CITF Research Roundup | Issue 15 | May 19, 2021

CITF Event

As Canada crests the worst of Wave 3, the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) is hosting an online event in collaboration with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to share the latest seroprevalence results from blood donors across Canada. Representatives from all three organizations will give an overview and an analysis of the data, including through the CITF’s new modelling efforts, to provide researchers, academics and policymakers with a clear and detailed reading of what they mean for the future of our pandemic response.

Wednesday, May 26 | 1 p.m. EDT | Online


Spotlight on CITF-funded Research

Montreal pediatric study releases preliminary results: infection rates increasing among children, parents eager to get their children vaccinated

Dr. Kate Zinszer, from the Université de Montréal, and her EnCORE study team have released interim non-peer reviewed results suggesting a marked increase in seroprevalence among Montreal children aged 2-17 years-old in recent months. They found that 3.3% of participants had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in October-November 2020, whereas 8.9% had antibodies between February-April 2021, with the highest seroprevalence in lower socioeconomic areas. Most parents surveyed reported that they are likely to get their child vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are available.

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Not all retirement homes have the same COVID-19 risk for residents

Dr. Andrew Costa, from McMaster University, and colleagues have studied the risk factors for outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 at retirement homes or assisted living facilities in Ontario. In a publication in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, they find that the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak is higher in homes with larger resident capacity, that share space with a long-term care facility, and that offer more services onsite. The authors recommended priority vaccination for those living in homes that fit these criteria.

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Vaccination should be mandatory for health care workers: article now available in French

Provincial and territorial governments in Canada should instate mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers whether in public and private settings, according to a previously reported article, now also available in French in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In the article, Dr. Kumanan Wilson and colleagues from the University of Ottawa conclude such rules would also survive a Charter challenge.

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International Research Review

International Research Review

The future of vaccines: nanoparticle vaccines could protect against present and future coronaviruses

Current mRNA vaccines may be a potent weapon against the most troublesome immune-evading SARS-CoV-2 variants. Studies in macaques hint that mRNA vaccines could be used as a platform to develop vaccines protecting against an array of coronaviruses. In a recent report from Qatar, people who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine were 75% less likely to get infected with the variant initially described in South Africa (B.1.351) when compared to unvaccinated people. They also had almost complete protection from severe disease caused by any variant. Likewise, the nanoparticle baculovirus vaccine from Novavax displayed significant protection in a South African trial where most of the infections are caused by the B.1.351 variant.

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How effective is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection?

As vaccines roll out, studies are underway to continue to monitor their efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection, and particularly, against asymptomatic infections. Two recent publications in JAMA show that vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of any SARS-CoV-2 infection, whether with symptoms or not.

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Mixing COVID-19 vaccines only triggers mild and short-lived adverse reactions: A preliminary safety report

It has been proposed that immunization with different vaccine products for the first and second dose may increase the intensity and breadth of immune responses, while simplifying vaccine availability and delivery logistics. The U.K. COVID-19 Heterologous Prime-boost study released their initial report on adverse reactions observed with this vaccine regimen in The Lancet last week. Although adverse reactions were reported more frequently, they were mild and short-lived.

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From Preprint to Published

Researchers from Université de Montréal, Dr. Daniel Kaufmann and Dr. Andres Finzi, in collaboration with researchers from New York University, confirm the presence of a long-lasting immune response to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in this paper now published in Cell Reports Medicine. This publication is part of their research funded by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

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Beating the pandemic blues

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