Amarelinha grabbed a comfortable win in Group 2 of the Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m) in Ellerslie yesterday. Photo / Kirstin Ledington
Young gun trainer Jamie Richards has written another page for himself in New Zealand’s racing history books and this is one that will probably never be matched.
The 30-year-old coached six winners at the giant gathering of Ellerslie Boxing Day, the first time any coach has coached six people a day on the country’s main tracks, let alone on such a big race day. And they came in consecutive races.
Other coaches have had six winning days on the smaller tracks, but never at the racing base.
One of Matamata Richards’ idols, Dave O’Sullivan, holds the previous record, which was also set on Boxing Day in 1993, when he coached five winners.
O’Sullivan’s son Lance picked up six winners that day but neither coach has a six-win pocket and Richards, coach for Te Akau, also finished second and third in the other two races.
Even for a young man who almost dominated our training rankings, this was something special of a ninth ranked coach in the world.
“These big days are special for all of us, this is why we got out of bed and worked so hard,” said Richards.
“A lot of people have helped this day happen and it’s something I will never forget.”
The six timekeeper started with the Palamos, who looked to be a ready-made favorite for the Karaka Million winning youth race while Entriviere saw open-class material push away its rivals in race four.
Vamos Bebe’s win at the listed Hallmark Stud Sprint did not come without a cloud over him as he bled immediately after the race, forcing a mandatory three month retreat from the race.
The black type acquired yesterday has added further sparkle to the value of his already enormous commercial broodmare but Richards says he may not be retired yet even if it would be a viable option.
Brando looked like a new three-year-old boy with the way he beat his rivals at the top of the Shaw Wire Ropes Uncle Remus gave Richards his fourth win and took the lead next to the Levin Classic at Trentham, where Group 1 triumph looks like his to take.
Mai Tai then stormed the house to claim the Stella Artois Final worth $ 80,000 for a 1500m intermediate horse.
But even after the five beautiful runners, Richards thinks he may have saved the best for last because Amarelinha, only at his third start, won the Group 2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic.
He raced past his little rivals on the home side and ran under Opie Bosson, who divided Richards’ six coaching winners with Danielle Johnson.
“We had a lot of talent on display today, but he’s probably the most interesting,” said Richards.
“He’s still untouched and now heading to the Karaka Classic Mile and there should be a chance.”
The six-time timekeeper led Richards to 78 victories in the national premier league, a remarkable 44 wins from second-placed Stephen Marsh who also won twice yesterday. Richards’ catch took him to 13 black-type wins for the season and on the verge of $ 2 million in stakes in New Zealand, without supplementing Probabeel’s hefty Australian earnings.
With a season in less than five months, Richards has had seven months to try and work past $ 4.48 million rivals Murray Baker and home to Andrew Forsman acquired in the 2017-18 season.
A key meeting in the chase is the night of the Karaka Million on January 23, but after yesterday nothing surprised Richards next.
BioNTech and Pfizer’s mRNA coronavirus vaccines could be launched in New Zealand early next year, subject to final testing and approval. Photo / Provided
The mRNA coronavirus vaccine, which could arrive in New Zealand as early as next year, subject to final tests and regulations, will be the latest incarnation of the immunological revolution sweeping science. Professor Graham Le Gros, the world’s leading immunologist and director of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, presented it for science reporter Jamie Morton.
First, can you explain what immunology really is?
When you experience a stimulus such as an infection, the immune system learns from it and adapts and adapts its various responses to be effective in neutralizing infectious ticks or viruses.
The most dramatic example of the immune system from the “real world” of this ability is the way it begins to make antibodies against infectious viruses that grow in our bodies.
From the start of transmission, the virus has preceded the game and the immune response has been largely ineffective.
Within a few days, however, the immune system begins to develop and increase the binding capacity of antibodies to the viral “spike protein”.
After three to five days, the deadly neutralizing antibodies are finally made by the immune cells which kill the virus.
And not only is our immune system capable of neutralizing all kinds of infectious agents, it also builds up a store of memory responses that last for most of our lives.
So, if we are ever infected with the same virus again, we don’t have to suffer the same suffering, and can fully cope with it and stay safe from further infection.
This is the basis of vaccination, where the components of the virus are created to stimulate a strong, long-lasting immune response to the virus so that you will stay safe from real infections for many years.
It’s very important to understand what this adaptive immune response is, and that’s what the immune system is designed for.
