NEW COVID VARIANT OF CONCERN DRIVES US TRAVEL BANS
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday classified a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.529/Omicron) from South Africa as a variant of concern, which means it could be more contagious, cause more severe disease, and reduce the efficacy of vaccines and treatments. his variant has a large number of mutations, and some of these mutations have some worrying characteristics. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant. Full Access: Medscape
DRUG OVERDOSE DEATHS IN THE U.S. TOP 100,000 ANNUALLY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NOVEMBER 17, 2021
Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.
Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Cocaine deaths also increased, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication).
Full Access: CDC
COVID CASES HIT RECORDS IN EUROPE, PROMPTING BOOSTER SHOT RETHINK
Coronavirus infections broke records this past week in parts of Europe, once again the epicentre of a pandemic which has prompted new curbs on movement. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU public health agency, recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority for those over 40, in a major shift of policy. Available evidence emerging from Israel and the UK shows a significant increase in protection against infection and severe disease following a booster dose in all age groups in the short term.
Full Access: Medscape
EXPERIMENTAL CHEWING GUM COULD REDUCE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD
A new experimental chewing gum could reduce the amount of coronavirus particles in saliva and help slow transmission, according to a recent study published in the journal Molecular Therapy.
The gum contains copies of the ACE2 protein on cell surfaces, which is the “spike” protein that the coronavirus uses to break into cells and infect them. Hence, it could limit the spread of virus-laden droplets when infected people are talking, breathing, or coughing.
Full Access: Medscape
COVID ANTIVIRAL PILLS: WHAT SCIENTISTS STILL WANT TO KNOW
Two antiviral drugs. have been found to cut COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in clinical trials of people treated soon after their initial infection. On 4 November, the United Kingdom became the first country to approve molnupiravir. Researchers are also keen for any clue — including from further clinical trials — as to whether the drugs affect transmission of the coronavirus, or prevent illness in people who have been exposed to it. Molnupiravir acts by introducing mutations into the viral genome during viral replication. Human cells have a DNA, rather than an RNA, genome, but some laboratory experiments have suggested that molnupiravir could cause mutations in human DNA as well.
Full Access: Nature