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Active COVID-19 infections in B.C. fall to nine-week low – The Tri-City News

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B.C. continues to face sufficient serious COVID-19 infections to worry health officials, but new data shows some good news: the number of known active infections in the province has fallen to a near-10-week low.

There are 4,888 people known to be infected with COVID-19 in B.C., with the vast majority being told to self-isolate at home. The last time there were fewer known active cases was on August 13, when 4,277 people were known to be infected, and the fourth wave of the pandemic was surging. 

Of those fighting infections, 370 are in hospitals, with 139 in intensive care units (ICUs).

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said yesterday that there are around 200 people in hospitals who are not included in that count, but are dealing with lingering health problems as a result of COVID-19.  

The province’s general rule for counting COVID-19 hospital patients is to limit the official number to those who are infectious, with that meaning those who have not yet gone 10 days after first feeling symptoms. Henry said this is not a hard and fast rule, and that some people could be included in that count up to 30 days after first feeling symptoms depending on the severity of their illness. 

Another six people died from COVID-19 overnight, raising the province’s death toll from the disease to 2,092, and underscoring the seriousness of getting infected. 

Health officials detected another 696 infections overnight, raising the number of those in B.C. known to have contracted the disease to 199,534.

Of those, more than 96.3%, or 192,189 people, are deemed by the province to have recovered because they have gone more than 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and are therefore considered to be not infectious. 

Vaccinations in the general population have slowed as the vast majority of people are already vaccinated.

Health officials administered initial vaccine doses to 2,787 people in the past day, as well as second doses of vaccine to 5,870 people. 

Across B.C., 89.3% of eligible adults older than 12 have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 83.6% of eligible people having had two doses, according to the B.C. government.

Of the 4,138,787 B.C. residents who have received one dose of vaccine since mid-December, 2020, 93.6%, or 3,876,579, are fully vaccinated, with two doses. Health Minister Adrian Dix said October 19 that about 60,000 residents, who are either immunocompromised or who live in seniors’ living facilities, have received three doses of vaccine.

The B.C. government estimated in July that the province’s total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media’s calculation is that 80.4% of B.C.’s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 75.3% of the province’s total population has had two doses.

“We do track vaccine effectiveness, [and] hospitalization, as a measure of severe illness by what combination of vaccines people received,” Henry said October 19.

“What it does show us across the board, is that every combination is very effective at preventing severe illness. The AstraZeneca-AstraZeneca [combination] is slightly less than every other combination in terms of preventing infection, but if you go to AstraZeneca, and then in an mRNA vaccine, that protection goes back up again.” 

The small slice of the population that is not vaccinated is responsible for the lion’s share of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Only 20 of the 139 people in ICUs are fully vaccinated, according to Dix.

When adjusted for age, in the week up to October 18, there were 294.3 people newly infected for each 100,000 unvaccinated British Columbians. In that same time period, there were only 86.9 people newly infected for each 100,000 partially vaccinated British Columbians, and only 32.1 people newly infected for each 100,000 fully vaccinated British Columbians. 

One new health-care facility outbreak has been detected at Swedish Assisted-Living Residence in Burnaby, raising the number of such outbreaks in the province to 24. •

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Six Vaccines Show Promise as Boosters, Led by Pfizer and Moderna – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — A U.K. study testing seven different Covid-19 vaccines as booster doses found most of them increased antibodies, with shots from Moderna Inc. and the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE partnership performing best.

The results, published Thursday, tested the vaccines in more than 2,800 volunteers 30 and older who had already received two doses of the AstraZeneca Plc or Pfizer shots. All seven vaccines boosted immunity after the Astra vaccine, compared with a placebo, while six raised antibody levels after Pfizer, the study found.

Still, there were large variations between the antibody and cellular immune responses of the different vaccines, with the biggest boosts seen from the messenger-RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Antibody levels were measured four weeks after the booster was given. 

It’s unclear how many doses of the vaccines will be needed to provide the longest-lasting protection, or whether yearly Covid shots will be required, but the level of antibodies induced by a number of the vaccines wanes after a few months, pushing the case for boosters. With the new omicron variant spreading, countries are looking to protect their populations as quickly as they can.

The Valneva SE vaccine, which performed well in trials but hasn’t yet been authorized for use, was the only shot that didn’t increase antibody levels after two doses of Pfizer compared with a placebo, though the vaccine was only tested in about 100 people. The study found all seven shots were safe to use as third doses.

Other Vaccines

The other vaccines tested were from Johnson & Johnson, CureVac NV and Novavax Inc. The shots were given 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose of either the Astra or Pfizer vaccines.

Early results from the study were used to inform Britain’s initial booster program in September, which was focused on older people and relied on the Pfizer and Moderna shots as third doses. The U.K. expanded the rollout of boosters to all adults this week in light of the new omicron variant, and cut the time from six months after a second dose to three.

