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Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India


  • India’s health ministry Monday confirmed 32,937 new cases and 417 fatalities, taking the total to 32,225,513 cases (381,947 active cases) and 431,642 fatalities.
  • Worldwide: Over 207.9 million cases and 4.37 million fatalities.
  • Vaccination in India: 545,857,108 doses. Worldwide: Over 4.7 billion doses.
Why elderly, diabetic are at higher risk of infection
Why elderly, diabetic are at higher risk of infection
  • Researchers from China’s Nanjing University have identified that low microRNA (miRNA) immunity increases the risk of Covid-19 infection in older adults and people with diabetes. (miRNAs are a key class of gene expression regulators that play an important role in inflammation and immune response.)
  • The study identified four circulating miRNAs — miR-7-5p, miR-24-3p, miR-145-5p and miR-223-3p — which are high in healthy people and much lower in older people and diabetic patients. These miRNAs could effectively inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication by directly targeting the S protein, said Chen-Yu Zhang from the varsity's School of Life Sciences. Serum exosomes containing these miRNAs from young people could strongly inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication, but the inhibitory effect was low in older people and diabetic patients.
  • The way out: The team found that three out of the four circulating miRNAs are significantly increased in the serum of healthy volunteers after eight weeks of continuous physical exercise. Serum exosomes isolated from these volunteers also showed stronger inhibitory effects on S protein expression and SARS-CoV-2 replication.
  • The study also observed that continuous physical exercise could boost miRNA immunity against SARS-CoV-2, which gives you another reason to hit the gym after work. Working out every day would therefore help all of us, old or young, to stay out of Covid's way.
  • RNA defence: Further, the findings also demonstrate for the first time that our own endogenous miRNAs could directly inhibit the coronavirus.
  • Previous studies led by the team have shown that approximately 89% of viruses that infect humans could be targeted by human miRNAs. But the new study provides strong and direct evidence supporting the theory that miRNAs, particularly extracellular miRNAs, could function as "RNA defense" and protect cells against foreign nucleic acids.
What Iceland’s experience shows
What Iceland’s experience shows
  • With nearly 75% of its population fully inoculated, Iceland is a vaccination success story. Yet, in recent days it has seen a surge in Covid cases — its highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • But experts say it is no cause for worry. Many of the recent cases were reported among vaccinated people, but they’ve been overwhelmingly mild. Of the 1,300 people currently infected, just 2% are in the hospital, and Iceland hasn’t recorded a Covid death since late May, reports The Washington Post.
  • Iceland, the experts say, is providing valuable information about breakthrough infections in the fully inoculated. Without vaccines, the outbreak “would be catastrophic,” said Pall Matthiasson, chief executive of the country’s largest hospital.
  • “We’ve seen in many places the so-called breakthrough cases, but invariably the rate of serious disease and death is exceedingly low, and that really is the core message here,” said Philip J. Landrigan, an epidemiologist and the director of Boston College’s Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good.
  • Iceland is now set to roll out booster doses. The majority of Icelanders received two doses regimen of mRNA vaccines, mostly the Pfizer shots, but the 53,000 who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab are to get an additional shot at least eight weeks later, authorities have said. It has also reinstated mask mandates in certain indoor settings.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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August 16, 2021, 9:16 am

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