Chicago – Early data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines released on Monday, including a closely watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognize and fight the novel coronavirus without serious side effects.
Whether any of these efforts will result in a vaccine capable of protecting billions of people and ending the global pandemic that has claimed more than 600,000 lives is still far from clear. All will require much larger studies to prove they can safely prevent infection or serious disease.
The vaccine being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca along with the Oxford University, induced an immune response in all study participants who received two doses without any worrisome side effects.
A coronavirus vaccine under development by CanSino Biologics Inc and China’s military research unit, likewise showed that it appears to be safe and induced an immune response in most of the 508 healthy volunteers who got one dose of the vaccine, researchers reported.
Some 77 percent of study volunteers experienced side effects like fever or injection site pain, but none considered to be serious.
Both the AstraZeneca and CanSino vaccines use a harmless cold virus known as an adenovirus to carry genetic material from the novel coronavirus into the body. Studies on both vaccines were published in the journal The Lancet.
“Overall, the results of both trials are broadly similar and promising,” Naor Bar-Zeev and William Moss, two vaccine experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in a commentary in The Lancet.
However, the CanSino candidate again showed signs that people who had previously been exposed to the particular adenovirus in its vaccine had a reduced immune response.
The study authors called that “the biggest obstacle” for the vaccine to overcome.
German biotech BioNTech and U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc released details from a small study in Germany of a different type of vaccine that uses ribonucleic acid (RNA) — a chemical messenger that contains instructions for making proteins.
The vaccine instructs cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the coronavirus. The body recognizes these viruslike proteins as foreign invaders and can then mount an immune response against the actual virus.
In the not-yet peer reviewed study of 60 healthy adults, the vaccine induced virus-neutralizing antibodies in those given two doses, a result in-line with a previous early-stage U.S. trial.
The burst of announcements followed publication last week of results of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine trial, showing similarly promising early results. Moderna’s vaccine also uses a messenger RNA platform.
“It’s encouraging that all these vaccines seem to induce antibodies in people,” said former World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny of the French research institute Inserm. “This proves that the science is moving forward very quickly, which is a good sign.”
None of these leading contenders has shown side effects that could sideline their efforts so far, but all must still prove they are safe and effective in trials involving thousands of subjects, including those at high-risk for severe COVID-19, such as the elderly and people with diabetes.
Historically, just 6 percent of vaccine candidates end up making it to market, often after a yearslong testing process. Vaccine makers hope to dramatically compress that timeline through faster trials and by manufacturing at scale even before the products prove successful.
Several manufacturers have U.S. government backing with a goal of having a coronavirus vaccine by year’s end as cases continue to rise at a record pace.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is one of 150 in development globally, but is considered the most advanced. Late-stage trials have begun in Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the United States, where the infection prevalence is highest.
In its Phase I trial, the vaccine induced so-called neutralizing antibodies — the kind that stop the virus from infecting cells — in 91 percent of individuals a month after they got one dose, and in 100 percent of subjects who got a second dose. These levels were on par with the antibodies produced by people who survived COVID-19 — a key benchmark of potential success.
Oxford researcher Sarah Gilbert said the trial could not determine whether one or two doses would be needed to provide immunity.
The vaccine, known as AZD1222, also induced the body to make T cells — activating a second part of the immune system that experts increasingly believe will be important for a lasting immune response.
Recent studies show that some recovered patients who tested negative for coronavirus antibodies developed T-cells in response to their infection. Scientists think both are important aspects of an effective coronavirus vaccine.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, said the generation of both T-cell and neutralizing antibody responses was positive, adding, “there is a long way to go.”
Vaping injuries cause lingering problems for some youth, Canadian data suggests – CBC.ca
Canadian pediatricians are reporting numerous vaping-related injuries, with one third of cases involving ongoing health problems.
Interim data from the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program highlight the risks of vaping as well as non-medical cannabis use, particularly accidental ingestion of edibles.
A one-time survey of about 1,100 doctors found 88 cases of vaping illness or injury over a 12-month period, with one quarter of kids hospitalized.
Dr. Nicholas Chadi, a specialist in adolescent and addiction medicine at the University of Montreal, suspects this is just the “tip of the iceberg” since the numbers don’t include kids who turn to their family doctor or a nurse with vaping problems.
Chadi found it “very concerning” that about a third had ongoing issues and says vaping dangers should be raised with kids and teens as they prepare to return to school and reunite with friends.
“If we look at what might be happening in smaller cities where we have emergency room doctors who are not pediatricians receiving these kids, there are probably many, many more cases of these injuries happening in Canada,” says Chadi, also affiliated with Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre.
Children and youth most often suffered respiratory problems or nicotine toxicity, which can cause a very rapid heart rate, dizziness, headaches, or vomiting.
