Tag: COVID-19

PSA: Please Stop Turning COVID-19 Self-Testing Kits Into Art

Photo 233377227 © Sandi Rutar | Dreamstime.com

 

You could upcycle old plastic bottles and cardboard, that’s fine and all, but the line seems to be drawn at COVID-19 home testing kits. Once they’re used, they should never be seen again—not on your desk, and certainly not framed up on your wall.

This warning was made clear after a photo of an artwork containing the forbidden muse went—for the lack of a better word—viral on Thai social media. The image shows 39 used rapid antigen tests neatly packed into a picture frame.

According to national news outlet The Thaiger, the creator wanted to showcase the scope of their immunity by chronicling how long they’d survive with a negative COVID-19 test result.

 

ตอนนี้หลายคนเริ่มเอา ATK ไปใส่กรอบโชว์  ประมาณว่าชั้นรอดทุกซีซั่นจ้าาา 5555 อย่าทำตามนะครับ…

Posted by หมอแล็บแพนด้า on Thursday, April 21, 2022

 

The photo was reposted by Thai medical laboratory scientist Parkpoom Dethhussadin, who warned others about reusing these test kits as art, regardless of the results. “Do not keep your [home test] collection just to prove that you survived,” the scientist urged.

He added that used tests are deemed medical waste and should be promptly disposed of, and asserted that a negative test result could still mean a minimal viral load exists in the body—and, by extension, your masterpiece of at-home tests. Locals should disinfect their devices with alcohol or detergent before getting rid of them, the scientist said.

COVID-19 home testing kits might be essential in these volatile times, but they’re also contributing to the global plastic problem. Until we find a solution, though, there’s relief in knowing that the devices only make up 0.3% of plastic waste, as estimated by a study published in the PNAS journal in November 2021.

 

 

 

[via Must Share News, The Thaiger, The Conversation, images via various sources]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418501/PSA-Please-Stop-Turning-COVID-19-Self-Testing-Kits-Into-Art/

PSA: Please Stop Turning COVID-19 Self-Testing Kits Into Art, Warns Scientist

Photo 233377227 © Sandi Rutar | Dreamstime.com

 

You could upcycle old plastic bottles and cardboard, that’s fine and all, but the line seems to be drawn at COVID-19 home testing kits. Once they’re used, they should never be seen again—not on your desk, and certainly not framed up on your wall.

This warning was made clear after a photo of an artwork containing the forbidden muse went—for the lack of a better word—viral on Thai social media. The image shows 39 used rapid antigen tests neatly packed into a picture frame.

According to national news outlet The Thaiger, the creator wanted to showcase the scope of their immunity by chronicling how long they’d survive with a negative COVID-19 test result.

 

ตอนนี้หลายคนเริ่มเอา ATK ไปใส่กรอบโชว์  ประมาณว่าชั้นรอดทุกซีซั่นจ้าาา 5555 อย่าทำตามนะครับ…

Posted by หมอแล็บแพนด้า on Thursday, April 21, 2022

 

The photo was reposted by Thai medical laboratory scientist Parkpoom Dethhussadin, who warned others about reusing these test kits as art, regardless of the results. “Do not keep your [home test] collection just to prove that you survived,” the scientist urged.

He added that used tests are deemed medical waste and should be promptly disposed of, and asserted that a negative test result could still mean a minimal viral load exists in the body. Locals should disinfect their devices with alcohol or detergent before getting rid of them, the scientist said.

COVID-19 home testing kits might be essential in these volatile times, but they’re also contributing to the global plastic problem. Until we find a solution, though, there’s relief in knowing that the devices only make up 0.3% of plastic waste, as estimated by a study published in the PNAS journal in November 2021.

 

 

 

[via Must Share News, The Thaiger, The Conversation, images via various sources]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418501/PSA-Please-Stop-Turning-COVID-19-Self-Testing-Kits-Into-Art-Warns-Scientist/

COVID-19 Breathalyzer Gets FDA Approval As Alternative For Nose Swabbing

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Video screenshot via InspectIR Systems

 

If you’ve had the uncomfortable experience of having a swab inserted up your nostrils to get a sample for the COVID-19 test, you’ll know how much of a bother it is. Thankfully, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced it has authorized the first breath diagnostic test for emergency use. 

By using an instrument that’s about the size of carry-on luggage, doctors can now test patient samples under a qualified, trained operator and provide results on if they’ve been infected with the virus in under three minutes. 

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer underwent a clinical study with over 2,000 individuals, featuring those with and without any symptoms. It was found to correctly identify 91.2% of positive tests, and 99.3% of negative ones. 

How does it work? Well, the machine makes use of gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry to separate and detect five Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with the COVID-19 infection, allowing doctors to have a reasonably accurate preliminary test before the results are further confirmed with a molecular test, such as the ones we’re accustomed to. 

It’s believed the breathalyzer test will be able to analyze up to 160 samples per day per machine, with the testing capacity expected to increase by 64,000 samples per month. 

“Today’s authorization is yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19,” said Jeff Shuren, Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. 

“The FDA continues to support the development of novel COVID-19 tests with the goal of advancing technologies that can help address the current pandemic and better position the US for the next public health emergency,” he added. 

