CategoryNetherlands

European regulator says Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’

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The European Union’s medicines agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” to use following an investigation into reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after more than a dozen European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden – halted the vaccine’s rollout over clotting fears.

The EMA said the benefits outweigh the risks – and the vaccine is not linked to an “overall risk” of blood clots.

However, the agency’s safety committee has also said it can’t rule out a potential link with a “small number of cases” of a rare clotting disorder occurring after the vaccination.

It has therefore recommended that governments “raise awareness” of the possible effects by including them in product information.

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-european-regulator-says-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine-is-safe-and-effective-12249663

The E.U. begins its vaccine rollout, aiming to inoculate more than 450 million people

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From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people across the European Union.

The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the pandemic began.

Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation as a whole into quarantine.

“Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president wrote on Twitter. “The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries.”

For Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, the vaccine’s arrival could not come soon enough. Italy’s suffering at the outset of the pandemic served as a warning for the world, and the current death toll is again among the worst in Europe.

“Today Italy reawakens. It’s #VaccineDay,” he wrote on Twitter after a 29-year-old nurse at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital was the first person to be inoculated. “This date will remain with us forever.”

The nurse, Claudia Alivernini, said she hoped the vaccination campaign would signal “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

In Spain, a 96-year-old great-grandmother, Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, was the first to receive the vaccine. The Los Olmos nursing home, where she lives, is in Guadalajara,  a city that has a special storage facility where the first doses of the vaccine were delivered on Saturday, transported from Belgium.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that the  vaccinations marked “a hopeful new chapter.”

Similar scenes played out across the continent, although not every member of the bloc followed the rollout plans. In Germany, a nursing home in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt jumped the gun, inoculating dozens of residents and staff members on Saturday, hours after the doses arrived. Officials in the Netherlands said they planned to begin vaccinations on Jan. 8.

But all E.U. member nations now have a supply of vaccine on hand to distribute.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/12/27/world/covid-19-coronavirus-updatesHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Nasal Spray Prevents Covid Infection in Ferrets

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A nasal spray that blocks the absorption of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has completely protected ferrets it was tested on, according to a small study released on Thursday by an international team of scientists. The study, which was limited to animals and has not yet been peer-reviewed, was assessed by several health experts at the request of The New York Times.

If the spray, which the scientists described as nontoxic and stable, is proved to work in humans, it could provide a new way of fighting the pandemic. A daily spritz up the nose would act like a vaccine.

“Having something new that works against the coronavirus is exciting,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, the chairman of immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study. “I could imagine this being part of the arsenal.”

The work has been underway for months by scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and the University of Campania in Italy. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Columbia University Medical Center.

The team would require additional funding to pursue clinical trials in humans. Dr. Anne Moscona, a pediatrician and microbiologist at Columbia and co-author of the study, said there was a patent on the product, and she hoped Columbia University would approach the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed or large pharmaceutical companies that are seeking new ways to combat the coronavirus.

The spray attacks the virus directly. It contains a lipopeptide, a cholesterol particle linked to a chain of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This particular lipopeptide exactly matches a stretch of amino acids in the spike protein of the virus, which the pathogen uses to attach to a human airway or lung cell.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/05/health/coronavirus-ferrets-vaccine-spray.htmlHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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BCG: Can a vaccine from 1921 save lives from Covid-19?

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Scientists in the UK have begun testing the BCG vaccine, developed in 1921, to see if it can save lives from Covid.

The vaccine was designed to stop tuberculosis, but there is some evidence it can protect against other infections as well.

Around 1,000 people will take part in the trial at the University of Exeter.

But while millions of people in the UK will have had the BCG jab as a child, it is thought they would need to be vaccinated again to benefit.

Vaccines are designed to train the immune system in a highly targeted way that leaves lasting protection against one particular infection.

But this process also causes wide-spread changes in the immune system. This seems to heighten the response to other infections and scientists hope it may even give our bodies an advantage against coronavirus.

Previous clinical trials have shown the BCG jab reduced deaths by 38% in newborns in Guinea-Bissau, mostly by reducing cases of pneumonia and sepsis.

Studies in South Africa linked the vaccine to a 73% reduction in infections in the nose, throat and lungs; experiments in the Netherlands showed BCG reduced the amount of yellow fever virus in the body.

“This could be of major importance globally,” Prof John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, told the BBC.

