COVID-19 Vaccines: Updates from Medicine.com

 

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Researchers across the globe are working to develop a vaccine.

Currently, there are 138 candidate vaccines.

Today, there are 41 candidate vaccines in stage 3 clinical trials.

So far, 21 vaccines have been authorized across several countries.

*Medical News

PEGASUS REPORTERS | AUGUST 10, 2021

08/09/2021 12:28 GMT — U.K. health agency warns that COVID-19 vaccines may not be able to prevent spread of Delta variant

New data that Public Health England (PHE) collected suggest that even people who have received full COVID-19 vaccines may still be able to pass on the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, according to Reuters.

Although there is some indication that authorized COVID-19 vaccines can prevent severe COVID-19 resulting from infection with the Delta variant, they may not be able to stop transmission, PHE said.

Reuters cites a PHE statement noting that “[s]ome initial findings […] indicate that levels of virus in those who become infected with Delta having already been vaccinated may be similar to levels found in unvaccinated people.”

“This may have implications for people’s infectiousness, whether they have been vaccinated or not. However, this is early exploratory analysis, and further targeted studies are needed to confirm whether this is the case,” PHE also reportedly stated.

08/05/2021 10:11 GMT — WHO asks high-income countries to halt COVID-19 vaccine boosters until September

In a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said the organization is asking high-income countries not to roll out COVID-19 vaccine booster programs until at least September.

This request comes as the vaccination gap between high-income and middle and low-income countries continues to widen.

For now, making more vaccines available to communities from low and middle-income countries should be the priority, the WHO Director-General indicated.

“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” said Dr. Tedros.

“We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries to the majority going to low-income countries,” he emphasized.

08/04/2021 14:13 GMT — New countries join the list of nations administering booster vaccines for COVID-19

On Monday, Germany became the latest country to offer booster shots for COVID-19 to a part of its population.

In the largest booster program worldwide, the country now says that, from September, it will offer third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to older adults, people with compromised immune systems, and anyone who has received a full regimen of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (two doses) or Johnson & Johnson (one dose) vaccines. The third group of people was included in the plans over fears that these shots are not as highly protective as mRNA vaccines.

This week, Israel also officially began administering a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine to people over 60 years of age. Its plan is to vaccinate 1 million people with boosters by the end of August.

In September, France will also offer boosters to 1.7 million people living in care homes, those over 75 years of age, and those with health conditions that make them clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.

The U.K. government has also expressed its intent to administer boosters to more vulnerable groups from September and has called on National Health Service (NHS) staff to be prepared.

Some countries, such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are now offering an extra shot of the Pfizer vaccine to anyone who has received the Sinopharm vaccine over efficacy concerns.

Meanwhile, Turkey has also begun administering a third dose of Pfizer to healthcare workers, older adults, and individuals who had received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine. Indonesia has also offered the Moderna vaccine for those in the same situation.

So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not issued recommendations for a booster.

08/04/2021 11:15 GMT — FDA expects to give full approval for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by early September

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to give full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by as early as September 6, according to reports.

The FDA said that Labor Day was its “unofficial deadline” but that it could also give the green light “sooner.” It also said full approval was one of its highest priorities.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed the same sentiment last week, saying he expected the FDA to make the decision by early fall.

The Pfizer vaccine was the first to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA in December 2020. Currently, anyone older than 12 years is eligible for the vaccine.

Experts say a full approval could ease Americans’ worries about the vaccine’s safety and encourage more to get vaccinated as the country sees a surge in cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. Over 83% of infections in the United States are attributed to the Delta variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

*Photo of Coronavirus vaccine used to illustrate this story (Credit: Bloomberg)

08/03/2021 10:10 GMT — Updated CDC guidance asks fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors, following new data about the infectiousness of the Delta variant

New data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly ReportTrusted Source indicate that the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 results in similarly high viral loads in both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

This suggests that this virus variant is highly transmissible and that vaccinated people could unwittingly transmit the Delta variant further, should they develop the infection.

For this reason, on Friday, July 27, the CDC also updatedTrusted Source the safety guidelinesTrusted Source for people who have received full COVID-19 vaccination to ask them to wear masks “in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission.”

The second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does not cause an increased risk of blood clotting, a new study Trusted Source has confirmed.

Examining over 49 million people across the European Union, the European Economic Area, and the United Kingdom, the study found the first dose of the viral vector vaccine carries a small extra risk of rare blood clots with low platelets.

The study also echoed previous reports, which found that most blood clotting incidents occurred two weeks after the first dose of vaccine was administered.

After the first dose of the vaccine, estimates showed that the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome was 8.1 per million. After the second dose, the rate dropped to 2.3 per million, level with unvaccinated people, the company said.

There are “no specific risk factors or definitive cause” for blood clotting issues associated with the vaccine, but investigations will continue, it added.