 

 

 

 

[via Interesting Engineering and FDA, cover image via InspectIR Systems]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418427/COVID-19-Breathalyzer-Gets-FDA-Approval-As-Alternative-For-Nose-Swabbing/

White House Launches ‘One-Stop Shop’ COVID Site For Treatment, Testing



Image ID 170824228 © via Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

 

The Joe Biden Administration has revealed a brand-new COVID-19 website, a “one-stop shop” for citizens in the US to receive the latest updates on the virus and gain access to vaccines, treatments, tests, and masks to stay protected. 

Within the site, residents can find a new test-to-treat locator tool that will show them the over 2,000 locations nationwide that provide COVID-19 tests and life-saving antiviral pills with one click. 

Notably, the White House says that due to the new measures in place, “America is in a new moment in the pandemic.” 

“To ensure we’re sustaining and building on this progress, and protecting and preparing for new variants, earlier this month, the President released his National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan,” said the statement.

In short, the Plan is a roadmap of how the country plans to fight the virus as more people return to their usual routines, such as by building and investing in medical infrastructure and lifesaving tools. 

The new site will be available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese, as well as for those using assistive technologies.

 

For those who prefer speaking over the phone, they can access the information through the National Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 which supports over 150 languages. 

 

 

 

[via CNET and The White House, cover image via Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418260/White-House-Launches-One-Stop-Shop-COVID-Site-For-Treatment-Testing/

Moderna Pledges To Never Enforce Patents, Will Build Vaccine Hub In Kenya



Image ID 84962469 © via Scyther5 | Dreamstime.com

 

Moderna has announced it will “never enforce” its patents for its mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in 92 low- and middle-income countries under the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment.

According to Politico, the commitment ensures the countries under the agreement will be able to secure financing for vaccines, which have largely gone towards wealthier nations

“We are committed to defeating the pandemic across the globe, and we are fulfilling that through our pledge not to enforce our COVID-19 related patents in low- and middle-income countries,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. 

“We are dedicated to combatting COVID-19 globally and preparing for the next pandemic,” she added.

Alongside with this initiative, Moderna will also be partnering with the government of Kenya to build an mRNA manufacturing facility, in hopes of producing up to 500 million doses annually. 

Reuters reported that it plans to start production of the COVID-19 vaccine in Africa as early as next year. 

“We all know the challenges that Kenya and the entire continent of Africa went through in the earlier stages of this pandemic that resulted in Africa being left behind. Not because of want but because of lack, and Moderna has come to fill that space,” said the country’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta. 

With this new facility, the company plans to expand its vaccine programs to 15 diseases in total, so that researchers can make use of existing mRNA technology to create effective vaccines against those illnesses. 

 

 

 

[via Politico and Reuters, cover image via Scyther5 | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418049/Moderna-Pledges-To-Never-Enforce-Patents-Will-Build-Vaccine-Hub-In-Kenya/

GSK Creates COVID-19 Vaccine With ‘100% Efficacy’ Against Severe Illness



Image ID 210108196 © via Oier Aso Poza | Dreamstime.com

 

GlaxoSmithKline, a leader in the world of pharmaceuticals, has partnered with Sanofi to create a COVID-19 vaccine that it claims has a 100% protection rate against severe disease and hospitalizations.

Unlike the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, GSK and Sanofi developed one based on a long-used technique, known as the protein subunit. 

According to Interesting Engineering, scientists make use of harmless protein fragments from the virus to “train” the body’s immune system so it can fight back effectively should it come up against COVID-19.

The fragments are synthesized in other organisms, such as yeast or bacteria, and is then harvested and purified before being mixed with an adjuvant that triggers an immune response when the vaccine is injected into a patient. 

While this method is more costly and takes longer to develop, it has been used to create various successful vaccines, including for Hepatitis-B. 

Furthermore, vaccines made using protein subunits do not require ultra-cold storage, and can be kept in regular refrigerators, making it a more viable option for lower-income countries with fewer facilities to store the vials.

CNN had reported that during GSK and Sanofi’s initial trials, the vaccine did not result in a robust immune response in certain adults. This resulted in the companies having to reformulate the shot, only beginning Phase 3 trials in May 2021.

Now, in a press statement, the duo have released preliminary data from trials involving over 10,000 individuals in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the US.

Findings show that two doses of the vaccine had 100% efficacy in preventing severe illness from the virus, including hospitalizations. It was 75% effective at preventing moderate to severe symptoms.

Additionally, the study found the vaccine prevented any COVID-19 symptoms in 58% of subjects. 

This number may be lower than with other manufacturer’s trials, but the companies point out it was conducted when multiple variants were present in the community, not just the first bout of the virus.

As most individuals in the US and Europe have already undergone the first two doses of vaccination, the firms are looking into using the new vaccine as a booster jab.

“We are confident that this vaccine can play an important role as we continue to address this pandemic and prepare for the post-pandemic period,” said Roger Connor, President of GSK Vaccines.

 

 

 

[via Interesting Engineering and Sanofi, cover image via Oier Aso Poza | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417907/GSK-Creates-COVID-19-Vaccine-With-100-Efficacy-Against-Severe-Illness/

Free At-Home COVID Tests Can Now Be Collected From Various NYC Cultural Sites

Photo 160241014 © Brett Critchley | Dreamstime.com

 

To make COVID-19 testing more easily available, public health initiative New York City Test and Trace Corps is distributing free at-home COVID-19 tests at 14 cultural sites and 27 public library branches.

 

“Our mission remains to make testing resources accessible for all New Yorkers to safely and confidently manage the pandemic,” explained Dr Ted Long, the program’s executive director and president of ambulatory care and population health at NYC Health + Hospitals, in a statement published on February 11.

