With mask mandates and vaccine requirements lifting, public health information remains crucial so people can weigh their own COVID-19 risks.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
To help people make informed decisions about ongoing COVID-19 risks, public health messaging needs to adapt as the pandemic evolves, just as immune systems adapt to new viruses and variants.
Researchers can test blood samples taken for other reasons to see if patients have previously had COVID-19.
Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Your blood can hold a record of past illnesses. That information can reveal how many people have had a certain infection – like 58% of Americans having had COVID-19 by the end of February 2022.
Although the COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives, they have been insufficient at preventing breakthrough infections.
Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment via Getty Images
Research suggests that too-frequent immunizations may lead to a phenomenon called “immune exhaustion.”
While many immunocompromised and high-risk patients may benefit from AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, drug distribution and access have been uneven.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Evusheld is an antibody drug from AstraZeneca intended to help prevent COVID-19 infection for immunocompromised and other vulnerable patients.
Researchers are working to develop vaccines that provide long-term immune protection from COVID-19.
Marko Geber/Digital Vision via Getty Images
Because COVID-19 is a relatively new virus, researchers still aren’t sure exactly how long vaccines and prior infections provide protection.
New variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, arise through mutations when the virus replicates in an infected host’s cells.
(NIAID, cropped from original)
COVID-19 variants are the products of the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They arise via mutations, but other forces also have roles to play in the generation and transmission of variants.
Immunologists are studying how the SARS-CoV-2 virus interacts with antibodies in the immune system.
Christoph Burgstedt/Science Photo Library via Getty Images
COVID-19 has taken away so much. An immunology researcher describes the good it may leave behind.
AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi
Infection seems to add a boost to immunity – but vaccination is still vital and breakthrough infections should be avoided as much as possible.
Preliminary research suggests that the omicron variant may potentially induce a robust immune response.
Olga Siletskaya/Moment via Getty Images
Some of the omicron variant’s unique properties – such as its ability to spread rapidly while causing milder COVID-19 infections – could usher in a new phase of the pandemic.
Understanding how much protection a vaccine offers is not as simple as it sounds.
Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment via Getty Images
For a number of reasons, as time goes on vaccines become less effective. So how do researchers calculate how well vaccines are working?
The key to rapid antigen testing is to test early in the course of COVID-19 infection, ideally several times 24 hours apart.
VioletaStoimenova/E+ via Getty Images
Knowing when and how often to use rapid tests is key to getting an accurate picture of your COVID-19 status.
We won’t know whether Omicron evades COVID vaccines for another few weeks. Here’s why.
The omicron variant possesses numerous mutations in the spike protein, the knob-like protrusions (in red) that allow the virus to invade other cells.
Juan Gaertner/Science Photo Library via Getty Images
It’s too early to say whether the newly identified omicron variant is going to overtake delta. But particular mutations in the new strain have researchers deeply concerned.
There’s not enough evidence yet to support the AstraZeneca CEO’s statement. But it is theoretically plausible.
Vaccines, including those given for childhood diseases, rarely draw out a perfect response after only one dose.
Booster shots are a common necessity for vaccines to keep working. Recent research shows COVID-19 booster shots are recommended for high-risk individuals — and may benefit the rest of us too.
All COVID-19 tests start with a sample, but the scientific process goes very differently after that.
Morsa Images/Digital Vision via Getty Images
The two types of COVID-19 tests – antigen and PCR – work in very different ways, which is why one is fast but less accurate and the other is slow and precise.
Many vaccine formulations are tweaked for patients of different ages.
Mario Tama via Getty Images
First CDC signed off on a COVID-19 vaccine for adults, then teens. Now US children ages 5 to 11 are officially eligible for shots. Here’s the science on why each group needs to be considered separately.
For many parents, the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine authorization for younger kids can’t come soon enough.
Vladimir Vladimirov/E+ via Getty Images
Pediatric clinical trials for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 have shown that the Pfizer shot is safe and effective.
There is immense interest in understanding whether potentially protective SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are provided to the baby via breast milk. This is what we know so far.
Pregnancy poses significant risks for severe illness or death from COVID-19, for both mother and baby.
ArtMarie/E+ via Getty Images
In light of mounting research showing the serious risks of contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy, the CDC is re-upping its urgency that pregnant women get their shots.