Thursday, September 16, 2021

Third Pfizer Covid vaccine produces 10 TIMES more antibodies than second jab, Israeli study finds

Medics at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv, compared the antibody levels in staff one week after their third and second doses.

They found that the Pfizer vaccine — which Israel is solely relying on for its immunisation programmes — stimulated a tenfold greater immune response.

While the research only looked at healthcare staff at one specific hospital, it is hoped that the findings will apply more broadly to the rest of the population.

The hospital said it was treating the results with caution and would be monitoring staff in the coming months to see how long the boost to immunity lasts.

Antibodies are just one part of the overall immune response to Covid, which also includes white blood cells known as T cells that give longer protection.

It comes just a day after the UK finally signed off on a mass booster campaign for 30million over-50s, health and social care staff and Britons with severe health issues.

Israel became the first country in the world to roll out third doses in August, initially inviting over-60s but later gradually opening it up to everyone over the age of 12.

Nearly 3m Israelis have been 'boosted' so far and the country but officials in the UK believe younger people are still enjoying very high protection.

Israel had led the way with the original vaccine rollout last December, becoming the fastest country in the world to vaccinate everyone who wanted a jab.

The trail-blazing programme suppressed the virus by summer which allowed it to become one of the first nations to lift all pandemic restrictions.

But cases began to soar over the summer, due to a combination of vaccines waning and the new Delta variant, which infects vaccinated people more easily.

Israel is set to begin preparations to administer fourth doses of the coronavirus vaccines already,

The country's national coronavirus czar Salman Zarka said last week that the country needs to prepare for a fourth injection, which could be modified to better protect against new variants of the virus.

'Given that that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection,' he told Kan public radio. 'This is our life from now on, in waves.'

'It seems that if we learn the lessons from the fourth wave, we must consider the [possibility of subsequent] waves with the new variants, such as the new one from South America,' he said at the time.

'Thinking about this and the waning of the vaccines and the antibodies, it seems every few months — it could be once a year or five or six months — we'll need another shot.'

He added that he expects Israel to be given out vaccines that had been specially adapted to cope with different variants of the virus by late 2021 or early 2022.

While Israel is seeing record case numbers in its fourth wave, the jabs are still protecting against severe illness with Covid deaths running at about half of the level of its second wave.

Israel pulled the trigger on a booster vaccine programme in August, which has stabilised the spiralling outbreak.

The country recorded 136 hospital admissions in the week to September 12, down from the peak of 165 in the last week of August. Weekly hospitalisations had soared from just four in June.

Cases continue to rise but this is believed to be due to a big testing blitz in schools, which went back at the start of the month.

Infections also remain very low among the triple-jabbed, the country's health ministry said.

The results in Israel will likely have inspired UK health officials to green light a booster programme.

But they have stopped short of recommending third doses to the entire population, with shots being reserved for the roughly 32m deemed most vulnerable to Covid.

It will start next week and Britons will only be invited for a booster six months after getting their second jab.

That appears to be the 'sweet spot', according to officials who signed off on the move due to waning immunity.

That decision is largely in line with Israel's programme, which is only offering third doses to people five months after their second.

However, MailOnline revealed today that only 1.6million people in the UK, mainly care home residents and frontline health workers, were fully vaccinated by March 15 - the cut off point to qualify for a booster.

The UK didn't breach the 30million mark until June, meaning the campaign won't be open to millions of vulnerable adults until much closer to Christmas.

Experts told MailOnline the decision to delay boosters by six months should not be a cause for concern because the gap means people are only given a top-up dose as their immunity starts to wane.

But they warned it could be a problem for a 'small number' of older and vulnerable people whose immunity drops faster than expected.

Booster doses of the Pfizer jab, or a half dose of Moderna, will be administered to those eligible from next week, regardless of which jab they initially received.

For those who cannot get either of those two mRNA jabs, such as due to an allergy, they will be given a dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

The jabs will be dished out through vaccination centres, primary care networks and pharmacies and can be given at the same time as annual flu jabs.

