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COVID-19 / New Strains, Indonesian Instagram Influencers, And Will The Virus Stay Forever?

We journey around the world for Dr Doug's latest updates on Covid immunity and vaccine development.

DR DOUG QUARRY

In Today’s Edition:

1.     Pfizer vaccine reduces coronavirus infection among entire Israeli population

2.     J&J COVID-19 SINGLE DOSE vaccine could be available in Europe in April and US in March

3.     The virus will be around “forever” – but eventually no worse than the common cold

4.     Instagram influencers are a vaccine priority in Indonesia

5.     Past COVID-19 infection protective for at least five months

6.     Sinovac releases vaccine Brazil study results

7.     Epidemiologists investigating UK variant cluster in Australian quarantine hotel

8.     Ohio researchers identify new variant strain of COVID-19

9.     Justin Trudeau rules out vaccine passports for Canada

10.  Israel Expects to Start Vaccinating Children by March

11.  Moderna vaccine immunity to last at least a year

12.  An mRNA vaccine for multiple sclerosis is now possible/probable


1.     Pfizer vaccine reduces coronavirus infection among entire Israeli population

“Israeli research shows that the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer not only protects those vaccinated from contracting COVID-19, it also helps to prevent immune people from spreading the disease to others,” YnetNews reports.

” Research by Clalit Health Fund shows that among 200,000 people aged 60 and over, both inoculated and not, there was a 33% reduction in the spread of the virus 14 days after the first of the two required doses was administered.”

Further information

“The question of whether the vaccine would help prevent those who had received it from still being carriers was a key issue as the inoculations were rolled out across the world.   

 “Clinical research conducted by Israel’s largest health fund Clalit showed a significant drop in infections among 200,000 people aged 60 and over two weeks after the first vaccinations were given. Not all of the 200,000 people involved in the research had received the vaccination. 

“Prof. Ran Balicer, Head of Innovation at Clalit, says that there is no visible effect on general infection rates for days 5 to 12 after the first dose of the two-stage vaccination is administered.

“According to the data, there was a slight fall in morbidity on day 13, but by day 14 there was a 33% drop in the spread of the disease between those who were vaccinated and those who were not.”

International SOS Comment:  This is the first information suggesting that vaccination also reduces SARS-CoV-2 transmission.


2.     J&J COVID-19 SINGLE DOSE vaccine available in Europe in April & US in March

“Johnson & Johnson (J&J) could deliver the first doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Europe in April…after a top lawmaker said the [the company] was likely to seek EU regulatory approval in February,” reports Reuters. “J&J Chief Scientific Officer Dr Paul Stoffels told Reuters that J&J …was on track for a US rollout in March.”

The J&J vaccine stores spike protein DNA in Adenovirus 26. DNA is not as fragile as RNA and the adenovirus’s tough protein coat helps protect the genetic material inside. As a result, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be refrigerated for up to three months at 2–8°C, says the New York Times.

Dr Stoffels said in an interview on 12 January that J&J expects to meet its stated target of delivering one billion doses by the end of this year….


3.     The virus will be around “forever” – but eventually no worse than the common cold

CNBC reports that during a panel discussion at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, the CEO of Moderna, and other public health and infectious disease experts, said that there is a high likelihood that COVID-19 will become an endemic disease. This means that COVID-19 will become present in communities at all times, though likely at lower levels than it is now.

Following the same logic, the abstract of a recent paper in Science states that: “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.”


4.     Instagram influencers are a vaccine priority in Indonesia

“Indonesia has rolled out a mass free COVID-19 vaccination programme in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus and get its economy going again,” the BBC reports.

“But the country is taking a markedly different approach to others. Instead of vaccinating elderly people in the first phase, after frontline workers, it will target younger working people aged 18 to 59.”

“Among the first in the queue for coronavirus vaccines in Indonesia has been one conspicuous group – social media influencers,” reports Reuters. “Indonesians are among the top global users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“Senior Health ministry official, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said the decision to include influencers alongside almost 1.5 million healthcare workers in the first round of inoculations was a deliberate government communications strategy.

