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Study Will Test Different Time Intervals for COVID-19 Vaccines in Pregnant Individuals – Technology Networks

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A new UK-based clinical trial will test the most appropriate time interval between two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant individuals. 

COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy


In 2020, clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines now authorized for human use did not include pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. This approach is typical for the clinical study of a new investigational medicinal product and is enforced by regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect both mothers and pregnancies.

As the global rollout of several COVID-19 vaccines commenced, many pregnant individuals opted to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2 regardless. This enabled scientists to gather real-world retrospective data on the safety and efficacy of the different types of vaccines in this population. Based on the growing data supply, in April, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that pregnant persons in the UK should be offered two doses of mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer–BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or Moderna’s mRNA-1273) where available.

However, data gaps remain,  Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Paul Heath from St George’s University of London explained in a recent press release: “Tens of thousands of pregnant women have now been vaccinated in both the US and the UK with no safety concerns reported, but we still lack robust, prospective clinical trial data on COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women.”

More information is required to determine the best time schedule for administering the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses in pregnant individuals in order to achieve the optimum immune response. A new study led by Heath – known as Preg-Cov – will provide this vital clinical information.

Vaccine dose intervals in pregnancy


Preg-Cov will recruit over 600 low-risk pregnant women aged 18-45-years-old across a number of sites in the UK. All participants will receive two doses of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine (either Pfizer–BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or Moderna’s mRNA-1273). The eligibility criteria permits the inclusion of individuals that have received their first dose prior to enrolling in the trial. Speaking to Technology Networks, Heath said: “All will be blinded to the COVID-19 vaccine they receive except for the group that have received a dose before pregnancy – as they obviously know what they had already.”

Participants must be between 13 and 34 weeks pregnant on the date of the first COVID-19 vaccination, and will be divided into two groups: short interval and long interval dosing. The short interval group will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine between four to six weeks after their first dose, whereas the long interval group will receive their second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after their first. Consequently, some individuals will receive their second dose after delivering their baby. The study will follow all recruits for a period of one year.

“It’s important to highlight that all participants in this study will receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This is particularly important with the rising number of cases, the easing of restrictions and low vaccine uptake among pregnant women,” Professor Asma Khalil, lead obstetrician for the trial said.

Throughout the duration of the trial, various data will be collected. Recruits will be asked to maintain a symptom diary and blood samples will be obtained from the mother. In some instances, cord blood will also be extracted. “The blood samples are taken from all mothers but cord blood only from mothers at certain sites. This is because we don’t actually need to take as many samples to address the question about transfer of antibody from mother to baby in the cord blood,” Heath told Technology Networks.

The trial – which is now open for enrollment – is supported by £7.5 million worth of funding from the UK government. “Pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 and we know that vaccines are safe for them and make a huge difference – in fact no pregnant woman with two jabs has required hospitalisation with COVID-19,” said the Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi. “This government-backed trial will provide more data about how we can best protect pregnant women and their babies, and we can use this evidence to inform future vaccination programmes.”

Professor Paul Heath was speaking to Molly Campbell, Science Writer for Technology Networks. 

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Polio vaccine boosters offered to kids in London as virus linked to New York case detected – ABC News

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Children in London are being offered polio vaccine boosters after sewage samples with the virus were found in multiple areas across the city.

The U.K. Health Security Agency announced Wednesday that all children between ages 1 and 9 across the British capital will be eligible to receive an inactivated polio vaccine booster.

“This will ensure a high level of protection from paralysis and help reduce further spread of the virus,” the agency said in a statement.

“While the majority of Londoners are protected from polio, the [National Health Service] will shortly be contacting parents of eligible children aged 1 to 9 years old to offer them a top-up dose to ensure they have maximum protection from the virus,” Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London, added.

There are more than 1 million children between those ages who live in London as of mid-2020, the latest year for which data is available, according to the U.K. Office of National Statistics.

This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a polio virus particle.

Sarah Poser, Meredith Boyter Newlove/CDC via AP, FILE

Between February 8 and July 5 of this year, poliovirus has been detected in 19 sewage samples across nine boroughs including at Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in London, which is the largest sewage treatment plant in the U.K.

Recently, a report indicated a polio case in New York was genetically linked to the samples found in the U.K.

Polio vaccines are part of routine immunizations for children. In the U.S., vaccinated children are not recommended to get a booster shot at this time.

According to the UKHSA, the booster program will begin in the areas where the virus has been detected and where vaccination rates are lowest before being rolled out across the city.

“The NHS in London will contact parents when it’s their child’s turn to come forward for a booster or catch-up polio dose — parents should take up the offer as soon as possible,” the agency’s statement read.

