Pity that RVAT (“Republican Voters Against Trump”) looks so much like “RAT”.
Category Archives: COVID-19
University Of Pittsburgh Scientists Discover Biomolecule That May Neutralize Coronavirus (Warning: Loud video starts automatically):
University of Pittsburgh scientists have isolated a biomolecule that “completely and specifically” neutralizes the virus that causes coronavirus.
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a report published Monday in the journal Cell. The antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody and has been used to create a drug known as Ab8 for use as a therapeutic and preventative against SARS-CoV-2, the report says.
The researchers reported that Ab8 is “highly effective” in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamsters.
I think — although the publication date is Sept 4, not Monday — the Cell article is the one titled, High potency of a bivalent human VH domain in SARS-CoV-2 animal models. (PDF) Its summary is a heavier lift:
We generated a phage-displayed human antibody VH domain library from which we identified a high-affinity VH binder ab8. Bivalent VH, VH-Fc ab8 bound with high avidity to membrane-associated S glycoprotein and to mutants found in patients. It potently neutralized mouse adapted SARS-CoV-2 in wild type mice at a dose as low as 2 mg/kg and exhibited high prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy in a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, possibly enhanced by its relatively small size. Electron microscopy combined with scanning mutagenesis identified ab8 interactions with all three S protomers and showed how ab8 neutralized the virus by directly interfering with ACE2 binding. VH-Fc ab8 did not aggregate and did not bind to 5300 human membrane-associated proteins. The potent neutralization activity of VH-Fc ab8 combined with good developability properties and cross-reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 mutants provide a strong rationale for its evaluation as a COVID-19 therapeutic.
Incidentally, on Sept. 14, Cell published Structurally resolved SARS-CoV-2 antibody shows high efficacy in severely infected hamsters and provides a potent cocktail pairing strategy, which also sounds promising:
Understanding how potent neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) inhibit SARS-CoV-2 is critical for effective therapeutic development. We previously described BD-368-2, a SARS-CoV-2 NAb with high potency; however, its neutralization mechanism is largely unknown. Here we report the 3.5-Å cryo-EM structure of BD-368-2/trimeric-spike complex, revealing that BD-368-2 fully blocks ACE2 recognition by occupying all three receptor-binding domains (RBDs) simultaneously, regardless of their “up” or “down” conformations. Also, BD-368-2 treats infected adult hamsters at low dosages and at various administering windows, in contrast to placebo hamsters that manifested severe interstitial pneumonia. Moreover, BD-368-2’s epitope completely avoids the common binding site of VH3-53/VH3-66 recurrent NAbs, evidenced by tripartite co-crystal structures with RBD. Pairing BD-368-2 with a potent recurrent NAb neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus at pM level and rescues mutation-induced neutralization escapes. Together, our results rationalized a new RBD epitope that leads to high neutralization potency and demonstrated BD-368-2’s therapeutic potential in treating COVID-19.
A PDF preprint is available online.
Three not-quite-random facts that caught my eye recently, two about COVID, one about computers.
- Scientific American: COVID-19 Can Wreck Your Heart, Even if You Haven’t Had Any Symptoms
- ‘Bradykinin Storms’ may be the method by which COVID-19 harms so many organs
- So-called electronic home pregnancy tests are just regular paper tests with a computer chip that scans the results and outputs a word to an LCD. The disposable test carries onboard computing power nearly as good as the first IBM PC. And after one use, it and its battery become electronic waste.
The vertical axis is deaths per million. Spot the outlier.
The U.S. death rate for COVID-19 is, sadly, climbing again, and this number, along with the number infected, tends to be the headline. But there are a lot of other numbers to be concerned about.
Someone named Franklin Veaux has collected and estimated some. I haven’t checked them personally, but they seem plausible.
Veaux frames the issue as “How can a disease with 1% mortality shut down the United States?” and then he’s off to the races:
There are two problems with this question.
- It neglects the law of large numbers; and
- It assumes that one of two things happen: you die or you’re 100% fine.
The US has a population of 328,200,000. If one percent of the population dies, that’s 3,282,000 people dead.
Three million people dead would monkey wrench the economy no matter what. That more than doubles the number of annual deaths all at once.
The second bit is people keep talking about deaths. Deaths, deaths, deaths. Only one percent die! Just one percent! One is a small number! No big deal, right?
What about the people who survive?
For every one person who dies:
- 19 more require hospitalization.
- 18 of those will have permanent heart damage for the rest of their lives.
- 10 will have permanent lung damage.
- 3 will have strokes.
- 2 will have neurological damage that leads to chronic weakness and loss of coordination.
- 2 will have neurological damage that leads to loss of cognitive function.
So now all of a sudden, that “but it’s only 1% fatal!” becomes:
- 3,282,000 people dead.
- 62,358,000 hospitalized.
- 59,076,000 people with permanent heart damage.
- 32,820,000 people with permanent lung damage.
- 9,846,000 people with strokes.
- 6,564,000 people with muscle weakness.
- 6,564,000 people with loss of cognitive function.
That’s the thing that the folks who keep going on about “only 1% dead, what’s the big deal?” don’t get.
The choice is not “ruin the economy to save 1%.” If we reopen the economy, it will be destroyed anyway. The US economy cannot survive everyone getting COVID-19.
There’s more than money at stake — this is a lot of misery. Even if the economy could survive it, surely this is a scenario worth working to avoid?
UPDATE: (7/27/2020) As I should have pointed out initially, the numbers below the 65,358,000 hospitalized are a breakdown of that number, not in addition to it. As far as I know, we don’t have any data at all on what the long-term effects, if any, of COVID-19 are likely to be on persons who are not hospitalized for it.