JUST GIVE ME POSITIVE NEWS

There is so much negativity in the news about COVID-19, we want to give you all the positive good news that is happening with research, clinical trials, improvements, vaccines and anything that we can be positive about that you may not have seen.

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Latest stories

Covid booster shots significantly strengthen immunity, trial finds

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Covid booster shots can dramatically strengthen the body’s immune defences, according to a study that raises hopes of preventing another wave of severe disease driven by the Omicron variant.

In a study published in the Lancet, researchers on the UK-based Cov-Boost trial measured immune responses in nearly 3,000 people who received one of seven Covid-19 boosters or a control jab two to three months after their second dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine.

Those boosted with Pfizer after two doses of AstraZeneca had antibody levels a month later nearly 25 times higher than controls. When the Pfizer booster was given following two Pfizer shots, antibody levels rose more than eightfold.

The most potent booster in the study was a full dose of the Moderna vaccine, which raised antibody levels 32-fold in the AstraZeneca group and 11-fold in the Pfizer group. When Moderna is used in the UK booster programme, it is given at a half-dose.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/02/covid-booster-shots-significantly-strengthen-immunity-trial-finds

Ninety percent of eligible population in Auckland now fully vaccinated

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After more than 100 days in lockdown, New Zealand’s largest city moved to the traffic light system today, with cafes, bars, gyms and cinemas opening.

Today has also seen a number of “significant vaccination achievements” in Auckland, the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) said.

With Waitemāta DHB joining Auckland DHB in surpassing the 90 percent mark, the figure has now been achieved as an average across the three DHBs in the city.

Auckland DHB has reached 97 percent of eligible people receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and 93 percent fully vaccinated, while Waitemāta’s first dose rate is 93 percent, with 90 percent fully vaccinated.

First dose vaccination rates in Counties Manukau stand at 93 percent for first doses and 87 percent for the second. The DHB is projected to hit 90 percent within the next couple of weeks.

Eighty percent of Māori aged 12 and over in Auckland DHB are now fully vaccinated.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/457128/covid-19-ninety-percent-of-eligible-population-in-auckland-now-fully-vaccinated

GSK says tests indicate antibody drug works against Omicron

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Laboratory analysis of the antibody-based COVID-19 therapy GlaxoSmithKline is developing with U.S. partner Vir has indicated the drug is effective against the new Omicron variant, the British drugmaker said on Thursday.

A GSK statement said that lab tests and a study on hamsters have demonstrated the sotrovimab antibody cocktail works against viruses that were bio-engineered to carry a number of hallmark mutations of the Omicron variant.

The two companies have been engineering so-called pseudoviruses that feature major coronavirus mutations across all suspicious variants that have emerged so far, and have run lab tests on their vulnerability to sotrovimab treatment.

An analysis of past tests has now yielded the preliminary clearance for the drug, because Omicron’ main mutations have been found across a variety of previous variants.

“We’ve been carefully following every mutation that might be important,” said Herbert Virgin, Vir’s Chief Scientific Officer.

“With this new variant, the mutations that we have tested so far have no significant effect on sotrovimab,” he added.

“Sotrovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind,” said Vir Chief Executive George Scangos, adding that the drug was targeting a region of the spike protein that was highly unlikely to mutate.

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/gsk-says-tests-show-antibody-drug-works-against-omicron-2021-12-02/

‘Trigger’ of blood clots with AstraZeneca jab found by scientists

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Scientists believe they may have found the “trigger” behind the extremely rare blood clot complications stemming from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The team – in Cardiff and the US – have shown in exquisite detail how a protein in the blood is attracted to a key component of the vaccine.

They think this kicks off a chain reaction, involving the immune system, that can culminate in dangerous clots.

Professor Alan Parker, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “[This] only happens in extremely rare cases because a chain of complex events needs to take place to trigger this ultra-rare side effect.”

“We hope our findings can be used to better understand the rare side effects of these new vaccines – and potentially to design new and improved vaccines to turn the tide on this global pandemic,” he added.

