So much about the Covid-19 virus is an enigma from its origins; a virus in animals that mutated to infect humans, a security breach at a viral research laboratory or accusations of virus-gene manipulation to produce a biological weapon.
Likewise scientists understanding of how the virus works, treatment and finding an effective vaccine are all up in the air, not to mention confusing and contradictory.
Seeing that hope springs eternal let’s take a look at two of the latest studies and developments.
Duke- National University of Singapore Study
A Singapore study has discovered T cell immunity in people who’ve recovered from Covid-19 and SARS also in those never infected by either.
T cells along with antibodies are an integral part of the human immune response against viral infections due to their ability to directly target and kill infected cells.
The findings suggest infection and exposure to corona viruses induces long-lasting memory T cells, which could help in the management of the current pandemic and in vaccine development against COVID-19.
The team tested subjects who recovered from COVID-19 and found the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in all of them, which suggests that T cells play an important role in this infection.
Most importantly, the team showed that patients who recovered from SARS 17 years ago after the 2003 outbreak, still possess virus-specific memory T cells and displayed cross-immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were also found in 50 percent of uninfected individuals which could be due to cross-reactive immunity obtained from exposure to other corona viruses, such as those causing the common cold, or presently unknown animal corona viruses.
A follow-up study on COVID-19 recovered patients is underway to determine if their immunity as shown in their T cells persists over an extended period of time, an important factor in the development of vaccine development.
The results of the findings were published in the Journal Nature.
Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine
According to results published in the Lancet Medical Journal the vaccine trial didn’t produce any serious side effects in healthy volunteers and it triggered antibody and t-cell immunity responses in early stage clinical trials.
This is a huge trial involving some 8 thousand volunteers.
The vaccine, AZD1222 is being developed by pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca and scientists at Britain’s University of Oxford.
Astra Zeneca has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine should it prove effective and gain regulatory approval.
The company said it will not seek to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic.
Researchers said the vaccine caused minor side effects more frequently than a control group, but some of these could be reduced by taking paracetamol, with no serious adverse events from the vaccine.
There seems to be a problem with blood cancer patients not able to produce an antibody response so other options are being studied.
Also, an oddity of Covid-19 is the most severely ill patients are seeing a destruction of their T-cells.
Since blood cancer patients can have poorly functioning T cells this might also be part of the reason they at higher risk, the same for AIDS patients not on retro-virals.
Wait, not so fast about the non-profit nature of all this.
There has been said to be an unofficial leak from a “senior source”.
Apparently Astra-Zeneca shares have soared even though they are in a non-profit arrangement with Oxford University in this vaccine deal.