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We’re only a few months from the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, but last month marked the 40-year anniversary of another global epidemic: HIV/AIDS. 

It is a great privilege to look back at how far science and medicine have come over the decades, reading first-hand accounts of what the world felt like during the '80s and '90s and listening to podcasts that discuss ongoing treatment research, early barriers, and developments in PrEP.

When we take a step back, we see a vastly different picture of how the world responded to the wave of COVID-19 compared to HIV/AIDS, given that the latter was marked with fear, stigma, and blatant ignorance that prevented early and decisive action.

Though our understanding may be significantly better than it was 40 years ago, the fight is far from over – from the absence of an approved vaccine to the lingering presence of stigma, there is work to be done in all corners of the scientific community.

Until next week,

Liv Gaskill, The Curator

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Essential Reading

Sensitive side. The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has shown resistance to neutralization by some monoclonal antibodies, including bamlanivimab. Sera from convalescent plasma 12 months post-infection were four times less effective against the Delta variant than the Alpha.

Widely debated. Should we delay COVID-19 vaccination in children? That’s what experts are debating. One side says the benefits are unclear and that vulnerable individuals in other countries should take priority; the other argues that children should not lose out because of policy choices that hinder global vaccination.

Jump around. Research aimed at detecting and characterizing nosocomial transmission of Escherichia coli has found that almost half of patients carried more than one E. coli genomic sequence type. Over 70 percent of patients with ESBL-producing E. coli also tested positive for non-ESBL-producing E. coli

Slip through the cracks. β-lactams have superior tolerability and efficacy compared to other classes of antibiotics; however, although β-lactamase inhibitors partially solve the problem of emerging resistance, they only work against serine β-lactamases, and metallo-β-lactamases continue to spread. Researchers have called for practical solutions and development of metallo-β-lactamase inhibitors.

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Worth Your Time...

Infectious Disease

Dog days. Research presented at ECCMID shows mcr-1 gene resistant to last-resort antibiotic colistin can be passed from dogs to owners; antibiotic resistant Enterococcus also found in dog food samples [LINKS: 1, 2]

Hidden flaws. Systematic review of randomized control trials investigating tungiasis (sand flea disease) interventions finds most trials had low methodological quality; demonstrates unmet need for high quality trials [LINK]

Lung learnings. Analysis of PET-CT scans of PredictTB trial participants finds 98 percent had bronchial thickening that characterizes bronchial spread patterns of baseline scans; suggests cavitary origin of TB and spread throughout lungs [LINK]

Clinical control. Researchers develop clinically relevant controlled human infection model of Streptococcus pyogenes disease that could support accelerated development of vaccines and novel therapeutics [LINK]

Optimal strategies. Routine HPV vaccination of 14-year-old girls and routine vaccination of girls aged nine with five-year interval between doses found to be most efficient and cost effective strategies resource-limited countries [LINK]

Foiled plan. Covering frequently touched hospital surfaces with silver-impregnated foil significantly reduced contamination levels compared to no covering; Enterococci also significantly less present on foiled surfaces [LINK


Work of architect. Researchers find 13 genome-wide significant loci strongly associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection or severe COVID-19; smoking and high body mass index also identified as causal factors [LINK]

Simmer down. Cell-free quantitative neutralization assay developed to rapidly test neutralization of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 variants; results reveal patients infected with wild-type variant generate less effective responses to Alpha and Beta variants [LINK]

Life's (re)purpose. Study that screened 6,218 drugs for COVID-19 finds seven of 38 compounds are effective at inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 in Vero cells; three also demonstrate effective inhibition in human Calu-3 cells [LINK]

Single Sputnik. Single dose of Sputnik V vaccine found to yield higher SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses and virus neutralization in previously uninfected individuals than naïve individuals receiving two doses [LINK]

Protective percentages. Two weeks after second dose, Moderna vaccine demonstrates 100 percent and 96.4 percent effectiveness against asymptomatic and symptomatic infection with Alpha and Beta variants, respectively [LINK]

Booster shots. Systems vaccinology approach provides insight into Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine-induced antibody production against SARS-CoV-2 strains; primes innate immune system to support stronger response to booster immunization [LINK]
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