Warning over ‘realistic possibility’ of resistant strains of the virus emerging
London, Jan 23: Delaying doses of coronavirus inoculations will increase the chances of a vaccine-resistant strain of Covid-19 emerging, scientists have warned.
In new reports, released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), experts also warned that resistant new variants were a “realistic possibility” driven by the virus reacting to increasing levels of natural immunity among the population.
In papers released on Friday, Sage scientists said there was an “increased risk of virus replication under partial immunity after one dose than after two doses, so in the short term, delaying the second dose would be expected to somewhat increase the probability of emergence of vaccine resistance – but probably from a low base.
“Is such an increase material?
It is not currently possible to quantify the probability of emergence of vaccine resistance as a result of the delayed second dose, but it is likely to be small.
“In the current circumstances the unquantifiable but likely small probability of the delayed second dose generating a vaccine escape mutant must be weighed against the measurable benefits of doubling the speed with which the most vulnerable can be given vaccine-induced protection.”
But the paper added: “Given what we have observed recently with the variants B.1.1.7 and B1.351, it is a realistic possibility that over time immune escape variants will emerge, most likely driven by increasing population immunity following natural infection.”It warned: “Vaccine efficacy after one dose should be carefully monitored to inform future vaccine policy.”
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, told a Downing Street press conference on Friday that the virus was likely to be around “forever”, adding:
“The most risky thing in terms of new mutation is to have very high prevalence. The more the virus is transmitting and replicating between people the more likely it will get a mutation, and that is what is happening around the world”.
That’s the biggest risk.
“There is always some risk if you start to have partial immunity, but there is also a benefit which is partial immunity can actually stop the infection quicker.”
Chris Whitty, the U.K government’s chief medical adviser, said:
“All of medicine is about balance of risk. Our overall view was that the balance of risk was firmly in favour at this stage of the epidemic in the UK of having many more people vaccinated but that does mean a delay. That particular risk was a much smaller risk of not having people vaccinated which was the alternative.”
All viruses mutate and natural variations in the Sars-CoV-2 virus have been identified across the globe and the Sage paper said this was likely to happen at a “faster rate” as greater numbers of people become immune after infection.
It added: “Most mutations will be inconsequential, but a few may, by chance, confer a functional advantage over others and, through natural selection may become dominant laboratory-generated variants.”
It said there was “theoretical and experimental data supporting the possibility” that the virus could generate new variants which would “evade” antibody therapies, convalescent plasma, and vaccines as well as natural immunity.
The paper said vaccinated people who went on to develop Covid-19 need to have their virus genetically sequenced “as quickly as possible to understand whether viral variation may explain the breakthrough”.
Increased sequencing of tests would help identify new clusters and spot changes as they emerge after the vaccine rollout.
In J&K, over six lakh children anaemic, reveals NITI Aayog
(Asian News Hub) – In Jammu and Kashmir, over six lakh children have anaemia while more than two lakh children are stunted, reveals NITI Aayog State Nutrition Profile 2021.
According to the figures of NITI Aayog study titled State Nutrition Profile of Jammu and Kashmir accessed by the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), “Over 625,519 children are anaemic and 251,393 are stunted in J&K. The findings are based on data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 3 (2005-2006), 4 (2015-2016), and 5 (2019-2020).”
The anaemic data in the report reveals that in J&K 20 out of 20 districts shows public health concern.
As per the data, Anantnag is the highest-burden district with 69,576 numbers of anaemic children while Kupwara stands second with 62,491 number anaemic children. Budgam stands third with 54,203 numbers of anaemic children. In Srinagar, the numbers of anaemic children are 51,730 and in Baramulla, number of anaemic children are 48, 307.
“In Jammu, the numbers of anaemic children are around 47,000. In Rajouri, the numbers of anaemic children are around 34,000 while in Udhampur, the number of anaemic children are around 25, 000. In Poonch, the numbers of anaemic children are around 19,000”, the data reveals.
As per the NITI Aayog study report, 18 out of 20 districts show public health concern regarding the number of stunted children in J&K.
“Anantnag district has the highest number of 27, 578 stunted children. In Srinagar, there are 24, 680 stunted children and in Kupwara, there are 21, 982 stunted children, with Jammu having 20, 178 and in Budgam there are 19, 025 stunted children,” reveals the data.
It further reveals that in Rajouri there are more around 15, 000 stunted children. In Baramulla, there are 18,000 stunted children. In Kathua, there are around 8,000 stunted children. In Poonch, there are around 10,000 stunted children. In Ramban, there are around 7,000 stunted children. In Udhampur, there are around 15, 000 stunted children. In Doda, there are around 11,000 stunted children. In Kishtwar, there are around 5,000 stunted children.
COVID19 vaccines effective enough, no need for third booster jab: Lancet
(Asian News Hub) – Vaccines are effective enough at preventing severe cases of Covid-19 that there is no current need for the general population to be given third doses, according to a report in The Lancet published Monday.
Some countries have started offering extra doses over fears about the much more contagious Delta variant, causing the World Health Organization to call for a moratorium on third jabs amid concerns about vaccine supplies to poorer nations, where millions have yet to receive their first jab.
The new report by scientists, including from the WHO, concluded that even with the threat of Delta, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic”.
The authors, who reviewed observational studies and clinical trials, found that vaccines remain highly effective against severe symptoms of Covid-19, across all the main virus variants including Delta, although they had lower success in preventing asymptomatic cases of the disease.
“Taken as a whole, the currently available studies do not provide credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination,” said lead author Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, of the WHO.
She said vaccine doses should be prioritised to people around the world still waiting for a jab.
“If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants,” she added.
COVID-19: Samba becomes first district to complete vaccination for all above 18 years
Instead of waiting for people to come, we reached out to them: DC Samba; LG congratulates for achieving milestone
(Asian News Hub) – Amid the ongoing Covid vaccination drive in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, Samba has become the first district in giving the first dose of Covid vaccine to all above 18 years of age.
A top health official told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that there are around 241,000 persons in the district in between 18-44 age group and all of them have already got their first dose of Covid vaccine.
He said that around 78,000 (33 percent) people have also got second dose of Covid vaccine and the process of vaccinating more and more people is going on. “It was possible only due to the efforts of health workers and front line workers who have worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone,” the official said.
District Magistrate Samba Anuradha Gupta said that since the beginning Samba district started the vaccination process strategically and Samba was among first few districts which completed vaccination process of all above 45 years of age.
“Instead of waiting for people to come to us, we went to them. We had constituted mobile teams to reach everyone. We were vaccinating above 45 age group the positivity and mortality rate started declining and people understood the importance of vaccination,” Gupta said.
She said that then people above 18 years came on their own without need of any mobilisation and “our efforts are on complete second dose process at an earliest.”
Meanwhile LG Manoj Sinha has congratulated the Covid management team of Samba and health care workers for their tireless efforts in completing 100 percent vaccination of above 18 years of age. He hoped that other districts will catch up soon and complete this process as well.
“Congratulations to Covid mgmt team of Samba & health care workers for their tireless effort to ensure 100% vaccination of above 18 yrs of age.Samba becomes first distt. of J&K to achieve this milestone & I am sure other districts will catch up soon,” Office of LG tweeted.
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