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Weekly Roundup: Vaccines On the Way, Long-Lasting Immunity, and More

Weekly Roundup: Vaccines On the Way, Long-Lasting Immunity, and More

Phase 3 is over: Pfizer’s Vaccine is 95% effective against Covid-19

On November 18, Pfizer and the German manufacturer BioNTech shared the phase 3 results from the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate. The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine met all the efficacy endpoints across different ages, gender, races, and ethnicities.

The vaccine’s overall efficacy is 95%, and the reported side-effects were mostly light to moderate. The companies will apply for U.S. emergency use this Friday (November 20).

Read the press release here.

But this week’s encouraging news related to covid-19 did not end here.

Long-lasting Immunity

Two preprints published this week hint that immunity to Sars-CoV-2 may last for years.

  • Jeniffer Dan and colleagues assessed the immunological memory to SARS-CoV2 in different cell types. The team studied 185 individuals with Covid-19 in the U.S and observed that the vast majority produces antibodies that last for at least months. Memory B cells, which usually survive for decades, were also detected, as well as different types of T cells.
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.11.15.383323v1
  • Researchers from Wuhan, China, published a preprint on T cell memory to Sars-Cov2 infection. T cells can both stimulate B cells to produce antibodies and directly kill infected cells, and they are usually long-lived. Being situated in Wuhan, researchers had the opportunity of performing the most extensive analysis of memory T cells responses to Sars-Cov2. The results were heterogeneous across patients, but the overall T cell response was stable and could be detected 9 months post-infection.
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.11.15.383463v1

Read Apoorva Mandavilli’s story for the NY Times here.

Academics ask Nature journal to retract an article on mentoring in academia

This week, Nature Communications published an article that looked at how mentorship affects early career researchers.
The work from three researchers from New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi concluded that:


 “increasing the proportion of female mentors is associated not only with a reduction in post-mentorship impact of female protégés, but also a reduction in the gain of female mentors.”

Several members of the academic community shared their concerns that this study does not properly examine gender bias in academia. Also, it became clear that many of the comments made by the reviewers were not taken into account in the published article.

Meanwhile, the Nature Communication group announced they are looking at the concerns raised by the community:

Polar Nights

The city of Utqiaġvik, Alaska, just entered a cycle of 65 consecutive days of near-complete darkness, thanks to a phenomenon called Polar Nights.
The sun is set to rise only on January 23, 2021.

Read the full story here.

Scientists map bee diversity around the globe

Bees, like many other insects, are vital to maintaining an ecological balance. Yet, knowledge of their distribution across the world is still minimal.

In an article published this week on Cell Press, a team of researchers report the global patterns of bees’ distribution, based on an analysis of almost 6 million public records of bees distribution.

The team showed that, as prior studies suggest, the northern hemisphere is richer in bee species than the southern hemisphere. Researchers hope this work will help in global conservation efforts.

Read the article here.


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