News Scan for Jul 19, 2021

News brief

People in poor nations more likely to accept COVID vaccines, survey finds

Eighty percent of survey respondents in 10 developing countries indicated a willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 65% in the United States and 30% in Russia, according to a study published late last week in Nature Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Cape Town in South Africa analyzed data from surveys deployed from June 2020 to January 2021 from 15 studies conducted in Africa, Latin America, Russia, South Asia, and the United States. More than 20,000 people responded to the survey.

Seven studies were carried out in the low-income countries of Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, five were conducted in countries with lower-middle incomes (India, Nepal, Nigeria, and Pakistan), and one was performed in Colombia, which has upper-middle incomes. The results were then compared with those from Russia and the United States.

The average COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rate in countries with low to middle incomes was 80.3%, with the least acceptance in Burkina Faso and Pakistan (both 66.5%). And the acceptance rate in every sample from developing countries was higher than that of the United States (64.6%) and Russia (30.4%).

Vaccine acceptance was tied to a desire for protection against COVID-19 (91%), while hesitancy was linked to worries about adverse effects (44%). Respondents indicated that they trusted the advice of healthcare workers the most. "It is, however, important to note that reported intentions may not always translate into vaccine uptake," the authors noted.

The researchers said that prioritizing vaccine deployment to developing countries with high rates of vaccine acceptance and COVID-19 could greatly expand the global vaccine coverage needed to quell the pandemic.

Niccolo Meriggi, country economist International Growth Centre Sierra Leone, who was part of the project, said in an Innovations for Poverty Action press release that governments should act on the results now.

"As COVID-19 vaccine supplies trickle into developing countries, the next few months will be key for governments and international organizations to focus on designing and implementing effective vaccine uptake programs," he said. "Governments can use this evidence to develop communications campaigns and systems to ensure that those who intend to get a vaccine actually follow through."
Jul 16 Nat Med study
Jul 16 Innovations for Poverty Action news release


COVID-19 antibodies linger 9 months post-infection, data reveal

Out of 86 people who were most likely exposed to COVID-19 in February or March 2020, all but 1 were seropositive in November 2020 but results varied among tests, according to a study today in Nature Communication. This group was part of a larger population study in the 3,000-person city of Vo', Italy.

Researchers from the University of Padua and Imperial College London analyzed polymerase chain reaction diagnoses in February and March 2020 or serologic assay data in May 2020 for more than 85% of the Vo' area population and determined that the area's seroprevalence was 3.5% by May 2020. In November, 86 of 101 participants who were seropositive in May were tested again, and 85 (98.8%) tested positive to at least one assay by Abbott, DiaSorin, or Roche, while 30.9% of 81 were positive to all three.

Excluding 16 individuals (18.6%) whose antibody levels doubled between May and November—which the researchers say could be due to re-exposure—the median antibody half-life as detected by Abbott, DiaSorin, and Roche assays was 86 days, 202 days, or 144 days, respectively.

"Our study does [show] that antibody levels vary, sometimes markedly, depending on the test used. This means that caution is needed when comparing estimates of infection levels in a population obtained in different parts of the world with different tests and at different times," said lead author Ilaria Dorigatti, PhD, in an Imperial College London press release.

The researchers add that modeling, based on data from 1,118 households, showed that 26.0% of infectious people are responsible for household transmissions and that 79% of all transmissions are caused by 20% of infections. Other data suggested that antibody levels didn't differ significantly from symptomatic and asymptomatic infections and that isolation would have to have been at least four times greater to achieve the epidemic suppression that contact tracing plus mass screening and COVID lockdowns did during the first pandemic wave in Italy.
Jul 19 Nat Commun study
Jul 19 Imperial College London
press release


China reports first human monkey B virus infection

Chinese researchers recently reported a fatal monkey B virus case in a 53-year-old man who worked as a veterinarian in Beijing. B virus is a herpes virus known to infect macaques, and zoonotic infections in humans are very rare, but illnesses can be severe or fatal.

Writing in the recent issue of China Center for Disease Control (CCDC) Weekly, researchers said the man worked in a nonhuman primate lab and dissected two dead monkeys in early March. He got sick about 1 month later with nausea and vomiting, fever, and neurologic symptoms. He sought care at several hospitals but died on May 27.

Cerebrospinal (CSF) fluid testing on a sample obtained in the middle of April suggested a possible alphavirus infection. Further testing on a variety of samples from the man and two of his close contacts found the B virus genome in a CSF sample from the patient, marking China's first B virus case.

The team wrote that B virus in monkeys might pose a threat to occupational workers and that more efforts to eliminate the virus in rhesus colonies is needed, as is stronger surveillance in China's workers who handle the animals.
Jul 3 CCDC Weekly report

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