Coronavirus digest: fourth hit ‘not enough’ to fight omicron, study finds | News | DW

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An Israeli study found that a fourth injection of the COVID-19 vaccine was able to boost antibodies to higher levels than the third injection, but researchers found it was still not enough to prevent variant infections. omicron, said researchers from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. Monday.

This is the first trial in the world studying a fourth vaccination with combination vaccines, the Israeli hospital said, adding that the results were preliminary and have not yet been published.

Some 150 study participants received a fourth dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, while another 120 participants received a fourth vaccination with Moderna. All had received a third BioNTech-Pfizer booster. They were then compared to a control group that did not receive the fourth hit.

“The increase in antibody levels that we saw with Moderna and Pfizer is slightly higher than what we saw after the third booster vaccine,” said lead researcher and director of the infectious diseases unit, Gili Regev-Yochay.

However, “despite increased antibody levels, the fourth vaccine offers only partial defense against the virus,” she added.

Meanwhile, US drugmaker Moderna said its candidate vaccine against the omicron coronavirus variant will enter clinical development in the coming weeks. The company expects to be able to share data with regulators around March, CEO Stephane Bancel said.

The company also aims to roll out a combined COVID-flu-RSV booster vaccine in late 2023, hoping that a joint vaccine would encourage people to get vaccinated every year.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is a common virus that causes the common cold which can be more severe in infants and the elderly.

Here is an overview of the latest developments on COVID-19 around the world:

Europe

the European Union said it would tighten COVID-19 travel rules for unvaccinated arrivals from Australia, Argentina and Canada.

The bloc has reached an agreement to remove these three nations from a list of countries where easier travel restrictions apply regardless of vaccination status, which includes countries such as Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, l Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia. , South Korea, among others.

EU citizens arriving from Australia, Argentina and Canada are exempt from the new rule, along with their family members, as well as long-term residents of the bloc. Health and transport personnel are also exempt.

In Germany State health ministers met on Tuesday night to consider easing PCR testing requirements to ease the burden on labs when case numbers are high.

Ministers reduced the period that counts as COVID-recovered from 6 months to 3, citing the omicron variant.

And German Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned the public against underestimating omicron.

“The data from Switzerland shows it again: hardly anyone who has been boosted dies from COVID and very few people who have been vaccinated,” Lauterbach tweeted on Monday evening, as he endorsed an “obligation to vaccinate for all” because it would mean avoiding “renewing restrictions” later.

He also said Germany should expect the variant to be a major burden on hospitals and critical infrastructure, even though omicron results in half as many hospitalizations as the delta variant. This is due to the higher number of infections, according to recent studies from the United States.

Meanwhile, the country on Monday recorded another record for its seven-day incidence rate of coronavirus infections, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), while reporting 30 new virus-related deaths. The health authority recorded a record 528.2 new infections per 100,000 people, surpassing the 515.7 reported on Sunday.

The figures were much higher than the 375.7 new infections per 100,000 people per week seven days ago.

Teachers in France called for a second nationwide strike, saying class disruptions have become unmanageable due to the highly contagious variant of the omicron coronavirus.

French teachers’ unions are calling on the government to hire enough replacements to replace absent teachers who are sick with COVID-19. They are also calling for more protective equipment and greater investment in the French education system, where the average teacher salary is lower than in many other European countries.

The strike comes as France has seen the biggest one-day increase in hospitalizations since early November 2020.

Poland has now entered its fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, the health minister said, warning that the spread of the omicron variant could push the number of daily cases to levels not yet seen in the country.

While the number of daily cases has fallen since early December, Poland has had little respite since the fourth wave, regularly reporting more than 10,000 new infections a day amid low vaccination rates and limited restrictions. to public life.

“We expect the peak of infections to be in mid-February and that peak is around 60,000 cases per day,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.

Americas

South America hospitals are under pressure from the omicron variant as employees fall ill, leaving facilities understaffed to deal with the third wave of COVID-19.

A major hospital in Bolivia’s biggest city has stopped admitting new patients due to lack of staff, while one of Brazil’s most populous states has canceled scheduled surgeries for a month. Argentina’s Federation of Private Health Care Providers told the AP that about 15% of health workers in the country are currently infected with the virus.

All of this comes as around two-thirds of South America’s estimated 435 million people are fully immune, the highest percentage of any region in the world, according to Our World in Data.

Canada Paxlovid, the anti-COVID pill approved by drugmaker Pfizer, for adults at high risk of developing serious illness. The government approved it after an “accelerated review,” Health Canada said in a statement posted on its website, adding that it would continue to monitor its safety and effectiveness.

“No drug, including PAXLOVID TM, replaces vaccination,” the statement added. The drug, which includes two types of tablets, is the first coronavirus treatment that can be taken at home.

Asia

india Gennova Biopharmaceuticals said it is working on an omicron-specific COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate. A person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters the product could be ready within two months.

“The Omicron-specific variant of the vaccine is under development and will be ready for human clinical trials, subject to regulatory approvals,” a company spokesperson told Reuters.

China said it would not sell Olympics tickets to the general public. Only “selected” spectators will be allowed into the Beijing Olympics next month due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have confirmed. Beijing had already banned fans from outside the country.

The announcement comes as China has seen the highest number of coronavirus cases in nearly two years, just weeks before hosting the Winter Olympics.

jcg/wmr (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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