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Watching New Omicron variants  

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

May 12, 2022 – Omicron continues to spawn and now variants BA.4 and BA.5 pose a frustrating problem.

They just seem to be getting more infectious, the  variants discovered in South Africa are sweeping through the US  at a rate swifter than that of BA2 and now South African scientists are worried that they may evade natural immunity from previous COVID19 infections.

Bloomberg reports that In a study carried out by South African scientists blood samples from people infected with omicron but unvaccinated , when tested against BA.4 and BA.5, neutralizing antibodies which fight Covid were eight times lower. In people who contracted omicron and were vaccinated it was three times lower.

The study has not yet been peer reviewed but the researchers say, “The low absolute neutralization levels for BA.4 and BA.5, particularly in the unvaccinated group, are unlikely to protect well against symptomatic infection,”

“This may indicate that… BA.4 and BA.5 have potential to result in a new infection wave.”

It is bad news for everyone that’s countries struggle to move towards normalcy and mask mandates drop worldwide.

Since the onset of BA.4 and BA.5 South Africa’s case count has surged from 581 cases and a positivity rate of 4.5% on March 28 to 4683 cases by May 1st.

Health

Omicron Boosters, what they mean for Turks and Caicos Islands inventory of Vaccines

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 18, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Islands may be forced to dump boosters whether people want to take them or not if the UK follows the FDA’s lead on ‘updated boosters’.

During August the US Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of bivalent vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer as updated booster shots.  The shots have two components one that protects against the original covid19 strain and one that protects against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5.

But what the agency also did was rescind its emergency use approval for the original monovalent boosters. Those boosters were the same formula as the original vaccines which means they were made to fight the initial strain of Covid and had limited efficacy against omicron and its variants.

The Turks and Caicos received thousands of those doses from the UK over the past nine months.

Now that there are several bivalent vaccines including ones that protect against Omicron and the BA.5/4 variants specifically the FDA has determined that there is no need for the original boosters. Those boosters, depending on who made them, are eligible to be used as primary doses for people who have never had a shot to prevent waste but the majority of the TCI population have already had their primary doses.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic the UK has been one of the front runners in approving and using cutting edge treatments to protect people from the disease. They have already approved the bivalent that fights the original strain of omicron

If the UK gives Moderna and Pfizer the nod and puts a ban on the old boosters the doses may have to be dumped.

Based on the extremely low booster uptake, that would mean thousands of doses down the drain.

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Health

WHO gets a bad report about COVID management

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

September 18, 2022 – A new report by the Lancet Commission, a scientific body, investigating the response to COVID19 is recommending that the WHO and other agencies place more focus on the origins of the COVID19 virus which remain murky.

“As a Commission, we strongly support the call for an objective, open, data-driven, transparent, and independent scientific debate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2.44,  45 WHO, governments, and the scientific community should intensify the search for the origin of SARS-CoV-2, including a possible natural spillover or a possible research-related spillover,” the report maintained.

The Commission says it has not ruled out the possibility that COVID emerged from a genetically altered virus or that it emerged from an animal.

“As of the time of publication of this report, all three research-associated hypotheses are still plausible: infection in the field, infection with a natural virus in the laboratory, and infection with a manipulated virus in the laboratory.”

The Lancet went on to cite the heavy secrecy surrounding investigations surrounding other coronaviruses that governments including the United States had been researching at that time. The report stressed that in the absence of this sort of unbiased and rigorous research by a transparent team of experts the ‘public’s trust in science will be imperiled with potentially grave long-term repercussions.’

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Caribbean News

WHO rejects report, claims it managed Cornavirus Pandemic well

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

September 18, 2022 – The World Health Organization is rejecting suggestions that it moved too slowly to contain the COVID19 pandemic.

In a press release on Thursday, the WHO says there were ‘omissions and misinterpretations’ made by the Lancet Commission in its report ‘Lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic’ which criticized the organization as ‘delayed and vague’ in its reaction.

Lancet had claimed The WHO was too slow in its response time in the early weeks leading to swift global spread of the coronavirus. In reply the entity said “the Commission does not convey the full arc of WHO’s immediate, multi-year, life-saving response”.

The agency detailed its response in the first weeks of the pandemic saying that behind closed doors they were meeting with member countries and creating information packages on how to test for and treat the unknown virus.

It also defended the timing of its announcement of the pandemic (which the Lancet Commission said was too slow) noting that the first meeting of the emergency committee occurred only after only nine international cases and no deaths outside of China and while it was not declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) it was noted that it could become one quickly.

It was declared a PHEIC seven days later.

The WHO also says not only did it repeatedly warn of the possibility of human to human transmission it warned countries to start screening at entry points and provided early access to personal protective gear.

At the same time there were agreements between the entities. Lancet maintained that with strengthening the WHO should still be in charge of worldwide pandemic response.

Additionally the WHO did say it agreed with some of the commission’s observations including chronic underfunding of the UN and some of its recommendations including the importance of multilateralism, solidarity and cooperation when facing pandemics.

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