 

“Distributing at-home tests at cultural sites and libraries provides familiar, prominent locations for people to pick up the resources they need to know if they have COVID-19 and to return to the beloved destinations that make our city so special. I am grateful for our cultural and library partnerships and excited to see them lead New York City safely forward.”

Collection sites include museums and libraries like the Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, The Museum of the City of New York, The New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library.

At-home tests will be delivered at the institutions weekly and are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last, with a limit of one kit per person. More details are available here.

 

 

[via Hyperallergic and NYC Health + Hospitals, cover photo 160241014 © Brett Critchley | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417897/Free-At-Home-COVID-Tests-Can-Now-Be-Collected-From-Various-NYC-Cultural-Sites/

Wales Dedicates New Woodlands As Memorials For People Lost To COVID-19



Image ID 226612254 © via Trevor Mayes | Dreamstime.com

 

Three new woodlands in Wales will be planted as memorial sites to remember the people who died from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The forthcoming woodland sites—which include two at the National Trust’s Erddig estate in Wrexham, one at Brownhill in Carmarthenshire’s Tywi Valley, and another in southeast Wales—will be added as part of the National Forest of Wales in the future. 

As per the country’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, these nature sanctuaries will act as a “living memorial to all those who died” and will represent “the strength the people of Wales have shown over the past two years.” 

According to the BBC, the pandemic has seen a total of 9,477 individuals pass away in Wales, with 79 just having happened within the previous week. 

Clare Pillman, Chief of Natural Resources Wales, revealed that the agency would hold discussions with the local communities and partners to create the memorial sites’ designs, allowing for them to become “safe and accessible spaces, where people of all ages can come to remember and reflect for years to come.” 

“Our ambition for this commemorative woodland is for it to become a living, growing area for all the community to enjoy, as well as a quiet space for contemplation as we continue to navigate this most challenging of times,” she added. 

 

 

 

[via BBC and the Welsh Government, cover image via Trevor Mayes | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417644/Wales-Dedicates-New-Woodlands-As-Memorials-For-People-Lost-To-COVID-19/

CDC Introduces Water-Tracking Map To Chart Spread Of COVID-19 From Pee



Image via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

As the Omicron wave swept across the country, medical staff struggled to deal with never-before-seen hospitalization numbers. Furthermore, the lack of rapid antigen tests available meant that asymptomatic individuals couldn’t find out if they had contracted COVID-19.

To address these gaps in tracking the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced new tracking tools, including data from the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), to monitor levels of COVID-19 spread in the various regions.

Even if a patient is asymptomatic, he or she will shed fractions of the virus during trips to the toilet, explained the agency. This enables the presence of SARS-CoV-2 to be detected in wastewater, thus allowing authorities to chart the spread of the virus within specific communities. 

If you’d like to get a better idea of the situation in your residential area, simply search for your state and county on the site’s interactive map. Color-coded dots will display the levels of COVID-19 in the area, and how much it’s increased or decreased over the last fortnight. 

According to Fast Company, the data collected from wastewater treatment plants is updated at 8pm ET (5pm PT) every evening to provide real-time information. However, the map is currently littered with gray dots, an indication that not enough data has been collated in the area. 

As more data gets collected over the coming weeks, chances are the map will gradually be updated to display virus levels across more regions throughout the country.

Not only does this information alert residents to the situation in their county, but it also provides an early warning of forthcoming surges or the appearance of a new variant, said the CDC.

As per Water & Wastes Digest, several communities in the nation had detected the Omicron variant in their wastewater before any residents in the area reported contracting the specific strain of COVID-19. 

“These data are uniquely powerful because they capture the presence of infections from people with and without symptoms, and they’re not affected by access to health care or availability of clinical testing,” said Amy Kirby, Program Lead for the NWSS.

 

 

 

[via Fast Company and Water & Wastes Digest, cover image via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417634/CDC-Introduces-Water-Tracking-Map-To-Chart-Spread-Of-COVID-19-From-Pee/

‘Pan-Coronavirus’ Vaccine For Multi Variants Underway—But Don’t Wait, Says Fauci

Image via the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

 

A “pan-coronavirus vaccine” could, as the name may suggest, have the potential to eradicate the need for variant-specific formulae when it comes to protecting ourselves from infection and severe onset of symptoms.

“There have been five… variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and now the current Omicron,” explains White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci in a press briefing last week detailing the “universal” vaccine. 

 

Coronaviruses have a huge phylogenetic tree, which includes SARS-CoV—which was SARS—and SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Both of these are “sarbecoviruses,” which are a subset of Beta coronaviruses. 

While the Alpha coronaviruses result in easier things to deal with, such as a cold in the winter, Beta coronaviruses are responsible for the “pandemic threats,” Fauci explains. These are the ones that have to be tackled with greater urgency.

It would be “unreasonable” to expect a pan-coronavirus vaccine for every single coronavirus out there, but it’s possible to focus on the dangerous ones, such as the sarbecovirus, he clarifies.

“Obviously, innovative approaches are needed to induce broad and durable protection against coronaviruses that are known and some that are even at this point unknown. Hence, the terminology ‘pan-coronavirus vaccine.’”

 

And it might not be in the hands of any well-known pharmaceutical company synonymous with the invention of vaccines but, instead, lies in the responsibilities of the US Army. 

The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) vaccine, made by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, completed its first phase of human trials in December.

