CITF Research Roundup | Issue 10 | April 13, 2021
International Research Review

International Research Review

Antibody levels stay elevated throughout six months after the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine was previously shown to be 94.1% efficacious at preventing COVID-19 illness in a phase 3 trial of 30,420 volunteers. Drs. Nicole Doria-Rose from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Mehul S. Suthar from Emory University School of Medicine describe the results in an ongoing phase 1 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This trial, involving 33 healthy adults, showed that antibody levels remained high in all age groups throughout the six months after the second dose of the vaccine.

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The million-dollar question: Why are kids protected from severe COVID-19 disease?

Unlike other respiratory viral infections, such as the seasonal flu, severe COVID-19 disease and death seems to target seniors and not young children. The reasons why are unknown. Unlocking this mystery can lead to innovative prevention and treatment alternatives. A recent study published this month in Nature Communications describes functionally distinct antibody signatures in responses to coronaviruses in children and in older adults.

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COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding women

As with many clinical trials, pregnant and lactating women were excluded from initial COVID-19 vaccine trials. Although this is done because of safety concerns, it results in gaps in knowledge to guide vaccine decision-making. In this study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Kathryn Gray and colleagues from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, explore immune responses among pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding following COVID-19 vaccination. Using an observational study model, the authors find that pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding have the same side effects as women who are not pregnant.

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Spotlight on CITF-funded Research

Spotlight on CITF-funded Research

Dried Blood Spot Assays: A Review

Many Canadian serosurveys have opted to use dried blood spot (DBS) tests as a practical means to study population-level SARS-CoV-2 prevalence. Tens of thousands of Canadians have received DBS kits in the mail. In this preprint, not yet peer-reviewed, researchers, including several CITF members, set out to determine which of the available DBS assays performed the best.

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Publications from our Experts

A single dose of mRNA vaccine may trigger variant-resilient immune responses

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants are a significant source of concern, especially the most resistant ones, such as the one originally identified in South Africa (B.1.351). In a publication in Science, CITF-funded researcher Dr. Andrés Finzi, from the Université de Montréal, helped a team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle find that after receiving a single dose of mRNA vaccine, participants who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2 were able to produce large amounts of antibodies capable of neutralizing all circulating variants, including B.1.351.

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Guidance for COVID-19 vaccine research in pregnant women

Studies exploring COVID-19 vaccination among pregnant women are likely to face unique methodological challenges. In this Short Communication in Vaccine, Dr. Deshayne Fell, a member of the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group’s Vaccine Safety Working Group, and her colleagues discuss critical study design, data collection, and analytical issues for observational epidemiologic studies of pregnancy outcomes following COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. They provide some guidance for optimal design and analysis of these studies to ensure high quality evidence to inform public health decision-making.

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