Bladder Immune Cells’ Memory Deficit May Aid Re-Infection


Bladder Immune Cells’ Memory Deficit May Aid Re-Infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) reoccur easily, in part, because one type of bladder immune cells is slow to develop immune memory, finds a Science Immunology study in mice. While the results are too preliminary to inform clinical guidelines for treating UTIs, the new work spotlights a less-studied cell population that could be exploited by researchers during the UTI vaccine creation process.

“By understanding how we develop memory to this infection, we can use this knowledge to develop therapies such as vaccination or immunomodulation,” said Matthieu Rousseau, the first author on the paper who investigates the nuances of bladder immunity with corresponding author Molly Ingersoll at the Institut Pasteur.

While examining the behavior of bladder immune cells in mice with UTIs, Rousseau, Ingersoll and their colleagues also observed that the timeframe for delivering antibiotics to mice with UTIs seemed to have some influence on how well some cells called resident memory T cells created memory of the infecting bacteria.

“This is an idea that absolutely requires more testing in preclinical studies and humans,” said Ingersoll. “It’s important to add that we are not advocating that individuals with a UTI delay starting a course of antibiotics.”

Even when treated with antibiotics, UTIs have a reputation for recurrence. The bacteria that cause them — including the most widespread type, E. coli — are very good at bouncing back.

“Both preclinical and clinical studies have shown that the bacteria that cause the infection can form reservoirs in the bladder and the gut. By living inside cells, bacteria could potentially escape elimination by antibiotics and later emerge to cause a new infection,” said Ingersoll and Rousseau.

In the past, if a doctor saw a patient who had frequent UTIs, they might prescribe a low dose of antibiotics for roughly six months or longer. While this clinical approach is still helpful in certain cases, it can sometimes encourage UTI-causing microbes to evolve drug resistance.

“Urinary tract infection is the second most common reason for prescribing antibiotics and a prime example of the antibiotic crisis,” said Rousseau, citing the World Health Organization as a reference to learn more about antibiotic resistance. “When antibiotics do work, they only treat the current infection but cannot prevent a future recurrent infection. New non-antibiotic-based therapies are urgently needed, or UTI will become impossible to treat.”

Beyond tenacious drug-resistant bacteria, immune cell activity might also contribute to the likelihood of UTI recurrence in some people. The team previously published a 2020 Science Advances mouse study that revealed the existence of two subsets of bladder residing macrophages and described how those macrophages influence the region’s response to infection and re-infection. Over the past few years, other analyses have indicated that immune cells within the urinary tract writ large may have poor memory.

Since immune memory is a central tenet of vaccination, the urinary tract’s memory deficit makes it harder to derive a UTI vaccine that could circumvent the need for chronic antibiotic use.

By examining bladder immune cells in female mouse models of primary and recurrent UTIs, the scientists found that one way in which the bladder’s mucosal layer reacts to UTI-causing E. coli is by encouraging the growth of bacteria-specific tissue resident (TRM) cells. This was a surprising observation that challenged what was thought about how the immune system might facilitate UTI cycles. Existing theories suggested that T cells in the bladder transformed into a T helper cell subset that prioritized repairing tissue over eradicating bacteria, essentially enabling E. coli to regrow and resume infection. However, Rosseau and Ingersoll did not see a tissue repair-centric pathway happen in their mice in the lab.

“We tested this hypothesis, finding that bladder T cells differentiate into all types of helper subsets during infection, without a specific bias towards just one type,” said Rousseau. “It was this result that led us to find the special type of memory T cells that live in the tissue after an infection in the bladder and mediate protection to recurrent UTI.”

Upon further investigations, the authors saw that if antibiotics were given to mice early in infection, too much E. coli died and an insufficient amount of TRM cells formed, leading to weak memory when re-infected. The optimal time to give drugs to the mice seemed to be around 48 hours after the start of infection.

“When we waited 48 hours, the negative impact on immune memory and T cell numbers was gone,” said Ingersoll. She stressed that while this phenomenon might suggest that a slight delay in treatment could help improve bladder immune memory, it is far too soon to extrapolate how the findings might impact the treatment for UTIs in people.