“Raffi Ahmad boasts almost 50 million followers on Instagram. ‘Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God] a vaccine … Don’t be afraid of vaccines,’ the 33-year-old celebrity wrote under a video of him receiving the shot, next to a heart emoji and another of Indonesia’s red and white flag.”

Photo: Reuters


5.     Past COVID-19 infection protective for at least five months

A Public Health England (PHE) study of more than 20,000 healthcare workers found that a previous COVID-19 infection provides 94% protection against symptomatic reinfection, and 75% protection against asymptomatic reinfection, for at least 20 weeks, research reported by the Guardian suggests.


6.     Sinovac releases vaccine Brazil study results

GlobalTimes reports: “Sinovac’s ‘CoronaVac’ COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in preventing severe and moderate infections, 77.96% effective in preventing mild cases, and has an overall efficacy of 50.4% in Brazil’s final-stage trials.

“Experts say the result is good enough considering almost all participants in Brazil are high-risk medical workers, and the 77.96% efficacy for mild-case protection means the vaccine can reduce 78% of people from needing hospitalization.”

Detailed study data was not provided.


7.     Epidemiologists investigating UK variant cluster in Australian quarantine hotel

Six cases of the UK B.1.1.7 variant have been linked back to one or two index case/s at the Grand Chancellor Hotel, in Brisbane, used for SARS-CoV-2 quarantine. The infections included a UK traveller and his partner, a hotel cleaner and her partner and a man and his daughter from Lebanon.

Background

Australia has a very low level of COVID-19 community transmission. All inbound international travellers must spend two weeks in self-paid, government-monitored, hotel-based quarantine. Many SARS-CoV-2 infections have been identified, some with the more transmissible UK strain. The Grand Chancellor Hotel in Brisbane has been used as a quarantine hotel.

More detail

Epidemiologists are studying the Grand Chancellor Hotel cluster to see how the infection spread to people quarantined in separate hotel rooms; all were on the seventh floor. Among other routes of transmission, the air-conditioning and possible spread through the toilet system are being examined. The hotel has been closed; all staff and previous “guests” are being tested and/or quarantined.

SARS and Amoy Gardens

SARS spread though sanitary systems in the Amoy Gardens housing complex during the first phase of SARS in Hong Kong. Because most households were in the habit of cleaning the bathroom floor by mopping rather than flushing with water, the U-traps connected to most floor drains were probably dry and not functioning properly. Read more.


8.     Ohio researchers identify new variant strain of COVID-19

Researchers from The Ohio State University have identified a new variant which is probably causing the rapid spread of the virus in Columbus. Their findings have not been published, but said the strain first appeared in late December.

Like the UK B.1.1.7. variant, the Ohio strain seems to spread more easily than the original virus, SARS-CoV-2, but vaccines should still be able to offer protection.


9.     Justin Trudeau rules out vaccine passports for Canada

Reuters reports that Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is opposed to a vaccine passport for people who had received vaccinations, saying it was fraught with challenges. The concept is already being developed by Denmark.

“I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to be vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” Mr Trudeau said.


10.  Israel Expects to Start Vaccinating Children by March

“Israel may include children over the age of 12 in groups receiving COVID-19 vaccines within the next two months if research shows this is safe, a top health official said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports.

“Vaccinating at a world-record pace, Israel says it aims to have administered one or both shots to 5 million of its 9 million citizens, and reopen the economy, by mid-March.

“Elderly Israelis and adults with medical conditions or jobs in critical high-risk sectors have been given priority. But with Israeli officials anticipating more regular vaccine shipments, the eligibility categories have been expanded.”


11.  Moderna vaccine immunity to last at least a year

Reuters reports that: “Immunity from Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company said on 11 January at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference.

“The drug-maker 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.”

Moderna said in December it would run tests to confirm the vaccine’s activity against any strain.


12.  An mRNA vaccine for multiple sclerosis is now possible/probable

Animal studies (mice) of an mRNA vaccine produced by BioNTech, maker of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, shows great promise for improving symptoms & stopping multiple sclerosis (MS) progression.

Read more in: Science

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