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Study finds COVID-19 infection followed by vaccination produces higher antibody levels – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A study of nearly 2,000 vaccinated health-care workers, some of whom had contracted COVID-19, has found that those who survived the virus and then received an mRNA vaccine have a higher number of long-lasting antibodies.

The results of the study were described in a research letter published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“This finding adds to our understanding of how immunity against SARS-CoV-2 works, and builds upon an earlier study by our team that showed the mRNA vaccines yielded a robust antibody response, even if a person did not develop significant symptoms following vaccination or did not have a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Aaron Milstone, professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study, said in a press release.

In order to study the antibodies, researchers followed 1,960 health-care workers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland who had received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna jab.

Of those 1,960 workers, 73 had previously tested positive for COVID-19 prior to being vaccinated.

Researchers split the 73 workers into two further groups to test whether the time between recovering from the infection and getting vaccinated made a difference, dividing them into those who had COVID-19 within 90 days of their first shot, and those who were exposed more than 90 days before their first shot.

All 1,960 participants gave a serum sample at least 14 days after receiving their second shot, and the samples were tested for antibody levels at one month, three months, four-and-a-half months and six months after receiving the second shot.

Those who had a prior infection before getting vaccinated had higher levels of antibodies than those who only were vaccinated, and their antibody levels remained more durable over time.

“We found that health-care workers with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection followed by two doses of mRNA vaccine — therefore, three independent exposures to the S1 spike protein — developed higher antibody levels than those with vaccination alone,” Diana Zhong, M.D., an infectious diseases fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said in the release. “The relative differences were 14 per cent higher at one month following the second vaccine dose, 19 per cent at three months and 56 per cent at six months.”

In addition, those who contracted COVID-19 more than 90 days before their first shot had higher antibody levels post-vaccination than those who contracted COVID-19 within 90 days of the first dose.

“This suggests that a longer interval between infection and first vaccine dose may enhance the antibody response,” Milstone said.

Researchers acknowledged that the study had limits, such as the smaller proportion of participants who had COVID-19 in the past, and the fact that they only measured antibody production levels, and not neutralization titers in the blood.

It’s important to note that the findings don’t suggest contracting COVID-19 before getting vaccinated. Other research has shown that the virus can cause severe infection and even death in people of any age or health level, and doctors still don’t fully understand the long-lasting effects of the virus on the human body. But the new study does reinforce that those who were infected with COVID-19 previously would benefit from receiving a vaccine.

Researchers stated in the release that further research is needed to understand “the interplay between natural or vaccine derived immunity.”

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S&P/TSX composite falls to end a third-straight losing week on angst about Fed – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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TORONTO – The rebound in Canada’s main stock index was short-lived as it pushed lower Friday to end a third-consecutive losing week amid concerns about impending action by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 128.76 points to 20,633.27 despite hitting an intraday high of 20,825.21. The Toronto market had a strong morning start after posting its best performance in 10 months Thursday. It then lost ground throughout the session before recovering a bit approaching the close.

The TSX was down 2.3 per cent on the week but is up 18.4 per cent so far in 2021.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 59.71 points at 34,580.08. The S&P 500 index was down 38.67 points at 4,538.43, while the Nasdaq composite was down 295.85 points or 1.9 per cent at 15,085.47.

Investors have been jittery this week in response to the more hawkish comments from the U.S. central bank around speeding up the tapering of bond purchases at the same time as a new COVID-19 variant has surfaces and economic activity is slowing, said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer of Purpose Investments.

“The risk this week is around the Fed making a policy error,” he said in an interview.

Taylor said investors have been nervous in the last few days about the Fed taking away stimulus while the economy in the rest of the world slows down a little bit.

Canadian markets have been somewhat insulated by strong bank earnings.

The heavyweight financials sector was slightly lower on the day, led by a 4.4 per cent drop by Canadian Western Bank. That was partially offset with BMO and CIBC rising 2.4 and 2.1 per cent, respectively, as the Canada’s big banks wrapped up strong quarterly reports that saw them each boost dividends.

Telecommunications was the only sector on the TSX to close higher on Friday.

