Five compelling reasons for hope in 2022

  1. The vaccine rollout was the fastest in global history

Never before have so many people been vaccinated in one year against a single disease than were vaccinated against Covid-19 in 2021.

The innovative technology underpinning many of these vaccines, mRNA, has the potential to unlock a whole new era of disease prevention (what some call the ‘RNAissance’).

COVAX – the Covid-19 vaccine sharing initiative – delivered more than one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses around the world and 90 per cent of these were fully-funded doses to poor countries.

  1. We now have enough vaccines to cover all health workers and older people globally

What an achievement! Recent modelling found that providing mRNA doses for every person in lower-middle and low-income countries would save 1.2 million lives this year. But inequity in access remains a challenge: 61.8 per cent of the global population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, compared to only 10.6 per cent of people in low-income countries.

  1. There were five astonishing health wins in the last year alone

In 2021, the Philippines ended its polio outbreak, Niger became the first African country to eradicate river blindness, and China was officially declared malaria-free after a mammoth 70-year effort to eradicate the disease.

Last year the WHO also approved the world’s first malaria vaccine, a disease that kills a child under five every minute.

Assistive technology for people with a disability also took a giant leap forward in 2021, with advances in brain-computer interfaces making it possible for a paralysed man to write just by thinking.

  1. Action on climate change

Renewable energy is growing faster than ever, with another year of record growth in 2021. In fact, renewables are set to account for almost 95 per cent of the increase in global power capacity over the next four years.

India’s government is banning all single-use plastics from July this year – a huge reform for the world’s second most populous country.

  1. Increased empathy and compassion – the pandemic’s ‘silver lining’

The pandemic has united us in shared experience and reminded us of our shared humanity. For example, pandemic hardship helped make domestic students more compassionate for their overseas peers. The 2021 Lowy Institute Poll found that the vast majority of Australians (83 per cent) support helping Pacific island countries pay for Covid-19 vaccines and 60 per cent supported doing the same for Southeast Asian nations.

And Australians have given generously, with World Vision finding that people in Melbourne and Sydney were up to 50 per cent more likely to sponsor a child – during the harshest of lockdowns.

These are history defying achievements in any year, and what makes them even more remarkable is that took place during unprecedented disruption.

New COVID cases fall for the third consecutive week, WHO says


The number of new coronavirus cases around the world fell 21% in the last week, marking the third consecutive week that COVID-19 cases have dropped, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

In the U.N. health agency’s weekly pandemic report, WHO said there were more than 12 million new coronavirus infections last week. The number of new COVID-19 deaths fell 8% to about 67,000 worldwide, the first time that weekly deaths have fallen since early January.

WHO said omicron remains the overwhelmingly dominant variant worldwide, accounting for more than 99% of sequences shared with the world’s biggest virus database. It said delta was the only other variant of significance, which comprised fewer than 1% of shared sequences.

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Promising Leads to Crack Long COVID Discovered


Scientists are optimistic about new evidence into what is causing long COVID, a panel of research experts brought together by the New York State Department of Health said.

They proposed many theories on what might be driving long COVID. A role for a virus “cryptic reservoir” that could reactivate at any time, “viral remnants” that trigger chronic inflammation, and action by “autoimmune antibodies” that cause ongoing symptoms are possibilities.

In fact, it’s likely that research will show long COVID is a condition with more than one cause, the experts said during a recent webinar.

People might experience post-infection problems, including organ damage that takes time to heal after initial COVID-19 illness. Or they may be living with post-immune factors, including ongoing immune system responses triggered by autoantibodies.

Determining the cause or causes of long COVID is essential for treatment. For example, if one person’s symptoms persist because of an overactive immune system, “we need to provide immunosuppressant therapies,” Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, said. “But we don’t want to give that to someone who has a persistent virus reservoir,” meaning remnants of the virus remain in their bodies.

Interestingly, a study pre-print, which has not been peer reviewed, found dogs were accurate more than half the time in sniffing out long COVID, said Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology and developmental biology at Yale University.

If one of the main theories holds, it could be that the coronavirus somehow remains in the body in some form for some people after COVID-19.

“A weakened immune response to an infection may mean that you have cryptic reservoirs of virus that are continuing to cause symptoms,” she said during the briefing. Hornig is a doctor-scientist specializing in epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City.

