Rainy Weekend News Items.
1. Even after decades of drug breakthroughs aimed at preventing heart attacks, they remain the world’s leading cause of death. The pills and injections on the market do the job of lowering the cholesterol that clogs blood vessels and puts people at risk of a heart attack. But not everyone has access to them, and some won’t stick to treatment plans that can last the rest of their lives. Verve Therapeutics Inc. is proposing a radical solution: altering a person’s genome—the body’s instruction manual—to stop the buildup of bad cholesterol. “We’re on the cusp of potentially transforming that model to a one-and-done treatment,” says Sekar Kathiresan, chief executive officer of the Cambridge, Mass.-based company. (Source: bloomberg.com)
2. Here we go again. Nearly six months after researchers in South Africa identified the Omicron coronavirus variant, two offshoots of the game-changing lineage are once again driving a surge in COVID-19 cases there. Several studies released in the past week show that the variants — known as BA.4 and BA.5 — are slightly more transmissible than earlier forms of Omicron1, and can dodge some of the immune protection conferred by previous infection and vaccination. “We’re definitely entering a resurgence in South Africa, and it seems to be driven entirely by BA.4 and BA.5,” says Penny Moore, a virologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, whose team is studying the variants. “We’re seeing crazy numbers of infections. Just within my lab, I have six people off sick.” Read the rest. (Source: nature.com)
3. The Biden administration is warning the United States could see 100 million coronavirus infections and a potentially significant wave of deaths this fall and winter, driven by new omicron subvariants that have shown a remarkable ability to escape immunity. The projection, made Friday by a senior administration official during a background briefing as the nation approaches a covid death toll of 1 million, is part of a broader push to boost the nation’s readiness and persuade lawmakers to appropriate billions of dollars to purchase a new tranche of vaccines, tests and therapeutics. In forecasting 100 million potential infections during a cold-weather wave later this year and early next, the official did not present new data or make a formal projection. Instead, he described the fall and winter wave as a scenario based on a range of outside models of the pandemic. Those projections assume that omicron and its sub-variants will continue to dominate community spread, and there will not be a dramatically different strain of the virus, the official said, acknowledging the pandemic’s course could be altered by many factors. (Source: washingtonpost.com)