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Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Apr 2021

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Mixing Covid vaccines could mean booster jab is not needed, says professor

Mixing vaccines may give such strong protection against Covid-19 — including variants — that a booster jab is not needed in the autumn, a leading medical expert said today. Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and a member of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, stressed that research being led by his colleague Professor Matthew Snape may deliver another breakthrough in the battle against coronavirus. “The work that Matthew Snape and others are doing in this study to look at comparisons may give us a mix that actually gives us some better immune response that means we are better able to deal with the South Africa variant, the Brazilian variant, and dozens of other variants that are now popping up all over the world,” he told Sky News.
15th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard

EMA starts review of GSK's monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19 patients

The European Medicines Agency said on Thursday it is reviewing available data on the use of GlaxoSmithKline's monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19 patients. The agency said its review of VIR-7831, which GSK is developing with Vir Biotechnology Inc, will include data from a study comparing its effect with that of a placebo in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were at high risk of progressing to a more severe condition. While a more comprehensive rolling review is expected to start at a later time, the agency said the current review will provide European Union-wide recommendations for national authorities who may take decisions on early use of the medicine. The companies reported in March that VIR-7831 reduced the risk of hospitalisation and deaths among patients by 85%, based on interim data from a study.
15th Apr 2021 - YAHOO!News

Severe Covid-19 risk with asthma and COPD lower than previously thought

The risk for people with asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases of severe Covid-19 is not as high as had been feared at the start of the pandemic, say researchers from the University of Oxford. Analysis of records from 8 million patients at 1,205 general practices in England found people with active asthma and severe asthma had 26% and 29% higher relative risks of hospital admission with Covid-19 and around 30% higher relative risk of admission to intensive care compared with matched patients with no underlying respiratory disease. However, this is lower than suggested by data collected between January and April 2020, which showed that COPD was associated with a 50% increased risk of hospitalisation and 54% increased risk of death from Covid-19. Furthermore, there was no evidence that asthma was associated with an increased absolute risk of death from Covid-19, and the risks appeared similar for all ethnicities, the researchers reported in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
15th Apr 2021 - Pulse

Covid-19: Single dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine produces strong antibody response in over 80s

A single dose of the Pfizer or Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine produces equivalent antibody responses five weeks after vaccination, a small study looking at people over 80 has found. The study, led by University of Birmingham researchers and made available through a preprint, found that antibodies specific to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein were present in most people in both groups—93% after the Pfizer vaccine and 87% after the AstraZeneca vaccine. Researchers have said that these findings are “reassuring” for countries that decided to delay second doses in favour of vaccinating more people with a first dose. In the UK, people over 80 were in the first priority group for vaccination and received either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine. At the end of December 2020, the UK chief medical officers announced that the second doses of the covid vaccines should be given towards the end of 12 weeks rather than after the previously recommended 3-4 weeks. The research team collected blood samples from 165 people aged 80 to 99 years and living independently 5-6 weeks after their first vaccine dose. Of these, 76 received the Pfizer vaccine and 89 received the AstraZeneca vaccine. They then used a range of assays to measure the immune response generated. A small number of people (eight) had signs of previous natural covid-19 infection. Compared with those without previous infection, their antibody and T cell responses after the first vaccine dose were significantly higher (691-fold and fourfold, respectively). The study also found stronger T cell responses in people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, with 31% of this group producing detectable T cell responses compared with 12% of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine group.
15th Apr 2021 - The BMJ

UK scientists find higher risk of brain clots from COVID-19 compared with vaccines

There is a much higher risk of brain blood clots from COVID-19 infection than there is from vaccines against the disease, British researchers said on Thursday, after the rollout of inoculations was disrupted by reports of rare clots. AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) have both seen very rare reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) linked to their vaccines. On Wednesday, the United States paused vaccinations using J&J’s shot while a link with clots was investigated, with Denmark ditching AstraZeneca’s shot over the issue. British and European regulators have stressed that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. A study of 500,000 COVID-19 patients found CVST had occurred at a rate of 39 people out of a million following infection, researchers said. That compares with European Medicines Agency (EMA) figures showing that 5 in a million people reported CVST after getting AstraZeneca's shot.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters UK


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Apr 2021

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COVID-19: Mix and match vaccine study extended to include Moderna and Novavax jabs

A study assessing the benefits of mixing and matching coronavirus vaccines has been extended to include the Moderna and Novavax jabs. The Com-Cov study, led by the University of Oxford, has been investigating the immune responses of volunteers given a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Pfizer jab - and vice versa.
14th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Long-acting injectable medicine as potential route to COVID-19 therapy

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have shown the potential of repurposing an existing and cheap drug into a long-acting injectable therapy that could be used to treat COVID-19. In a paper published in the journal Nanoscale, researchers from the University's Center of Excellence for Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT) demonstrate the nanoparticle formulation of niclosamide, a highly insoluble drug compound, as a scalable long-acting injectable antiviral candidate.
14th Apr 2021 - Phys.org

Filter that is able to remove Covid-19 from blood given emergency approval in US

A Pentagon-funded agency has developed a filter that is able to remove the Coronavirus from blood cells when linked to a dialysis machine. After around 300 critically ill Covid-19 patients made a full recovery following treatment with the filter, the FDA has approved the method for emergency use, according to multiple media reports. Moreover, scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) have also developed a microchip that can detect Covid-19 when inserted under the skin.
14th Apr 2021 - City A.M.

Exercise may strongly protect against poor COVID-19 outcomes

Regular physical activity may substantially reduce the risk of COVID-19–related hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and death, suggests an observational study of nearly 50,000 people published yesterday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Kaiser Permanente Southern California researchers led the retrospective study, which involved linking the self-reported physical activity levels of 48,440 adult patients who had at least three exercise vital sign measurements in the 2 years preceding the pandemic to their risk of severe coronavirus outcomes. Used at every outpatient visit at Kaiser Permanente since 2009, exercise vital sign measurements include average number of days a week of moderate to strenuous exercise and duration of that exercise. The patients, who were diagnosed as having COVID-19 from Jan 1 to Oct 21, 2020, reported their physical activity as consistently inactive (0 to 10 minutes a week), some activity (11 to 149 minutes), or consistently meeting guidelines (more than 150 minutes).
14th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Israeli mask which ‘gives 99 percent virus safety’ gets European lab approval

An Israeli start-up behind an anti-viral mask shown to neutralise 99 percent of coronavirus has received European verification. Special coating on Sonovia’s state-of-the-art technology has been verified by VisMederi Textyle in Italy, a pharmaceutical company based in Tuscany, with the same testing showing it is equally effective at neutralising flu, as well as Covid-19.
13th Apr 2021 - Times of Israel

Sinovac vaccine effective against virus variants in Brazil; efficacy rises if injection interval is more than 21 days

China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine has 50.7 percent efficacy and has proved to be effective against the variants known as P1 and P2 that are prevalent in Brazil, latest data showed. Moreover, the Sinovac vaccine's efficacy rate can climb to 62.3 percent with an interval of more than 21 days between doses rather than 14 days. The findings appear in the latest report released on Sunday by Sao Paulo's state-owned Butantan Institute, which tested and produced Sinovac's COVID-19 inactivated vaccine named CoronaVac. The report released specific and comprehensive data on late-stage trials in Brazil. This is the most detailed statistical report on a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine.
12th Apr 2021 - Global Times

Astrazeneca vaccine risk prompts Australian government to recommend Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for under 50

The Australian government is recommending that Australians under 50 take the Pfizer Inc. COVID-19 vaccine due to the risk of rare blood clots associated with Astrazeneca plc’s COVID-19 vaccine (ChAdOx1-S). The move jeopardizes Australia’s vaccine rollout as it had planned for the majority of Australians to receive the Astrazeneca vaccine, which is being locally manufactured by CSL Ltd. During a press conference announcing the local manufacture of the vaccine in March, officials were gloating about what a fabulous job the country had done in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it looks as if it is falling behind on vaccinating its citizens, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that essentially “all bets are off” on whether Australians will be vaccinated by the end of the year. Previously, he had said that all Australians would be vaccinated by October.
12th Apr 2021 - Bioworld


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Apr 2021

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UK trial on switching COVID-19 vaccines adds Moderna and Novavax shots

A UK study into using different COVID-19 vaccines in two-dose inoculations is being expanded to include shots made by Moderna and Novavax, researchers said on Wednesday. The trial, known as the Com-Cov study, was first launched in February to look at whether giving a first dose of one type of COVID-19 shot, and a second dose of another, elicits an immune response that is as good as using two doses of the same vaccine. The idea, said Matthew Snape, the Oxford University professor leading the trial, “is to explore whether the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that are available can be used more flexibly”.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Half of kids with inflammatory syndrome after COVID-19 have neurologic symptoms

Half of the children who developed the serious condition associated with COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) had neurologic symptoms or signs when they entered the hospital, according to preliminary research released today, April 13, 2021, that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually April 17 to 22, 2021. Those symptoms included headaches, encephalopathy and hallucinations.
14th Apr 2021 - Medical Xpress

Vaccine made for South African Covid variant promising, says Moderna

An experimental vaccine targeted at the South African strain of Covid-19 has produced antibodies in laboratory mice, its maker said last night, offering an early sign that it could protect humans against the variant. Moderna is developing a vaccine to target the B.1.351 variant, which was discovered in South Africa, as well as a multivalent vaccine that combines its original vaccination with the South Africa-specific jab. The company is the first to produce a vaccine designed for the variant detected in South Africa and said its pre-clinical trials in mice for both jabs “improved neutralising titers”, meaning that antibodies detected in the blood increased. The multivalent vaccine would provide the broadest level of immunity, according to Moderna.
14th Apr 2021 - The Times

An Israeli study says a COVID-19 variant can still infect vaccinated people — here's what Fauci says the research means

A small Israeli study indicates that some of the new coronavirus variants may put people who have been vaccinated at higher risk of breakthrough infections, though U.S. health officials questioned some of the wording used in the preliminary research. These types of cases are called “breakthrough infections,” which occur when someone who has completed their COVID-19 vaccination later gets sick from the virus. The preprint, which was published Friday and has not been peer reviewed, gained attention over the weekend after it said that the B.1.351 variant was more likely to infect people in Israel who had been vaccinated with Pfizer Inc.’s PFE, +0.51% COVID-19 vaccine, compared with other strains of the virus.
13th Apr 2021 - MarketWatch

Newborns of COVID-vaccinated moms may be protected from infection

Two new Israeli studies find that COVID-19 antibodies pass robustly from mothers to their infants in breast milk for 6 weeks after vaccination and that no infants breastfed by their coronavirus-positive mothers had evidence of infection. The first study, led by researchers from Shamir Medical Center in Zerifin, Israel, and published as a research letter yesterday in JAMA, involved 504 breast milk samples from a convenience sample of 84 healthcare workers who chose to be vaccinated against COVID-19 because of their occupational risk for COVID-19 infection. All participants received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine 21 days apart and were recruited through ads and social media from throughout Israel from Dec 23, 2020, to Jan 15, 2021. The women provided breast milk samples before they received the vaccine and then once a week for 6 weeks starting 2 weeks after the first dose, and completed weekly questionnaires.
13th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Gilead nixes Veklury COVID-19 trial as vaccines roll out, more convenient drugs emerge for outpatients

Gilead Sciences has been exploring its antiviral remdesivir for COVID-19 in the outpatient setting, hoping to replicate the success seen in hospitalized patients. But as new treatments emerge, the company now thinks the drug, in its current form, simply doesn’t have a role to play outside hospitals. Gilead has decided to stop a phase 3 trial of remdesivir as an intravenous infusion in high-risk nonhospitalized patients with COVID-19, the company said Monday. The decision wasn’t about efficacy or safety but the “evolution of the COVID-19 landscape,” it said. In other words, Gilead no longer believes there’s a market for IV remdesivir, or Veklury, that requires administration in a healthcare facility for nonhospitalized patients. As vaccine rollouts ramp up, the overall need for COVID-19 treatments will further decline. The shrinking patient pool has likely also made it hard for Gilead to enroll patients in the new study. Veklury, in its current FDA-approved use for hospitalized patients, brought in sales of $1.94 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 alone. But for 2021, Gilead’s projecting a total haul between $2 billion and $3 billion, depending on how the pandemic evolves.
13th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma

Why would a Covid vaccine cause rare blood clots? Researchers have found clues

A week after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, a 37-year-old woman in Norway went to the emergency department with fever and persistent headaches. A CAT scan of her head showed a blood clot in blood vessels involved in draining the brain, but her levels of platelets, involved in clotting, were low. She was treated with platelet infusions and a blood thinner, but had a bleed in her brain the next day. She underwent surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain but died two days later. This is the side effect, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, that has caused a week of worries around the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca. On Tuesday, the U.S. government said that it had seen the same effect six times among the 6.8 million people given a dose of a similar vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, and that it recommended a pause on use of that vaccine “out of an abundance of caution,” while researchers investigated.
13th Apr 2021 - STAT News

Corticosteroid shortens recovery time in COVID-19 patients treated in the community, early trial results show

Budesonide has been found to shorten recovery time in COVID-19 patients aged over 50 years who are being treated in the community, according to interim findings from the Platform Randomised Trial of Interventions Against COVID-19 in Older People (PRINCIPLE). According to the findings, early treatment with the inhaled corticosteroid shortened recovery time by a median of three days in patients with COVID-19 who were at higher risk of more severe illness, and were being treated at home and in other community settings. Inhaled budesonide was added to the PRINCIPLE trial on 28 November 2020, but recruitment stopped on 31 March 2021 after the trial steering committee decided that enough patients had been enrolled to be able to establish if the drug had a meaningful benefit on time to recovery.
12th Apr 2021 - The Pharmaceutical Journal


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Apr 2021

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China's Sinovac vaccine is 50.7% effective against COVID-19, just reaching the threshold to be a vaccine worth using, a major trial showed

In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease-control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to get a boost. Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference Saturday in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
12th Apr 2021 - Yahoo

Common asthma medicine can speed up Covid-19 recovery by three days – study

A cheap and widely available asthma medicine can speed up the recovery of people with coronavirus who have not been admitted to hospital, new research suggests. Budesonide – an inhaler drug sold under the brand name Pulmicort – is used around the world to treat asthma and COPD, but an Oxford University trial found it can also be used at home to reduce Covid-19 recovery time by an average of three days in those with a heightened risk from the disease. The corticosteroid is safe and is effective during the early stages of coronavirus infection, according to the study.
12th Apr 2021 - WalesOnline

Previous COVID-19 may cut risk of reinfection 84%

People who had COVID-19 had an 84% lower risk of becoming reinfected and a 93% lower risk of symptomatic infection during 7 months of follow-up, according to findings from a large, multicenter study published late last week in The Lancet. The prospective cohort SARS-CoV-2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation (SIREN) study, by Public Health England Colindale researchers, involved 25,661 workers at public hospitals throughout England who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 every 2 to 4 weeks and antibodies at enrollment and every 4 weeks. Volunteers also completed questionnaires on symptoms and exposures every 2 weeks. Of the 25,661 participants, 32.3% were assigned to the baseline positive (possibly or probably previously infected) group, and 67.7% were assigned to the negative group. Of the 8,278 positive participants, 91.2% had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at study enrollment, while 7.0% were negative for antibodies but had a previously positive antibody and/or coronavirus test, and 1.8% had tested positive for COVID-19 but didn't have linked antibody data
12th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Regeneron eyes prevention nod for COVID-19 antibody cocktail with simpler injection

Regeneron’s Roche-partnered COVID-19 antibody cocktail, already authorized to thwart disease progression in sick patients, has come up with new data showing it can prevent the disease altogether at a lower dose in healthy people.
12th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma

Regeneron says antibody cocktail prevented Covid when given as simple injection, not an IV

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said Monday that a single administration of its monoclonal antibody cocktail reduced the risk that volunteers exposed to Covid-19 would develop the disease by 81%. The study enrolled 1,500 healthy volunteers, each of whom shared a home with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and randomized them to receive a single dose of its antibody treatment, given subcutaneously as four shots, or placebo. After 29 days, 11 patients in the treatment group developed Covid-19 compared to 59 on placebo. And for the subjects who got Covid-19 despite treatment, their symptoms resolved after one week, compared to three weeks for those on placebo. In 204 patients who had already tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the study’s outset, the injection reduced their chances of progressing to symptomatic Covid-19 by 31%.
12th Apr 2021 - STAT News


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Apr 2021

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Women report more side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than men. Health experts explain why.

Reports of COVID-19 vaccine side effects support what many have anecdotally observed: women shoulder the bigger burden. Among nearly 7,000 reports processed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from Dec. 14 to Jan. 13, more than 79% of them came from women. The most frequently reported side effects were headache, fatigue and dizziness. Women also are more likely than men to experience some of the vaccine’s more unusual side effects, such as an itchy red rash that appears at the injection site commonly known as COVID arm or Moderna arm, as about 95% of the reactions occur with the Moderna vaccine. Overall, women account for 77% of the Moderna vaccine’s reported side effects.
10th Apr 2021 - USA TODAY on MSN.com

Sinovac data show no major side effects on elderly —DOST exec

A Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official said Thursday that the use of Chinese pharmaceutical firm's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine on senior citizens showed no significant side effects in the age group. Montoya, DOST Philippine Council for Health Research Development executive director, also told "Dobol B TV" that if there are any side effects, these are well-tolerated by the senior citizens. However, he said the usual side effects exhibited by senior citizens after inoculation with Sinovac include slight fever, swelling on the injection site, and flu, among others.
10th Apr 2021 - GMA News Online

Blood clots linked to AstraZeneca vaccine stem from rare antibody reaction

Two reports published Friday in a leading medical journal help to explain how AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine can, in rare cases, cause serious and sometimes fatal blood clots. Scientific teams from Germany and Norway found that people who developed the clots after vaccination had produced antibodies that activated their platelets, a blood component involved in clotting. The new reports add extensive details to what the researchers have already stated publicly about the blood disorder. Why the rare reaction occurred is not known. Younger people appear more susceptible than older ones, but researchers say no preexisting health conditions are known to predispose people to the problem, so there is no way to tell if an individual is at high risk. Reports of the clots have already led a number of countries to limit AstraZeneca’s vaccine to older people, or to stop using it entirely. The cases have dealt a crushing blow to global efforts to halt the pandemic, because the AstraZeneca shot — easy to store and relatively cheap — has been a mainstay of vaccination programs in more than 100 countries.
9th Apr 2021 - bdnews24.com

Studies suggest link between blood clots, AstraZeneca COVID vaccine

Two studies today in the New England Journal of Medicine describe 11 patients in Austria and Germany and 5 in Norway who developed an unusual blood clotting disorder after receiving their first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. The first study, led by researchers at the Institute for Immunology and Transfusion Medicine in Greifswald, Germany, involved 11 patients who had abnormal blood clots or thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) 5 to 16 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. One patient had a fatal intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), while nine had cerebral venous thrombosis (blood clots in the brain), three had splanchnic vein thrombosis (blood clots in abdominal veins), three had a pulmonary embolism (blockage in a lung artery caused by blood clots), and four had other types of blood clots. Six patients, in addition to the patient with fatal intracranial hemorrhage, died.
9th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Reports detail high COVID-19 burden in Native Americans

During the pandemic, Native Americans have had 2.2 times greater COVID-19 case incidence and almost quadruple the death rate of White people in Montana, according to a study today in Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). A separate MMWR report looked at COVID-19 cases and response on a 10,000-member tribal reservation in Montana, while a third detailed control efforts taken on a North Dakota reservation. All three research teams suggest that Native American populations are disproportionately vulnerable during the pandemic and benefit from COVID-19 mitigations.
9th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

COVID-19: Study finds link with brain, mental health conditions

A study suggests that in the United States in 2020, around a third of COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with a neurological or mental health condition within 6 months of their COVID-19 diagnoses. Anxiety and mood disorders were the most common diagnoses. Neurological conditions, such as stroke and dementia, occurred less often but were more common among people with severe COVID-19. The overall effect of these disorders, many of which are chronic, may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic.
9th Apr 2021 - Medical News Today

Brazil finds new virus variant combining 18 mutations

Scientists in Brazil have discovered a new variant of coronavirus that combines 18 mutations, rubbing salt in the wound of the South American epicenter. The new strain from Belo Horizonte city "has characteristics in common with the variants that were already circulating in Brazil but it also has new characteristics," Virologist Renato Santana from the Federal University of Minas Gerais told local daily G1 on Wednesday. "It is as if these variants were evolving," Santana said, adding the new variant includes the same genes modified by Brazil's Manaus, known as P1, British and South African variant. Noting that it is early to assess whether the new strain more transmissible or deadly, he said that it has mutations in common with variants that are already associated with a higher risk of death. The new super variant made headlines at a critical time when Brazil registered record-high single-day COVID-19 deaths with more than 4,000.
8th Apr 2021 - Anadolu Agency | English

Sunlight linked with lower Covid-19 deaths, study suggests

Increased exposure to sunlight has been linked to a lower risk of dying from Covid-19, an observational study has suggested. People living in sunnier areas, with the highest level of exposure to UVA rays, are associated with fewer deaths from coronavirus compared with those with lower levels, experts from the University of Edinburgh said. The study compared all recorded deaths from Covid-19 in the continental US from January to April 2020 with UV levels for 2,474 US counties for the same time period.
7th Apr 2021 - The Independent

How dangerous is India’s ‘double mutant’ COVID-19 variant?

In late March, India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, announced that a new variant – dubbed a “double mutant” – had been identified in samples of saliva taken from people in Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab. This comes on the back of a month that has seen a surge in cases of COVID-19 across India, with many states re-imposing curfews, restrictions and lockdown measures. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says this new “double mutant” variant has not been found in sufficient numbers to account for the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country. That, rather, is thought to be due to large public gatherings such as weddings, the opening of cinema halls and gyms, as well as large political rallies in West Bengal where elections are due to be held soon. Nevertheless, it is a “variant of concern” (VOC) and is being closely monitored. The genome sequencing carried out by a consortium of 10 labs in India, called the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), has identified two important mutations in the new variant, giving it the unfortunate title of “double mutant”.
5th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Apr 2021

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Britain reassures on AstraZeneca after advising under-30s take other vaccines

British officials and ministers sought to shore up confidence in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, saying advice that most people under 30 should be offered alternative shots was not unusual and would not impact the pace of rollout. A pharmacist whose brother died from a brain blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca shot was among those calling for people to keep getting it, saying the doses would save lives. Officials said the suggestion that under-30s should be offered an alternative did not reflect any serious safety concerns, just a “vanishingly” rare possible side effect.
8th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Health workers report 'long COVID' after just mild illness

Fifteen percent of healthcare workers at a Swedish hospital who recovered from mild COVID-19 at least 8 months before report at least one moderate to severe symptom disrupting their work, home, or social life, according to a research letter published yesterday in JAMA. A team led by scientists at Danderyd Hospital, part of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, conducted the study from April 2020 to January 2021. The research involved obtaining blood samples and administering questionnaires to healthcare workers participating in the ongoing COVID-19 Biomarker and Immunity (COMMUNITY) study.
8th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Apr 2021

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In the race to stay ahead of COVID-19 variants, the US lags globally

The vaccines going in our arms could become less effective as the coronavirus mutates, a problem that demands scientists meticulously track variants to protect us. The United States lags many other countries in employing the essential tool for keeping abreast of variants – gene sequencing – increasing the risk that a variant could spread undetected. This year, the United States ranks 33rd in the world for its rate of sequencing, falling between Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe, according to COVID CoV Genomic, led by researchers at Harvard and MIT. The top three nations – Iceland, Australia and New Zealand – sequenced at a rate 55 to 95 times greater.
7th Apr 2021 - USA Today

EU agency: Rare clots possibly linked to AstraZeneca shot

British authorities recommended Wednesday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthening evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots. The recommendation came as regulators in the United Kingdom and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people — even though the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots. British authorities recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca. But the EMA advised no such age restrictions, leaving it up to its member-countries to decide whether to limit its use.
7th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

COVID-19 tied to spikes in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests

An international study that identified a dramatic increase in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) preceding and paralleling the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that OHCA is yet another example of the virus's myriad multisystemic effects and a signal of upcoming community surges. In the observational study, published today in the Lancet's EClinicalMedicine, emergency services medical directors in 50 large cities in the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and New Zealand reported tallies of monthly OCHAs among adults in their respective jurisdictions from January to June 2020 and compared them with numbers from the same periods in 2018 and 2019.
7th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

New findings in COVID-related kids' syndrome, Kawasaki disease

Two studies today describe new findings in the COVID-19–associated multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and the distinct but similar Kawasaki disease (KD). In the first study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, a team led by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used lab data to compare geographic and temporal distribution of MIS-C from March 2020 to January 2021 with that of COVID-19 over the same period. In the largest known cohort of MIS-C patients and their distributions across the United States, the cumulative incidence was 2.1 per 100,000 people 21 and younger and varied by state, from 0.2 to 6.3 per 100,000. The death rate was 1.4%.
7th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot tagged with new warning in EU, highlighting rare blood clot risk

Europe’s drug regulator has been probing cases of rare blood clots in AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recipients since mid-March—and now it has confirmed a possible link. The agency stressed that the benefits of the shot still outweigh the risks. Unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as a “very rare” side effect of the vaccine, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Wednesday. Incidents have mostly been reported within two weeks of vaccination in women below the age of 60. With cases piling up over the past month, several countries have stopped using the shot altogether. The EMA's safety arm, the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), specifically noted clots in the brain, abdomen and arteries associated with thrombocytopenia, or low levels of blood platelets.
7th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma

Akili’s therapeutic video game will be tested as a treatment for Covid ‘brain fog’

Akili, which made history last summer by earning regulatory clearance for the first video-game based therapy, now plans to test if its software can help adults suffering from Covid “brain fog.” Two randomized remote studies, one conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the other by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will assess whether AKL-T01, the treatment that Akili commercially markets for ADHD as EndeavorRx, can help improve cognition symptoms in Covid survivors. The new studies come at a pivotal moment for Akili. EndeavorRx is being prescribed by more doctors, but the company is still hoping for widespread acceptance. As Akili labors to show EndeavorRx works, it’s also looking for new pathways to commercialization.
7th Apr 2021 - STAT News

Covid-19 reinfections are rare — but without better data, we don’t how rare

Reinfections from Covid-19 continue to seem rare, and are not responsible for the current, stubbornly high case counts in the United States, according to scientists and the latest findings. At least, that’s what researchers are left to conclude. Experts say the country and individual states don’t have strong systems to determine how frequently people are getting reinfected — another consequence of the nation’s limited surveillance network. They’re calling for better data collection and analysis around second cases of Covid-19. The main factors driving coronavirus transmission in the United States are a mix of the old — easing restrictions, people coming into close contact with others — and the new, like the more transmissible variants, experts say. And Caitlin Rivers, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said she thought that reinfections are still uncommon.
7th Apr 2021 - STAT News

Antibody Persistence through 6 Months after the Second Dose of mRNA-1273 Vaccine for Covid-19 | NEJM

Interim results from a phase 3 trial of the Moderna mRNA-1273 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine indicated 94% efficacy in preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).1 The durability of protection is currently unknown. We describe mRNA1273-elicited binding and neutralizing antibodies in 33 healthy adult participants in an ongoing phase 1 trial,2-4 stratified according to age, at 180 days after the second dose of 100 μg (day 209).
6th Apr 2021 - nejm.org

What do we know about the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine?

With over 30million jabs handed out across the UK and concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine it is welcome news that the Moderna coronavirus vaccine is the third jab to be rolled out in the UK. The jabs, which form part of the 17 million-dose order by the Government, were authorised for temporary use by the UK’s medicines regulator on January 8. It will be administered to people in Wales from Wednesday. It follows the rollout of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which began in December and January respectively.
6th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard


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COVID-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca jab benefits outweigh 'rare incidents of risk', says vaccines minister - as regulator reviews clot cases

The benefits of taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab "far outweigh" any "rare incidents of risk", the vaccines minister has said, as the UK's drugs regulator investigates reports of blood clots. Speaking to Sky News, Nadhim Zahawi reinforced the government's message for people to get a COVID jab as experts at the UK's independent drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), continue to investigate reports of a very rare and specific blood clot in the brain after taking the Oxford jab. They are also considering other very rare blood clotting cases alongside low platelet levels.
6th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Oxford pauses AstraZeneca vaccine study on children

Oxford university has called a pause to a small clinical trial in children of the Covid-19 vaccine developed with AstraZeneca, ahead of new risk assessments this week by regulators investigating possible links between the jab and rare but potentially fatal blood disorders in adults. The suspension of the trial, which was running tests in 300 volunteers aged 6 to 17, is the latest setback for a product seen as a mainstay of vaccination programmes in the UK and around the world. The university said it had decided to suspend the trial ahead of the release of “additional information” from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the UK regulator, following its review of cases of thrombosis (blood clotting) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) in some adults. It said there were “no safety concerns in the paediatric study”
6th Apr 2021 - Financial Times

In Serbia, COVID vaccine supply outweighs demand amid mistrust

With the third-highest rate of inoculations in Europe, Serbia is viewed as something of a Balkan success. But the country has been struggling to find people to vaccinate. Under Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia has procured enough vaccines to inoculate its population of seven million, but supply is outpacing demand amid vaccine hesitancy. Vucic announced in early March that Serbia had nearly 15 million vaccines, but by March 25, Serbian authorities told reporters that just 1.3 million people had been vaccinated. Last weekend, thousands of foreigners from the region crossed borders to get free jabs in Serbia. In three days more than 22,000 foreigners were inoculated. It was a pragmatic move.
6th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Brain disorders affect 1 in 3 Covid survivors, large UK study shows

One in three people who have suffered from Covid-19 was diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months of infection, according to scientists who have carried out the largest study of the mental health effects of coronavirus. They found that Covid-19 was 44 per cent more likely to cause neurological and mental problems than a case of influenza of comparable severity. “Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic and the fact that many of these conditions are chronic,” said Paul Harrison, professor of psychiatry at Oxford university and project leader.
6th Apr 2021 - The Financial Times

Official: EU agency to confirm AstraZeneca blood clot link

A top official at the European Medicines Agency says there is a causal link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and rare blood clots, but that it’s unclear what the connection is and the benefits of taking the shot still outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19. Marco Cavaleri, head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based agency, told Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper on Tuesday that the European Union’s medicines regulator is preparing to make a more definitive statement on the topic this week. Asked about Cavaleri’s comments, the EMA press office said its evaluation “has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing.” It said it planned a press conference as soon as the review is finalized, possibly Wednesday or Thursday.
6th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press


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UK regulator finds total of 30 blood clots from 18 million people given the AstraZeneca vaccine

Seven people in Britain died of a blood clot on the brain after having an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines out of 18.1million does, the MHRA has revealed as it insists there is no evidence of a link between the two. It has also emerged that young people are up to 35 times more likely to die of Covid than to develop the type of brain blood clot that European officials fear could be caused by AstraZeneca's jab, figures suggest. German medics have seen one case of CVST - a type of rare brain blood clot that can cause strokes - in every 90,000 people to receive the vaccine, and say that is higher than expected. It is equal to a rate of 0.0012 per cent.
3rd Apr 2021 - Daily Mail

Doctors put ‘on alert’ for blood-clotting syndrome after seven UK deaths following AstraZeneca vaccine

Doctors have been issued with new advice to help them spot a rare blood-clotting disorder that may be linked to the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, as the UK’s medicines regulator confirms seven deaths. The British Society for Haematology decided to act after some experts became concerned at the number of cases of blood clotting linked to a rare syndrome known as thrombocytopenia. It said doctors needed to be “on alert” for the condition and what to look for, how to treat it and how to report cases so the data can be properly collated. Thrombocytopenia involves patients having abnormally low numbers of platelet cells in their blood. Platelets help blood to clot after an injury.
3rd Apr 2021 - The Independent

Coronavirus live news: Pfizer vaccine has 100% efficacy against South African variant in small trial

Two shots of the Pfizer vaccine produce high levels of protective antibodies in people 80 and over, according to the largest independent study yet into older people’s immune responses to the jab. Blood tests on 100 people aged 80- to 96-years-old found that 98% produced strong antibody responses after two doses of the vaccine given three weeks apart. After the second shot, antibody levels more than tripled. The findings, released in a preprint that has yet to be peer-reviewed, will boost confidence that the Pfizer vaccine can be highly effective against Covid even in older people who tend to generate far weaker immune responses to both vaccines and natural infections. But it is unclear what the findings mean for the UK where second shots of vaccine are given up to three months after the first.
1st Apr 2021 - The Guardian

Antibody responses to the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2

In a cohort of BNT162b2 (Pfizer–BioNTech) mRNA vaccine recipients (n = 1,090), we observed that spike-specific IgG antibody levels and ACE2 antibody binding inhibition responses elicited by a single vaccine dose in individuals with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (n = 35) were similar to those seen after two doses of vaccine in individuals without prior infection (n = 228). Post-vaccine symptoms were more prominent for those with prior infection after the first dose, but symptomology was similar between groups after the second dose.
1st Apr 2021 - Nature

Finnish coronavirus vaccine study shows sharp drop in hospitalisations

Coronavirus vaccinations in Finland reduced the number of severe Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalisation by an average of 74 percent in people aged over 70 and by an average of 84 percent in at-risk groups, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), which published preliminary results of a study on the matter on Wednesday. The study compared the likelihood of hospitalisation for coronavirus in vaccinated and non-vaccinated patients. The results largely reflect the efficacy of a single dose of the vaccine, as only 10 percent of the study's participants had received a second dose during the study period. "Estimates of vaccine efficacy are in line with results internationally. Four weeks after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, efficacy was 78 percent in Israel, 81 percent in Scotland and 71-80 percent in England," said Tuija Leino, head of the immunisation programme at THL.
31st Mar 2021 - YLE News


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University scientists deconstruct Covid-19 vaccines and publish 'recipe' on open web

Scientists have determined the “recipes” for two Covid-19 vaccines using leftovers in vials bound for the trash and published the mRNA sequences on Github, the online repository for software code. The group of scientists from Stanford University were able to determine the sequences of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and included the mRNA sequences in a post they published on Github last week, tech news site Motherboard first reported. Experts say the publication will help researchers around the world better identify when testing samples whether they are looking at sequences from the Covid-19 virus or vaccines to treat the virus, because they can give false positives.
31st Mar 2021 - The Guardian

Pfizer, BioNTech: COVID vaccine effective in teens

Pfizer and BioNTech today announced that their COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective and triggered a robust antibody response in a phase 3 US trial involving 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years old. The immune responses in that age-group, the companies said, exceeded those recorded previously among 16- to 25-year-olds. The companies say they plan to submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of the vaccine in this age-group. "The initial results we have seen in the adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination, which is very encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks regarding the spread of the B.1.1.7 UK variant," BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in the companies' press release.
31st Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

AstraZeneca COVID vaccine 70% effective vs B117 variant

Data from a UK phase 2/3 clinical trial suggest the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-vaccine is 70.4% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the B117 variant, which was identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020. The data, published in The Lancet yesterday, also showed it was 28.9% effective at preventing asymptomatic infections or cases with unknown symptoms. Overall efficacy was 61.7% against the B117 variant and 77.3% against other variants, according to the study. The vaccine was 81.5% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 caused by non-B117 strains.
31st Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Fewer than 5% of COVID-19 infections are acquired in schools, Canadian simulation study finds

Several simulations were run in which schools were reopened but different measures in the community were in place. In each scenario, the schools had measures in place such as capping class sizes, students staying in one classroom during the day and universal masking. School-acquired coronavirus infections made up 3.15% of all cases in the first scenario, 4.19% in the second and 2.37% in the third. Researchers say this shows that other mitigation measures should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 before schools are closed
31st Mar 2021 - Daily Mail


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No rare blood clots in first 440,000 people vaccinated for coronavirus in Wales

No cases of a blood clotting disorder have been found in the first 440,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19 in Wales. Scientists in Swansea University looked at anonymised patient data between January 1, 2019 and January 31, 2021 to determine whether there had been a rise in cases of venous sinus thromboembolism. The extremely rare condition was found in a small number of patients in Norway and Germany and was one of the reasons why several European countries decided to temporarily halt the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. However the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there has been no confirmation the reports of blood clots were caused by the vaccine.
30th Mar 2021 - Wales Online

Covid: Half of UK has antibodies from vaccination or infection

Roughly half of people in the UK now have antibodies against Covid, either through infection or vaccination, tests conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. Most of this will be through vaccination - with 30 million people having received at least one dose. Antibodies are proteins in the blood which recognise specific infections and fight them off. Among the oldest who are most at risk, levels are even higher. But there has been a small decline in detectable antibodies in that group since the peak of infections in January.
30th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Covid jab probably does protect those around you

The Covid-19 vaccine blocks pretty much all cases of serious illness - but the government has been much more cautious about saying whether it stops people carrying the virus and infecting others. Until evidence had built up from lots of people being vaccinated, scientists could not say for sure if the jab would stop transmission - and there was concern those vaccinated might stop taking precautions, potentially leading to a rise in infections. But with some now refusing the vaccine in the belief it will not stop them passing on the virus, is this caution becoming counterproductive? A number of people have contacted the BBC, saying they believe the jab could stop them becoming severely ill only.
30th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Many hospitalized Covid-19 patients are given antibiotics. That’s a problem

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues into its second year, public health experts are increasingly concerned that the response to this global crisis may be accelerating another one: the development and persistence of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs. Why? All antibiotic use hastens the emergence of resistance. And although antibiotics aren’t used to treat Covid-19, which is a viral illness, they’re often prescribed to Covid-19 patients who are at risk for bacterial infection. New research from our organization, the Pew Charitable Trusts, sheds additional light on the extent to which antibiotics are being prescribed unnecessarily in the midst of the pandemic. In a study of nearly 6,000 hospital admissions between February and July 2020 among patients with Covid-19, at least one course of antibiotics was given to more than half (52%) during their hospital stays.
30th Mar 2021 - STAT News

T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study

A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a U.S. laboratory study released on Tuesday. Several recent studies have shown that certain variants of the novel coronavirus can undermine immune protection from antibodies and vaccines. But antibodies - which block the coronavirus from attaching to human cells - may not tell the whole story, according to the study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). T cells appear to play an important additionally protective role. “Our data, as well as the results from other groups, shows that the T cell response to COVID-19 in individuals infected with the initial viral variants appears to fully recognize the major new variants identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil,” said Andrew Redd of the NIAID and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study.
30th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from newly-infected individuals with documented previous infection or vaccination

Direct evidence of the impact of vaccination on the risk of transmission is only available from one study, a large register-based household transmission study from Scotland. This study suggests that vaccination of a household member reduces the risk of infection in susceptible household members by at least 30%. There is evidence that vaccination significantly reduces viral load and symptomatic/asymptomatic infections in vaccinated individuals, which could translate into reduced transmission, although the vaccine efficacy varies by vaccine product and target group. In light of this fact, the total number of infections is expected to decrease significantly as vaccination coverage increases, provided that there is a match between the vaccine strains and the circulating virus strains. This will lead to decreased transmission overall. Follow-up periods for vaccinated persons are not yet sufficiently long enough to draw conclusions on the duration of protection against infection long-term. Antibody titres in vaccinated individuals peak at 3−4 weeks following vaccination. Many of the vaccine efficacy studies were carried out before the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs. In studies that address the variants, there is limited preliminary evidence of reduced vaccine efficacy, in particular for B.1.351 and possibly also for P.1.
29th Mar 2021 - EU News

COVID-19 vaccines found to be highly effective in real-world CDC study

The U.S. government’s first look at the real-world use of COVID-19 vaccines found their effectiveness was nearly as robust as it was in controlled studies. The two vaccines available since December — Pfizer and Moderna — were highly effective at 90% after two doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. In testing, the vaccines were about 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. “This is very reassuring news,” said the CDC’s Mark Thompson, the study’s lead author. “We have a vaccine that’s working very well.”
29th Mar 2021 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

WHO draft report says animals likely source of COVID-19

A joint World Health Organization-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press. The findings offer little new insight into how the virus first emerged and leave many questions unanswered. But the report does provide more detail on the reasoning behind the researchers’ conclusions. The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis — a speculative theory that was promoted by former U.S. President Donald Trump among others. It also said the role played by a seafood market where human cases were first identified was uncertain.
29th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

COVID-19 antibodies appear to ward off B117 better than B1351

COVID-19 survivors and those vaccinated against coronavirus appear able to fight off infection with the B117 SARS-CoV-2 variant but may not have the same level of protection against the B1351 variant, according to two new studies. In the first study, published late last week in Nature Medicine, researchers at Institut Pasteur in Paris isolated infectious B117, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and B1351, first discovered in South Africa, from the nasal swabs of symptomatic COVID-19 patients. Like some other emerging variants, B117 and B1351 are more infectious than previously dominant varieties, leading to fears that they could evade natural and vaccine-induced immunity.
29th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP


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Pregnant women 'didn't have the data' – until now: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even for babies, study shows

COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at protecting pregnant women and likely provide protection for their babies as well, according to a new study. The research, published Thursday in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, examined 131 vaccine recipients, including 84 who were pregnant, 31 who were breastfeeding and 16 who weren't pregnant as a control group. Earlier studies suggested the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna would be safe and effective. But this is the largest study to date looking at the immune responses of pregnant and lactating women to vaccination
28th Mar 2021 - Yahoo

Covid: How this Indian firm is vaccinating the world

As pharmaceutical giants ramp up production in the race to vaccinate the world, one firm has shot into the lead. The Serum Institute of India (SII) isn't a household name, but it's the world's largest vaccine maker. The firm churns out 1.5 billion doses every year from the company's vast manufacturing plant in Pune, Western India. It is currently making Covid vaccines under license for pharmaceutical firms such as AstraZeneca. "We took a huge calculated risk", by betting on several vaccines in 2020 before regulators had even approved of them, SII's chief executive Adar Poonawalla told the BBC. "It wasn't a blind risk, because we knew the Oxford scientists from our earlier collaboration with the malaria vaccine."
28th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready next year, says top vaccine developer

Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated ‘proof of principle’ and hope to begin developing the joint vaccine later this year. A joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready for use by the end of next year, according to one of Britain’s leading vaccine developers. Professor Robin Shattock, of Imperial College London, said the combination jab “is in our sights” after successfully combining three existing vaccines into one shot using the RNA technology he is developing. Tests of the three-in-one vaccine shot he created for Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever produced the “same type of immune response” in mice as if they had been administered separately, he said.
28th Mar 2021 - iNews

Do COVID-19 vaccines stop transmission? Top scientists are now recruiting thousands of college students to find out.

