Week in Review: December 10

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

A different kind of COVID vaccine is about ready to roll

A new kind of COVID-19 vaccine is about to roll out around the world. Although it won't replace the highly successful vaccines currently available, it could make a difference in the course of the pandemic, especially in lower resourced countries. These new vaccines are what's called protein subunit vaccines. They work by injecting people with a tiny portion of the virus. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, that tiny portion is the so-called spike protein critical for the virus to enter cells. An advantage of protein subunit vaccines is they tend to be very stable, so they don't require freezers for storage. A regular refrigerator is adequate. This makes distributing the vaccine much easier. Via NPR

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Omicron variant may have picked up a piece of common-cold virus

The Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus - possibly one that causes the common cold - present in the same infected cells, according to researchers. This genetic sequence does not appear in any earlier versions of the coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, but is ubiquitous in many other viruses including those that cause the common cold, and also in the human genome, researchers said. By inserting this particular snippet into itself, Omicron might be making itself look "more human," which would help it evade attack by the human immune system, said Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference, who led the study posted on Thursday on the website OSF Preprints. Via Reuters

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U.S. enforces stricter COVID testing rules for travelers

Inbound travelers must now show a negative result from a test taken no more than a day before departure, a requirement some say may be hard to satisfy. Via New York Times

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic research on oral pill vaccines

With the spread of COVID increasing in Minnesota and the rise of the omicron variant. Mayo Clinic is conducting research on possible oral pills that can be taken to combat the virus.  Research has been conducted using two types of pills: antiviral and monoclonal antibodies. With vaccination rates slowing down, research is being conducted through other avenues and s far results are promising. "It has an almost 90 percent, back to 89 percent, ability to prevent hospitalization and death in those at high risk," said Professor of Infectious diseases Dr. Andrew Badley. Via KAAL

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How a COVID home test works and when to use one

The key is taking the test as close to your plans as possible — aim for the same day, explained Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic, in a recent briefing. “That's going to give you the best information [on] whether someone has high amounts of the virus in their system at that time.” Via AARP

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Omicron vs. delta | What we know so far

What's a good measure of how things are going? The stock market! With the Dow Jones Industrial Average at a two week high, it seems like investors have already made up their minds. Sure, it's not the major variant of concern right now. That's actually still delta, according to Dr. John O'Horo from the Mayo Clinic. "Although we continue to follow this Omicron story very carefully, the ongoing threat and the thing bringing people into the hospitals is delta," Dr. O'Horo said. Via KARE11

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Chantell Canfield

Chantell Canfield is a web content coordinator for Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She began working for Mayo Clinic in 2021.