Market moves indicate Covid-19 vaccine boosters will likely be a reality soon. Among many recent market developments, the E.U. is negotiating a contract with Pfizer/BioNTech to deliver 1.8 billion doses for the years 2021 to 2023. The U.K. has secured an additional 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. And, Israel purchased 9 million more Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to ensure capacity for boosters through 2022.
The other manufacturer of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, Moderna, has committed itself to producing three billion doses annually.
Perhaps most telling that the world intends to booster up is a recently published IQVIA report which states that worldwide $157 billion will be spent on Covid-19 vaccines through 2025.
In a statement last month, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla asserted boosters will be very likely 6 to 12 months following the initial two-dose regimen. Echoing Bourla’s comments, BioNTech co-founder and CMO Dr. Ozlem Tureci said an additional shot of the two-dose vaccine will be needed as immunity wanes over time. Tureci played a key role in developing the mRNA vaccine.
So far, both mRNA-based vaccines have reported remarkable efficacy at the 6-month mark, at more than 90%, with even greater protection against severe illness and death.
Beyond 6 months, however, the durability of immunity remains unclear. Furthermore, manufacturers must determine whether additional doses will be needed to combat certain new variants of concern, including the P.1 and B.1.617 variants that have wreaked havoc in Brazil and India, respectively.
Pfizer and BioNTech are investigating the efficacy of a third dose administered 6 to 12 months after the first two-dose regimen. Moderna is conducting a similar trial. The firms are also conducting trials to test vaccine efficacy against several of the variants of concern.
There may be a conflict of interest when the CEO of a company that manufactures boosters declares we need boosters. Nonetheless, cynicism aside, what we can safely assume, based in part on a large-scale Danish study of reinfections, is that following infection immunity diminishes over time. According to the study, the vast majority of people who recover from Covid-19 remain protected from the virus for at least six months. But the risk of reinfection appears to be higher among people over the age of 65. Prior infection with the coronavirus reduced the chances of a second bout by only about half in those older than 65.
What the Danish study did not investigate is whether the immunity conferred by way of vaccines is stronger than natural immunity. That would appear to be the case in clinical studies, at least for the mRNA vaccines which have more than 90% efficacy 6 months after a completed regimen. The findings showed only a small decrease in efficacy and a slight antibody decline.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that at the time that Pfizer CEO Bourla said people will likely need a Covid-19 vaccine booster, and annual vaccinations akin to influenza shots are probable going forward, some public health and infectious disease experts expressed skepticism.
Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that there isn’t sufficient data yet to make that judgment call. Similarly, Dr. Monica Gandhi, epidemiologist and public health expert, suggested boosters may not be necessary. After all, the clinical studies haven’t shown an appreciable decrease in antibodies at 6 months.
Nevertheless, for real-world evidence that goes beyond a half year we still need to wait and see. The vaccine rollout began roughly five months ago. And so, the 6-month mark is fast approaching. Dr. Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the President, is on record as saying that it should be known for sure by this autumn whether booster Covid-19 vaccines will be necessary and what timetable to expect.
Of course, there’s also the question of whether the necessity of boosters will depend on the vaccine type given to an individual. It may be that vaccines with potent immunity like the mRNA agents will require less frequent boosters than others. But it’s not been ascertained at this point.
Further, variants of concern remain a wildcard in Covid-19 transmission. It may be that how soon people ought to be re-vaccinated depends on how the novel coronavirus evolves in terms of its ability to elude current vaccines. The ongoing extraordinarily high numbers of daily cases and the fact that large swaths of the globe are unvaccinated are sure to spawn new variants, one or more of which could evade vaccines.
Boosters are a rather safe bet at this point, as market moves indicate. What’s less of a sure thing is how effective our current set of vaccines will be against certain variants of concern.
Man assaulted nurse over vaccinating his wife: Quebec cops – Toronto Sun
The man accused the nurse of having “vaccinated his wife without his consent” before repeatedly punching the woman in the face, police said.
Sherbrooke police have turned to the public to help track down a man who assaulted a nurse Monday at a local pharmacy.
Police say a man showed up at the office of a nurse assigned to give vaccinations at a pharmacy on 12th Ave. N.
“He was angry and aggressive,” said police spokesperson Martin Carrier.
The man accused the nurse of having “vaccinated his wife without his consent” before repeatedly punching the woman in the face and leaving, police said, adding that the nurse was taken to hospital to treat “serious” injuries to her face.
The man being sought is 30 to 45 years old, of medium build and has a dark complexion. He has short dark hair, dark eyes and “big eyebrows.”