A study began on Thursday to see how well Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine stops the spread of the virus. Scientists plan to recruit 12,000 college students across 21 campuses for the clinical trial. They hope it will tell us how well vaccines prevent asymptomatic infections and stop transmission.
26th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Shots in little arms: COVID-19 vaccine testing turns to kids

The 9-year-old twins didn’t flinch as each received test doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine -- and then a sparkly bandage to cover the spot. “Sparkles make everything better,” declared Marisol Gerardo as she hopped off an exam table at Duke University to make way for her sister Alejandra. Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work for each age. The first shots are going to adults who are most at risk from the coronavirus, but ending the pandemic will require vaccinating children too.
26th Mar 2021 - The Independent

Can one vaccine ward off all coronavirus? Researchers are about to find out

Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are emerging and becoming dominant around the world. So some vaccines are being updated to allow our immune system to learn how to deal with them. But this process of identifying and characterising variants that can escape our immune system, then tweaking a vaccine to deal with them, can take time. So researchers are designing a universal coronavirus vaccine. This could mean one vaccine to protect against different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Alternatively, a universal vaccine would target many different coronaviruses, perhaps one waiting in the wings to cause the next pandemic. Here's where the science is up to and the challenges ahead.
26th Mar 2021 - ABC News

Britain gives go-ahead to 20-second COVID-19 test, distributor says

A 20-second COVID-19 test will launch in Britain after regulators accepted its registration, the product’s distributor said on Friday, heralding a testing system it said could be used in airports, sports venues and businesses. Rapid tests are seen as a key plank of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, but concerns have been expressed about the accuracy of existing lateral flow devices. The Virolens test, which is made by British start-up iAbra and TT Electronics, has been piloted at Heathrow Airport, and uses swabs of saliva. Histate, which is distributing the test, said it would launch with immediate effect after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) accepted the registration of the product, and the company said it was hoping for a wider rollout in coming months.
26th Mar 2021 - Reuters

UK’s HEAL-COVID trial will test existing drugs for the treatment of long Covid

In an effort to reduce the number of deaths and readmissions of patients who have previously been hospitalised with Covid-19, the UK is gearing up to launch national drug trial HEAL-COVID.
26th Mar 2021 - Clinical Trials Arena

Covid: Past infection increases vaccine response six-fold

Health workers with previous Covid-19 infections had six times the immune response to one dose of the Pfizer jab than those who hadn't had the virus. The researchers said this emphasised the importance of people having their second dose to provide the same "booster" effect. Those who have had Covid should still have a second jab, though, to ensure "longer-lasting" protection. Giving the previously-infected one dose would not be efficient, experts say. Having two jabs gives the best chance of activating all parts of the immune system and potentially protecting against new variants. The study, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, was an extension of Public Health England's Siren study of healthcare workers.
26th Mar 2021 - BBC News


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Study says COVID-19 vaccines provide protection for pregnant and lactating women -- and their newborns

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are effective in pregnant and lactating women, who can pass protective antibodies to newborns, according to research published Thursday in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard looked at 131 women who received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Among the participants, 84 were pregnant, 31 were lactating and 16 were not pregnant. Samples were collected between December 17, 2020 and March 2, 2021.
25th Mar 2021 - CTV News

Regeneron Antibody Cocktail May Reduce COVID-19 Hospitalization by 70%

Results from a phase 3 clinical trial show that Regeneron’s antibody cocktail has the ability to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death by 70 percent. The treatment also shortened the duration of COVID-19 symptoms by 4 days. The two antibodies work similarly to the antibodies the immune system naturally produces to fight the coronavirus.
25th Mar 2021 - Healthline

U.S. COVID response could have avoided hundreds of thousands of deaths - research

The United States squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and it could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy and trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it. That is the conclusion of a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week, offering an early and broad start to what will likely be an intense effort in coming years to assess the response to the worst pandemic in a century. U.S. COVID-19 fatalities could have stayed under 300,000, versus a death toll of 540,000 and rising, if by last May the country had adopted widespread mask, social distancing, and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, estimated Andrew Atkeson, economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles.
25th Mar 2021 - Reuters

AstraZeneca COVID vaccine 76% effective in new US trial analysis

AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine was 76 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness in a new analysis of its key trial in the United States – slightly lower than the level announced earlier this week in a report that was criticised for using outdated information. US health officials had publicly rebuked the drugmaker for not using the most up-to-date information when it published an interim analysis on Monday that said the vaccine was 79 percent effective.
25th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Study: Remdesivir speeds recovery in hospitalized COVID patients

The antiviral drug remdesivir (Veklury) was associated with faster clinical improvement in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a multicenter comparative-effectiveness study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. The retrospective study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University researchers, involved 2,299 COVID-19 patients receiving care in a 5-hospital health system in the Baltimore and Washington, DC, area from Mar 4 to Aug 29, 2020. About 15% percent received remdesivir (342) as part of their treatment, of which 285 were matched with controls for primary statistical analysis.
25th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Pfizer and BioNTech to begin testing Covid-19 vaccine in children

Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they are beginning a study aimed at showing their Covid-19 vaccine can be used in children as young as 6 months. The study follows the launch of a separate and ongoing trial in children ages 12 to 15, which was fully enrolled in January. That study could lead to results by the end of the first half of the year, depending on the data, and then to an emergency use authorization. That will depend on the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine already has an EUA for people 16 and older.
25th Mar 2021 - Stat News

Africa experienced 30% rise in COVID cases during 2nd wave: Study

Africa experienced a 30 percent rise in infections in its second wave of coronavirus last year but implemented fewer public health measures than in the first, research showed on Thursday. Writing in The Lancet medical journal, researchers said the loosening of public health measures such as distancing and intermittent lockdowns probably contributed to higher death tolls during the second wave. The study looked at COVID-19 case, death, recovery and test data carried out across all 55 African Union member states between February 14 and December 31 2020. Using publicly available data, it also analysed health control measures such as school closures and travel restrictions.
25th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Effectiveness among Health Care Workers

Since the introduction of Covid-19 vaccines, prioritizing vaccination of health care workers has been advocated, and data on vaccine effectiveness among health care workers in real-world settings is beginning to emerge. In our study that was conducted in an active hospital setting in a community with a high incidence of Covid-19, vaccination of health care workers with the BNT162b2 vaccine resulted in a major reduction of new cases of Covid-19 among those who received two doses of the vaccine, even when a surge of the B.1.1.7 variant was noted in up to 80% of cases.5 These findings suggest that widespread and effective vaccination among health care workers provides a safe environment, even in the presence of a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community.
24th Mar 2021 - nejm.org

School return has been major factor in plateau of Covid-19 cases, data suggests

The reopening of schools has been a major factor in the recent plateau in Covid-19 cases, new data suggests. Daily case numbers fell rapidly throughout January and February but have remained stagnant at about 500-600 a day over the past month. The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and the government have repeatedly said that the staged reopening of schools, which began on February 23, is not responsible for the plateau, instead blaming an increase in people meeting up and socialising. However, data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows that Covid-19 cases in children have increased by almost 20 per cent in the past month while cases among the adult population have decreased by more than 10 per cent.
24th Mar 2021 - The Times

Covid cases among healthcare workers declined 31% after staff get their first shot - and infection rate falls below 1% after they are fully vaccinated, two studies find

Coronavirus cases among healthcare workers declined dramatically after staff got their first vaccine dose, two new studies have found. In one study of employees at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 2.6 percent of all workers who were unvaccinated tested positive for COVID-19 compared to 1.82 percent of those given their first shot, a drop of 31 percent. That same study also found that just 0.05 percent of those who received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Modena vaccine were later infected.
24th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail

Pfizer launches first clinical trial of a pill to treat COVID-19 that prevents the virus from making copies of itself inside human cells

Pfizer Inc has launched early-stage human trials of an experimental oral drug that could be prescribed to patients at the first sign of infection with COVID-19. The drugmaker, which developed the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. with Germany's BioNTech SE, said the antiviral candidate showed 'potent' activity against the virus in lab studies. Pfizer's candidate, which is called PF-07321332, belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors.
24th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail


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AstraZeneca to reissue Covid-19 vaccine trial data after monitors raise alarm

AstraZeneca said it would reissue key data on its American clinical trial “within 48 hours” after the independent monitoring board that oversaw the study warned US authorities that results released by the company on Monday were misleading.
23rd Mar 2021 - The Financial Times

COVID-19: Dexamethasone may have saved lives of 1 million COVID sufferers, says NHS

An easily available drug may have saved the lives of a million COVID sufferers around the world since its discovery in June, NHS England has said. Dexamethasone, an inexpensive and widely available steroid, was found to reduce deaths from COVID-19 following a clinical trial. It cut the risk of death by a third for COVID patients on ventilators, while fatalities for those on oxygen fell by almost a fifth, scientists from the University of Oxford found as part of a clinical trial known as Recovery.
23rd Mar 2021 - Sky News

Why Insomnia And Burnout May Increase Your Covid Risk

If there’s one thing that’s become clear as the pandemic has stretched on, it’s that there’s a lot to be explored in the relationship between Covid-19 and poor sleep. We already knew the two were linked. An analysis of sleep studies found sleep problems affected approximately 40% of people in the pandemic – and those who caught Covid-19 appeared to have a higher prevalence of sleep problems. Now, a study suggests if you had sleep problems prior to getting coronavirus, or suffered daily burnout, you have a heightened risk of not only becoming infected with the virus, but also having more severe disease. Every one-hour increase in the amount of time spent asleep at night was associated with 12% lower odds of becoming infected with Covid-19, according to the study published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.
23rd Mar 2021 - Huffington Post

COVID-19 'long haulers' need dedicated clinics, experts say

The United States should create multispecialty COVID-19 clinics dedicated to treating patients still experiencing serious multiorgan effects of infection well after recovery from acute illness, say the authors of a comprehensive review of literature on so-called coronavirus "long-haulers" published yesterday in Nature Medicine. The exact number of US long-haul COVID-19 cases is unknown, but the researchers said that many patients struggle in silence or become frustrated when their doctors don't consider that their symptoms could be related to their previous infection. The review, led by researchers at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, found that the cell damage, inflammatory immune response, abnormal blood clotting, and other complications of acute COVID-19 infection can leave in their wake long-term symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, "brain fog," fatigue, joint pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder, all of which can compromise quality of life. The researchers detailed literature from the United States, Europe, and China on high percentages of long-haulers, or those with chronic or post–COVID-19 syndrome, who often have debilitating symptoms for more than 3 months. COVID-19 has been associated with diabetes, strokes, heart rhythm abnormalities, blood clots in the lungs, and other complications.
23rd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Regeneron, Roche COVID-19 antibody cocktail slashes hospitalizations and tackles variants in phase 3

Even as COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the globe, promising to eventually spark herd immunity to the virus, Regeneron’s executives have been preaching the value of having a powerful antibody cocktail on hand to treat those who do get sick—and to protect those who aren’t vaccinated. Now Regeneron and its partner Roche have fresh phase 3 data to back up the theory. And if regulators agree with them, they could have a blockbuster on their hands, analysts have estimated. The treatment, a combination of casirivimab with imdevimab, lowered the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk, non-hospitalized patients by 70% compared with placebo, the companies said. The drug combo also retained its potency against five major variants, including those originating in South Africa, the U.K. and New York City. It was effective at three different doses, as well.
23rd Mar 2021 - FiercePharma

What we know and don’t know about long Covid

Whether you call it long Covid or post-acute Covid-19 or just identify yourself as a long-hauler, the constellation of prolonged symptoms after Covid-19 infection has become all too familiar. About one-third of people who were sick enough to need hospitalization — including supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation to breathe — still struggle with problems affecting their bodies and their minds four weeks or more after the first onset of symptoms. About 1 in 10 people who had Covid but were never admitted to a hospital report they experience bewildering brain fog, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, or crushing fatigue in the months after the first signs of their initial illness. Some see no end in sight; others seem to recover. To help understand how to recognize and treat this mysterious condition, researchers from Harvard and Columbia culled the scientific literature to guide treatment for nine organ systems where the SARS-CoV-2 virus does its damage.
23rd Mar 2021 - STAT News

Hormone drugs may disarm COVID-19 spike protein and stop disease progression

Hormone drugs that reduce androgen levels may help disarm the coronavirus spike protein used to infect cells and stop the progression of severe COVID-19 disease, suggests a new preclinical study from researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and published online in Cell Press's iScience. Researchers show how two receptors—known as ACE2 and TMPRSS2—are regulated by the androgen hormone and used by SARS-CoV-2 to gain entry into host cells. Blocking the receptors with the clinically proven inhibitor Camostat and other anti-androgen therapies prevented viral entry and replication
22nd Mar 2021 - Phys.Org


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The world’s first oral Covid-19 vaccine is being prepared for clinical trials - here's how it works

The world’s first oral Covid-19 vaccine is being prepared to enter Phase 1 clinical trials by an Israeli-American pharmaceutical company. Based on technology developed by Hadassah-University Medical Center, the joint venture between Premas Biotech and Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc will see the development of a novel oral Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is based on ‘POD’ oral delivery technology developed by Oramed. This will allow the vaccine to orally administer a number of protein-based therapies, which would otherwise be delivered by injection.
22nd Mar 2021 - The Scotsman

COVID-19: Hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo may be associated with coronavirus, research suggests

Hearing loss and other auditory problems may be strongly linked to coronavirus, new research suggests. Scientists estimate 7.6% of people infected with COVID-19 experience hearing loss, while 14.8% suffer tinnitus. They also found the prevalence of vertigo was 7.2%. The researchers, from The University of Manchester and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, compiled data from 24 studies that identified an association between coronavirus and auditory and vestibular problems. The vestibular system includes parts of the inner ear and brain that process the information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.
22nd Mar 2021 - Sky News

Vitamin D may prevent COVID, especially in Black patients

Higher levels of vitamin D than traditionally considered sufficient may help prevent COVID-19 infection—particularly in Black patients—or lead to less severe outcomes, two new US studies suggest.
22nd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP


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A rapid COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired in some US states

A surprising new analysis found that states such as South Carolina, Florida and Missouri that raced ahead of others to offer the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people have vaccinated smaller shares of their population than those that moved more slowly and methodically, such as Hawaii and Connecticut. The explanation, as experts see it, is that the rapid expansion of eligibility caused a surge in demand too big for some states to handle and led to serious disarray. Vaccine supplies proved insufficient or unpredictable, websites crashed and phone lines became jammed, spreading confusion, frustration and resignation among many people. “The infrastructure just wasn’t ready. It kind of backfired,” said Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease physician and health data specialist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. She added: “In the rush to satisfy everyone, governors satisfied few and frustrated many.”
21st Mar 2021 - Yahoo News

Skin swabs could be the next COVID-19 test

Researchers have developed a new method for testing COVID-19 that uses a skin swab. The new test is less invasive compared to current testing methods. The skin swab test analyzes sebum, which is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Researchers from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom led the study.
20th Mar 2021 - Medical News Today

Covid vaccine priority list should include heart failure patients, experts say

Experts are calling for an urgent review of the vaccine priority list to include heart failure patients, as studies show more than half of this group who contract Covid-19 subsequently die. Younger people living with severe heart failure are not deemed at very high risk under the national immunisation programme. The data, from the Irish Heart Foundation and the Health Service Executive, has prompted the HSE’s national heart programme to call for under-70s, along with inpatients awaiting cardiac surgery, to be moved from level seven to level four of the priority list.
19th Mar 2021 - The Times

COVID-19 deaths: CDC may underestimate risk for people of color

The way in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report COVID-19 deaths may lead to an underestimation of racial and ethnic disparities, according to a new study. The authors say that the CDC use a statistical method called “weighting” that discounts the impact of the uneven geographical distribution of COVID-19 deaths in the United States among various racial and ethnic groups. They argue that this approach fails to take into account the range of factors that influence where people live and work. This is important because these factors may also influence the risk of COVID-19.
19th Mar 2021 - Medical News Today


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GPs ‘at least 30% less likely’ to pass Covid-19 on to others after one vaccine dose

Chances of healthcare workers passing Covid onto others reduced by at least 30% after one vaccine dose, according to the first UK study into the transmission of coronavirus following vaccination. Quoting the research in yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock said ‘it shows that the vaccines are saving lives’. The study, which included 300,000 people, saw researchers assess the health records of people who lived with vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers between 8 December and 3 March to find how many tested positive for Covid-19 or were hospitalised. The yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study, carried out by Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow, suggested that after one vaccine dose healthcare workers are at least 30% less likely to pass Covid onto others, with this rising to 54% less likely after a second dose. The researchers said this is a low estimate of the ‘true’ impact of the vaccines, given that household members of healthcare workers could also be infected through people they do not live with.
18th Mar 2021 - Pulse

Skin swabbing could be useful in detecting Covid-19, research suggests

Simple skin swabbing could be useful in helping to help detect Covid-19, new research suggests. Chemists at the University of Surrey found that people infected with the virus appear to have lower lipid levels in the natural oils that coat the surface of their skin.
18th Mar 2021 - The Independent on MSN.com

Covid-19 reinfections are rare, unless you are over 65

Coronavirus reinfections are rare, but it's more common for people 65 and older to get infected more than once, according to a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal. The study, which looked at reinfection rates among 4 million people in Denmark, found that most people who have had Covid-19 seemed to have protection from reinfection for more than six months. In a follow-up after six months, the study found no evidence that protection was waning. But a check of the demographics of who was getting infected again showed it was mostly people 65 and older, Jen Christensen reports.
18th Mar 2021 - CNN on MSN.com

J&J developing several next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, says CEO

Johnson & Johnson is developing several next generation COVID-19 vaccines against the emerging variants of the coronavirus, Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said on Thursday. The drugmaker, which won the U.S. emergency use authorization of a one-shot vaccine last month, had previously said it was developing a second-generation vaccine that would target the variant first identified in South Africa. J&J is also working on a two-dose version of its vaccine. "We could be in a situation where you could either need a booster to maintain the durability (of protection against the virus) or you might need to have a next derivative of the current vaccine to address these variants as they develop", Gorsky said at a webinar by the Economic Club of New York.
18th Mar 2021 - Yahoo

Half of hospital COVID survivors note symptoms 4 months on

Half of French COVID-19 survivors who were hospitalized (51.0%) had at least one COVID-related symptom at least 4 months later, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA. The most commonly noted symptoms were fatigue (31.1%), cognitive conditions (20.7%), and shortness of breath (16.3%). Further clinical tests in a subset of 177 patients showed that 63.2% had abnormalities on lung computed tomography (CT) scan, but the researchers note that severe pulmonary after-effects were not common. "Along with funding for research to better understand and treat long COVID, simultaneous investment in clinical infrastructure will be needed to support patients as they recover from this challenging disease," writes Hallie Prescott, MD, MSc, of the University of Michigan, in an invited editorial.
18th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Trending Clinical Topic: PASC

At a recent White House briefing, Anthony Fauci, MD, introduced a new acronym for what had been called "long COVID." PASC is the new term used to describe long-lingering effects of COVID-19 (see Infographic below) and is this week's top trending clinical topic. At the briefing, Fauci stressed that even patients with moderate cases of COVID-19 can develop PASC. "New symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection, or they evolve over time and persist for months," he explained. "They can range from mild or annoying to actually quite incapacitating." Fauci noted that the National Institutes of Health recently launched an initiative to further study the phenomenon.
18th Mar 2021 - Medscape

Existing COVID vaccines may protect against Brazil strain: Study

Existing vaccines may protect against the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, according to a University of Oxford study which also highlighted how a variant first found in South Africa poses the biggest headache for vaccine makers. Coronavirus variants with specific mutations to the spike protein are of concern because scientists worry they will reduce the efficacy of vaccines, as well as immunity gained from prior infection.
18th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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AstraZeneca's COVID-19 Vaccine Has No Efficacy Against South African Virus Strain, Study Shows

According to a Phase 1b-2 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University / AstraZeneca Plc (NASDAQ: AZN) was ineffective against mild-to-moderate infections caused due to mutated virus strain in South Africa,
17th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News UK

US refuses to delay time between coronavirus vaccine doses

The UK's controversial decision to increase the time between covid-19 vaccine doses has been thrust back under the spotlight after the US hasn’t followed suit, amid warnings that the strategy may backfire. However, the UK is no longer alone in its decision, with Canada and Germany both choosing to follow a similar plan. In December, the UK made the surprise decision to lengthen the interval between doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines from the recommended three or four weeks to 12 weeks.
17th Mar 2021 - New Scientist

Actual Covid-19 infection rate in the US may be more than double official CDC figures, study says

The actual number of coronavirus infections throughout the United States could be twice as high as the daily tracking figures reported ahead of the deadly holiday surge late last year, according to a new study published on Tuesday. Researchers at the Clinical Reference Laboratory in Kansas surveyed blood samples from nearly 62,000 life insurance applicants, finding higher rates of Covid-19 antibodies in the pool of applicants compared to nationally reported estimates. According to the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, nearly 16 million Covid-19 cases went undiagnosed or patients were otherwise asymptomatic ahead of the holiday season, when the country saw an unprecedented surge in the rate of infections and deaths nationwide, compared to CDC figures were estimated a total of nearly 7.2 million cases.
17th Mar 2021 - The Independent

Scots university's pioneering Covid-19 antibody test is 'more accurate' than those currently available

A new Covid-19 antibody test that’s better than those currently available has been developed by researchers at a Scots university. Serology tests detect if a person has previously had the virus and are important tools in tracing its spread. However, some existing antibody tests are not suited to rapid mass deployment as they can be inaccurate and also detect other coronaviruses including some versions of the common cold. In response to the Chief Scientist Office’s rapid research funding, Aberdeen University, in collaboration with Vertebrate Antibodies and NHS Grampian, has developed a test that has shown high levels of ­accuracy in smaller trials. The next step is to start a trial on a larger cohort.
17th Mar 2021 - Daily Record

CDC IDs new COVID-19 variants of concern, as hot spots reemerge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said two coronavirus variants first detected in California, B.1427 and B.1429, are now considered as variants of concern. The CDC said the variants may be 20% more transmissible. In comparison, the variant B117, first identified in the United Kingdom, is considered 50% more transmissible than the original wild type COVID-19 virus. Neither of the new variants of concern are thought to escape the effectiveness of currently approved vaccines, but therapeutics, including monoclonal antibody treatments, may be slightly less effective. Currently, the CDC's variant tracker shows 4,686 B117 cases in 50 states, 142 B1351 cases in 25 states, and 27 P1 cases in 12 states.
17th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

UK nursing homes saw spikes in B117 COVID variant in early winter

The proportion of COVID-19 cases caused by the SARS-CoV-2 B117 variant in UK nursing homes rose from 12.0% on Nov 16 to 60.4% on Dec 13, mirroring the variant’s spread in the community, according to a research letter published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from University College London examined a sample of 4,442 positive COVID-19 tests from nursing home residents and staff from Oct 5 to Dec 17 to determine the proportion of cases caused by B117, the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom. UK nursing home staff are tested weekly, and residents are tested monthly. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increased rapidly in southeast England in November and December, despite lockdowns. More than half of the cases were attributed to B117, which studies have suggested is more deadly and spreads 40% to 70% more easily than previous strains, and was behind the rise of infections in England in early winter.
17th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP


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AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't prevent B1351 COVID in early trial

Two doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine were ineffective against mild-to-moderate infections with the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa, according to a phase 1b-2 clinical trial published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The double-blind multicenter study, led by scientists at the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, studied the safety and the efficacy of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in HIV-negative adults aged 18 to 64 who received either two standard doses of the vaccine or a placebo in a 1:1 ratio 21 to 35 days apart from Jun 24 to Nov 9, 2020. Median follow-up after the second dose was 121 days.
16th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

GlaxoSmithKline starts phase III coronavirus vaccine trial with Medicago

GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) has started Phase 3 clinical testing of a plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Canadian partner Medicago. Takashi Nagao, Medicago’s chief executive, said: "This brings us one step closer to delivering an important new COVID-19 vaccine and contributing to the global fight against the pandemic along with our partner GSK.” Canada-based Medicago said its candidate uses Coronavirus-Like-Particle (CoVLP) technology co-administered with GSK's pandemic adjuvant. Two doses of 3.75μg of CoVLP are administered 21 days apart.
16th Mar 2021 - Proactive Investors UK

AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine’s Benefits Outweigh Risks, Says EU

The European Union’s top drug regulator said it is still firmly convinced that the benefits of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks, after a string of nations in the bloc temporarily halted use of the shot over blood-clot concerns. The European Medicines Agency so far sees no indication that the vaccine caused a small number of blood-clotting incidents reported across the region, Executive Director Emer Cooke said in a briefing Tuesday. The regulator is currently reviewing those incidents to determine whether they represent a broader risk. Ms. Cooke said the results of the review would be presented Thursday.
16th Mar 2021 - Wall Street Journal

mRNA vaccines spur lymph nodes for longer-term protection; COVID-19 test accuracy may vary by time of day

Along with inducing antibodies for immediate defense, mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 also stimulate the lymph nodes to generate immune cells that provide protection over the long term, a new study confirms. The early wave of antibodies are generated by B cells called plasmablasts. In healthy volunteers, blood tests showed that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine induced "a strong plasmablast response," said coauthor Ali Ellebedy of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The immune cells that will produce antibodies upon exposure to the virus in years to come - called memory B cells - are generated by germinal center B cells found only in lymph nodes near vaccine injection sites, his team explained in a paper currently undergoing peer review for possible publication in a Nature journal.
16th Mar 2021 - Reuters

North-east researchers develop 'highly accurate' Covid-19 antibody test

Scientists at the university collaborated with NHS Grampian and the firm Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd to develop the prototype. They describe the new test as “highly accurate, affordable, suitable for mass rollout” – while it also does not require specialised laboratories. Covid-19 antibody – sometimes called serology – tests confirm whether a person has previously had coronavirus. They can be used to manage the pandemic by monitoring how many people have had the virus and how it is spreading. The tests can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines, population immunity and the impact of new strains of the disease.
16th Mar 2021 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Moderna Starts Covid-19 Vaccine Trial In Kids Younger Than 12 Years Old

Biotech company Moderna announced today that it has given the first doses of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to young children as part of a new study to test how effective the vaccine is in kids.
16th Mar 2021 - Forbes

FDA orders COVID antibody makers Regeneron, Eli Lilly to track virus variants

Emerging coronavirus variants could pose threats to existing monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, and the FDA’s taken note, revising its emergency use authorizations to Eli Lilly’s and Regeneron’s drugs. In edited letters of authorization re-issued in late February and early March, the FDA’s asking the two companies to monitor new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind COVID-19 and potentially conduct additional tests of their authorized antibody drugs against variants. The update came as evidence points to increased resistance of emerging coronavirus variants, especially the B.1.351 version first identified in South Africa, to antibody therapies. The letters, first reported by Endpoints, were for existing EUAs for Lilly’s bamlanivimab (PDF) and its combo (PDF) with etesevimab, and Regeneron’s cocktail (PDF) of casirivimab and imdevimab, in mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients with high risk of disease progression in the outpatient setting.
16th Mar 2021 - FiercePharma

Long Covid more common in women and children and lasts for months, warns latest review

Lasting effects of infection from coronavirus are more common in women and children than expected, with at least 10 per cent of people infected suffering persistent symptoms for months, a new review has found. Experts at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) examined more than 300 separate scientific studies for the analysis. It found many patients reported struggling to access testing and help from the NHS to treat their symptoms, which varied between patients, suggesting long Covid is a group of four possible syndromes affecting patients differently. The report said: “Long Covid appears to be more frequent in women and in young people (including children) than might have been expected,” adding other sufferers could be experiencing an active disease, impacting on their organs and causing debilitating symptoms that would need ongoing treatment. In some patients, the effects included neurological changes in their brains while others showed signs of blood clotting and inflammation. Other patients reported anxiety, fatigue and damage to their lungs and heart.
16th Mar 2021 - The Independent


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Covid-19: Evidence does not suggest AstraZeneca jab linked to clots, MHRA says

People should still get their Covid vaccine despite several EU countries pausing use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab amid concern about blood clots, the UK medicines regulator has said. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said evidence "does not suggest" the jab causes clots. The Netherlands has become the latest country to suspend use of the jab following reports of serious clotting. But the World Health Organization says there is no reason to stop using it. Dutch officials said the move was precautionary following reports from Denmark and Norway about side effects including blood clots. Manufacturer AstraZeneca has said there is no evidence of a link between the two.
15th Mar 2021 - BBC News

B117 deadlier than other COVID-19 strains, more data affirm

The B117 COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom in October 2020, may pose a 61% higher risk of 28-day mortality, according to a study published today in Nature. The finding is in line with last week's BMJ study that reported B117 had a 64% higher 28-day risk of death among people older than 30, although both studies note absolute 28-day mortality risk remains low for most populations. "Crucially, our study is limited to individuals tested in the community," the researchers write. "However, this restricted focus allows us to capture the combined effect of an altered risk of hospitalisation given a positive test and an altered risk of death given hospitalisation, while only the latter would be measurable in a study of hospitalised patients only."
15th Mar 2021 - STAT News

Moderna begins testing next-generation coronavirus vaccine

Moderna Inc said on Monday it had dosed the first participant in an early-stage study of a new COVID-19 vaccine candidate that could potentially be stored and shipped in refrigerators instead of freezers. The company said its new candidate could make it easier for distribution, especially in developing countries where supply chain issues could hamper vaccination drives.
15th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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UAE Trials Show Russian Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine Has 91.6% Efficacy

Trials of Russia’s adenovirus-based vaccine in the United Arab Emirates have completed the inoculation phase, the Abu Dhabi government said. Testing will move into the scientific data collection phase after 1,000 volunteers in the UAE received a second dose and the next step involves monitoring volunteers’ immune response over 180 days. UAE results will be combined with existing findings elsewhere. Interim results will be released in April.
14th Mar 2021 - Bloomberg

AstraZeneca finds no evidence showing increased risk of blood clots with COVID-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca Plc on Sunday said it had conducted a review of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine which has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots. The review covered more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom. "A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," the statement said.
14th Mar 2021 - MSN

COVID-19: Ireland suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting concerns

Ireland has temporarily halted its use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after some reports of blood clots. The move came after a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred after the jab, despite the World Health Organisation having sought to downplay concerns and urge countries to keep using it. The vaccine will continue to be administered in Northern Ireland, however, after the country's health body sought advice from the UK's medicine regulator.
14th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Risk of allergic reaction to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines 'extremely low'

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are a new technology at the forefront of the vaccine response to COVID-19. Anxiety about possible allergic reactions may lead to vaccine hesitancy. Researchers behind a study that included more than 50,000 people who had received this type of vaccine found allergic reaction rates to be “extremely low.” In a new study, researchers have found that the incidence of allergic reactions in people who had received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is “extremely low.” The study, published as a research letter in the journal JAMA, provides further evidence of the overall safety of mRNA vaccines.
13th Mar 2021 - Medical News Today

R rate drops as low as 0.6 days after lockdown starts to lift

The R Rate in the UK has fallen to as low as 0.6 days after lockdown restrictions were eased by the Government. New figures from Government scientists Sage show the crucial number is now between 0.6 and 0.
13th Mar 2021 - Metro

Philippines reports first Brazil COVID variant as new cases surge

The Philippines has detected its first case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil, the health department said, as the number of infections surges to the highest level in six months. A Filipino returning from Brazil tested positive for the P.1 variant after 752 samples were sequenced at the genome centre, the department said in a statement on Saturday.
13th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

COVID-19: Two doses of Pfizer or Oxford vaccine reduce risk of transmission by more than half, study shows

Two doses of the Pfizer or Oxford vaccine reduces the risk of passing on COVID by more than half, a new study shows. Researchers in Scotland found that people living with health workers who had been given one dose of a coronavirus vaccine were 30% less likely to get it themselves. The same study found that households of health workers who had received both doses were 54% less likely to contract the virus. The findings are the first in the UK to provide direct evidence that COVID-19 vaccines not only prevent severe disease and death - but also transmission.
12th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Sanofi starts human trials on second coronavirus vaccine

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi has started human trials for a second coronavirus vaccine, it announced on Friday. Sanofi and US company Translate Bio announced “the start of the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for MRT5500, an mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19,” adding that “the companies expect interim results from this trial in the third quarter of 2021.”
12th Mar 2021 - The Brussels Times


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Canada says AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after Norway and Denmark suspend use

Canada on Thursday said the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe after Denmark and Norway temporarily suspended its use amid reports that blood clots had formed in some who had received the shot. “Health Canada is aware of reports of adverse events in Europe following immunization with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and would like to reassure Canadians that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks,” the health department said in a statement. “At this time, there is no indication that the vaccine caused these events,” it said. Canada received 500,000 AstraZeneca doses made at the Serum Institute of India last week, and expects to get 1.5 million more in by May.
12th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Single Covid vaccine dose less effective for cancer patients, study finds

Cancer patients given a single coronavirus vaccine develop significantly inferior protection against the illness than those who receive a booster shot, according to a UK study that called for a reassessment of the gap between jabs for vulnerable individuals. Three weeks after receiving a first dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, sufficient antibody levels to combat the virus were detected in 39 per cent of patients with organ cancer and 13 per cent of those with blood cancer, found researchers at King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute. This compared with 97 per cent of those who were cancer free. When a second shot was given, however, the effectiveness of the vaccine jumped to about 95 per cent after two weeks in organ cancers patients, the study found. There was insufficient data to reach a conclusion on blood cancer patients. The researchers did not test the effectiveness of any other coronavirus vaccine.
11th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

New antibody drug ‘reduces hospital admission or death from Covid-19 by 85%’

A monoclonal antibody drug reduces hospital admission or death from Covid-19 by 85 per cent, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced. The drug, called VIR-7831, is a new treatment for people with mild to moderate illness, and the study has been so successful that it has been stopped early. GSK and its partner, Vir Biotechnology, plan to immediately seek an emergency use authorisation in the United States and approval in other countries, including potentially in the UK.
11th Mar 2021 - Evening Standard

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine 97% effective against asymptomatic infection

Data suggest Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine prevents asymptomatic Covid-19 infection. Lower COVID-19 disease incidence rates observed in individuals fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Wednesday that real-world data from Israel suggests that their COVID-19 vaccine is 94% effective in preventing asymptomatic infections, meaning the vaccine could significantly reduce transmission. According to the analysis, unvaccinated individuals were 44 times more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19 and 29 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who had received the vaccine.
11th Mar 2021 - Mint

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses have better efficacy when given 12 weeks apart, study finds

Waiting three months between the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine results in high efficacy, backing current recommendations from Australian authorities, new research shows. The study, which involved more than 17,000 participants and was published recently in The Lancet, found the vaccine — which most people in Australia will receive — had an 81 per cent efficacy rate when a second dose was given three months after the first.
11th Mar 2021 - ABC.Net.au

COVID-19 survivors may be able to skip 2nd vaccine dose

COVID-19 survivors may not need a second dose of mRNA-based vaccine to prevent subsequent symptomatic infections, which could stretch limited vaccine supplies, reports a research letter published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai used a convenience sample from an ongoing study of 110 participants in the longitudinal Protection Associated with Rapid Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (PARIS) study. All received one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine in 2020, although 39.0% were seropositive for COVID-19 antibodies prior to vaccination. Eighty-eight participants received the Pfizer vaccine, and 22 had the Moderna vaccine. Mean patient age was 40 years.
11th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Novavax vaccine 96% effective against original coronavirus, 86% vs British variant in UK trial

Novavax Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine was 96% effective in preventing cases caused by the original version of the coronavirus in a late-stage trial conducted in the United Kingdom, the company said on Thursday, moving it a step closer to regulatory approval. There were no cases of severe illness or deaths among those who got the vaccine, the company said, in a sign that it could stop the worse effects of new variants that have cropped up. The vaccine was 86% effective in protecting against the more contagious virus variant first discovered and now prevalent in the United Kingdom, for a combined 90% effectiveness rate overall based on data from infections of both versions of the coronavirus.
11th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Valo, ImmunoScape identify peptides for coronavirus vaccine development

Valo Therapeutics (Valo TX) has partnered with ImmunoScape to identify immunogenic peptides for pan-coronavirus vaccine development. The detected conserved peptide sequences will be applied to adenoviruses to address efficacy problems with existing vaccines against novel Covid-19 variants. Valo Therapeutics’ PeptiVAX platform offers a flexible and quick approach to address variants by coating the adenovirus with the associated clinical-grade target peptides instead of re-engineering and producing an entirely new viral vector. Applying these peptides to adenovectors using PeptiVAX can generate robust T-cell responses against the selected antigens.
10th Mar 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Vaccine economics: how Covid-19 will disrupt the vaccine market

The FT explains the business models behind vaccines and asks if the Covid-19 pandemic will fundamentally change the vaccine market. This short documentary features global experts including Bill Gates, the CEOs of Moderna and Gavi, and the lead scientist behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
10th Mar 2021 - The Financial Times

Eli Lilly's combo therapy for COVID-19 cuts serious illness and death in large study

Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday that its combination antibody therapy to fight COVID-19 reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 87% in a study of more than 750 high-risk COVID-19 patients. It is the second large, late-stage study to show that combination therapy of two antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, is effective at treating mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. The previous study, which published data in January, used a higher dose of the drugs and reduced risk of hospitalization by 70%.
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Death rate 64% higher with B117 COVID variant, study finds

The 28-day risk of death for the B117 COVID-19 variant was 64% higher than for previously circulating strains in people older than 30 years, a UK study finds. The study, led by University of Exeter researchers and published today in BMJ, involved community-based testing and death data from 54,906 matched pairs of participants who tested positive for COVID-19 from Oct 1, 2020, to Jan 29, 2021. Of the 109,812 total participants, 367 (0.3%) died. Of the 54,906 participants infected with B117, 227 (0.4%) died, compared with 141 (0.3%) infected with other strains.
10th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Eli Lilly COVID-19 antibody combo aces study, cutting hospitalizations and deaths by a whopping 87%

Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody combo already boasts an FDA authorization for patients at a high risk of developing severe disease, but now the company has even stronger data backing the duo. In trial data released Wednesday, the company said its bamlanivimab-etesevimab duo slashed the risk of hospitalization and death by a whopping 87% versus placebo. Investigators tested a combination of 700 mg of bamlanivimab and 1400 mg of etesevimab in a trial comprising 769 patients total. It's the starkest reduction in hospitalizations and deaths for a COVID-19 therapeutic seen so far, and in a “fairly sizable” sample size, Lilly’s COVID-19 therapeutics platform leader Janelle Sabo said in an interview.
10th Mar 2021 - FiercePharma


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Everything you need to know about China’s coronavirus vaccines

Move over, Sputnik. The next coronavirus vaccines really causing a stir in Europe are from China. Polish President Andrzej Duda jumped on the phone to ask his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for doses; the Czech Republic just placed an order; and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave China’s vaccines the biggest EU endorsement by getting one himself. European capitals, stuck in sluggish vaccination campaigns, are increasingly looking outside the EU for doses — and Beijing is happy to fill the void.
9th Mar 2021 - POLITICO.eu

FDA Issues EUA for COVID-19 Diagnostic Test to Confirm Recent or Prior COVID-19 Infection

“People who have been unsure about a prior infection will now have another way to know if they had the virus,” said Chad Robins, chief executive officer of Adaptive Biotechnologies, in a press release. “The authorization of T-Detect COVID represents a true breakthrough for patients and a pivotal milestone for the diagnostic testing paradigm. We have proven that it is possible to read how T cells detect disease in the blood, and this is just the beginning of a pipeline of tests for many other indications.”
9th Mar 2021 - Pharmacy Times

COVID-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine shows promise against Brazil coronavirus variant in laboratory testing

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was able to combat the Brazil variant of COVID-19, it has been revealed. Scientists tested the blood of people who had received the jab and found it fared well against a laboratory made version of the virus similar to the one first discovered in Brazil. The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, could calm fears about the P.1 variant, which has been found to spread more quickly than other types of the coronavirus since it emerged in South America.
9th Mar 2021 - Sky News


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Intellectual disability, obesity tied to COVID-19 hospitalization, death

The first study, led by researchers from Jefferson Health in Philadelphia and published late last week as a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, involved analyzing the medical records of 558,672 US COVID-19 patients from January 2019 to November 2020. Patients with intellectual disabilities had higher rates of coronavirus infection than those without those limitations (3.1% vs 0.9%). In unadjusted analysis, compared with the 431,669 patients without intellectual disabilities, the 127,003 patients with intellectual disabilities were more susceptible to hospitalization (63.1% vs. 29.1%), intensive care unit (ICU) admission (14.5% vs. 6.3%), and death (8.2% vs. 3.8%).
8th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes Brazil variant in lab study

The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE was able to neutralize a new variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Brazil, according to a laboratory study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday. Blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine neutralized an engineered version of the virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, the study conducted by scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch found
8th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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You've been vaccinated — the CDC is finalizing guidance on what's safe for you to do

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing guidance aimed at clarifying what Americans who have received COVID-19 vaccines should and shouldn't do, according to two sources at the agency familiar with its drafting. The upcoming guidance, first reported by Politico, is expected to include that fully vaccinated individuals should be able to gather in small groups with other people who have also been vaccinated. The CDC currently does not recommend in-person gatherings with the general public, saying "gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice."
6th Mar 2021 - CBS News

Exclusive: Oxford study indicates AstraZeneca effective against Brazil variant, source says

Preliminary data from a study conducted at the University of Oxford indicates that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC is effective against the P1, or Brazilian, variant, a source with knowledge of the study told Reuters on Friday. The data indicates that the vaccine will not need to be modified in order to protect against the variant, which is believed to have originated in the Amazonian city of Manaus, said the source, who requested anonymity as the results have not yet been made public. The source did not provide the exact efficacy of the vaccine against the variant. They said the full results of the study should be released soon, possibly in March.
5th Mar 2021 - Reuters

FDA authorizes new test, built with machine learning, to detect past Covid-19 infections

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued an emergency authorization for a new test to detect Covid-19 infections — one that stands apart from the hundreds already authorized. Unlike tests that detect bits of SARS-CoV-2 or antibodies to it, the new test, called T-Detect COVID, looks for signals of past infections in the body’s adaptive immune system — in particular, the T cells that help the body remember what its viral enemies look like. Developed by Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies, it is the first test of its kind. Adaptive’s approach involves mapping antigens to their matching receptors on the surface of T cells. They and other researchers had already shown that the cast of T cells floating around in an individual’s blood reflects the diseases they’ve encountered, in many cases years later. The next step is trying to unlock that information to help diagnose those past infections.
5th Mar 2021 - Stat News

Coronavirus: will immunity rapidly fade or last a lifetime?

