· An article in Nature highlights concerns among the scientific community about current COVID-19 vaccine trials being run by AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna. In light of two reported cases of transverse myelitis in trial participants, some scientists urge for more transparency from the companies leading trials, others are concerned about public opinion of vaccine safety and worry about political pressure on the trials, especially during the U.S. election season, and some question the vaccine trials' goals of reducing cases of symptomatic COVID-19, and instead suggest focusing on reducing incidence of severe disease.
· Members of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany conducted a genetic analysis investigating previous findings of an association between severe COVID-19 disease (hospitalization and respiratory failure) and a six-gene region on chromosome 3 (49.4kb), asserting that the region has been inherited from Neanderthals, following analysis using the 1000 Genomes Project. The anthropologists report this haplotype is seen in 50% of South Asians and 16% of Europeans, which they believe directly contributes to increased susceptibility to severe disease.
Understanding the Pathology
· A review by molecular biologists found a higher prevalence of the G614 variant of SARS-CoV-2 is related to increased prevalence of chemosensory dysfunction due to expression of a spike protein with higher receptor binding domain affinity to h-ACE2 receptors, leading to enhancement of SARS-CoV-2 binding in the olfactory epithelium and increased chemosensory deficits.
Adjusting Practice During COVID-19
· Increased risk of COVID-19 infection among patients with a history of or current gynecologic cancer has led to the development and implementation of an algorithm for less invasive and more cost-effective surveillance with telemedicine-based, risk-stratified surveillance and a shared-decision making program for patient follow-up, suggesting the potential for reconsideration of healthcare delivery for these patients.