Ferritin, an iron-based protein, is key in helping the vaccine to recognize multiple spike proteins at once, hence its universality. As reported by PharmaLive, its structure is unique with 24 sides, and all of them can have a different viral protein attachment.

In preclinical studies with primates, it was shown that the vaccine didn’t just elicit a “potent immune response,” but it “may also provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern” alongside other coronaviruses.

There is still much testing to be done before the vaccine can be made available. There is no information to date about its potential availability. But maybe it might even be the last one that ever needs to be developed. 

 

“I don’t want anyone to think that pan-coronavirus vaccines are literally around the corner in a month or two,” Fauci details in the press briefing. “It’s going to take years to develop in an incremental fashion.”

Having said this, he also urges, “So, do not wait to receive your primary vaccine regimen. And… please get your booster if you are eligible.” 

 

 

 

[via CNET and PharmaLive, image via the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417572/Pan-Coronavirus-Vaccine-For-Multi-Variants-Underway-But-Don-t-Wait-Says-Fauci/

‘Pan-Coronavirus’ Vaccine To Quell All Variants Is Being Developed By US Army

Image via the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

 

A “pan-coronavirus vaccine” could, as the name may suggest, have the potential to eradicate the need for variant-specific formulae when it comes to protecting ourselves from infection and severe onset of symptoms. 

“There have been five… variants of concern: alpha, beta, gamma, delta and now the current omicron,” explains White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci in a press briefing last week

“Obviously, innovative approaches are needed to induce broad and durable protection against coronaviruses that are known and some that are even at this point unknown. Hence, the terminology ‘pan-coronavirus vaccine.’”

 

And it might not be in the hands of any well-known pharmaceutical company synonymous with the invention of vaccines but, instead, lies in the responsibilities of the US Army. 

The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) vaccine, made by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, recently completed its first phase of human trials, according to a recent press release

CNET reports that the SpFN vaccine, unlike the conventional mRNA-based Pfizer or Moderna, uses a “harmless” part of the coronavirus to activate the body’s immune system.

Ferritin, an iron-based protein, is key in helping the vaccine to recognize multiple spike proteins at once, hence its universality. As reported by PharmaLive, its structure is unique with 24 sides, and all of them can have a different viral protein attachment.

In preclinical studies with primates, it was shown that the vaccine didn’t just elicit a “potent immune response,” but it “may also provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern” alongside other coronaviruses.

Although Phase One of human trials has been completed, there is still much testing to be done before the vaccine can be made available. There is no information to date about its potential availability. But maybe it might even be the last one that ever needs to be developed. 

 

 

[via CNET and PharmaLive, image via the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417572/Pan-Coronavirus-Vaccine-To-Quell-All-Variants-Is-Being-Developed-By-US-Army/

New York City To Begin Free, Same-Day Home Delivery Of COVID-19 Pill Treatments

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Image via Merck

 

In the persevering fight against COVID-19, New York City is striving to make treatment a little more accessible for the city’s residents now that the more easily-administered oral pills are a viable option. 

During a news conference held on Sunday, Mayor Eric Adams announced that eligible New Yorkers with an appropriate prescription may be able to get free, same-day delivery of antiviral pills. 

The two available pills are Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer, and molnupiravir from Merck. These are distributed by Alto Pharmacy, a telehealth provider partnering with the city, per The New York Times. Paxlovid can be used in anyone above 12 years old, while molnupiravir is recommended for those 18 and up. 

These are taken daily for five days to reduce the viral load in the body as well as prevent symptoms from getting any worse, as reported by Gothamist.

“We want to make sure that no one with Covid has to move throughout the city,” Adams stated. “We want to bring it to you and we want you to take advantage of this.”

Those who test positive and are at higher risk for severe illness will be given priority, as supplies are still limited at this time. 

Some of the other criteria needed to be eligible for free delivery include being within five days of symptom onset, having mild to moderate symptoms, and not having been hospitalized. 

 

 

 

 

[via The New York Times and Gothamist, image via Merck]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417549/New-York-City-To-Begin-Free-Same-Day-Home-Delivery-Of-COVID-19-Pill-Treatments/

Pfizer, BioNTech Begin Clinical Trials For Omicron-Specific Vaccine



Image ID 209102631 © via Rimidolove | Dreamstime.com

 

In recent months, news about the COVID-19 Delta variant have turned into concerns about Omicron, the new strain of the virus that’s spreading across the world. 

Though most people have had their first two vaccination shots, and perhaps the booster, Pfizer and BioNTech are looking to develop a shot specifically for the new variant. 

A separate vaccine could be a necessity for Omicron, considering that the new wave has caused a sharp rise in infections and exceeded hospitalization records

“While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future,” explained Kathrin U Jansen, Senior Vice President of Pfizer. 

“Staying vigilant against the virus requires us to identify new approaches for people to maintain a high level of protection, and we believe developing and investigating variant-based vaccines, like this one, are essential in our efforts towards this goal,” she added.

According to Interesting Engineering, the new vaccine will head for human clinical trials, where it will be tested for safety, tolerability, and the body’s immunological response in up to 1,420 healthy adults between the ages 18 and 55. 

The group will be split into three sections, with some receiving two doses of the normal vaccine followed by the targeted Omicron shot, the second batch having three doses of the current injection and one Omicron vaccine, and the final group of unvaccinated individuals receiving three doses of the Omicron-specific shot.

