Rubella Has a Family at Last

Some viruses, such as the human papillomaviruses (HPVs), have co-evolved with mankind throughout evolutionary history. These ancient human viruses often cause silent infections and may establish persistent infections that last for years to decades. Other viruses, often ones associated with common human acute diseases, entered the human population only within the last few millennia. Typically, …

COVID Vaccine Hesitancy

According to national polls, a significant fraction of Americans currently remains hesitant to take any of the three approved SARS-CoV-2 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson). I’ve seen several different reasons given, but one common reason is a safety concern. It is the fear that the rapid development and deployment of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines …

COVID-19 Update – Variations on a Theme

The news is filled with alarming stories about new variants of SARS-CoV-2 that were isolated in recent weeks. These variants are versions of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus that have acquired mutations. Mutations are a natural and regular occurrence that happens when the parental viral genome replicates during the process of making progeny viruses. In an …

COVID-19 – Are We Nearing the Endgame?

I suspect that everyone has heard the highly encouraging news this week from two vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Both companies released the first phase 3 trial preliminary results this week and based on these early data each of their vaccines is highly effective after 2 doses. In the case of Pfizer’s vaccine, the initial …

COVID-19 Update – The Kinase Connection

Vaccines are a critical factor for stopping the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic as vaccines will help protect uninfected individuals, contribute to herd immunity, and restrict the spread of the virus. However, even after successful vaccines are developed it could take years to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses, to distribute them throughout the world, and to vaccinate …

Coronavirus Update – A Vaccine Primer

Vaccination is based on the concept of immune memory. When we encounter a new pathogen, we mount an immune response that helps us recover from the infection and also creates immune memory. This process typically takes 1-2 weeks to develop, so we often get sick before there is sufficient immunity to rid our bodies of …

Coronavirus and the Host Response

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to accelerate in the U.S. and many other countries. As a potential vaccine is likely over a year away, there is great interest in finding an effective antiviral drug. Numerous antiviral drugs were developed for other viruses and many of these are being tested. Additionally, there are many other existing drugs …

Coronavirus Update Part 2

With COVID-19 case numbers reaching nearly 80,000 and new cases popping up outside China in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East, containment of the SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to be failing. There are many factors that make containment difficult including asymptomatic viral shedders, difficulty in screening to identify infected individuals, thousands of international travelers …

Coronavirus Update

The COVID-19 disease caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus has not been as easily contained as the related SARS outbreak in 2003. Cases continue to mount in China with spread into roughly 30 other countries so far. New evidence suggests possible fecal transmission as well as by aerosol and close contact with infected individuals. Infected …