Pfizer CEO – This could be the last wave with restrictions


Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said Monday that although the “most likely scenario” is that coronavirus will be circulating for many years to come, he believes the current wave of infections will be the final one that requires restrictions.

Bourla also said that the company’s anti-COVID pill, Paxlovid, “changes everything,” as a new way to fight serious illness. Pfizer said in December that its Paxlovid pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths in vulnerable people by almost 90 percent.

France’s current COVID wave could peak in around 10 days time – national vaccine chief


The current COVID-19 wave engulfing France could reach its peak in around 10 days time, said Professor Alain Fischer, an official responsible for France’s COVID vaccine strategy.

“I think we are coming to the peak of this new wave,” Fischer told LCI TV, adding that this peak could come “primarily towards the beginning of the second fortnight of January, so if we work it out this would be in around 10 days time.”

France reported 261,481 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, less than the record of more than 332,000 set on Wednesday, but the seven-day moving average of new cases rose above 200,000 for the first time since the start of the health crisis.

Risk of death from Covid for over 70s has decreased by tenfold compared to a year ago


Research shows the risk of death from Covid for over 70s has decreased by tenfold compared to a year ago, thanks to vaccines, natural immunity, treatments, and the replacement of Delta by the mild Omicron variant.

In younger age groups the decline is sharper with the risk of death to healthy teens “almost zero”.

Professor Anthony Brookes, an expert in genetics and health data at University of Leicester, helped compile the research based on Office of National Statistics, Government and NHS infection reports.

He said Covid no longer posed a significant threat to “the vast majority of people”

“We will not be in anything like the same place in January 2022 as we were in January 2021. Infected individuals are at dramatically less risk of becoming seriously ill or dying than a year ago,” he said.

He added: “Over the last month the risk has been dropping further thanks to Omicron now accounting for around 95 per cent of cases in England. Omicron is around 4-fold less dangerous – it’s like nature’s vaccine.”

Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infectious disease at the University of East Anglia said: “There is no doubt the illness we are seeing now is less severe than at the start. We are seeing a big shift towards covid becoming the common cold due to a range of factors including prior infection and vaccines.

Good news from New York City re vaccine protection against hospitalisation


Covid booster 88% effective against hospital treatment with Omicron


A booster vaccine is 88% effective at preventing people ending up in hospital with Covid-19, new data from the UK Health Security Agency suggests.

The new data confirms that two doses of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines offers little protection against being infected with Omicron.

But protection against severe disease appears to be holding up much better against the new variant.

Health officials said this reinforces the importance of getting a third dose.

The health secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is more promising data which reinforces just how important vaccines are. They save lives and prevent serious illness.

“This analysis shows you are up to eight times more likely to end up in hospital as a result of Covid-19 if you are unvaccinated.”


Vaccine wall continues to grow in UK as 75% of eligible adults have received their booster vaccine



Moderna says booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine appears protective against Omicron


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Moderna’s Covid-19 booster shot elicits a strong antibody response against the Omicron variant of coronavirus, appearing to increase antibody levels even further than a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Boston-based biotech said its half-dose booster increased antibody levels 37-fold, compared with people who received just two doses, showing a similar level of immune response as when tackling the Delta variant. Two doses did induce a less robust result, down 2.9-fold against Omicron, compared with the wild type of the virus.

BioNTech and Pfizer have previously said their booster lifts antibody levels 25-fold, though the studies are not directly comparable. The pair are also preparing a shot targeted to Omicron, which it has said will be available by March.

But Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, on Monday said Moderna would also continue to invest in developing a vaccine targeted to the Omicron variant, in case it became necessary in the future, putting it into clinical trials early next year.

The Cautious Case for Omicron Optimism


As the world awaits more data on Omicron, early reports out of South Africa — where the coronavirus variant was first reported and is driving a massive spike in new cases — have consistently characterized symptoms from most cases as either nonexistent or relatively mild. On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci described Omicron as “almost certainly” not as severe as Delta, based on the preliminary data.

What should we make of very early data, or Dr. Fauci’s comments today, that suggest Omicron may be less deadly than Delta?

It’s very encouraging that ten days after Omicron was first reported, physicians on the ground in South Africa are still saying that most of the people who were hospitalized were unvaccinated and mostly seem to have very mild disease. That’s kind of persistent. It’s not changing. That is not what happened with Delta. In March, there was a 4 percent vaccination rate in India, and there was not this prolonged period where people were like, “Oh, it isn’t that bad.” It was really very terrible in terms of hospitalizations, severe illness, oxygen requirements, and deaths. This is a very different feeling. I find it really funny that people are saying, “Oh, well, it’s early. Let’s not trust them.” Why wouldn’t I trust my South African colleagues? I’m a long-standing HIV doctor and researcher who knows many of these investigators. I think that we should trust them.

I think there are two reasons that this could be happening. One is that the virus could have evolved to become less virulent, which we’ll need experiments to show. Or the second reason is that there’s just more immunity now, in December 2021, so it manifests more mildly. I don’t think we know the answer yet.

You talked a bit about your colleagues in South Africa, and you’ve done research there. At this point, do we know enough about Omicron, and the people who are getting sick in South Africa, to know what to expect in the United States?

A lot of people have said over the last couple of days that there’s a younger population in South Africa than in the U.S. The median age in South Africa is 28 or 29. But the median age in India is 28.4 and what we saw in India at the beginning of Delta was not subtle. As an Indian America-based physician, I really want to be clear that India was an utter disaster. Four percent of the population was vaccinated and young people, my own relatives, died. India has the same median age as South Africa and, if you look at the graphs, cases in India went up like a wall, not because they suddenly started testing but because people were flooding the hospitals with illness. So Omicron in South Africa is very different than what we saw with Delta in India, with the same median age.

Pfizer says booster shot promising against Omicron


Pfizer and BioNTech have said a booster jab of their coronavirus vaccine promises to be an effective defence against the new Omicron variant.

Three doses provide a similar level of antibodies against Omicron to that of two doses with other variants, the companies said after a small study.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said vaccines should still work against severe Omicron cases.

Researchers across the world are piecing together data about Omicron.

It is the most heavily mutated version of coronavirus found so far.

In a statement on Wednesday, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said protection against the variant would be improved with a third dose of the jab.

“Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

However, Pfizer and BioNTech noted that the results were preliminary and said they would continue to collect data and “evaluate real-world effectiveness”.

They added that they were developing an Omicron-specific vaccine which would be ready for delivery within 100 days, pending regulatory approval.