In total, as per the BBC, the companies predict they will produce four billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this year, which will include the shot against the new variant should the trials suggest it’s effective. 

In anticipation of the demand for the targeted vaccine should the Omicron strain become even worse in the coming months, a Pfizer spokesperson told CNN that it had already started producing doses of the shot. 

“In the wake of Omicron, we are proactively investigating and manufacturing at risk an Omicron-based vaccine should it be needed, but we, of course, need to have results and discussions with health authorities as well as approvals before it would be deployed,” the spokesperson said. 

 

 

 

[via Interesting Engineering and BBC, cover image via Rimidolove | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417522/Pfizer-BioNTech-Begin-Clinical-Trials-For-Omicron-Specific-Vaccine/

Researchers Develop Wearable Clip That Can Detect COVID-19 Exposure On The Go



Image via Yale School of Public Health / Krystal Godri Pollitt

 

In the last two years, there hasn’t been a verifiable way of knowing if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 until you actually catch the virus.

Now, researchers at Yale University have come up with a clip-on device that could alert you to possible exposure in the air around you, even if it’s at low levels. 

The new study, which was published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, uses a small 3D-printed air sample to collect samples from the surrounding air on a film, that then determines if the virus is present.

Notably, the inch-wide device doesn’t require a power source, enabling it to be used by anyone on the go. 

“The Fresh Air Clip is a wearable device that can be used to assess exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the air. With this clip we can detect low levels of virus copies that are well below the estimated SARS-CoV-2 infectious dose,” explained the study’s author, Krystal Godri Pollitt.  

 

It is “easy-to-use, non-invasive, and low-cost,” the description writes on Yale’s website.

She believes that the clip could be used to spot exposure events early, so that affected persons can be tested and quarantined before spreading the virus to even more people.

The study saw 62 test subjects wear the device for five consecutive days between January and May 2021, before the film was checked for exposure to the virus. 

Scientists found that five of the subjects had been exposed to COVID-19, though the detected levels were below the amount needed to infect a person.

“The clip is intended to help prevent viral spread and offer guidance on where additional infectious disease control measures are needed,” Pollitt told USA Today.

According to iNews, going forward, the researchers hope they can further develop the device to alert users in real-time, instead of needing to be tested in a laboratory at a later date. 

The team hopes the use of the clip can be scaled up for use in places where many people gather, such as offices, schools, and community areas, where real-time readings will be crucial to stopping a super-spreader event.

 

 

 

[via USA Today and iNews, cover image via Yale School of Public Health / Krystal Godri Pollitt]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417463/Researchers-Develop-Wearable-Clip-That-Can-Detect-COVID-19-Exposure-On-The-Go/

Anti-COVID Nasal Spray May Give Short-Term Protection From The Disease & Strains



Image via Shutterstock

 

Latest in a string of innovations born in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is a nasal spray which claims to be able to provide protection from the disease and its strains. 

Developed by researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, the spray is able to provide protection “for at least eight hours even in cases of high-exposure risk,” which starts immediately after administration. 

A paper has been published on the subject, although it has, at time of writing, not been peer-reviewed yet. 

This nasal spray contains a new molecule called TriSb92, based on a Finnish technological solution designed to target biological drugs, per a news release by the university. 

“Targeting this inhibitory effect of the TriSb92 molecule to a site of the coronavirus spike protein common to all variants of the virus makes it possible to effectively inhibit the ability of all known variants, Omicron included, to infect people,” Anna Mäkelä, first author of the study, explains.

Apart from providing quick short-term protection, Finnish news outlet YLE reports that there’s also the potential for the spray to be used as a type of booster for those who are already vaccinated against the virus. 

It is, however, not meant to replace vaccines, study co-author Kalle Saksela explains to Gizmodo. It’s meant to “complement” it by providing an additional layer of protection, especially for immunocompromised people. 

“This technology is cheap and highly manufacturable, and the inhibitor works equally well against all variants,” he explains. “It works also against the now-extinct SARS virus, so it might well also serve as an emergency measure against possible new coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-3 and -4).”

Although promising, the spray has yet to reach clinical trial stage and will undoubtedly take some time to reach the market as well. 

 

 

 

[via Gizmodo and YLE, image via Shutterstock]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417341/Anti-COVID-Nasal-Spray-May-Give-Short-Term-Protection-From-The-Disease-Strains/

Germany Assembles 700 Sheep & Goats To Form ‘Syringe’ To Encourage Vaccines



Photo 213749186 © Ulrike Leone | Dreamstime.com

 

In a bid to promote COVID-19 vaccinations following a surge in infections, Germany has ram(p)ed up public health campaign efforts. One of its most dramatic stunts thus far involves assistance by a whole herd of livestock.

As reported by the Associated Press, 700 sheep and goats were enlisted to gather into the shape of a giant syringe in a field at Schneverdingen, located south of Hamburg, on Monday. Measuring 330 feet, the sight was visible from the sky.

Getting the hundreds of animals to cooperate was easier than expected. Although shepherd Wiebke Schmidt-Kochan had rehearsed the flash mob with the herd days ahead, all it took was a layout of pieces of bread on the field to lure the sheep and goats into getting into formation, news agency dpa is quoted to have reported.

The initiative’s organizer Hanspeter Etzold is hoping that the hesitant will open their hearts regarding vaccinations when they see these endearing creatures. “Sheep are such likeable animals—maybe they can get the message over better,” says Etzoid.

