Another vaccine in final stage of trials
The feverish race for a coronavirus vaccine got an infusion of energy as Johnson & Johnson announced it has begun the final stage of its clinical trials, the fourth company to do so in the United States. Johnson & Johnson is a couple of months behind the leaders, but its advanced vaccine trial will be by far the largest, enrolling 60,000 participants. The company said it could know by the end of this year if its vaccine works. And its vaccine has potentially consequential advantages over some competitors. It uses a technology that has a long safety record in vaccines for other diseases. Its vaccine could require just one shot instead of two — important considering that the entire population of the world needs vaccination. And it does not have to be kept frozen as it is delivered to hospitals.
Governor of Missouri has tested positive
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who has steadfastly refused to require residents to wear masks, tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said. Parson was tested after his wife, Teresa, tested positive earlier in the day. Teresa Parson had experienced mild symptoms, including a cough and nasal congestion, a spokeswoman said. She took a rapid test that came back positive and a nasal swab test later confirmed the finding. The governor’s rapid test showed he tested positive and he is still awaiting results from the swab test. “Right now I feel fine,” Parson said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “No symptoms of any kind. But right now we just have to take the quarantine procedures in place.”
New testing method: Sniffs from dogs
Travelers arriving at Helsinki’s airport are being offered a voluntary coronavirus test that takes 10 seconds, with no uncomfortable nasal swab needed. And the test is done by a dog. A couple of coronavirus-sniffing canines began work at the Finnish airport Wednesday as part of a pilot program that aims to detect infections using the sweat collected on wipes from arriving passengers. If the dog signals a positive result, the passenger is directed to the airport’s health center for a free virus test. Dogs have a particularly sharp sense of smell and have been able to detect illnesses such as cancer and malaria. So in the middle of a pandemic, training dogs to detect COVID-19 became an obvious choice, said Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a researcher at the University of Helsinki who is monitoring the trial. And they seem to be doing the job, she said. In the first stage of the trial, the dogs could sniff out the virus in a person who is asymptomatic, or before the symptoms appear. They detected it at an earlier stage than a PCR test, the most widely used diagnostic tool for the coronavirus.
Vaccine for kids will take even longer
The pandemic has many parents asking two questions. First, when can I get a vaccine? And second, when can my kids get it? It may come as a surprise that the answers are not the same. Adults may be able to get a vaccine by next summer. But their kids will have to wait longer. Perhaps a lot longer. A number of COVID-19 vaccines for adults are already in advanced clinical trials. But no trials have yet begun in the United States to determine whether these vaccines are safe and effective for children. “Right now I’m pretty worried that we won’t have a vaccine available for kids by the start of next school year,” said Dr. Evan Anderson, a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine.