The Daily Dose: Weak antibody responses in COVID-19 patients; A helicopter on Mars

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A new study published in Nature shows that there is a chance that people infected with SARS-CoV-2 may not produce effective and lasting immunity. According to the authors, “Most convalescent plasmas obtained from individuals who recover from COVID-19 do not contain high levels of neutralizing activity. Nevertheless, rare but recurring RBD-specific antibodies with potent antiviral activity were found in all individuals tested, suggesting that a vaccine designed to elicit such antibodies could be broadly effective.” In particular, asymptomatic people exhibited weak antibody responses. While by no means definitive, this study does give pause.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms an earlier Chinese study that showed that blood type may play a role in the development of severe COVID-19 symptoms. As per the Associated Press, “A genetic analysis of COVID-19 patients suggests that blood type might influence whether someone develops severe disease… Scientists who compared the genes of thousands of patients in Europe found that those who had Type A blood were more likely to have severe disease while those with Type O were less likely.” It should be stressed that the two studies do not prove the blood-type link. More and larger studies are necessary.

An article in Nature explores the ways technology and social media are transforming sociology. According to the article, “Computational social scientists are exploring massive and unruly data sets, extracting meaning from society’s digital imprint. They are tracking people’s online activities; exploring digitized books and historical documents; interpreting data from wearable sensors that record a person’s every step and contact; conducting online surveys and experiments that collect millions of data points; and probing databases that are so large that they will yield secrets about society only with the help of sophisticated data analysis.” After a steady stream of news highlighting the detrimental aspects of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s good to know they still have some use beyond misinforming the public and riling up emotions unnecessarily.

Turns out the dinosaur celebrity, Tyrannosaurus rex was just a link in a longer chain of large, upright walking carnivores during the Jurassic period. New research shows that many species predate the T. rex by almost a hundred million years. “Giant carnivorous dinosaurs the length of a bus wandered south-east Queensland about 160 million years ago, new research shows… Analysis of fossilised footprints by a University of Queensland research team has shone new light on the diversity of dinosaur life during the mid-to-late Jurassic period.” In all likelihood, this won’t be the last revision to the giant carnivore narratives.

When NASA launches its latest Mars mission later this year, it will be carrying more than a new rover (Perseverance). It will also be carrying a tiny helicopter. As per, “When it tries to take flight, Ingenuity will be at least 160 feet (50 meters) away from the rover itself, Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for the Mars 2020 mission, said during the news conference. However, Perseverance will be able to monitor the flight attempts using some of its 23 onboard cameras; whether Ingenuity can spot the rover from flight remains to be seen, he said.” The thought of catching above-the-ground imagery of the Red Planet is tantalizing.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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