On July 21, health officials reported a case of polio was discovered in Rockland County in New York — just north of New York City — in a 20-year-old unvaccinated man.

The man contracted vaccine-derived polio, which means he was infected by someone who received the oral polio vaccine, which is no longer used in the U.S. or the U.K.

The oral vaccine uses a live weakened virus, which — in rare cases — can spread through fecal matter and infect unvaccinated individuals. Comparatively, the injectable polio vaccine, uses an inactivated virus.

As of Aug. 5, 11 samples were genetically linked to the Rockland County patient including six samples collected in June and July from Rockland County and five samples collected in July from nearby Orange County, health department data shows.

However, health officials have said the majority of the population is not at risk for polio because most were vaccinated as part of their regular childhood immunizations, but that it’s important for those who are unvaccinated to get their shots.

The New York State Health Department told ABC News its focus would be on ensuring immunizations.

“Our current focus is to ensure unvaccinated New Yorkers and children get immunized against polio and that they are up to date with their polio immunization schedule,” the department said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the organization in the U.S. that makes vaccine recommendations, but has not suggested any such move to add a fifth dose of polio vaccine to the current vaccine schedule underway.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The agency recently told ABC News the U.S. health agency is deploying a team to New York to investigate the case in Rockland County. The team will also administer vaccines in the county.

“These efforts include ongoing testing of wastewater samples to monitor for poliovirus and deploying a small team to New York to assist on the ground with the investigation and vaccination efforts,” the agency said in a statement.

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Monkeypox: Manitoba's top doctor gives vaccine update | CTV News – CTV News Winnipeg

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Manitoba will be offering more vaccination appointments for monkeypox.

A news release from the province Thursday confirmed that additional appointments will be available “soon,” but no dates were listed.

Appointments can be made online or by calling Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257.

Manitoba recently expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine, but on Monday, tweeted all appointments were booked.

To date, no monkeypox cases have been found in Manitoba.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said the province has a “scarce resource” of the monkeypox vaccine.

“It has to be stored properly, and it’s scarce because there are outbreaks happening in other jurisdictions,” he said. “We want to do whatever we can to avoid any wastage.”

While infections have primarily been reported in the gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) population, Roussin said it is important to avoid stigmatizing populations.

“There is a balance between risk communication and doing whatever we can to avoid stigmatizing those populations,” he said.

Roussin added the province will be releasing data on total monkeypox vaccines administered next week.

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Canada to start testing some wastewater for polio 'as soon as possible' – CBC News

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After new reports of polio cases abroad, and virus samples in the wastewater of several other developed countries, Canada intends to start testing wastewater from a number of cities “as soon as possible,” CBC News has learned.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) already works to monitor polio activity around the world, a spokesperson said in an email response to CBC News questions.

Currently, PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg does have the diagnostic tools available to test samples for poliovirus. Any suspected positive Canadian samples of poliovirus will be sent to that lab for further laboratory analysis and confirmation, with results shared with the respective local health authorities “so appropriate public health measures can be taken if necessary.”

According to the statement, PHAC has been communicating with national and international partners who are experts in this field to finalize a wastewater testing strategy. It will be testing wastewater samples that were collected earlier this year from “key high-risk municipalities” to determine if polio was present prior to the reported international cases. 

PHAC will also be sending samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional confirmation.

“However, it is important to acknowledge that accurately testing wastewater for poliovirus is a developing science,” the statement continued. “For example, wastewater detections can be affected by extreme precipitation events, such as flooding in a community.”

WATCH | 100s could be infected with polio in New York state: 

100s could be infected with polio in New York, health officials say

2 days ago

Duration 2:19

A health official in New York State says hundreds of people could be infected with the polio virus.

Reports of polio in U.S., U.K., Israel

On Wednesday, British health authorities announced they will offer a polio booster dose to children aged one to nine in London, after finding evidence the virus has been spreading in multiple regions of the capital.

The agency said it was working closely with health authorities in the U.S. and Israel, as well as the World Health Organization, to investigate the links between polio viruses detected in those two countries. 

In July, Israel announced a recent outbreak of polio infections appeared to be under control, after multiple people became infected, including a Jerusalem girl who was paralyzed and now requires rehabilitation, according to the Jerusalem Post.

More recently, in the state of New York, one unvaccinated young adult suffered paralysis after a polio infection in Rockland County — an area known for low vaccination rates — which marked the first case reported in the U.S. in nearly a decade. 

Outbreaks also remain common in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Africa — areas of the world where vaccination efforts have not yet eradicated the virus.

Polio can often be asymptomatic, but in some cases, the viral infection can lead to paralysis or death.

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