Tag Archives: virology

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine performs well in large ‘real world’ trials | Instant News

Pfizer’s large real-world test of the COVID-19 vaccine confirms that it is highly effective in preventing serious illness or death, even after a single dose.

Real-world tests of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on more than half a million people confirm that it is highly effective in preventing serious illness or death, even after a single dose.

The vaccine was 92% effective in preventing serious illness after two injections and 62% after one injection. The estimated effectiveness for preventing death is 72% two to three weeks after the first injection, a level that can increase as immunity increases over time.

It appears to be as effective in people over 70 as it is in younger people.

“This is very convincing … better than I thought,” said Dr. Gregory Poland from the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Buddy Creech of Vanderbilt University agrees: “Even after one dose we can see very high effectiveness in death prevention,” he said.

Neither doctor was involved in the Israeli research but both are involved in other coronavirus vaccine work.

“I’d rather see 100 million people have one dose than to see 50 million people have two doses,” Creech said. “I see a lot of encouragement for a single dose” in the results from Israel, published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is given in two injections, three weeks apart, in most countries.

The study was led by researchers from the Clalit Research Institute and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, with Harvard University in the US. The study did not report on vaccine safety, only effectiveness, but no unexpected problems emerged in previous testing.

The vaccine is estimated to be 57% effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms two to three weeks after the first dose, and 94% a week or more after the second dose.

It was 74% effective after one injection and 87% after two for preventing hospitalization, and 46% and 92% for preventing confirmed infections. Reducing infections gives hope that a vaccine can curb the spread of the virus, but this type of research can’t determine if that’s the case.

There have been 41 deaths related to COVID-19, 32 of them in people who did not get the vaccine.

Overall, the figures are comparable to the 95% effectiveness after the two doses seen in the limited testing that led US regulators to authorize the emergency use of the vaccine, Poland said. How much benefit one dose will bring has been a big question, “and there is now some data” to help inform the debate, he added.

“Perhaps the right thing to do here to protect the majority of people… is to give everyone a dose as quickly as possible. I think it’s an acceptable strategy to consider, “said Poland.

Israel has now vaccinated nearly half of its population. The newer virus variant that was first identified in the UK became the dominant strain in Israel during the study, so the results also provide some insight into how well the vaccine performs against it.

Earlier this week, two UK studies suggested a benefit even after one dose of Pfizer vaccine or a different one from AstraZeneca. Britain delayed the second shot until 12 weeks after the first shot to try to give the more people some level of protection.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is fully responsible for all content.


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Brazil Must Now Compete With Two Variants of SARS-CoV-2 | Instant News

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guides on Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

More than 20 days after the Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced the detection of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant – isolated from samples from four travelers from Amazonas, Brazil – variant P.1 has been detected in several countries other than Brazil and Japan, from the United States to Germany to the Faroe Islands, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.

“Now we can say that P.1 isn’t just in Manaus,” Felipe Naveca, PhD, deputy director of research at Fiocruz Amazônia, said. Medscape Medical News.

“We sorted about 100 samples in 13 cities in the state of Amazonas and in 11 of them we found P.1 circulating,” he said. He added that in December, the prevalence was 51%, and as of January 13, it has increased to 91%.

“We will increase the number of municipalities even more and sort the samples from Rondônia,” added Naveca.

The first case of infection by P.1 has occurred documented in the United States – among Minnesota residents with a history of travel to Brazil – and three cases in São Paulo were announced on January 26 by the São Paulo State Department of Health.

“As expected,” said Naveca. “When detected, the virus has been circulating for some time.”

The emergence of P.1 probably occurred between November and December 2020, and the spread of new strains appears to be fast. There’s still no data yet, but the Fiocruz Network is studying random samples from different times across the country.

Additionally, the researchers monitored the appearance of a second variant, called P.2, identified in Rio de Janeiro.

In the case of Manaus, researchers led by Naveca confirmed a trend recently announced by the Brazilian-British Center for Discovery, Diagnosis, Genomics and Epidemiology (CADDE), which includes researchers from the University of São Paulo.

Ester Sabino, MD, PhD, and her team released Preliminary results of a sample analysis of 48 tests in Manaus between 1 and 9 January. Of the 48 samples, most (85.4%) were variant P.1. The authors highlight that, despite the preliminaries, this figure is already significantly higher than the 52% of samples with variant P.1 (of 67 patients in Manaus) detected in the last 2 weeks of 2020.

Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 are changing. Of the hundreds of variants that have been detected in the first year of the pandemic, what worries scientists the most – the so-called variant of concern (VOC) – are the variants that originated in Britain, South Africa and P.1 in Brazil. .

Small differences in the viral genetic material can offer advantages, such as more infectiousness or avoidance of antibodies (either produced by previous infection or stimulated by vaccinations). In the case of the Amazonian P.1 variant, the molecular structure of the microorganism shows that it has both these advantages. Was P.1 then the cause of the chaos in the northern part of the country in Manaus?

“We don’t know whether the complicated epidemiological situation in Manaus is the cause of the P.1 line, or if the P.1 line is causing this health disorder. But if it starts to be found elsewhere and has the same effect that was observed in Manaus, overlapping with other strains, it is already a strong indicator that it is more transmissible, “Tiago Gräf, PhD, said Medscape Medical News. Gräf is a biomedical researcher at the Instituto Gonçalo Moniz, from Fiocruz, who focuses on the evolution and molecular epidemiology of viruses.

Gräf gave an example, the number of COVID-19 cases has also increased in Rio de Janeiro where, until now, the P.1 line has not been detected.

“It could be an increase in cases due to year-end parties, beaches, holidays, crowds, fatigue, euphoria with vaccines, which makes bloodlines more frequent,” he said. “We need to monitor.”

“We are trying to figure out the path the virus is taking in the state of Amazonas, but it is not yet possible,” said Naveca. He added that the pace of work of scientists in recent days has been a frenzy: “The results of the tests conducted on Sunday (January 24), we analyzed everything between [the days right after], I share with colleagues who help me with phylogenetic analysis. We’ll try to understand it better, but we still don’t have that answer. “

Focus on mutations

Presence N501Y it is this mutation that triggers fears of greater transmissibility. There is no shortcut to ascertaining whether or not a mutated strain can be transmitted. This is based on indirect evidence obtained through genomic surveillance, which identifies whether new strains are replacing old ones over time – which seems to be the case. The researchers also tried to interpret the effects of mutations cataloged by surveillance of the viral genome using computer modeling to assess whether the mutations increased the virus’ ability to interact with cells. But that wasn’t enough either.

“Soon, animal studies will begin to emerge,” explains Gräf. “After infecting mice, it needs to be seen if they produce more virus in the airways or if there are more infections in the lungs.”

P.1 is also of concern because it carries other mutations, in particular E484K, associated with reduced effects of neutralizing antibodies – which in turn can result in re-infection and a low immune response to the vaccine.

“We’ve confirmed [a P.1 reinfection]. In fact, it is one of the first samples we sequenced, “says Naveca.

In vitro studies of whether a strain can evade the immune system are relatively simple. The strains are cultured using serum from patients who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and, therefore, have antibodies to fight the virus. Researchers measured how many cells the new strain could infect. If it can’t infect anything, it means the patient’s antibodies are working to neutralize it. However, there are other questions that have not been answered.

Scientists still don’t know the severity of the disease caused by variant P.1, says Naveca. They also don’t know which age group is most affected. She says Medscape Medical News that he spoke with many medical colleagues, and “some report that they see younger people, others think there is no big difference between age groups. We need to increase the number of analyzes to apply statistical tests, because we have conflicting opinions, and we must be sure. “

There is also no certainty about whether this new strain will change the effectiveness of the vaccine. The WHO results on January 12 suggested the vaccine protects against the British and South African variants, but P.1 has not been studied. Samples of the new strains have been sent to Fiocruz in Rio de Janeiro to carry out a study on neutralization. According to Naveca, teams there are working in real-time in partnership with vaccine manufacturers to get results as quickly as possible.

Moderna and Pfizer have presented results showing that their vaccine protects against the British and South African variants. However, in vitro tests to measure antibody response are inconclusive.

“This in vitro testing work should be done by everyone, manufacturers and researchers,” said Sabino Medscape Medical News. “Science needs a lot of groups working to answer this question.”