Because every pathogen or infectious agent is very different.
You have viruses, which are very small, bacteria, which are a little bit bigger, and then parasites.
If you think about what they present to the body, that is a very different challenge.
The immune system has developed very different ways of dealing with viruses, which live only within our own cells, and with bacteria, which sometimes reside outside of cells, and sometimes inside cells.
How does this new mRNA vaccine take this concept and apply it to something we can inject?
Basically, it takes components from the virus itself – It’s almost like getting one tiny piece of a viral infection.
In the case of Covid-19, it’s an RNA virus: you take a little of that RNA, you put it in, and in fact you are infected with a tiny fraction of the virus, looking as if it infected you.
But the RNA vaccine contains only the best part of the virus to neutralize the immune response against the virus.
It does not contain other parts of viral RNA that can kill our body cells, create fever, make us feel sick and allow the virus to replicate and spread to other people.
If you make your antibody’s immune response to a viral component susceptible to immune attack, then when the actual virus enters, it competes to neutralize the virus.
Why was this technology impossible 10 years ago? What has changed?
There have been some major developments.
One has come to understand how to use RNA, which is inherently chemically unstable, being naturally designed to have a very short half-life.
Learning how to further stabilize it, and how to actually protect it by wrapping it in special lipids and things like that, is a pretty big technological advance.
It helps us produce it, then store it so it can be shipped in a form that stimulates the immune system, and actually gets into cells.
Another big leap is identifying what it takes to get that RNA inside the cell, because if it’s outside, the RNA can’t actually do anything to stimulate an antibody response.
Do you see this vaccine setting the new standard? Or is there still room for our traditional types of vaccines?
First, I need to point out very strongly that we don’t yet know whether this RNA vaccine will actually stimulate long-term immunity in a person.
And there may still be room for those traditional protein-based vaccines.
Protein vaccines are easy to administer, and suitable for developing countries without health infrastructure such as refrigerators for storage. The RNA vaccine will always be problematic in terms of its stability around manufacture, storage and transportation.
If an RNA vaccine could be made to overcome these obstacles then it would be best.
That’s because no matter what pandemic happens – or whatever infectious agent comes in – they offer a very fast and effective way to quickly design and build a vaccine against something we’ve never seen before.
Additionally, they may ultimately be easier to manufacture and involve fewer additional components, or adjuvants, to enhance the immune response.
There is already some misinformation out there surrounding mRNA vaccines and genetic engineering. Why is this not the same as genetic modification?
Because vaccines do not carry out genetic modification in our body cells.
The RNA vaccine is simply a viral component that is only able to temporarily produce certain viral proteins in our cells, as viruses do, but without side effects.
RNA vaccines do not have the ability to integrate with DNA, or change the host DNA.
The RNA vaccine uses only the cellular machinery of our bodies the way the common cold virus uses in everyday infections.
What else could we possibly do to target this vaccine?
This technology was originally based on an attempt to create a cancer vaccine.
The recent developments that have been made to the RNA vaccine for Covid 19 could mean that we have now learned enough so we can get back to that big one – how to make a vaccine for all solid tumors for which there is no solution at this point.
But I think using it to treat all kinds of infectious agents is good too.
Whether it can work against parasites is unclear, but there are certainly many who suggest it will be effective against viruses.
If it passes the test, the global population will have a powerful and modern way to make a vaccine that can surpass our 30 year old technology for seasonal influenza, which remains a major global burden.
The RNA vaccine could ultimately be a great solution to some of the major global health problems we face.
The government today announced its first Covid-19 vaccine purchase agreement. What does it mean? Science reporter Jamie Morton explain.
What has been announced?
A deal that will provide New Zealand with about 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccines – or enough for 750,000 people.
But it is up to the vaccine makers – Pfizer and BioNTech – to successfully complete Phase III clinical trials, and pass regulatory approval here.
All is well, the vaccine could be shipped to New Zealand in the first quarter of next year, said Minister for Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods.
“Pfizer says they are making good progress with the development of the Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.
“Depending on clinical and regulatory success, and provided the vaccine is approved for use here in New Zealand by Medsafe, it is likely that multiple doses will be available to us in the first part of 2021.”
What is the vaccine?
Global drug giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech are behind a group of candidates – BNT162b2 – who are among the pioneers in the worldwide vaccine race.
Research so far has shown that this virus boosts antibody and T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
T-cells are white blood cells that can attack cells infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while antibodies are able to neutralize the virus so that they cannot infect cells when they are first infected.