The COVID vaccines are working. Data from Israel and Scotland shows that they are protecting people and may also be decreasing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If it all holds up, people will be protected from severe disease, the amount of virus will progressively decrease, and we can truly plan for a way out of the pandemic. Evidence is also growing that once you’ve been infected, there is a pretty good chance that you will be protected from further infections, or at the very least, have less severe disease. This makes sense, as it’s why your immune system evolved in the first place. However, an important question in immunology, when it comes to infectious diseases and vaccines, is: how long protection might last? There are several variables here, from the type of pathogen infecting you, to how bad the initial disease is, to your overall health, and your age. All of this makes predicting what might happen with COVID challenging.
5th Mar 2021 - theconversation.com

Understanding the spectrum of vaccine efficacy measures

Phase III covid-19 vaccine efficacy trials have returned encouraging results, exceeding the 50% efficacy threshold specified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Multiple vaccines are now available for use. These phase III trials address the central question of a vaccine’s effect on a meaningful clinical outcome. In nearly all of the trials, the primary aim is to measure efficacy against laboratory confirmed symptomatic disease, including mild symptoms. But this is not the only endpoint that policy makers and individuals care about when making decisions. In fact, we can think about it as one measure of vaccine efficacy that lies alongside others on a spectrum.
5th Mar 2021 - British Medical Journal

Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between COVID doses

A national panel of vaccine experts in Canada recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to four months to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses in Canada. A number of provinces said they would do just that. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed optimism that vaccination timelines could be sped up. And Health Canada, the country’s regulator, said emerging evidence suggests high effectiveness for several weeks after the first dose and noted the panel’s recommendation in a tweet. But two top health officials called it an experiment.
4th Mar 2021 - Associated Press


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Emergent BioSolutions Capable Of Manufacturing 1B COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Annually, CEO Says

Emergent BioSolutions Inc has built the capacity to produce vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson around the clock, said CEO Bob Kramer on CNBC. “We are operating at a level where our capacity is well in excess of 1 billion doses annually for those products.” said the CEO. The company bagged a five-year deal with JNJ to produce its COVID-19 vaccine, valued at about $480 million for the first two years. It also entered into a multi-year contract production pact for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. The three-year contract is valued at $174 million through 2021.
4th Mar 2021 - YAHOO!Finance

COVID-19: UK to fast-track modified coronavirus vaccines designed to combat new variants

Coronavirus vaccines that have been tweaked to deal with new variants of the disease will be fast-tracked for authorisation, the UK regulator has said. According to new guidance, manufacturers must provide robust evidence that the modified jab triggers an immune response, but lengthier clinical studies that don't offer data on safety or effectiveness won't be required. The new guidance has come from Access Consortium - a group made up of regulatory bodies from the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland.
4th Mar 2021 - Sky News

More bad news for Covid-19 sufferers: Almost HALF of patients experience painful swollen salivary glands after infection, study warns

From a high fever to a loss of sense of smell, Covid-19 is associated with a range of unpleasant symptoms. Now, a new study has warned that infection with the coronavirus can also lead to swollen salivary glands in the mouth. Researchers studied 122 Covid-19 patients in Italy who caught the virus and were admitted hospital between July 23 and September 7, 2020. Follow-up appointments over three months found more than eight out of ten patients had some form of facial or mouth issue as a result of the infection.
4th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

COVID-19: 5 blood proteins predict critical illness and death

A study suggests that among people hospitalized for COVID-19, blood levels of five proteins are higher in those who will go on to require critical care. These proteins are associated with a type of immune cell that may promote excessive inflammation and blood clotting in the lungs. Some of the same proteins are at elevated levels in people with obesity. If further studies confirm the findings, the discovery could lead to new tests and treatments for severe COVID-19.
4th Mar 2021 - Medical News Today


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Turkish study revises down Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine efficacy to 83.5%

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech has an efficacy of 83.5% based on final results of Phase III trials, Turkish researchers said on Wednesday, a downward revision from a preliminary finding of 91.25%. The final efficacy rate was based on 41 infections, 32 of which had received a placebo, said Murat Akova, head of the Phase III trials conducted in Turkey. The rate is based on participants who presented at least one symptom of COVID-19 along with a positive PCR test at least 14 days after the second dose of the vaccine, Akova said.
3rd Mar 2021 - Yahoo

'When will it end?': How a changing virus is reshaping scientists’ views on COVID-19

Chris Murray, a University of Washington disease expert whose projections on COVID-19 infections and deaths are closely followed worldwide, is changing his assumptions about the course of the pandemic. A new consensus is emerging among scientists, according to Reuters interviews with 18 specialists who closely track the pandemic or are working to curb its impact. Many described how the breakthrough late last year of two vaccines with around 95% efficacy against COVID-19 had initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained, similar to the way measles has been. But, they say, data in recent weeks on new variants from South Africa and Brazil has undercut that optimism. They now believe that SARS-CoV-2 will not only remain with us as an endemic virus, continuing to circulate in communities, but will likely cause a significant burden of illness and death for years to come. As a result, the scientists said, people could expect to continue to take measures such as routine mask-wearing and avoiding crowded places during COVID-19 surges, especially for people at high risk.
3rd Mar 2021 - Reuters

South African scientists find antibodies from variant may offer cross-protection

The findings in laboratory studies offer hope that COVID-19 vaccines based on the 501Y.V2 variant first identified late last year could protect against multiple variants circulating in different parts of the world. The more contagious variant drove a second wave of infections in South Africa that peaked in January and is believed to have spread to many other countries in Africa and other continents. “We used plasma ... from people that were infected in this latest wave with the 501Y.V2 and we used it against the first-wave virus, ... what we found is that it could neutralise, OK not as well as it could neutralise itself but it’s not bad at all,” Alex Sigal from the Africa Health Research Institute told a news conference.
3rd Mar 2021 - Reuters

India's Bharat Biotech says Covid-19 vaccine shows 81% interim efficacy

India’s COVID-19 vaccine produced by Bharat Biotech has shown an interim vaccine efficacy of 81 percent in late-stage clinical trials, the company based in the southern city of Hyderabad said. The interim analysis was based on 43 recorded cases of COVID-19 in the trial of 25,800 participants, conducted in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – India’s premier medical research body. Thirty-six of the 43 cases were recorded in participants who received a placebo, compared with seven cases in people who were given the Bharat Biotech vaccine, pointing to an efficacy rate of 80.6 per cent, the company said on Wednesday. India had approved the vaccine, branded COVAXIN, in January without late-stage efficacy data, raising questions about its effectiveness. But the move was hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a success in India’s push towards self-reliance.
3rd Mar 2021 - The Straits Times


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Africa, Southeast Asia ask drug companies to share coronavirus vaccine knowledge

A proposal to suspend intellectual property rights during the pandemic. That option would force drug companies to share. The idea has been blocked in the World Trade Organization by the United States and Europe, home to the companies responsible for creating coronavirus vaccines. That drive has the support of at least 119 countries and the African Union. Drug companies say instead of lifting IP restrictions, rich countries should give more vaccines to poorer countries through COVAX, the public-private initiative WHO helped create to distribute vaccines more equally. The organization and its partners delivered its first doses last week in very limited quantities.
2nd Mar 2021 - Washington Post

Single Shot Of Coronavirus Vaccine After Illness Could Extend Supply : Shots - Health News

Public health officials say it's important to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible to reduce the risk posed by new coronavirus variants. One strategy to stretch existing supplies – albeit with huge logistical challenges — would be to give just one dose of the vaccine to people who have recovered from COVID-19. About half a dozen small studies, all consistent with one another but as yet unpublished, suggest this strategy could work. Dr. Mohammad Sajadi, at the University of Maryland medical school's Institute of Human Virology studied health care workers who were just getting their first of two vaccine shots. His research team homed in on those who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19. "We saw a much faster response and a much higher response," he says, based on the protective antibodies his team measured in the blood. The infection served the same priming role as an initial dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine would have, so the first shot they got was in effect a booster. It amplified and solidified immunity to COVID-19. The study was published Monday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.
2nd Mar 2021 - NPR

COVID-19: Government's strategy of delaying second coronavirus vaccine dose further vindicated

Now we have the first robust data on the real world effectiveness of these vaccines. And it shows that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people aged 70 and over. That means a reduction in hospital admissions and that means a reduction in the number of people dying of coronavirus.
2nd Mar 2021 - Sky News

Why Second Doses Of Covid-19 Coronavirus Vaccines May Have More Side Effects

Some people have reported experiencing more side effects when getting their second doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine compared to when they got their first doses. For example, the COVID Symptom Study website states that “after effects are more common the second time around, with around one in five who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine logging at least one systemic effect.” Indeed, a December 31, 2020, publication in the New England Journal of Medicine had indicated that in the Phase 3 clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, side effects that involved more than just the injection site were reported “more often after dose 2 than dose 1.”
2nd Mar 2021 - Forbes

Covid: Brazil variant more infectious and capable of evading natural immunity, Manaus study suggests

The coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil, known as P1, is estimated to be roughly twice as infectious as other mutated forms of the virus and can partially evade immunity elicited by previous infection, early research suggests. A study into people infected with P1 in the Amazonas city of Manaus has shown the variant carries a “unique constellation of mutations” which makes it between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible. And in a sign that P1 may diminish the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines, it is also “able to evade 25-61 per cent of protective immunity” caused by previous infection with other variants, the scientists said, adding that their data was preliminary.
2nd Mar 2021 - The Independent

Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines may offer high efficacy in elderly

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduce severe illness, hospitalization, and death in older adults and offer protection against the B117 variant, suggests a real-world, observational, non–peer-reviewed study from the United Kingdom. The study, led by researchers from Public Health England (PHE) and published yesterday on a preprint server, compared the rate of vaccination in symptomatic people older than 70 who tested positive for coronavirus with that of those who weren't vaccinated from Dec 8, 2020, to Feb 19, 2021. A total of 44,590 participants with available vaccination data tested positive for COVID-19, while 112,340 tested negative.
2nd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP


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Covid-19 pandemic pushing fragile countries toward 'catastrophe' as cases and deaths go 'chronically underreported'

Released by the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) coalition, which is a collection of the UK’s leading aid agencies, the report finds the pandemic has worsened the humanitarian situation in states such as Syria, Yemen and South Sudan – with aid workers on the ground saying they expect it to deteriorate further in the coming months. The report covers six of the world’s most fragile states, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, while also reviewing the situation in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. It also claims virus detection is being hampered by “minimal testing” as well as stigma and fear – with Afghanistan carrying out just 400 tests per day for a population of 40 million in November.
1st Mar 2021 - Press and Journal

COVID meta-analysis: No benefit from convalescent plasma

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled studies concludes that use of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 patients doesn't appear to improve survival or clinical status, shorten hospital stays, or reduce the need for mechanical ventilation. Led by researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland and published late last week in JAMA, the study found that the risk ratio (RR) for death in the four peer-reviewed, published trials involving 1,060 coronavirus patients was 0.93 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63 to 1.38; absolute risk difference, -1.21% (95% CI, -5.29% to 2.88%). The death rate in patients who received convalescent plasma was 11.6%, compared with 12.7% in controls.
1st Mar 2021 - CIDRAP


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J&J’s Covid-19 Vaccine: How Does the One-Dose Shot Compare With Others? What You Need to Know

Johnson & Johnson ’s Covid-19 vaccine was authorized for use in the U.S. by federal health regulators. It is the third shot to be cleared after shots from Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE and from Moderna Inc. And it is the first shot requiring just one dose, rather than two. Here’s what we know and don’t know:
28th Feb 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus spread slowed by vaccines, study suggests

The Pfizer vaccine appears to slow the spread of coronavirus as well as preventing people getting seriously ill, a study at a hospital has found. The findings support similar research by Public Health England and an Oxford-AstraZeneca study, examining whether vaccines can stop the virus spreading. The researchers said the results were a "genuine good news story" but warned that other precautionary measures were still required to combat the virus. The impact on transmission is critical. If a vaccine only stops you getting severely ill - but you can still catch and pass on the virus - everyone will need to be immunised to be protected.
27th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Pfizer-BioNTech Shot Could Help End Pandemic, Israel Study Shows

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine was overwhelmingly effective against the virus in a study that followed nearly 1.2 million people in Israel, results that public-health experts said show that immunizations could end the pandemic. Two doses of the vaccine prevented 94% of Covid-19 cases in 596,618 people vaccinated between Dec. 20 and Feb. 1, about one-quarter of whom were over the age of 60, teams from the Clalit Research Institute and Harvard University reported in a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
25th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg Law

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, flu has disappeared in the US

The numbers are astonishing considering flu has long been the nation’s biggest infectious disease threat. In recent years, it has been blamed for 600,000 to 800,000 annual hospitalizations and 50,000 to 60,000 deaths. Across the globe, flu activity has been at very low levels in China, Europe and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. And that follows reports of little flu in South Africa, Australia and other countries during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months of May through August.
25th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

India host to 7,569 coronavirus mutants, shows study

The novel coronavirus is perhaps the first infectious organism in recent times to form thousands of its variants across the globe. In India alone over 7,569 coronavirus variants have been analysed since the pandemic virus was first recognised in Wuhan. This is despite the fact that not enough samples are sequenced by scientists in the country.
22nd Feb 2021 - Economic Times


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BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide Mass Vaccination Setting

All persons who were newly vaccinated during the period from December 20, 2020, to February 1, 2021, were matched to unvaccinated controls in a 1:1 ratio according to demographic and clinical characteristics. Study outcomes included documented infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), symptomatic Covid-19, Covid-19–related hospitalization, severe illness, and death. We estimated vaccine effectiveness for each outcome as one minus the risk ratio, using the Kaplan–Meier estimator.
24th Feb 2021 - nejm.org

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is 92% effective at preventing serious illness, Israeli study says

Ninety-two per cent of recipients of the Pfizer vaccine have been protected from developing severe symptoms of Covid-19, the most comprehensive study of the jab has found. The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was based on data from 1.2 million patients of Israel’s largest healthcare provider, half of whom had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It was conducted by doctors and researchers led by Professor Ran Balicer, of Israel’s Clalit Health Services, along with a team of senior researchers from Harvard University, and is the largest study of its kind.
25th Feb 2021 - The Times

California coronavirus variant is resistant to antibodies, but vaccines should still work

Early studies show the coronavirus variant that’s spreading widely across California is somewhat resistant to antibodies that fight off infection, but the vaccines still should offer plenty of protection, infectious disease experts say. Antibodies generated by the vaccines, or by previous coronavirus infection, were two to four times stronger against earlier versions of the virus compared to the new variant, scientists at UCSF found in laboratory studies. They released preliminary results this week.
25th Feb 2021 - San Francisco Chronicle

How would COVID-19 vaccine makers adapt to variants?

How would COVID-19 vaccine makers adapt to variants? By tweaking their vaccines, a process that should be easier than coming up with the original shots. Viruses constantly mutate as they spread, and most changes aren't significant. First-generation COVID-19 vaccines appear to be working against today's variants, but makers already are taking steps to update their recipes if health authorities decide that's needed.
25th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Pfizer and BioNTech Studying Third Covid-19 Vaccine Dose to Fight New Strains

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have begun a study testing in people whether the companies’ Covid-19 shot can provide protection against emerging strains of the coronavirus. The companies said Thursday they have started the small study to see whether a third dose of their authorized Covid-19 vaccine would increase its effectiveness against new variants, such as the strain first identified in South Africa. The approach differs from that of Moderna Inc., which said Wednesday it had made a new vaccine targeting the strain found in South Africa and shipped doses to U.S. government researchers for human testing.
25th Feb 2021 - Wall Street Journal

GSK narrows focus on elderly in trial to treat pneumonia from COVID-19

GlaxoSmithKline will extend a trial testing an experimental rheumatoid arthritis drug on patients suffering from pneumonia related to COVID-19 to focus on the elderly as it seeks to firm up encouraging findings so far.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters


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New coronavirus variant identified in New York: researchers

A new coronavirus variant that shares some similarities with a more transmissible and intractable variant discovered in South Africa is on the rise in New York City, researchers said on Wednesday. The new variant, known as B.1.526, was first identified in samples collected in New York in November, and by mid-February represented about 12% of cases, researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said on Wednesday. The variant was also described in research published online this week by the California Institute of Technology. Neither study has been reviewed by outside experts.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters

FDA says Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot protects against COVID-19

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19, according to an analysis by U.S. regulators Wednesday that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration’s scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency also said J&J’s shot — one that could help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two — is safe to use.
24th Feb 2021 - PBS

Sanofi and GSK start new study of COVID-19 vaccine

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have announced the initiation of a new Phase II study with 720 volunteers aged 18 and over to select the most appropriate antigen dosage for Phase III evaluation of their adjuvanted recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate. If results of the study are positive, the Phase III study will start this year in Q2, with the vaccine expected to be available later in the year in Q4. In parallel to the new Phase II study and recognising the global emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their potential impact on vaccine efficacy, Sanofi has commenced development work against new variants which will be used to inform the next stages of the Sanofi/GSK development programme.
24th Feb 2021 - Pharmafield

In boost for COVID-19 battle, Pfizer vaccine found 94% effective in real world

The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Up until now, most data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables. The research in Israel - two months into one of the world’s fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data - showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much. The study of about 1.2 million people also showed a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after two weeks, according to the data published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. The results of the study for the Clalit Research Institute were close to those in clinical trials last year which found two doses were found to be 95% effective.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Moderna developing booster shot for new coronavirus variants, increases vaccine production target

Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it is working with U.S. government scientists to study an experimental booster shot that targets a concerning new variant of the coronavirus, and has raised its global COVID-19 vaccine production goal for this year by 100 million doses. The U.S. biotech company has produced raw material for a booster shot aimed at addressing the virus variant first found in South Africa that may be more resistant to existing vaccines, it said. It has shipped the vaccine to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped develop Moderna’s current vaccine, for additional study. Moderna is experimenting with several potential ways to combat new variants of the virus.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Brits could get their Covid vaccine in a PILL in future, Oxford University says

Professor Sarah Gilbert said team were exploring new ways to deliver vaccine Also looking at whether it could be given via a nasal spray, like flu sometimes is It could help alleviate supply issues that have hindered rollouts internationally
24th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail


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Drug supply chain issues aren't going away, report says

The first chapter of the ninth edition of ASHP's pharmacy forecast, which was released earlier this month, is called, "The Certainty of Uncertainty for a Global Supply Chain." Written by Erin Fox, PharmD, and Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, the section reflects on responses to an ASHP survey from 272 experts in health-system pharmacy. Allocation guides, a push for domestic supply chains, manufacturing quality scrutiny, and more were all topics the panelists thought would be highly relevant for the next 5 years, and the authors agree. "With a global pandemic and continuing uncertainty regarding the stability and quality of the medication supply chain, health-system pharmacists must be prepared for significant disruptions to 'normal' healthcare delivery, including disruption of medication procurement," they write.
24th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Sanofi and GSK begin new study of their COVID-19 vaccine

The new Phase II study will involve 720 volunteers aged 18 years and over, and will include equal numbers of adults aged 18 to 59 years and those 60 years and above. The study will test three different antigen doses with a fixed dose of adjuvant in the total study population, at sites in the US, Honduras and Panama. Sanofi/GSK said in a statement that results of the Phase II trial will inform the Phase III protocol, adding that if data from the new trial is positive, a global late-stage trial could begin in the second quarter of 2021. Depending on the outcome of the potential Phase III trial, regulatory submissions for the vaccine could be expected in the second half of 2021, with the vaccine likely to then be available in Q4 2021 if approved.
23rd Feb 2021 - PharmaTimes

Adults with Down syndrome 3 times more likely to die of COVID, study finds

Adults older than 40 with Down syndrome are about three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the rest of the population, pointing to the need to prioritize coronavirus vaccination to this group, a study published yesterday in the Lancet's EClinicalMedicine has found. A team led by Emory University researchers conducted the international online survey of the clinicians or caregivers of 1,046 patients with Down syndrome diagnosed as having COVID-19 from April to November 2020.
23rd Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

UK, US to achieve herd immunity in 2021, but not EU: Report

The United States and the United Kingdom are on course to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 given the speed of their mass vaccination programmes, but key European Union nations are not, according to a new report. The German database firm Statista studied the number of COVID-19 vaccines that were given on a daily basis, using recent data from local health authorities of each country.
23rd Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

UK data: COVID-19 vaccines sharply cut hospitalizations

Two U.K. studies released Monday showed that COVID-19 vaccination programs are contributing to a sharp drop in hospitalizations, boosting hopes that the shots will work as well in the real world as they have in carefully controlled studies. Preliminary results from a study in Scotland found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduced hospital admissions by up to 85% four weeks after the first dose, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot cut admissions by up to 94%. In England, preliminary data from a study of health care workers showed that the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of catching COVID-19 by 70% after one dose, a figure that rose to 85% after the second.
22nd Feb 2021 - The Associated Press


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‘Extremely promising’: 1st dose of COVID vaccine cuts illness

Data from two separate studies published in the UK, one in England and another in Scotland, have shown vaccines against COVID-19 are effective in cutting disease transmission and hospitalisations starting from the first dose. Analysis from Public Health England (PHE) published on Monday shows that the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70 percent after the first dose. That risk is reduced by 85 percent after a second dose.
23rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Novavax vaccine could be approved by JUNE - bringing another 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the US after drug company announced its final stage clinical trial in ...

Novavax has now enrolled 30,000 people in the US and Mexico to its shot trial Its CEO told Reuters last month it could deliver doses to the US by June if all goes well in its trials. The vaccine was shown to be 89.3% effective and works nearly as well against the UK variant in tests in Britain. But the shot is about 50% less effective against the South African variant. US has a contract for 100 million doses of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine. It would likely be the fourth shot authorized in the US, assuming Johnson & Johnson's vaccine gets greenlit by the FDA this week
22nd Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine cuts chance of hospitalisation for elderly by 75% after one jab, research finds

One dose of the Pfizer vaccine slashes the chances of being admitted to hospital with Covid by at least 75 per cent among over-80s, real-world data from Public Health England (PHE) has found.Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said this was at the “lower end of the estimate” and the drop in hospital admissions and deaths was thought to be even more profound. Another study found that the Pfizer/BioNTech jab also offered a high degree of protection for younger age groups.
22nd Feb 2021 - i on MSN.com

COVID-19: Vaccine rollout linked to 85% and 94% drop in coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland, study shows

The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK could reduce a person's risk of being admitted to hospital by as much as 94% four weeks after the first dose, new data suggests. Experts examined coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them to those who had not yet received a vaccine.
22nd Feb 2021 - Sky News

Sanofi and GSK start test of upgraded coronavirus vaccine after first version disappoints

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline on Monday announced the start of a Phase 2 study testing a new version of the experimental coronavirus vaccine the two partners have been developing. The 720-volunteer mid-stage study begins roughly two months after the partners disclosed weaker than expected results for their first vaccine candidate. Sanofi and GSK are evaluating a "refined antigen formulation" in the new trial, and could start Phase 3 testing in the second quarter if results are positive, they said in a statement. If all goes well, Sanofi and GSK hope to bring a vaccine to market by the fourth quarter of 2021. But that outcome would still represent a six-to-nine month delay from previous estimates, a significant setback for a program that was promised up to $2.1 billion in funding from the U.S. government. Multiple coronavirus vaccines are already available, and others could arrive later this year.
22nd Feb 2021 - BioPharma Dive

COVID-19 survivors may only need one vaccine dose, study finds

Researchers looked at blood samples of 10 people previously infected with coronavirus who received one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine COVID-19 survivors had boosted levels of immune system cells and a 1,000-fold increase in levels of neutralizing antibodies. The levels were enough to neutralize both the original strain of the virus and the South African variant that is more highly contagious. Dr Anthony Fauci said the data is 'impressive' and that - if it holds up - health officials may consider letting survivors get one dose
22nd Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Blood thinners may protect against COVID-19 complications

A new study has found that administering heparin-based blood thinners to patients with COVID-19 in the first 24 hours of hospital admission reduced the risk of death. The researchers observed a 27% reduced risk of 30-day mortality among patients who received blood thinners. Severe bleeding that required a blood transfusion occurred in 4.6% of patients and was not significantly linked with early intervention to prevent coagulation.
22nd Feb 2021 - Medical News Today

Delaying 2nd AstraZeneca COVID shot may boost efficacy

A single dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine offered 76% protection against COVID-19 for 3 months, at which time administering the second dose resulted in up to 47% greater protection than giving it at 6 weeks, according to a study published late last week in the Lancet. The pooled post-hoc exploratory analysis of four randomized, controlled trials led by researchers from Oxford University involved 17,178 adults in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa from Apr 23 to Dec 6, 2020. The study also examined the effect of one versus two doses of the vaccine in reducing community spread of COVID-19 and the protection conferred by a low dose followed by a standard dose versus two standard doses.
22nd Feb 2021 - CIDRAP


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COVID sickness dropped 95.8% after both Pfizer shots: Israeli Health Ministry

The risk of illness from COVID-19 dropped 95.8% among people who received both shots of Pfizer’s vaccine, Israel’s Health Ministry said. The vaccine was also 98% effective in preventing fever or breathing problems and 98.9% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death, the ministry said. The findings were based on data collected nationally through Feb. 13 from Israelis who had received their second shot at least two weeks previously. Previous reports from individual health care providers also showed positive results, spurring Israel to remove restrictions on the economy after weeks of lockdown. On Sunday, schools and many stores will be allowed to reopen.
21st Feb 2021 - Reuters

The ticket to a return of clubs, gigs and football matches? Five-minute coronavirus test made in the UK is touted as 'game-changer' in unlocking live events

Yorkshire firm Avacta have developed a new super-fast lateral flow Covid test Understood to be in last test stage at Government top-secret Porton Down lab The test's developers say it is more accurate and faster than the US devices It is hoped that 5-minute rapid testing will be used on admission to large events
21st Feb 2021 - The Times

Pfizer and BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine Effective After 1 Dose, Can Last 2 Weeks in Standard Freezer, Separate Research Shows

On Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they have submitted new data about their BNT162b2 vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration. With this submission, the two companies hope that the FDA will update the emergency use authorization (EUA) it has granted the vaccine. The new data indicates that Pfizer and BioNTech's BNT162b2 can be kept for as long as two weeks at temperatures common to pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators, as opposed to the constant ultra-low temperature storage it initially seemed to necessitate.
20th Feb 2021 - The Motley Fool

How Google search data can predict COVID-19 outbreaks

New research finds that online searches can accurately predict regional increases and decreases in COVID-19 cases. Certain types of searches reveal the activities in which people plan to engage. The search volume for outside-the-home vs. stay-at-home activities forecasts the number of COVID-19 diagnoses 10–14 days later.
20th Feb 2021 - Medical News Today

Association between mental illness and COVID-19 in South Korea

In their nationwide cohort study, Seung Won Lee and colleagues suggest that patients with a severe mental illness had a slightly higher risk for severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19.1 Although the authors classified region of residence into urban and rural categories to adjust for potential confounding, the high number of COVID-19 cases in Daegu (the fourth most populous city in South Korea) indicates that bias could remain due to uncontrolled confounding as a result of regional differences.
20th Feb 2021 - The Lancet

Elon Musk Got 4,000 SpaceX Workers to Join a Covid-19 Study. Here’s What He Learned.

To monitor the prevalence of the virus among SpaceX workers nationwide, Mr. Musk and the rocket company’s top medical executive worked with doctors and academic researchers to build an antibody-testing program. More than 4,000 SpaceX workers volunteered for monthly blood tests. This week the group published its findings, which suggest that a certain threshold of antibodies might provide people lasting protection against the virus. Mr. Musk is listed as a co-author of the peer-reviewed study, which appears in the journal Nature Communications. “People can have antibodies, but it doesn’t mean they are going to be immune” to Covid-19, said Galit Alter, a co-author of the study who is a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. Individuals who experienced fewer, milder Covid-19 symptoms generated fewer antibodies and were therefore less likely to meet the threshold for longer-term immunity, the study found.
20th Feb 2021 - The Wall Street Journal


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Pfizer to test COVID-19 vaccine engineered for South African variant

A top Pfizer Inc scientist said on Thursday the company is in intensive discussions with regulators to test a booster shot version of its coronavirus vaccine specifically targeted for a highly contagious variant that is spreading widely in South Africa and elsewhere. A laboratory study released on Wednesday suggested that the South African virus variant may reduce protective antibodies elicited by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by two-thirds, but it is not clear how much that reduces the shot's effectiveness against this version of the pathogen. Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer's top viral vaccine scientists and a co-author of the study, said in an interview he believes the current vaccine is highly likely to still protect against the concerning variant first discovered in South Africa. "A level of neutralizing antibodies that may be on the order of between a third and a half the level of neutralizing antibodies you see against the original virus does not mean you have only a third to half of the protection level, you may well have full protection," he said.
18th Feb 2021 - The Jerusalem Post

Zambia study casts doubt on the assumption that COVID-19 skipped Africa

A new study concluding out of Lusaka, Zambia last summer has found that as many as 19% (almost 1 in 5) of recently-deceased people tested positive for COVID-19. A new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study in Lusaka, Zambia's capital, challenges the common belief that Africa somehow "dodged" the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings indicate that low numbers of reported infections and deaths across Africa may simply be from lack of testing, with the coronavirus taking a terrible but invisible toll on the continent. Published in The BMJ, the study found that at least 15% and as many as 19% of recently-deceased people arriving at Lusaka's main morgue over the summer had the coronavirus, peaking at 31% in July. Despite most having had COVID symptoms, few were tested before death.
18th Feb 2021 - The New York Times

Delayed Second Dose versus Standard Regimen for Covid-19 Vaccination

Case Vignette - You chair the Governor’s task force on rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. Given concerns about the limited availability of the two-dose mRNA vaccine, you have been asked to weigh in on the debate regarding the most effective use of the currently available doses. Should people who have already received a first dose of vaccine have their second dose delayed by a number of months until there is a greater supply, so that more people can receive a first dose? Or should those who have gotten the first dose receive the second dose according to the standard schedule, 3 to 4 weeks after the first dose, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? You must consider the benefits and risks of the two approaches, on both individual and population levels, and decide what to recommend to the task force.
18th Feb 2021 - nejm.org

COVID vaccine data 'so good' that it points to lockdown ending earlier, Sage adviser says

Coronavirus vaccine data is “so good” that it points to an earlier end to the UK’s lockdowns, MPs have been told. Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) adviser Professor Mark Woolhouse said every aspect of the UK’s vaccine rollout has gone so well that ministers should bring forward their plans to begin easing restrictions. As of 15 February, 16.12 million doses had been administered in the UK. According to Oxford University’s Our World in Data website, the UK is third in the world in terms of doses administered per 100 people.
18th Feb 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Thai-developed COVID vaccine to proceed to human trials

Thailand’s second domestically developed vaccine will soon undergo human trials, officials say, adding that the plan was to produce up to five million doses by the end of the year. The vaccine, developed by Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, had been successful in trials on mice and monkeys and is due to be tested on humans in late April or early May, Kiat Ruxrungtham of the Chula Vaccine Research Center said on Thursday. “By year-end, we should have a production capacity of one to five million doses annually,” Kiat told a news conference, adding this could later rise to about 20 million doses per year. The announcement comes amid criticism that Thailand’s vaccine strategy has been slow and overly reliant on AstraZeneca shots being produced by local manufacturer Siam Bioscience, which owned by the country’s king. The Thai-developed “ChulaCov19” vaccines are initially being produced in California, but will be produced locally in later stages by Thai company Bionet Asia, Kiat said.
18th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

Vitamin D not effective in moderate to severe COVID, study finds

Less than a week after JAMA Network Open published a small study showing zinc and vitamin C were not associated with improved mild COVID-19 infections, a 240-person JAMA study also found that a single dose of vitamin D did not have any significant effect on moderate to severe COVID-19 infections. The study, published yesterday by Igor Murai, PhD, a Sao Paul rheumatologist, and colleagues, reported that hospital stay was a median 7.0 days for both those in the intervention and the placebo group, and while there were differences up to 8.4 percentage points across in-hospital mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and mechanical ventilation needs, they were all statistically not significant.
18th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

UK COVID-19 swab study highlights lockdown impact

The latest results from an ongoing study from Imperial College London to track COVID-19 patterns in Britain show that infections have fallen by more than two-thirds since January, likely due to lockdowns. In other global developments, the World Health Organization announced a new battle plan against COVID-19. The research team based at Imperial College London, part of the REACT program, has been using home-based swab tests to tracking virus spread, and their latest results from a preprint study include 85,000 people who were tested between Feb 4 and Feb 13. Infections fell across the country, with steeper drops in London and the South East, and more modest declines in Yorkshire and Humber. Prevalence dipped across all ages at a similar level, suggesting that the pattern is due to the lockdown, rather than vaccination. However, they warned that infections are still high, at about 1 in 200 people, with the highest levels seen in young people ages 5 to 12 and those ages 18 to 24 years old.
18th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP


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Study Investigates COVID-19 in Pregnant Patients with Rheumatologic Disease

A new study has found that among patients with rheumatologic disease, pregnancy is not associated with increased self-reported COVID-19, but is associated with a shorter duration of COVID-19 symptoms and a higher prevalence of loss of smell or taste. The study, by researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), in New York City, appears online first in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
17th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Covid-19: World's first human trials given green light in UK

Healthy, young volunteers will be infected with coronavirus to test vaccines and treatments in the world's first Covid-19 "human challenge" study, which will take place in the UK. The study, which has received ethics approval, will start in the next few weeks and recruit 90 people aged 18-30. They will be exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment while medics monitor their health. The UK has given doses of a Covid vaccine to more than 15 million people. Human challenge studies have played a vital role in pushing the development of treatments for a number of diseases, including malaria, typhoid, cholera and flu.
17th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Pregnancy tied to estimated 70% higher COVID-19 rate

Pregnant women in Washington state were infected with COVID-19 at a 70% higher rate than others of similar ages, with nonwhite women shouldering a disproportionate burden, according to a study published yesterday in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Noting that population-based estimates of coronavirus infections in pregnancy are unreliable due to incomplete recording of pregnancy status or inclusion of only hospitalized patients, a team led by researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle analyzed data from 240 pregnant COVID-19 patients at 35 healthcare systems, capturing 61% of the state's annual births, from Mar 1 to Jun 30, 2020.
17th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

In lab experiment, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine less potent against coronavirus variant

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine loses some potency against the coronavirus variant that first appeared in South Africa, researchers reported Wednesday, based on lab experiments. What the findings mean for how well the vaccine will protect real people from the variant, called B.1.351, is hard to tell. But clinical data from three other vaccines — those from AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson — have already shown the shots are not as powerful at blocking symptomatic Covid-19 cases caused by B.1.351 as by other forms of the virus. In the new study, which was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from Pfizer, BioNTech, and the University of Texas Medical Branch examined how well blood taken from people who had received the companies’ shot fought off a virus engineered to have the key mutations found in B.1.351. They reported that there was about a two-thirds drop in neutralization power against the variant compared to other forms of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
17th Feb 2021 - STAT News


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Call for nurses to join Covid-19 vaccine side effects study

Nurses and other health professionals from the UK are being encouraged to take part in a safety study of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in order to tackle possible side effects. They are also being asked to urge patients to sign up to the study,
16th Feb 2021 - Nursing Times

Coronavirus: Deaths among over-80’s fall faster as vaccine impact emerges

Deaths among people over 80 is falling faster than with other age groups, suggesting the UK’s vaccine programme is starting to have an impact on the coronavirus pandemic. According to analysis of the latest data, the proportion of deaths among the over-80s, as a seven day average, have dropped by almost 50 per cent between 31 January to 10 February. This compares to a fall of 39 per cent for those aged under 80 over the same period.
16th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Bristol children as young as six can take part in Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial

Bristol has been selected as one of four locations to take part in a world-first coronavirus vaccine trial for children. The University of Oxford study will recruit up to 300 child volunteers nationally, aged between six and 17 years old, to investigate if the current Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in protecting children. As well as the Oxford site, three partner sites in London, Southampton and at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children will run the trial. It launched today (Monday, February 15) and the first vaccinations are expected to commence later this month. Recruitment for Bristol's is open to all BS postcodes via the trial website, which states that participants from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are "particularly welcome" to take part. The length of the study is one year and participants will be asked to attend five visits, with anyone under the age of 16 requiring parental consent.
16th Feb 2021 - Bristol Live

Covid vaccine impact revealed in over-80s blood tests

England's vaccination programme is starting to pay off, with the over-80s age group now the most likely to test positive for coronavirus antibodies, Office for National Statistics testing suggests. Blood tests reveal more over-80s than any other age group in England are showing signs of some immunity against Covid infection. This comes as Covid deaths have fallen. But overall, deaths are still 40% above the five-year average.
16th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19 could cause potentially dangerous 'nodules' on patients' EYEBALLS due to inflammation triggered by the virus, scientists warn

From a dry cough to a high fever, coronavirus is known to be linked to a range of unpleasant symptoms. Now, a new study has revealed another potential side effect - nodules on the eyeballs. Researchers have warned that coronavirus infection may trigger inflammation of the eyeballs and lead to the formation of mysterious nodules at the back of the organ. Experts do not yet know what causes these nodules or the impact they have on a patient's long-term health. However, a study of 129 French patients who had severe Covid-19 and underwent MRI scans revealed nine of them (seven per cent) suffered abnormalities.
16th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com


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Imperial College expert warns new coronavirus wave could kill tens of thousands of Britons by late summer if lockdown is completely lifted too early

Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a model forecasts significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July - even despite a vaccine rollout. The government has vowed to release its plan to exit lockdown on February 22. Government is seemingly taking a cautious approach to returning to normality
16th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Next coronavirus vaccines may be drops, pills or printed on demand

The race to develop vaccines against covid-19 got off to a flyer, but with dangerous new virus variants, stark inequalities in access to vaccines and few vaccination options for children, the world still needs all hands on deck. Last week, a virtual meeting run by the New York Academy of Sciences called The Quest for a COVID-19 Vaccine showcased the most promising new candidates. So far, all approved covid-19 vaccines have been injectable. Another option is a nose drop, says Robert Coleman, CEO of biotech company Codagenix, in Farmingdale, New York.
15th Feb 2021 - New Scientist

Pan-European consortium seeks big pharma partner for COVID-19 shot

A pan-European consortium developing a COVID-19 vaccine is in talks with big pharma to support the late-stage development of its shot and ramp up manufacturing, the head of German biotech firm Leukocare told Reuters. Leukocare is working with Italy’s ReiThera and Belgium’s Univercells on a vaccine based on a so-called non-replicating adenoviral vector, the same technology that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have used. Chief Executive Michael Scholl said the companies were talking to potential big pharma partners about whether they could provide additional manufacturing capacity, as well as help to advance their candidate through Phase III clinical trials.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Vaccine as good in 'real world' as in trial in Israel

More data from Israel's vaccination programme is suggesting the Pfizer jab prevents 94% of symptomatic infections. This indicates the vaccine is performing just as well in a larger population as it did in the clinical trials. It is proving highly effective at preventing illness and severe disease among all age groups, according to public health doctor Prof Hagai Levine. "High vaccination coverage of the most susceptible groups" was key, he said. Israel's largest health fund Clalit looked at positive tests in 600,000 vaccinated people and the same number of unvaccinated people, matched by age and health status. It found 94% fewer infections among the vaccinated group. This was based on test results in people's medical records, usually taken if they had symptoms or were a close contact of someone who had tested positive. And the vaccine prevented almost all cases of serious illness. This pattern was the same in all age groups - including the over-70s, who may have been under-represented in clinical trials.
15th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Kent variant may be 70 percent more deadly: UK study

The highly infectious variant of the novel coronavirus that is predominant in the United Kingdom may be up to 70 percent more deadly than previous strains, according to a report by the government’s scientific advisers. The findings from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), published on Friday on the government’s website, underscored concerns about how mutations may change the characteristics of SARS-CoV2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and alter the course of the pandemic. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the negative test results since the first three were found was an encouraging start, but cautioned a fuller picture of the outbreak wouldn’t emerge until Tuesday, when the results from an expanded testing regimen would be known.
15th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

WHO approves AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shot in the developing world. “We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, told a news briefing. “We continue to call for COVID19 vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries,” he said. A WHO statement said it had approved the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

A new study identifies seven U.S. virus variants with the same worrying mutation.