As of Monday, 71.2% of the German population have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 38.9% having gotten a booster shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A post shared by Wiebke Schmidt-Kochan (@wiebkeschmi)

 

[via NPR, Associated Press, The Drum, images via various sources]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417261/Germany-Assembles-700-Sheep-Goats-To-Form-Syringe-To-Encourage-Vaccines/

US Army Develops COVID-19 Vaccine That Could Work Against All Variants



Image via the US Army

 

Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) have developed a new COVID-19 vaccine that could protect against all of the coronavirus-causing disease’s variants. 

As the world takes to the effects of Omicron, healthcare providers are once again overwhelmed by the rising number of infections. At the moment, most countries have elected to vaccinate citizens with a three-step booster program, though it’s not known if the current shots will be effective against a future variant.

Hence, researchers at WRAIR have come up with a vaccine that potentially works against all variants of COVID and SARS viruses, including those that may spread in the future. To create the novel vaccine, the team made use of a new technology called a Self-Assembling Protein Nanoparticle. 

According to Insider, it comprises a small particle with multiple “faces” carrying part of a spike protein that can help beef up the host’s immune system. This time, the scientists attached spike proteins from multiple strains of COVID, thus creating a vaccine that spans across all of the illness’ possible variants. 

Results from the agency’s study showed that non-human primates were protected from COVID-19 and its variants after receiving two doses of the vaccine. It’s currently awaiting the findings from human clinical trials, which will then be able to compare it against the vaccines already in circulation. 

“The repetitive and ordered display of the coronavirus spike protein on a multi-faced nanoparticle may stimulate immunity in such a way as to translate into significantly broader protection,” explained Dr Kayvon Modjarrad, Director of the EIDB at WRAIR.

According to Interesting Engineering, the team also worked on another vaccine—called the Spike Receptor-Binding Domain Ferritin Nanoparticle (RFN)—which works against smaller sections of the COVID spike protein.

 

Preliminary results from this shot have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, with findings showing that it offered similar protection to the first vaccine. 

“Our investment in developing a next-generation vaccine is an important step towards getting ahead of COVID-19 and future disease threats,” said Dr Nelson Michael, Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at WRAIR.

 

 

 

[via Interesting Engineering, cover image via the US Army]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417170/US-Army-Develops-COVID-19-Vaccine-That-Could-Work-Against-All-Variants/

‘Self-Sustaining’ Chip Is Implanted In Your Arm To Be A Portable COVID Passport



Image via Dsruptive Subdermals

 

In the past year, most of us have gotten used to toting around our vaccination information, be it in the form of index cards or a digital copy on our smartphones. If that’s been too much of a hassle, this Swedish firm has the answer: a microchip you can implant in your arm.

“I have my COVID passport on the chip, and the reason is that I always want to have it accessible,” explained Hannes Sjoblad, Managing Director of Dsruptive Subdermals, in an AFP News video.

The organization brands itself as a “deep tech company” specializing in implantable micro-electronics, including human implants involving technology, business, service design, communications, and medical aspects.

Though all of that may sound rather futuristic, the truth of the implant isn’t as wow-worthy. According to Input, once the chip has been placed in your arm, you’ll be able to swipe a smartphone above it to open your vaccine passport. Here’s the kicker: it just opens up a PDF file, which seems relatively underwhelming.

 



Image via Dsruptive Subdermals

 

As for the hardware, the microchip itself measures 12 mm (0.4 inches) long and 2 mm (0.08 inches) wide. Its custom board and NFC antenna are encapsulated in proprietary material called ‘bioglass’.

Fortunately, there won’t be any need to charge the chip once it’s in the body. The firm markets the implant as “self-sustaining,” meaning it won’t require any power source other than when the brief NFC transactions occur. Despite it having a low memory space of just 2KB, Dsruptive is confident it’ll keep working for 50 years.

Going forward, the company hopes it’ll be able to use the same technology for other uses, such as to store credit card information on a person or measure the body’s temperature without a thermometer. 

For anyone thinking of actually getting their vaccine passports in the form of a microchip, one of the implants will cost €100 (US$113), though you’ll have to wait, because they aren’t for sale just yet.

Check out how the microchip works in the videos below.

 

A Swedish company has come up with a microchip that can be inserted under the skin so that users can carry their Covid passports in their arm. pic.twitter.com/Vkl82q7dGR

— AFP News Agency (@AFP) December 21, 2021

Beep boop beep: Your vaccination record has been verified 🤖 pic.twitter.com/dpAkSCudxf

— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) December 17, 2021

 

 

 

[via Input, images via Dsruptive Subdermals]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417147/Self-Sustaining-Chip-Is-Implanted-In-Your-Arm-To-Be-A-Portable-COVID-Passport/

At-Home COVID Test Can Be Tricked For Fake Results, Researchers Discover



Image via Ellume

 

As at-home COVID tests become more common, a security researcher has discovered that a Bluetooth vulnerability in a popular kit allowed him to fake the test’s results.

 

Ken Gannon, a researcher at F-Secure, was the one who found the loophole in the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test, which has since been fixed by the brand. The kit uses a Bluetooth analyzer to test a user’s sample, before reporting the results via its mobile app. 

 

However, Gannon uncovered that the Bluetooth analyzer could be used to falsify the result before the app would process the data. According to TechCrunch, the researcher first used a rooted Android device to look into the backend of the data that the test was sending to the app. 

