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CDC recommends Moderna, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over J&J’s

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended Americans choose to receive one of two other authorised COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s shot, due to rare but sometimes fatal cases of blood-clotting.

The CDC’s move came after its Advisory Committee on Immunization voted unanimously to make the recommendation in favour of the vaccines made by Moderna Inc and Pfizer/BioNTech over the J&J shot.

Fewer Americans have received the J&J shot than the other two vaccines by a significant margin. Out of more than 200 million fully vaccinated people in the United States, around 16 million received J&J’s vaccine, according to CDC data.

J&J said in a statement that the safety and well-being of those who use their vaccine is its top priority and it looks forward to working with the CDC on the next steps.

Cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which involves blood clots accompanied by a low level of platelets, have previously been reported in recipients of the J&J vaccine. The highest reporting rates are in women under 50.

The CDC said that the rate of such incidents is higher than previously estimated, both in women and men. The agency has identified more than 50 cases of TTS in the U.S., about 3.83 cases per million J&J doses administered.

At least nine people have died following the blood clotting incidents in the United States, the CDC has said.

Members of the panel also said J&J’s vaccine is less effective in preventing COVID-19 than the other two authorized vaccines.

In a presentation to the committee, a leading J&J vaccine scientist said the vaccine generates a strong and long-lasting immune response with just a single shot.

“In the setting where many people do not return for a second dose or a booster, the durability of the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a primary regimen could make a crucial difference in saving lives in the U.S. and around the globe,” J&J’s Dr. Penny Heaton said.

J&J’s vaccine uses a technology based on a modified version of an adenovirus to spur immunity in recipients, while the other two authorized vaccines use messenger RNA technology.

In the United States, the shot has been useful for reaching some hard-to-reach populations and settings like the homeless and residents of corrections facilities. The vaccine can also be stored and moved at higher temperatures than the mRNA vaccines, which could allow it to be used more easily in some low- and middle-income countries.

J&J’s one-dose vaccine received emergency use authorization in March. In April, U.S. regulators paused administering the vaccine for 10 days in order to investigate the blood clotting.

A CDC scientist said on Thursday that the rate of deaths from TTS did not decrease after the pause in April.

J&J shares closed up around 1 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. The company sells the vaccine at a not-for-profit price, so it has not been a significant revenue driver.

(Reporting by Michael Erman in New Jersey, additional reporting by Manas Mishra and Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Howard Goller)

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Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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Britain said on Tuesday it needed to recruit 6,000 more people onto a trial of Merck‘s COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir to inform how the drug can be rolled out more widely.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. health regulator revised the emergency use authorisations for COVID-19 antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly to limit their use, as the drugs are unlikely to work against the Omicron variant.

* Brazil had 83,340 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 259 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

* Chile, which already boasts one of the world’s highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, has agreed to purchase 2 million vaccine doses from Moderna, Chilean interim health minister Maria Teresa Valenzuela said.

* A New York judge struck down the state’s mask mandate, one week before it was due to expire, ruling the governor overstepped her authority in imposing a rule that needed to have been passed by the state legislature.

EUROPE

* The head of the World Health Organization warned that it was dangerous to assume the Omicron variant would herald the end of COVID-19’s acutest phase, exhorting nations to stay focused to beat the pandemic.

* Germany extended its current pandemic measures as the experts panel appointed by the government has warned the Omicron variant could bring critical infrastructure in Europe’s biggest economy to a breaking point.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* South Korea’s daily count of new coronavirus cases topped 8,000 for the first time, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly despite the recent extension of strict social-distancing rules to slow infection.

* Japan is set to more than double the number of regions under enhanced coronavirus curbs on Tuesday, even as it sought to modify strategies to contend with the infectious Omicron variant that has fuelled record numbers of cases.

* About two dozen cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among the crew of an Australian warship expected to arrive in coronavirus-free Tonga on Wednesday to deliver humanitarian aid, Australian authorities said.

AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST

* Israel’s health minister said he did not think Israel will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to most people after the government made it available to over 60s and other high-risk groups.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Omicron can survive longer than earlier versions of the coronavirus on plastic surfaces and human skin, Japanese researchers found in laboratory tests.

* A third booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson increases antibody levels significantly in those who have previously received two doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac shot, a study has found.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Australia’s core inflation flew to its fastest annual pace since 2014 in the December quarter as fuel and housing costs led broad-based price pressures, a shock that will stoke market speculation of an early hike in interest rates.

* South Korea’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in 11 years in 2021, helped by a jump in exports and construction activity, tempering declines in capital investment and a slow recovery in the coronavirus-hit service sectors.