As Americans anxiously watch the spread of coronavirus variants that were first identified in Britain and South Africa, scientists are finding a number of new variants that seem to have originated in the United States — and many of them may pose the same kind of extra-contagious threat. In a study posted on Sunday, a team of researchers reported seven growing lineages of the coronavirus, spotted in states across the country. All have gained a mutation at the exact same spot in their genes.
14th Feb 2021 - The New York Times


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Lifelong immunity hope for Covid-19 vaccine

Trials of coronavirus vaccines for children as young as five are set to begin within days, laying the groundwork for a childhood immunisation programme that could protect people from Covid-19 for most of their lives. AstraZeneca started recruiting British children for a paediatric trial, with the first vaccines to be given by the end of the month. Pfizer is close to beginning a similar global trial. If successful they could pave the way for a vaccine programme on the model of measles or polio, in which a series of jabs early in life provide immunity lasting decades. A booster programme might be needed for the elderly. Professor Sarah Gilbert, chief investigator on the Oxford team behind the AstraZeneca vaccine, believes such a programme could reduce the consequence of Covid infection for most healthy adults to those of a cold
14th Feb 2021 - The Times

COVID-19: Vaccines giving 67% protection after three weeks, large-scale research shows

One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine gives 67% protection after three weeks, a leading epidemiologist has said. Professor Tim Spector of King's College London, who runs the ZOE COVID-19 surveillance app, said data collected from 50,000 users vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab showed one dose gave 46% protection after two weeks, rising to 67% after three to six weeks. The app uses information submitted by more than four million users across the world to predict and track coronavirus infections across the UK and other countries
14th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Under 0.1% of Pfizer double vaccinated got coronavirus

Fewer than 0.1% of individuals who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine contracted COVID-19, according to data released by Maccabi Healthcare Services. Vaccine effectiveness in Israel is now 93%. The Pfizer vaccine was proven to be 95% effective in its Phase III clinical trials. The report, relying on data tracked until February 11, showed that a week after 523,000 people had received their second shot, only 544 were nevertheless infected. “The data unequivocally prove that the vaccine is very effective and we have no doubt that it has saved the lives of many Israelis,” said Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni, head of Maccabi’s health division.
14th Feb 2021 - The Jerusalem Post

Long COVID – we’ve been here before

Nearly a year on, it’s becoming accepted that long COVID is a serious problem. The Office for National Statistics said in December that an estimated one in five people testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for five weeks or longer, with one in 10 exhibiting symptoms for 12 weeks or longer. Back in October, the NIHR published a dynamic themed review of evidence, which concluded that ‘ongoing COVID’ may be up to four syndromes, and that it can affect everyone, not just those who are hospitalised with the virus. This almost flurry of research into long COVID contrasts with the experience of many with ME/CFS, who often have felt ignored or misunderstood by the medical profession. But for some, the interest in long COVID is an opportunity to learn more about the longer-term consequences of viral infections – which could, in time, also benefit people with ME/CFS.
14th Feb 2021 - British Medical Journal

7 Virus Variants Found in U.S. Carrying the Same Mutation

In a study posted on Sunday, a team of researchers reported seven growing lineages of the novel coronavirus, spotted in states across the country. All of them have evolved a mutation in the same genetic letter. “There’s clearly something going on with this mutation,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport and a co-author of the new study. It’s unclear whether it makes the variants more contagious. But because the mutation appears in a gene that influences how the virus enters human cells, the scientists are highly suspicious. “I think there’s a clear signature of an evolutionary benefit,” Dr. Kamil said.
14th Feb 2021 - The New York Times

COVID-19: Previously-infected people only need one vaccine shot, say French experts

France's top health authority has recommended that people who've had coronavirus only get one vaccine dose. Those who have recovered from the virus have built an immune response similar to that brought on by a vaccine, said the High Authority of Health (HAS). It said a single shot would "play the role of reminding" the person's body how to fight the infection. The vaccines approved by the European Union - made by Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca - all stipulate two doses with a gap inbetween to achieve maximum protection.
13th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Zinc, vitamin C show no effect for COVID-19 in small study

Consuming high doses of zinc and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) was not associated with improvement in COVID-19 infections, according to a small study published today in JAMA Network Open. In a 214-person, open-label experiment with COVID outpatients in Ohio and Florida, those who received one or both supplements had similar symptom-reduction periods as those who received standard of care. Over the years, scientific studies have not conclusively shown that either supplement can help overcome illnesses such as the common cold. Since the pandemic began, however, both supplements have seen an increased market owing to people's belief that they can give the immune system a boost. The New York Times reported zinc sales of $134 million, and USA Today found that vitamin C sales reached $209 million during the first half of 2020, up 76% compared with 2019.
13th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Oxford University to test COVID-19 vaccine response among children for first time

The University of Oxford has launched a study to assess the safety and immune response of the COVID-19 vaccine it has developed with AstraZeneca Plc in children for the first time, it said on Saturday. The new mid-stage trial will determine whether the vaccine is effective on people between the ages of 6 and 17, according to an emailed statement from the university. Around 300 volunteers will be enrolled and first inoculations are expected this month, Oxford said. The two-dose Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been hailed as a ‘vaccine for the world’ because it is cheaper and easier to distribute than some rivals.
13th Feb 2021 - Reuters

It Turns Out Germany’s Anti-Lockdown Rallies Were Superspreader Events

Two anti-lockdown rallies attended by conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and right-wing extremists from across Germany were "superspreader events" that resulted in up to 21,000 additional COVID infections in the lead-up to Christmas. That's the conclusion of a paper by researchers from Humboldt University of Berlin and the ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, which examined the impact of COVID-19 deniers on coronavirus transmission rates.
13th Feb 2021 - VICE

Statins 'cut risk of Covid death': Study finds cholesterol drugs taken by eight million Britons reduce chance of dying to virus by 43% in hospital patients

Statins tackle 'bad' blood cholesterol and they are used by eight million Britons A study has now found giving statins to Covid patients can reduce death risk The study was a review of 12 other studies into the effectiveness of statins in cutting mortality from coronavirus
13th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Israeli study finds 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 cases with Pfizer vaccine

Israel’s largest healthcare provider on Sunday reported a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of the Pfizer’s vaccine in the country’s biggest study to date. Health maintenance organization (HMO) Clalit, which covers more than half of all Israelis, said the same group was also 92% less likely to develop severe illness from the virus. The comparison was against a group of the same size, with matching medical histories, who had not received the vaccine.
14th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Virus variant first detected in the U.K. has been deadlier, study confirms

Scientists had already determined that the variant of the novel coronavirus first detected in the fall in the United Kingdom — known as B.1.1.7. because of its molecular makeup — was probably 30 to 70 percent more transmissible than the typical version of the virus causing covid-19. They also knew, based on preliminary data, that the variant appeared to be relatively more deadly for the growing number of people catching it. U.K. scientists now say the variant is probably 30 to 70 percent more deadly, based on a follow-up study by the government released Friday that assessed a larger sample size of covid-19 patients and also found a higher rate of hospitalization.
13th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Feb 2021

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AstraZeneca expects COVID variant vaccine by mid to late 2021

AstraZeneca has said it expects to have a new version of its COVID-19 vaccine ready for use by mid to late 2021, responding to concerns about emerging variants of the disease that may be more transmissible or resistant to existing vaccines. The Anglo-Swedish company, which makes a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, said on Thursday that researchers began the work on the updates months ago when the new variants were first detected. “We’re moving fast and we’ve got a number of variant versions in the works that we will be picking from as we move into the clinic,” Mene Pangalos, head of biopharmaceuticals research for AstraZeneca, said on a conference call with reporters. The comments came as CEO Pascal Soriot defended the company’s efforts to develop and ramp up production of the shot amid criticism from the European Union and a preliminary study that raised concerns about the vaccine’s ability to combat a variant of COVID-19 first discovered in South Africa.
12th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Does the coronavirus vaccine work on Bristol's variant? This is what Public Health England says

Public Health England has shared a reassuring statement about Bristol's coronavirus variant in relation to vaccines. Several experts have raised doubts about the mutation present in this particular 'variant of concern', as experiments suggest it might make antibodies less effective in attacking the infection. Speaking to ITV last night (Wednesday, February 10), a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said the variant "may be able to re-infect people who’ve been previously infected or who’ve been previously vaccinated". However, Public Health England (PHE) remains optimistic about the efficacy of current vaccines - at least in the primary aim of preventing serious illness and death.Speaking to ITV last night (Wednesday, February 10), a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said the variant "may be able to re-infect people who’ve been previously infected or who’ve been previously vaccinated". However, Public Health England (PHE) remains optimistic about the efficacy of current vaccines - at least in the primary aim of preventing serious illness and death.
11th Feb 2021 - Bristol Live

Roche arthritis drug reduces COVID-19 deaths in trial in hospitalised patients

Roche's arthritis drug tocilizumab cuts the risk of death among patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19, also shortening the time to recovery and reducing the need for mechanical ventilation, results of a large trial showed on Thursday.
11th Feb 2021 - Nasdaq

Pfizer says it expects data on COVID-19 vaccines for children in 'early part of 2021'

Pfizer says it has completed enrollment of its clinical trial of 12-to-15 year olds and believes it will have data in 'the early part of 2021.' Moderna is still recruiting children for its trial if 12-to-18 year olds and says it expects to have preliminary data 'around mid-year 2021.' Neither company has yet started pediatric trials testing their coronavirus vaccines in those aged 11 and younger Dr Anthony Fauci says he believes children as young as first graders may be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines by the school year start in September. But pediatricians believe studies are moving too slowly and that not immunizing children threatens herd immunity and increases the risk of variants spreading
11th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID-19 linked with new set of symptoms, according to study of over a million people

Chills, loss of appetite, headache and muscle aches could be a sign of COVID-19 infection, according to new findings. Based on swab tests and questionnaires taken from June up until last month as part of Imperial College London's REACT study of over one million people, those with the above symptoms were more likely to test positive for the virus. This is in addition to the "classic" symptoms of COVID-19 already included in NHS guidance, which are: - Fever - New persistent cough - Loss of sense of smell and/or taste
11th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Bristol Covid-19 variant: Experts monitor new mutation

A new coronavirus variant found in Bristol may be able to infect people who have already had Covid-19 or who have been vaccinated. But experts said jabs will still protect against people becoming seriously ill with the disease. The Bristol variant contains the E484K mutation also found in the South African and Brazilian variants. Health officials in the city say getting as many people vaccinated as possible is key. The Bristol variant has been defined by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) as the Kent variant with the E484K mutation. Laboratory studies have shown that viruses with that mutation are able to escape human defences, making them more efficient at evading natural and vaccine-triggered immunity.
11th Feb 2021 - BBC News

'More than 40% of people suffer trauma following Covid-19′

Many people suffer trauma with symptoms such as flashbacks after catching Covid-19, even if they did not require clinical assistance or hospitalisation, a study has found. The Imperial College London and University of Southampton study, published on Tuesday, looked at 13,049 people with experience of coronavirus.
11th Feb 2021 - Pulse Today

Sewage samples show COVID-19 spreading fast in some French cities

Sewage samples from a new nationwide COVID-19 monitoring system show that in some French cities traces of coronavirus are spiking above levels seen during the second wave of the epidemic in the autumn. France's new "Obepine" network continuously samples city sewage in nearly 50 waste water stations and publishes charts that indicate the quantity of genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. For cities where data are available from spring 2020, the indicator charts show a strong correlation with charts of the number of positive cases and can give early warning signals. "In Lille, Marseille and Strasbourg we see a strong uptick, while in the Paris region the situation seems more under control," said Vincent Marechal, a Sorbonne university virology professor and co-founder of the Obepine network.
11th Feb 2021 - The Peninsula Qatar


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Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could reduce Covid-19 viral load - what it means

New data gathered by researchers in Israel suggests that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine is reducing the viral load of the virus. Israel has already vaccinated around one in three residents, after beginning its vaccine deployment program on 20 December. According to a paper which was published on Monday (8 Feb), positive test results of patients aged 60 and over had up to 60 per cent smaller viral loads on the swab, compared to the 40 to 59 age group. The paper explains that this is because, by this point, at least 14 days have passed since more than 75 per cent of the over-60s age group received their first dose, in comparison to the 25 per cent of 40 to 60 year olds.
10th Feb 2021 - The Scotsman on MSN.com

Coronaviruses linked to Covid-19 circulating in bats and pangolins in Southeast Asia, study finds

Coronaviruses similar to that which causes Covid-19 may be circulating in bats and pangolins in Southeast Asia, a study has found. In a breakthrough that provides clues for those investigating the origin of the pandemic, scientists said high levels of neutralising antibodies against coronaviruses were present in the animals in Thailand. A team from Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School found SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – neutralising antibodies in Rhinolophus bats in a Thai cave and in a pangolin at a wildlife checkpoint in the south of the country. The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, indicate more coronaviruses are likely to be discovered across Southeast Asia, which has a large and diverse bat population, the researchers said. Such viruses have now been found across a wide expanse measuring 4,800 km, from Japan and China to Thailand.
10th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Study Links Four New Symptoms To Covid-19 Infection, Including Headaches And Loss Of Appetite

In a study of more than 1 million people in England between June 2020 and January 2021, researchers identified chills, loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches as additional symptoms linked with having Covid-19. Some symptoms vary by age, with headaches most reported in children and teens (between 5-17 years old), who are less likely to report “classic” Covid-19 symptoms, and adults over 55 reporting appetite loss.
10th Feb 2021 - Forbes

German anti-lockdown protests led to more coronavirus cases, study finds

Protests against the German government's coronavirus restrictions led to an increase in infections toward the end of the year, a study published on Tuesday has found. Since the summer, Germany has seen several major demonstrations against coronavirus measures, with participants often not respecting social-distancing and mask-wearing rules. The study, by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Humboldt University of Berlin, looked at two rallies organized by the so-called Querdenken group in November 2020 — in Berlin, which attracted more than 10,000 people, and in Leipzig, which was attended by some 20,000 people.
10th Feb 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Vaccine vs variant: Promising data in Israel's race to defeat pandemic

Israel’s swift vaccination rollout has made it the largest real-world study of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine. Results are trickling in, and they are promising. More than half of eligible Israelis - about 3.5 million people - have now been fully or partially vaccinated. Older and at-risk groups, the first to be inoculated, are seeing a dramatic drop in illnesses. Among the first fully-vaccinated group there was a 53% reduction in new cases, a 39% decline in hospitalizations and a 31% drop in severe illnesses from mid-January until Feb. 6, said Eran Segal, data scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters UK

Denmark says cases of more contagious British coronavirus variant on rise

The share of people infected with the more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain is on the rise in Denmark, authorities reported on Wednesday, citing preliminary data. In the first week of February, 27% of positive cases analyzed for their genetic material were carrying the B117 variant, up from 20% the week before, the State Serum Institute (SSI) said in a report.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID deaths 3 times higher in nursing homes with more non-white residents

Residents of US nursing homes with more than 40% non-white residents died of COVID-19 at 3.3 times the rate of those of those with higher proportions of white residents, a study today in JAMA Network Open shows. Using the Nursing Home COVID-19 Public File from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, University of Chicago researchers found that nursing homes with the lowest shares of white residents reported a mean of 5.6 deaths, compared with 1.7 in those with the highest proportions, as of Sep 13, 2020.
10th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Eli Lilly scores FDA nod for COVID-19 antibody cocktail, aims to make 1M doses by midyear

Two weeks after Eli Lilly unveiled data showing its COVID-19 antibody cocktail of bamlanivimab and etesevimab slashed the risk of death and hospitalization for high-risk patients, the cocktail has won its emergency FDA authorization. Tuesday, the FDA authorized the combo for patients who have mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 but are at high risk of progressing to severe disease. The company and its manufacturing partner Amgen aim to produce up to 1 million doses of the cocktail by the middle of the year. In the trial of more than 1,000 high-risk patients with newly diagnosed COVID-19, just 11 patients who received the bamlanivimab-etesevimab combo were hospitalized and none died. That compared with 36 hospitalizations and 10 deaths among placebo patients, which translates into a 70% reduction in the risk of a COVID-19 hospitalization or death.
10th Feb 2021 - FiercePharma


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Eli Lilly's antibody combination receives FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19

Eli Lilly’s combination antibody therapy to fight COVID-19 has been granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Lilly said on Tuesday. Lilly’s combination therapy of two antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, helped cut the risk of hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients by 70%, data from a late-stage trial showed in January. Lilly said the therapy will be available immediately.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

China's CanSino single-dose COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by Beijing's top military bio-warfare expert 'shows 65.7 per cent efficacy'

A single-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese firm CanSino Biologics and a team led by Beijing's top military bio-warfare expert is reported to show 65.7 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic cases. The drug also demonstrated a 90.98 per cent success rate in stopping severe disease in an interim analysis of global trials, according to Pakistan's health minister who posted the figures on Monday. Chen Wei, a Major General of China's People's Liberation Army, headed a team of scientists from the Chinese military to work on the inoculation with CanSino Biologics (CanSinoBIO), a biotechnology company based in Tianjin and listed on Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
9th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Firm producing Novavax coronavirus vaccine outlines 'strong pipeline' of potential Covid partners

A firm chosen to manufacture millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines says it has a “strong pipeline” of companies that want to work with it in the battle against the pandemic. Teesside firm Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has recently been contracted to manufacture 60m doses of the Novavax vaccine at its Billingham site. Now it has released accounts for the year ending March 31 2020 which show that operating profit rose £900,000 to £23m even as revenues fell by 9% to £114.2m. The year saw the company invest in its facilities while it added almost 80 new employees to its headcount. In the accounts, the company said: “This result has been driven by a sustained demand for batch manufacture across the small scale, large scale and mammalian sectors and analytical services which continues to grow from strength to strength. “As the company continues to grow it has seen an increase in operational fixed costs to support this growth, however, the company continues to benefit from research and development expenditure credit which has offset this increase.”
9th Feb 2021 - Business Live

Common asthma medicine cuts need for COVID-19 hospitalization - Oxford study

A commonly used asthma treatment appears to reduce the need for hospitalizations as well as recovery time for COVID-19 patients if given within seven days of symptoms appearing, researchers at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday. The findings were made following a mid-stage study of the steroid budesonide, sold as Pulmicort by AstraZeneca Plc and also used for treating smoker's lung. The 28-day study of 146 patients suggested that inhaled budesonide reduced the risk of urgent care or hospitalization by 90% when compared with usual care, Oxford University said. Researchers said the trial was inspired by the fact that patients with chronic respiratory disease, who are often prescribed inhaled steroids, were significantly under-represented among hospitalized COVID-19 patients during early days of the pandemic.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Covid-19: How the UK’s gene-sequencing labs could track every single case and help stop new variants

In the debate about how quickly to reopen the UK after the current lockdown, there are broadly two camps: those – including many Conservative backbenchers – who want the restrictions removed at pace in order to restart the economy, and those who lean towards a “zero Covid” strategy which would aim at the complete elimination of coronavirus from Britain. Much will depend on the progress of the vaccination roll-out, and the extent to which vaccines are shown to cut both serious illness and the transmission of the virus. And border controls – including those being set out by Matt Hancock on Tuesday – will continue to be part of the UK’s defences against Covid-19 for the rest of this year at least.
9th Feb 2021 - iNews

China probe says SARS-CoV-2 jump from go-between host most likely

Representatives from China and an international joint mission team led by the World Health Organization (WHO) today in Wuhan detailed the results of a 2-week probe into the zoonotic source of the outbreaks, which didn't reveal a definitive source but did shed new light on the events. At the nearly 3-hour briefing, officials laid out four main theories, some of them less likely possibilities. The 10-person joint mission team has been in China since Jan 14 and followed investigation terms that a WHO advance team fleshed out with the country over the summer.
9th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP


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Global health officials back AstraZeneca vaccine after South Africa study rings alarm

Health officials around the world gave their backing to the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, after a study showing it had little effect against mild disease caused by the variant now spreading quickly in South Africa rang global alarm. The prospect that new virus variants could evolve the ability to elude vaccines is one of the main risks hanging over the global strategy to emerge from the pandemic by rolling out vaccines this year. South Africa, where a new variant now accounts for the vast bulk of cases, initially announced a pause in its rollout of a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But it said on Monday it could still roll it out in a “stepped manner”, giving out 100,000 doses and monitoring it to see if it prevents hospitalisations and deaths.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

China's CanSino Coronavirus Vaccine Shows 65.7% Efficacy

CanSino Biologics Inc.’s experimental coronavirus shot has an efficacy rate of 65.7% at preventing symptomatic cases based on an analysis from late-stage trials, making it the latest vaccine candidate to show some protection against Covid-19. The shot co-developed by the Chinese military and the Tianjin-based biotech company proved effective against symptomatic Covid-19, based on a multi-country analysis first posted on Twitter by Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s health adviser, on Monday. CanSino later forwarded Sultan’s announcement in a statement. The final stage trail included 30,000 participants and was also 90.98% effective in preventing severe disease, Sultan said. A vaccine needs to afford at least a 50% protection rate to be considered effective, as mandated by the world’s leading drug regulators and the World Health Organization.
8th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

AstraZeneca, Oxford race to update COVID-19 vaccine as study flags weak action against variant

It didn’t take long before a morale boost for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was overshadowed by disappointment over its waned protection against a newly emerged coronavirus variant. A new study has found AZ’s COVID-19 shot offered “minimal protection” against mild to moderate disease caused by the B.1.351 variant, which was first identified in South Africa, the University of Oxford, the original developer of the vaccine, said Sunday. The finding has prompted the pair to update their vaccine, dubbed AZD1222, to target variants of the coronavirus with mutations similar to B.1.351. In the meantime, South African authorities have halted rollout of the vaccine as they try to figure out the best way forward.
8th Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds

The coronavirus variant that shut down much of the United Kingdom is spreading rapidly across the United States, outcompeting other strains and doubling its prevalence among confirmed infections every week and a half, according to new research made public Sunday. The report, posted on the preprint server MedRxiv and not yet peer-reviewed or published in a journal, comes from a collaboration of many scientists and provides the first hard data to support a forecast issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed the variant becoming dominant in the United States by late March.
7th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Covid-19: The E484K mutation and the risks it poses

What do we know about the E484K mutation? The E484K mutation is not a new variant in itself, it’s a mutation which occurs in different variants and has already been found in the South African (B.1.351) and Brazilian (B.1.1.28) variants. The mutation is in the spike protein and appears to have an impact on the body’s immune response and, possibly, vaccine efficacy. On 1 February, Public Health England (PHE) announced that the Covid-19 Genomics (COG-UK) consortium had identified this same E484K mutation in 11 samples carrying the UK variant B.1.1.7 (sometimes called the Kent variant), after analysing 214 159 sequences. Where has it been identified in the UK? PHE confirmed to The BMJ that they have now identified 11 cases of the UK B1.1.7 variant carrying the E484K mutation around the Bristol area and 40 cases of the original SARS-C0V-2 virus carrying the same E484K mutation in the Liverpool area. Public health officials are carrying out enhanced contact tracing, additional laboratory analysis, and testing in these areas. Is this mutation something to worry about? E484K is called an escape mutation because it helps the virus slip past the body’s immune defences. Ravindra Gupta at the University of Cambridge and colleagues have confirmed that the new B.1.1.7 plus E484K variant substantially increases the amount of serum antibody needed to prevent infection of cells.2 We already know that the B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible so a combination of a faster spreading virus that is also better at evading immunity is worrying—if it isn’t stopped it would outcompete the older B.1.1.7 variant.
5th Feb 2021 - BMJ


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Feb 2021

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South Africa Says AstraZeneca's Covid-19 Vaccine is Not Effective at Stopping Variant

South Africa halted use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine on Sunday after evidence emerged that the vaccine did not protect clinical-trial participants from mild or moderate illness caused by the more contagious virus variant that was first seen there. The findings were a devastating blow to the country’s efforts to combat the pandemic. Scientists in South Africa said on Sunday that a similar problem held among people who had been infected by earlier versions of the coronavirus: the immunity they acquired naturally did not appear to protect them from mild or moderate cases when reinfected by the variant, known as B.1.351.
7th Feb 2021 - The New York Times

Virus Variant First Found in Britain Now Spreading Rapidly in U.S.

A more contagious variant of the coronavirus first found in Britain is spreading rapidly in the United States, doubling roughly every 10 days, according to a new study. Analyzing half a million coronavirus tests and hundreds of genomes, a team of researchers predicted that in a month this variant could become predominant in the United States, potentially bringing a surge of new cases and increased risk of death. The new research offers the first nationwide look at the history of the variant, known as B.1.1.7, since it arrived in the United States in late 2020. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that B.1.1.7 could become predominant by March if it behaved the way it did in Britain. The new study confirms that projected path.
7th Feb 2021 - New York Times

What's the risk of dying from a fast-spreading COVID-19 variant?

The news is sobering, but complicated. Scientists have released the data behind a British government warning last week that the fast-spreading SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 increases the risk of dying from COVID-19 compared with previous variants. But some scientists caution that the latest study — like the government warning — is preliminary and still does not indicate whether the variant is more deadly or is just spreading faster and so reaching greater numbers of vulnerable people. The latest findings are concerning, but to draw conclusions, “more work needs to be done”, says Muge Cevik, a public-health researcher at the University of St Andrews, who is based in Edinburgh, UK.
6th Feb 2021 - Nature

COVID-19: Vaccines against new variants should be ready by October

Vaccines specifically designed to tackle new variants of coronavirus should be ready to be rolled out by October, according to the team behind the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab. Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford vaccine group, said work on designing a new jab could be a quick process. Studies have shown that variants of COVID-19 that have the E484K mutation could reduce the efficacy of vaccines, but they are still expected to provide good protection against illness and severe disease. The mutation is present in the variant first identified in South Africa, with more than 100 cases of that variant detected in the UK so far. E484K has also been found in Bristol in the variant first recorded in Kent, and in Liverpool in a new variant on the original strain of coronavirus that first came to the UK.
6th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Putin's Once-Scorned Vaccine Is Now a Favorite in Pandemic Fight

President Vladimir Putin’s announcement in August that Russia had cleared the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for use before it even completed safety trials sparked skepticism worldwide. Now he may reap diplomatic dividends as Russia basks in arguably its biggest scientific breakthrough since the Soviet era. Countries are lining up for supplies of Sputnik V after peer-reviewed results published in The Lancet medical journal this week showed the Russian vaccine protects against the deadly virus about as well as U.S. and European shots, and far more effectively than Chinese rivals.
5th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Sinovac says COVID-19 vaccine effective in preventing hospitalization, death

China’s Sinovac Biotech on Friday said late-stage trial data of its COVID-19 vaccine from Brazil and Turkey showed it prevented hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients, but had a much lower efficacy rate in blocking infections. The 12,396-person trial found the CoronaVac vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 sufferers from being hospitalized or dying and 83.7% effective in avoiding cases that required any medical treatment, but only 50.65% effective at keeping people from getting infected, according to a statement. The trials evaluated the efficacy of the two-shot vaccine candidate 14 days after inoculation of participants, including healthcare workers who treat COVID-19 patients.
5th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has 'similar effect' against Kent variant, researchers find

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine remains effective against the coronavirus variant first detected in Kent and the South East, researchers have found. The researchers who developed the jab say it has a similar efficacy against the variant compared to the original COVID-19 strain it was tested against. Professor Andrew Pollard, a chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said the new data suggests "the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also protects against the novel variant, B.1.1.7".
5th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Could mixing COVID vaccines boost immune response?

Researchers in the United Kingdom have launched a study that will mix and match two COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to ease the daunting logistics of immunizing millions of people — and potentially boost immune responses in the process. Most coronavirus vaccines are given as two injections: an initial ‘prime’ dose followed by a ‘boost’ to stimulate the immune system’s memory cells and amplify the immune response. The clinical trial will test participants’ immune responses to receiving one shot of a coronavirus vaccine produced by Oxford and drug firm AstraZeneca — which uses a harmless virus to carry a key coronavirus gene into cells — and one shot of the vaccine produced by drug company Pfizer, which uses RNA instructions to trigger an immune response. The trial, which is run by investigators at the University of Oxford, aims to begin enrolment on 4 February.
4th Feb 2021 - Nature.com


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Feb 2021

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COVID-19: Mix and match coronavirus vaccine trial results to be available by summer

Covid trial in UK examines mixing different vaccinesBBC NewsWho should get which coronavirus vaccine?The Indian ExpressMore than 10 million people receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in UKGOV.UKCoronavirus vaccine calculator shows when you'll get first and second doseBirmingham LiveView Full coverage on Google News
4th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19 patients are most infectious one day BEFORE symptoms appear, study reveals

Covid-19 patients are at their most infectious one day before they develop symptoms, a mathematical study reveals. Researchers used a computer model to process data on viral load — the amount of coronavirus a person is infected with — and how it decreases throughout infection. Previous studies have found viral load aligns with infectivity and also increases the likelihood of death, meaning an infected person with a high amount of the virus in their system is more infectious and also at greater risk of dying from Covid-19.
4th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

COVID-19: 15.3% of England's population estimated to have had coronavirus by mid-January

About one in seven people in private households in England had contracted coronavirus by mid-January, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates. The figure is equivalent to 6.9 million people - 15.3% of the population. The estimate is up from one in nine people in December last year, and one in 11 people in November. The numbers are the proportion of the population who are likely to have tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, based on blood test results from a sample group aged 16 and over.
4th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: International travel 'biggest impact' on deaths

International travel had the biggest impact on Covid death rates for countries hit in the pandemic's first wave, a study has found. Researchers in Aberdeen focused on the world's worst affected 37 countries. They examined factors including border arrivals, population density, the percentage of people living in urban areas, age, and health issues. The team said early restrictions on international travel could have made a difference in the spread. The study looked at counties including America, the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Brazil, and focused on the early stages of the pandemic. They found an increase of one million international arrivals was associated with a 3.4% rise in the mean daily increase in Covid-19 deaths.
4th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Variant detected in UK reported in Italian town

The Netherlands has become the latest European country to limit AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine to people aged under 65, despite the European Union approving it for all ages. France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden are among the other countries to put age limits on the vaccine, which was developed by the company with Oxford University. "Because the immune system starts to function less well with increasing age, the council considers the vaccine suitable for people up to the age of 65," the Dutch Health Council said in a statement. The council said it "recommends that the first available doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca be used in elderly people aged 60 to 65 years".
4th Feb 2021 - RTE.ie

Danish scientists see tough times ahead as they watch more contagious COVID-19 virus surge

On its face, the curve of COVID-19 infections in Denmark looks reassuring enough. A nationwide lockdown has led numbers to plummet from more than 3000 daily cases in mid-December 2020 to just a few hundred now. But don’t be fooled. “Sure, the numbers look nice,” says Camilla Holten Møller of the Statens Serum Institute, who heads a group of experts modeling the epidemic. “But if we look at our models, this is the calm before the storm.” That’s because the graph really reflects two epidemics: one, shrinking fast, that’s caused by older variants of SARS-CoV-2, and a smaller, slowly growing outbreak of B.1.1.7, the variant first recognized in England and now driving a big third wave of the pandemic there. If B.1.1.7 keeps spreading at the same pace in Denmark, it will become the dominant variant later this month and cause the overall number of cases to rise again, despite the lockdown, Holten Møller says. “It is a complete game changer.”
4th Feb 2021 - Science Magazine

COVAX publishes first interim vaccine distribution forecast

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization, as co-leads of the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF, are pleased to publish COVAX’s first interim distribution forecast. Building on the publication of the 2021 COVAX global and regional supply forecast, the interim distribution forecast provides information on early projected availability of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in 1st quarter of 2021 and the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate in first half of the year to COVAX Facility participants.
4th Feb 2021 - MercoPress

Oxford Covid vaccine team is working on a ‘second generation’ jab - here’s how long it could take

Researchers who worked on the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine are already working on a so-called “second generation” Covid jab, designed to be effective against mutated strains of the virus. While the existing vaccine is thought to be effective against the ‘Kent’ strain which emerged in the South East of England, there are concerns about other strains which are starting to appear all over the world. New Covid variants have been identified in South Africa and Brazil recently, prompting worries that existing vaccines may not be entirely effective against these.
4th Feb 2021 - The Scotsman

Cambodia approves emergency use of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine

Cambodia has officially approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in the Southeast Asian country, according to a Ministry of Health statement on Thursday. "The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia authorized the emergency use of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine that has been developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co., Ltd of the People's Republic of China," Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in the statement. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on Thursday that the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine donated by China will arrive in Cambodia on Sunday, Feb. 7. "When the vaccine arrives at the Phnom Penh International Airport, I will go to receive it by myself," he wrote on his official Facebook page.
4th Feb 2021 - China Internet Information Center

Novavax Sees U.K. Vaccine Approval First; in Talks With FDA

A new Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax Inc. is likely to get its first approval in the U.K., and the company is discussing with U.S. regulators whether trial data from other countries could be part of the shot’s review, Chief Executive Officer Stan Erck said. The company announced late Thursday that the vaccine was effective in big trials in the U.K. and South Africa, though its protective power appeared to be reduced in South Africa, where a worrisome mutation is prevalent. Novavax is still recruiting patients for a trial in the U.S. and Mexico, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could consider authorizing the vaccine based on the results from abroad, Erck said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “We are hoping we can take that data package to the FDA and have them evaluate our vaccine based on the U.K. data while we are running a phase 3 trial in the U.S.,” Erck said. “We are talking to them. We don’t have a definitive answer yet.”
4th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: Fourth vaccine could be approved in weeks as trial shows it is effective against UK variant

A fourth COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use in the UK within weeks after late-stage trials suggested it was 89% effective in preventing coronavirus. The prime minister has said the Novavax jab is now going to be assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). If approved, the vaccine would start to be rolled out in the second half of 2021. The UK has already ordered 60 million doses, which are going to be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees.
4th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Israel sees new infections plummet following vaccinations

Early findings from Israel’s covid-19 vaccination programme suggest that the rollout of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is leading to fewer new infections and is at least 50% effective 13 to 24 days after the first dose. Israeli Ministry of Health figures, reported by the BBC,1 found that only 531 people out of almost 750 000 fully vaccinated over 60 year olds tested positive for covid-19 (0.07%). Of these, just 38 were hospitalised with moderate, severe, or critical disease. The ministry analysed the records of nearly one million people between their first vaccine dose to at least seven days after the second dose. They found that there were three covid-19 deaths in vaccinated over 60s, but said it was possible they contracted the virus at an earlier stage before their immunity had time to build up.
4th Feb 2021 - British Medical Journal

Johnson & Johnson asks US to approve single-dose COVID jab

Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it has asked United States health regulators to authorise its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The drugmaker’s application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follows its January 29 report in which it said the vaccine had a 66 percent rate of preventing infections in its large global trial. J&J’s single-shot vaccine could help boost supply and simplify the US immunisation campaign, amid concerns of fresh surges due to the more contagious UK coronavirus variant and the potential of lower vaccine efficacy against the variant that first emerged in South Africa. Unlike the two currently authorised vaccines from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, J&J’s does not require a second shot or need to be shipped frozen. After the company’s application, regulators will need time to analyse the data and an advisory committee will need to meet. The company’s chief scientific officer said last month J&J was on track to roll out the vaccine in March.
4th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

'Insufficient data': Switzerland declines to approve AstraZeneca vaccine

Switzerland will not approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying there is insufficient data to do so. This may have implications for the country's vaccination plan. The Swiss regulatory authority said Wednesday that data submitted by AstraZeneca were not sufficient for it to authorise use of the Anglo-Swedish firm's Covid vaccine, saying "new studies" were needed. The decision is not final, with the Swiss government instead saying more data on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine is needed to make an accurate approval assessment. "The data currently available do not point to a positive decision regarding benefits and risks," Swissmedic said in a statement
3rd Feb 2021 - The Local Switzerland

Regulatory approval of COVID-19 vaccine for restricted use in clinical trial mode

Covaxin is India's first indigenous vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), developed through a collaboration between Bharat Biotech and the National Institute of Virology, which is a branch of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Indian official authority for medical research. The development team isolated a strain of SARS-CoV-2 from patients with asymptomatic infection and developed a vaccine on a Vero cell-line manufacturing platform to deliver the inactivated coronavirus strain. On Jan 3, 2021, the vaccine was granted approval “for restricted use in emergency situation in public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode”,1 which raised several concerns across the scientific society.2
25th Jan 2021 - The Lancet


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Britain trial to test combining Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in two-shot regimen

Britain on Thursday launched a trial to assess the immune responses generated if doses of the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc are combined in a two-shot schedule. The British researchers behind the trial said data on vaccinating people with the two different types of coronavirus vaccines could help understanding of whether shots can be rolled out with greater flexibility around the world. Initial data on immune responses is expected to be generated around June. The trial will examine the immune responses of an initial dose of Pfizer vaccine followed by a booster of AstraZeneca’s, as well as vice versa, with intervals of 4 and 12 weeks.
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Promising results from FIRST COVID-19 pill vaccine tested in humans

Vaxart, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing oral vaccines administered by tablet, today announced preliminary data from its Phase 1 study of VXA-CoV2-1 showing that its oral COVID-19 tablet vaccine candidate was generally well-tolerated, and immunogenic as measured by multiple markers of immune response to SARS-CoV-2 antigens. “Our Phase I results highlight the importance of our differentiated vaccine design, as they suggest VXA-CoV2-1 could have broad activity against existing and future coronavirus strains. These results are timely, as we are seeing the emergence of new variants less responsive to first generation vaccines, thus making potential cross-reactivity another important advantage of next-generation vaccines,” said Andrei Floroiu, Vaxart’s Chief Executive Officer.
3rd Feb 2021 - Outbreak News Today

Australia places no upper age limit on Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

Australian regulators have decided to place no upper age limit on use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine despite reports of dozens of deaths among the elderly in Norway. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration said in a statement Tuesday that it received reports on Jan. 14 of about 30 deaths in more than 40,000 elderly people vaccinated with Pfizer PFE, -0.43%. But it added that “no causal link between vaccination and deaths could be established.” The agency says that “elderly patients can receive this vaccine and there is no cap on the upper age limit.” The regulator last month gave provisional approval for the use of the Pfizer vaccine in Australia and the first doses are due to be administered to people aged 16 and older in late February.
3rd Feb 2021 - MarketWatch

Glaxo and Curevac to develop vaccines to tackle Covid-19 variants

Glaxosmithkline and a German biotechnology company are to develop a new generation of Covid-19 jab to tackle multiple emerging variants in one vaccine as part of a €150 million collaboration. The FTSE 100 pharmaceuticals group, which is based in west London, will also support the manufacture of up to 100 million doses of Curevac’s existing “first-generation” vaccine candidate, which is in trials, through its facilities in Belgium this year.
3rd Feb 2021 - The Times

What do we know about China's Covid-19 vaccines?