“This idea needs to be tested in humans before making blanket statements about the risk of antibiotic treatment, especially in light of its benefits in clearing infection,” said Rousseau and Ingersoll.

Several hurdles must be cleared before any changes are made to existing clinical UTI protocols. First, immunologists must determine whether humans even have bladder TRM cells that perform similarly to those in mice. This process requires invasive bladder biopsies. Second, there needs to be a way to pin down exactly when UTIs begin. Doing so is far more difficult in humans than in laboratory mice. Without knowing the precise start of infection, not much can be done to optimize the delivery of antibiotics.

“Developing new therapies for infection, that rely less on antibiotics or can even eliminate the need for antibiotics, should be a priority,” said Ingersoll and Rousseau.

Their laboratory group is motivated to conduct future experiments surrounding the nuances of bladder immune memory. For example, they plan to look for biomarkers that might indicate the existence of TRM cells in humans, which would bypass the need for bladder biopsies. Those human TRM cells could be targeted by UTI vaccines to strengthen immune memory against pathogenic urinary tract bacteria.

“Our results suggest that a vaccine strategy that promotes the development of tissue resident memory T cells would be beneficial to prevent recurrent UTI. This idea needs to be tested in animals first,” Ingersoll said.


International Conference on Infectious Diseases

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Mixed outcomes revealed in early analysis


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak has created multiple challenges for heart transplantation facilities, adversely affecting all aspects of HT, including wait-list mortality, recipient survival, and donor heart procurement. Recent case series and single-center studies have reported acceptable outcomes in the short term, i.e., over a few weeks or months, of heart transplants using SARS-CoV-2-infected donors.

However, large-scale trials assessing long-term outcomes are required since SARS-CoV-2 infections can result in subclinical endothelial dysregulation and myocardial damage among probable donors. Studies including non-heart transplant recipients have reported an elevated risk for poor cardiovascular outcomes after the initial month of acute SARS-CoV-2 infections among hospitalized and non-hospitalized individuals.
About the study

In the present retrospective, registry-based study, researchers evaluated the early outcomes of adult HT from SARS-CoV-2-infected donor individuals.

Patient-level de-identified data from 27,862 donor individuals were obtained from the national-level United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN) from May 2020 to June 2022. Only individuals with data available on SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification tests (NATs) and organ donation in the database were included.

In total, 60,699 COVID-19 NATs were performed using nasopharyngeal swab specimens, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), or tracheal aspirate samples before organ donation. Individuals with NAT-positive reports at any timepoint during their terminal hospital admission were considered “COVID-19 donors”.

SARS-CoV-2-infected donors were subcategorized into “active COVID-19” (aCOV) and “recently resolved COVID-19” (rrCOV) donors. The aCOV group included individuals with NAT-positive reports in the initial two days following organ donation. The rrCOV group included those with NAT-positive reports during the initial period but who showed NAT-negative results before organ donation.

Individuals who were NAT-positive more than two days before organ donation was included in the aCOV group unless the presence of evidence of subsequent adverse reports within two days of the most recent NAT-positive report. The team excluded donor individuals with COVID-19 antibody or antigen testing reports other than NAT. They compared heart transplantation outcomes and performed Cox proportional hazards regression modeling to calculate the hazard ratios (HRs).

The participants were followed up until 30 September 2022. Pediatric transplant recipients, adults who received multiorgan transplants or re-transplants, and those with missing HT follow-up data were eliminated from the analysis. The primary study outcome was death due to any cause up to six months and 12 months into the follow-up period. The secondary study outcomes included stroke, pacemaker use, hemodialysis, and post-heart transplant hospital stay duration.


Of 1,445 SARS-CoV-2-infected donors identified, 428 and 1,017 were rrCoV and aCOV, respectively, and of 309 heart transplants using SARS-CoV-2-infected donors, 239 HTs among adults (150 and 89 aCOV and rrCOV, respectively) satisfied the eligibility criteria. SARS-CoV-2-infected donors were of lower age and predominantly male compared to non-COV donor individuals.

