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UK infections drop about 60% amid vaccinations, lockdown

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The U.K.’s COVID-19 vaccination program is beginning to break the link between infection and serious illness or death, according to the latest results from an ongoing study of the pandemic in England.

Researchers at Imperial College London found that COVID-19 infections dropped about 60% in March as national lockdown measures slowed the spread of the virus. People 65 and older were the least likely to be infected as they benefited most from the vaccination program, which initially focused on older people.

The study also found that the relationship between infections and deaths is diverging, “suggesting that infections may have resulted in fewer hospitalizations and deaths since the start of widespread vaccination.”

Some 31.7 million people had been given a first dose by Tuesday, or just over 60% of the country’s adult population.

https://apnews.com/article/pandemics-england-coronavirus-pandemic-london-coronavirus-vaccine-384f50d678bdcb355ecad77aa43b5da1

Israel may have achieved herd immunity against Covid-19

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With 56% of citizens vaccinated and another 15% recovered, Israel may be the first country where people who are immune protect those who aren’t.

Israel may have reached herd immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, say experts from its largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center.

Herd immunity happens when a sufficient percentage of a population has immunity – through vaccination or having recovered from the disease — and gives indirect protection to those who aren’t immune.

The immunity level needed for herd immunity is calculated based on the transmission rate of the virus. For SARS-CoV-2 it’s estimated at 65-70 percent, says Dr. Eyal Leshem, director of Sheba’s Institute for Travel & Tropical Medicine.

Approximately 56% of Israel’s 9.2 million citizens are vaccinated and another 15% (approximately 700,000 people) recovered from Covid-19, putting Israel comfortably in the expected herd immunity range.

“We’re seeing a decline in the number of cases now despite the return to mass gatherings and schools following the third lockdown, because most of the people the infected person will meet are immune by now,” Leshem tells ISRAEL21c.

“Compared with the last two lockdowns, after which we saw an increase in cases, we see a decline even after lockdown.”

https://www.israel21c.org/israel-may-have-achieved-herd-immunity-against-covid-19/

Moderna vaccine UK rollout begins in Wales

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The UK has begun the rollout of its third coronavirus vaccine, the Moderna jab, in Wales.

Unpaid carer Elle Taylor was the first to receive the vaccine and described feeling “very excited and happy”.

In England, small business minister Paul Scully said the vaccine would be rolled out “in the next few days”.

Under-30s in the UK are to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine because of concerns about a link between it and rare blood clots.

It comes after a review by the drugs regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which found, by the end of March, 79 people in the UK suffered rare blood clots after vaccination – 19 of whom died.

The side-effects are however, extremely rare and the vaccine’s effectiveness was proven, the MHRA said.

European regulators have also concluded that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects” of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The reported combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is very rare, and the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects,” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-56657038

All Who Want Access To Vaccine in Germany Could Get It By July

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Despite the initially sluggish start of vaccinations in Germany and a new scare over the AstraZeneca vaccine, large parts of the German population appear to be on track to be vaccinated in the coming months, possibly well before the end of the summer. “It is realistic that all adults who want to get vaccinated will be able to get a shot by the end of July,” said Sebastian Dullien, research director at the Macroeconomic Policy Institute at the Hans Böckler Foundation. “Only two conditions have to be met for that to happen: We have to get the vaccine and it has to be administered.”

The economics professor used data from the German Health Ministry to do a comparison of the planned vaccine deliveries for Germany and the demand for vaccine. According to his tally, deliveries to Germany of more than 107 million doses should be completed by early July – and that even if the planned CureVac vaccine isn’t authorized by that time and not a single dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is used. By the end of July, that figure should rise to over 140 million doses.

Overall, vaccine deliveries to Germany are now expected to accelerate dramatically. Previously, Germany had been receiving less than 2 million doses a week, but as early as last week, the German Health Ministry was expecting the delivery of 3.4 million doses. From this week, deliveries of 3 million doses a week are expected and by the end of April, that figure is expected to increase to 6 million doses a week, then again to 7.5 million doses a week beginning in mid-May.

According to Dullien’s calculations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s vaccination target of offering every resident of Germany a shot by the end of the summer seems achievable. “According to the projection, a total of 215 million doses will have been delivered by Sept. 23, which would be enough for 118 million people,” the researcher says.

https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/campaign-kicks-into-high-gear-a-213e4a08-b393-4085-aae1-26236e9bf2bb

Scientists Race To Develop Next Generation Of COVID Vaccines

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The three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are safe and effective and were made in record time.

But they aren’t ideal.

An ideal vaccine — besides being safe and effective — would have a few other desirable characteristics, says Deborah Fuller, a vaccine researcher at the University of Washington.

Such a vaccine would be “administered in a single shot, be room temperature stable, work in all demographics and, even pushed beyond that, ideally be self-administered,” she says.