China has been developing vaccines since the start of the pandemic. What do we know?
3rd Feb 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Study showing Oxford vaccine slows virus spread 'superb' - Hancock

Results that show the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine might reduce the spread of coronavirus have been hailed as "absolutely superb" by the health secretary. Matt Hancock said the study shows "vaccines are the way out of this pandemic". It is the first time a vaccine has been shown to reduce transmission of the virus. The UK has given a first Covid jab to more than 10 million people so far. The results of the study, which has not yet been formally published, suggest that the vaccine may have a "substantial" effect on transmission of the virus. It means the jab could have a greater impact on the pandemic, as each person who is vaccinated will indirectly protect other people too.
3rd Feb 2021 - BBC News

More Than 20% of Londoners Have Covid-19 Antibodies, ONS Study Shows

More than one in five people in London would have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in January, according to a new study that highlights how widespread the disease has become in the U.K. capital. The capital city, which was particularly hard hit during the winter wave of the virus, has the highest rate of positive tests in the whole of England. Nationwide, one in seven likely have the anitbodies, which suggest a person had the infection in the past, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.
3rd Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: Coronavirus antibodies last for at least six months after infection, study finds

Coronavirus antibodies last for at least six months after infection for the majority of people who have had the virus, according to a new study. It found 99% of participants who had tested positive for previous infection retained coronavirus antibodies for three months after being infected, while 88% did so for the full six months of the study. The research from UK Biobank also found that 8.8% of the UK population had been infected by December 2020, rising as high as 12.4% in London and as low as 5.5% in Scotland.
3rd Feb 2021 - Sky News

Adults 20 to 49 may have driven 72% of US COVID-19 surges

Adults 20 to 49 years old may have kindled 72.2% of US COVID-19 resurgences starting in late summer 2020, with those 35 to 49 especially contributing, a study published yesterday in Science suggests. A team led by researchers from Imperial College London analyzed age-specific cell phone mobility data of more than 10 million Americans and linked them to age-specific COVID-19 death data starting on Mar 15, 2020. Data from 42 US states, Washington, DC, and New York City showed that the number of visits to places such as supermarkets and restaurants began to rebound across all age-groups in August after a significant initial reduction due to public health interventions such as lockdowns in the spring. COVID-19 infections and deaths followed a similar pattern in both the United States and Europe. The authors called for targeting interventions such as transmission-reducing vaccines to people 20 to 49 years as a strategy to reduce the likelihood of future COVID-19 surges and related deaths in areas not yet affected by highly transmissible new coronavirus variants.
3rd Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Pfizer Vaccine Is Just as Effective Against COVID U.K. Strain, Israeli Data Shows

The coronavirus vaccines administered in Israel are effective at curbing infection rates, the incidence of serious COVID-19 cases and at protecting against the British variant of the coronavirus, according to new studies conducted by an Israeli health maintenance organization based on real-world data and reported here for the first time. The first study, conducted by Leumit Health Services on the basis of patient data collected since Israel's vaccination campaign began in December, provides invaluable insight into the effectiveness of the vaccine in the real world, as opposed to efficacy rates measured in the course of controlled experiments in laboratories. According to the second study, the Pfizer vaccine is similarly effective at affording protection against the U.K. variant
3rd Feb 2021 - Haaretz

A single shot of Pfizer's Covid vaccine might NOT be enough to protect over-80s from South African variant, Cambridge study finds

Lab tests suggested single shot did not stimulate big enough immune response UK Government delayed giving second dose for 12 weeks as part of jab strategy South African variant already spotted in 105 Brits and fears it's more widespread Mass testing started today to find cases with crucial South African mutation.
2nd Feb 2021 - Daily Mail


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COVID: Poland decides against giving elderly AstraZeneca vaccine

Amid mounting questions over the efficacy of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine on people over 65, Poland has said it will only use the shot on people aged 18-60, the Polish prime minister’s top aide said, following a recommendation from the country’s medical council. “Yesterday evening, the medical council submitted recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, on the basis of which it was decided that it will be used in Poland for people between the ages of 18 and 60,” Michal Dworczyk, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s top aide who is in charge of Poland’s vaccination programme, told a news conference. Also on Tuesday, Sweden’s health agency said it would not recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65. Poland’s decision follows recommendations by medical experts in Germany and Austria that the vaccine should be given only to people aged between 18 and 64. Spain’s health ministry, meanwhile, will decide this week whether or not to give AstraZeneca’s vaccine to elderly people. For its part, AstraZeneca has dismissed concerns over efficacy but acknowledges that the company has less data than other drugmakers on the elderly because it started vaccinating older people later.
3rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Recovered COVID patients likely protected for at least six months, study finds

Almost all people previously infected with COVID-19 have high levels of antibodies for at least six months that are likely to protect them from reinfection with the disease, results of a major UK study showed on Wednesday. Scientists said the study, which measured levels of previous COVID-19 infection in populations across Britain, as well as how long antibodies persisted in those infected, should provide some reassurance that swift cases of reinfection will be rare. “The vast majority of people retain detectable antibodies for at least six months after infection with the coronavirus,” said Naomi Allen, a professor and chief scientist at the UK Biobank, where the study was carried out.
3rd Feb 2021 - Reuters

Single dose of Pfizer-Biontech vaccine may not protect elderly from Covid-19 infection

A significant proportion of people over 80 may have only a “poor” immune response after a single dose of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, researchers have said.Three weeks later, one jab did not always
2nd Feb 2021 - The Times

UK finds more coronavirus cases with 'concerning' mutations

Public Health England is investigating cases of coronavirus with 'worrying' new genetic changes that have been found in some regions of the UK. Tests show they have a mutation, called E484K, that is already seen in the South Africa variant. Although this change may reduce vaccine effectiveness, the current ones in use should still work, say experts. There have been 11 cases in Bristol and a cluster of 32 cases in Liverpool. Urgent testing for the South Africa variant is already starting in parts of England and could be rolled out to other areas seeing different variants with the same E484K mutation. Scientists working with Public Health England found a small number of cases of the UK 'Kent' variant with the E484K mutation - it was seen in 11 out of 214,159 samples that they tested, and predominantly from the South West of England.
2nd Feb 2021 - BBC News

Coronavirus vaccines ‘can be created in weeks’ to fight new strains

Vaccines to combat new strains of coronavirus could be created for laboratory testing in just three weeks, according to a top scientist. Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading Covid-19 vaccine research at Imperial College London, said scientists are working on vaccines which could counter new variants like the one that emerged in South Africa. After being redesigned for lab testing, it could take two to three months to get the vaccines to the manufacturing stage, he added. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programmer Prof Shattock said: “Vaccine researchers around the world to looking at these new variants and making new vaccine candidates against them so we can study in the laboratory. “And that’s quite a fast process – we can go from seeing these changes to making a new vaccine in the laboratory in a period of about three weeks.
2nd Feb 2021 - Wales Online

COVID-19 survivors may only need one vaccine dose because they already have high levels of antibodies, study suggests

People previously infected with coronavirus may only need one dose of the vaccine, a new study suggests. Researchers found that participants who had contracted COVID-19 in the past and received one shot had antibody levels similar to - and even higher than - those who had never been infected and were given two doses. Additionally, virus survivors were more likely to report side effects after being immunized such as pain at the injection site, fever and fatigue. The team, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, says giving previously infected individuals only one dose would 'spare them from unnecessary pain and free up many urgently needed vaccine doses.'
2nd Feb 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

COVID-19: Why are Asian and Black patients at greater risk?

Even after accounting for other known risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, a study found that Black and Asian patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were more likely to need mechanical ventilation and more likely to die than white patients.
2nd Feb 2021 - Medical News Today

COVID-19: Mutation of Kent variant detected in samples could help virus evade immune system

Delaying the second dose of the Pfizer jab – the current government strategy - may leave some elderly patients at risk of infection by the South African variant, new research suggests. Lab tests by scientists at Cambridge University showed that one dose of the vaccine may not stimulate the immune system to produce enough antibodies to kill the virus. Only after a second dose would antibody levels be protective, according to preliminary data in the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. Meanwhile, the South African variant has a mutation called E484K that helps it evade the immune system.
2nd Feb 2021 - Sky News

Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine Reported To Be 92% Effective : Coronavirus Updates

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective in protecting people from developing COVID-19 symptoms, according to a study published in The Lancet on Tuesday. The study follows a Phase 3 trial in Moscow hospitals and clinics that included nearly 22,000 participants age 18 and older. The vaccine, known as Gam-COVID-Vac, "was well tolerated in a large cohort," the researchers said. It was administered in two doses, 21 days apart. The study was financed by government entities such as the Moscow City Health Department and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The findings stand to add legitimacy to the Sputnik vaccine, which met with skepticism last August when the Russian government touted its move to formally register the world's first vaccine, despite not having completed clinical trials. The Phase 3 clinical trials in the Lancet study did not begin until Sept. 7.
2nd Feb 2021 - NPR

New variant COVID findings fuel more worries about vaccine resistance

Scientists in the United Kingdom yesterday reported that a small number of B117 variants have developed the E484K mutation thought to help SARS-CoV-2 partly evade immunity, and today another UK group said their lab experiments suggest the mutation added to B117 may dampen the impact of vaccination after one dose. In its weekly update on pandemic activity, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that the three variants of concern have been reported in more countries, with 80 now reporting the B117 variant.
2nd Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Amid supply snafu, new data show AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot is more effective with doses 12 weeks apart

While supply constraints have hung over the rollout of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Europe, last week, CEO Pascal Soriot offered one way officials could make the most of available doses. And now AZ has more data to support the idea. Soriot pointed out that the label allows the second dose to be administered between 4 and 12 weeks after the first. Officials could use all available doses to vaccinate as many people as possible now, he suggested, without reserving booster doses. Before 12 weeks passed, more supply would arrive to cover the boosters and start a new round of vaccinations. In fact, waiting could be even better. New data show the vaccine was 54.9% effective in trial participants who received their second standard dose within 6 weeks of the first. For those who got a second standard dose 12 weeks or more after the first, efficacy was a much higher 82.4%.
2nd Feb 2021 - Fierce Pharma

Comparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson

In an ideal world, a pandemic vaccine could be delivered in a single shot, so supplies could be stretched to cover a lot of people. It would trigger no side effect more significant than a sore arm. And it would be easy to ship and store. Soon, it seems, this ideal of a Covid-19 vaccine will be within reach. Last Friday, Johnson & Johnson announced that a one-dose vaccine being developed by its vaccines division, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, had been shown to be 66% protective against moderate to severe Covid infection in a multicountry study. But, importantly, it was 85% effective in protecting against severe disease. And there were no hospitalizations or deaths among people in the vaccine arm of a large clinical trial.
2nd Feb 2021 - STAT News


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Potential side effects of coronavirus vaccine listed by NHS Scotland

NHS Scotland has listed a number of side effects Scots may experience after receiving the coronavirus jab. More than half a million Scots have received their first dose of the vaccine, according to the latest Scottish Government data. Officials are hoping to vaccinate around 400,000 Scots per week by the end of this month. The most vulnerable people in Scotland will be vaccinated during the first wave of the vaccination programme. Those included in the groups listed have been advised of the side effects they may have once they get the jab. Side effects experienced are usually mild and are much less serious than contacting Covid-19 itself. Any conditions that arise following the vaccine should “go away within a few days”, according to NHS Scotland.
1st Feb 2021 - Daily Record

White House awards $230M to help produce over-the-counter, rapid COVID-19 tests

Andy Slavitt, White House COVID-19 adviser, said the administration will provide nearly $232 million to an Australian company called Ellume, which received authorization for the test in December. The company was part of the National Institutes of Health's RADx initiative to spur test development, and received $30 million from the program. "Thanks to this contract, they'll be able to scale their production to manufacture more than 19 million test kits per month by the end of this year," Slavitt told reporters.
1st Feb 2021 - The Hill on MSN.com

Computer model makes strides in search for COVID-19 treatments

A new deep-learning model that can predict how human genes and medicines will interact has identified at least 10 compounds that may hold promise as treatments for COVID-19. All but two of the drugs are still considered investigational and are being tested for effectiveness against hepatitis C, fungal disease, cancer and heart disease. The list also includes the approved drugs cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant that prevents transplant organ rejection, and anidulafungin, an antifungal agent. The discovery was made by computer scientists, meaning much more work needs to be done before any of these medications would be confirmed as safe and effective treatments for people infected with SARS-CoV-2. But by using artificial intelligence to arrive at these options, the scientists have saved pharmaceutical and clinical researchers the time and money it would take to search for potential COVID-19 drugs on a piecemeal basis.
1st Feb 2021 - EurekAlert!

Vaccine manufacturing greenhorn Bayer to make 160M doses of CureVac's COVID-19 shot

In its nearly 160-year history, Bayer has never produced vaccines for humans. But the COVID-19 pandemic is changing that. As part of a recently penned collaboration, Bayer will help manufacture German compatriot CureVac’s mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine, CVnCOV, in addition to aiding in R&D, regulatory affairs, supply chain management and potential marketing operations, Stefan Oelrich, Bayer’s pharma chief, said in a press briefing Monday. To that end, Bayer plans to make 160 million doses of the CureVac shot in 2022, with the first commercial product expected to be made available at the end of this year. The vaccine entered phase 3 testing in December. The work will be done at Bayer’s Wuppertal site in Germany, Oelrich said. The company recently inked a deal to sell a plant at the site to Chinese CDMO WuXi Biologics for €150 million, with COVID-19 vaccine production also featured as part of WuXi’s plan for use of the facility.
1st Feb 2021 - FiercePharma


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Covid vaccines already having an effect on UK outbreak, research suggests

The UK’s mass vaccination rollout already appears to be having an easing effect on the Covid crisis, according to data. Research due to be published in days is set to provide evidence that Britons are receiving some protection from the virus. Though it is not yet clear if vaccines block transmission of the virus from one person to another, the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said early data “indicate a vaccine effect from the first dose in both younger adults and in older adults over 80”.
31st Jan 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19 Patients With Schizophrenia Might Be At A Higher Risk Of Death

A schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis could be at a higher risk of severe Covid-19 and might also face 2.7 times higher risk for mortality within 45 days of testing positive, according to the results of a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.
30th Jan 2021 - Forbes

Covid-19: Novavax vaccine shows 89% efficacy in UK trials

A new coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be 89% effective in large-scale UK trials. The Novavax jab is the first to show in trials that it is effective against the new virus variant found in the UK, the BBC's medical editor Fergus Walsh said. The UK has secured 60 million doses of the jab, which will be made in Stockton-on-Tees in north-east England. Meanwhile, a single-dose vaccine developed by Janssen is 66% effective, trial results have shown. Janssen, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson, is also investigating whether giving two doses will give either stronger or longer-lasting protection.
30th Jan 2021 - BBC News

J&J vaccine shown to prevent 85% of COVID-19 hospital cases, deaths

Results from an international phase 3 trial of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine show it is overall 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe symptoms of COVID-19. The vaccine was 85% effective in preventing COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. The vaccine has been a long-hoped for game-changer in the global fight against the pandemic because it requires only one dose, can be manufactured in billions of doses, and requires only standard refrigeration. "A one-shot vaccine is considered by the World Health Organization to be the best option in pandemic settings, enhancing access, distribution and compliance. Eighty-five percent efficacy in preventing severe COVID-19 disease and prevention of COVID-19-related medical interventions will potentially protect hundreds of millions of people from serious and fatal outcomes of COVID-19," said Paul Stoffels, MD, chief scientific officer for Johnson & Johnson, in a company news release.
29th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

COVID-19 antibodies transmit from moms to babies during pregnancy

SARS-CoV-2 antibodies transferred across the placenta in 87% of pregnant women who had COVID-19 at some point, suggesting that newborns of seropositive mothers may have some protection against the novel coronavirus at birth, according to a study today in JAMA Pediatrics. However, a second, unpublished study suggests that the maternal-infant antibody transfer is lower than expected.
29th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP


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New Covid-19 test proves effective in detecting virus in asymptomatic patients

A new Covid-19 test has been shown to be effective in detecting the virus in people without symptoms, the Government has said. The tests use swab samples in the same way as a traditional PCR test - but were also found to be effective in saliva samples. Pilots found tests in patients with symptoms were 100% effective, while swab and saliva samples were more than 99% effective for asymptomatic patients. The tests were also able to pick up other winter viruses such as flu. Results from a large-scale analysis of LamPORE tests on asymptomatic patients revealed an overall sensitivity of 99.57% and specificity of 99.4%, meaning the test is highly effective for testing people without symptoms in the community. The tests use swab samples in the same way as a traditional PCR test - but were also found to be effective in saliva samples. Pilots found tests in patients with symptoms were 100% effective, while swab and saliva samples were more than 99% effective for asymptomatic patients. The tests were also able to pick up other winter viruses such as flu.
28th Jan 2021 - The Mirror

The Covid-19 Vaccine-Development Multiverse

We are writing in response to the editorial by Heaton (Nov. 12 issue)1 on Covid-19 vaccines. Currently, Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanic or Latino persons are disproportionately affected by Covid-19,2 and testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 is lagging in low-income and minority neighborhoods.3 New approaches will be needed to safely and equitably distribute Covid-19 vaccines. Drive-through SARS-CoV-2 testing sites in Los Angeles County are widely used by persons from racial and ethnic groups that are representative of that county (Table 1). A pilot influenza vaccination program was conducted at one SARS-CoV-2 drive-through testing site in an underserved neighborhood. Vaccines were refrigerated before administration, and trained health care professionals administered them. During the period from October 6 through November 5, 2020, vaccinations were offered on 9 days, and 661 persons were vaccinated (Table 1). The highest daily number of vaccinations was 148. SARS-CoV-2 testing was completed by 599 of the 661 persons who were vaccinated (90.6%).
28th Jan 2021 - nejm.org

How Covid-19 mutations are changing the pandemic

Early in its existence, Covid-19 gained an ability that would prove decisive in its relationship with human beings. The virus picked up a seemingly small change in its genetic code. It was likely an unfortunate accident – a fragment of genetic information from another virus got muddled up with that of the coronavirus while they were both infecting a bat. Included within this tiny piece of genome, however, were the instructions that altered a key part of the virus – its spike protein. This important protein studs the outside of the coronavirus and is the part that attaches to the outside of cells, helping the rest of the virus to sneak inside where it can replicate. This change to Covid-19's spike protein meant it could hijack an enzyme found in the human body called furin. This enzyme acts like a pair of molecular scissors, normally cutting open hormones and growth factors to activate them. But when furin snips part of the Covid-19 spike protein, which is normally folded in a series of loops on the outside of the virus, it opens like a hinge.
28th Jan 2021 - BBC News

England lockdown starts to suppress Covid-19, study suggests

There are tentative signs that the lockdown in England is beginning to curb coronavirus transmission, according to a closely watched study, although stubbornly high infection rates will continue to strain the overstretched healthcare system. The React-1 study, led by Imperial College London, concluded that prevalence of the virus had started to flatten last week, with initial indications of a small decline. Researchers estimated that the reproduction number R, which measures the average number of people one individual infects, was between 0.92 and 1.04, with a central estimate of 0.98 — suggesting that the rate of infection is close to stable or falling slightly.
28th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

South African COVID variant detected in South Carolina

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today confirmed the first US cases of B1.351, a variant of COVID-19 first discovered in South Africa, in South Carolina. In other US news, CDC experts discuss a rare COVID-related syndrome in children, a Johns Hopkins expert highlights hospital oxygen shortages, and Novavax reports good results for its vaccine. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the variant was detected in two people with no known travel history and no contact with one another. "The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over," said Brannon Traxler, MD, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. "While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited."
28th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Lingering lung, physical, mental symptoms 4 months after COVID-19

Four months after their release from the hospital, more than half of 238 adult COVID-19 patients in northern Italy still had impaired lung function or mobility issues, and about one-fifth had symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a prospective cohort study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open found. The findings add to growing evidence and discussion of so-called COVID-19 "long-haulers," or patients with function-impairing symptoms persisting for months after their initial recovery. Researchers from two universities in Novara, Italy, assessed the patients, who had been hospitalized from Mar 1 to Jun 29, 2020. Of the 219 patients who completed both lung function tests and carbon monoxide (CO) measurements, 113 (51.6%) had a diffusing lung capacity for CO of less than 80% of the expected level, indicating compromised lung function, and 34 patients (15.5%) had more severe impairment, with a value less than 60% of normal.
28th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Novavax says its Covid-19 vaccine is 90% effective, but far less so against one variant

Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax proved nearly 90% effective in preliminary results from a key clinical trial in the United Kingdom, the company said, but in a separate trial appeared far less effective against a new variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in South Africa. In its 15,000-volunteer U.K. trial, Novavax said, the vaccine prevented nine in 10 cases, including against a new strain of the virus that is circulating there. But in a 4,400-volunteer study in South Africa, the vaccine proved only 49% effective. In the 94% of the study population that did not have HIV, the efficacy was 60%. In the U.K. trial, Novavax observed 62 cases of symptomatic Covid-19, with 56 in the placebo group and six among volunteers who got the vaccine. One patient on placebo developed severe Covid-19, compared with zero in the vaccine group. The company provided few details on the vaccine’s safety, saying only that the serious side effects were rare and balanced between the studies’ vaccine and placebo groups.
28th Jan 2021 - Stat News


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Jan 2021

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French firm agrees to manufacture vaccine developed by German rival

Sanofi pledges to manufacture 125 million doses of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. European Union is currently struggling with vaccine supply issues amid a row over shortages. Also, a stark warning from South Africa about future danger posed by new Coronavirus variants,
27th Jan 2021 - BBC News

People with schizophrenia are THREE TIMES more likely to die from Covid-19 than those without mental health issues – with old age the only higher risk factor

Researchers studied records of more than 7,000 hospitalised Covid-19 patients. Age was the biggest risk factor, with over 75s at 35 times increased risk of death But schizophrenia is second biggest risk factor, increasing risk by 2.67 times.
27th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Scottish company launches Covid-19 antibody test for use by medical professionals

Medical diagnostics company Omega has launched its rapid antibody test for Covid-19. The Alva-headquartered company is launching its Mologic ELISA test through its in-house laboratory service in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. A capillary blood sample collection pack is sent to healthcare professionals, who then send the patient's sample back to the company's laboratory where the test is run. Test results then go back to each healthcare professional, who informs the patient of their result and provides advice as necessary. The company expects to offer this testing service to selected commercial occupational health partners, clinics and health care professionals in the UK. Omega chief executive Colin King said: “We are pleased that we have delivered on our committed timeline for the launch of the lab testing service.
27th Jan 2021 - Insider.co.uk

COVID-19: Breakthrough treatment claims to stop 100% of symptomatic infections

The makers of an experimental drug, now being trialled by the NHS, say it is 100 per cent effective in protecting against symptomatic cases of the virus. US-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals says its two-antibody cocktail called REGEN-COV also reduces overall coronavirus infection rates by about 50 per cent. The claims are based on interim results and the "confirmatory stage" of the trial will not be complete until the second quarter of this year, but the company has said it is hopeful it may "break the chain" of rising infections.
27th Jan 2021 - Sky News


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WHO warns pregnant women should NOT get Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine because it hasn't been proven safe after issuing the same warning over Pfizer's shot - but US doctors say it ...

The World Health Organization said pregnant women should only be immunized if they are high risk such as being a frontline healthcare worker or having an underlying condition.
26th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Pfizer develops booster shot amid fears its COVID-19 vaccine is less effective against highly-infectious variants from Brazil and South Africa

Pfizer develops booster shot amid fears its COVID-19 vaccine is less effective against highly-infectious variants from Brazil and South Africa. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday his firm will develop booster shots 'every time' a variant makes its shot less effective. Last week, lab tests suggested Pfizer's current shot worked against the spike protein mutation shared by the UK and South African variants It has not announced testing the vaccine against mutation seen in the South African and Brazilian variants that may make them vaccine-resistant Bourla said despite thinking the shot will work against variants, Pfizer is developing booster shots. Moderna said yesterday it is making a South African variant booster shot after finding immunity to the variant from its vaccine may wane faster
26th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Made-in-Canada coronavirus vaccine starts human clinical trials

A made-in-Canada vaccine to protect against COVID-19 began human clinical trials Tuesday in Toronto, says the biotechnology company that developed the vaccine. Toronto-based Providence Therapeutics said three shots will be given to 60 adult volunteers at a clinical trial site in Toronto in the first phase of the trial on Tuesday. Fifteen of those volunteers will receive a placebo, and 45 will get the vaccine, called PTX-COVID19-B. Brad Sorenson, the company's CEO, said it's the first time a vaccine designed and manufactured in Canada has begun clinical trials. The company has purchased a site in Calgary to mass produce the vaccine.
26th Jan 2021 - CBC.ca

Moderna vaccine doses can be spaced up to six weeks apart, says WHO

Moderna’s Covid vaccine can be given in two doses as much as six weeks apart, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation, known as Sage, recommended the jab be given at an interval of 28 days but said that could be extended by a further two weeks under exceptional circumstances. "The main recommendation for the use of this vaccine is that based on the current elements we recommend it should be given in doses of 100 micrograms or 0.5 ml with an interval of 28 days," Alejandro Cravioto, panel chair, told a virtual briefing. "This interval might be moved to 42 days but the evidence we have does not go behond that time," he said, speaking from Mexico.
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Studies extend hopes for antibody drugs against COVID-19

New results extend hopes for drugs that supply antibodies to fight COVID-19 suggesting they can help keep patients out of the hospital and possibly prevent illness in some uninfected people. Eli Lilly said Tuesday that a two-antibody combo reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness because of age or other health conditions. All 10 deaths that occurred in the study were among those receiving placebo rather than the antibodies.
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Russian biochemist who created novichok invents Covid-19 drug

Dr Lenoid Rink was involved in the secret Soviet development of Novichok. Novichok was used on the Skripals in Britain in 2012 and Alexei Navalny last year The new coronavirus-tackling drug is based on a Soviet medicine for leprosy Rink said the formulation has been tested on 700 elderly patients with no deaths The drug has been featured positively by Russian state-owned media outlets
26th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Johnson & Johnson expects COVID-19 vaccine data next week

Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday said it expected to report eagerly-awaited data on its COVID-19 vaccine early next week, and that it would be able to meet the delivery target for doses to countries with which it had signed supply agreements. Public health officials are increasingly counting on single-dose options like the one being tested by J&J to simplify and boost inoculations given the complications and slower-than-hoped rollout of authorized vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc, which require second shots weeks after the first. The company forecast 2021 profit well above Wall Street estimates, and its shares rose 3.4% to $171.55. The outlook does not include any contribution from the COVID-19 vaccine, Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk said.
26th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: UK to share genomics know-how to help other countries identify new variants

The UK is to offer its genomics expertise to help other countries identify new COVID variants, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. The launch of the New Variant Assessment Platform will see other countries offered UK laboratory capacity and advice to analyse new strains of coronavirus. It will be led by Public Health England working with NHS Test and Trace and a team from the World Health Organisation.
26th Jan 2021 - Sky News

AstraZeneca: German reports on low efficacy on over-65s 'completely incorrect'

"Reports that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine efficacy is as low as 8% in adults over 65 years are completely incorrect," an AstraZeneca spokesperson told DW in a written response. The company said that an influential UK vaccination committee, the JCVI, and the UK's national MHRA medicines regulator supported the use of its vaccine on that particular age group. "In November, we published data in The Lancet demonstrating that older adults showed strong immune responses to the vaccine, with 100% of older adults generating spike-specific antibodies after the second dose," AstraZeneca's spokesperson said. The firm's response followed reports in Handelsblatt and Bild, two German daily newspapers. Both cited unnamed members of Germany's government as saying that the vaccine had a poor efficacy rate among people above 65. Bild put the figure at "less than 10%," Handelsblatt at 8%. The newspapers further reported that German government officials didn't expect the vaccine to be approved for use on over-65s by the European Medicines Agency regulator as a result.
26th Jan 2021 - Deutsche Welle

Regeneron says monoclonal antibodies prevent Covid-19 in study

Regeneron said Tuesday that its monoclonal antibody cocktail prevented Covid-19 in a clinical trial. The news, issued via a press release, mirrored similar news from Eli Lilly last week that its monoclonal antibody prevented symptomatic Covid-19 infections in nursing homes. The results represent the first 400 volunteers from the study, which is being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and is continuing to enroll patients. The volunteers were at high risk of infection because they lived in the same household as a Covid-19 patient. Half the patients received a placebo, and the other half received 1.2 grams of casirivimab and imdevimab, Regeneron’s antibodies
26th Jan 2021 - Stat News

COVID-19 lockdowns have permanently damaged children′s eyes

Nearsightedness, or myopia, has gone up dramatically during periods of lockdown — that's according to a study of more than 100,000 children in China. Though the damage is irreversible, there are things that all of us (including parents) can do to slow its progress.
25th Jan 2021 - Deutsche Welle


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jan 2021

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Germany fears AstraZeneca vaccine won't get EU approval for those over 65 -Bild

AstraZeneca denied on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is not very effective for people over 65, after German media reports said officials fear the vaccine may not be approved in the European Union for use in the elderly. German daily papers Handelsblatt and Bild said in separate reports the vaccine - co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University - had an efficacy of 8% or less than 10%, respectively, in those over 65. German officials were concerned that the vaccine may not receive approval from the EU’s medicines authority EMA for use in those over 65, Bild said in its online edition. The reports mark another potential issue for AstraZeneca, which told the EU on Friday it could not meet agreed supply targets up to the end of March after running into vaccine production problems.
26th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Merck ends its COVID-19 vaccine programme after disappointing early trial results

Merck & Co (MSD) has ended its COVID-19 vaccine programme after reviewing some disappointing phase 1 results for its candidates V590 and V591. Although both V590 and V591 were generally well-tolerated in the phase 1 trials, immune responses for the candidates were inferior to those observed in recovered COVID-19 patients as well as those reported for other vaccines. Merck did not disclose the exact response levels but the company is planning to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
25th Jan 2021 - PMLiVE

Heavy smokers face nearly double risk of dying of COVID-19 compared to people who have never smoked

Cigarette smokers face a much higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 compared to those who have never smoked, a new study suggests. Researchers found that all smokers had higher odds of poor outcomes due to the virus, but those at the highest risk were heavy smokers, defined as those smoking at least one pack per day for more than 30 years. These patients had nearly double the risk of death due to COVID-19 and were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized because of the disease.
25th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid: Vaccinated people may spread virus, says Van-Tam

People who have received a Covid-19 vaccine could still pass the virus on to others and should continue following lockdown rules, England's deputy chief medical officer has warned. Prof Jonathan Van-Tam stressed that scientists "do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission". He said vaccines offer "hope" but infection rates must come down quickly. Matt Hancock said 75% of over-80s in the UK have now had a first virus jab. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines require two doses, and figures so far reflect those given the first dose.
25th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Fauci: U.K. coronavirus variant leads to worse infections

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Monday that the Covid-19 variant ravaging the United Kingdom — which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted will become dominant in the United States within roughly two months — is likely more deadly than the current common strain of the coronavirus. The remarks from Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, represent a new assessment from senior U.S. health officials — who had acknowledged in recent weeks that the U.K. strain was more contagious but said there was no evidence suggesting it was more dangerous
25th Jan 2021 - Politico

New UK and South Africa Covid variants may spread more easily, so what does this mean for the fight against coronavirus?

New research suggests that new coronavirus variants may spread more easily than the regular, or wild type coronavirus. Fifty-five countries have now reported the presence of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, originally identified in the UK, and 23 countries have identified the 501Y.V2 variant, originally identified in South Africa. Most of the research characterising the new variants has been published as “preprints”, which means that the studies have not yet gone through the usual peer review and journal publication process. In areas where more infectious variants are established in the community current controls are likely to be less effective and need to be strengthened to prevent the risk of an increase in cases, deaths and long-term illness.
25th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Moderna to test out jab against South African variant

Vaccine manufacturer Moderna is to test out a jab against the South African variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The company made the decision after laboratory tests showed a six-fold reduction in the ability of antibodies, produced in response to the vaccine, to kill the new version of the virus. The UK has 17 million doses of Moderna's vaccine on order, with deliveries due to start in the spring.
25th Jan 2021 - Sky News

New coronavirus variants accelerate race to make sure vaccines keep up

The scientific and pharmaceutical race to keep coronavirus vaccines ahead of new virus variants escalated Monday, even as a highly transmissible variant first detected in people who had recently traveled to Brazil was discovered in Minnesota. Moderna, the maker of one of the two authorized coronavirus vaccines in the United States, announced it would develop and test a new vaccine tailored to block a similar mutation-riddled virus variant in case an updated shot becomes necessary. The effort is a precautionary step. Evidence released Monday suggested that the Moderna vaccine will still work against two variants of concern that emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
25th Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

UK official Covid death toll has always undercounted fatalities, analysis shows

The UK government death toll is missing coronavirus fatalities and it always has, Guardian analysis has shown. According to the paper by the University of Leicester 30% of Covid-19 patients discharged from English hospitals were readmitted within five months and almost one in eight of them die, raising further concerns over the accuracy of the widely quoted official figure. If the paper proves correct, it would mean in the future thousands of coronavirus patients will be readmitted to hospital and some will die with complications from the virus without being included in the government tally.
25th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Moderna’s vaccine is less potent against one coronavirus variant but still protective, company says

Moderna is studying adding booster doses to its vaccine regimen after finding its Covid-19 vaccine was less potent against a coronavirus variant that was first identified in South Africa, the company said Monday. In lab research that involved testing whether blood from people who had received the vaccine could still fend off different coronavirus variants, scientists found that there was a sixfold reduction in the vaccine’s neutralizing power against the variant, called B.1.351, than against earlier forms of the coronavirus, Moderna reported. There was no loss in neutralization levels against a different variant, called B.1.1.7, that was first identified in the United Kingdom. Both variants are thought to be more transmissible than other forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
25th Jan 2021 - STAT News


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jan 2021

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Australia regulator approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 for use

Australia's medical regulator has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use under a formal process, one of the first countries to complete a comprehensive approval, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. The vaccine had been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration's (TGA) for Australians aged 16 years and over, Morrison told reporters, noting it was a year since the first coronavirus case was detected in the country. Vaccination of priority groups is expected to begin in late February, at 80,000 doses per week, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters. Two doses will be required – at least 21 days apart, a government statement said. Australia will administer both doses of the vaccine at the recommended time.
24th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

South Africa Health Regulatory Body Approves Serum Institute of India's Covid-19 Vaccine

South Africa Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday announced that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has granted approval to Serum Institute of India (SII) to supply COVID-19 vaccine to the country. The approval by the health regulatory body comes amidst growing public concern that the 1.5 million vaccine doses to be shipped to South Africa in the next few weeks have not been approved yet. “We will, in the next coming days, engage with the public in order to give an update on the progress of the first batch of the vaccines that we committed would be received in the first quarter," Mkhize said.
23rd Jan 2021 - Outlookindia

ConserV Bioscience to develop ‘broad-spectrum’ coronavirus vaccine

UK biotech company ConserV Bioscience will collaborate on the development of a broad-spectrum coronavirus vaccine with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The vaccine has been designed to enable broad-spectrum protection against coronavirus pathogens originating from humans and animals, including MERS, SARS and SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine candidate consists of conserved immunoreactive regions from external and internal coronavirus proteins encoded in messenger RNA (mRNA). LLNL will use its proprietary nanolipoprotein particle (NLP) technology to formulate the mRNA constructs prior to injections.
20th Jan 2021 - Pharma Times

The Coronavirus Kills Mink. They May Get a Vaccine.