Compared to transplant recipients using non-COV donor individuals, those using aCOV donor individuals had higher mortality at six months and 12 months, with HR values of 1.7 and 2.0, respectively. Transplant recipients who used non-COV and rrCOV donor individuals had comparable mortality at six and 12 months. HTs from SARS-CoV-2-infected and uninfected donors yielded comparable secondary study outcomes.

In addition, rrCoV and aCOV donor individuals had comparable secondary outcomes. Similar findings were observed for propensity score (PS)-matched study cohorts. SARS-CoV-2-infected donor HT counts increased during the study period. Of interest, peaks for HTs with SARS-CoV-2-infected donor individuals followed the surges in SARS-CoV-2 infections in community settings in the US.

Overall, the study findings showed HT recipients from aCOV donor individuals had higher mortality at six months and 12 months, whereas the mortality rates were comparable among those who received hearts from rrCOV and non-COV donor individuals. The findings indicated that heart transplants from rrCOV donor individuals appear safe, whereas HTs from aCOV donors might be related to increased mortality.

Significant trends of increases in SARS-CoV-2-infected (rrCoV and aCOV) donor use were observed during the study period. HT facilities selectively selected SARS-CoV-2-infected donors, who were predominantly younger and male. Probable donors underwent multiple SARS-CoV-2 NATs before organ donation, with greater numbers for NAT-positive individuals than those testing NAT-negative for SARS-CoV-2 (three versus two tests per donor, respectively).

The increase in mortality at six months and 12 months among adult transplant recipients from aCOV donors was concerning. Heart transplantation facilities must thoroughly evaluate the risk-benefit ratio of transplanting hearts from aCOV donor individuals. Further research must incorporate analysis of data including cycle threshold (Ct) values (to assess viral loads), donor infection history (including diagnosis date, symptomatology, and causative SARS-CoV-2 strain), COVID-19 vaccination status, and specific therapies administered to HT recipients from COVID-19 donors.

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An automated platform to compile COVID-19 research

An automated platform to compile COVID-19 research

Scientists have developed an automated knowledge portal known as COVIDScholar that complies more than 260,000 research articles, patents, and clinical trials related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The portal has served more than 33,000 users since its release in 2020.

In a recent study published in PLoS One, researchers describe the development and utility of this COVID-19 research collection and analysis platform.


The COVID-19 pandemic, which was caused by the emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused significant damage to global healthcare and economic sectors. In an attempt to understand the dynamics of infection and develop interventions to counteract the pandemic, the global scientific community has responded at an unprecedented speed, which has led to the generation of an enormous amount of scientific literature.

Preprint servers have taken a more prominent role over conventional journals during the pandemic to manage a sharply increasing volume of literature. This has led to the accumulation of many low-quality articles, which can eventually affect the dissemination of impactful research.

Considering the need for a single comprehensive repository of COVID-19 literature, the scientists of the current study have developed an automated COVID-19 research collection and analysis platform (COVIDScholar) by using natural language processing (NLP) techniques.
Development of COVIDScholar

COVIDScholar is a data intake and processing pipeline, wherein COVID-19-related research articles, patents, and clinical trials are incorporated and processed to form a reliable repository.

In this platform, continuous monitoring of data sources for new documents is performed. The cleaning and analysis of incorporated documents are done by NLP techniques to produce document embeddings, COVID-19 relevance scores, inter-document similarity metrics, keywords, and subject-area tags.
COVIDScholar database

The COVIDScholar database comprises a total of 260,000 documents as of January 2022. The documents include 252,000 research articles, 3,303 patents, 1,712 clinical trials, 1,194 book chapters, and 1,196 datasets.

Of all research articles, 180,000 are directly related to COVID-19. Other articles are on COVID-19-related diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and other respiratory diseases.

About 44% and 56% of documents sampled in October 2020 were preprints and peer-reviewed papers, respectively. In contrast, about 80% of current documents are peer-reviewed papers, thus indicating the evolution of high-quality literature.

