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Children: Loring and Schwerdt search for a virus | The Hindu.

[JANUARY 10, 2021 01:12 IST]

Type 3 poliovirus capsid (protein shell of a virus, enclosing its genetic material), coloured per chains.   | Photo Credit: Manuel Almagro Rivas/ Wikimedia Commons

A.S.Ganesh write:

Stanford scientists Hubert Scott Loring and Carlton Everett Schwerdt announced their successful isolation of poliovirus on January 10, 1947. Even though it was only 80% pure and extracted from cotton rats infected with polio, it was a breakthrough at the time and a giant stride in our continuing fight against polio. A.S.Ganesh takes a look at the two men and their search for the poliovirus...

If the year 2020 taught us anything, it is to serve as a reminder that humanity isn’t all powerful and that we are just a tiny speck in the vast timeline of our universe. For not even in our wildest dreams would we have imagined that a virus would lockdown the majority of humankind at the same time.

The reason for this, as you obviously know, is the coronavirus. The disease might have been named COVID-19 for COronaVIrus Disease 2019, but the pandemic raged through 2020 and shows little signs of abating even now in 2021. This, despite the fact that a mountain load of human resources, on top of huge financial impetus, has been funnelled towards the cause of checking the spread of the disease.

Nature of the problem.

In case you, or anyone around you, are wondering why it is taking us so long to find a fix, it is important to remember that that is indeed the nature of this problem. It isn’t the first one confronting us and a look at the poliovirus would illustrate it further.

Poliovirus is the causative agent of polio, a highly infectious disease that can totally paralyse a person in a few hours and is especially lethal against children under the age of five. If you ask the elders at your house, they would tell you that you too were administered a vaccine against the poliovirus as a child.

Our fight against the poliovirus, which is still ongoing, has spanned over decades. From affecting nearly 3,50,000 in over 125 countries even as recently as 1988, the numbers have dropped down to hundreds in the recent years. We have many people to thank along the way... Stanford scientists Hubert Scott Loring and Carlton Everett Schwerdt among them.

Loring’s laboratory.

In the fall of 1939, with the world about to be embroiled in World War II, Professor Loring joined the faculty of the Stanford University Chemistry Department. His important research activities here took place in the early and mid-1940s.

Loring’s laboratory was characterised by a friendly atmosphere and subdued excitement. With his students, he was involved in two major areas during this time – the purification of the poliomyelitis virus and the structure and metabolism of ribonucleic acids.

Along with his student Schwerdt, Loring spent three years searching for the poliovirus. Their efforts led to the successful isolation of the Lansing strain of the poliovirus in 1946. Schwerdt completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry by the time their results were announced on January 10, 1947.

Tempers excitement.

Loring and Schwerdt were able to obtain the virus with at least 80% purity. They were able to extract it from cotton rats, the only species then known to contract polio other than primates. Even though they had opened the door to further experimentation and the development of a vaccine against polio, Loring tempered the excitement, cautioning that the path ahead might still be long.

They were able to come up with a crude vaccine against polio in cotton rats later in 1947 before Schwerdt switched to the Virus Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley. Here, he was able to further improve both his techniques and the product.

Working alongside his colleagues at Berkeley, Schwerdt developed a method to purify the poliovirus and also photographed it for the first time in pure form in 1953. He was involved in crystallising the pure virus in 1955 and also purified all three known major strains of poliovirus in 1957.

Our journey towards a polio-free world continues, even as the COVID-19 pandemic tries to undo some of the great work already achieved. Polio survives among the world’s poorest and marginalised, and the lockdowns and restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of coronavirus has also hindered administering vaccines against polio and other diseases to those who need it.

The work done by Loring, Schwerdt and many others ensured that the polio vaccine was safe when it came about in the 1950s. We will have countless more to thank when effective vaccines against COVID-19 also become a part of our lives.

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An experience of mass administration of fractional dose inactivated polio vaccine through intradermal needle-free injectors in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan | BMC Public Health.

[Open Access] [Received 27 June 2020; Accepted 09 December 2020; Published 06 January 2021]



Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) campaign was conducted in February 2019 in Karachi where needle-free injectors were introduced for the administration of the fractional dose of IPV (fIPV) on a large scale. This study aimed to determine the impact of needle-free injectors on vaccination coverage.


In four towns of Karachi, fIPV was given using needle-free injectors “PharmaJet Tropis ID”. Whereas, in six towns full dose of IPV was administered to children of 4–59 months of age. Cluster surveys through rapid convenience assessment method were conducted after the completion of vaccination activity.


A total of 33,815 households’ data was analyzed. Among these, 27,650 (82.8%) children were vaccinated. In fIPV areas, 85.3% of children were vaccinated compared to 79.5% in full dose IPV areas. A comparison of reasons for unvaccinated showed that 1.6% of parents do not give importance to vaccination in fIPV areas compared to 4.2% in full IPV areas (p-value < 0.0001). More children were not vaccinated due to fear of injection 1.8% in full IPV areas compared to 0.7% in fIPV areas (p-value < 0.0001). The source of campaign information shows that more frequent mobile miking 3.1% was observed in fIPV areas compared to 0.4% in full IPV areas (p-value < 0.0001).


Our analysis supports the fractional dose of IPV in mass campaigns to achieve good vaccination coverage especially using needle-free injectors “PharmaJet Tropis ID” and vigorous social mobilization activities are expedient in accomplishing high coverage.