At least two American companies, as well as Russian researchers, are working on coronavirus vaccines for mink. The animals have grown sick and died in large numbers from the virus, which they have also passed back to people in mutated form. Zoetis, a large veterinary pharmaceutical company in New Jersey with more than $6 billion in annual revenue in 2019, and Medgene Labs, a small company with about 35 employees that is based in South Dakota, are both testing vaccines in mink. They are seeking licensing of their products from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both companies said their vaccine technologies are generally similar to the one used by Novovax for a human vaccine, which is in late-stage trials. That system involves making insect cells produce the spike protein on the coronavirus, which is then attached to a harmless virus that enters into the body’s cells and trains the immune system to be ready for the real thing.
23rd Jan 2021 - The New York Times

Dr. Fauci says one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be approved in two weeks

Latest data shows case counts fall in 43 states and District of Columbia, according to COVID Tracking Project. Hospitalizations also on the decline in 24 states as experts say lockdowns and behavior are yielding fruit. But public health officials warn that case counts may surge as new variant of COVID-19 circulates in the US There were nearly 189,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday nationwide; 116,264 Americans are hospitalized. The COVID-19 death count remains high as the number of fatalities recorded on Friday was 3,655. Since the start of the pandemic, 414,117 Americans have died of COVID-19 with 24.8 million people infected Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday he believes a new coronavirus vaccine is two weeks away from FDA approval. Single-dose shot developed by Johnson & Johnson is in final phases of clinical trials with data expected soon
23rd Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

CDC says 2nd coronavirus vaccine shot may be scheduled up to 6 weeks later

People who have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine can schedule their second shot up to six weeks later if they are not able to get one in the recommended time frame, according to updated guidance this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency also said that in “exceptional situations,” patients may switch from one of the authorized vaccines to the other between the first and second doses. The recommended interval between doses is three weeks for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s.
23rd Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

Covid-19: Scientists challenge 'flawed' lateral flow tests report

A group of experienced scientists has issued a statement supporting the use of lateral flow tests in the battle against Covid. They say the rapid devices have identified 27,000 infected people in the UK who would not otherwise have had to self-isolate. The findings of a recent report suggested the tests were inaccurate and potentially harmful. But the scientists say that report was flawed and confused. Signatories to the statement include Prof Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine and child health, from the University of Liverpool, Prof Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, and Dr Susan Hopkins, interim chief medical adviser from Public Health England.
23rd Jan 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: UK variant 'may be more deadly' but nation's R number drops

We already knew that the Covid-19 variant first discovered in south-east England was more transmissible, but now - speaking at a Downing Street briefing - Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed it may also "be associated with a higher degree of mortality". On how much more deadly the UK strain might be, the UK's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said if the old variant might lead to the deaths of 10 in 1,000 men in their 60s who caught the virus, the new variant might kill 13 or 14 in 1,000. However, he added: "There's a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it."
23rd Jan 2021 - BBC News

Israel finds single dose gives high resistance

A single shot of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine produces a robust antibody response within weeks, according to Israeli data that could help inform whether scarce global supplies can be stretched by delaying second doses. At the Rambam Health Care Campus in northern Israel, 91 per cent of the 1,800 doctors and nurses that received the two dose vaccine showed a major presence of antibodies 21 days after their first shot, before receiving the second dose, according to Michael Halberthal, chief executive of the hospital. A further 2 per cent showed a moderate presence of antibodies. “If 93 per cent had a major response three weeks after the first injection, this raises a good question, that you might rather be using the first injection on more people” said Dr Halberthal. At the Sheba Medical Center, similar serological tests at different intervals showed at least 50 per cent of staff with a level of antibodies “above the cut-off point” two weeks after the first jab, said Arnon Afek, the associate director-general of the hospital chain.
23rd Jan 2021 - Financial Times

COVID-19: Halve the gap between vaccine doses, senior doctors urge

Public Health England (PHE) officials are resisting senior doctors' calls to halve the gap between the first and second doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The British Medical Association (BMA) has said the gap between doses being given to patients should be cut from 12 weeks to six. But officials at PHE have said it is essential to protect as many people as possible to prevent the coronavirus getting "the upper hand" over the healthcare service. The World Health Organisation has recommended that the gap should be a maximum of six weeks - but the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has opted to delay a second Pfizer dose for up to 12 weeks, to ensure more people get the first jab sooner.
23rd Jan 2021 - Sky News

Israeli Covid chief's claim single vaccine dose less effective 'inaccurate'

Israel’s health ministry has moved to row back on comments by the country’s coronavirus tsar, who suggested single doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine had not given as much protection against the disease as had been hoped. The remarks by Nachman Ash, reported first in the Israeli media earlier this week, drew widespread attention for appearing to suggest that the vaccine was less effective than expected after a single dose had been administered as the country recorded record cases and extended its lockdown earlier this week. As experts in the UK questioned whether it was too soon to make such a judgement, the Israeli health ministry pushed back, saying that the comments were inaccurate and had been taken out of context.
23rd Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Covid: Delaying second dose of vaccine increases risk of new resistant strain, Sage papers reveal

Delaying doses of coronavirus inoculations will increase the chances of a vaccine-resistant strain of Covid-19 emerging, government scientists have warned. In new reports, released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), experts also warned that resistant new variants were a “realistic possibility” driven by the virus reacting to increasing levels of natural immunity among the population. The government’s decision to delay the second dose of vaccines to 12 weeks rather than three, to try and give more people some protection from the virus, has sparked anger among frontline health workers who fear they are being left at increased risk from infections. There have also been suggestions from Israel, that have yet to be fully validated, that the protection from a first dose could be far less than originally thought.
23rd Jan 2021 - The Independent

Coronavirus: Children do NOT play a key role in spread, study says

German researchers enrolled nearly 2,500 parents and their children in a study Found three times as many adults had coronavirus antibodies than children Data also shows a previously infected adult and an uninfected child was 4.3 times more common than a previously infected child and an uninfected parent
23rd Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

UK COVID-19 variant may carry higher risk of death but data limited - journalist cites advisory group

The COVID-19 variant identified in England last month could carry a higher risk of causing death although data is limited, according to one of the government's scientific advisory groups, ITV political editor Robert Peston said on Twitter on Friday.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Colchicine reduces the risk of COVID-19-related complications

The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) announced today that the COLCORONA clinical trial has provided clinically persuasive results of colchicine’s efficacy to treat COVID-19. The study results have shown that colchicine has reduced by 21% the risk of death or hospitalizations in patients with COVID-19 compared to placebo. This result obtained for the global study population of 4488 patients approached statistical significance
23rd Jan 2021 - Financial Post

SARS-CoV-2 needs cholesterol to invade cells and form mega cells

People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs may fare better than others if they catch the novel coronavirus. A new study hints at why: the virus relies on the fatty molecule to get past the cell's protective membrane. o cause COVID-19, the SARS-CoV-2 virus must force its way into people's cells—and it needs an accomplice. Cholesterol, the waxy compound better known for clogging arteries, helps the virus open cells up and slip inside, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Clifford Brangwynne's lab reports.
22nd Jan 2021 - Phys.org

Denmark is sequencing all coronavirus samples and has an alarming view of the U.K. variant

Like a speeding car whose brake lines have been cut, the coronavirus variant first spotted in Britain is spreading at an alarming rate and isn’t responding to established ways of slowing the pandemic, according to Danish scientists who have one of the world’s best views into the new, more contagious strain. Cases involving the variant are increasing 70 percent a week in Denmark, despite a strict lockdown, according to Denmark’s State Serum Institute, a government agency that tracks diseases and advises health policy. “We’re losing some of the tools that we have to control the epidemic,” said Tyra Grove Krause, scientific director of the institute, which this past week began sequencing every positive coronavirus test to check for mutations.
22nd Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

Covid-19 news: UK variant may be 30 per cent more deadly

Preliminary evidence indicates the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus first identified in the UK may additionally be more deadly, UK prime minister Boris Johnson told a press briefing on Friday. The government was briefed by researchers in the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, who are assessing the data on the variant, which appears to be about 30 per cent more deadly. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at Imperial College London who analysed data on the new variant concluded it is between 29 and 36 per cent more lethal, whereas researchers at the University of Exeter put the figure at 91 per cent. The UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said the evidence on lethality “is not yet strong”, adding: “but it is obviously a concern”.
22nd Jan 2021 - New Scientist News


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Lilly: Drug can prevent COVID-19 illness in nursing homes

Drugmaker Eli Lilly said Thursday its antibody drug can prevent COVID-19 illness in residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care locations. It's the first major study to show such a treatment may prevent illness in a group that has been devastated by the pandemic. Residents and staff who got the drug had up to a 57% lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared to others at the same facility who got a placebo, the drugmaker said. Among nursing home residents only, the risk was reduced by up to 80%. The study involved more than 1,000 residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care locations like assisted living homes. The vast majority tested negative at the start of the study. Some were assigned to get the drug, which is given through an IV, and others got placebo infusions.
21st Jan 2021 - The Independent

Will Britain's vaccine drive be enough to end Covid crisis? UK WON'T achieve herd immunity through jab rollout, study claims as SAGE warns lockdown may be needed until MAY ...

University of East Anglia (UEA) study found Kent strain too infectious for herd immunity with current vaccines. But goal of vaccination scheme is to prevent the most vulnerable from falling sick or dying, not eradicate virus. SAGE scientists said today at current pace, most draconian curbs need to remain in place until May at least
21st Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

England's third lockdown shows 'no evidence of decline' in Covid rates, study says

A third national lockdown in England appears to have had little impact on the rising rate of coronavirus infections, according to the findings of a major study, with “no evidence of decline” in the prevalence of the virus during the first 10 days of tougher restrictions. The closely watched REACT-1 study, led by Imperial College London, warned that health services would remain under “extreme pressure” and the cumulative number of deaths would increase rapidly unless the prevalence of the virus in the community was reduced substantially. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the latest figures were “appalling” and warned, “There are still tough weeks to come.”
21st Jan 2021 - CNBC

Combo monoclonal antibody drugs may lower coronavirus loads

Mildly to moderately ill COVID-19 adult outpatients given a combination of the monoclonal antibodies bamlanivimab and etesevimab early in the disease had significantly lower viral loads at day 11 than those who received a placebo, but a similar effect was not seen in those given bamlanivimab alone, a study published today in JAMA finds. Bamlanivimab manufacturer Eli Lilly sponsored the double-blind phase 2/3 BLAZE-1 clinical trial, which involved 533 COVID-19 patients at 49 US medical centers. The goal was to assess the antispike neutralizing antibodies' effects on viral loads of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at 11 days and clinical outcomes at 29 days.
21st Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Eli Lilly says its monoclonal antibody prevented Covid-19 infections in clinical trial

Eli Lilly said Thursday that its monoclonal antibody prevented Covid-19 infections in nursing home residents and staff in a clinical trial, the first time such a treatment has been shown to prevent infection. Lilly released the results in a press release, although it said that it would publish the data in a research paper as quickly as possible. In November, the antibody, bamlanivimab, was authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in treating patients with Covid who are at risk of more severe disease. An antibody cocktail made by the biotechnology firm Regeneron has also been authorized.
21st Jan 2021 - STAT News

Moderna's COVID-19 given to first Japanese volunteer as Takeda starts trial

Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine was administered to the first test subject in Japan on Thursday, its distributor said, a critical step toward securing enough shots to inoculate the nation’s population. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co announced the start of a combined phase I and II study of 200 adult volunteers in Japan. The government has purchased 50 million doses of the vaccine, enough for 25 million people, contingent on its regulatory approval.
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Moderna cooperating with investigation into possible COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions

Moderna said in a statement yesterday that it is ‘fully’ cooperating with an investigation into possible allergic reactions at a vaccination centre in the US administering its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The adverse events were reported by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in the US, after a number of individuals at a vaccination centre in San Diego were treated for possible allergic reactions following vaccination using doses from one lot of Moderna’s jab. On Sunday, California’s state epidemiologist Dr Erica Pan issued a statement with recommendations for healthcare providers to pause vaccination from the lot in question – no. 041L20A – after the possible allergic reactions.
20th Jan 2021 - PMLiVE

One-dose vaccine strategy may not protect against Covid-19

Health officials have said they must look “very carefully” at Britain’s plan to delay second vaccine doses after research from Israel suggested that one dose may not provide adequate protection against Covid-19. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said this morning that the government would “just need to keep measuring the numbers” to ensure that a single dose offered reasonable protection. He also said it was monitoring how many inoculated people were taken to hospital with the virus.
20th Jan 2021 - The Times

DNA test developed in Cambridge can identify secondary infections in Covid-19 patients in hours

A DNA test developed in Cambridge can quickly identify secondary infections in Covid-19 patients, who face double the risk of developing pneumonia while on ventilation compared to those with other conditions. It is capable of detecting 52 pathogens that often cause infection in intensive care, and can pick up antibiotic resistance. It means targeted antibiotic treatments can be given within hours, rather than days. Dr Andrew Conway Morris, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Medicine and an intensive care consultant, said: “Early on in the pandemic we noticed that Covid-19 patients appeared to be particularly at risk of developing secondary pneumonia, and started using a rapid diagnostic test that we had developed for just such a situation. “Using this test, we found that patients with Covid-19 were twice as likely to develop secondary pneumonia as other patients in the same intensive care unit.”
20th Jan 2021 - Cambridge Independent

BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine found effective against Covid-19 variant

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer is likely to be effective against a rapidly spreading strain of the virus that was first discovered in the UK, a laboratory-based study by the companies has shown. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, has a high number of mutations, which has led to concerns that could bypass the immune defences built up by vaccines being rolled out worldwide, a large proportion of which have been made by BioNTech and Pfizer. However, researchers at BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz found that a test-tube version of the virus carrying all the new strain’s mutations was neutralised by antibodies in the blood of 16 patients who had received the vaccine in previous trials, half of whom were over 55 years old.
20th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Patients, clinicians seek answers to the mystery of 'Long COVID'

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, public attention has mainly focused on the number of people who become severely ill and die from COVID-19. But what's become clear in recent months is the large and growing group of people who continue to deal with prolonged symptoms long after their original illness. In a recent study posted on the preprint server medRxiv, analysis of an international survey of more than 3,700 respondents with COVID-19 found that over two-thirds were still experiencing numerous symptoms at 6 months, with significant impacts on patients' lives and livelihoods. Respondents with symptoms for more than 6 months said they are experiencing an average of nearly 14 symptoms across multiple organ systems.
20th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

China's COVID-19 vaccine makers apply to join COVAX scheme

China said on Wednesday three drugmakers had submitted applications to supply their COVID-19 vaccines to global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX in the country's first formal move to provide locally developed shots to the initiative. Sinovac Biotech, China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and CanSino Biologics have applied to join the scheme, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference on Wednesday. The COVAX scheme - led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance - is due to start rolling out vaccines to poor and middle-income countries in February, with 2 of 3 billion doses expected to be delivered this year.
20th Jan 2021 - Yahoo!


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SAGE papers reveal three key fears experts have about Covid vaccine rollout

Many Brits will "probably no longer follow the rules" once vaccinated and this may outweigh the benefits of the jabs, the Government's scientific advisers fear. Minutes from a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) meeting reveal three key fears experts have about Covid vaccine rollout, the Telegraph reports. They are an increase in social mixing, the country being divided into a two tier system and black and ethnic minority group members refusing to get inoculated. There are growing concerns people will ignore distancing and begin meeting up with those outside their households, including non-vaccinated family members visiting elderly relatives who have had the inoculation, assuming they are safe.
19th Jan 2021 - The Mirror

A New COVID-19 Challenge: Mutations Rise Along With Cases

The race against the virus that causes COVID-19 has taken a new turn: Mutations are rapidly popping up, and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic.
19th Jan 2021 - Haretz

Pfizer's Covid vaccine COULD stop people spreading the virus as well as preventing serious illness, Israeli doctor claims after finding antibody levels surged after second dose

Patients who received the Pfizer vaccine may prevent transmission of Covid-19 The Israeli study found only two subjects developed low amounts of antibodies Elderly people have been the priority since the vaccine programme started
19th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: 'Real-world' analysis of vaccine in Israel raises questions about UK strategy

The first real-world analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine suggests it is matching its performance in clinical trials, but raises serious questions about the UK's decision to delay the second dose. Scientists in Israel - which is leading the COVID-19 vaccination race - have told Sky News that they are "very hopeful" having studied preliminary data from 200,000 vaccinated people. But crucially they say their results do not show efficacy at a level close to that used by the UK to justify delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech jab.
19th Jan 2021 - Sky News

What we now know — and don’t know — about the coronavirus variants

The coronavirus variants are, in a word, confusing. By now, you have likely heard about different variants that first raised trouble in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and now maybe California — though the jury is very much out on whether that last one is cause for concern. To make a messy alphabet soup even more jumbled, these variants have unwieldy names, and they each contain mutations with unwieldy names of their own. The result is that people are left trying to differentiate among B.1.1.7 and N501Y and E484K and C-3PO.
19th Jan 2021 - Stat News

Almost 30% of Covid patients in England readmitted to hospital after discharge – study

Nearly a third of people who were discharged from hospitals in England after being treated for Covid-19 were readmitted within five months – and almost one in eight died, a study suggests. The research, which is still to be peer-reviewed, also found a higher risk of problems developing in a range of organs after hospital discharge in those younger than 70 and ethnic minority individuals. “There’s been so much talk about all these people dying from Covid … but death is not the only outcome that matters,” said Dr Charlotte Summers, a lecturer in intensive care medicine at the University of Cambridge who was not involved in this study.
18th Jan 2021 - The Guardian


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Coronavirus: the race between vaccines and new variants

Anna Gross lays out the threat new variants of the disease pose to the UK's vaccination programme. The hopes of the rest of the world could rest upon whether Britain succeeds in its target of 15m vaccinations by mid-February
18th Jan 2021 - The Financial Times

Second Covid vaccine doses in doubt amid call for study into single jab

In England, the foreign secretary cast doubt on whether all people would be given a second dose of coronavirus vaccine as leading academics said the government had a duty to run trials into giving it as a single injection. Dominic Raab repeatedly declined to guarantee that all people who had received a first dose would get a second within 12 weeks. He instead said that the government was “aiming for” everyone to get a second jab. Sheila Bird, former programme leader at the Medical Research Council’s biostatistics unit, has written to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, calling for a study to begin immediately to investigate the effect of extending the gap between the first and second doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine.
18th Jan 2021 - The Times

Covid-19: Norway investigates 23 deaths in frail elderly patients after vaccination

Doctors in Norway have been told to conduct more thorough evaluations of very frail elderly patients in line to receive the Pfizer BioNTec vaccine against covid-19, following the deaths of 23 patients shortly after receiving the vaccine. “It may be a coincidence, but we aren’t sure,” Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told The BMJ. “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.” The agency has investigated 13 of the deaths so far and concluded that common adverse reactions of mRNA vaccines, such as fever, nausea, and diarrhoea, may have contributed to fatal outcomes in some of the frail patients. “There is a possibility that these common adverse reactions, that are not dangerous in fitter, younger patients and are not unusual with vaccines, may aggravate underlying disease in the elderly,” Madsen said. “We are not alarmed or worried about this, because these are very rare occurrences and they occurred in very frail patients with very serious disease,” he emphasised. “We are now asking for doctors to continue with the vaccination, but to carry out extra evaluation of very sick people whose underlying condition might be aggravated by it.” This evaluation includes discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination with the patient and their families to decide whether or not vaccination is the best course.
18th Jan 2021 - The BMJ

One-in-eight 'recovered' Covid patients 'DIE within 140 days': Study finds devastating toll on people who were hospitalised - with a THIRD readmitted within weeks

A third of recovered Covid patients are readmitted to hospital within five months Leicester University found one-in-eight of the Covid patients then died The long-term effects of Covid can cause many to develop heart problems
18th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Patients dying waiting for ambulances as crews 'overwhelmed' by Covid, study reveals

Paramedics have reached "breaking point" as patients are dying before they can respond to 999 calls due to overwhelming numbers of Covid cases in hospital, a study suggests. Three out of four emergency service workers are struggling to cope and have asked for improved PPE, with many turning up for shifts terrified, according to the GMB union. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said the "system is collapsing" in straits far worse than the first lockdown last March. The troubling study comes after the head of the NHS revealed today that hospitals across England are taking on a new Covid patient every 30 seconds. NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said he could not "sugar-coat" the scale of the crisis on wards and in intensive care.
17th Jan 2021 - The Mirror


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CDC warns more infectious Covid-19 variant could dominate US by March

The new coronavirus variant first discovered in the UK could become the predominant strain in the US by March, according to a new model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC warned on Friday the B.1.1.7 variant was likely to spread rapidly across the US in the coming months. So far, 76 cases were identified in 10 US states, but scientists warn the actual number of B.1.1.7 cases is likely to be higher, as the US lags behind many other countries with its genomic sequencing to identify the variants. The CDC is now trying to expand sequencing to track the variant and other possible mutations.
17th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Most hospitalized COVID-19 patients still have symptoms after 6 months

In their study, the researchers found that 76% of COVID-19 patients from a hospital in Wuhan, China, were still not symptom-free at a 6-month follow-up. The research, which appears in the journal The Lancet, identifies the most common symptoms that the study participants continued to experience. It also highlights the possible effects of COVID-19 on the participants’ cardiopulmonary health and identifies potential risk factors associated with the long-term effects of COVID-19.
17th Jan 2021 - Medical News Today

Japan to study cases of people infected even after coronavirus vaccination

Japan plans to collect data from people who become infected with the novel coronavirus even after they receive vaccinations to assess how vaccines may help prevent the spread of the virus, sources close to the matter said on Sunday. Inoculations are expected to start in Japan possibly in February. The health ministry will create a system to gather vaccination records of all infected people by adding checkboxes to a document that doctors are required to submit to public health centres when they confirm coronavirus infections, the sources said. The formats for reporting rubella and measles, other major communicable diseases, also have checkboxes for vaccination records.
17th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

Every adult in UK 'on track to get Covid jab by July', secret government data suggests

Every single British adult could have a Covid vaccine as early as July as the UK's race for immunisation picks up speed, secret Government data suggests. The Scottish Government came under fire earlier this week for publishing the closely guarded stats about the vaccine rollout on its website. The figures were deleted from the page after the UK Government complained that they created problems for pharmaceutical companies - but not before some quick-witted internet users saved a copy. They reveal Britain appears to be on target to deliver its promise of 15 million Covid vaccines for vulnerable people by mid-February.
16th Jan 2021 - Mirror Online

Progress reported on one-dose J&J vaccine; COVID-19 reinfections seen as rare

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Johnson & Johnson vaccine advancing through clinical trials An experimental COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson produced protective antibodies against the novel coronavirus in 90% of 805 volunteers by 29 days, and that increased to 100% by day 57, according to data from an ongoing mid-stage study. Side effects such as fever, muscle aches and injection site pain resolved quickly, researchers reported on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. To be approved by regulators, the J&J vaccine must show efficacy as reflected by a lower risk of infections and severe disease in study participants who receive it compared to those who do not. Efficacy data from a large late-stage trial on the vaccine is due by February
16th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jan 2021

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Pfizer coronavirus jab has stopped 50% of infections - NOT just symptoms - Israeli study finds

Israel has given first dose of the Pfizer jab to almost 20 percent of its population Preliminary studies show that the vaccine cuts transmission, not just symptoms Expert warned initial studies not enough to conclude transmissions are stopped Data from hundreds of thousands of people offers extensive view of efficacy But experts have warned that people must stay vigilant despite having first dose Two other studies were also done, with varying results. One found the vaccine cuts infection risk by 60 percent, while another found it was cut by 33 percent Full 95 percent immunity is only achieved when a person is given second dose
14th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Future coronavirus vaccines may harness nanoparticles

A nanoparticle-based COVID-19 vaccine may be cheap, safe, and effective. Preclinical study suggests that a single dose of a nanoparticle-based vaccine could provide robust immunity. It may be easier to store and transport than currently available vaccines.
14th Jan 2021 - Medical News Today

Recovering from Covid gives similar level of protection to vaccine

People who recover from coronavirus have a similar level of protection against future infection as those who receive a Covid vaccine – at least for the first five months, research suggests. A Public Health England (PHE) study of more than 20,000 healthcare workers found that immunity acquired from an earlier Covid infection provided 83% protection against reinfection for at least 20 weeks. The findings show that while people are unlikely to become reinfected soon after their first infection, it is possible to catch the virus again and potentially spread it to others. “Overall I think this is good news,” said Prof Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to PHE. “It allows people to feel that prior infection will protect them from future infections, but at the same time it is not complete protection, and therefore they still need to be careful when they are out and about.”
14th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Fourth coronavirus vaccine to be trialled in Birmingham as UK orders 60 million

A fourth Covid vaccine is undergoing a trial in the UK as the government orders 60 million doses. The Valneva coronavirus vaccine is being developed in West Lothian and will initially be tested on 150 volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research sites across the UK. Trials are set to begin within months at sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton. Alok Sharma said: “Today we have more welcome news that life-saving clinical trials will begin across the country to test the safety and effectiveness of Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine, which is being clinically developed right here in the UK.
14th Jan 2021 - Birmingham Live

Blood plasma transfusions with high levels of COVID-19 antibodies reduced the number of patient deaths by 25%, Mayo Clinic study finds

Convalescent plasma infusions can help reduce the number of coronavirus deaths, a new study suggests. Researchers looked at people ill with COVID-19 who received blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients. When given early enough, patients who received antibody-rich plasma had a one-quarter lower risk of death than those given plasma with low concentrations of COVID-19 antibodies. The team, from the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, says the treatment could be a stopgap until enough people receive coronavirus vaccines for herd immunity to be achieved.
14th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

COVID-19: How long are you protected for if you've already had coronavirus - and are you still a risk to others?

People who've had COVID are likely to be protected from reinfection for at least five months and have a similar defence to someone who's been vaccinated, according to a UK study. But does it mean those who have recovered are no longer a risk to others? And could the protection last any longer? Here's what you need to know.
14th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Lancaster scientists developing Covid-19 vaccine nasal spray

The researchers administered two doses of the vaccine via a nasal spray in animal trials which are the first stage in vaccine development. This elicited robust antibodies and T cell responses which were enough to be able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. There was also a significant reduction in lung pathology, inflammation and clinical disease in the rodents who received the vaccine. The vaccine is based on a common poultry virus called the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV), which can replicate in humans but is harmless. The scientists engineered NDV to produce the spike proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19, tricking the body into mounting an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
14th Jan 2021 - Lancaster Guardian

Interim Results of a Phase 1–2a Trial of Ad26.COV2.S Covid-19 Vaccine

After the administration of the first vaccine dose in 805 participants in cohorts 1 and 3 and after the second dose in cohort 1, the most frequent solicited adverse events were fatigue, headache, myalgia, and injection-site pain. The most frequent systemic adverse event was fever. Systemic adverse events were less common in cohort 3 than in cohort 1 and in those who received the low vaccine dose than in those who received the high dose. Reactogenicity was lower after the second dose. Neutralizing-antibody titers against wild-type virus were detected in 90% or more of all participants on day 29 after the first vaccine dose (geometric mean titer [GMT], 224 to 354) and reached 100% by day 57 with a further increase in titers (GMT, 288 to 488), regardless of vaccine dose or age group. Titers remained stable until at least day 71. A second dose provided an increase in the titer by a factor of 2.6 to 2.9 (GMT, 827 to 1266). Spike-binding antibody responses were similar to neutralizing-antibody responses. On day 14, CD4+ T-cell responses were detected in 76 to 83% of the participants in cohort 1 and in 60 to 67% of those in cohort 3, with a clear skewing toward type 1 helper T cells. CD8+ T-cell responses were robust overall but lower in cohort 3.
14th Jan 2021 - nejm.org

Convalescent Plasma Antibody Levels and the Risk of Death from Covid-19

Of the 3082 patients included in this analysis, death within 30 days after plasma transfusion occurred in 115 of 515 patients (22.3%) in the high-titer group, 549 of 2006 patients (27.4%) in the medium-titer group, and 166 of 561 patients (29.6%) in the low-titer group. The association of anti–SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels with the risk of death from Covid-19 was moderated by mechanical ventilation status. A lower risk of death within 30 days in the high-titer group than in the low-titer group was observed among patients who had not received mechanical ventilation before transfusion (relative risk, 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.48 to 0.91), and no effect on the risk of death was observed among patients who had received mechanical ventilation (relative risk, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.32).
14th Jan 2021 - nejm.org

Past Covid-19 infection may provide 'months of immunity'

Most people who have had Covid-19 are protected from catching it again for at least five months, a study led by Public Health England shows. Past infection was linked to around a 83% lower risk of getting the virus, compared with those who had never had Covid-19, scientists found. But experts warn some people do catch Covid-19 again - and can infect others. And officials stress people should follow the stay-at-home rules - whether or not they have had the virus.
14th Jan 2021 - BBC News

J&J’s one-shot Covid vaccine is safe and generates promising immune response in early trial

J&J scientists randomly assigned healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 and those 65 and older to receive a high or low dose of its vaccine — called Ad26.COV2.S — or a placebo. Most of the volunteers produced detectable neutralizing antibodies, which researchers believe play an important role in defending cells against the virus, after 28 days, according to the trial data. By day 57, all volunteers had detectable antibodies, regardless of vaccine dose or age group, and remained stable for at least 71 days in the 18-to-55 age group.
14th Jan 2021 - CNBC


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COVID-19 infection gives some immunity for at least five months, UK study finds

People who have had COVID-19 are highly likely to have immunity to it for at least five months but there is evidence that those with antibodies may still be able to carry and spread the virus, a UK study of healthcare workers has found. Preliminary findings by scientists at Public Health England (PHE) showed that reinfections in people who have COVID-19 antibodies from a past infection are rare - with only 44 cases found among 6,614 previously infected people in the study. But experts cautioned that the findings mean people who contracted the disease in the first wave of the pandemic in the early months of 2020 may now be vulnerable to catching it again. They also warned that people with so-called “natural immunity” - acquired through having had the infection - may still be able carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nose and throat, and could unwittingly pass it on.
14th Jan 2021 - Reuters

J&J likely to seek EU approval for COVID-19 vaccine in February: lawmaker

Johnson & Johnson could deliver the first doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Europe in April, an EU official told Reuters on Wednesday after a top lawmaker said the U.S. healthcare company was likely to seek EU regulatory approval in February. Clinical data on the vaccine has been assessed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) since Dec. 1 under a rolling review to speed up possible approval. A senior EU official, who is involved in negotiations with vaccine makers and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the J&J shot could be available from April 1 in Europe. Earlier on Wednesday, an EU lawmaker said J&J could seek EU approval for its one-shot vaccine in February.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Sinovac: Brazil results show Chinese vaccine 50.4% effective

A coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac has been found to be 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials, according to the latest results released by researchers. It shows the vaccine is significantly less effective than previous data suggested - barely over the 50% needed for regulatory approval. The Chinese vaccine is one of two that the Brazilian government has lined up. Brazil has been one of the countries worst affected by Covid-19. Sinovac, a Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company, is behind CoronaVac, an inactivated vaccine. It works by using killed viral particles to expose the body's immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.
13th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Are women with asthma at increased risk for severe COVID-19?

Although adults with asthma appear to have a reduced risk of severe COVID-19 compared with younger populations,1 women with asthma might represent a somewhat susceptible subgroup for severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation.2 A study by Atkins and colleagues established female sex as an independent risk factor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) hospitalisation among patients with asthma in the UK.2 This study and three additional studies from Paris, France, Illinois, USA, and New York, NY, USA, report that 37–53% of all individuals hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 were women.3, 4, 5 However, 56–71% of patients with asthma hospitalised for COVID-19 were women in these studies
13th Jan 2021 - The Lancet

AstraZeneca boss says two million weekly doses of vaccine will be delivered to NHS ‘imminently’

Two million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs will “imminently” be delivered to the NHS a week as the vaccine roll-out is dramatically stepped up, a pharmaceutical boss said today. Tom Keith-Roach, president at AstraZeneca UK, said 1.1 million doses of the company’s Covid-19 jab had been released to date. He told the Commons science and technology committee: “We are scaling up very rapidly and this will happen imminently to releasing two million doses a week. “We’re absolutely on track to do that and therefore deliver tens of millions of doses in the first quarter of the year.
13th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine generates immune response, few side effects, in early trials

Early stage trials of Johnson & Johnson's experimental coronavirus vaccine show it generated an immune response in nearly all volunteers, with minimal side-effects, after a single dose. The company expects to report details of more advanced trials later this month and is hoping to apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration soon after. Researchers who tested the vaccine in a combined Phase 1-2 trial -- mostly meant to show safety -- found either one or two doses of the vaccine generated both antibody and T-cell responses against the coronavirus. The trials were not designed to show whether the vaccine protected people against either infection or symptoms of coronavirus -- that's what the ongoing Phase 3 trials are designed to do. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers who tested the vaccine in around 800 volunteers said the early stage trials showed it was safe and probably should work.
13th Jan 2021 - CNN International


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Oral COVID-19 vaccine beckons, as ImmunityBio licenses iosBio tech

ImmunityBio has licensed technology underpinning a COVID-19 vaccine that could be administered orally rather than by injection from UK biotech iosBio. Approvals for injectable vaccines for COVID-19 are starting to build, but non-injectables like oral and intranasal vaccines could be required if the pandemic is to be fought across all areas of the globe, according to Wayne Channon, the UK firm’s chairman. “Non-injectables remove the need for health professional-led immunisation programmes, making widespread vaccine roll-outs quicker and easier and more affordable,” Channon told pharmaphorum.
12th Jan 2021 - pharmaphorum.com

Pfizer Says It Can Quickly Develop Vaccines for Covid-19 Variants

The Big Pharma company Pfizer is digging in for a long fight against Covid-19. In an interview on Tuesday morning, the company’s chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, said that Pfizer (ticker: PFE) is working on a more stable formulation of its Covid-19 vaccine that will be easier to distribute, and is thinking through how to update the vaccine if new strains of the virus emerge that evade the current version. Dolsten said that the Covid-19 problem, and the problem of new coronaviruses in general, isn’t going away.
12th Jan 2021 - Barron's

Bacteria in your GUT 'affects Covid-19 severity'

South Korean study reviewed pre-existing research on role of gut microbiome Hong Kong-based scientists examined blood and stool samples from patients Both studies indicate a gut microbe imbalance is key in severe Covid-19
12th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

JPM: 'Very soon,' says Johnson & Johnson CEO as world waits for its COVID-19 vaccine data

Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimen could jump-start an immunization push that's faltering in spite of the millions of doses Pfizer, BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna are rolling out around the world. And the J&J shot is on the verge of its next big step forward. The pharma giant is in the “final stages” of data analysis for its phase 3 trial, CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday at the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference. The company hopes “to have that information very soon,” he added.
12th Jan 2021 - FiercePharma

Immunological characteristics govern the transition of COVID-19 to endemicity

We are currently faced with the question of how the CoV-2 severity may change in the years ahead. Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived. Our model, incorporating these components of immunity, recapitulates both the current severity of CoV-2 and the benign nature of HCoVs, suggesting that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold. We predict a different outcome for an emergent coronavirus that causes severe disease in children. These results reinforce the importance of behavioral containment during pandemic vaccine rollout, while prompting us to evaluate scenarios for continuing vaccination in the endemic phase.
11th Jan 2021 - Science Mag

Japan has found a new Covid variant. Here's how it compares to virus strains in the UK, South Africa

The identification of a new Covid variant comes as countries scramble to contain two other contagious strains that have emerged in the U.K. and South Africa. Public health experts have expressed concern the fresh strains could pose a threat to inoculation efforts. In recent weeks, optimism about the mass rollout of coronavirus vaccines appears to have been tempered by the resurgent rate of virus spread worldwide.
11th Jan 2021 - CNBC


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Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine immunity to stay at least a year

Immunity from Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company said on Monday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference. The drugmaker said it was confident that the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology it used was well suited to deploy a vaccine based on the new variant of the coronavirus which has emerged in a handful of countries. The company’s vaccine, mRNA-1273, uses synthetic mRNA to mimic the surface of the coronavirus and teach the immune system to recognize and neutralize it. Moderna said in December it would run tests to confirm the vaccine's activity against any strain.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Vaccine makers prepare for game of Covid cat and mouse

Vaccine makers and medicine regulators are sketching out plans in case the mutating coronavirus turns vaccine development into a game of cat and mouse. Just weeks after leading manufacturers secured the first regulatory approvals, mutations in the virus have forced scientists to re-test their Covid-19 vaccines and prepare to tweak their formula should the shots prove less effective. At the same time, regulators are considering how they could fast-track new approvals and whether they could use the seasonal flu jab as a model to authorise revised versions without requiring long trials.
11th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Covid research: Convalescent plasma trial paused as results poor

Scientists running REMAP-CAP trial have stopped enrolling Covid ICU patients Found 'no evidence' convalescent plasma therapy boosted their survival chance Will continue to test the antibody-rich plasma on people with moderate illness
11th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail


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Hong Kong fourth wave: sewage tests for coronavirus to be expanded, aim for ‘gold standard’

Pilot scheme by HKU experts helped uncover nine infections in two blocks. Mandatory testing will be triggered if sewage checks reveal two consecutive positive results or two positives over three days
10th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

Covid-19: Breastfeeding women can have vaccine after guidance turnaround

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has revised its guidance so that pregnant and breastfeeding women can receive the covid-19 vaccine. Writing in BMJ Opinion, Helen Hare, an acute medicine trainee, and Kate Womersley, an academic foundation trainee, said that the change had come after strong pressure from campaigners, clinicians, and some of the women affected. The MHRA had previously recommended that breastfeeding women should not be given the vaccine, which Hare and Womersley said had been interpreted by NHS trusts as a blanket ban. But on 30 December the agency said that women who were breastfeeding could be given both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
9th Jan 2021 - The BMJ

Oxford/AstraZeneca to submit coronavirus vaccine for EU approval next week

The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca will submit their jointly-produced coronavirus vaccine to the European Medicines Agency next week — with a decision on approval for use across the bloc expected by the end of January. The EMA already has the drug-makers' phase 3 data as part of a rolling review, but the vaccine producers are yet to hand a formal submission for conditional marketing authorization from the EU regulator. "Possible conclusion — end of [January], depending on data and evaluation progress," the agency tweeted. The Commission would need to rubber stamp a recommendation from the EMA.
9th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

China's COVID-19 vaccine found capable of neutralizing UK strain

China's COVID-19 vaccine is found capable of neutralizing the new strain of the novel coronavirus that was reported to be behind the rise in transmission of the disease in parts of the United Kingdom, senior health official said on Saturday. Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said China's scientific community is paying close attention to the new variant and its effect on current vaccines as reports indicated that the new strain had arrived in China via imported cases. Scientists from the Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong province are already working on the issue, Zeng said during a news briefing held by the State Council Information Office.
9th Jan 2021 - China Daily

Scientists create first computational model of entire virus responsible for COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Chicago have created the first usable computational model of the entire virus responsible for COVID-19—and they are making this model widely available to help advance research during the pandemic. "If you can understand how a virus works, that's the first step towards stopping it," said Prof. Gregory Voth, whose team created the model published in Biophysical Journal. "Each thing you know about the virus's life cycle and composition is a vulnerability point where you can hit it."
8th Jan 2021 - Phys.Org

Three studies highlight low COVID risk of in-person school

In the first study, published today in Pediatrics, a team led by researchers at Duke University traced contacts of North Carolina students infected with COVID-19 in 11 school districts in the first 9 weeks of in-person instruction in the fall. In August 2020, 56 of 115 North Carolina school districts joined the ABC Science Collaborative to put in place specific public health measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission and share what they learn in the process. Superintendents reported primary and secondary cases by school and week of the quarter. The collaborative was developed by faculty at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
8th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

mRNA latecomer CureVac recruits Bayer to speed COVID-19 vaccine to market

Compared with Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership, which already have their COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use, CureVac seems a little late to the mRNA race. But now, the biotech has signed a Big Pharma teammate to help accelerate development, boost manufacturing and prep for a possible launch. CureVac partnered up with German compatriot Bayer on its COVID-19 vaccine, CVnCOV, which just entered phase 3 testing three weeks ago. No financial details were provided. The two companies aim to leverage Bayer's expertise and operations to supply “hundreds of millions” doses of the mRNA shot once it’s approved. Along the way, Bayer will help with clinical development, manufacturing, regulatory affairs and commercialization.
8th Jan 2021 - Fierce Pharma