“That may explain why some patients with long COVID feel better after vaccination,” because the vaccine creates a strong antibody response to fight COVID-19, Iwasaki said.

For other people with long COVID, it’s not the virus sticking around but the body’s reaction that’s the issue.

“Fortunately, through the global research effort, we are now really starting to expand our understanding of how long COVID manifests, how common it is and what the underlying mechanisms may be,” Purpura said.

The future of the pandemic is looking clearer as we learn more about infection


During the early days of the pandemic, scientists and doctors were concerned that being infected with SARS-CoV-2 might not trigger a strong immune response in many people – thus an infection might not provide long-term protection.

“Immunity to Covid-19 could be lost in months, UK study suggests,” a headline from The Guardian alerted back in July 2020. “King’s College London team found steep drops in patients’ antibody levels three months after infection,” the story warned.

But that idea was based on preliminary data from the laboratory — and on a faulty understanding of how the immune system works. Now about a year and a half later, better data is painting a more optimistic picture about immunity after a bout of COVID-19. In fact, a symptomatic infection triggers a remarkable immune response in the general population, likely offering protection against severe disease and death for a few years.

And if you’re vaccinated on top of it, your protection is likely even better, studies are consistently showing.

If you’re under age 50 and healthy, then a bout of COVID-19 offers good protection against severe disease if you were to be infected again in a future surge, says epidemiologist Laith Abu-Raddad, at Weill-Cornell Medical-Qatar. “That’s really important because eventually, every one of us will get infected,” he says. “But if reinfections prove to be more mild, in general, it will allow us to live with this pandemic in a much easier way.”

Abu-Raddad and his team have been tracking reinfections in Qatar for more than a year. In one study, the team analyzed about 1,300 reinfections among more than 350,000 people in Qatar. They found that a prior COVID-19 infection reduced the risk of hospitalization upon reinfection by about 90% compared with in people having their first infection.

And here’s the “really good news,” Abu-Raddad says: This protection against severe disease persists, perhaps for years. “We’ve been following this same group of people for over a year and a half now, we don’t see much waning. If it’s there, it’s too small to discern.”

“Reinfections are not just possible, they’re pretty much inevitable,” says evolutionary biologist Jeffrey Townsend at Yale University. “At least all the evidence that we have now says that that’s true.”

To estimate how often reinfections will occur with SARS-CoV-2, Townsend and his team have been studying four other coronaviruses. They are known as “seasonal coronaviruses” and cause about 30% of colds each year.

“They all infect and reinfect on a yearly timescale,” he says, “so there’s no reason to expect something different from SARS-CoV-2.”

So why is the immune system so good at preventing severe disease but not really able to stop reinfection?

No one knows for sure. But this strategy may be a deliberate one by the immune system, immunologist Jonathan Yewdell explained last week on the podcast This Week In Virology.

In essence, your immune system is allocating resources. And its primary goal is to keep you alive. So the immune system has decided that, with coronaviruses, it’s not worth stopping the infection as long as it can stop serious, life-threatening illness.

In other words, the immune system is not built to stop every sickness or asymptomatic infection. And it’s definitely not built to “give you a negative PCR test,” Yewdell says.

So the future of COVID-19 is starting to become clearer: We’re going to have a lot more infections but hopefully a lot fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

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Europe could be headed for pandemic ‘endgame’ – WHO


The Omicron variant has moved the Covid-19 pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the World Health Oranization’s Europe director has said.

“It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Hans Kluge said in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60% of Europeans by March.

Once the current surge of Omicron currently sweeping across Europe subsides, “there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality.”

“So we anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before Covid-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back,” Mr Kluge said.

Trusted medical journal The Lancet – “After the omicron wave, COVID-19 will return but the pandemic will not”


The world is experiencing a huge wave of infection with the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Estimates based on Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) models1 suggest that on around Jan 17, 2022 there were 125 million omicron infections a day in the world, which is more than ten times the peak of the delta wave in April, 2021.1 The omicron wave is inexorably reaching every continent with only a few countries in eastern Europe, North Africa, southeast Asia, and Oceania yet to start their wave of this SARS-CoV-2 variant.1, 2 The unprecedented level of infection suggests that more than 50% of the world will have been infected with omicron between the end of November, 2021 and the end of March, 2022.1 Although IHME models suggest that global daily SARS-CoV-2 infections have increased by more than 30 times from the end of November, 2021 to Jan 17, 2022, reported COVID-19 cases in this period have only increased by six times.1, 2 Because the proportion of cases that are asymptomatic or mild has increased compared with previous SARS-CoV-2 variants,3, 4 the global infection-detection rate has declined globally from 20% to 5%.1

By March, 2022 a large proportion of the world will have been infected with the omicron variant. With continued increases in COVID-19 vaccination, the use in many countries of a third vaccine dose, and high levels of infection-acquired immunity, for some time global levels of SARS-CoV-2 immunity should be at an all time high. For some weeks or months, the world should expect low levels of virus transmission.

