The Daily Dose: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine presents positive data.

The results are in for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The data reported for the joint venture are just as promising as the mRNA versions. Per the Associated Press, “Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.” The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has the added bonus of not having to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.

President-elect Joe Biden has received praise for his cabinet appointees so far. However, some experts see a glaring omission in his COVID-19 Task Force. Per STAT, “Pandemic-related depression and anxiety are disproportionately affecting young people. While young adults have generally not been hard hit physically by Covid-19, the pandemic has had profound consequences for their day-to-day lives and their mental health. There is a pressing need for the federal government and individual institutions like universities and community colleges to address the challenges young adults face during — and after — Covid-19. The place to start is by including mental health expertise on the coronavirus advisory panel and ensuring investment in mental health access.” President-elect Biden still has more than a month to make this minor tweak.

After living in the shadow of SARS-CoV-2, it sometimes feels as if we know more about the virus that we actually do. That’s not the case. An in-depth article in Science looks at the known unknown’s and addresses them one by one. The authors conclude, “Collective efforts have greatly enhanced our scientific understanding of T cell responses against SARS-CoV-2 but many unknowns remain to be resolved. Although it is clear that T cells play a central role in generating early control and clearance of many viral infections, their role in SARS-CoV-2 infection is only starting to be revealed. Specific T cells may even have a detrimental impact on the clinical outcome and contribute to long COVID symptoms.“

There’s been an interesting development in the search for SARS-CoV-2’s origins. Per Nature, “Two lab freezers in Asia have yielded surprising discoveries. Researchers have told Nature they have found a coronavirus that is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the pandemic, in horseshoe bats stored in a freezer in Cambodia. Meanwhile, a team in Japan has reported the discovery of another closely related coronavirus — also found in frozen bat droppings.” For the viruses to be useful with regards said to SARS-CoV-2, they must share over 97% of their genomes. Anything less would be useful in studying the range of viruses within the broader family. The Japanese virus has shown 81% similarity. Meanwhile, researchers are still sequencing the Cambodian virus.

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