The scientists used a Latent Dirichlet Allocation model to explore the subject distribution of documents available in COVIDScholar. The model estimates the number of topics in each document, as well as the number of words within each topic.

The researchers then applied the model to 10,000 randomly selected COVIDScholar documents published between January 2020 and January 2022. According to the model findings, topics related to “case numbers and pandemic growth” have reduced significantly from approximately 18% of papers published each month to less than 7.5%.

In contrast, an induction from 1-2% to more than 5% has been observed for topics related to “virology and mechanism” and “testing.” However, research articles related to these topics cover only 10% of articles published in January 2022.

About 85% of documents sampled in October 2020 in COVIDScholar were assigned at least one category label by the model. The most represented disciplines were “medical sciences” and “biological and chemical sciences,” followed by “public health,” “humanities and social sciences,” and “physical sciences, engineering, and computational studies.”

Furthermore, the scientists calculated the fraction of monthly COVID-19 publications primarily associated with each discipline. An increasing fraction of research in the “humanities/social sciences” category and a decreasing fraction of research in the “medical sciences” category was observed.

The induction in “humanities/social sciences” research coincides with the clear increase in studies investigating the impact of lockdown and social distancing on neuropsychological parameters.
Application of COVIDScholar

The COVIDScholar search portal has served over 33,000 users since its release in 2020, with over 8,600 users served weekly at its peak in the summer of 2020. On average, 2,000 active users are served on a monthly basis.

COVIDScholar is a large-scale artificial intelligence-driven platform with an enormous collection of COVID-19-related scientific literature. This platform can serve as a blueprint for future situations, where the rapid production and distribution of new scientific studies are inevitable.

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New SEISMIC facility could improve our understanding of infectious diseases, aging and cancers

New SEISMIC facility could improve our understanding of infectious diseases, aging and cancers

A new national research facility could significantly improve our understanding of infectious diseases, aging and cancers, leading to novel treatments and vaccines.

The University of Surrey’s SEISMIC facility will offer scientists access to technology that enables them to pick up single cells or even parts of cells and measure the spatial position of biomarkers like proteins, metabolites and lipids.

Funded by £2.8 million from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and industry, SEISMIC uses an advanced type of microscope manufactured by Yokogawa Corporation.

SEISMIC enables single-cell and sub-cellular analysis, which will help scientists understand what happens under defined conditions and how cells signal to each other.

Dr Dany Beste, Senior Lecturer in Microbial Metabolism at the University of Surrey, said:

“The new facility is free for academics working in BBSRC-funded areas and also available to scientists in industry. We are confident SEISMIC will enhance scientific training in single-cell work and overcome some of the challenges in this area.”

SEISMIC is the University of Surrey’s third national research facility with the Ion Beam Centre and the Environmental Flow Laboratory.

Prof Bailey said:

“The combination of SEISMIC, the proton beam facility and the Ion Beam Centre are a boon to Surrey’s scientific and business communities and could allow us to understand the interaction between cancer cells and radiation in more detail. This has enormous potential and we are excited to welcome researchers to use our new facility.”


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Scientists Create New Antimicrobial Coating That Can Kill Many Bacteria and Even the COVID-19 Virus


Scientists Create New Antimicrobial Coating That Can Kill Many Bacteria and Even the COVID-19 Virus

Researchers have used a common disinfectant and antiseptic to create a new antimicrobial coating material that effectively kills bacteria and viruses, including MRSA and COVID-19.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy took chlorhexidine, often used by dentists to treat mouth infections and for pre-surgical cleaning, and used it to coat the polymer acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

The new study, published in the journal Nano Select, shows that this new material was found to be effective in killing the microbes responsible for a range of infections and illnesses and could be used as an effective antimicrobial coating on a range of plastic products.

Plastics are widely used in medical settings, from intravenous bags and implantable devices to hospital beds and toilet seats.

Some microbial species can survive in a hospital setting despite enhanced cleaning regimes, leading to an increased risk of patients getting infections whilst in the hospital, which then need antibiotic treatment.

These microorganisms can survive and remain infectious on abiotic surfaces, including plastic surfaces, for extended periods, sometimes up to several months.

