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Exclusive: New global lab network will compare COVID-19 vaccines head-to-head – Reuters Canada

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LONDON (Reuters) – A major non-profit health emergencies group has set up a global laboratory network to assess data from potential COVID-19 vaccines, allowing scientists and drugmakers to compare them and speed up selection of the most effective shots.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker injects an experimental Chinese coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to volunteer and doctor Naim Celik as Turkey began final Phase III trials at Kocaeli University Research Hospital in Kocaeli, Turkey September, 25, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

Speaking to Reuters ahead of announcing the labs involved, Melanie Saville, director of vaccine R&D at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), said the idea was to “compare apples with apples” as drugmakers race to develop an effective shot to help control the COVID-19 pandemic.

The centralised network is the first of its kind to be set up in response to a pandemic.

In a network spanning Europe, Asia and North America, the labs will centralise analysis of samples from trials of COVID-19 candidates “as though vaccines are all being tested under one roof”, Saville said, aiming to minimise the risk of variation in results.

“When you start off (with developing potential new vaccines) especially with a new disease, everyone develops their own assays, they all use different protocols and different reagents – so while you get a readout, the ability to compare between different candidates is very difficult,” she told Reuters.

“By taking the centralised lab approach … it will give us a chance to really make sure we are comparing apples with apples.”

The CEPI network will initially involve six labs, one each in Canada, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and India, Saville said.

Hundreds of potential COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development around the world, with shots developed in Russia and China already being deployed before full efficacy trials have been done, and front-runners from Pfizer PFE.N, Moderna MRNA.O and AstraZeneca AZN.L likely to have final-stage trial results before year-end.

Typically, the immunogenicity of potential vaccines is assessed in individual lab analyses, which aim to see whether biomarkers of immune response – such as antibodies and T-cell responses – are produced after clinical trial volunteers receive a dose, or doses, of the vaccine candidate.

But with more than 320 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the works, Saville said, the many differences in data collection and evaluation methods are an issue.

As well as potential variations in markers of immunity, there are differences in how and where samples are collected, transported and stored – all of which can impact the quality and usefulness of the data produced, and make comparisons tricky.

And with a range of different vaccine technologies being explored – from viral vector vaccines to ones based on messenger RNA – standard evaluation of their true potential “becomes very complex”, she said.

“With hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines in development … it’s essential that we have a system that can reliably evaluate and compare the immune response of candidates currently undergoing testing,” she said.

By centralising the analysis in a lab network, much of what Saville called the “inter-laboratory variability” can be removed, allowing for head-to-head comparisons.

CEPI says all developers of potential COVID-19 vaccines can use the centralised lab network for free to assess their candidates against a common protocol. For now, the network will assess samples from early-stage vaccine candidate testing and first and second stage human trials, but CEPI said it hoped to expand its capacity to late stage (Phase III) trial data in the coming months.

Results produced by the network will be sent back to the developer, with neither CEPI nor the network owning the data.

CEPI itself is co-funding nine of the potential COVID-19 vaccines in development, including candidates from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax NVAX.O and CureVac.

Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Mark Potter

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'COVID toes' may persist for months in long-haulers, study finds – Yahoo Canada Sports

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A new study suggests that some COVID long-haulers may experience skin reactions for months after getting the virus. (Photo: Getty Images)

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A new study suggests that some COVID long-haulers may experience skin reactions for months after getting the virus. (Photo: Getty Images)
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A new large-scale analysis from the International League of Dermatological Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that some survivors of COVID-19 experience skin reactions long after contracting the virus —&nbsp;one of many side effects that the group, known as “long-haulers,” may endure.” data-reactid=”32″>A new large-scale analysis from the International League of Dermatological Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that some survivors of COVID-19 experience skin reactions long after contracting the virus — one of many side effects that the group, known as “long-haulers,” may endure.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The results, shared at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Vienna, utilized an international registry of skin reactions to COVID-19 created by a global team of dermatologists. They found that while on average individuals experienced skin symptoms for 12 days, a subset of patients experienced them for 60 days or more.” data-reactid=”33″>The results, shared at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Vienna, utilized an international registry of skin reactions to COVID-19 created by a global team of dermatologists. They found that while on average individuals experienced skin symptoms for 12 days, a subset of patients experienced them for 60 days or more.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Nearly 1,000 cases from 39 countries revealed what the authors called a “broad spectrum of dermatologic manifestations.” One of the most common was an inflammation of the blood vessels in the feet, nicknamed “COVID toes,” which in some lasted for as long as 150 days. Other common skin reactions included hives, a purple-like rash and reddened scaly changes in the skin.” data-reactid=”34″>Nearly 1,000 cases from 39 countries revealed what the authors called a “broad spectrum of dermatologic manifestations.” One of the most common was an inflammation of the blood vessels in the feet, nicknamed “COVID toes,” which in some lasted for as long as 150 days. Other common skin reactions included hives, a purple-like rash and reddened scaly changes in the skin.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Related: What are ‘COVID toes’?” data-reactid=”35″>Related: What are ‘COVID toes’?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Leslie Richard, a COVID long-hauler from Louisiana — and member of the grassroots organization called Survivor Corps — says she developed “odd mysterious bumps” in the first week after getting diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March. “It felt like bugs were crawling all over my skin and stinging me regularly,” she tells Yahoo Life.” data-reactid=”40″>Leslie Richard, a COVID long-hauler from Louisiana — and member of the grassroots organization called Survivor Corps — says she developed “odd mysterious bumps” in the first week after getting diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March. “It felt like bugs were crawling all over my skin and stinging me regularly,” she tells Yahoo Life.