A spokesman for AstraZenaca told the BBC: “Although the research is not definitive, it offers interesting insights and AstraZeneca is exploring ways to leverage these findings as part of our efforts to remove this extremely rare side effect.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/covid-news-coronavirus-omicron-cases-booster-jab-vaccine-lockdown/

MHRA approves Xevudy (sotrovimab), a COVID-19 treatment found to cut hospitalisation and death by 79%

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Another COVID-19 treatment, Xevudy (sotrovimab), has today been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after it was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease.

This follows a rigorous review of its safety, quality and effectiveness by the UK regulator and the government’s independent expert scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines, making it the second monoclonal antibody therapeutic to be approved following Ronapreve.

Developed by GSK and Vir Biotechnology, sotrovimab is a single monoclonal antibody. The drug works by binding to the spike protein on the outside of the COVID-19 virus. This in turn prevents the virus from attaching to and entering human cells, so that it cannot replicate in the body.

In a clinical trial, a single dose of the monoclonal antibody was found to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 79% in high-risk adults with symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

It is too early to know whether the omicron variant has any impact on sotrovimab’s effectiveness but the MHRA will work with the company to establish this.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mhra-approves-xevudy-sotrovimab-a-covid-19-treatment-found-to-cut-hospitalisation-and-death-by-79

South African data suggests Omicron gets around some, not all immunity

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The Omicron variant appears able to get around some immunity but vaccines should still offer protection against severe disease, according to the latest data from South Africa where it is fast overtaking Delta to become the dominant variant.

Omicron, which has raised global fears of a surge in infections, was first detected in southern Africa last week and has prompted governments across continents to impose travel restrictions and take other measures to try and contain it.

The new variant has been detected in five out of nine South African provinces and was likely to be present all over the country, the latest official report showed on Wednesday.

The daily number of reported cases doubled to 8,561. It was not known how many of those were Omicron as not all test samples are subject to genomic sequencing, but an official presentation said Omicron was “rapidly becoming the dominant variant”.

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/safrica-festival-halted-after-36-test-positive-covid-site-2021-12-01

Most Omicron cases are ‘mild’ and there’s no evidence to suggest vaccines may be less effective against the variant, says WHO official

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Early indications suggest most Omicron coronavirus cases are “mild”, an official at the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Speaking on behalf of the organisation, the official said there is no evidence to suggest the efficacy of vaccines has been reduced by the new strain – but did say some mutations of the virus indicate an increased risk of quicker transmission.

They said more than 40 different mutations have been identified with the Omicron variant.

The WHO official, quoted by Reuters, added there is still a lot unknown about the new strain, but the early indications suggest that most cases are “mild”.

Giving evidence at the government’s science and technology committee on Wednesday, Professor Neil Ferguson, said it could be towards “the end of the month” before there is a clearer picture of how worrying Omicron is.

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-most-omicron-cases-are-mild-and-theres-no-evidence-to-suggest-vaccines-may-be-less-effective-against-the-variant-says-who-12483729

Oxford Sees No Evidence Omicron Defeats Vaccines So Far

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There’s no evidence existing vaccines won’t provide some protection against the omicron variant, the University of Oxford said as scientists scramble to assess the new Covid-19 mutation.

“Despite the appearance of new variants over the past year, vaccines have continued to provide very high levels of protection against severe disease and there is no evidence so far that omicron is any different,” the university said Tuesday.

Drugmakers are rushing to test their shots and therapeutics against omicron amid signs it could spread more quickly and evade vaccine protection due to the high number of mutations it displays. Companies and scientists have all said it will take some weeks before the true impact is known, with little data to go on so far.

AstraZeneca Plc, which co-developed the Covid vaccine with Oxford, said Friday it was testing the shot and already conducting research in countries such as Botswana where the variant has been identified. Oxford has the “tools and processes in place” to swiftly tweak the vaccine to target omicron if needed, it said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-30/oxford-sees-no-evidence-omicron-defeats-covid-vaccines-so-far