I use the term pandemic to refer to the extraordinary societal efforts over the past 2 years to respond to a new pathogen that have changed how individuals live their lives and how policy responses have developed in governments around the world. These efforts have saved countless lives globally. New SARS-CoV-2 variants will surely emerge and some may be more severe than omicron. Immunity, whether infection or vaccination derived, will wane, creating opportunities for continued SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Given seasonality, countries should expect increased potential transmission in winter months.

The impacts of future SARS-CoV-2 transmission on health, however, will be less because of broad previous exposure to the virus, regularly adapted vaccines to new antigens or variants, the advent of antivirals, and the knowledge that the vulnerable can protect themselves during future waves when needed by using high-quality masks and physical distancing. COVID-19 will become another recurrent disease that health systems and societies will have to manage. For example, the death toll from omicron seems to be similar in most countries to the level of a bad influenza season in northern hemisphere countries. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the worse influenza season during the past decade in 2017–18 caused about 52 000 influenza deaths with a likely peak of more than 1500 deaths per day.11 The era of extraordinary measures by government and societies to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission will be over. After the omicron wave, COVID-19 will return but the pandemic will not.

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NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal spent his Christmas giving away hundreds of PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch consoles to underprivileged kids over Christmas, it has emerged.

The former basketball star revealed on Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast, The Gary Vee Audio Experience, that not having a lot growing up really taught him the “value of giving back”. As a result, he gave away no less than 1,000 consoles over the festive period.

O’Neal, who is worth an estimated $400million, stressed the importance of giving what you can and being generous with what you have.

“You know for me, coming from where I come from, my father was a drill sergeant, my mother just was a hard-working woman,” he explained. “Didn’t have a lot. But they taught me the value of giving back. They taught me the value of helping those in need.”

He added that during his work with retailer Toys R Us he learned that 15 to 20 million children in the US wake up on Christmas with no gifts to open. “I felt that one time,” he said. “I don’t ever want a kid to feel like that.”


“You are the artist of your life. Don’t give the paintbrush to anyone else.”

Iva Ursano


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T cells from common colds can protect against coronavirus infection, study finds


People with high levels of T cells from common colds are less likely to catch COVID, according to a new peer-reviewed study.

Researchers said the findings could help provide the blueprint for the production of new vaccines which give longer-lasting immunity and would protect against current and future coronavirus variants such as Omicron and Delta.

Imperial College London researchers say the high levels of T cells and the role in fighting COVID is an “important discovery” – but warned “no one should rely on this alone” and insisted people should still get vaccinated as the “best way” to protect against COVID.

T cells are a type of white blood cell that help protect the body from infection.

Dr Rhia Kundu, first author of the study, from Imperial’s National Heart & Lung Institute, said: “Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t always result in infection, and we’ve been keen to understand why.

“We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection.

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THE DAILY POSITIVE – Sunday 9th January 2022





Keanu Reeves has cemented his position as the nicest man in Hollywood following a heartwarming charitable donation.

According to reports, the Matrix star donated “around 70 per cent” of his salary from the film to organisations researching leukaemia.

He is thought to have earned approximately $45 million in total from the film – $10 million upfront and $35 million from the movie’s box office success.

It is claimed Reeves donated 70 per cent of that overall total ($31.5million). His younger sister Kim was battling the disease at the time.

That wasn’t the end of it though. He then set up a non-profit cancer research foundation and only mentioned it, quietly, in 2009 after years of being active.

He said: “I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research,” Reeves said.


“Strong people don’t put people down … they lift them up.”

— Michael P. Watson


John Travolta lost his wife and mother to his children Kelly Preston to breast cancer in July 2020. His daughter Ella has just released her first single “Dizzy” and he appeared in a lovely cameo alongside her.


Screenshot 2022 01 09 at 21.52.14

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