Coronavirus vaccine does protect against spread


Coronavirus vaccines are extremely effective at preventing the spread of the Alpha variant of the disease but the impact may be less on the more infectious Delta variant, according to researchers at Dutch public health institute RIVM.

The researchers studied how often people who have been fully vaccinated infected others in their household between February and May, when the Alpha variant was dominant in the Netherlands.

The study showed that people living in the same household as people who were fully vaccinated, but picked up coronavirus, were 71% less likely to be infected than household members of unvaccinated people.

Among people who were infected after partial vaccination (at least two weeks after the first jab with the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine), 21% fewer household members became infected.

The research results also show that if someone in the household tested positive, fully vaccinated household members were 75% less likely to become infected than unvaccinated household members.

Netherlands – Covid hospital total falls below 300; No ICU admissions for 48 hours


Hospitals in the Netherlands were treating 296 people for Covid-19 on Wednesday, the first time that number has dipped below 300 since September 18. It was also the second day in a row that no new patient admissions were sent directly to intensive care.

The current hospital total fell by four percent between the afternoons of Tuesday and Wednesday.The total included 168 patients were being treated outside of the ICU, a net decrease of 14.

The other 128 patients in intensive care, a net increase of one, which includes patients who were transferred from another hospital department.

All told, eleven new patients were admitted into care during the previous 24 hours. None of them were sent directly to intensive care, the second straight day with no new ICU admissions, according to LCPS.

That has not happened since July 28-29, 2020, according to data from hospital monitor NICE.

Netherlands – Coronavirus infection average nears 9-month low; Vaccine average at over 252K per day


Public health agency RIVM said on Sunday that people in the Netherlands tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection another 1,066 times. That brought the seven-day moving average down to 1,443, the lowest it has been since mid-September.

The moving average has plunged by 38 percent in a week, and 77 percent in a month. It was about 83 percent lower than the third wave peak of 8,352 set on April 23.

The last time that the RIVM revealed fewer than a a thousand new infections in a single day was in the first half of September. The continued downward trend of infections in the Netherlands, combined with the fact that testing is also at a nine-month low, could result in a drop below the 1,000 mark some time next week.

Just over 23 thousand people scheduled a coronavirus test between June 5 and June 11, with 5.6 percent being diagnosed with the infection, according to preliminary data. A positivity rate that low has also not been seen since mid-September.

Over 9 million Covid vaccine shots given in Netherlands; Covid hospital total falls further


Healthcare workers in the Netherlands administered the nine millionth Covid-19 vaccine injection on Friday, according to Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. By the end of the day, roughly 9.1 million shots will have been given in the country.

An estimated 130,917 shots were given on Thursday, bringing the moving average down slightly to 133 thousand. The country is on pace to vaccinate between 900 and 950 thousand people this calendar week, down from just over a million last week, unless a surge in injections are carried out over the weekend.

Earlier in the day, De Jonge said it was possible that many people’s first vaccine injection could be delayed beyond his deadline of the beginning of July due to production problems with the Janssen Vaccine.

There were 1,439 people being treated for Covid-19 in Dutch hospitals on Friday, down five percent from Thursday and 21 percent lower than a week ago. That total included 520 people in intensive care, the lowest since February 27. The ICU figure decreased by a net total of 21 in a day. There were another 919 people in regular care, which fell by a net total of 52.

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


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.

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


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. US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Nasal Spray Prevents Covid Infection in Ferrets


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. US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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


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. 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


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.​