“Whilst we don’t think it [the protection] will be specific to Covid, it has the potential to buy several years of time for the Covid vaccines to come through and perhaps other treatments to be developed.”

The UK trial is part of the international Brace-study, which is also taking place in Australia, the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil, recruiting 10,000 people in total.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54465733HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Airport Covid testing to be given go-ahead ‘within days’ says MP – which could end quarantine restrictions

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Airport coronavirus testing could be given the go-ahead within days – which may end or drastically reduce quarantine periods.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay confirmed that decisions regarding new measures which include airport swabbing will be made in the “coming days”.

He also said it would be a similar procedure currently seen in Germany, where passengers arriving from high-risk countries are able to be tested, meaning they can leave the quarantine, according to the Times.

Speaking during a Conservative conference, Mr Barclay explained: ““I am expecting Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock to say more about this in the coming days.

“If we look, for example, at some of the German states, which are using testing to then release earlier from some of the restrictions.”

Brits currently have to quarantine for 14 days if returning from any countries deemed high risk, which includes Spain, France, parts of Portugal and Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey, which was added to the quarantine list last week.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/12847172/airport-covid-testing-start-quarantine-rules-end/​

On a seemingly negative day for the UK, we need to keep our spirits up – treatment and vaccines are improving all the time

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With the latest press conference in the UK from Chief Medical Adviser, Prof Chris Whitty and the Chief Scientific Adviser – Sir Patrick Vallance a bleak picture was painted for the UK over the coming months.  Whilst this maybe the case we have to highlight all of the positive news that are ongoing with treatments and vaccines.

Treatments

Here are a few of our recent articles on treatment options and how they are improving all the time :

Covid Grows Less Deadly as Doctors Gain Practice, Drugs Improve

Roche says its drugs reduce ventilator need for COVID-19 patients

Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody helps some patients rid their systems of virus sooner in early analysis

COVID-19 patients in the Netherlands now spend only 8 days in ICU compared to 22 days in March/April, says chairman of Dutch ICU association

We are finally unravelling the mystery of what causes severe covid-19

New Study: Vitamin D reduces risk of ICU admission 97%

Vaccines

Moderna expects to make 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by 2020 end

Hundreds of thousands have been given Chinese COVID-19 vaccines without a single infection

Pharma company drastically boosts its potential coronavirus vaccine production

Moderna expects to know if its coronavirus vaccine works by November, CEO says

AstraZeneca trial illness likely not linked to Covid vaccine, Oxford says

Pfizer reports ‘potential’ with COVID-19 candidate vaccine after expanding trial to 44,000 people

Dr. Siegel on potential COVID vaccine effectiveness: Unlike annual flu, virus is not ‘a moving target’

Pfizer CEO: Chances ‘quite’ good will know by October if vaccine works

Things will improve, things look negative at the moment but all around the world there are positive developments.  Hopefully this offers some glimmer of hope.

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COVID-19 patients in the Netherlands now spend only 8 days in ICU compared to 22 days in March/April, says chairman of Dutch ICU association

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There are currently many more corona patients in intensive care than in March and April, at the start of the corona pandemic in the Netherlands. This confirms Diederik Gommers, chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC), following reports in the AD .

This is because the length of stay of corona patients in the ICU has become much shorter. In March and April, a patient spent an average of 22 days in the ICU, in July and August this had dropped to less than eight, according to figures from the National Intensive Care Evaluation Foundation (NICE).

It should be noted that the figures for July and August may be slightly higher, because a number of those patients were still in the ICU when the report was written.

“We are still investigating why people can leave the IC faster,” says Gommers. “But if you assume that it concerns a comparable group of patients, then I think an important part can be attributed to the improved treatment.”

The corona patients not only leave the IC faster, the chance of survival has also improved, says Gommers. He says there are no indications that the virus has become milder.

“We still need to do more research into the causes, but it is certainly a very promising development,” he says. “We don’t know if there will be a second corona wave and how big it will be, but if it is comparable to the first, then we need to expand the ICs much less.”

https://nos.nl/artikel/2348331-gommers-coronapatienten-nu-veel-korter-op-ic.htmlHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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J&J unit to start mid-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials in Spain

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Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit will begin mid-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in Spain on Monday, the programme’s lead investigator said.

Alberto Borobia said 190 people would take part in the country’s trials, which will take place in three hospitals and be concluded by Sept. 22.