“As plastic is such a widely used material that we know can harbour infectious microorganisms, we wanted to investigate a way to use this material to destroy the bacteria. We achieved this by bonding a disinfectant with the polymer to create a new coating material and discovered not only does it act very quickly, killing bacteria within 30 minutes, but it also doesn’t spread into the environment or leach from the surface when touched,” said Dr Felicity de Cogan, Assistant Professor in Pharmaceutical Science of Biological Medicines.

“Making plastic items using this material could really help tackle the issue of antibiotic resistance and reduce hospital-acquired infections,” de Cogan added.

The researchers used a special imaging technique called Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) to examine the material at the molecular level. This revealed the material was antimicrobial and rapidly killed microbes, and after 45 minutes, the surfaces were still clear of these microbes.

It was also effective against SARS-CoV-2, with no viable virions found after 30 minutes. Additionally, the surfaces were also effective in killing chlorhexidine-resistant strains of bacteria.

The COVID pandemic has drawn increased attention to hospital-acquired infections, as it has been estimated that 20% of all patients hospitalised with COVID contracted the Virus while already in hospital.

The most common pathogens that cause hospital-acquired infections are Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium difficile. Outbreaks of infection in the clinic are frequently caused by strains resistant to antimicrobial drugs.

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Korea announces strategic plan against emerging infectious diseases


Korea announces strategic plan against emerging infectious diseases

The Korean Government has announced the medium- and long-term strategic plan against emerging infectious diseases. Under the strategic plan, the government has developed 24 projects in five major areas: surveillance and prevention, preparedness and response, recovery, infrastructure expansion, and research and development.

There are plans to strengthen event-based surveillance by taking advantage of diverse channels for information collection as well as the WHO’s Epidemic Intelligence Open Sources (EIOS), to earlier detect infectious diseases circulating overseas.

The government will also establish a comprehensive intelligence platform for infectious diseases to earlier alert a possible wave of infections. Further, the government will secure an estimated 3,500 hospital beds designated to critically-ill patients that can be made ready for use within one week. Emergency mobilisation system will be set up under which human resources are mobilizsd at each stage of an infectious disease emergency.

The government will also establish an R&D system of securing vaccines and therapeutics within a short period of 100 or 200 days of a pandemic outbreak.

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What are the trends in severe outcomes among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic?


What are the trends in severe outcomes among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic?

In a recent study published in the JAMA Network Open, researchers performed a cohort study for prospective surveillance across a network of 155 acute care hospitals in Canada between March 15, 2020, and May 28, 2022, i.e., during the first two years of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The study summarized trends in severe outcomes among adult and pediatric patients, aged ≥18 years and zero to 17 years, respectively, hospitalized with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 at any of the Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program (CNISP)–participating hospitals.

Any changes to the clinical manifestations of COVID-19, especially its severe or critical cases, have significant implications for the healthcare system.

However, data summarizing the trend of severe illness outcomes for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected patients is limited in Canada. Data from a network of Canadian hospitals, such as CNISP, could help inform public health measures in the future.

CNISP, an alliance between Canada’s Public Health Agency, sentinel hospitals, and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease, began collating weekly data on COVID-19 patients, stratified by age, source, and vaccination status, from March 2020 onwards.
About the study

In the present study, trained infection control professionals reviewed patient medical records from 155 acute care hospitals in 10 Canadian provinces and one territory.

They identified patients with the first COVID-19-positive RT-PCR test result within 14 days before they sought hospital admission or while in the hospital. The study population comprised adults and pediatric patients.

For study analysis, they considered several severe outcomes in patients testing positive for COVID-19, as follows:

i) hospitalization;

ii) those admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU);

iii) those receiving mechanical ventilation;

iv) those receiving mechanical ventilation (MV);

v) those receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO); and

vi) all-cause in-hospital mortality

The team identified healthcare–related COVID-19 cases based on three prespecified criteria, the onset of symptoms or a positive RT-PCR test at least seven days after hospital admission, rehospitalization with a positive RT-PCR test within seven days after discharge, or a case with an epidemiological link to another COVID-19 case among staff members.