“But it is logical that in vitro studies do not answer all of them. In practice, it is necessary to carry out clinical trials, following vaccinated patients, to verify that P.1 rates and transmission are the same in those who have not been vaccinated. , and monitor what happens in that region, “he said.” You may need to run tests with different vaccines to see which one responds best to this variant. “

Pharmaceutical companies are already considering possible booster doses or making adaptations to formulations. Even with the prospect of reinfection and vaccines that may not protect against some strains, there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

“Infection or a second infection in the vaccinated person is not expected to develop into severe COVID-19,” said Gräf. “Antibody immunity, even if reduced, and cellular immunity can still help, perhaps not preventing the person from becoming infected, but by reducing symptoms and the amount of virus in circulation, preventing the person from developing serious illness.”

P.2 and Other Variants

That E484K the mutation is also present in another variant from Brazil that has appeared in several states. This variant, informally called the “Rio de Janeiro” line, also has a new name: P.2.

The P.2 variant was announced in December, after being identified in Rio de Janeiro, Cabo Frio, Niterói, and Duque de Caxias, in Baixada Fluminense. It has also been identified in various states in the northern part of the country and more recently in Rio Grande do Sul. At Amazonas, the P.1 variant still dominates P.2.

“From November until now only one sample has P.2, compared to 60 from P.1,” said Naveca. However, P.2 is still a concern because of its wide geographic distribution and because it carries E484K mutations, which raise concerns about reinfection and, possibly, reducing the vaccine’s efficacy.

“P.2 has mutations that decrease the response to neutralizing antibodies, but the number of mutations is smaller and doesn’t appear to be taking the evolutionary leap that P.1 did,” Sabino said. “P.2 is not yet on the VOC list, but it turns out to have different characteristics from the others, maybe it will be on the list.”

“For now, it is still considered a strain that needs to be studied better,” he added.

That same week, two new strains of SARS-CoV-2 in southern Brazil emerged described and disclosed in two separate preprints. The new variant is not classified as a VOC, “but we need to understand it better because new variants will appear all the time,” said Naveca.

Restriction Measures

The VOC has revived the debate at the start of the pandemic about closing borders – at the national, state or city level. France is moving toward imposing restrictions, Britain is considering mandatory quarantines, Germany is studying flight cancellations, and Australia has even suspended air bubbles it has with New Zealand. Since January 26, the United States has restricted entry of non-US nationals from Brazil.

Experts still debate strategy. Some see closure as necessary. Others believe it is more important to have a good virus sequencing program to detect agile variants, as well as a strong screening program.

“I am concerned about discussing the control measures in Manaus with the situation we are in. There are patients who, if not transferred, could die. The only chance for some people is to be transferred to another location, and there is also a risk with an asymptomatic person,” he said. Naveca.

“It is best to improve genomic surveillance and tracing, limit unnecessary visits and trips, and unnecessary in person encounters,” added Gräf. “The government has to guide this.”

This article was translated and adapted from Medscape Portuguese edition.

Sabino, Naveca and Gräf have reported no relevant financial relationships.

Follow @bayu_joo in twitter. Follow Medscape in Portuguese at Facebook, Indonesia, and Youtube. Follow Medscape on Facebook, Indonesia, Instagram, and Youtube.


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The WHO team visited a Wuhan food market looking for clues to the virus | Instant News

A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic visited a market known as a food distribution hub for the Chinese city of Wuhan during last year’s 76 days of lockdown.

Team members were seen walking through a section of Baishazhou market – one of the largest wet markets in Wuhan – surrounded by a large entourage of Chinese officials and representatives.

On Saturday, they also visited a museum exhibition dedicated to the early history of COVID-19.

The Geneva-based WHO said on Twitter last Thursday that the team plans to visit hospitals and markets such as the Huanan Seafood Market, which is linked to many of the first cases. They also listed the Wuhan Virology Institute and laboratories at facilities including the Wuhan Center for Disease Control.

The mission has become a political payload, as China tries to avoid being blamed for alleged missteps in its initial response to the outbreak.

One visit by scientists is unlikely to confirm the origin of the virus. Determining the reservoir for plague animals is usually a grueling endeavor that requires years of research including animal sampling, genetic analysis, and epidemiological studies.

One possibility is that wildlife hunters might pass the virus on to the traffickers who brought it to Wuhan. The Chinese government has promoted a theory, with scant evidence, that the outbreak might have started with the import of frozen seafood tainted with the virus, an idea that scientists and international agencies have flatly rejected.


Soo reported from Hong Kong.