The Spanish study is part of mid-stage, or Phase II, trials of the vaccine that are being carried out in three countries, also including the Netherlands and Germany. The trials in the three countries will last two months and include 550 participants in total.

https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-vaccine/jj-unit-to-start-mid-stage-covid-19-vaccine-trials-in-spain-idUSL8N2GA0NAHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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We are finally unravelling the mystery of what causes severe covid-19

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An out-of-control human peptide called bradykinin could be responsible for some of the varied and sometimes deadly symptoms seen in people who have contracted the coronavirus. We already have drugs to control bradykinin, which are being tested as treatments for people with covid-19.

Bradykinin normally helps to regulate blood pressure, and in some people, the coronavirus seems to be pushing bradykinin production into overdrive. This would create a kind of “bradykinin storm” in the body that may lead to a number of symptoms common in covid-19.

Renuka Roche at Eastern Michigan University says such a storm could explain many aspects of covid-19 that seem disjointed, such as muscle pain, women sometimes having milder illness than men, and African Americans being more likely to develop complications.

In July, a team led by Daniel Jacobson at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee published a study in which they mined gene expression data in samples of lung fluid from nine people with covid-19 in China, and compared them with samples from a control group that didn’t have the disease. They found an over-expression of genes that are responsible for bradykinin production, along with under-expression of genes that produce enzymes to keep bradykinin levels in check.

Because bradykinin dilates blood vessels and makes them more permeable, high levels of bradykinin could lead to fluid leakage in a blood-vessel-rich environment like the lungs. It can also break down the blood-brain barrier, suggesting a possible pathway for some of the coronavirus’s puzzling neurological symptoms.

Fortunately, drugs that help regulate hyaluronic acid and bradykinin predate covid-19. In 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the anti-inflammatory drug icatibant for acute attacks of the hereditary genetic disease angioedema, a condition that involves its own bradykinin storms.

In July, a team led by Roger Brüggemann at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands did a preliminary trial of icatibant on nine Dutch coronavirus patients who were being treated with oxygen for difficulty breathing. The team found a reduction in the need for oxygen supplementation in eight of those people.

Studies are now under way in the US and Europe to test another bradykinin signal-blocking drug called lanadelumab.

“We hope … once this is completed, it will be the next step towards a multinational study involving several hundreds of patients,” says Brüggemann.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2253987-we-are-finally-unravelling-the-mystery-of-what-causes-severe-covid-19/HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Great News About Births During Covid-19 – Pandemic shutdowns saw huge decreases in babies born prematurely

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Here at last is some good news about the Covid-19 pandemic and the wholesale disruption to our lives it has caused: In many places with strict lockdowns this spring, there were far fewer premature births than is considered normal.

The trend doesn’t appear to be universal, but where it applies, the data are staggering. In Denmark, the number of babies born after less than 28 weeks of gestation — 40 weeks is the norm — dropped by 90% during the country’s month-long lockdown this spring. In one region of Ireland, the rate of preemies with very low birth weight was down by 73% between January and April compared with averages over the preceding two decades. Somewhat smaller decreases have been observed in parts of Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. Elsewhere, clinics and doctors are now scurrying to examine their own data.

One reason to rejoice is, of course, that this means many parents had healthier, happier babies this spring. Premature birth and low gestational weight are associated with various medical complications, ranging from cerebral palsy or death in the worst cases to learning disabilities or visual problems in later life. For example, it’s why Stevie Wonder, an American singer who was born six weeks early, is blind.

But the bigger reason to cheer is that this phenomenon could eventually help us understand what causes premature birth in the first place, and thus how to prevent it. For now we can only speculate, as the researchers behind the Danish and Irish work freely admit — their papers haven’t yet been peer-reviewed.

One explanation for fewer premature births may be the decreases in air pollution during the lockdowns, as fewer people drove or flew and factories belched less. Another factor could be that the moms-to-be had fewer infections generally — and thus less inflammation in their bodies — as we reduced contact with people and germs and obsessively washed hands.

But the most obvious and plausible reason appears to be that for many expecting moms, though decidedly not all, the lockdowns reduced stress. This may seem counterintuitive, because a pandemic is itself a big a stressor. Moreover, the lockdowns deprived many people of their livelihood and thus caused additional financial and even existential anxiety.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-08-01/why-do-coronavirus-lockdowns-lead-to-fewer-premature-birthsHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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