The vaccine saw its uptake decline after reports of this rare side effect surfaced across the globe.

Experts now hope that the new study, published this week in The Lancet, will instill more confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine and encourage people to receive their second dose.

07/29/2021 13:55 GMT — 3rd dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ‘strongly’ increases protection against Delta variant

Pfizer/BioNTech has said that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine can “strongly” boost the protection it provides against the more infectious Delta variant compared with its standard two-dose regimen.

In trials, the third dose produced five times more antibodies against the Delta variant in people aged 18–55 years and 11 times more antibodies in those aged 65–85 years.

The third dose also provided higher protection against both the original coronavirus strain and the Beta variant. The Pfizer vaccine had shown robust protection against severe disease with the Beta variant but slightly reduced protection against symptomatic disease and infection with two doses.

Pfizer released the new data on Wednesday on the preprint platform MedRxiv.

Among the safety and efficacy data released were also updates about the vaccine’s protection window.

Pfizer said that the protection provided by its COVID-19 vaccine can last for at least 6 months but that it may wane around that time. This was the finding from an Israeli study that prompted the company to further explore booster shots.

In light of the data and a fourth COVID-19 wave, the Israeli Health Ministry also approved booster shots to be administered to older adults. The decision came a few hours after the release of the data.

Despite the data having not undergone peer review, scientists have called it “encouraging.”

07/27/2021 10:09 GMT — Second mRNA vaccine dose safe even after an allergic response to the first dose

An estimated 2%Trusted Source of people have allergic reactions to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The vast majority of these reactions are not severe. A recent research letter, which appears in JAMA Internal MedicineTrusted Source, investigated how these individuals responded to their second dose.

The analysis included data from 159 participants who had exhibited an allergic response to their first dose of mRNA vaccine and went on to have a second dose.

Of the 159 participants, 47 took an antihistamine medication before their second dose. According to the authors:

“All 159 patients, including 19 individuals with first-dose anaphylaxis, tolerated the second dose. Thirty-two (20%) reported immediate and potentially allergic symptoms that were associated with the second dose that were self-limited, mild, and/or resolved with antihistamines alone.”

07/27/2021 09:37 GMT — COVID-19 vaccine: If you had no side effects, are you protected?

In a recent feature, Medical News Today addressed a common question: Is there a relationship between side effects after vaccination and subsequent immunity? In other words, if you do not experience side effects, are you still protected?

Read the feature here.

07/26/2021 13:48 GMT — UK study suggests that an interval of 6 weeks or more between Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may elicit stronger immune response

According to a study funded by the Department of Health and Social Care for England, delivering the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at an interval of 6 weeks or more increases concentrations of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Pfizer and BioNTech currently advise delivering the two vaccine doses at an interval of 3–4 weeks.

The research — whose findings the authors shared online in preprint form — followed the immune responses induced in 503 healthcare workers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“The study showed the expected improvement to the immune response when a longer prime-boost interval was used,: Dr. Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control and immediate past Chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, commented.

“In particular,” he added, “there was a higher neutralizing antibody response […] and there were enhancements to the cellular immunity, in particular to the parts of the immune system that provide ‘immune memory,’ so that there can be a vigorous and rapid response to exposure to the virus if it is encountered in the future.”

“In other words, it is likely to extend the duration of efficacy of vaccination.”

File photo of healthcare, coronavirus pandemic for Paris (Getty Image)

07/23/2021 10:18 GMT — EU promises to donate 200 million vaccine doses

The European Union has announced that it will send 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to low and middle-income countries. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU “takes its responsibility in helping the world fight the virus, everywhere.”

She continued to say, “Vaccination is key — that’s why it is essential to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide.”

Beyond vaccine donation, the EU is also helping African countries manufacture vaccines to reduce their dependence on imports.

07/20/2021 14:15 GMT — Quarter-dose of Moderna vaccine still creates a long-lasting immune response

New research, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, finds that two shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, each containing only one-quarter of the standard dose, were enough to trigger a long-lasting immune response.

The results are based on the analysis of blood samples from 35 participants who were enrolled in the original Moderna trial. Each participant received two 25-microgram (mg) shots of the vaccine 28 days apart. The standard dose of the Moderna vaccine is currently 100 mg.

Out of 35 participants, 33 developed an immune response after the first dose. Six months after the second shot, 29 out of 33 participants (88%) had neutralizing antibodies, which stop the virus from infecting healthy cells. Most of the participants also had robust T cell responses, which help the body make antibodies and can kill infected cells.

“It is quite remarkable — and quite promising — that you can easily detect responses for that long a time,” says study co-author Daniela Weiskopf, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California. The results suggest that using just a fraction of the dose might help make the most of the limited vaccine supplies and speed up global vaccination.

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