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Latest: UK is expanding vaccinations; 6 million shots given. | National | Instant News

LONDON – Britain is expanding its coronavirus vaccination program that has seen nearly 6 million people get the first of two doses – even as the country’s death toll in the pandemic approaches 100,000.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that three-quarters of Britain’s population over 80 had received a shot of the vaccine. She said three-quarters of the nursing home residents also had their first injection. Nearly 5.9 million doses of the vaccine had been given as of Saturday.

Health officials aim to vaccinate 15 million people, including all people over 70, by February 15.

The UK vaccination campaign is a rare success in the country with the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe. The UK recorded 97,329 deaths among people who tested positive.

Another 1,348 deaths were reported Saturday, and the UK is set within days to become the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.


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Follow all AP pandemic coverage on https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus case outside a quarantine facility in more than two months, although there is no direct evidence that the virus is spreading in the community.

Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield said the case was a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe. Like other returning travelers, he spent 14 days in quarantine and tested negative twice before returning home on January 13. He later developed symptoms and tested positive.

He said health officials would carry out genome testing but worked on the assumption that the case was a more contagious variant of the virus. He said they were investigating to see if it was possible that he contracted the disease from other travelers who had returned to live in the same quarantine facility.

New Zealand has been eradicating community transmission of the virus, at least for now. Bloomfield said officials are stepping up contact tracing and testing efforts and hope to have more information on the case in the coming days.

BEIJING – A Chinese city has completed 2,600 temporary treatment rooms as the northern state battles a new coronavirus outbreak.

The single-occupancy rooms in Nangong city in Hebei province outside Beijing are each equipped with their own heating, toilet, shower and other facilities, reports the official Xinhua News Agency.

Particular attention has been paid to Hebei as its proximity to the capital and the province has locked up large areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The provincial capital of Shijiazhung and the city of Xingtai, which includes Nangong, have been largely closed. Community isolation and large-scale testing have also been introduced.

The National Health Commission on Sunday reported 19 additional cases in Hebei. Northeastern Heilongjiang province reported another 29 cases, some of which were linked to an outbreak at a meat processing plant. Beijing, where about 2 million residents have been ordered to undergo new tests, reported two new confirmed cases.

China currently has 1,800 people being treated for COVID-19.

SEATTLE – Washington and Oregon now confirm additional cases of the more contagious variant of COVID-19 in the Pacific Northwest.

The Washington Department of Health announced Saturday that variant B.1.1.7, which first appeared in Britain last September, had been confirmed by DNA sequencing in two cases in Snohomish County. It is the first confirmed case in Washington.

The Oregon Health Authority confirmed a second case, in a person from Yamhill County, a week after the first case was detected in Multnomah County.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no conclusive evidence that it is more severe than other strains of the virus.

NEW YORK – New York will send more vaccination preparation kits to elderly housing complexes and churches in a bid to ensure fairness in vaccine distribution, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

These include syringes, vials, room dividers, privacy curtains, cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, and other items. They also include instructions on how to set up a vaccination site.

New York deployed the first equipment last week to five New York City Housing Authority senior citizen compounds and eight churches and cultural centers where nearly 4,200 people eligible to receive the vaccine have been vaccinated, Cuomo said.

The kits are now being shipped to four additional senior complexes in New York City and eight other churches across the state, with plans to administer the vaccine to a further 3,000 people at those locations by Tuesday. Locations in Brooklyn, Bronx, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Buffalo will receive the kit.

The kits are part of efforts to ensure vaccination in Black, Latino and other communities where COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact, the governor said.

Also on Saturday, the governor’s office reported another 144 deaths across the state from the coronavirus. More than 8,800 people were hospitalized, down 44 compared to Friday’s data.

SAN FRANCISCO – The federal appeals court rejected a request by the Southern California church to overturn state coronavirus restrictions that prohibit indoor worship services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sacramento Bee said Friday’s decision by the Court of Appeals of the 9th US Circuit left the door open to discussing Governor Gavin Newsom’s administrative limits on church attendance if the California region was under less stringent COVID-19 levels.

A three-judge panel ruled the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista on a public health order restricting religious services held inside while virus case rates and hospitalizations remain high.

Currently in California, indoor worship is banned in all purple-storied countries – which are considered to be at wide risk of transmission of the coronavirus. This level covers most of the states.

SANTA FE, NM – New Mexico on Saturday reported an additional 859 cases of COVID-19 and another 38 deaths.

That raises the state’s total pandemic to 168,579 cases and 3,115 deaths.