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UK: ICU medics in London plead with public to follow Covid rules | The Guardian.

[Sat 9 Jan 2021 15.16 GMT]

Morale plummets as NHS sees 'grave consequences' of relaxed rules over Christmas.

Mattha Busby writes:

Intensive care medics in London have made a fresh appeal to the public to comply fully with England’s coronavirus restrictions, as they struggle to deal with more patients than at any time over the last four winters.

Morale among ICU staff is tumbling and concerns have been expressed about a “mass exodus” as the second wave of Covid infections escalates rapidly in London and elsewhere in England. Some doctors and nurses have already quit.

Dr Rebecca Lewis, a co-secretary of the Doctors’ Association UK and a senior intensive care registrar at the Royal Brompton hospital, said the government had done little to look after doctors and nurses, and that many had in effect been forced to work for 10 months without a break as a result of cancelled leave and staff shortages.

“NHS staff repeatedly warned the government against relaxing guidelines over Christmas but unfortunately these warnings were not heeded, and we are now seeing the grave consequences,” she said.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to see how we will avoid a mass exodus of doctors and nurses after all this is over, due to the impossible mental strain working through this pandemic has put them under. Little has been done to look after and protect those who are tasked with looking after us, and we will continue to see the consequences of this even beyond the pandemic.”

Morale has also been sapped by some people’s flagrant breaches of restrictions, protests by Covid deniers outside some London hospitals over the past week.

Matthew Lee(@mbklee_)

Worked the late A&E SHO shift on NYE and came out to this. Hundreds of maskless, drunk people in huge groups shouting "Covid is a hoax", literally outside the building where hundreds are sick and dying. Why do people still not realise the seriousness of this pandemic?

January 1, 2021

“It makes me feel so angry,” said an intensive care nurse at University College London hospital (UCLH), who asked not to be named. “I just saw them on the ground floor, not wearing any masks, but we didn’t discuss among colleagues because we don’t have any time.”

The stress reached a peak this week seeing women like her, in their 30s, severely ill with the virus and fearing she could suffer the same fate.

“I’ve got palpitations going into work, it’s so horrific. We’re not immune to trauma either,” she said.

As she spoke to the Guardian on Friday, the number of deaths recorded daily reached its highest since the start of the pandemic, and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared a major incident as the number of infections in the capital rose steeply.

Some sections of the public have failed to perceive the damage the virus is causing, according to a critical care nurse at Barnet hospital. “Fake news is really damaging, because some people believe it. I don’t know what their motivation is but ultimately it has a malicious intent,” she said.

The government’s initial failure to prioritise healthcare staff for vaccination had also dampened staff’s spirits, she said, coming on the back of longstanding concerns over NHS underfunding and a wider failure to address poor public health.

“Morale is dreadful, I’m really sorry to say that,” she said. “People do this job because they believe in it. We are one of the few countries in the world with universal healthcare from cradle to grave, but there’s a limit. People are working long shifts, are off sick, and there’s just so much work to do.”

The enforced absence of patients’ families has also deeply affected healthcare workers. “The emotional and physical toll does not necessarily arise from wearing PPE all day and night; its knowing families can’t be at the patients’ bedside,” said an intensive care doctor at UCLH. “It’s horrible having to update relatives over the phone to tell them that they’ve got worse or there’s no change.”

With about four or five patients per nurse, as opposed to the ideal scenario of one-to-one care, there are concerns senior doctors could be forced to ration treatment if the rate of infection and hospital admissions does not subside quickly.

A nurse treating Covid patients at the Royal London hospital said that in a recent fortnight, at least one person she had been caring for had died each shift. “Waking up in the morning to come in has just been getting harder and harder because every shift is complete shit,” she said. “But then you get on the tube after your shift and see people not wearing a mask, and there’s just still a lot of people out, considering how bad it is.”

She hasn’t seen her siblings since March because she fears spreading Covid to her family, and believes the weekly clap for carers, which returned on Thursday, would remain a hollow gesture until more people begin obeying the lockdown.

Back on the ward, capacity has long been exceeded and there have been chaotic scenes. “We had a Covid patient waiting in A&E for up to 49 hours for a bed the other day, and that wasn’t even the worst we’ve had, she said.

“My colleagues and friends have been great cheering me up. Just knowing that at some point it will eventually be over is the only thing keeping me going, but we’ve still got the peak to come.”

Original Source Article »

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Podcast and Video: TWiV 703: Does dose matter? | This Week in Virology.

[Published January 7, 2021; Recorded January 6, 2021]

TWiV 703: Does dose matter?

On this episode, a discussion of why modifying the dose schedule of the mRNA vaccines in the US is not a good idea, evidence that lower Ct values on hospital admission is associated with higher mortality, and dose-dependent response to SARS-CoV-2 infection of ferrets.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, | Rich ConditKathy Spindler, and Brianne Barker

Watch 'virtual roundtable'; discussion on YouTube video [2:05:50]:


Listen to Podcast via source article


Download TWiV 703 (75 MB .mp3, 125 min)
Subscribe (free): iTunesGoogle PodcastsRSSemail

Become a patron of TWiV!

Links for this episode

Weekly Picks 1:54:00

Brianne – Linsey Marr on masks
Kathy – Striped Martian Sand Dunes and
Rich – How Microwaving Grapes Makes Plasma
Vincent – Musings of an anonymous, pissed off virologist

Listener Pick

Laura – Auld Lang Syne follow-up

Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

Send your virology questions and comments to

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