Two months ago she began experiencing a rash on her face, neck, shoulders, back and groin. “These rashes looked like a mix between bug bites, acne, hives and shingles,” says Richard. “I call them ‘shives’ since no doctor knows what it is. Eventually, they cluster and the skin becomes thick, hard and irritated. It is itchy, burns and stings.” Richard says she has tried many treatments but has yet to find anything that works.

Dr. Julia S. Lehman, an associate professor in the Division of Dermatopathology and Cutaneous Immunopathology at the Mayo Clinic, finds the rashes to be somewhat surprising. “While it is relatively common for patients to develop nonspecific exanthema (red, blotchy rash on chest, abdomen, and back) in response to viral infections, some of the skin changes that are being observed in patients affected by COVID-19 are unusual,” Lehman tells Yahoo Life. “For example, the retiform purpura (or jagged purple marks) in some very ill patients with COVID-19 appear to be due to the effect of this novel coronavirus on the blood clotting system, something which is not seen with most viral infections.”

She says that dermatologists are still working to figure out why COVID-19 patients develop COVID toes — and why, for some, they stick around. “The phenomenon of COVID toes seems to closely resemble changes that can be seen in perniosis, a condition known to cause violaceous to blue discoloration of the toes, fingers or tips of the ears,” Lehman says. “In perniosis, it is usually exposure to cool, damp conditions that causes inflammation to surround blood vessels. With perniosis, it is thought that the ears, toes and fingers seem to be preferentially affected, because they are cooler and, by virtue of being peripheral, have some of the smallest caliber blood vessels in the body.”

COVID toes aren’t the only symptoms plaguing long-haulers. A Survivor Corps member from Ohio, Lexi Riley-Dipaolo, says she’s been fighting a severe rash on her hands and wrists since getting diagnosed with COVID-19 this summer. The rash began as “small pustular vesicles” that eventually blistered and popped, leaving her hands raw and peeling. “At this point, they felt like they were on fire and were burning constantly,” she tells Yahoo Life. Although the blisters eventually healed, she says, new ones soon formed in their place, and the “whole cycle [began] again.”

Doctors have “bounced around many different diagnoses,” Riley-Dipaolo says, including psoriasis, eczema and celiac disease. But more than three months later, she still has yet to find a solution. “This has been going on since July, when I tested positive, with no relief,” she says. “No medications or creams have helped.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In a statement on Eureka Alert, the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Esther Freeman, director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the study provides further clues about the virus. “This data adds to our knowledge about how COVID-19 can affect multiple different organ systems, even after patients have recovered from their acute infection,” Freeman said. “The skin can provide a visual window into inflammation that may be going on elsewhere in the body."” data-reactid=”46″>In a statement on Eureka Alert, the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Esther Freeman, director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the study provides further clues about the virus. “This data adds to our knowledge about how COVID-19 can affect multiple different organ systems, even after patients have recovered from their acute infection,” Freeman said. “The skin can provide a visual window into inflammation that may be going on elsewhere in the body.”

Still, Lehman says that for long-haulers, there may be reason to hope. “When skin symptoms persist, it does not necessarily mean that the body is still infected,” says Lehman. “But rather, it probably means that the immune system is still recovering from the effects of their prior viral infection.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”61″>For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more from Yahoo Life:” data-reactid=”76″>Read more from Yahoo Life:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox?&nbsp;Sign up here&nbsp;for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.” data-reactid=”81″>Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.

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British Columbia reports 272 new cases of COVID-19, none in Island Health – Times Colonist

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The B.C. government says it will increase surveillance this weekend as an order limiting the number of people who can visit a home is in effect because of COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced this week that gatherings are now limited to people in an immediate household, plus their so-called “safe six”’ guests.

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In a joint statement, Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are reminding people to make the Halloween weekend safe for everyone by maintaining safe physical distances from one another.

They say this is also not the time for large gatherings in homes as the number of cases of COVID-19 spikes.

The province reported another 272 cases of COVID-19 on Friday and one additional death, bringing the total number of people who have died to 263.

No new cases were reported by Island Health. There are eight known active cases in the region, where there have been 256 confirmed cases to date.

There are 2,390 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 6,003 people are under public health monitoring after being exposed to a known case.

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BC health officials to release final coronavirus update of the week this afternoon | News – Daily Hive

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On Friday afternoon, BC health officials will release their final coronavirus update for this week in the form of a written statement.

The update is expected between 3 and 4 pm and comes after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix held a live update on the virus in Surrey on Thursday, focusing on the Fraser Health region.

Henry said on Thursday that 234 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the province, for a recorded total of 14,109 in BC.

By specific health region, this equates to 4,588 known cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 8,036 in Fraser Health, 256 on Vancouver Island, 734 in Interior Health, 406 in Northern Health, and 89 from those who reside outside the province.

There are currently 2,344 active cases in British Columbia. Out of these active cases, 86 people are in hospital, and 24 of these are in intensive care.

As well, 5,714 people are currently under “active monitoring” for symptoms as a result of their exposure to known cases.

There has also been one additional death.

A total of 11,448 cases are now considered fully recovered in the province.

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