Just over a week ago, I posted that there was no need to worry too much about the Indian variant, and this was confirmed by the results of a study. Public Health England which ran the study, said the vaccines are likely to be even more effective at preventing hospital admission and deaths.
The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 88% effective at stopping symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose, compared with 93% effectiveness against the Kent variant. The AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective against the Indian variant, compared with 66% against the Kent variant. Some 12,675 genome-sequenced cases were included in the study, which took place between 5 April and 16 May. However, less than 10% (1,054 of those cases were of the Indian variant, known as B.1.617.2). The Moderna vaccine has also been used in the UK since April but the study said the numbers who had received it were too small for them to include it in their research. click full source.
In addition, Health officials are investigating a new Covid variant which has caused 49 cases of infection, mostly in Yorkshire and the Humber region. Public Health England (PHE) has been monitoring the VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1 variant since April. PHE said there was “currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective”.
Dr Jenny Harries told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday that the study was “very good news”. As the newly appointed chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, She said the study is the “first real-world evidence of vaccine effectiveness” against the variant. The formal establishment of the UKHSA, is focusing on the work being done to help the UK understand and respond to new variants of the virus causing COVID-19, and the extensive expertise being deployed to monitor the roll-out of the vaccine programme, as well as the ongoing monitoring and surveillance of the infection. The new agency will work to protect the country from future health threats and ensure the nation can respond to pandemics quickly and at greater scale.
I have to confess that I was unaware of the UKHSA until today, and it is great that the Government has made an excellent appointment of someone who is competent. Dr Harries has appeared regularly at the Downing Street daily press briefings during the first lockdown. Dr harries was always calm and collected during hostile questioning and at one stage, I was worried she would be side-lined by Whitty and Vallance, but she has clearly survived. The added bonus of her appointment is that she has taken over responsibility of Test and Trace from Dido Harding, and hopefully she can devolve this important function to local authority level. The primary focus for the UKHSA in its initial phase of operation will be the continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It will bring together the country’s cutting-edge health security science capabilities, data analytics and genomic surveillance with at scale testing and contact tracing capability – combining key elements of Public Health England with NHS Test and Trace including the Joint Biosecurity Centre. click full source.
Over the last few days, I have been reading articles about the origins of Covid-19, and the more I read, the more I am convinced that the virus originated in a laboratory rather than the natural world. Nicholas Wade sorts through the available scientific facts which hold many clues as to what happened, and provides readers with the evidence to make their own judgments. He describes the two theories and explains why each is plausible, and then asks which provides the better explanation of the available facts. It’s important to note that so far there is no direct evidence for either theory. Each depends on a set of reasonable conjectures but so far lacks proof. So he has only clues, not conclusions, to offer. But those clues point in a specific direction. And having inferred that direction, he delineates some of the strands in this tangled skein of disaster. click full article.
In April 2020, Russian-Canadian geneticist Yuri Deigin wrote the first in-depth scientific analysis substantiating the plausibility of a lab-related origin, which is very interesting.
These are not conspiracy theories, or attempts at misinformation or disinformation. They try to get to the bottom of whether coronavirus was genetically modified in a lab or whether it evolved in the natural world. Why is this important ? A genetically modified virus could well mutate very differently from a natural world virus, which is the key to getting on top of the current pandemic, but also in fighting future pandemics. Knowing the source of the pandemic will be key to the work of the UKHSA and such agencies worldwide.