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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some coronavirus survivors' immune systems may be producing antibodies that are attacking their bodies, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This may make severe coronavirus cases worse, and also may help explain why some patients suffer symptoms for months after being infected.

Details: These patients' immune systems have shifted from attacking the virus to attacking themselves — which is similar to what happens with diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

  • The patients are producing "autoantibodies," which target genetic material from human cells rather than the virus.
  • The study has not been published in a scientific journal.
  • "Anytime you have that combination of inflammation and cell death, there is the potential for autoimmune disease and autoantibodies, more importantly, to emerge," Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington, told NYT.

What's next: Doctors could use existing tests to find patients with autoantibodies, who may benefit from treatments used by lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Go deeper

Updated 23 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

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