Further, the team identified six waves (periods) for the study with different SARS-CoV-2 variant predominance based on the weeks they detected increased COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the CNISP network.

For instance, the wild-type variant was dominant during waves one and two, while Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants were predominant during wave three. During wave four, only Alpha was predominant, while the Omicron variant remained dominant during waves five and six.

The week-on-week proportion of severe disease outcomes indicated COVID-19–positivity per 1,000 hospital admissions. For this assessment, the researchers estimated weekly patient admissions by dividing quarterly hospital admissions during 2020-2021 by weeks in a quarter.

The main comparison parameter was severe outcome trends during waves five and six compared to earlier waves. For all severe outcomes, the team pooled patient data from waves one to four and waves five to six. Conversely, they pooled all wave (1-6) data for adult patients for all-cause in-hospital mortalities.

The team computed odd ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) (unadjusted) to compare the severe outcomes between pooled data of all pandemic waves. They compared proportional variations using the χ2 test, where two-tailed P≤ 0.05 held statistical significance.

Finally, the team computed cumulative incidence rates (IRs) by COVID-19 vaccination status and age-stratified incidence rate ratios (IRRs) to compare these rates between these groups.

Between March 15, 2020, and May 28, 2022, there were 1,513,065 admissions in 155 CNISP hospitals, where 51,679 and 4,035 were adult and pediatric patients, respectively. Of these, 8,683 adults and 498 children sought ICU admission.

Compared to Omicron-dominant waves five and six, for waves one through four combined, the proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations among adult and pediatric patients per 1,000 hospital admissions were much lower. (24.7 vs. 77.3).

During wave five, hospitalized cases peaked for adult and pediatric patients at 146.8 and 96.3, respectively, and outpaced all previous and following waves.

During the January 16, 2022 week (wave five), the highest proportion of adult and pediatric ICU COVID-19 admissions were 18.3 and 15.6 per 1,000 hospital admissions, respectively.

Among 51,496 adult patients hospitalized during the study, 7,012 acquired COVID-19 while in the hospital. This number was higher for waves five and six combined than for waves two through two (16.9% vs. 10.8%).

Likewise, the proportion of adult patients who needed ICU admission during waves five and six was lower than in waves two through four (8.7% vs. 21.8%).

The proportion of adult patients in the ICU who received MV during waves five and six was markedly lower than for waves two through four (47.6% vs. 67.2%).

Likewise, those who received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) were markedly lesser during waves five and six (1.3 vs. 4.6%). The cases of all-cause in-hospital mortality also declined from waves one and two to waves five and six (16% vs. 7%).

Among pediatric patients, the proportion of hospitalized patients needing an ICU was significantly lesser in waves five and six (9.4% vs. 18.1%) than in waves one through four. However, those who received MV during waves five and six were comparable to observed numbers for waves one through four [25.8% vs. 26.8%].

Only one pediatric patient received ECMO, 31 died, and even all-cause in-hospital deaths in a total of 1,359 pediatric cases were comparable across all pandemic waves, 0.9% for waves one through four and 0.7% for waves five & six combined, though this finding was statistically insignificant (p=0.60).

Strikingly, the age-standardized IR for ICU admission in unvaccinated vs. fully vaccinated patients during waves five and six was much higher. However, the same for all-cause in-hospital mortality was lower in unvaccinated vs. fully vaccinated patients (3.9 vs. 15.1).

Although COVID-19-related hospitalizations peaked in wave five, a markedly reduced proportion of adult and pediatric patients sought ICU admission. Even lesser adult COVID-19 patients received MV or ECMO during later than earlier waves, though numbers were significantly higher among unvaccinated patients.

However, during waves five and six, although Canadian hospitals experienced a surge in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and nosocomial transmission, severe disease outcomes declined substantially.

Yet, the COVID-19 burden on the Canadian healthcare system remained substantial even during waves five & six. Multiple factors likely resulted in the observed reductions, such as greater COVID-19 vaccine uptake & coverage by the time Omicron became predominant, which was inherently less virulent.