“These data are directly relevant to the decision-making this week,” Saul Faust, a professor of pediatric immunology and infectious diseases, and the lead investigator on the study, said at a press briefing. If a “country or region of the world only has one of the vaccines that we’ve shown that boost then that will be fine to use as a booster and safe to do it. It’s not all about mRNA.”

Most of the vaccines also produced good T-cell responses, another arm of a person’s immune defense, though the effect of Valneva as a booster was less strong.

Three of the vaccines haven’t yet been authorized in the U.K. or European Union. CureVac abandoned its first-generation vaccine in October after disappointing trial results. Novavax is expected to receive clearance in Europe in the coming weeks, while Valneva should get the green light from the U.K. and EU early next year. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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In a first, three white-tailed deer test positive for Covid in Canada – WION

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In a first, Canada has detected coronavirus cases in three white-tailed deer. While humans were struggling to battle with the deadly virus and its newly emerging variant, now, even the wildlife is also in danger of being infected by the virus. 

According to the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, the samples were collected early in November in the Estrie region of Quebec. The samples were collected through a “big-game” registration station. 

“Similar to findings in the United States, the deer showed no evidence of clinical signs of disease, and were all apparently healthy. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was notified on December 1, 2021,” read the statement by the agency.

Also read | In a first, Covid variant Alpha found in pets, says study  

The agency further stated that as of now, there is limited information on the spread of the virus in wild deer.

“COVID-19 remains largely a disease of human concern and typically spreads from human to human. Adhering to public health advice and getting fully vaccinated are key ways to protect against COVID-19,” read the statement. 

Meanwhile, earlier in November, cases of Alpha variant of Covid virus were detected in pets when two cats and dogs tested positive in a PCR test.   

The team, which conducted the study, also clarified Covid in pets remained ‘relatively rare’. The transmission seems to be taking place from humans to pets and not the other way round.   

Also read | In Pics | COVID-19 in animal world, here is a list of the infected species

In addition to these animals, two other cats and a dog displayed antibodies 2-6 weeks after developing signs of cardiac disease.    
These pets had an acute onset of cardiac disease, which includes severe myocarditis. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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​Covid NI: Executive issues statement on Omicron variant and keeping schools open – Belfast Live

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The Northern Ireland Executive has said its priority remains keeping children and young people in school as it issued an update on the current Covid-19 situation.

In a joint statement on Thursday afternoon, Stormont ministers said that while no cases of the Omicron variant have yet been confirmed here, the situation is likely to change in the coming days.

They said: “Today we received an update from our medical and scientific advisers on the latest Covid-19 situation and, in particular, the emergence of the Omicron variant.

“The emergence of this new strain of the virus is a serious and concerning development worldwide. And while there is no need for alarm, it is vitally important that everyone redoubles their efforts to drive infection rates down.

“The evidence on the new variant is being very closely monitored. And our public health experts will continue to liaise with colleagues in other jurisdictions as the situation develops globally and locally.

“No cases of the Omicron variant have yet been confirmed here, but that situation is likely to change in the coming days. The public will be kept informed and health protection measures will be actioned as appropriate.”

Urging people to use this time wisely to drive Covid infection rates down, the Executive statement added: “It is still unclear whether the clinical impact of this new coronavirus variant will be more serious so it is essential that we take preventative action now.

“We are grateful to the public for how they have responded so far. People’s actions are already having an impact and we thank everyone for the steps they are taking.

“The effectiveness of the booster vaccination programme is evidenced in reduced hospital admissions; the large number of people coming forward for first dose vaccine in recent weeks will make a real difference; and the collective effort to adhere to the public health advice has helped in reducing the number of cases.

“We know what works. And as we approach Christmas, it is vital that we all continue to work together to keep our society open, protect our health service and save lives.”

We urge everyone to remain vigilant and play your part in slowing the spread of the virus by following these simple steps:

  • Get first and second vaccine doses, and get your booster when eligible- up to date information is available at nidirect.gov.uk/covidvaccine;
  • Limit your social contacts;
  • Meet outdoors when possible;
  • If meeting indoors, make sure rooms are well-ventilated;
  • Wear a face covering in crowded or indoor settings;
  • Work from home if possible;
  • Practise good hand and respiratory hygiene;
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate immediately and get a PCR test as soon as possible.

“We thank everyone for continuing to make safer choices that will help to protect you, your family and our society.”

Earlier this week, teaching unions called for a ‘circuit breaker’ to be introduced over the Christmas period to control the spread of Covid-19 infection in Northern Ireland’s schools.

In response, Stormont said today: “Our priority remains keeping our children and young people in school.

“We recognise the challenges being faced across all our educational settings and the work that teachers and all staff are doing at this difficult time to support young people.

“We will continue to work with all concerned to keep our schools open and safe.”

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