(Asian News Hub) – Members of a World Health Organization-led team looking for clues about the origins of COVID-19 held a briefing on Tuesday after nearly a month of meetings and site visits in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease was first identified.
A member of the WHO-China joint study team, Liang Wannian, said that there is no evidence of transmission of the novel coronavirus before December 2019 in Wuhan.
The WHO team recommended that more studies are required to identify the source of Covid-19 spread in the world.
Another World Health Organisation expert said the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and most probably jumped to humans via an intermediary species.
WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek made the assessment in a summation Tuesday of a WHO team’s investigation into the possible origins of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Embarek said that cold chain transmission of the virus is a possibility and warrants further investigation.
‘Cold chain’ refers to the transport and trade of frozen food. China has pushed the idea that the virus can be transmitted by frozen food and has repeatedly announced findings of coronavirus traces on imported food packaging.
“We know the virus can survive in conditions that are found in these cold, frozen environments, but we don’t really understand if the virus can transmit to humans” or under which conditions, he told the briefing.
He said that work to identify the origins of the coronavirus points to a natural reservoir in bats, but it is unlikely that they were in Wuhan.
The WHO team that includes experts from 10 nations arrived in Wuhan on January 14 and after two weeks of quarantine, visited key sites like the Huanan seafood market, the location of the first known cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been involved in coronavirus research.
While the virus is widely believed to have originated from an animal source and spread to humans through an intermediary, the WHO team emphasised on studying the possibility of the transmission of the virus through frozen food, along with other possibilities.
Another team member, infectious disease expert Dominic Dwyer, said it would probably take years to fully understand the origins of COVID-19.
The first clusters of COVID-19 were detected in Wuhan in late 2019, prompting the government to put the city of 11 million under a strict 76-day lockdown. (With inputs from agencies)
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.
DAK urges flu vaccination for children ahead of third Covid wave
(Asian News Hub) – Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday urged parents to get their children vaccinated against flu ahead of third Covid wave which is predicted to happen sometime in the fall of this year and is expected to affect kids the most.
“Receiving a flu shot could make it easier to tell if your child has Covid-19 in the event he/she gets sick as both illnesses have similar symptoms,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“This year’s flu season will likely coincide with the predicted third Covid wave. Administering flu vaccine would reduce the number of unnecessary Covid-19 tests that would limit the burden on hospitals and healthcare workers,” he added.
Quoting a recent study conducted at the University of Missouri School of Medicine Columbia, Dr Hassan said flu vaccination may offer some protection against Covid-19 in the pediatric population.
“The study found that those Covid-19 positive patients who had been administered the flu vaccine in the 2020 flu season had reduced odds of experiencing symptoms, respiratory complications and severe disease,” he said.
The DAK President said we would be facing a double whammy of flu and Covid this fall.
“You can catch the flu and Covid at the same time which could increase your risk of ending up in ICU or on a ventilator. That makes this season’s flu vaccine vitally important,” he said.
“Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine before the start of flu season which begins in October and can last late into May. Since it takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become fully effective, it is best to get the vaccine in September,” said Dr Nisar.
“This season’s flu vaccine has been updated to better match currently circulating viruses. This year a quadrivalent influenza vaccine containing H1N1, H3N2 and two B viruses – Victoria and Yamagata is recommended,” he said.
“While the vaccine is recommended for all, it is especially needed in young children, elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions.
Vaccination to expectant mothers is critically important to protect their new born babies’ upto 6 months who are too young to receive the vaccine,” he added.
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