The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a smartphone app, V-SAFE, that will help them keep track of several things once vaccines are being rolled out to the public. The goal is to monitor for any serious side effects, especially in high-risk groups like the elderly and pregnant women.
The CDC plans to reach out to anyone who provides contact information by sending them text messages, which will guide those who’ve been vaccinated to web surveys to self-report chills and other potential symptoms. For the first week after, the reminders will be sent out daily. Then, they’ll be sent weekly for six weeks.
Since many people are likely to get vaccinated and there is some apprehension about the limited information regarding safety due to the shortness of the clinical trials’ duration, health officials wanted more safety monitoring. The hope is that the app will fill in existing safeguards gaps since the rollout is expected to be large-scale and quick. This is just one of many measures that are being looked at and implemented to be able to have a better idea of the safety and efficacy of the new vaccines.
As we get closer to a vaccine, a recent report shows that children produce fewer and weaker antibodies to the coronavirus than adults. Scientists speculate this is why they’re more likely to get over the infection faster, have less severe symptoms, and don’t spread it as easily. Experts also state this doesn’t make them at higher risk for reinfection.
The study was conducted at Columbia University and analyzed antibodies to the coronavirus in four groups of patients. The first was 19 adult convalescent plasma donors who had recovered without being hospitalized. The second was 13 adults hospitalized with acute respiratory distress syndrome. A third was 16 children hospitalized with multi-system inflammatory syndrome, the rare condition affecting some infected children. The last was 31 infected children who did not have the syndrome, with about half having no symptoms at all. Individuals in each group had antibodies, but the range between children and adults varied.
The researchers found that children made primarily one type of antibody, called IgG, which recognizes the spike protein on the surface of the virus. Adults made several types of antibodies to the spike and other viral proteins, which are more powerful at neutralizing the virus. Neither group of children had antibodies to a viral protein known as nucleocapsid, or N. It’s found within the virus’s genetic material. This means the immune system only makes antibodies to it if the virus is widely dispersed in the body. This is one of the components often used in antibodies testing to see if a person has them or not. Children had “less of a protective response, but they also had less of a breadth of an antibody response,” said Dr. Donna Farber, an immunologist who led the study. “It’s because those kids are just not getting infected as severely.”
Some experts urge caution at accepting the results since they were only taken at a single point in time. They highlight that the type of antibodies produced by the body varies over the course of an infection, which means the researchers could have been comparing people at different stages. Other experts are concerned about the study’s size. They feel that it was too small and would need to be conducted on a larger scale to confirm the results.