Department of Health bosses said the booster campaign will 'ensure the protection vaccines provide for those most at risk of severe illness from Covid will be maintained over the winter months'.

Pfizer's jab, made alongside German partner BioNTech, is already approved for over-12s in Britain.

It is the first phase of the Government's winter plan to avoid another lockdown. If hospitalisations rise quickly, ministers have warned they could be forced to reintroduce face masks and work from home guidance.

Dr Doug Brown, chief executive at the British Society of Immunology, told MailOnline: 'Receiving two vaccinations against Covid has been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death as well as generating an effective immune response that does provide this protection in the long term.

'We don’t yet know exactly how long immunity will last, which is why the government’s decision to offer booster doses to the most vulnerable is a welcome move which will help us be prepared for the worst this winter.

'With the third dose being offered six months after the second, studies have shown that we can be confident that for those six months people will have protection during that period from their initial vaccinations with the third dose providing an additional boost to the immune system.

'In addition to boosters, we must not take our foot off the gas and continue to make every effort to reach people who have not had their first doses of the vaccine and encourage them to come forward for a Covid vaccination. 'Vaccination is our only way out of this pandemic.'

Earlier this month, half a million severely immunosuppressed people, who are most at-risk from Covid and were unable to mount a full response to the vaccine, were invited to get a third dose.


Clinical trial to test whether anti-parasite drug ivermectin is effective at treating Covid set to begin in Minnesota

Clinical trials will soon begin in Minnesota to test whether or not anti-parasite drug ivermectin is effective at treating COVID-19.

The University of Minnesota Medical School will be examining the drug along with two others to determine their effectiveness at combatting the virus.

Ivermectin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use to treat certain parasite-related conditions, and it is regularly available by prescription.

However, many are harming themselves because they are purchasing versions of the drug meant for large animals like cows and horses at livestock stores and consuming doses of that are too large to be considered safe for humans.

Researchers are currently recruiting participants for the study. To be eligible, a person must be between ages 30 and 85 and have tested positive for COVID-19 n the past three days.

People who are currently hospitalized for any reason, or are taking metformin, insulin, sulfonylurea or have heart, liver of kidney disease are not eligible.

As an incentive, anyone who participates will be offered $400.

Those who are chosen for the study will be placed into one of six groups, each of which will be using a different set of drugs for treatment. One group will receive ivermectin alone and another will get a combination of ivermectin and metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes.

A third group will be given metformin alone, the fourth group will receive fluvoxamine - a drug that treats obsessive compulsive disorder - and a fifth group will receive a combination of those two drugs.

The sixth and final group will receive a placebo.

Researchers hope they can either discover new potential treatments for Covid, or rule these drugs out entirely as ineffective.

All three are already FDA approved for human use, though not for viruses.

Ivermectin garnered attention of social media as a potential Covid treatment after an Australian study found the drug could inhibit replication of the virus's cells.

Dr Timothy Geary, a parasitologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and one of the world's foremost experts on the drug, explained to in an interview last month that the study was being misinterpreted.

'In that study they showed that in cell cultures, ivermectin could inhibit [Covid] replication, but the concentrations required for that effect were in a range called the micromolar range - very high concentrations relative to what you would find in the plasma of a treated person or an animal, which would be 20 to 50 times lower,' he said.

'At high concentrations in cell culture, many compounds can have all kinds of effects but when you look at what we would call pharmacological levels - what we actually see and treated patients - it is far higher than [what would be used in humans]

'So the standard doses of ivermectin that we use for people are never going to reach the levels that would be effective in against the virus based on that one study.'

Many have used the drug inappropriately to protect themselves from the virus, however.

There has been a 24-fold increase in prescriptions for the drug compared to before the pandemic began, a CDC report from last month found.

Those prescriptions are generally safe, however, because they are of human versions of the drug.

Where people are running into problems is when they purchase veterinary versions of the drug, which come in doses much larger than what is safe for humans - and overdose.

This has led to a spike in calls to poison control in recent months, and many local and federal officials issuing warnings against use of the drug.




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