One of the scientists behind the experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer said Sunday that he was confident that it could halve the transmission of the virus, resulting in a “dramatic” curb of the virus’ spread.
Professor Ugur Sahin, chief executive of Germany’s BioNTech, said it was “absolutely essential” to have a high vaccination rate before next autumn to ensure a return to normal life next winter.
“If everything continues to go well, we will start to deliver the vaccine end of this year, beginning next year,” Sahin said. “Our goal is to deliver more than 300 million of vaccine doses until April next year, which could allow us to already start to make an impact.”
“I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine — maybe not 90% but maybe 50%,” he said.
Pfizer and BioNTech said last week that interim results showed the vaccine was 90% effective in preventing people from getting ill from COVID-19, though they don’t yet have enough information on safety and manufacturing quality.
“What is absolutely essential is that we get a high vaccination rate before autumn/winter next year, so that means all the immunization, vaccination approaches must be accomplished before next autumn,” Sahin said.
The vaccine’s developers looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.
'A grim milestone': Alta. positivity rate climbs to 10.5 per cent as Hinshaw reports 1828 cases – CTV Edmonton
After setting new records for daily and active cases and hospitalizations multiple times this week, Alberta broke yet another COVID-19 milestone on Friday.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 1,828 cases of the disease from more than 17,200, equalling Alberta’s highest positivity rate of the pandemic so far: 10.5 per cent.
“This positivity rate is a grim milestone and one that should concern us all,” the chief medical officer said.
“I want to stress the seriousness of the rise in cases numbers we are seeing, and how crucial it is that we reduce the spread and bend the curve back down.”
There are now 18,243 coronavirus cases in Alberta, with 99 of 533 hospital patients in ICU.
The province also reported 15 more COVID-19 deaths, raising the fatal count to 590.
Hinshaw encouraged Albertans to behave this weekend, avoid crowds and opt for curbside pickup, if possible.
“By resisting the urge to socialize this weekend and limiting your close contact with others, you are not only protecting yourself and those closest to you from the virus, but you are playing a critical role in helping to break chains of transmission, which can save lives.”
FIELD HOSPITALS AND CONTACT TRACERS
Alberta Health Services is hiring more contact tracers and planning for the scenario of having to open field hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary in case they need more bed space as cases and hospitalizations see a sharp rise.
AHS president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu, who joined Dr. Hinshaw in Friday’s briefing, said there isn’t a current need for these pop-up hospitals and called it a contingency plan.
“It is clear that Alberta’s healthcare system is under significant stress, given the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province and AHS must prepare for all scenarios. This plan is part of our ongoing proactive pandemic response planning and is one of several initiatives that will ensure our healthcare system can meet increased demand caused by COVID-19.”
AHS is also still looking to hire more contact tracers to keep up with new cases. It currently employs 900 and wants to double up that number by the end of the year.
When new infections saw a large increase in recent weeks, Hinshaw did away with contact tracers calling every new case and asked them to prioritize vulnerable Albertans.
Alberta passes 10 per cent positivity rate, another grim milestone in COVID-19 pandemic – Calgary Herald
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Hinshaw urged Albertans to do their part to reduce the spread this weekend by following public-health orders, including a ban on all indoor social gatherings.
“In a difficult year, I know this last month may be the toughest for many,” she said. “This virus can spread quickly from one in many. In a month usually marked by festive gatherings, we feel the restrictions more keenly.
“If you have not been following the rules or if you know that your behaviour could be a little safer, this is the time to change it. This is the time for staying home and staying safe.”
Another 15 deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Alberta since Thursday, including two in the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone. Seven of the newly reported deaths were from one long-term care facility, the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre.
In total, 590 Albertans have now died of COVID-19, including 238 in the past 30 days.
Admissions to hospitals and intensive-care units continue to rise in Alberta, with 533 now in hospital with COVID-19, 99 of whom are in ICU. It’s an increase of 22 hospitalizations and two ICU admissions from Thursday.
As rates of infections and hospitalization rise in Alberta, the province is looking at contingency plans for patient care if surge capacity is needed.
Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of AHS, said the province was making plans to erect field hospitals in both Calgary and Edmonton
“While there is not a current need, it is clear that Alberta’s health-care system is under significant stress given the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province and AHS must prepare for all scenarios,” Yiu said.
What Will It Feel Like to Get a COVID Vaccine? – Lifehacker
Every vaccine has its side effects, but most are mild and/or rare. If you’ve ever had a sore arm after a flu shot, or even a mild headache or fever, you’ve experienced these. The upcoming coronavirus vaccines will have side effects, too, and they might be a little more severe. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.
No COVID vaccine has yet been approved in the U.S., but we’re getting closer. One of the top candidates, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, was just authorized for emergency use in the U.K. and could get a similar approval in the U.S. as early as next week. Another, from Moderna, is also under FDA consideration and could also be approved this month. (In both cases, the FDA will consider the safety and efficacy data and make a decision. There’s no guarantee a vaccine will be approved at all, but available information gives us reason to be hopeful.)
Fever and body aches may be common
Makers of both the top vaccine candidates have said that side effects from the vaccine are mild to moderate, which means (if that’s a complete and accurate statement) that they do not pose a serious safety risk. But mild and moderate side effects can still be uncomfortable.
According to the Pfizer vaccine’s UK label, the following side effects are very common, each affecting more than 10% of people who receive the vaccine: pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, and fever. (Note that it’s not necessarily common to have all of these, just that each one is common individually.)
Up to 1 in 10 people may have redness and swelling at the injection site, or experience nausea. And more rarely, people have reported swollen lymph nodes and “feeling unwell,” whatever that means exactly.
For an example of what this looks like, we can look to a few accounts from volunteers in the trials. One person in a vaccine trial—who doesn’t know for sure if she got the real vaccine or a placebo—told MarketWatch that her arm hurt after she got her injection, making her think she probably got the real vaccine. “The day after I got injected, I felt sluggish and tired, with body aches,” she said. “About three weeks later, I received a second injection. Again, my arm felt sore, looked red at the injection site and I had body aches and fatigue.”
At a recent CDC advisory committee meeting, panelists discussed the importance of people understanding that these side effects can happen. You might end up taking a day off from work if you feel crappy, for example. Hospitals and essential businesses may need to account for this fact and, for example, probably shouldn’t vaccinate their entire ICU staff all at the same time.
Side effects mean it’s working
While it might be annoying to experience these symptoms, they’re not a sign of a problem. Vaccines work by spurring our immune systems to react to the faux invader. Fevers, tiredness, and muscle aches are part of our own bodies’ response to an infection, and a mini version of that response often accompanies a vaccine.
COVID is a severe enough disease that the annoyance of these symptoms is, for most of us, well worth the potential benefit of being protected from a severe infection. But if the vaccine is approved and you decide to get it, it’s important to be aware of the possible effects.
Public health experts are afraid that people who experience fevers or tiredness after their first dose might not want to come back for the second. That’s important because most of the vaccine candidates require two doses for full protection. The UK label for the Pfizer vaccine notes that you shouldn’t consider yourself protected until seven days after the second shot. Since the two doses are given at least three weeks apart, this means your protection won’t begin until a month after the first one.
We’ll probably find out more about the vaccines and their side effects around the time of their respective FDA meetings—Dec. 10 for Pfizer and Dec. 17 for Moderna. Stay tuned.
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