Research Roundup: G7 nations pledge 870 million doses, vaccines appear effective against variants, and Wolbachia trial reduces dengue infections
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Leaders of G7 countries committed this weekend to sharing at least 870 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with countries around the world. More than half of the doses will come from the United States, which the Biden administration announced earlier in the week would buy 500 million Pfizer doses, 200 million of which will be distributed by the end of this year followed by 300 million by next June, all through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility. The United Kingdom pledged to donate 100 million doses, the first 5 million of which will be shared in the coming weeks. France and Germany will each share at least 30 million doses. The announcement comes as inequities in vaccine supply around the world have become more pronounced, and G7 leaders have faced increased pressure to outline global vaccine-sharing plans.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson appears to be effective against leading virus variants, according to a new study published in Nature last week that looked at immune responses in the blood of vaccinated individuals. While data did show a reduction in neutralizing antibodies to the Beta and Gamma variants, researchers also noted that there are several other types of immune responses, including binding antibodies, FC functional antibodies, and T-cell responses. T-cell responses, which are critical in keeping an infection from spreading, were not reduced to the Beta, Alpha, or Gamma variants, according to the research. Studies have shown similar results with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers are continuing to evaluate vaccine-induced immune responses against variants, including how long the T-cell response lasts.
The use of Wolbachia-infected mosquitos reduced cases of dengue fever by 77 percent in a clinical trial conducted in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, new data shows. The findings also showed an 86 percent reduction in hospitalizations due to dengue fever. The trial, conducted by the World Mosquito Program, used mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which reduces virus replication inside mosquitoes, limiting their likelihood of passing on dengue infection. Wolbachia can also alter the fertility of their hosts to ensure they are passed on to the next generation of mosquitoes, providing continued protection against dengue infection. The trial will be expanded across the whole city and surrounding areas, with the aim of eradicating dengue in the region.