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July 22, 2022updated 26 Aug 2022 7:19am

Top tweets: Covid-19 headed towards seasonality – and more

Pharmaceutical Technology lists five of the top tweets on infectious diseases in Q2 2022 based on data from GlobalData’s Pharmaceuticals Influencer Platform.

The top tweets are based on total engagements (likes and retweets) received on tweets from more than 188 infectious diseases experts tracked by GlobalData’s Pharmaceuticals Influencer platform during the second quarter (Q2) of 2022.

The top tweets on infectious diseases in Q2 2022: Top five

1. Laurie Garrett’s tweet on Covid-19 headed towards seasonality

Laurie Garrett, a former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), shared an article on discussions around Covid-19 being seasonal or a cyclical infection. Since a surge is seen roughly every six months, experts are trying to establish if it is due to human behaviour or due to the weather and environment. Virologists explain that it is likely to be headed towards seasonality, but it is not there yet. While the virus had some elements of seasonality ever since it emerged two years ago in 2020, epidemiologists state that factors, such as variant evolution, population immunity, and behavioural changes, have made seasonality less apparent.

Most experts believed that it would take a few years for the virus to become seasonal in nature after the global population gains greater immunity and as people return to their pre-pandemic lives, the article detailed. Surges have mostly been associated with the occurrence and evolution of variants, according to Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In addition, immunity against the infection is found to wane for both previously infected individuals and the vaccinated. All these factors combined makes Covid-19 surges much less predictable, the article noted.

Experts agree that variants are evolving rapidly, irrespective of seasons, the article highlighted. For example, in South Africa, the rate of the new epidemic waves has reduced since the start of the pandemic, with the country having the Omicron surge in November and December, and five months later the BA.4/5 surge.

Username: Laurie Garrett

Twitter handle: @Laurie_Garrett

Likes: 521

Retweets: 118

2. Muge Cevik’s tweet on the rise of unusual paediatric hepatitis cases

Muge Cevik, a clinical scientist, shared an article around the mystery of viral hepatitis cases in children. According to reports, about 20 countries had reported 228 cases of paediatric hepatitis of unknown aetiology or origin, with over 50 possible cases still under investigation, the article detailed. The World Health Organization (WHO) further stated that at least 18 of the children underwent liver transplants, and one had died. A majority of these cases included children under the age of five, in which the median age of the cases found in Alabama was just under three years old, while some have been as old as 16 years, the article further noted.

Acute hepatitis in previously healthy children is uncommon, despite several cases being reported every year and a few are labelled as those with unknown origin, according to experts. For example,  Scotland experienced eight paediatric hepatitis cases in a typical year, with half to have a known origin and the remainder being of unknown aetiology, the article highlighted. On an average, two of those mystery cases were treated by Rachel Tayler, a paediatric gastroenterologist, and resident expert on hepatitis at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, Scotland.

Username: Muge Cevik

Twitter handle: @mugecevik

Likes: 382

Retweets: 125

3. Helen Branswell’s tweet on the first US monkeypox case

Helen Branswell, an infectious diseases and health reporter at the news website Stat News, shared an article on a monkeypox case being reported in the US, amid rising cases in Spain, Portugal, and Europe. The US monkeypox was identified after a man recently travelled to Canada by car and currently lived in Massachusetts, according to the state’s Department of Public Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted the test to confirm the infection and had warned earlier of monkeypox cases likely to begin in the US, the article noted.

Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the high consequence pathogens and pathology division of the CDC stated that it was not determined whether the Massachusetts case was part of the growing European outbreak. However, the development added to the concerns of increased monkeypox outbreaks in both the US and Canada, while confirmed cases have been reported from both Spain and Portugal, the article highlighted.

The monkeypox virus is associated with the variola virus, which caused smallpox, which has been eradicated since 1980. However, the symptoms of monkeypox seem to be similar but milder than monkeypox, according to infectious diseases experts.

Username: Helen Branswell

Twitter handle: @HelenBranswell

Likes: 224

Retweets: 141

4. Kai Kupferschmidt’s tweet on the sharp rise in measles cases in 2022

Kai Kupferschmidt, a science journalist, shared an article on the rising measles cases worldwide. According to the and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the conditions are favourable for serious outbreaks of measles and vaccine-preventable diseases in children this year. The organisations reported 17,388 cases in the first two months of 2022, a 79% increase in measle cases compared to 9,665 cases during the same time in 2021, the article detailed. Experts believe that the disruptions caused by the pandemic, lack of routine immunisation programmes, and decreasing access to vaccine are leaving many children exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases, the article further highlighted.

Measles is highly contagious and therefore is more visible when vaccine levels decline, the article noted. As of April 2022, 21 measles outbreaks were reported from around the world in the last 12 months, with most of the cases being reported from Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean region. The numbers are likely to be higher as the pandemic has disrupted surveillance globally.

As of 1 April 2022, 57 vaccine-preventable disease campaigns to be held across 43 countries were disrupted due to the pandemic, impacting 203 million individuals, most of whom are children. Among these, 19 were measles campaigns, which directly puts 73 million children at risk of measles due to delayed vaccinations, the article noted.

Username: Kai Kupferschmidt

Twitter handle: @kakape

Likes: 186

Retweets: 113

5. Peter Hotez’s tweet on PAI Life Sciences’ phase 1 trial of its snail fever vaccine

Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist and professor and dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), shared an article on the Seattle biotech company, PAI Life Sciences having launched a trial for the tropical disease schistosomiasis. The phase 1 clinical trial will evaluate the safety and immune response of the vaccine in healthy individuals at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, the article detailed.

Schistosomiasis, also called the snail fever, is caused by parasitic flatworms that enter the human skin when individuals come in contact with contaminated water, the article noted. Long-term infections can cause damage to the liver and kidneys, and can cause infertility and bladder cancer. Darrick Carter, the CEO of PAI stated that its new protein-based vaccine can provide protection for up to eight years in primates, and the antibodies are transferred from mother to child.

Username: Prof Peter Hotez

Twitter handle: @PeterHotez

Likes: 144

Retweets: 23

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