The data did not reveal what ongoing issues they suffered, but Chadi suspects they included cough or shortness of breath and possibly external wounds or burns that needed time to heal.
WATCH | Smoking or vaping may increase risk of a severe coronavirus infection:
The survey also did not capture how many kids may be addicted to vaping products, something Chadi says he expects to examine in a two-year follow-up study.
Thirteen cases involved kids who drank e-liquids or other vaping substances. Half the time this was by accident, and was more common among toddlers and preschoolers.
But the other half of incidents were on purpose, and typically involved those age 15 and older, says Chadi.
Teens tend towards riskier behaviour because their brains are still developing, but Chadi notes their lungs are still maturing, too, making the impact of dicey decisions more serious.
“They might be using more of it, they might be trying to trick the device or play with it to make it stronger, to make it blow more aerosol or things like that, which will increase the risk of injury,” he says of other teen vaping habits.
“But we also know that the lungs of a teenager can be more fragile to certain chemicals because they’re still growing, they’re still developing.”
Chadi says those findings only point to an association between vaping and a COVID-19 diagnosis, noting the study also suggested young vapers were more likely to be tested for the virus.
He says that might be because respiratory symptoms common to vaping are similar to those of COVID-19, such as coughing.
When it came to cannabis-related injuries, the surveillance program found almost all of the 36 cases reported required hospitalization, with an average patient aged 9 to 10 years old.
Not all cases involved edibles, but a third of them involved kids younger than 12 who accidentally ate cannabis products.
Because edibles have only been legal since December 2019, researchers say it’s worth dedicating more time to examining the impact of legalization on kids.
Eight cases were teens who experienced hyperemesis syndrome — a condition that causes repeated and severe bouts of vomiting.
The Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program is a joint initiative of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.
The two-year longitudinal study on cannabis is set to wrap in October. The two-year vaping study will begin this fall.
‘A call out to Deadpool’: B.C. premier wants stars to help fight surge in younger coronavirus cases – Global News
Calling Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen: B.C. Premier John Horgan wants you.
At a Wednesday press conference announcing the hiring of 500 new contact tracers in the province, Horgan also called on some of B.C.’s best-known celebrities to use their influence to help get younger people on board with coronavirus precautions.
“This is a callout to Deadpool right now. Ryan, we need your help up here. Get in touch with us, my number’s on the internet,” Horgan said. “Seth Rogen, another outstanding British Columbian. We need to communicate with people who aren’t hearing us. The two of you alone could help us in that regard.”
The ask comes as B.C. grapples with a growing number of new cases of the virus, many of them in the younger demographic.
About a third of new cases in July involved people aged between 20 and 29. A recent party in the Vancouver Coastal Health region led to about 400 people being quarantined and up to 46 cases of COVID-19.
Provincial government enlists ‘influencers’ in fight against coronavirus
As of Tuesday, about 42 per cent of B.C.’s cases involved people under the age of 39.
Data shows that younger adults have been less severely affected by the symptoms of the virus, but are just as capable of passing it on to others.
“We’re working as hard as we can to enlist a number of prominent British Columbians and prominent Canadians to help get that message through to the demographic that clearly isn’t hearing our message,” said Horgan, adding that “other options” were also on the table.
The province has already recruited social media influencers such as Jillian Harris to help spread the message following July’s outbreak in Kelowna linked largely to younger people.
Last month, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry did an “account takeover” on actor Olivia Munn’s Instagram.
And the province has launched a website dubbed Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Good Times Guide with information for young people about how to socialize safely during the pandemic.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Travel led to 18% of Waterloo region's COVID-19 cases in July – CBC.ca
Travel-related infections made up 18 per cent of the region’s new confirmed COVID-19 cases in July, public health says.
Dr. Ryan Van Meer, one of the region’s associate medical officers of health, said Tuesday 15 of 81 cases were related to out-of-country travel: seven of those were people who had travelled to the United States, five were people who travelled to India and one case each involved trips to the United Kingdom, Nicaragua and Pakistan.
So far in August there have been 25 new cases. Six of those are travel related, the region’s COVID-19 dashboard shows.
“This serves as an important reminder that travel outside of Canada continues to pose a risk,” Van Meer told regional councillors during a committee meeting Tuesday. He noted the federal government continues to advise against unessential travel outside of the country.
Public health officials said they do not record the reason why a person has visited another country, so it’s unknown if those who travelled did so for work, family commitments or a vacation.
Van Meer says the overall status of the novel coronavirus in the region “remains stable.”
The region reported 1,410 cases as of Wednesday morning, a rise of four cases since Tuesday. More than 58,200 tests have been done and 90 per cent of positive cases have been marked as resolved.
There are 28 active cases in the region with two people in hospital. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 since March remains at 119.
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