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COVID-19 UPDATE / Immunity and Vaccine Development

Dr Doug Quarry from International SOS shares the very latest insights on the development of COVID immunity and vaccine development
dr doug covid

DR DOUG QUARRY


In this edition:

1.     Mike Osterholm predicts that B.1.1.7 will be like a hurricane for the US

2.     Portugal severely affected by B.1.1.7

3.     UK detects South African coronavirus variant in people with no travel links

4.     “Dodged a bullet”: Melbourne lockdown may have prevented more deadly variant

5.     Korea approves AstraZeneca vaccine for all ages

6.     Deaths after Pfizer COVID vaccines not linked to shots

7.     Why you can still test positive for coronavirus after COVID-19 vaccination

8.     US signs multi-million deal to produce Australian COVID-19 home test kits

9.     WHO urges Britain to pause COVID vaccination after treating the vulnerable

10.  US COVID-19 cases caused by variants

11.  Comparing vaccines


1.     Mike Osterholm predicts that B.1.1.7 will be like a hurricane for the US

Dr Mike Osterholm** has predicted that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 will become the dominant strain of the virus in the US and could hit like a “Category 5 hurricane”.

“The surge that is likely….to happen in the next six to 14 weeks”, Osterholm told NBC’s Meet the Press on 31 January (recommended viewing).

Meet the Press displayed the efficacy of three vaccines after one dose……

….after which Dr. Osterholm called on the US Government to “get as many first shots in arms – especially of people over 65 years of age –  as soon as possible” even if that means delaying second doses.  He said that by doing this the US can prevent many serious illnesses and deaths.

Dr. Osterholm also gave his opinion that the variant that he is most worried about is the B.1.1.7 as he sees this becoming the dominant strain and was pleased that this strain had not shown the ability to evade vaccine immunity.

**Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm is Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota (CIDRAP).  He was a member of the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 transition team.


2.     Portugal severely affected by B.1.1.7

Eric Topol*** has tweeted:

“Three countries are achieving containment:

·       Ireland

·       UK

·       Israel

Deep concerns re: Portugal, with > 20% B.1.1.7, is currently the outlier globally, the only country >100/100K new confirmed cases. Fatality trajectory is near vertical”

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*** Eric Topol is a Professor of Molecular Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute, and a senior consultant at the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. He is Editor-in-Chief of Medscape and theheart.org.


3.     UK detects South African coronavirus variant in people with no travel links

“Eleven people in different regions of England have tested positive for the South African coronavirus variant without having any links to people who have travelled, prompting mass testing in the areas to contain the outbreak.” Reuters reports.

“To contain the new outbreaks, residents in eight areas of the country will now be tested whether or not they are showing symptoms, a process known as ‘surge testing’.

“There are about 10,000 people in each area. Three are in London, two in the southeast, one in central England, one in the east and another in the northwest.”


4.     “Dodged a bullet”: Melbourne lockdown may have prevented more deadly variants

The Guardian reports that: “A variant of COVID-19 similar to the one that is spreading rampantly in the UK would likely have developed in Victoria during last year’s second wave had Melbourne not gone into an extended lockdown, a leading virologist says.

“Associate Prof Stuart Turville from the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales said when his laboratory examined samples from patients as part of a study called “ADAPT” in Sydney, they started to see key differences in those infected with the virus during the second wave.

“Turville’s team and their collaborators at Westmead Hospital began matching viral flavours that were sequenced to the patients in the ADAPT study and realised that many had the RBD mutant mentioned by their Melbourne colleagues, now known as the s477n mutation.

“’My opinion is that we might have something different now if we hadn’t literally wiped that virus, which seeded initially out of Melbourne quarantine, off of the Australian landscape’, Turville said.”


5.     Korea approves AstraZeneca vaccine for all ages

BBC’s Seoul correspondent, Laura Bicker, tweeted this morning that South Korea’s expert review board has recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine is offered to all but pregnant women. They confirm it is 62% effective and they say there is no abnormal response in over 65’s. Doses of the vaccine are expected to be distributed later this month.


6.     Deaths after Pfizer COVID vaccines not linked to shots

Newsweek reports that: “No link has been found between the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and several fatalities in Europe involving people who died after receiving a COVID-19 shot, regulators said Friday.

“The finding was reported in the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) first safety update on the vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use in the European Union in December.

“In the update, the EMA said its safety committee had assessed deaths reported after vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, including those in frail and elderly people.”

7.     Why you can still test positive for coronavirus after COVID-19 vaccination

Forbes has summarised the possibilities:

1.     COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness is not 100%

2.     Getting one dose of the two-dose regimen gives you even less protection

3.     The vaccine takes time to take effect

4.     You can become infected before getting vaccinated and protected

5.     It’s not clear yet whether the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines will prevent you from getting infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus

Read more here


8.     US signs multi-million deal to produce Australian COVID-19 home test kits

Seven.com.au news reports that the Biden Administration has signed a $302 million contract with Australian pharmaceutical company Ellume to produce millions of their at-home rapid tests for COVID-19.

“The rapid test, which requires only a swab of the nasal cavity, can be used by anyone at home and detects coronavirus from people with or without symptoms with 90% accuracy.

“The sample is then put into a digital analyser linked to an app and results are sent to users’ smartphones within 15 minutes.”


9.     WHO urges Britain to pause COVID vaccination after treating the vulnerable

“The World Health Organization has urged the UK to pause its vaccination programme after vulnerable groups have received their shots to help ensure the global rollout of doses is fair,” reports the Guardian.

“Boris Johnson has said he aims to offer all adults in the UK a first dose by autumn. However, the WHO said countries should be aiming for 2 billion doses to be “fairly distributed” around the world by the end of 2021.

“A WHO spokeswoman, Margaret Harris, said she wanted to appeal to people in the UK, telling them: ‘You can wait’ because ensuring equitable global distribution is ‘clearly morally the right thing to do’.

“The UK has one of the highest levels of vaccine coverage, along with Israel and the UAE, but many poorer countries are yet to start any immunisations.”


10.  US COVID-19 cases caused by variants

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have launched a page tracking the confirmation of coronavirus variants in the US.


11.  Comparing vaccines

Source: BBC

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