The man spoke French and was wearing a dark sweater and jeans. He wore earrings and had a hand tattooed with what resembled the image of a cross.
Police are urging anyone with any information on the case to call them at 1-800-771-1800.
B.C. reports 759 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths, 1 death in Island Health – CHEK
British Columbia health officials on Wednesday reported 759 new COVID-19 cases — including 79 in Island Health — and 10 new deaths since their last update on Sept. 21.
One of the deaths was in Island Health, the province says.
The number of confirmed cases in B.C. is now at 180,937 while the death toll climbs to 1,910.
There are currently 5,458 active cases in the province, 324 people in hospital — 157 of whom are in intensive care. The provincial government says there are 636 active cases in the Island Health region.
Of the new cases identified, 79 were in Island Health, 233 were in Interior Health, 214 were in Fraser Health, 129 were in Northern Health, 101 were in Vancouver Coastal Health and three were people who normally reside outside of the country.
A total of 173,215 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19 while 7,739,828 doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide.
Today’s data was released as a statement to the media.
According to the latest update on Island Health’s dashboard shows that there are 563 active cases — 44 in North Island, 180 in Central Island, and 339 in South Island — on Vancouver Island.
Thirty-five people in the region are currently in hospital with COVID-19, 20 of whom are in critical care.
Over the past 24 hours, there were 188 recoveries, 1,358 new tests for COVID-19 performed, and 2,370 doses of vaccine administered in the region. Of those doses, 37 were AstraZeneca, 1,409 were Moderna and 924 doses were Pfizer.
A total of 1,289,871 vaccine doses — 619,306 of those are second doses — have now been administered on Vancouver Island. This includes 33,465 doses of AstraZeneca, 345,767 doses of Moderna and 910,639 doses of Pfizer.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been 8,020 cases reported, 59 deaths, 355 total hospitalizations, and 7,254 recoveries recorded on Vancouver Island.
Cases and deaths continue to climb this month
With Wednesday’s announcement of 79 new cases and yet another death in Island Health, the region has now recorded 11 deaths and seen a 22 per cent increase in new cases since the beginning of September.
Since Sept. 1, total hospitalizations on the Island have risen 23 per cent while the total number of recoveries has increased by 22 per cent.
When it comes to active cases, the data isn’t as clear due to major discrepancies between the two main reporting agencies, Island Health and the BCCDC.
Island Health’s data shows that active cases in the region have increased by 31 per cent since the beginning of the month, while the BCCDC’s data shows that active cases have only increased by 18 per cent during the same period.
However, Island Health is the only agency to provide daily updates on active cases with a breakdown by region and based on their latest data update, active cases in the South Island are the highest they have ever been.
More concerning, perhaps, is that active cases on the South Island have increased 113 per cent since Sept. 8. Active cases in Central Island have only managed to climb by 10 per cent since Sept. 8 and on the brighter side, active cases in the North Island have decreased by 37 per cent during the same period.
The vaccine card effect on Vancouver Island
Time — and likely one’s perspective — will only tell whether the B.C. vaccine card system proves to be effective here on the Island. But if the provincial government’s goal was strictly to get more shots in people’s arms for the first time, then it appears to be working to a degree.
That number had climbed to 649,293 — slightly more than 1 per cent — by Sept. 1, less than two weeks before the B.C. vaccine card system was to come into effect.
But by Sept. 22, more than a week after the B.C. vaccine card system was implemented, that figure had increased to 670,565 first doses, a five per cent increase since Aug. 23.
That may not seem like a lot, but that does mean 30,139 people in the region opted to get the first dose of vaccine in less than a month.
However, it is worth pointing out that the total number of vaccine doses — first and second doses combined — administered on Vancouver Island has risen by 3.3 per cent since Sept. 1 and just 1.5 per cent since Sept. 13, the day the B.C. vaccine card coming into force.
New Zealand’s Ardern says lockdowns can end with high vaccine uptake
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday the country should aim for a 90%-plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.
New Zealand eliminated COVID-19 last year and remained largely virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in August led to a nationwide lockdown.
With its biggest city Auckland still in lockdown and new cases being reported every day, Ardern said vaccinations will replace lockdowns as the main tool against the virus, allowing authorities to isolate only those who are infected.
“If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool,” she said.
The highest possible vaccine rates will give the most freedoms, Ardern said, adding that the country should be aiming for a 90% plus rate of vaccination.
After a sluggish start to its vaccination campaign, some 40% of adult New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and about 75% have had at least one dose.
Authorities reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 1,123.
The Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield warned earlier this week that New Zealand may not get to zero COVID cases again.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin)
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