Roche's Actemra, Regeneron's Kevzara win U.K.'s favor in COVID-19 after study shows 24% drop in death risk

The question of whether seriously ill COVID-19 patients can benefit from anti-inflammatories like Roche’s Actemra and Sanofi and Regeneron’s Kevzara has dogged practitioners in the United States thanks to conflicting clinical trial results. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has reached a definitive answer on the two drugs, both of which are IL-6 inhibitors: They significantly reduce the risk of death in COVID-19 patients needing intensive care, and they should be used to ease the pressure hospitals are now facing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to intensify, the country’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) said Thursday. The recommendation came after data from an NIHR-sponsored study showed that Actemra and Kevzara can cut hospital stays for COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care by 10 days and can lower the risk of death by 24% in patients who receive either drug within a day of admission. That finding prompted the U.K. government to recommend to the National Health Service (NHS) that IL-6 inhibitors be rolled out for the treatment of COVID-19.
8th Jan 2021 - Fierce Pharma

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine not affected by mutation seen in contagious coronavirus variant, study indicates

A mutation found in fast-spreading coronavirus variants does not negate the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, researchers reported late Thursday. The result is positive, if expected, evidence that existing vaccines will be able to withstand some mutations to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus without losing efficacy. But experts noted that this vaccine and others will still need to be tested against other mutations of concern, and that the new study only looked at one key mutation contained in the variants, not the full variants. “We’re working on that part now” in additional studies, Philip Dormitzer, Pfizer’s vice president and chief scientific officer of viral vaccines, told STAT.
8th Jan 2021 - STAT News

Most patients hospitalized for Covid-19 still have symptoms six months later, China study finds

Three-quarters of Covid-19 patients still have at least one symptom six months after first falling ill, researchers who followed hospital patients in China reported Friday. The new findings suggest symptoms linger longer and in a higher proportion of patients than previously thought. The largest and longest analysis to date of post-Covid recovery also warns that some patients’ antibody levels fell sharply, raising concern that while waiting for a return to full health, they could be reinfected with the coronavirus. Almost two-thirds of the patients said they were still suffering from fatigue and muscle weakness, the researchers wrote in The Lancet. A little over a quarter had difficulty sleeping, and a little under a quarter experienced anxiety and depression. Overall, more women than men reported lingering symptoms, and people whose disease was more severe had poorer lung health. Their median age was 57.
8th Jan 2021 - STAT News

Pfizer Says Its Covid Vaccine Works Against Key Mutation

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Friday that their Covid vaccine is effective against one of the mutations present in the new contagious variants identified in Britain and South Africa. Independent experts said the findings were good news, but cautioned that each of those coronavirus variants has several other potentially dangerous mutations that have not yet been investigated. So it’s possible that one of those mutations affects how well the vaccine works. “It’s the first step in the right direction,” said Dr. John Brooks, the chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control Covid-19 emergency response. “I’m hoping that the additional work that comes out in the future will fall in line with that finding.”
8th Jan 2021 - The New York Times


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How Nine Covid-19 Vaccines Work

Researchers are testing 64 coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials on humans. Here are explanations about how nine of the leading vaccines work.
7th Jan 2021 - The New York Times

CureVac teams up with Bayer to accelerate development of Covid vaccine

Germany’s CureVac has teamed up with the country’s largest pharmaceuticals company Bayer to accelerate the development and production of its Covid-19 vaccine. The Tübingen-based company, whose vaccine uses a similar technology to the ones developed by BioNTech and Moderna, said on Thursday it had entered into a collaboration and services agreement that would help it deliver several hundred million doses. CureVac, the oldest of the trio of companies working on messenger RNA technology to develop vaccines, was among the first to announce it was working on a product to deal with Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. But it has since lagged far behind its competitors, both of which have already won authorisations in the US and EU.
7th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

UPDATE 1-Roche, Sanofi arthritis drugs reduce death rates among sickest COVID-19 patients

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Treating critically ill COVID-19 patients with Roche’s Actemra or Sanofi’s Kevzara arthritis drugs significantly improves survival rates and reduces the amount of time patients need intensive care,
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Critically ill Covid-19 patients to receive new potentially life-saving drugs

Critically ill Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units across the UK will be able to receive new drugs that can “significantly” reduce the risk of death as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days. NHS patients will have access to tocilizumab and sarilumab – which are typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis – under updated guidance due to be issued tomorrow by the Government and the NHS to Trusts across the UK. It comes after results from the Government-funded REMAP-CAP clinical trial showed that both drugs reduced the risk of mortality by 8.5% when administered to patients within a day of entering intensive care alongside a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone.
7th Jan 2021 - ITV News

Babraham Institute study of Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine underscores importance of second dose

A study involving mice suggests the second dose of Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine will be particularly important to generate an effective immune response in older people. Immunologists at the Babraham Institute studied the effect of age on the immune response to the vaccine. Their findings agreed with vaccine trial data, published in The Lancet, that showed two doses are required for younger and older people to have a similar immune response. Dr Michelle Linterman, a Babraham Institute group leader and lead on the research study, said: “As we get older, our immune system function declines and we become more vulnerable to infectious disease. “The current pandemic has highlighted how much of a health imbalance this can cause. This work has allowed us to analyse the immune system response to the vaccine at cellular resolution and learn more about how age affects this.”
7th Jan 2021 - Cambridge Independent

Covid: New study claims five-day warning ruined last England lockdown

On September 21, the UK government’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) published a document calling for a national circuit-breaker lockdown to curb the steadily increasing cases of COVID. The Sage scientists warned that “not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences in terms of direct COVID-related deaths and the ability of the health service to meet needs”. Instead of heeding the warnings of their own scientists, the government instead solicited the fringe views of “experts” who advocated for controlling the effects of the virus with less restrictive measures, while shielding society’s most vulnerable.
7th Jan 2021 - Wales Online

Coronavirus vaccine Scotland: NHS advice for pregnant women

The NHS in Scotland has published guidance surrounding the coronavirus vaccine for pregnant women. As of January 3, 113,459 people in the country have received their first dose of the jab, according to Nicola Sturgeon. However, the risks to mums-to-be are still unknown, with the vaccine not yet been tested on pregnant women. According to NHS Inform, the vaccine is not recommended under a precautionary approach.
7th Jan 2021 - Glasgow Times

Sinovac’s Covid-19 Vaccine Is 78% Effective in Brazil Late-Stage Trials

China’s shot also gives 100% protection against severe cases of the disease, said Brazil’s Butantan Institute, raising hopes that it can be widely used in the developing world.
7th Jan 2021 - Wall Street Journal

COVID-19 was circulating silently in Wuhan even after the city reported no cases

COVID-19 may have continued to spread silently in Wuhan, China, during the spring of 2020, even after official government tallies had suggested the coronavirus had been stamped out, a new study suggests. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was first discovered in Wuhan in December 2019, and the city soon became the epicenter of what would become the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases peaked in Wuhan in February 2020 but soon declined rapidly, with just a few cases reported in late March. By early April, the city's lockdown had ended, and later that month, Wuhan was declared coronavirus-free.
7th Jan 2021 - Livescience.com


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Welsh researchers developing 'revolutionary' skin patch vaccine for coronavirus

Welsh researchers developing a 'revolutionary' skin patch vaccine for coronavirus say they hope to have a prototype ready as early as March. The body-worn patches - similar to those used by people aiming to give up smoking - are designed to break the skin barrier and deliver medicines in a less invasive way. Swansea University scientists say the world-first 'smart patches' will also be able to tell how effective the vaccine is for each recipient by measuring their body's response. Researchers say the patches could prove a cheaper and easier way of administering vaccines, and would be welcomed by those who dislike traditional hypodermic needles.
6th Jan 2021 - ITV News

Early convalescent plasma may lower risk of severe COVID in seniors

Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients with high levels of antibodies appeared to delay or stop progression of illness in mildly ill older adults infected with the novel coronavirus, a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded. Researchers at Fundacion INFANT in Buenos Aires, Argentina, led the small randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of the effects of infusing convalescent plasma in 160 older adults within 72 hours of symptom onset from Jun 4 to Oct 25, 2020, half of whom received the treatment. The patients were either 75 years and older (88 [55%]), with or without underlying illnesses, or 65 to 74 years with at least one underlying condition (72 [45%]).
6th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

CDC reports more allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, but cases remain few

Twenty-nine people in the United States have developed anaphylaxis after being vaccinated against Covid-19 since the vaccine rollout began, health officials reported Wednesday, with cases occurring after vaccination using both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at present it looks like anaphylaxis cases are occurring at a rate of about 5.5 per 1 million vaccine doses given, though the agency cautioned that figure may change as the vaccination effort continues. The allergic reactions do not change CDC’s recommendations on who can be vaccinated against Covid-19, with senior officials stressing that the risk of severe illness and death from the disease still outweighs the risk of developing anaphylaxis after vaccination.
6th Jan 2021 - STAT News


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COVID-19 vaccine: FDA pushes back against delaying second dose as US officials, health experts weigh in on debate

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration weighed in on a debate over when the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine should be administered. The FDA said in a statement there is no adequate scientific evidence that supports changing the authorized COVID-19 vaccine schedule or dosing. "Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19," the FDA said
5th Jan 2021 - USA Today

No sign S.Africa's COVID-19 variant more contagious than UK version -WHO

There is no indication that the coronavirus variant identified in South Africa is more transmissible than the one spreading fast in Britain, the World Health Organization's technical chief on COVID-19,
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters

WHO recommends two doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine within 21-28 days

People should get two doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine within 21-28 days, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, as many countries struggled to administer the jabs that can ward off the COVID-19 virus. Many are experiencing intensifying pressure on their health services due to surging coronavirus cases and the emergence of new variants that appear to spread more easily. Governments are introducing new lockdown measures to halt the spread while facing massive demand for vaccines which are seen as the best way out of the global health crisis. But with jabs in limited supply as production ramps up, the WHO has been examining how they can be used most effectively.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Relief for cancer patients as study shows those with solid tumours have the same level of immune response to Covid-19 as healthy people

Charity Cancer research UK studied blood samples of 76 cancer patients Forty-one of these patients tested positive for Covid-19 and 35 were uninfected Reveals people with solid tumours respond in same way as non-cancer patients But also found people with blood cancer have a milder immune response
5th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Decades of basic research paved the way for today’s ‘warp speed’ Covid-19 vaccines

The emergency use authorizations of mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna and the likely gradual rollout of multiple others is our collective best hope for curtailing the Covid-19 pandemic. The speed at which these vaccines has been developed is remarkable, both in absolute terms and compared to the multiyear time frame it normally takes to create and approve new vaccines. Great credit is due to the pharmaceutical industry and the university and government scientists who have worked directly and diligently on Covid-19 vaccine programs in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. They deserve accolades for their skillful hard work. But the Covid-19 vaccines did not come from nowhere. Decades of research by tens of thousands of scientists worldwide put in place the essential knowledge and methods that underpinned their rapid development.
5th Jan 2021 - STAT News

Study: US COVID cases, deaths far higher than reported

An estimated 14.3% of the US population had antibodies against COVID-19 by mid-November 2020, suggesting that that the virus has infected vastly more people than reported—but still not enough to come close to the proportion needed for herd immunity, according to a study published today in JAMA Network Open. In the cross-sectional study, researchers from study sponsors Pfizer and Merck analyzed data from random community seroprevalence surveys and five such regional and national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys to estimate infection underreporting multipliers. Seroprevalence surveys reveal the proportion of a population that has antibodies against a certain disease, such as COVID-19.
5th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Not so fast: FDA warns of 'premature' changes to COVID-19 vaccine dosing in clash with Slaoui

Amid concerns over limited COVID-19 vaccine supplies, some have proposed tweaking the shots’ dosing to immunize more people. One suggestion came from none other than U.S. vaccine czar Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D. But the FDA’s stepping forward to dismiss the idea—at least for now. Any changes to currently authorized vaccine dosing regimens pose a “significant risk of placing public health at risk” and undermine “the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, M.D., and Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., head of the agency’s biologics department, said in a statement Monday. The comment came on the heels of Operation Warp Speed chief Slaoui saying the vaccine task force is working with the FDA and Moderna to potentially reduce the company’s mRNA-1273 dose in half to stretch the supply.
5th Jan 2021 - Fierce Pharma

Moderna dials up low-end COVID-19 vaccine supply estimate, setting sights on 1B doses in 2021

Moderna Therapeutics is angling to surpass the hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses it’s already pledged to governments worldwide. And, on Monday, the drugmaker signaled that it's inching toward that goal, dialing up its low-end manufacturing predictions for the year. Moderna has raised its base-case global production estimate from 500 million doses to 600 million doses this year. The supply bump comes as the company continues to invest and staff up, with a view to potentially hit 1 billion doses in 2021, Moderna said. The company will need those extra doses, too: It recently received expanded vaccine orders from the likes of Canada, the U.S. and the EU. The FDA in December cleared the shot for emergency use in Americans 18 years and older, with Health Canada following suit a week later.
5th Jan 2021 - FiercePharma

UK scientists question COVID-19 vaccine dosing delay

Five UK medical scientists have criticised a British government plan to delay giving second doses of COVID-19 vaccines by up to 12 weeks, saying proven dosing schedules should not be altered “without solid scientific support or evidence”. In an opinion piece published online in the BMJ British Medical Journal, the scientists said the plan was based on “assumptions” rather than scientific evidence or trial data. They also questioned the rationale behind prolonging the time between first and second doses. The scientists from the universities of Nottingham, Manchester and De Montfort wrote that suggestions by officials on the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunization (JCVI) that the delay strategy was due to shortages of COVID-19 shots in the UK were “disputed by vaccine manufacturers”.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Explainer-How safe is it to switch and space COVID-19 vaccine doses?

Britain and other nations are considering ways to stretch scarce supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, including by delaying second doses, reducing dose sizes and switching vaccine types between the first and second shots.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

The Nigerian scientist sequencing new COVID strain as cases rise

A Nigerian scientist has spent the holiday season in his laboratory doing genetic sequencing to learn more about the country’s COVID-19 variant, as cases increase in the country. Virologist Sunday Omilabu says the information he gathers about the variant will help battle the spread of the disease in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 196 million people. Nigeria has confirmed 89,163 COVID-19 cases, including 1,302 deaths, according to the figures released on Sunday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The variants discovered in the UK and South Africa, they are distantly different from the variants discovered in Nigeria,” said Omilabu, who said it is not unusual for viruses to mutate and cause variants. Nigeria is seeing more infections of COVID-19 but it is not yet certain if that is from the variant, said Omilabu, the director of the Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology at the Lagos University College of Medicine and Teaching Hospital.
4th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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UK's decision to delay second Covid vaccine shot reluctantly endorsed by advisers

The U.K.’s independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said in a statement published Sunday that it was a “very difficult and finely balanced decision” but it endorsed the U.K. government’s move to pursue coverage of as high a proportion of the population as possible. However, it said the change of policy must be accompanied by several other measures. Germany’s health ministry on Monday sought the advice of an independent vaccination commission on whether to follow in the U.K.’s footsteps.
4th Jan 2021 - CNBC

Germany mulls delaying second COVID-19 vaccine shot, Denmark approves delay

Germany was weighing on Monday whether to allow a delay in administering a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer to make scarce supplies go further, after a similar move by Britain last week. Separately, Denmark approved on Monday a delay of up to six weeks between the first and second shots of the vaccine. In Berlin, the health ministry was seeking the view of an independent vaccination commission on whether to delay a second shot beyond a current 42-day maximum limit, according to a one-page document seen by Reuters on Monday.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

South Africa testing whether vaccines work against its variant

Scientists in South Africa are urgently testing to see if the vaccines for COVID-19 will be effective against the country s variant virus. The genomic studies come as Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock and other experts in the U.K. have said they worry that vaccines may not be effective against the South African variant. “This is the most pressing question facing us right now,” said Dr. Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases expert who is working on the country's genomic studies of the variant. “We are urgently doing experiments in the laboratory to test the variant," against the blood of people with antibodies and against the blood of people who have received vaccines, Lessells told The Associated Press Monday.
4th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Experts Debate Wisdom of Delaying Second COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

The two experts state that supply constraints, distribution bottlenecks, and hundreds of thousands of new infections daily prompted them to change their stance on administering COVID-19 vaccines according to the two-dose clinical trial regimen. Furthermore, they cite a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests 80% to 90% efficacy for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection following one dose of the Moderna vaccine. Not everyone agrees one dose is a good idea. "Clinical trials with specific schedules for vaccine dosing — that's the whole basis of the scientific evidence," Maria Elena Bottazzi, PhD, associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, told Medscape Medical News. After one dose "the immune system is learning, but it's not ideal. That's why you need the second dose," Bottazzi said. "I appreciate the urgency and the anxiety…but the data support [that] clinical efficacy requires two doses."
4th Jan 2021 - Medscape

Peer-reviewed data show high protection for leading COVID vaccines

The peer-reviewed data on both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccines are in, demonstrating 94% to 95% protection from the disease. The phase 3 clinical trial results for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, and the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2 or Comirnaty, were published late last week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). When compared with placebos, Moderna's vaccine showed 94.1% efficacy (95% confidence interval [CI], 89.3% to 96.8%), and Pfizer's had 95.0% efficacy (95% CI, 90.3% to 97.6%). Both rates are for patients who received the two intended doses. Adverse events were uncommon in both studies.
4th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Scientists cast doubt on WHO’s China mission to find virus origin

In the coming days, bar any last-minute hitches, 10 renowned international scientists will check into Chinese hotel rooms for two weeks of quarantine. So will start the World Health Organisation (WHO) mission of foreign experts to investigate the coronavirus, a year after the first reports emerged of a mystery disease sweeping the central city of Wuhan. The stakes could not be higher in the hunt for the origins of the greatest public health challenge of our era, amid persistent warnings that the world needs to prepare for much more deadly pandemics. But the mystery has become even harder to solve. Beijing has delayed the arrival of the WHO team for months with a barrage of logistical demands and rules.
3rd Jan 2021 - The Times


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Wuhan: nearly 490,000 people could have had Covid, study finds

A Chinese study of coronavirus antibodies has found almost half a million people may have had Covid-19 in Wuhan, a number that is 10 times the official figure. According to the study of antibody prevalence, the infection rate was also far higher in Wuhan than surrounding areas, suggesting the virus had been well contained in the city where the outbreak first began. The study, conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tested for antibodies in blood serum samples from around 34,000 people in Wuhan and other Hubei province cities, as well as the cities of Beijing and Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Liaoning.
2nd Jan 2021 - The Guardian

India's drug regulator approves AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine: sources

India’s drug regulator on Friday approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The decision clears the vaccine’s rollout in the world’s second-most populous country which, after the United States, has the highest number of COVID-19 infections. India wants to start administering the vaccine soon, most likely by Wednesday, said one of the sources, both of whom declined to be named ahead of an official announcement expected later in the day.
2nd Jan 2021 - Reuters

No approval for Covaxin, expert panel seeks more data from Bharat Biotech

The Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drug Standard Control Organization on Friday has held that the data provided by Bharat Biotech for its coronavirus vaccine 'Covaxin' is not sufficient for granting it emergency use approval and has asked the company to provide more information
1st Jan 2021 - Times of India

Pfizer warns there is NO proof its Covid jab works when doses are taken 12 weeks apart as UK regulator scraps 21-day rule in desperate attempt to get millions more vaccinated

Regulator now recommending jabs are given in two doses three months apart Originally Pfizer and Oxford jabs intended to be injected in space of four weeks Change in strategy is to cope with spiking Covid cases and hospitalisations
31st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid vaccine advice to people with severe allergies changes after Oxford jab approval

Coronavirus vaccine advice to people with severe allergies has changed after today's approval of the Oxford jab. People with a history of "significant" allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines were advised they should not receive the Pfizer vaccine when it was approved earlier this month. However, professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines expert working group on Covid-19 vaccines, gave updated advice for those with allergies following the approval of the Oxford vaccine today. He said: "We've come to the recommendation people with a known history of reacting to any specific ingredients of vaccines should not have it, but people with allergies to other medicines or food can have the vaccine.
30th Dec 2020 - Mirror Online


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Exclusive: Chile could greenlight AstraZeneca vaccine 'within days of US/UK approval, government says

AstraZeneca has filed data with Chilean regulators for the emergency roll-out of its COVID-19 vaccine in the country and could get a green light “weeks or even days” after approval by European or American regulators, the government’s point person for vaccine procurement told Reuters. The UK-based company has been conducting late-stage trials of its vaccine, developed with Oxford University, in Chile as well as in Brazil, the UK, the United States and South Africa. Chile has signed a deal to buy 14.4 million doses of the drug, an amount that would vaccinate half that number of people, or nearly 40% of the country’s population. Chile is already among the best-placed in the region for vaccine deals, with an agreement for 10 million doses from Pfizer BioNtech, 60 million doses over three years from China’s Sinovac and 7.6 million vaccine doses through the global vaccine distribution scheme COVAX.
30th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

New coronavirus variant does not cause illness more severe than others -Public Health England study

A new variant of the novel coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study bit.ly/2X7cLgp by Public Health England. Scientists say the new variant can spread more rapidly. It was found in England in mid December and led to other countries imposing travel restrictions to the United Kingdom. Several other countries have reported variants. Under the study, researchers compared 1,769 people infected with the new variant with 1,769 who had what they described as “wild-type” virus. The two groups were matched 1:1 on the basis of age, sex, area of residence and time of testing.
30th Dec 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine: India may get most of Serum Institute's initial Covishield stockpile

Poonawalla says Covishield shows efficacy level of 95 per cent provided two shots are taken after a gap of 2-3 months; AstraZeneca will make that public with documentation soon, he adds
29th Dec 2020 - Business Today

German Town Finds a Blueprint for Lowering Covid-19 Deaths

At the peak of the first wave in April, the town had 70 Covid-19 patients in its biggest hospital—out of 89,000 inhabitants—including 33 in intensive care, forcing doctors to cancel elective surgery. Now, at the height of the far more devastating current surge, patients number just 35, many transferred from other regions. Fifteen of them are in intensive care, of whom fewer than half are Tübingen residents. The hospital hasn’t canceled non-urgent surgery. Local authorities say such numbers are no accident. The town, they point out, started earlier than most German municipalities in carrying out frequent Covid-19 tests on care-home staff, residents and visitors. It subsidizes taxi rides for those over age 65 so they don’t have to use public transit. Younger residents are discouraged from shopping between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. so as to avoid seniors having to mingle with people who are more likely to carry the virus without symptoms.
29th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody therapy shows promise in hospitalized patients

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday initial data from an ongoing study of its experimental antibody cocktail for use in hospitalized COVID-19 patients requiring low-flow oxygen show the therapy was sufficiently effective to warrant continuing the trial. The drugmaker said in September the cocktail, a combination of two antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab, reduced viral levels and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Study: COVID antibodies may fend off reinfection for 6 months

Few healthcare workers in the UK who recovered from COVID-19 and had immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against the virus were reinfected over the next 6 months, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The prospective, longitudinal cohort study involved measuring levels of IgG antibodies against the coronavirus's spike protein and nucleocapsid in symptomatic and asymptomatic healthcare workers at Oxford University Hospitals undergoing COVID-19 testing. Testing began Mar 27, and follow-up ended on Nov 30.
28th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP

Variant virus gains bigger foothold in UK as cases surge

Developments with variant SARS-CoV-2 continued to dominate global COVID-19 news today, with the United Kingdom reporting more record-high case numbers and new reports revealing more about the prevalence and risk. Meanwhile, a new risk assessment from European health officials said the UK variant may have emerged in September and is expected to push hospitalizations and deaths higher, and more countries reported the detection of the South African variant virus.
28th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Dec 2020

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Healthcare workers have 7 times the risk of severe COVID-19

A new study in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine examines the risks that “essential” and “nonessential” British workers will develop severe COVID-19. It suggests that healthcare workers are seven times more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19 than people with “nonessential” roles.
28th Dec 2020 - Medical News Today

The breakthrough medicines that could change the course of Covid

It remains one of the most dramatically successful outcomes in the battle against Covid-19. A cheap treatment for inflammation was found to save lives of seriously ill patients while a trio of much-touted therapies were shown to have no effect. It is now estimated that the discovery of the effectiveness of the drug dexamethasone has saved around 650,000 lives across the world, according to Professor Martin Landray, a founder of the Recovery programme – the world’s largest randomised Covid-19 drugs trial – which revealed the medicine’s anti-Covid properties last summer
28th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Global report: AstraZeneca chief believes Covid vaccine will work on variant strain

The head of the firm behind the Oxford Covid vaccine has said researchers believe the jab will be effective against the variant strain of the virus that was first found in the UK. AstraZeneca chief executive, Pascal Soriot, told the Sunday Times more tests were needed to be sure, but hailed the discovery of what he called a “winning formula” to improve the vaccine’s efficacy. As Spain, Sweden and Canada joined the growing list of countries to have reported cases of the more contagious variant, Soirot said: “So far, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can’t be sure, so we’re going to test that.”
27th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Ten reasons we got Covid-19 vaccines so quickly without 'cutting corners'

Long before the Covid-19 crisis, there was an awareness that a pandemic of some sort was likely in the coming years and plans had already been made to tackle it. Governments, international agencies and foundations had been pooling resources. The international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched in 2017, and when Covid-19 arrived they were ready. In addition, several companies and academic institutions, notably including BioNTech, Moderna and the University of Oxford, had also been working on new technologies capable of generating vaccines from the genetic codes of infectious pathogens and cancers, and testing them for several years
27th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

New drug could offer 'instant immunity' against Covid-19

A new drug which could offer instant immunity against Covid-19 is being trialled by British scientists, it has been reported. The antibody therapy has been developed by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and AstraZeneca - the pharmaceutical company that has, along with Oxford University, created a vaccine that is expected to be approved for use next week. But unlike a vaccine, the new drug would be given to someone who has been exposed to the virus, preventing them from going on to develop it.
26th Dec 2020 - Kent Online

Oxford Covid vaccine may become the first to get Indian regulator's nod for emergency use

The process of granting emergency use approval for Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' may take time as its phase 3 trials are still underway, while Pfizer is yet to make a presentation, say official sources.
26th Dec 2020 - Mint

UK scientists trial drug to prevent infection that leads to Covid

British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives. The antibody therapy would confer instant immunity against the disease and could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and care home residents to help contain outbreaks.
25th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Brazil says Sinovac vaccine over 50% effective but delays full results

Brazilian researchers said on Wednesday the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech is more than 50% effective based on trial data, but again withheld full results at the company's request, raising questions about transparency. Brazil is the first country to complete a late-stage trial of the vaccine, called CoronaVac, but a release of the results, first set for early December, has now been delayed three times. The latest delay is a blow to Beijing, which has been racing to catch up with Western drugmakers, and will add to criticism that Chinese vaccine makers have lacked transparency.
24th Dec 2020 - Nikkei Asia

Coronavirus Variant Is Indeed More Transmissible, New Study Suggests

A team of British scientists released a worrying study on Wednesday of the new coronavirus variant sweeping the United Kingdom. They warned that the variant is so contagious that new control measures, including closing down schools and universities, might be necessary. Even that may not be enough, they noted, saying, “It may be necessary to greatly accelerate vaccine rollout.” Nicholas Davies, the lead author of the study, said that the model should also serve as a warning to other countries where the variant may have already spread.
23rd Dec 2020 - New York Times

Asthma-style inhaler filled with powerful LLAMA antibodies could be used to treat patients with severe COVID-19

Camelids including llamas, camels and alpacas create nanobodies These are smaller and easier to engineer by experts than human antibodies Researchers found an nanobody called NIH-CoVnb-112 which binds to viral spike They write nanoodies 'have therapeutic, preventative, and diagnostic potential'
22nd Dec 2020 - Daily Mail


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Dec 2020

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EMA recommends conditional approval for Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine

The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended granting Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) in the EU. Earlier this month, the EMA announced that it had scheduled an ‘exceptional meeting’ of the CHMP on 21 December to review additional data for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Originally, a meeting had been planned for 29 December, but was brought forward as the vaccine gained emergency approvals in the US, UK and other countries.
21st Dec 2020 - PMLiVE

Regulator clears way for use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Europe

The European Union geared up to start mass vaccinations against COVID-19 just after Christmas after the shot developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech cleared regulatory hurdles on Monday. European Union countries including Germany, France, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations from Dec. 27 as Europe tries to catch up with the United States and Britain, where inoculations began earlier this month. Having secured a green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Commission gave final approval on Monday evening to the EU’s first COVID-19 vaccine.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters

Inside J&J's Latam COVID vaccine trial, a rush to recruit is followed by disappointment

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson abruptly called for an end to enrollment in its coronavirus vaccine trial and told scientists from six Latin American countries to wrap up their work within 48 hours, two researchers told Reuters. The halt was due to J&J’s decision, announced later on that same day on Dec. 9, to cap the number of participants at about 40,000 people globally, down from a previous plan for 60,000. The drugmaker said that a surge in coronavirus cases in the areas it was testing would give it enough data to vet the vaccine.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters

NIH to Study Allergic Reactions Linked to Covid-19 Shots

The National Institutes of Health plans to begin a clinical trial that aims to help doctors “predict and manage” allergic reactions related to Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said during a Monday news briefing that the aim of the trial, which will also study the Moderna Inc. shot just authorized for emergency use, will be to pinpoint why the incidents, known as anaphylaxis, are occurring. During the briefing, Slaoui also addressed a new variant of the virus seen in the U.K., saying it’s no more dangerous than other strains and that there is “no hard evidence” it is more transmissible. Getting the data to determine that, he said, will take weeks.
21st Dec 2020 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Healthcare workers who breastfeed should be offered the covid-19 vaccine

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has advised that no breastfeeding woman should receive the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine. NHS Trusts have interpreted this as a blanket-ban. The decision disregards an individual’s particular level of exposure to the virus or her likelihood of developing a severe form of the disease. The MHRA’s stance, and associated restrictions around pregnancy, could undermine efforts to achieve high levels of vaccination, and worsen the UK’s already low breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding women have been excluded from the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine trials. To date, no plausible biological mechanism for how an inactivated, recombinant vaccine would cause harm to a breastfed baby has been proposed. [1] However, any data gap leaves open a possibility of risk. Yet men who are trying to conceive can be vaccinated, even though no data exists about the vaccine’s effect on spermatogenesis. Regarding lactation, theoretical risk must be weighed against the established benefits of acquiring immunity to covid-19 and of continued breastfeeding.
21st Dec 2020 - The BMJ

BioNTech confident COVID-19 vaccine effective against new UK mutation

BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said on Monday he was confident a COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by his company would be effective against a variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain. He said on Bild TV that the German company would investigate the mutation in the coming days but that he viewed the matter with “with a degree of soberness”.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters

What you need to know about the new variant of coronavirus in the UK

Many countries have closed their borders to people leaving the UK due to the rapid spread within the country of a new variant of the coronavirus that might be more transmissible. Meanwhile, South Africa is also reporting the spread of another new variant. Here’s what you need to know. What do we know about the new UK variant so far? B.1.1.7, as it’s known, has 17 mutations compared with the original SARS-CoV-2 virus first discovered in Wuhan, China, including eight that may change the shape of the outer spike protein. Many of these mutations have been found before, but to have so many in a single virus is unusual. It was first sequenced in the UK on 20 September, but only caught the attention of scientists on 8 December, when they were looking for reasons for the rapid growth of cases in southeast England. On 14 December, the UK’s health minister, Matt Hancock, told parliament that a new variant that seems to spread faster had been identified.
21st Dec 2020 - New Scientist


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Dec 2020

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Mutant coronavirus in the United Kingdom sets off alarms but its importance remains unclear

Scientists have never seen the virus acquire more than a dozen mutations seemingly at once. They think it happened during a long infection of a single patient that allowed SARS-CoV-2 to go through an extended period of fast evolution, with multiple variants competing for advantage. One reason to be concerned, Rambaut says, is that among the 17 are eight mutations in the gene that encodes the spike protein on the viral surface, two of which are particularly worrisome. One, called N501Y, has previously been shown to increase how tightly the protein binds to the ACE2 receptor, its entry point into human cells. The other, named 69-70del, leads to the loss of two amino acids in the spike protein and has been found in viruses that eluded the immune response in some immunocompromised patients.
20th Dec 2020 - Science Magazine

New 'more traditional' coronavirus vaccine by Valneva to be trialled

Bristol is among a select few locations to launch clinical trials for a new coronavirus vaccine candidate. Biotech company Valneva has developed the "more traditional" vaccine in West Lothian, Scotland, and is rolling out a UK trial at four testing sites. The vaccine will initially be tested on 150 participants across Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle and Southampton, with University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust hosting in Bristol. It is said to be the only vaccine candidate so far to use an inactive version of the virus, and if this early phase of testing is successful, it will progress to a much larger trial involving 4,000 people from April 2021. Bristol vaccine expert Adam Finn is chief investigator for the study, and said the first vaccinations will start on Monday (December 21).
18th Dec 2020 - Bristol Live

Antibody cocktail treatments show some benefit in 2 COVID studies

Two studies published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine discuss outcomes in COVID-19 patients given monoclonal antibody treatments, one showing that tocilizumab lowered the odds of needing mechanical ventilation and death but did not improve survival, and the other finding that REGN-COV2 lowered viral load—particularly in patients whose immune response hadn't yet been triggered or had a high viral load at baseline. Most benefit in moderate
18th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Dec 2020

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Early data show two doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provoked good immune response

Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has a better immune response when a two full-dose regime is used rather than a full-dose followed by a half-dose booster, the university said on Thursday, citing data from early trials. The developers of the vaccine candidate, which has been licensed to pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca, have already published later stage trial results showing higher efficacy when a half dose is followed by a full dose, compared to a two full-dose regime. However, more work needs to be done to affirm that result. The latest details from the Phase I and 2 clinical trials released on Thursday made no reference to the half-dose/full-dose regime, which Oxford has said had been “unplanned” but approved by regulators.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Oxford Covid-19 vaccine stimulates broad antibody and T cell functions – study

The University of Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine stimulates broad antibody and T cell responses, published trial results show. Researchers published further data from phase one/two clinical trials of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 Covid-19 vaccine, showing the evidence for the decision to move to a two-dose regimen in ongoing phase three trials. The data also shows how the vaccine, developed with AstraZeneca, induces broad antibody and T cell functions. Previous studies have shown that in order to develop any vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, two key elements of the immune system need to be activated. These are neutralising antibodies against the coronavirus spike protein which is likely to be critically important in protecting against the disease, as well as robust T cell responses.
17th Dec 2020 - The Irish News

NICE: Not enough evidence to recommend vitamin D solely to prevent Covid-19

There is not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to treat or prevent Covid-19, a rapid review of clinical evidence has concluded. The review, carried out by NICE, Public Health England and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, was ordered by health secretary Matt Hancock following reports of links between vitamin D deficiency and severe Covid-19. Anticipating the results, Mr Hancock already announced that millions of vulnerable people in England would receive free supplies of Vitamin D for the winter. But the guidance, published today, advises healthcare professionals ‘not to offer vitamin D supplements to people solely to [prevent or treat] Covid-19, except as part of a clinical trial’.
17th Dec 2020 - Pulse

Devices Used In COVID-19 Treatment Can Give Errors For Patients With Dark Skin

The common fingertip devices that measures oxygen in the blood can sometimes give misleading readings in people with dark skin, according to a report Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. These devices, called pulse oximeters, are increasingly finding their way into people's homes, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, this is not just a concern for medical personnel using professional-grade devices. Dr. Michael Sjoding and colleagues at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor came across this issue this year when they received an influx of COVID-19 patients from Detroit's overflowing hospitals. Many of these patients are Black. Sjoding noticed something odd about results from the fingertip device used throughout hospitals.
17th Dec 2020 - NPR

More than HALF of schools in England had coronavirus cases in November, report finds

Infection rates were highest among secondary school pupils, the survey found They were lowest in primary school staff, with primary pupils also lower Teenagers have high rates of coronavirus but officials refuse to close schools ONS survey is the first of its kind to look at asymptomatic cases in education
17th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

COVID 5 times deadlier than flu for hospital patients, study finds

Compared with patients with seasonal flu, hospitalized COVID-19 patients face an increased need for ventilation and intensive care, longer hospital stays, more complications, and nearly five times the risk of death, according to a US study published yesterday in BMJ. The study, led by researchers from the VA Saint Louis Health Care System, mined the US Department of Veterans Affairs medical records database to compare the outcomes of 3,641 COVID-19 patients hospitalized from Feb 1 to Jun 17 with those of 12,676 hospitalized with the flu from 2017 to 2019.
16th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Dec 2020

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FDA experts back safety and efficacy of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

A briefing document published by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed the safety and efficacy of Moderna’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for a potential approval soon. The document, published ahead of tomorrow's FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting, confirmed that the vaccine has a 94.1% efficacy rate, supporting Moderna’s own findings. The FDA analysis found that although the mRNA-1273 vaccine caused some common adverse reactions, including injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle/joint pain and chills, serious adverse reactions occurred in 0.2% to 9.7% of participants.
16th Dec 2020 - PMLiVE

EU fast-tracks review of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has scheduled an ‘exceptional meeting’ of its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) on 21 December to review additional data for Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The move to bring the review forward comes after the vaccine, BNT162b2, gained approval in the US last week and earlier this month in the UK. The meeting was originally scheduled for 29 December, and the EMA added that this meeting will still take place if needed, but that the CHMP is hoping to conclude the review on 21 December, if possible.
16th Dec 2020 - PMLiVE

COVID-19: Valneva begins clinical trials for new coronavirus vaccine in UK

Clinical trials have begun in the UK for a new COVID-19 vaccine being developed in Scotland. The UK government has pre-ordered 60 million doses of the Valneva candidate, which is being developed at the French biotech company's facility in Livingston, West Lothian. It is being tested on 150 volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) testing sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton.
16th Dec 2020 - Sky News

Rapid Covid-19 home test developed in Australia approved for emergency use in US

A rapid, over-the-counter Covid-19 test developed by Australian firm Ellume has been given emergency approval in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Brisbane-based company’s 20-minute Covid-19 Home Test on Tuesday as the US battles the virus that has infected 16.5 million people and killed more than 300,000 people in the country. The agency approved a prescription coronavirus test last month, but an over-the-counter product will make it easier to ramp up testing.
16th Dec 2020 - The Guardian


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Dec 2020

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Valneva to start clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate in UK

French pharmaceutical firm Valneva will start the first clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate at four sites in England, Britain’s business ministry said on Wednesday. The Phase I and Phase II trials involve 150 volunteers in Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and Newcastle, and will be designed to show whether the vaccine is safe and produces an immune response. If these are successful, larger trials are planned for April 2021 to determine efficacy. There are four other vaccine candidates undergoing clinical trials in the United Kingdom.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters

FDA Clears First At-Home, Over-the-Counter Covid-19 Test

The first Covid-19 test that can be performed entirely at home was cleared by U.S. regulators on Tuesday, and it can be acquired without a prescription. While availability will be limited initially, the new test and others in development could make virus screenings as accessible as over-the-counter pregnancy tests in the U.S. for the first time. The advance follows months of criticism that the Food and Drug Administration has been too slow to approve rapid home tests for the virus. Manufactured by East Brisbane, Australia-based Ellume, the self-administered, single-use nasal swab test is small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand. It detects proteins on the virus’s surface in 15 minutes and delivers results to an app.
15th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

US regulator deems Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’

The US regulator has found Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine to be safe and “highly effective”, clearing the way for a second jab to receive emergency use authorisation later this week. The US Food and Drug Administration report on Moderna’s vaccine trials on Tuesday suggested that immunity starts about 10 days after the first of two injections, much like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, which received emergency use authorisation last week. A second approval could significantly expand access to Covid-19 vaccines in the US, where the pandemic has now killed more than 300,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data. While the US government has been offering to help Pfizer expand manufacturing capacity, it secured another pre-order for 100m Moderna vaccines last week, bringing its total to 200m.
15th Dec 2020 - The Financial Times