Now, researchers are racing to develop the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines, utilizing a variety of innovative technologies to produce more convenient and more potent options. Some of the new vaccines are already being tested in volunteers and could even be available for distribution in the next year or so.

The COVID-19 vaccine that Vaxart is developing is similar to Johnson & Johnson’s in that it uses a harmless virus to deliver instructions to cells to make proteins that will prompt an immune response to the coronavirus.

But instead of putting the delivery virus in a liquid, Vaxart freeze-dries it, turning into a powder that can be formulated into a pill that can be stored at room temperature.

Another vaccine that could be self-administered is a nasal spray vaccine. Frances Lund, chair of the microbiology department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is working on that kind of vaccine with the biotech company Altimmune. She says that when you give people a vaccine by injection, the protection is systemic — that is, it works throughout the body.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/04/06/984486776/scientists-race-to-develop-next-generation-of-covid-vaccines?t=1617828359608

England’s lockdown to ease as planned on 12 April

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Pubs and restaurants serving outside can reopen as planned next Monday, along with non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers, as England’s lockdown is further eased, the PM has said.

But Boris Johnson urged caution, saying: “We can’t be complacent.”

Officials were examining the potential role of Covid status certificates, he told a Downing Street briefing.

Pilot events will take place from mid-April to trial the system, with later events checking vaccinations.

Speaking in Downing Street, the prime minister also said the government was “hopeful” international travel could resume in the next stage of lockdown easing on 17 May, but cautioned against the effects of the surge of coronavirus in other parts of the world.

He said the government would set out “well before 17 May what is reasonable” and aim to give the aviation industry “as much notice as possible”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56641596

U.S. hits COVID-19 milestone as vaccinations top 4 million

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America edged closer to approaching a degree of normalcy on Saturday when the Biden administration announced the U.S. set a new record for the number of COVID-19 shots administered in one day, inoculating over 4 million people.

Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, White House COVID-19 Data Director, tweeted Saturday that over 4.08 million doses had been administered in the last 24 hours. He noted that it was the first time the U.S. was averaging over 3 million doses per day over the past week, reports The Hill.

Washington – America edged closer to approaching a degree of normalcy on Saturday when the Biden administration announced the U.S. set a new record for the number of COVID-19 shots administered in one day, inoculating over 4 million people.

Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, White House COVID-19 Data Director, tweeted Saturday that over 4.08 million doses had been administered in the last 24 hours. He noted that it was the first time the U.S. was averaging over 3 million doses per day over the past week, reports The Hill.

He added: Wow a record reporting day!! +4.08M doses reported administered over the total yesterday. First day w/ 4M or more. Also first time averaging more than 3M per day over the past week,” Shahpar tweeted. “Millions coming together to accelerate our progress toward controlling the pandemic!”

The CDC’s Vaccination Tracker gives us a more detailed look at the vaccinations across the country. The agency puts the number at 4,081,959 doses, bringing the 7-day average to 3,072,527 doses—the first time the 3 million mark has been passed.

In 109 days of vaccinations, some 104 million Americans have received a shot, with 59 million of them being fully vaccinated, which is about 30 percent of the population, according to CNN. The experts say the nation needs to reach a 75 to 85 percent vaccination rate to reach “herd immunity.”

http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/health/usa-hits-covid-19-milestone-as-vaccinations-top-4-million/article/587918

U.S. administers 161.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – CDC

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The United States has administered 161,688,422 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 207,866,645 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The tally is for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson’S vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, the agency said.

According to the tally posted on April 2, the agency had administered 157,606,463 doses of the vaccines, and distributed 204,719,335 doses.

The agency said 104,213,478 people had received at least one dose while 59,858,146 people are fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-cdc-idUSKBN2BQ0KA

Real-world data shows vaccines kicking butt—including against scary variant

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In a small trial, the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine fully protected people from symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the worrisome B.1.351 coronavirus variant widely circulating in South Africa, the companies announced in a press release.

Though researchers will need more data to confirm the result, it is just the latest bit of positive news to come out this week about how the vaccines are performing with real-world conditions and in real-world settings.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released real-world data showing that the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine and Moderna mRNA vaccine were, collectively, 90 percent effective at preventing infections in fully vaccinated health care, frontline, and essential workers.

On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNtech announced that their vaccine is highly effective in adolescents 12- to 15-years old—not just the adult part of the population. And on Thursday, the companies announced the B.1.351 news as well as new data on durability. That is, the latest monitoring data on people vaccinated in a Phase III trial suggests the vaccine is still 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease up to six months after the second dose. That’s longer efficacy than was previously established, but researchers will need more data still to assess efficacy beyond six months.

“The bottom line message is that vaccines work very well in the real-world setting,” top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a White House COVID-19 press briefing Friday. “They work against variants, although we need further data to confirm that. They are durable for at least six months and they work in adolescents. Very, very good reason for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as its becomes available to you.”

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/04/real-world-data-shows-vaccines-kicking-butt-including-against-scary-variant/