The broad-based decrease on the TSX was led by health care and the technology sector, which sustained even stronger declines in the U.S.

Tech dropped 2.5 per cent as shares of Hut 8 Mining Ltd. fell 10.8 per cent while Lightspeed Commerce Inc. was down 7.7 per cent and Shopify Inc. was 2.4 per cent lower.

There was a disconnect in the sector’s movement because bond yields were weaker, which is typically a supportive move for these companies.

Big tech stocks have really come under pressure in the last few days as previous pandemic winners such as DocuSign Inc. suffered a 42 per cent decline, Taylor said. 42.2

After starting the day higher, energy lost 0.3 per cent as crude oil prices fell.

The January crude oil contract was down 24 cents at US$66.26 per barrel after climbing as high as US$69.22 in the morning. The January natural gas contract was up 7.6 cents at US$4.13 per mmBTU.

Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. led the declines, losing 2.1 and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.05 cents US compared with 78.03 cents US on Thursday.

Materials also fell as copper prices softened while gold was stronger as shares of Lithium Americas Corp. lost 8.7 per cent.

The February gold contract was up US$21.20 at US$1,783.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 3.2 cents at nearly US$4.27 a pound.

Earlier, the United States and Canada posted November employment numbers. U.S. non-farm payrolls disappointed as they increased by 210,000 jobs, far below forecasts for about 550,000 jobs. However the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 per cent, the lowest since February 2020.

In Canada, the jobless rate fell to six per cent as 153,7000 jobs were added as the share of the core working population with a job climbed to an all-time high.

Taylor said markets were at risk coming into the week.

“We haven’t had a correction in a long time and were due for some volatility. The question will be when will buyers step back in.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE, TSX:SU, TSX:CWB, TSX:CM, TSX:BMO, TSX:HUT, TSX:LSPD, TSX:SHOP, TSX:LAC, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD

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Google real estate executive says 5% more workers coming in to office each week

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Alphabet Inc’s Google has seen an increasing number of employees coming in to its offices each week, particularly younger workers, the company’s real estate chief said during an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Friday.

On Thursday, Google indefinitely pushed back the mandated return date for employees due to concerns about the Omicron variant. The company had previously said its 150,000 global employees could be required to come in to the office as soon as Jan. 10.

Nevertheless, David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said many Googlers are returning of their own volition. About 40% of its U.S. employees on average came in to the office daily in recent weeks, up from 20-25% three months ago, he said. Globally, 5% more employees are returning to offices week after week, he added.

“People are actually showing voluntarily that they want to be back in the office,” Radcliffe said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

Younger employees and those who joined Google more recently have been coming in at higher rates, seeking opportunities to learn from colleagues, Radcliffe added.

Google expects workers in the office at least three days a week once it mandates a new return date.

Based on feedback from those already back, it is redesigning floor plans to increase private, quiet spaces for distraction-free individual work and adding conferencing and other collaboration areas in open spaces both indoors and outdoors.

Real estate and human resources experts have considered Google a trailblazer for the past 20 years in sustainable office design and variety of workplace perks, including free meals, massages and gyms.

To extend those sustainability and wellness benefits to remote work, Google has encouraged employees to buy carbon offsets and non-toxic furniture for their home offices. It also has provided free cooking classes and discounts to fitness studios near workers’ homes.

“It was amazing how many employees had really never cooked themselves,” Radcliffe said.

 

(Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif., and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Matthew Lewis)

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S&P/TSX composite down nearly 200 points, U.S. stock markets also lower – Business News – Castanet.net

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Canada’s main stock index was down nearly 200 points in late-morning trading, led lower by losses in the technology, base metal and industrial sectors, while U.S. stock markets also fell.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 176.86 points at 20,585.17.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 160.83 points at 34,478.96. The S&P 500 index was down 48.14 points at 4,528.96, while the Nasdaq composite was down 341.27 points at 15,040.05.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.05 cents US compared with 78.03 cents US on Thursday.

The January crude oil contract was up US$1.54 at US$68.04 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up eight cents at US$4.14 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up US$14.90 at US$1,777.60 an ounce and the March copper contract was down two cents at US$4.28 a pound.

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