* A measure of Australian business confidence has swung into the red as a surge in coronavirus cases hit consumer spending and played havoc with staffing, though sales overall were proving resilient so far.

 

(Compiled by Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)

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Sinovac regimen gets strong boost from Pfizer, AstraZeneca or J&J COVID shots – study

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A third booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson increases antibody levels significantly in those who have previously received two doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac shot, a study has found.

The study found that CoronaVac received the strongest boost from a viral vector or RNA shot, including against the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants, researchers from Brazil and Oxford University said on Monday.

China-based Sinovac’s vaccine uses an inactivated version of a coronavirus strain that was isolated from a patient in China. It is currently approved in more than 50 countries including Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa, Oman, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey.

“This study provides important options for policymakers in the many countries where inactivated vaccines … have been used,” said Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and study lead.

However, another study in December found that Sinovac’s two-dose shot followed by a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine showed a lower immune response against the Omicron variant compared with other strains.

Viral vector vaccines such as the ones developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford and J&J use a weakened version of another virus to deliver genetic instructions for making proteins from the virus against which protection is sought. Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines deliver a genetic transcript with instructions for making viral proteins to teach the body how to defend against infections.

A third dose of CoronaVac also increased antibodies, but the results were better when a different vaccine was used, according to the latest study that included 1,240 volunteers from the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Salvador.

Antibody levels were low before the booster doses, with only 20.4% of adults aged 18-60 and 8.9% of adults aged over 60 having detectable levels of neutralising antibodies. These were seen to significantly increase across every booster vaccine regimen, according to the study, which was published in the Lancet medical journal on Friday.

 

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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A Unstoppable Universal Plague

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During the 15th Century, the world was exposed to what seemed like an unstoppable plague. Victims a new and terrifying plague was upon Europeans, and then spread throughout Europe, to Africa, Asia, and beyond. where it came from no one really knows.

Victims experience pustules erupting on their noses, lips, eyes, swelling into ulcers as the sores crept into their mouths and down their throats. Their muscles and bones became painful, especially at night. Most physicians thought they were seeing either leprosy or elephantiasis, or something worst.

 

These medical professionals were experiencing mass Syphilis for the first time. In a two hundred year period over a hundred million people were affected with many millions dying. This plague was an equal opportunity infliction. Rich and poor, Kings and their Queens, Lords and their ladies, members of the growing middle class were all inflicted. This STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) became most difficult to not only treat but also identify. As mentioned above, the inflicted showed various symptoms, this disease began as painless and easily missed sorely at an infection site, which over a short period of time disappeared, followed by a copper penny rash on the hands and feet. When the rash cleared up, the disease became latent, infecting the brain, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, and bones. These symptoms did not follow the same pattern, making it difficult to recognize what the inflicted was suffering.

Syphilis spreads through skin-to-skin contact mutating into a much deadlier sexually transmitted disease. Known as the great pretender, syphilis affected young men who succumbed to the wiles of prostitutes. These young men went home to their wives, girlfriends, and family members inflicting these innocents with this disease. Syphilis can be transmitted by either gender. In the middle ages, women were often blamed for the spread of this disease. The Catholic Church prohibited sex outside of marriage, in an attempt to stop the spread. Previously prostitutes had been considered a needed service to the community, with brothels and prostitutes a common community element. Brothels and prostitution became illegal in many lands, and sex workers could face prison time.

Condoms, a linen sheath infused with chemicals was introduced to European cultural life. The use of mercury was also introduced, and in time many realized they were poisoning themselves using this method of medical treatment.
Society’s response to this deadly disease was to persecute women of the lower classes, those who may be forced to become active in the sex trade so they could feed their families. Unfortunately, the religious organizations of the world and their powerful allies assaulted Womanhood in many ways, attempting to control the disease (not the men who spread it) buy controlling women. The Spanish Inquisition, British Witch Persecutions, divestment of women within the Church all were efforts to assert man’s predominance within society and protect manhood everywhere. To admit and recognize that men were the super spreaders of this disease could not become common knowledge, or at least acted upon openly.
In 1908 a German Scientist named Paul Ehrlich discovered Salvarsan, a magic bullet that could kill the microbes without harming the inflicted. This antibiotic-like material worked well to bring Syphilis under control.

Unfortunately, this pandemic continues to spread throughout the world today. Like Covid-19 there are many syphilis mutagens, different strains with similar, yet slightly different symptoms. In 2019 over 27 million people worldwide were recognized to be inflicted with syphilis, many in parts of the world where needed medicine cannot be readily found. Syphilis also facilities both HIV transmission and acquisition. The Great Pretender of STDs will find a way to spread and kill. Better watch out, and better not cry, just know what harmful things are out there folks. Be very much aware, alert, and alive.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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