Through that, he was able to identify two different Bluetooth traffic signals that told the app if a user’s test results were positive or negative. He then wrote two new scripts that allowed him to change a negative result to one that would show up as positive on the app. 

When Gannon received the results via email, it incorrectly displayed that he had tested positive, just as he predicted. He even obtained a certified copy of the false test result from Azova, a telehealth provider partnered with Ellume.

“Someone with the proper motivation and technical skills could’ve used these flaws to ensure they, or someone they’re working with, gets a negative test result every time they’re tested,” Gannon said. 

In response, Ellume has updated its system to prevent the Bluetooth loophole from being exploited. Alan Fox, the firm’s Head of Information Systems, said: “We will also deliver a verification portal to allow authorities—including health departments, employers, schools, event organizers, and others—to verify the authenticity of the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test.” 

“Ellume is confident in the reliability of our ECHT test result, and we would like to thank F-Secure for bringing this issue to our attention and for the work they do every day to protect consumers, businesses, and organizations around the globe.”

 

 

 

[via Techcrunch, cover image via Ellume]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417126/At-Home-COVID-Test-Can-Be-Tricked-For-Fake-Results-Researchers-Discover/

Pfizer Says New COVID-19 Pill Could Help Treat Rapidly-Spreading Omicron



Image ID 210332358 © via Esther19775 | Dreamstime.com

In mid-November, Pfizer announced it was seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its COVID-19 treatment pill, which could potentially help treat patients at a higher risk of developing serious illnesses from the virus.

At the time, the drugmaker had signed an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool to share its license for the oral medication, enabling patients in lower-income countries to gain access to its formula.

Now, as the Omicron variant sees a spike in cases throughout most of the world, Pfizer has confirmed that its antiviral pill does effectively prevent severe symptoms of the disease. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the drug is likely to work against emerging variants as well.

High-risk Americans who took the drug shortly after displaying symptoms reduced their rates of hospitalization and death by about 89%. This could significantly reduce the number of people needing to take up beds as hospitals struggle to cope with the overwhelming number of new infections.

The FDA is expected to approve the pill soon, which would allow consumers to access the drug by January, as per the New York Times. As the US surpasses the 800,000 death mark, and a new wave of infections threatens to destabilize the country once again, the medication could be crucial in reducing the number of severe cases and eventual deaths nationwide.

However, experts warn that while the pill could help stave off serious symptoms, being vaccinated is still the best way to prevent one from being infected or spreading the virus.

A recent study done by Pfizer saw 2,250 high-risk, unvaccinated participants take the drug for three or five days after showing the first signs of having contracted COVID-19. Each of them consumed 30 pills over the course of five days.

Results showed that, of the 697 patients who began taking the medicine within the first three days of symptoms, only five were hospitalized, with no deaths reported. Whereas, in the placebo group of 682 patients, 35 were hospitalized and nine passed away, as per CNN.

“This is quite amazing and potentially transformative. If we could keep people out of hospitals, that would have a huge impact on health care,” said Sara Cherry, a virologist at the University of Pennsylvania not affiliated with the study.

“Emerging variants of concern, like Omicron, have exacerbated the need for accessible treatment options for those who contract the virus, and we are confident that, if authorized or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic,” said Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla.

[via Smithsonian Magazine, cover image via Esther19775 | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417049/Pfizer-Says-New-COVID-19-Pill-Could-Help-Treat-Rapidly-Spreading-Omicron/

Japanese Scientists Invent A Mask That Glows In The Presence Of COVID-19



Image via Kyoto Prefectural University

By now, we know that wearing masks can protect others from the spread of coronavirus. But what if, beyond prevention, the coverings could also tell one if they have contracted the virus?

Researchers from the Kyoto Prefectural University, Japan, have devised just that. The main ingredient is an unlikely star of the show: ostrich eggs.

Ostriches are the main topic of research for Yasuhiro Tsukamoto, president of the University and research lead for this project. Before the pandemic ever hit, he was already designing masks based on ostrich antibodies that could help the common flu, backed by years of study on this bird.

As it turns out, ostriches are much more capable than human beings at combatting COVID-19 thanks to the different antibodies they produce. Extracted from the eggs, these antibodies were incorporated into a fluorescent dye that was then sprayed onto a mask filter.



Image via Kyoto Prefectural University

When it comes into contact with the virus, contaminated areas of the mask filter will then glow when shone with UV light.

Kyodo News reports that a round of testing, spanning 10 days with 32 people infected with the coronavirus, showed that all the masks they wore glowed under the UV light. This then faded with time, as well as the decrease of their viral load.

“We can mass-produce antibodies from ostriches at a low cost,” Tsukamoto tells the Japanese news agency. “In the future, I want to make this into an easy testing kit that anyone can use.”



Image via Kyoto Prefectural University

But perhaps the ultimate test—an endorsement, if you will—comes in the form of Tsukamoto testing the mask, only to discover that he himself had gotten the coronavirus.

The next testing round is aiming at a larger sample size of 150 participants. With promising results, the team is hoping that the invention will receive government approval and these masks can be sold as soon as next year.

[via Futurism, images via Kyoto Prefectural University] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/416978/Japanese-Scientists-Invent-A-Mask-That-Glows-In-The-Presence-Of-COVID-19/

FDA Advisory Panel Narrowly Votes Yes To Recommending COVID-19 Pill



Image via Merck

The Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) Antimicrobial Drug Advisory Committee has voted in favor of recommending the COVID-19 treatment pill, though only by a narrow margin. The drug, named molunpiravir, has been recommended to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the US till the pandemic dissipates.

