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Weekly Digest: CoVac-1 completes Phase I trials; Short and long courses of antibiotics equally effective in reducing infection-related hospitalizations.

One Health can improve refugee health and prevent further crises.  Forced population displacement is estimated to increase the number of refugees at risk. Poor environments in refugee camps subject residents to poor ventilation, mold, inadequate space, contaminated water, open sewers, and other factors that increase the risk of infectious diseases, something that is exacerbated by potential livestock zoonoses. Infectious diseases transmission endangers refugees and surrounding communities, warranting for One Health mitigation strategies, involving interventions such as animal vaccinations and wastewater management, among others. [The Lancet Global Health 

COVID-19 Delta variant has shorter incubation, similar transmission, and reduced vaccine effectiveness. A nationwide case-control study in France assessing Delta and non-Delta COVID-19 infections found that the incubation time was shorter for Delta infections (4.3 vs. 5 days). No differences were found in activities causing infections; attending clubs, bars, and parties were associated with increased infection risk, particularly for people under 40, while having children attending daycare through middle school increased risk for people over 40. Recent infection with or without vaccine administration protected against symptomatic Delta infection. However, infection-related protection decreased after 6 months. [The Lancet Regional Health – Europe]    

CoVac-1, a peptide-based vaccine for COVID-19, completes Phase I trials. CoVac-1 is a peptide-based vaccine designed to elicit long-lasting immunity unaffected by emerging variants. An open-label Phase I trial evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in 6 adults who received a single dose. The vaccine was able to induce a potent T-cell response which was maintained for the 3-month duration of the study. No serious adverse events were recorded during the 56-day period of the study.  CoVac-1 may be suitable for elderly and immunocompromised individuals unable to achieve sufficient immune responses through the COVID-19 vaccine options currently available. [Nature  

Cuba has developed five protein vaccines to combat COVID-19. Efforts for sustainable development and production of COVID-19 vaccines in Cuba have resulted in two options, which have so far been used to vaccinate 89% of Cuba’s population: Abdala, a 92% effective three-dose vaccine, and Soberana 02, a 71% effective two-dose vaccine. Both vaccines are being exported to Venezuela, Vietnam, Iran, and Nicaragua. Additionally, Cuba has used a third vaccine, Soberana PLUS, to boost immune responses in people infected by COVID-19. When Soberana PLUS is administered after Soberana 02, vaccine efficacy has been shown to increase to 92.4%. [Nature  

Asthma not linked to severe COVID-19. Given the link between asthma and respiratory illnesses, the condition was originally considered to be a risk factor for severe COVID-19. A recent review found no differences in clinical outcomes among asthmatic and non-asthmatic patients, and vaccination can be recommended without any contraindications. Additionally, asthmatics did not have an increased risk of post-acute (long-haul) COVID-19. [The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice] 

Blockchain has healthcare applications for COVID-19 and beyond. A recent systematic review of studies highlighting COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 healthcare applications of blockchain technology revealed that COVID-19 blockchain applications were related to pandemic surveillance, contact tracing, and vaccine passport or immunity certificates. Other healthcare applications were primarily related to electronic medical record management, supply chain monitoring, and mobile health. Among the 415 studies reviewed, only 2.2% of studies showed real-world clinical applications and 67% detailed prototypes, highlighting the need to translate blockchain technology into real-world clinical use. [The Lancet Digital Health] 

Older men at higher risk of COVID-19 mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. A cross-sectional analysis of COVID-19 cases in Angola, Eswatini, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritius, Senegal, and Sierra Leone from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic until September 2020 revealed that similar to other regions, adult males had a higher risk of COVID-19 mortality than women. This difference was only found for adults over age 40 and was particularly notable in adults aged 60 or older. Sex, gender, and age should be taken into consideration when performing public health prevention activities in these regions. [BMJ Global Health] 

Short and long courses of antibiotics equally effective in reducing infection-related hospitalizations. A population-based cohort study was conducted to determine if long antibiotic courses were more effective than short courses at preventing infection-related health complications. Most infection-related hospitalizations occurred to patients on long course antibiotic prescriptions, and long antibiotic courses were found to be no more effective than short courses at preventing complications. While patients with complex medical history may still require long courses of antibiotics, short courses seem effective and suitable when treating most acute infections. [Clinical Infectious Diseases] 

City-scale sewage surveillance reveals local antimicrobial resistance. Sewage-based surveillance using samples from five sewage treatment plants in the city of Bergen, Norway detected clinically relevant carbapenemases, extended-spectrum β-lactamases, and tigecycline resistance gene tet(X4) in E. coli isolates. The identified patterns of resistance resembled clinical prevalence in Norway, highlighting the potential utility of regular sewage surveillance to understand antimicrobial resistance in a population and predict future local outbreaks. [Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety]    

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) complicates non-infectious health conditions and worsens patient outcomes. A rapid evidence assessment of scientific literature published between January 2010 and April 2020 evaluated the impact of AMR in patients with non-communicable diseases. Despite limitations stemming from lack of studies on the topic, AMR was linked to decreased treatment efficacy and a range of poor health outcomes, including sepsis or failed transplants, prolonged hospital stays, admission to intensive care, and the need for invasive medical support. [JAC – Antimicrobial Resistance] 

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