Overall, you have a strong shield against the coronavirus.
As an RNA vaccine, this vaccine works by bringing genetic material into cells, before being encoded for specific proteins from the virus.
As of this week, the vaccine is in its third and final Phase III trial at more than 120 locations around the world, with 28,000 people having been given a second dose.
This month, the two companies launched rolling submissions to the European Medicines Agency, while Health Canada has begun a real-time review of its candidates.
Is this the only vaccine we can use?
Professor Helen Petousis-Harris, University of Auckland vaccination specialist, said today’s announcement marks the first – and not the last, purchase agreement.
“There are still others on the table too,” he said.
Australia, for example, has signed an agreement to mass-produce the University of Oxford and the AstraZeneca virus vector vaccine, ChAdOx1-S, also in Phase III trials.
It was shown to trigger a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination – and an antibody response within 28 days.
Like the influenza injections we are more used to, this is a viral vector vaccine, and uses a chunk of the pathogen to effectively stimulate an immune response against it.
Petousis-Harris said another pioneer was the LNP-encapsulated mRNA vaccine developed by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Massachusetts-based Moderna.
This month, eight groups received 17 vaccines in Phase III.
It is widely expected that the first vaccine will start rolling out at the end of the second quarter, or early third quarter, of 2021.
“So we hope it will be the middle of next year where we really start to see a vaccine available,” he said.
“But [the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate] potentially arriving a little earlier than that. “
How does this fit into New Zealand’s strategy?
The government says this complements other parts of our broader and recently launched vaccine strategy, such as the global Covax Facility which can provide for up to 50 percent of our population’s needs.
It’s allocating hundreds of millions of dollars – won’t reveal exactly how much, for commercial reasons – to take the Kiwis and our Pacific neighbors as far as possible.
“The primary objective of our portfolio approach is to ensure we have flexibility and choice when it comes to securing the right vaccine for New Zealand and our Pacific neighbors,” said Woods.
The task force executing the strategy is now negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies, with further announcements expected next month.
Woods said “good progress” was being made on the deal, and having additional deals would ensure enough vaccines were available for the entire country.
There are concerns at a high level over New Zealand’s gaining early access.
One recently released Cabinet paper since August indicated that the Government is concerned that New Zealand’s COVID-19-free status and good health could mean it would not be prioritized if global priorities and allocations were simply left to needs assessments.
It recommends that New Zealand needs to provide “significant resources early on to help secure access to vaccines”.
Having a series of advance purchase agreements means potential access to a number of vaccine candidates, but it does not guarantee access to vaccines, as “it is likely that the majority of candidates considered will not be viable”.
Such prepayments cannot be recovered once they have been paid.
Determining the cost of the upfront agreement would be difficult, money had to be allocated to get started, the document said.
It is expected that early delivery of the vaccine costs between $ 75 and $ 150 per dose when slower delivery can cost less than $ 15.
So, who might get the vaccine first?
The call has yet to be made, but the Ministry of Health is working on what the immunization program should look like.
“A number of factors will influence who will receive what vaccine and when, such as data on trials of the suitability of each vaccine for a particular age group,” said Health Minister Chris Hipkins.
“We have set aside $ 66.3 million for medical supplies and infrastructure to ensure New Zealand is ready to launch the Covid-19 Immunization Program as soon as we have a safe and effective vaccine.
“Most of this investment will finance supplies sufficient to support the countries of New Zealand and the Pacific; supplies such as PPE, syringes, syringes and swabs, and refrigerators to store vaccines.”
What about local vaccine production?
It happened too.
About $ 3 million in Government funding will go to Kiwi biotech company Biocell to upgrade its facilities so that it can launch 100 million doses.
Other Kiwi consortiums have been exploring potential candidates of their own – such as the inactivated vaccine approach led by Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu of the University of Otago, and a recombinant spike protein vaccine under development at the University of Victoria’s Dr Davide Comoletti laboratory – over the past few years. month.
And a local company has secured $ 3.3 million in private funding to go ahead with a Covid-19 vaccine made with Kiwi technology.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation (CVC), which was founded in May, has collaborated with the University of Auckland, Callaghan Innovation, and the research institute Scion, in an effort to independently develop a local coronavirus agent.
The company aims to complete its first human trials of the new vaccine by the end of next year, at a cost of about $ 8 million.