advocates, compiled this directory of advocacy groups across the U.S. and Canada. If you’re looking to get involved with organizing for improved public health, you can likely find a group near you on this list—or get inspired to start a new one!
  • HHS funds next-generation vaccine candidates: In an update for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Project Next Gen, the agency announced funding for three next-gen vaccine candidates: two nasal vaccines developed by companies CastleVax and Codaenix, and one self-amplifying mRNA vaccine developed by Gritstone Bio. HHS also announced funding for companies that will support clinical trials of these vaccines, monoclonal antibody research, testing research, and other preparedness efforts. The awards add up to $500 million, out of $5 billion in total dedicated to Project Next Gen.
  • Wastewater surveillance of variants in South Africa: Speaking of improved testing, a new paper in Nature Communications this week reports on how wastewater surveillance may be used to monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants. Researchers in Johannesburg, South Africa (at the country’s national health agency and a local university) sampled sewage from several metro areas, then used sequencing to identify coronavirus variants. Sequencing data from the wastewater samples consistently matched samples from patients, the researchers found, and even identified new variants. The study adds to other evidence demonstrating wastewater’s value for tracking the coronavirus’ continued evolution.
  • Vascular function issues in Long COVID and ME/CFS: Another new paper that caught my attention this week: researchers at the University of the West of Scotland in Glasgow studied cardiovascular issues among people with Long COVID and ME/CFS. Upon testing patients in both groups (as well as controls, or people who don’t have either condition) to measure their blood flow, the researchers found that these patients have worse circulation. Such vascular dysfunction could contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms common in Long COVID and ME/CFS, and align with other research about microclots in Long COVID, the researchers wrote.
  • Monoclonal antibody infusions for Long COVID: One more notable Long COVID paper: a group of researchers in Florida, including well-known ME/CFS clinician Nancy Klimas, report that three people with Long COVID experienced remission from their symptoms following monoclonal antibody infusions. The patients received a treatment made by Regeneron, which is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies; it used to be a common treatment for acute COVID-19, but doesn’t work well against newer variants. While a small study (again, case study of three patients!), the paper suggests that monoclonal antibodies could be helpful for people whose Long COVID followed infection with an earlier, pre-Delta variant. A clinical trial of a similar treatment is currently progressing at te University of California San Francisco.

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