During later pandemic waves, people also developed natural immunity, and even COVID-19 management at hospitals improved over time.

Together, the study data highlighted the significance of COVID-19 vaccination in reducing the burden of COVID-19 and its severe outcomes on the Canadian healthcare system.

International Conference on Infectious Diseases

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China approves two self-developed COVID-19 drugs

China approves two self-developed COVID-19 drugs

China approved two domestically developed drugs for COVID-19 patients with mild and moderate symptoms, the country’s National Medical Products Administration said on Sunday.

The small-molecule oral drugs, used for treating adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections, have been declared by Hainan Simcere Pharmaceutical Co., Limited and Shanghai Wangshi Biological Medicine Technology Co., LTD., according to a statement on the administration’s website.

There are more than 600 medications used for colds, Fever and coughs to treat COVID-19 infection in the country’s current medical insurance catalog, according to Huang Xinyu, an official at the National Healthcare Security Administration, at a press conference held on January 11.

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COVID-19 Virus Will Continue to Cause Mini-Waves, Unlikely to Settle Into Flu-Like Rhythm Anytime Soon: Experts


COVID-19 Virus Will Continue to Cause Mini-Waves, Unlikely to Settle Into Flu-Like Rhythm Anytime Soon: Experts

Even after three years into the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, the Virus behind COVID-19, has not yet become seasonal. It will continue to cause mini-waves with mild infections, scientists contended in an article in the science journal Nature.

Scientists have long predicted that the COVID pandemic will end up in a seasonal spread pattern as influenza has. However, a series of mini waves fueled by newer variants like XBB.1.16 are “different from the slower, annual circulation patterns of influenza and cold-causing coronaviruses”.

“It seems increasingly unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 will settle into a flu-like rhythm anytime soon,” the scientists said.

“We haven’t slowed down in the last year, and I don’t see what factors would cause it to do so at this point,” Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington, was quoted as saying.

“It will be a continually circulating respiratory disease. It may be less seasonal than things we’re used to,” he added.

Bedford noted that some countries are seeing fresh surges in COVID about “three or four times each year, driven largely by the breakneck pace at which the Virus continues to change.”

Currently, SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, in which most immunity-evading mutations occur, is evolving at twice the rate of a similar protein in seasonal influenza and about ten times as quickly as those of cold-causing ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses.

This is seen in the case of India, where XBB.1.16 displaced other variants to become the dominant one. While it spread rather quickly than previous variants, leading to a surge in cases, it caused only mild infections.

“We see that it has almost replaced all other variants in India, and we think the same thing will be followed everywhere,” Rajesh Karyakarte, a microbiologist at Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Government Medical College in Pune, was quoted as saying.

Similarly, Bedford said there’s a 100% annual ‘attack rate’ in the UK. In the future, “we can still imagine 50% attack rates every year, half the population getting infected”, compared with around 20% with influenza.

According to Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, the combination of rapid mutation and short-lived human immunity probably prevents COVID from settling into seasonal circulation patterns.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) declared XBB.1.16 a ‘variant of interest’, whether it or another new variant will cause a spike in infections in a particular country will probably depend on the size and timing of the country’s earlier waves, he added.

Yet, the increased infection waves are only mild, causing smaller ripples in hospitalisations and deaths. In a study posted to a preprint server and not yet peer-reviewed, Karyakarte and his team analysed more than 300 cases from last December to early this month.

They found that XBB.1.16 infections tend to cause mild symptoms similar to those from earlier Omicron variants, with few hospitalisations and deaths. “We didn’t see much,” Karyakarte said.

This “gives most people the hope that, in the coming years, the net toll of COVID will get comparable to influenza,” Waasila Jassat, a public-health specialist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, was quoted as saying.

International Conference on Infectious Diseases

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The Microbial World Within Us


The human microbiome, which consists of trillions of microorganisms living within and on our bodies, has been found to play a critical role in human health and disease. This fascinating ecosystem includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that interact with each other and with our bodies in complex ways. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the human microbiome, explore its functions, and discuss its relevance in various fields such as medicine, nutrition, and ecology.


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