Bernalillo County has the most additional cases with 184, followed by 83 in San Juan County, 74 in Dona Ana County and 53 in McKinley County.

Most of the additional deaths involved older New Mexicans, but they also included some in their 20s and 30s. The number of infections is thought to be much higher than reported because many people have not been tested

RIO DE JANEIRO – The governor of the Brazilian state of Amazonas has announced tough new lockdown measures to combat the surge in COVID-19 cases that have flooded local hospitals.

Governor Wilson Lima said Saturday that as of Monday, the state’s 4 million people could only go out for essential activities such as buying food or seeking medical care.

Hospitals in the state capital Manaus have been tense amid reports that the new variant of the novel coronavirus is more contagious, and the state has experienced a shortage of oxygen. The state health secretary said 584 people were on a waiting list for hospital beds, 101 of whom needed intensive therapy.

“People need to understand that we have to take tough action to save as many lives as possible,” Lima said in an announcement posted on social media.

HELSINKI – Norway says its capital, Oslo, and nine municipalities have been placed under strict restrictions to contain the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in Britain.

The Norwegian government said shopping malls and other non-essential shops in the region were closed at midday on Saturday, and would remain closed at least until January 31.

In addition, organized sporting activities were halted, schools were ordered to increasingly rely on distance teaching and households were asked not to invite visitors back to the area.

Norwegian health officials say the Scandinavian country of 5.4 million has so far identified 55 cases of the virus variant that has spread widely in Britain.

Neighboring Sweden, where the coronavirus outbreak is far worse than in Norway, said late Saturday it plans to roll out a temporary entry ban from Norway because of the new variant.

LAS VEGAS – Federal prosecutors have charged a Nevada man with fraudulently obtaining an estimated $ 2 million in federal coronavirus relief intended for small businesses to purchase luxury vehicles and condos in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the US attorney’s office in Nevada accused Jorge Abramovs of bank fraud after he allegedly submitted funding requests to at least seven banks between April and June 2020.

The complaint said financial analysis determined that Abramovs spent the money on personal luxury items, including a 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible worth over $ 260,000 and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 for around $ 55,000.

Abramovs was ordered to be detained on Friday during a detention hearing. A defense attorney assigned to represent Abramovs did not immediately respond to an email request from The Associated Press for comment.

CHICAGO – Certain restaurants and bars across Chicago and the suburbs of Cook County have opened their doors to customers for the first time since late October following Saturday’s approval from Illinois health officials.

With cities and counties moving up to Tier I of the state’s coronavirus mitigation plans, food-serving restaurants and bars can put customers indoors at 25% capacity or 25 people per room, whichever is smaller.

Tables will be limited to no more than four people indoors or six people outdoors, and tables must be 6 feet apart. Indoor service will be limited to a maximum of two hours and bars and restaurants must close at 11pm

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden promised in his inaugural address to equalize the American people, and the message from his first three days in office is nothing if not gloomy and gloomy.

He has painted a grim picture of the future of a country dealing with the coronavirus soon, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to change the orientation of the country facing the convergence of a historic crisis.

Terrible language is meant to be a call to action, but it’s also a deliberate attempt to stifle expectations. The US is trying to launch a vaccination program, with slow production and distribution problems.

The US leads the world with 24.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 415,000 deaths.


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Brazil has detected its first case of reinfection with the South African variant of Covid | Instant News

A Brazilian woman has become the first person in the world to be reinfected with a variant of the novel known as E484K, the state-owned news agency Agencia Brasil reported on Friday.

The case, discovered by researchers from the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in northeastern Bahia, involved a 45-year-old woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in May and tested positive again in October with the mutation. In either case, the patient did not show any serious symptoms.

Initially identified in South Africa, the E484K mutation has previously been detected in Brazil, but this is the first case of reinfection.

To confirm reinfection, it is necessary to analyze the genomes of the two viruses and compare the sequences of RNA, the “main” DNA molecule, to see if they are actually two different strains.

Researchers at the D’Or Institute expressed concern over the findings, because mutations may require changes that could prevent the action of antibodies in treating patients.

“This discovery serves as a warning and reinforces the need to maintain pandemic control measures through social distancing, and the need to speed up the vaccination process,” said institute researcher Bruno Solano.

In Brazil, at least five variants of COVID-19 have been found.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standards staff; other content was generated automatically from syndicated feeds.)

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