EU regulator brings forward Covid vaccine ruling after German pressure

The EU drug regulator has brought forward its ruling on the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine after Germany made it clear it wanted approval before Christmas. The Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency’s announcement that it will meet on 21 December instead of 29 December to decide whether to authorise the shot followed a growing backlash from desperate EU countries, with the German health minister, Jens Spahn, saying that the agency risked losing the trust of EU citizens if it did not act fast. “The goal is to get approval before Christmas,” he told a press conference in Berlin. “We want to start vaccinating in Germany before the end of the year.” Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, said he hoped the EMA “will be able to approve the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine ahead of schedule”.
15th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

New coronavirus strain spreading in UK has key mutations, scientists say

British scientists are trying to establish whether the rapid spread in southern England of a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is linked to key mutations they have detected in the strain, they said on Tuesday. The mutations include changes to the important “spike” protein that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells, a group of scientists tracking the genetics of the virus said, but it is not yet clear whether these are making it more infectious. "Efforts are under way to confirm whether or not any of these mutations are contributing to increased transmission," the scientists, from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, said in a statement
15th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

FDA scientists endorse Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, as documents provide new hints on efficacy

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration endorsed the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna as safe and efficacious on Tuesday, one day after the first doses of a competing vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech were delivered across the United States. The FDA reviewers said that the two-dose vaccine “was highly effective” in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 from occurring “at least 14 days after the receipt of the second dose.” Vaccine-related side effects, such as aches and pains, appeared more severe than with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, though such comparisons should be made with caution and are in no way expected to slow the clearance of the vaccine or present major concerns. There was also preliminary evidence that the vaccine has some efficacy after one dose, and that it prevents asymptomatic Covid-19 cases — those that occur without a person ever feeling ill
15th Dec 2020 - Stat News

Australia's initial vaccine rollout unlikely to stop Covid transmission, study finds

It is unlikely that the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines rolled out in Australia in 2021 will prevent virus transmission, making ongoing high levels of testing, strong contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine crucial, a review commissioned by the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has found. The academy comprises more than 400 senior researchers, and the review outlines steps for Australia’s pandemic response into the new year. It was authored by the director of the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases Prof Tania Sorrell and University of Queensland immunologist Prof Ian Frazer.
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Study finds no link between COVID-19, Guillain-Barré syndrome

A large epidemiologic study in the United Kingdom today finds no association between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune condition linked to other bacterial and viral infections. GBS is a rare neurologic disease that attacks the peripheral nervous system—typically the feet, hands, and limbs—causing numbness, weakness, pain, and occasionally, fatal paralysis or permanent neurological effects. The most common trigger for GBS is infection with Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterial strain that causes gastroenteritis, or infection of the digestive tract.
14th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Dec 2020

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CureVac starts late-phase clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine

CureVac has begun a phase 2b/3 clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV. The study will enroll 36,500 participants in Europe and Latin America with a view to generating data to support approval of the mRNA vaccine next year. BioNTech, working with Pfizer, and Moderna have validated the concept of using mRNA to provide protection against SARS-CoV-2, rapidly delivering stellar efficacy results that set a high bar for the rest of the field. CureVac has taken a slightly different approach to mRNA vaccines, choosing to use the potency of untranslated regions to optimize the RNA rather than make chemical modifications. The approach has created a candidate that triggers immune responses at a 12-µg dose, compared to the 100 µg used by Moderna. That will enable CureVac to make more doses of the vaccine. CureVac is also aiming to trigger balanced immune responses.
14th Dec 2020 - FierceBiotech

Scientists pinpoint genes common among people with severe coronavirus infections

Certain gene variants are linked to severe coronavirus infections, according to a team of scientists in Europe who studied the genomes of 2,200 critically ill covid-19 patients. Their results provide robust support that genetic makeup plays a role in the potentially fatal illness experienced by some people infected by the coronavirus. Diving into people’s DNA is an approach that could help answer one of the pandemic’s biggest mysteries: Why do some people have mild coronavirus cases, or no symptoms at all, while others rapidly fall ill and die? Evidence is clear that older age and underlying conditions are risk factors for increased covid-19 severity. But genetic predispositions to runaway inflammation or other harmful immune responses could also contribute to worse disease.
14th Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

New strain of Covid-19 may be cause of rise in cases, Hancock tells MPs

A new Covid-19 variant has been identified in the UK, the health secretary has revealed, suggesting it could be linked to the rapid spread of the virus in south-east England as millions more people in London are being moved into the toughest restrictions. Cases of the strain have been found in almost 60 areas, Matt Hancock disclosed, although he stressed that clinical advice suggested it was “highly unlikely” the mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine. It came as he confirmed that the capital, as well as the majority of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire, would be placed into tier 3 from Wednesday after an “exponential” rise in cases.
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

CSL 'optimistic' on vaccine delivery as AstraZeneca provides data to regulators

CSL's chief scientific officer Andrew Nash says Australia has a range of options in place when it comes to COVID vaccines even if the Oxford/AstraZeneca project were to hit regulatory hurdles. The axing of the local University of Queensland vaccine candidate last Friday puts the ASX-listed biotech's focus squarely on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, for which it has committed to make 50 million doses. While CSL has started the production process it must wait for AstraZeneca to secure regulatory approval of the product before it can be deployed.
14th Dec 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Almost 50 Brits to be given experimental nasal spray Covid-19 vaccine next month

New York company Codagenix said human studies to begin first week of January Codagenix says its computer-edited virus is 1,000 times slower than real thing Given via a nasal spray, in the same way the influenza jab is given to children
14th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Moderna will ship nearly 6 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine as soon as it gets FDA approval

Moderna Inc's first shipment of its coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. will include nearly six million doses. The jabs will be sent to 3,285 locations across the country via FedEx and UPS. In a briefing on Monday, Gen Gustave Perna said a reserve has been set aside, but he didn't disclose the exact amount, The FDA's advisory committee will meet on Thursday to discuss whether or not recommend approving Moderna's vaccine. If approved this week, the first Americans will likely not get immunized before December 21
14th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Dec 2020

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U.S. FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it authorized the use of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, with the first inoculations expected within days, marking a turning point in the United States where the pandemic has killed more than 292,
12th Dec 2020 - Reuters

GSK/Sanofi Covid vaccine delayed until end of next year

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by GlaxoSmithKline and its French partner, Sanofi, will be delayed until the end of next year after trials revealed it failed to produce a strong immune response in older people. The drug companies hoped to have regulatory approval for the candidate vaccine in the first half of 2021, but interim results from a phase 1/2 trial showed an “insufficient” response in the over-50s, the age group most vulnerable to severe Covid-19. The results released on Friday are a stark reminder that despite a flurry of positive results from vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, NIH/Moderna and Oxford University/AstraZeneca, developing effective vaccines at speed is no simple task.
12th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

J&J cuts size of Covid-19 vaccine study due to prevalence of disease

Johnson & Johnson is cutting the size of its pivotal U.S. Covid-19 vaccine trial — the only major study testing a single dose of a Covid vaccine — from 60,000 volunteers to 40,000 volunteers. The change is being made possible by the fact that Covid-19 is so pervasive across the country, according to a person familiar with the matter. The more virus there is in the U.S., the more likely it is that participants will be exposed to it, meaning researchers will be able to reach conclusions based on a smaller trial. Changing the size of the study does not indicate that results will come on a different timetable, or anything about whether they will be positive or negative
12th Dec 2020 - STAT

Boston Biogen conference of 175 people led to 300,000 infections across the world

A strategy meeting of 175 senior managers at Biogen Inc was held at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in late February. In a recent study of 772 patients, researchers found one distinct strain in more than one-third of patients linked back to the conference. The strain was found in at least 29 states, including Florida, North Carolina and Indiana, and countries such as Australia, Slovakia, Sweden At least 99 people at the meeting tested positive for COVID-19 and researchers now believe the conference is responsible for up to 330,000 global infections
11th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Five key genes linked to severe COVID-19 found, suggesting drug targets

Five key genes are linked with the most severe form of COVID-19, scientists said on Friday, in research that also pointed to several existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat people who risk getting critically ill with the pandemic disease. Researchers who studied the DNA of 2,700 COVID-19 patients in 208 intensive care units across Britain found that five genes involving in two molecular processes - antiviral immunity and lung inflammation - were central to many severe cases. “Our results immediately highlight which drugs should be at the top of the list for clinical testing,” said Kenneth Baillie, an academic consultant in critical care medicine at Edinburgh University who co-led the research.
11th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Covid: Trials to test combination of Oxford and Sputnik vaccines

UK and Russian scientists are teaming up to trial a combination of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines to see if protection against Covid-19 can be improved. Mixing two similar vaccines could lead to a better immune response in people. The trials, to be held in Russia, will involve over-18s, although it's not clear how many people will be involved. Oxford recently published results showing their jab was safe and effective in trials on people. The researchers are still collecting data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in older age groups while waiting for approval from the UK regulator, the MHRA. AstraZeneca said it was exploring combinations of different adenovirus vaccines to find out whether mixing them leads to a better immune response and, therefore, greater protection.
11th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Sanofi suffers major setback in development of a Covid-19 vaccine

One of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers has suffered a major setback in its work to produce a Covid-19 vaccine. The problem will push the timeline for deployment of Sanofi Pasteur’s vaccine — if it is approved — from the first half of 2021 into the second half of the year, the company said Friday. The news is not just disappointing for Sanofi and its development partner, GlaxoSmithKline, which is providing an adjuvant used in the vaccine. The companies have contracts with multiple countries, including the United States and Britain, as well as the European Union. Sanofi had hoped to start a Phase 3 trial of the vaccine this month and had projected it could produce 100 million doses of vaccine in 2020, and 1 billion doses in 2021.
11th Dec 2020 - STAT

Australia Scraps Covid-19 Vaccine That Produced H.I.V. False Positives

Australia on Friday canceled a roughly $750 million plan for a large order of a locally developed coronavirus vaccine after the inoculation produced false positive test results for H.I.V. in some volunteers participating in a trial study. Of the dozens of coronavirus vaccines being tested worldwide, the Australian one was the first to be abandoned. While its developers said the experimental vaccine had appeared to be safe and effective, the false positives risked undermining trust in the effort to vaccinate the public. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said that his government would compensate for the loss of 51 million doses it had planned to buy from the Australian consortium in part by increasing orders of vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Novavax. The government has said it plans to begin inoculating citizens by March
11th Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Peru suspends Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine trial after 'adverse event'

Peru suspended trials for China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine due to a “serious adverse event” that occurred with one of the volunteers for the study, the Peruvian government said in a statement on Saturday. The health ministry said the event is “under investigation to determine if it is related to the vaccine or if there is another explanation.”
11th Dec 2020 - Canoe.com

Covid vaccine: Four Pfizer trial participants developed facial paralysis, FDA says

New documents have revealed that four participants in the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine trial developed Bell's palsy - a condition that causes a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face. The patients were taking part in the US vaccine trial, which included 38,000 participants. The Bell’s palsy is believed to be unrelated to the vaccine, with cases in the trial occurring at the same rate as in the general population. A document by the FDA said: “Among non-serious unsolicited adverse events, there was a numerical imbalance of four cases of Bell’s palsy in the vaccine group compared with no cases in the placebo group, though the four cases in the vaccine group do not represent a frequency above that expected in the general population.”
11th Dec 2020 - Mirror Online

Oxford COVID-vaccine paper highlights lingering unknowns about results

The first formally published results from a large clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine — which scientists hope could be among the cheapest and easiest to distribute around the world — suggest that the vaccine is safe and effective. But the data also highlight a number of lingering unknowns, including questions about the most effective dosing regimen and how well it works in older adults. The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, UK, and the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca in Cambridge, UK, has been closely watched, in part because it is likely to be simpler to distribute than the two RNA-based vaccines from companies Pfizer and Moderna, which need to be stored at low temperatures. The Oxford team is also now the first of these three leading COVID-vaccine developers to publish results from its phase III trials in a peer-reviewed journal — so far, the findings have been disseminated only through press releases.
8th Dec 2020 - Nature.com


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Biogen conference in Boston likely linked to 330,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide, researchers say

It likely took just one of the 175 people gathered in February at a Biogen conference at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf hotel to ignite a COVID-19 wildfire. Within a week, attendees began falling ill. More than 99 would ultimately test positive. By then, many of them had hopped aboard planes to head home or even attend other conferences. And the spread only exploded from there. Researchers now believe roughly 330,000 COVID-19 cases across the nation and around the world can be traced back to the two-day Boston conference, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. The study estimates some 96,360 of the cases with a genetic link to the Biogen conference were discovered in Florida, several hundred miles from the waterfront lobby and banquet rooms in Boston that served as the perfect incubator for an eager virus to multiply.
11th Dec 2020 - The Boston Globe on MSN.com

How does Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine work and how is it different to Pfizer and Moderna’s?

Results showing the effectiveness of the University of Oxford's coronavirus vaccine are expected to be released in the coming weeks. In the meantime, phase two trial data released on Thursday suggested the jab produces a strong immune response in older adults. And according to the researchers, volunteers in the trial demonstrated similar immune responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-69, and 70 and over).
10th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Moderna begins study of COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it had dosed the first participants in a mid-to-late stage study testing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in adolescents aged 12 to less than 18, and aims for data ahead of the 2021 school year. The trial will enroll 3,000 healthy participants in the United States and will assess the safety and effectiveness of two doses of the company’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, given 28 days apart. Moderna has submitted applications seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) in the United States and EU after full results from a late-stage study showed the vaccine was 94.1% effective in adults with no serious safety concerns. Rival Pfizer/BioNTech have also sought EUA after their coronavirus vaccine’s two-dose regimen proved 95% effective against COVID-19 and had no major safety issues.
10th Dec 2020 - PharmaLive

COVID-19 vaccine not advised for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

The new Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has “not yet been assessed in pregnancy”, according to Public Health England.
10th Dec 2020 - The News Letter

Coronavirus vaccine: Expert addresses Warfarin concerns

Patients who take blood thinning drugs for heart problems have been reassured that the Covid-19 vaccine should not cause adverse effects if their condition is stable. Anti-coagulant treatments including Warfarin are prescribed to patients at increased risk of strokes or those who have a metal heart valve or those with conditions including Atrial Fibrillation. Like most vaccines, the coronavirus vaccine is injected into the muscle of the upper arm and may bleedmore than injections that are given under the skin but less than those that are administered into a vein.
10th Dec 2020 - heraldscotland.com

Covid vaccine from China's Sinopharm is 86% effective, says UAE

The United Arab Emirates, the first foreign country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, said it had 86 per cent efficacy, according to interim results of a phase 3 trial. The announcement is a boost for Beijing’s ambitions to establish its pharmaceutical companies as global leaders in developing and distributing vaccines and comes after the release of final stage results from western frontrunners Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford. Chinese developers were forced to carry out phase 3 trials overseas because the virus is now almost fully under control in China.
10th Dec 2020 - Financial Times

Novavax Covid vaccine trial recruits in Oxfordshire

People in Oxfordshire are among volunteers recruited for another promising Covid vaccine. US biotech company Novavax is running trials in Oxford as part of more than 15,203 participants recruited across the UK. It is the largest double blind, placebo-controlled Covid-19 vaccine trial to be undertaken in the country so far. It comes as the first Pfizer vaccinations against coronavirus were carried out in the city this week and new analysis of the Oxford University candidate showed it was 'safe and effective'.
10th Dec 2020 - Oxford Mail

Three groups of people urged to avoid the coronavirus vaccine

Three types of people who have been urged not to have the coronavirus vaccine have been revealed as hospital innoculations continue. The news of three groups unable to be vaccinated come as England's Chief Medical Officer attempts to dispel anti-vax myths. Professor Chris Whitty has said he will take any Covid-19 vaccine offered to him, adding it is a "society" and "political" decision as to when restrictions are lifted. England's chief medical officer told MPs he would be keen to have a jab to protect himself, as the NHS vaccination programme continues across the UK.
10th Dec 2020 - Birmingham Post

Even people with moderate cases of Covid-19 can suffer STROKES and seizures, study suggests

Moderate cases of Covid-19 which do not require treatment in intensive care can still lead to strokes and seizures, according to a new study. Researchers looked at the cases of 921 people who were admitted to a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, between April and July. Seventy-four had both Covid-19 and also underwent a neurologic examination. The study reveals symptoms such as stroke and seizures as well as inflammation may be more common than previously believed, irrespective of Covid-19 severity.
10th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

New study shows boy, 4, had Covid in Italy in November 2019

Researchers say an Italian boy tested positive for coronavirus in November 2019 – a revelation which has dramatic implications for the timeline of when the virus was spreading. The Covid-19 outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December last year – although Chinese authorities now admit there were cases dating back to November, amid global scepticism about whether the country has been open about what it knew and when. The study in Italy adds to evidence that the virus may have been spreading far earlier than initially thought and even around Europe in autumn 2019 – months before the first official Italian case in February 2020.
10th Dec 2020 - Metro.co.uk

How kids’ immune systems can evade COVID

Young children account for only a small percentage of COVID-19 infections1 — a trend that has puzzled scientists. Now, a growing body of evidence suggests why: kids’ immune systems seem better equipped to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 than are adults’. “Children are very much adapted to respond — and very well equipped to respond — to new viruses,” says Donna Farber, an immunologist at Columbia University in New York City. Even when they are infected with SARS-CoV-2, children are most likely to experience mild or asymptomatic illness2.
10th Dec 2020 - Nature


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India says it may approve vaccine in weeks, outlines plan

India’s Health Ministry has announced that some COVID-19 vaccines are likely to receive licenses in the next few weeks and outlined an initial plan to immunize 300 million people. Health officials said Tuesday that three vaccine companies have applied for early approval for emergency use in India: Serum Institute of India, which has been licensed to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine, Pfizer Inc., and Indian manufacturer Bharat Biotech. “Some of them may get licensed in the next few weeks,” federal Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
10th Dec 2020 - Washington Post

Chinese Covid-19 vaccine has 86% efficacy, UAE says

The United Arab Emirates said a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms has 86% efficacy, in a statement that provided few details but marked the first public release of information on the performance of the shot. The announcement brought yet another contender into the worldwide race for a vaccine to end the pandemic, a scientific effort in which China and Russia are competing with western firms to develop an effective inoculation.
9th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

UK healthcare workers seven times more likely to develop severe coronavirus during first lockdown, study finds

Those working on the front lines against coronavirus during the UK’s first lockdown were up to seven times more likely to become severely infected, new research suggests. A University of Glasgow-led study of more than 120,000 employees aged 49 to 64 indicated that those in healthcare roles were seven times more likely to be hospitalised or killed with the virus. And those with jobs in the social care and transport sectors were found to be twice as likely to suffer such outcomes, which the researchers said emphasises the need to ensure that key workers are adequately protected against infection.
9th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Pharma Pfizer’s COVID vaccine data raise some flags, analysts say, but not enough to scuttle an FDA nod

When the FDA released a 53-page briefing document on Pfizer’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate yesterday, most readers zeroed in on the shot’s high efficacy in a wide range of demographic groups. Wall Street analysts dug a bit deeper. Their conclusion? A few red flags in the FDA documents will likely generate some discussion at Thursday's advisory panel meeting, but not enough alarm to scuttle an emergency authorization.
9th Dec 2020 - FiercePharma

Johnson & Johnson to cut size of US vaccine trial

Johnson & Johnson is to reduce the size of its US vaccine trial to 40,000 participants because of the prevalence of coronavirus among the general population. “Given the high incidence of Covid-19 among the general population, we expect that approximately 40,000 participants will generate the data needed to determine the safety and efficacy of our investigational Covid-19 vaccine candidate,” J&J said in an emailed statement to the Financial Times on Wednesday.
9th Dec 2020 - Financial Times


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AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Data Underscore Safety, Range of Efficacy

Peer-reviewed data from late-stage human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC reaffirmed the shot’s strong safety results and provided some additional evidence that halving the first of two doses of the shot boosts its effectiveness. AstraZeneca and Oxford said the data gave them confidence to ask the U.K. and other countries for emergency-use authorization of the vaccine, but said regulators will have to decide which dosing regimen to approve. Last month, AstraZeneca and Oxford said trial data showed the vaccine was between 62% and 90% effective, but that the higher results were observed in a small subset of the wider trial.
8th Dec 2020 - Wall Street Journal

Studies suggest AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safe, effective

New results on a possible COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca suggest it is safe and about 70% effective, but questions remain about how well it may help protect those over 55 — a key concern for a vaccine that health officials hope to rely on around the world because of its low cost, availability and ease of use. Still, experts say the vaccine seems likely to be approved, despite some confusion in the results and lower levels of protection than what some other vaccine candidates have shown.
8th Dec 2020 - ABC News

Oxford-Astra COVID-19 vaccine shows average 70.4% efficacy in pooled study

AstraZeneca and Oxford University have more work to do to confirm whether their COVID-19 vaccine can be 90% effective, peer-reviewed data published in The Lancet showed on Tuesday, potentially slowing its eventual rollout in the fight against the pandemic. Once seen as the frontrunner in the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus crisis, the British team was overtaken by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, whose shots - with a success rate of around 95% - were administered to UK pensioners on Tuesday in a world-first hailed as V-Day. Detailed results from the AstraZeneca/Oxford trials have been eagerly awaited after some scientists criticised a lack of information in their initial announcement last month.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Phase 3 trials show AstraZeneca COVID vaccine has up to 90% efficacy

The first full peer-reviewed results of phase 3 trials of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University show that it is safe and up to 90% effective in preventing infection, supporting regulatory submissions for emergency use. The interim analysis, published today in The Lancet, identified no severe coronavirus disease or hospitalizations in pooled results from the 11,636 adults vaccinated in the United Kingdom and Brazil. Of the 11,636 adults, 131 (1.1%) had symptomatic COVID-19 more than 14 days after the second vaccine dose, including 30 of 5,807 (0.5%) in the COVID-19 vaccine group and 101 of 5,829 (1.7%) in the control group, indicating a vaccine efficacy of 70%
8th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP

FDA documents show Pfizer COVID vaccine protects after 1 dose

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents posted in advance of advisory group consideration of emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine revealed promising new findings, including strong protection after the first dose and protection in groups at risk for disease complications. The good news comes on the same day immunization with the vaccine began with much fanfare in the United Kingdom, where a 90-year-old woman who lives in Coventry was the first to receive it outside of a vaccine trial.
8th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP

Inovio sets new timeline for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine

Plymouth Meeting's Inovio Pharmaceuticals provides an updated timeline for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine and says it expects to play an important role in the battle against the coronavirus. On Monday, Inovio began phase-II testing of its DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate, INO-4800.
8th Dec 2020 - The Business Journals

Sinovac vaccine shows up to 97 per cent efficacy in early trials, Bio Farma says

Indonesia's state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma said on Tuesday that interim data on trials it was conducting on vaccines produced by the Chinese company Sinovac showed up to 97 per cent efficacy. "Our clinical trial team found, within one month, that the interim data shows up to 97 per cent for its efficacy," said Iwan Setiawan, a spokesman for Bio Farma, at a news conference.
8th Dec 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Sinovac snags $515M investment to double COVID-19 vaccine capacity as phase 3 readout nears

As the various COVID-19 vaccines move closer to the finish line, their developers have been raising money from investors or through advance government purchases to ramp up manufacturing. Now, a Chinese company has done the same for its candidate. Sinovac Biotech netted $515 million in investment from local firm Sino Biopharmaceutical, which in exchange gets a 15.03% stake in Sinovac Life Sciences, a subsidiary of the Nasdaq-listed vaccine specialist. The money will help fund development, manufacturing and new production capacity for Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CoronaVac, as well as other activities, Sinovac said Monday. Currently, Sinovac can make 300 million doses of CoronaVac a year. But the company hopes to finish building another production facility by the end of 2020 to boost annual capacity to 600 million doses, with the potential to expand output even further in the future. CoronaVac, an inactivated shot, is one of the front-running COVID-19 vaccines. It's actually been used in China in a secretive emergency use program. Meanwhile, it's undergoing phase 3 trials in Brazil, Chile, Turkey and Indonesia, with supply deals in place with these countries.
8th Dec 2020 - Fierce Pharma

Turkey’s domestic COVID-19 vaccine set for next stage of human trials

Officials say the Phase 1 human trials of ERUCOV-VAC developed at Erciyes University in central Turkey will conclude on Dec. 14. and that Phase 2 may begin two days later. If the vaccine is proven to be effective, it will be added to Turkey's growing arsenal of vaccines to put an end to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Turkey announced it had received a shipment of the Chinese vaccine earlier. Ahmet Inal, deputy director of the university's research center where trials are being conducted, says they had 44 volunteers for the first phase, and they were planning to inoculate some 200 volunteers in the second phase. He noted that they have already received more than 100 volunteer applications.
6th Dec 2020 - Daily Sabah


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COVID-19: Scientific breakthrough in monitoring infections through wastewater

Scientists have achieved a breakthrough in sampling wastewater to detect changes in COVID-19 infections within large communities. The new method is capable of identifying the coronavirus within wastewater samples and tracking whether infection rates are growing or shrinking. Wastewater is a "robust source" of COVID-19, according to researchers, because infected people shed the virus in their stool, meaning large amounts of virus particles are flushed down the toilet.
8th Dec 2020 - Sky News

Years of research laid groundwork for speedy COVID-19 shots

How could scientists race out COVID-19 vaccines so fast without cutting corners? A head start helped -- over a decade of behind-the-scenes research that had new vaccine technology poised for a challenge just as the coronavirus erupted. “The speed is a reflection of years of work that went before,” Dr. Anthony Fauci the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press. “That’s what the public has to understand.” Creating vaccines and having results from rigorous studies less than a year after the world discovered a never-before-seen disease is incredible, cutting years off normal development. But the two U.S. frontrunners are made in a way that promises speedier development may become the norm -- especially if they prove to work long-term as well as early testing suggests.
7th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Prototype blood test detects people who will develop severe Covid-19

Test detects whether our immune systems are gearing up to fight SARS-CoV-2 It assesses levels of two molecules in the blood linked with our immune response People with low levels of these molecules could be at risk of more severe Covid Scientists say the test could be important during the wait for vaccines to roll out
7th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

We still need Covid-19 treatments as well as vaccines

It’s a Friday morning in October and Charlotte Summers has been up since the crack of dawn. As a leading expert in respiratory and intensive care medicines, she is one of the clinical researchers responsible for advising on the UK’s national treatment guidelines for Covid-19. But overnight, results of a trial by the World Health Organisation have been published concluding that remdesivir – an antiviral drug global leaders once pinned high hopes on – has “little or no effect” on patient survival.
7th Dec 2020 - Wired.co.uk

WHO looks at giving Covid-19 to healthy people to speed up vaccine trials

The World Health Organization is holding discussions on Monday about the feasibility of trials in which healthy young volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to hasten vaccine development – amid questions over whether they should go ahead given the promising data from the frontrunner vaccine candidates. Some scientists have reservations about exposing volunteers to a virus for which there is no cure, although there are treatments that can help patients. However, proponents argue that the risks of Covid-19 to the young and healthy are minimal, and the benefits to society are high.
7th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

1.2M doses of China-made COVID vaccine arrive in Indonesia

Indonesia’s government said 1.2 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech arrived in the country late Sunday. President Joko Widodo said in a televised address that another 1.8 million doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in early January. “We are very grateful, thank God, the vaccine is now available so that we can immediately curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease,” Widodo said. The government is still waiting for millions of other doses of the Sinovac vaccine to arrive in the form of raw materials that will be further processed by state-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma.
7th Dec 2020 - Associated Press

Diabetes drug linked to lower COVID-19 death rate in women

A Lancet Healthy Longevity study yesterday found that metformin—a common, generic type 2 diabetes medication used to manage blood sugar levels—is associated with significantly lower COVID-19 death risk in women, but not in men. Severe COVID-19 outcomes for people with diabetes have been widely observed, including greater risk of intensive care unit admission, intubation for mechanical ventilation, and death, possibly related to less effective glycemic, or blood sugar, control in these patients. This retrospective cohort study of 6,256 people with type 2 diabetes or obesity hospitalized for COVID-19 from Jan 1 to Jun 7 was a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Medical School and UnitedHealth Group (UHG)—a for-profit managed healthcare company based in Minnesota.
4th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP


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Research into Covid-19 dog detectors begins

Dogs could be used in the fight against Covid-19 – by being trained to sniff out infected people. Researchers in Australia have begun to train 14 dogs in a feasibility study, and the animals could become part of the screening process for incoming visitors if successful. Studies have previously shown dogs can detect particular odours – known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – which are produced by humans when they are suffering with a viral infection. Dr Anne-Lise Chaber of the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences said the current training – in Adelaide and at the Australian Border Force’s National Detector Dog Programme Facility – will test the accuracy of dogs detecting VOCs in sweat samples from people infected with coronavirus.
6th Dec 2020 - MSN.com

COVID-19 reinfections likely as antibody counts fall: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that new data suggest individuals who were once infected with COVID-19 can be susceptible to secondary infections as antibodies die off. “We have seen the number of people infected continue to grow, but we’re also seeing data emerge that protection may not be lifelong, and therefore we may see reinfections begin to occur,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said per CNBC. “So the question is: What are the levels of protection in society?” Researchers at the WHO are now working to determine how long antibodies in response to COVID-19 last in the human system.
6th Dec 2020 - The Hill

Indonesia receives first COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac

Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China on Sunday (Dec 6), President Joko Widodo said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme. Jokowi, as the president is widely known, said in an online briefing that the country received 1.2 million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech, a vaccine Indonesia has been testing since August. He added that the government plans to receive another 1.8 million doses in early January. Late-stage trials of the Sinovac vaccine are also under way in Brazil and Turkey, with interim results on efficiency from Brazil expected by mid-December. Indonesia is also expected this month to receive shipments of raw materials to produce 15 million doses and materials for 30 million doses next month, the president said.
6th Dec 2020 - CNA

Bahrain becomes second country to approve Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Bahrain said it had approved the emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech. The approval on Friday makes Bahrain the second country in the world to grant an emergency use authorisation for the vaccine, the Bahraini national news agency BNA reported.
5th Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Blood Tests Of Immune Response May Be Key To Future COVID-19 Vaccine Development : Shots - Health News

News today from Harvard's Center for Virology and Vaccine Research may help solve a problem that future COVID-19 manufacturers are sure to face: how to make sure that new and potentially better vaccines actually work without doing extremely large and expensive studies. Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers show that a certain class of antibodies in a monkey's blood predicted protection from COVID-19. If that hold true for humans, a relative simple blood test may show whether an experimental vaccine is working. Here's the dilemma: Once a vaccine is approved, it's unethical to test it against a placebo. Approving new vaccine would require researchers to compare two vaccines against each other, instead of having a vaccine and a placebo--which would take a lot more people than the 30,000 for the initial trials.
4th Dec 2020 - NPR


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Repurposed Antiviral Drugs for Covid-19 — Interim WHO Solidarity Trial Results

At 405 hospitals in 30 countries, 11,330 adults underwent randomization; 2750 were assigned to receive remdesivir, 954 to hydroxychloroquine, 1411 to lopinavir (without interferon), 2063 to interferon (including 651 to interferon plus lopinavir), and 4088 to no trial drug. Adherence was 94 to 96% midway through treatment, with 2 to 6% crossover. In total, 1253 deaths were reported (median day of death, day 8; interquartile range, 4 to 14). The Kaplan–Meier 28-day mortality was 11.8% (39.0% if the patient was already receiving ventilation at randomization and 9.5% otherwise). Death occurred in 301 of 2743 patients receiving remdesivir and in 303 of 2708 receiving its control (rate ratio, 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.81 to 1.11; P=0.50), in 104 of 947 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine and in 84 of 906 receiving its control (rate ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.89 to 1.59; P=0.23), in 148 of 1399 patients receiving lopinavir and in 146 of 1372 receiving its control (rate ratio, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.79 to 1.25; P=0.97), and in 243 of 2050 patients receiving interferon and in 216 of 2050 receiving its control (rate ratio, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.96 to 1.39; P=0.11). No drug definitely reduced mortality, overall or in any subgroup, or reduced initiation of ventilation or hospitalization duration.
3rd Dec 2020 - nejm.org

Moderna plans to test COVID-19 vaccine on children

Moderna is planning to test the effects of its COVID-19 vaccine on children. Its study will include administering two doses of the vaccine within 28 days to 3,000 children aged 12 to 17. Earlier this week, the United Kingdom became the first country to grant emergency use to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, raising hopes that an end to the global pandemic, which has seen almost 65 million people infected and nearly 1.5 million deaths, might be in sight. Moderna, an American firm, said this week it would apply to United States and European regulators to grant emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine after further evidence confirmed the efficacy of its jab stood at more than 94 percent. Neither vaccines can be injected in children and pregnant women.
3rd Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English


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U.K. Authorizes Pfizer, BioNTech’s Covid-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

The U.K. became the first Western nation to grant emergency-use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine, clearing a shot developed by Pfizer Inc. of the U.S. and BioNTech SE of Germany to be distributed in limited numbers within days. The two-shot vaccine is also being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout before the end of the year. The U.K. green light on Wednesday punctuates a monthslong sprint by the two drugmakers, which teamed up earlier this year and then pulled ahead of two other Western pharmaceutical companies, each with its own promising shot. Vaccines typically take years to bring to market.
2nd Dec 2020 - Wall Street Journal

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine authorised for use in the UK

People in care homes may be first in UK to get authorised Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine The UK government has become the first in the world to give the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine temporary authorisation for emergency use. The UK has pre-ordered 40 million doses – enough for 20 million people at most, as it is a two-shot vaccine – and will start to vaccinate people possibly as early as next week. To distribute the vaccine, Pfizer has designed special cardboard boxes that can be packed with dry ice, enabling the vaccine doses to be kept at -70°C during transport. They can then be stored in a normal fridge for up to five days. This afternoon the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) released its advice on who will receive priority for the vaccine. It recommended that priority be given first to care home residents and their carers, then to frontline health and social care workers and people aged 80 and over. People 75 and over will be next, followed by those aged 70 and above and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. The vaccine will not be given to pregnant women or to most children under 16, because there is no safety data for these groups.
2nd Dec 2020 - New Scientist

Researchers determine how the SARS-CoV-2 virus hijacks and rapidly causes damage to human lung cells

In a multi-group collaborative involving the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories (NEIDL), the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM), and the Center for Network Systems Biology (CNSB), scientists have reported the first map of the molecular responses of human lung cells to infection by SARS-CoV-2. By combining bioengineered human alveolar cells with sophisticated, highly precise mass spectrometry technology, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers have identified host proteins and pathways in lung cells whose levels change upon infection by the SARS-CoV-2, providing insights into disease pathology and new therapeutic targets to block COVID-19.
2nd Dec 2020 - Phys.org

AstraZeneca U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial results likely in late-Jan, says health official

AstraZeneca Plc will likely get results of its U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial in late-January and could potentially file for an emergency authorization, the chief adviser for the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program said on Wednesday. The British drugmaker and Oxford University have already published interim efficacy results from their UK trial in November, but the results have raised questions among scientists. The company said the vaccine could be 90% effective when given as a half dose followed by a full dose, based on a relatively small number of volunteers, while overall effectiveness was around 70%. Speaking at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services meeting, OWS chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said the large set of contrasting data coming out from the UK and Brazil trials may not be enough to ensure the vaccine receives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Largest Clinical Trial in Africa to Treat COVID-19 Cases is Launched in 13 Countries

African countries and an international network of research institutions, including the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), have joined forces to launch the largest COVID-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa. The ANTICOV clinical trial aims to respond to the urgent need to identify treatments that can be used to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 early and prevent spikes in hospitalisation that could overwhelm fragile and already overburdened health systems in Africa.
24th Nov 2020 - Swiss Tropical Public Health Institute

Medical journal editorial refutes WHO finding on Gilead's remdesivir for COVID-19

An editorial in the influential New England Journal of Medicine cites problems with a World Health Organization (WHO) study that found Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral remdesivir failed to improve COVID-19 survival, and said it does not refute trials that demonstrated benefits of the drug in treating the illness. The editorial, by David Harrington at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, infectious disease specialist Dr. Lindsey Baden and Brown University biostatistician Joseph Hogan, was published on Wednesday along with the WHO study. They noted that the trial called Solidarity, which looked at four drugs, was conducted in 30 countries ranging from Switzerland and Germany to Iran and Kenya, leading to inconsistencies in the data collected.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 Vaccines Make Some Health Care Workers Wary

Health care workers are expected to be first in line to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available. It makes sense: Getting a safe, effective vaccine would help keep them and their patients healthy. Seeing doctors, nurses and medical aides getting COVID-19 vaccines would also set an example for the community. But the speed of COVID-19 vaccine development, along with concerns about political interference with the process, has left some health care workers on the fence about COVID-19 vaccines. So many health care workers are expressing concerns and anxiety about getting COVID-19 vaccines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says addressing hesitancy in this group is a top priority. A CDC survey, shared at a public meeting of its vaccine advisory committee on Nov. 23, found that 63% of health care workers polled in recent months said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine.
1st Dec 2020 - NPR


Healthcare Innovations - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Dec 2020

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Pfizer, Moderna Request Covid-19 Vaccine Authorization in Europe

Pfizer Inc. partner BioNTech and U.S. drugmaker Moderna Inc. both applied for their coronavirus vaccines to be approved in the European Union, the EU’s chief medicines regulator said Tuesday, with officials expected to make a decision on at least one of the vaccines by the end of the month. The announcement brings hope that the EU will soon be able to start vaccinating its 448 million people against a disease that has done some of its earliest and worst damage on the continent.
1st Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19: Lung damage 'identified' in study

Researchers made a mathematical model to find the daily disease growth rate European nations took 9 days to bring in lockdown from first death, on average In nine days, epidemic size grows by a factor of ten, the researchers say
1st Dec 2020 - BBC News

Britain DID lockdown too late in March: UK's coronavirus epidemic grew five times more than the European average between first the Covid death and the start of lockdown, study ...

Researchers made a mathematical model to find the daily disease growth rate European nations took 9 days to bring in lockdown from first death, on average In nine days, epidemic size grows by a factor of ten, the researchers say
1st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

UEA study shows Chinese asymptomatic Covid-19 cases were not infectious

Researchers from Norwich have found a mass screening programme of more than 10 million people in the Chinese city of Wuhan identified 300 asymptomatic Covid-19 cases - but none were infectious. But the University of East Anglia scientists stressed the findings do not show people who have coronavirus, but no symptoms, cannot pass on the virus. Mass testing took place over two weeks at the end of May – after the city’s stringent lockdown was lifted in April. The study found no ‘viable’ virus in the asymptomatic cases and their close contacts did not test positive. Prof Fujian Song, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “The virus cultures indicated no viable virus in the identified asymptomatic cases. This means that these people were not likely to infect anyone else.”
1st Dec 2020 - Eastern Daily Press

Europe’s medical agency eyes safety of two COVID-19 vaccines

The European Medicines Agency has said it would convene a meeting on December 29 to decide if there is enough data about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved. The agency also said on Tuesday it could decide as early as January 12 whether to approve an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc.
1st Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Analysis: Could COVID knock out flu in Europe this winter?

As Europeans brace for a grim winter with the threat of rising COVID-19 infections, minimal numbers of flu cases recorded so far point to a possible silver lining. Data available for Europe since the beginning of October, when flu case numbers usually start to ramp up, mirror shallow figures seen in the Southern Hemisphere earlier this year and in the United States where the flu season has also just begun. Some doctors say a combination of lockdowns, mask wearing and handwashing appear to have hampered transmission of the flu, while warning that the data should be treated with caution because the peak of the season is weeks or even months away. According to Flu News Europe, a joint monitoring platform of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization which collects samples in 54 European regions, only one person was diagnosed with flu out of 4,433 sentinel tests during Sept. 28-Nov. 22.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Novavax expects delayed U.S. COVID-19 vaccine tr