Week in Review: December 24

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

Omicron may sideline two leading drugs against COVID-19

As strained U.S. hospitals brace for a new surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the fast-spreading omicron variant, doctors are warning of yet another challenge: the two standard drugs they've used to fight infections are unlikely to work against the new strain. For more than a year antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly have been the go-to treatments for early COVID-19, thanks to their ability to head off severe disease and keep patients out of the hospital. But both drugmakers recently warned that laboratory testing suggests their therapies will be much less potent against omicron, which contains dozens of mutations that make it harder for antibodies to attack the virus. Via Star Tribune

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Moderna says its booster significantly raises the level of antibodies to thwart Omicron

A booster shot of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine significantly raises the level of antibodies that can thwart the Omicron variant, the company announced on Monday. The news arrives as Omicron rapidly advances across the world, and most coronavirus vaccines seem unable to stave off infection from the highly contagious variant. Moderna’s results show that the currently authorized booster dose of 50 micrograms — half the dose given for primary immunization — increased the level of antibodies by roughly 37-fold, the company said. A full dose of 100 micrograms was even more powerful, raising antibody levels about 83-fold compared with pre-boost levels, Moderna said. Via New York Times

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US Army Creates Single Vaccine Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say

Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as from previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide. The achievement is the result of almost two years of work on the virus. The Army lab received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020. Very early on, Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch decided to focus on making a vaccine that would work against not just the existing strain but all of its potential variants as well. Via Defense One

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Mayo Clinic News

What to know about rapid COVID at-home tests as White House prepares to mail them across US

Rapid at-home tests are also known as antigen tests. They look for antigens, or proteins from the coronavirus…"They're really sensitive, meaning they can detect really low levels of the virus in a patient's sample," Dr. Matthew Binnicker, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic, told ABC News about PCR tests. "They are not going to give a false positive if a patient has a different infection or no infection at all." Via ABC News

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Omicron less likely to put you in the hospital, studies say

Two new British studies provide some early hints that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may be milder than the delta version. Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that in the Scottish study, the percentage of younger people was almost twice as high for the omicron group compared with the delta group, and that 'could have biased the conclusions to less severe outcomes caused by omicron. Via Associated Press

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Mayo Clinic in urgent need of O+ and O- blood

The Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program is facing an extreme shortage of O+ and O- blood and is asking for the public's help with donations. Seasonal shortages at the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center and the outside vendors who typically help the center fill gaps in supply cannot due to their own shortages. Via Post Bulletin

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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.