Similar to the COVID-19 vaccines, this ruling doesn’t mean the oral antiviral treatment will be authorized for public use right away.

Instead, the recommendation allows for the FDA to come to a final decision on if it would grant the EUA request. Following that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will choose to endorse the pill for those who are at higher risk of severe infection from contracting the virus.

According to SlashGear, the advisory committee said yes in a 13 to 10 vote. This paves the way for molnupiravir to potentially become the first oral treatment option for COVID-19.

The drug, which is manufactured by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is to be taken twice a day for five days from the onset of symptoms.

Some of the experts, who voted no, voiced concerns about the pill’s efficacy and side effects, including birth defects in babies. There was also discussion over whether the use of an oral drug could lead to additional virus mutations that would render the existing vaccines less effective. At the moment, Merck told NBC the company has yet to come up with data on if its treatment pill could induce more COVID-19 mutations.

“The risk-benefit assessment of mulnupiravir supports a EUA,” concluded the FDA report.

[via SlashGear, cover image via Merck] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/416876/FDA-Advisory-Panel-Narrowly-Votes-Yes-To-Recommending-COVID-19-Pill/

Cinema & Co told it must close and is ordered to pay £5k – Wales Online

Swansea Council’s case against Cinema & Co is set to be reheard at Swansea Magistrates’ Court
— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/live-updates-swansea-cinema-court-22315621

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

‘Grand Theft Auto’ Players Can Now Get Vaccinated By Pfizer In-Game

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Video screenshot via Cidade Alta

Grand Theft Auto players can now bio-hack themselves, sort of, with heightened COVID-19 immunity, as part of a campaign by Pfizer Brazil.

Pfizer vaccination centers have been built within the Grand Theft Auto RolePlay (GTA RP) game, a modded version of the prominent action-adventure video game franchise, calling Brazilian players to get their avatars shots to complete an in-game mission.

The facilities exist in Cidade Alta, Latin America’s largest GTA RP server, and have been installed in hopes to inspire more youths to get vaccinated in real life. As of the time of publication, about 60.4% of the Brazilian population are fully vaccinated.

According to Paulo Benetti, the CEO of Cidade Alta owner Outplay, the server draws “more than six million” daily viewers, who check in to watch their favorite gaming creators and streamers on the platform.

After getting their jabs, characters will receive a blue bandage on their arm to let others know that they’ve been virtually vaccinated. Players are also encouraged to share screenshots of this symbol, alongside photos of their real-life selves, with the hashtag #InGameVaccine to declare that they have gotten at least one COVID-19 shot.

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A post shared by Larissa Vieira (@_laarivieeira)

#InGameVaccine communicates directly with Generation Z, encouraging them to reinforce their immunization,” says Félix Del Valle, Ogilvy Brazil’s chief creative officer, in a statement published by Ad Age. Pfizer Brazil partnered with the advertising agency and gaming studio Druid Creative Gaming to breathe life into this campaign.

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A post shared by Henrique Brinkmann (@diddybr)

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A post shared by Niny (@niny.rp)

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[via Ad Age, images via various sources] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/416771/Grand-Theft-Auto-Players-Can-Now-Get-Vaccinated-By-Pfizer-In-Game/

Pfizer Seeks FDA Approval For COVID Treatment Pill, Will Let Others Use Formula



Image ID 210332358 © via Esther19775 | Dreamstime.com

Pfizer has announced that it’s seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its new COVID-19 treatment pill, which could help medical providers tend to those at a higher risk of serious illness from the virus.

Additionally, the Medicines Patent Pool, an organization overseeing public medicine access, said that the drugmaker signed an agreement to share its license for the oral pill, allowing patients in lower-income countries to gain access to treatment.

The new medication, named Paxlovid, is a mix of the drug PF-07321332 and Ritonavir, which is currently used to treat HIV. Clinical trials conducted by Pfizer found that this combination could decrease the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by up to 89%.

According to CNET, at the moment, there isn’t a set date for the FDA to approve the treatment, though an independent committee will be meeting on November 30 to discuss an alternative treatment pill by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which has been green-lighted in the UK.

The voluntary license agreement, signed by Pfizer, will allow approved manufacturers around the world to access the medication’s formula, enabling them to produce and distribute the COVID treatment to over 95 countries, constituting 53% of the world’s population.

In a show of good will, the company will not be receiving any royalties from the sale of Paxlovid in low-income countries and will waive royalties for all countries included in the agreement for as long as the virus is classified as a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization.

While the treatment doesn’t prevent an individual from contracting COVID, unlike a vaccine, it could help bring down the numbers of those severely affected by the virus, lessening the strain on hospitals and medical providers worldwide.

Numbers from Our World in Data show that only 4.6% of residents in low-income countries have had access to one dose of the vaccine, meaning that this new pill, once distributed, could lower the hospitalization and death rates in those regions markedly.

Ellen ’t Hoen, Director of Medicines Law & Policy, said Pfizer’s agreement to license the drug without royalties is “very good news.”

“This is setting the precedent that if you have a COVID-19 countermeasure, you license for wider use,” she told The Washington Post.

[via CNET, cover image via Esther19775 | Dreamstime.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/416689/Pfizer-Seeks-FDA-Approval-For-COVID-Treatment-Pill-Will-Let-Others-Use-Formula/