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Ukraine reports second-highest daily COVID-19 related deaths since pandemic start

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Ukraine registered 471 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, approaching the record daily toll of 481, which was reported on April 7, health ministry data showed on Wednesday.

The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Ukraine, which has a population of 41 million, has also increased over the past several weeks.

Ukraine registered 16,309 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours. It reported a total of 2.59 million COVID-19 cases and 59,523 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

 

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Province says flu shots prevents serious illness, deaths – My Comox Valley Now

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The province wants you to roll up your sleeves for another kind of vaccine as we head into flu season.

Health officials are hoping you will take their advice and get a flu shot, which is free for everyone in B.C. older than six months.

They say the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it has put on the health-care system continue to make influenza immunization a priority.

“All British Columbians should get vaccinated against influenza to protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illness, to reduce the strain on our hard-working health workers and to do our part to make sure the health system continues to be there for people who need it, where they need it and when they need it,” said health minister Adrian Dix. 

“I’m grateful to all of our health-care workers, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners and others for how they help people get immunized to protect themselves and those they care about.”

Seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses will be in communities alongside COVID-19 this fall and winter.

The province says it “has the potential to escalate pressures already faced by the health-care system, particularly if the effects from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza occur are the same.”

That is why vaccines are now available and the province continues to increase vaccine accessibility through many locations and vaccine providers throughout B.C.

“This year, it’s especially important for people to get vaccinated against influenza. Last year’s low influenza rates means our immunity against influenza is lower than usual,” said provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. 

“Getting your influenza vaccine this year is more important than ever to protect yourself, your community and our overstretched health-care system.”

Pharmacies around B.C. have played a key role in providing easy access to influenza vaccines since 2009. 

This year, vaccines are available to pharmacies through a direct-distribution model. 

This means pharmacies are able to order them directly from distributors, which the province says makes “influenza immunization easier and more flexible for people in B.C.”

“Pharmacists played a key role in helping people get immunized against COVID-19 earlier this year and administered the majority of influenza doses last year,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO, B.C. Pharmacy Association. “We’re proud of the role we continue to play in protecting our health-care system and keeping everyone safe.”

Flu vaccines have been available already for certain high-risk groups. 

As they become available more broadly to the public throughout the province, you’re asked to check their health authority’s website or call their health-care provider or pharmacist to check for availability and to make an appointment.

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Children with mild COVID-19 may not develop antibodies; oral vaccine booster shows promise in monkey study

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The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that have yet to be certified by peer review.

Children with mild COVID-19 may lack  antibodies afterward

Children who contract a mild case of COVID-19 may not develop antibodies to the virus afterward, a study from Australia suggests. Researchers compared 57 children and 51 adults with mild COVID-19 or asymptomatic infections. Only 37% of children appeared to develop antibodies, compared to 76% of adults – even though viral loads were similar in the two groups, researchers found. Children’s bodies also did not appear to produce second-line cellular immune responses to the virus in the same way as adults, said study leader Paul Licciardi of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. The participants in the study were all infected in 2020, his team reported on Monday on medRxiv https://bit.ly/2XuernM ahead of peer review. “Whether this also happens for the current circulating variant (Delta) requires further investigation, as well as studies to understand why children are less likely to produce antibody responses following SARS-CoV-2 Infection,” Licciardi said. “Whether this means children are susceptible to re-infection is not known.”

Experimental oral COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in monkeys

A COVID-19 booster vaccine that can be given by mouth to people who already have antibodies from vaccination or prior infection has yielded promising results in monkeys and is likely to be tested soon in humans, according to the company developing it. The oral booster uses traditional vaccine technology in which a harmless carrier virus delivers coronavirus proteins into cells on the surface of the tongue, or lining of the cheeks and throat, stimulating production of antibodies that can block the virus before it gets a foothold in the body, said Dr. Stephen Russell, chief executive of Vyriad in Rochester, Minnesota, who led the study. “Not only would an oral COVID-19 vaccine be more convenient and acceptable… but it might also lead to better immunity because it is being administered to the site where the COVID-19 virus typically comes into the body,” he added. In monkeys at one week after vaccinations, antibody levels increased by nearly 100-fold, with no side effects, Russell said. A report of the study posted on Monday on bioRxiv https://bit.ly/3vwny3T ahead of peer review says Vyriad is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to plan human trials.

Plants may be useful in vaccine production

Plants could someday be used to produce COVID-19 vaccines, according to researchers who are developing a nasal spray vaccine. Vaccines work by delivering antigens, which are replicas of pieces of virus or bacteria that train the immune system to recognize the invader and defend against it. Vaccine antigens are typically produced in cells from mammals, but previous studies have suggested that producing them in tobacco-related Nicotiana benthamiana plants would be less expensive and safer. In the current lab study, posted on Monday on bioRxiv https://bit.ly/3AZwFv2 ahead of peer review, COVID-19 survivors’ antibodies recognized and responded to the coronavirus antigen produced in the plants “in the same way that they recognize a standard antigen produced in mammalian cells,” said study leader Allyson MacLean of the University of Ottawa. The intra-nasal vaccine is not meant to replace conventional (injected) vaccines, but rather to add another layer of protection by stimulating immune system protection in the airways, where the virus first attaches itself,” MacLean said. “We imagine the nasal-spray being used to top-up immune protection when traveling or going to events with large numbers of people.”

Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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Restricting travel over vaccine type could be discrimination, PAHO warns

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Countries should grant entry to vaccinated travelers regardless of which shot they received to prevent discrimination and facilitate business, a top official of the Pan American Health Organization(PAHO) said on Wednesday.

With vaccination rates on the rise, countries are facing fresh questions about how to contain the spread of COVID-19 while easing pandemic travel restrictions.

The United States last week said it would reopen the land border with Mexico – the busiest in the world – but only allow people who have been inoculated with vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO), leaving out two shots heavily used in Mexico – Russia’s Sputnik V and one from China’s Cansino Biologics.

“It is very important that countries can reach bilateral, multilateral agreements, so that all the vaccines that are being used can be accepted,” PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa told a news conference.

“It can facilitate tourism, it can facilitate business, it is in the interest of society,” Barbosa said.

Turning away people based on their vaccine could unfairly impact certain travelers, he said, adding, “This could undoubtedly create a kind of discrimination.”

Millions of Mexicans have been vaccinated with Sputnik V and Cansino shots. Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he will urge the WHO to speed up approvals.

Forty-one percent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, although not evenly across the region, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said.

The COVAX vaccine sharing program is scheduled to provide another 4.6 million shots to the region by the end of the week.

Etienne urged people to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza, noting that some people could have lower defenses against the flu from staying at home and social distancing.

 

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

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