In the news / Infectious Disease

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According to the Centers For Disease Control, common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. Dr. Elizabeth Connick, UArizona Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and BIO5 member, weighs in on factors such as genetics, age, and sex as contributing factors behind a person’s response to receiving a vaccine. Dr. Connick explains the double-edged sword that women have more robust antibody responses than men, are more likely to have reactions to the vaccine, but are also less likely to get hospitalized and succumb to COVID than men.
 
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If you got the Pfizer vaccine, will you really need to get a third shot within a year? The CEO of Pfizer said that’s likely the case, however, a local expert says not so fast. Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, BIO5 member and expert immunologist with the UArizona College of Medicine says that Pfizer and Moderna each released data showing no drop-off in efficacy. The wildcard then becomes whether or not there’s a new variant that appears, that more substantially evades the immune response than the ones that we know about right now.
 
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The designation of Regents Professor is an honored position reserved for faculty scholars of exceptional ability who have achieved national or international distinction. Dr. Ian Pepper joins 5 other UArizona researchers recognized in 2021. In addition to this honor, Dr. Pepper has been inducted as a fellow by the Soil Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Recent awards include the 2019 Extraordinary Faculty Award from the University of Arizona Alumni Association and the 2020 Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award from the University of Arizona Graduate College.
 
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At the most recent UArizona COVID-19 status briefing President Robert C. Robbins urged students to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by April 16 to reach full vaccination before summer travel. Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, associate professor of immunobiology in the College of Medicine – Tucson and BIO5 member, joined President Robbins to explain the basics of COVID-19 antibodies and the testing program. Dr. Bhattacharya said the study will help scientists determine how long immunity – either from infection or vaccination – can last, how many antibodies are required to protect from the virus, how age affects the immune response to infection or vaccination, and whether symptoms after infection or vaccination correlate with antibody levels.
 
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Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines provide good protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. But how long does that last? Will you need a booster shot? Researchers including Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, BIO5 member and associate professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona explains that the vaccines will likely provide at least some degree of protection for a long time because there are so many layers of immunity. The first shots of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provide reasonable protection. Then the second shot bumps up the level of antibodies and T cells produced by the body, he says.
 
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The annual event highlights endeavors that encompass the broad range of bioscience inquiry at the BIO5 Institute.
 
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BEAMS is the latest in a series of UArizona-led respiratory studies – anchored by the Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study, ongoing since 1980 – that have yielded revelations and remedies on asthma, the hygiene hypothesis and respiratory disease progression from infancy to adulthood.
 
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In this episode, hosts Brooke Moreno and Sean Cadin talk with Dr. Kate Rhodes about her research on gonorrhea, funded in part by the BIO5 Postdoctoral Fellowship.
 
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We’re highlighting BIO5 researchers’ strides against malignant cancers during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.
 
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With millions more Americans getting vaccinated every day, some have complained about fever, fatigue and other ailments they weren't expecting. Though vaccines are still very effective even without side effects, experiencing side effects are short-lived and are actually proof that your immune system is working the way it's supposed to. BIO5 associate director and UArizona EEB department head Dr. Michael Worobey says, with the first dose, you are having to generate an immune response from the ground up. The body produces antibodies, but also begins generating B cells to make targeted antibodies. The second time you give a person the shot, those cells are sitting around like a clone army and can immediately start producing a very big immune response.
 
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As COVID-19 vaccines roll out nationwide, University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers at the College of Medicine – Tucson and BIO5 Institute are connecting with “vaccine hesitant” individuals, encouraging them to reexamine their doubts. Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy says misunderstandings surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines demonstrate the importance of widespread health literacy, and health literacy goes hand in hand with trust in science. Dr. Michael D L Johnson says scientists must strive for accessibility, and acknowledges the biggest challenge is getting the right information to people who are expressing reluctance.
 
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The University of Arizona's COVID-19 vaccination site reached a milestone over the weekend, surpassing 100,000 doses administered. The site has now administered a total of 102,734 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, President Robert C. Robbins announced during the virtual weekly briefing on the university's COVID-19 status. The announcement came on the same day the university is transitioning to Stage 3 of its instructional plan, allowing courses of up to 100 students to meet in person.
 
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In this episode, hosts Brooke Moreno and Sean Cadin talk with Dr. Robert Jackson about his BIO5 and Canadian fellowships, HPV and COVID-19 vaccines, and his desire to share the scientific method with the public.
 
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The university plans to move to Stage 3 the week of March 29, which will allow classes of up to 100 students to meet face to face, President Robert C. Robbins said Monday in his weekly virtual update on the university's COVID-19 status. It was announced that beginning Wednesday, March 24, at 8 a.m., any Arizonan age 16 or older will be able to register for a vaccination appointment at state sites, including the UArizona POD. New appointments at the state PODs will be released every Friday for the following week. Dr. Robbins also applauded recent research co-authored by Dr. Michael Worobey, head of the UArizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, on the origins of the novel coronavirus, likely circulating undetected for up to two months before the first human cases of COVID-19 were described in Wuhan, China.
 
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Researchers working to show when and how the virus first emerged in China calculate that it probably did not infect the first human being until October 2019 at the very earliest. Their models showed something else: It almost didn't make it as a pandemic virus. Only bad luck and the packed conditions of the seafood market in Wuhan -- the place the pandemic appears to have begun -- gave the virus the edge it needed to explode around the globe. We now know that the COVID-19 virus had to catch a lucky break or two to actually firmly become established, says Dr. Michael Worobey, BIO5 associate director and professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.
 
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On March 15, Dr. Bonnie LaFleur discussed COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and forming social cores as part of the Precision Wellness in the Time of COVID-19 series.
 
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A new study dates emergence of the virus that causes COVID-19 to as early as October 2019. Simulations also suggest that in most cases, zoonotic viruses die out naturally before causing a pandemic.
 
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This is true of all vaccines: Their protective effects take several days or weeks to kick in. It’s the reason we get our flu shots in the fall, well before the height of respiratory-virus season, and it’s why health officials often recommend that vaccines required for travel, such as those that ward off yellow fever, be administered about a month or more in advance. Vaccination, and the defenses it affords, is less a singular event than a series of steps on a shifting landscape.