1. Study Suggests Omicron-specific Booster May Not Provide More Protection (STAT News) A new study conducted in primates suggests there may not be a benefit from updating Covid-19 vaccines to target the Omicron variant at this time. The work, by scientists at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s Vaccine Research Center, shows that animals boosted with the original vaccine had similar levels of protection against disease in the lungs as did primates that received an updated booster based on the Omicron strain. The work was done with Moderna’s licensed vaccine and a booster shot based on the Omicron variant. Study of blood from the animals showed that many of the measurable immune responses — rises in neutralizing antibody levels, for instance — were not substantially different, regardless of which booster shot they were given.
2. CDC Plans to Let People With Weakened Immune Systems Get a Booster Earlier (Washington Post) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to update its guidance for some people with weakened immune systems to receive a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine three months after completing the initial series of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine rather than at the current interval of five months. Agency officials presented the anticipated changes Friday during a meeting of the CDC’s outside vaccine experts on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The updated guidance is expected to be released Monday.
3. South African Scientists Copy Moderna’s COVID Vaccine (Nature) Researchers at a South African biotechnology company say they have nearly completed the process of reproducing Moderna’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, without Moderna’s involvement. The company, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines in Cape Town, has made only microlitres of the vaccine, which is based on data that Moderna used to make its shot. But the achievement is a milestone for a major initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) — a technology-transfer hub meant to build capacity for vaccine manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries.
4. The Omicron Variant “BA.2” Outperforms “BA.1”. It is Soon Expected to Be Up to 100% in Denmark : It is Soon Expected to Be Up to 100% in Denmark (Statens Serum Institut) The Statens Serum Institut (SSI) has prepared a risk assessment for the omicron variant BA.2. The prevalence of the omicron variant BA.2 continues to increase in Denmark. It became dominant in week 2 and accounted for 69% in week 3. BA.2 is expected to account for up to 100% of infections in mid-February 2022. The preliminary projections show that the growth rate for BA.2 is significantly higher than for BA.1. This equates to BA.2 being approximately 30% more contagious than BA.1. This means that the emergence of BA.2 may lead to a steeper epidemic curve with a higher peak for the number of daily cases of infection. Similarly, BA.2 may postpone the time of the expected decline in infection until into February.
BA-2 VARIANT IS PREVELENT IN DENMARK (Down load and get Englixh translation)
”…The same pattern – an increase in the proportion of BA.2 and a decrease in the proportion of BA.1 – is not mirrored as clearly in n[SOME] other countries. In the UK, Sweden and Norway, a steeper increase in the proportion of BA.2 cases relative to BA.1 has also been observed, but BA.2 still only accounts for 10%-20% of Omicron cases. BA.2 is probably also beginning to take over in Asian countries like India and the Philippines, as several European countries report BA.2 cases imported from these countries. Qatar has reported that BA.2 seems to be the dominant variant there too…The fact that BA.2 is now the dominant variant indicates that it has an increased growth potential, either due to higher transmissibility and/or due to an increased ability to evade the immune system compared to BA.1. The difference in growth potential between countries may be linked to differences in vaccination coverage and contact patterns arising because of restrictions, population densities, etc.
Currently, the incidence is highest among 6-15-year-olds (11,000 cases per 100,000
inhabitants). BA.2 has gained ground rapidly across all age groups and therefore it is
relevant to monitor its growth rate in various age groups to be able to identify a potential
spread to the older segments of the population, which is characterized by high booster
vaccination rates. Similarly, declining growth rates in other age groups may indicate that
the epidemic has peaked in these groups.
The distribution of BA.2 only showed small differences on a regional level, and BA.2 is estimated to account for close to 100% of all cases by mid-February.
The growth rate of BA.2 is much higher than BA.1 in all five age groups in the
time period from 8 to 21 January. In three of the age groups, the number of cases
is expected to double within less than a week.
The difference in the growth rates between the two sub-variants corresponds to
BA.2 being approximately 30% more transmissible than BA.1.
A decline in the growth rate of BA.2 was recently observed in the youngest age group and we also expect a decline (since these estimates were calculated) in growth rates in the other age groups. Otherwise, we would have seen more cases
in week 4.
The growth rate of BA.2 is highest among the 5-17-year-olds and lowest among
A higher growth rate of BA.2 compared to BA.1 will likely be reflected in a steeper
epidemic curve with a higher peak, and it may also postpone the time at which infection rates start to decline as a larger proportion of the population needs to be infected to achieve temporary herd immunity…
The risk of infection by either one of the two Omicron variants is higher for unvaccinated than for vaccinated individuals. Furthermore, booster vaccination (three doses) significantly reduces the risk of infection compared with fully vaccinated individuals (two doses). Even so, susceptibility is higher among potential secondary cases in BA.2 infected households than in BA.1 infected households regardless of vaccination status of the potential secondary case. This indicates that BA.2 is inherently more transmissible than BA.1.
Among vaccinated individuals, the odds ratio of transmitting BA.2 is slightly lower than that of transmitting BA.1. This means that individuals who have been vaccinated are generally less likely to transmit BA.2 than BA.1.
SUMMARY: Preliminary data shows that BA.2 is transmitted to a larger proportion of household members than BA.1, which corroborates that BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1. Unvaccinated individuals transmit infection much more, if they are infected with BA.2 compared to BA.1, and the opposite applies in vaccinated individuals. Furthermore, vaccinated individuals are generally more susceptible to BA.2 than to BA.1.
There is still no evidence to support that BA.2 is associated with an increased risk of hospital admission.
(J. Harris: [TWO JABS AND A BOOSTER HELP PREVENT BAD A- -2!]
TOMORROW WE CAN LOOK AT DEER (AND HOGS).
AND LAST BUT NOT LEASED:
Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
A recent study has found women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it
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