To Boost or not to boost ?

U.K. has started offering booster vaccines.

People aged 50 years and over, health and social care workers and younger people at risk are being offered a booster dose of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Firstly, it has to be pointed out that it is not uncommon to offer booster vaccines with various other viral illnesses.

Secondly, the Data from Israel does support a role for COVID booster vaccines.

On the other hand, some people feel the case for booster is overstated.

The decision by U.K. Govt seems to be a reasonable and pragmatic one considering that the rate of new COVID infections is still high.

References

Guardian Opinion
The message from Israel is clear: Covid booster shots should be standard
David O’Connor
Mon 27 Sep 2021 11.47 BST

NEJM. Protection of BNT162b2 Vaccine Booster against Covid-19 in Israel
Yinon M. Bar-On, M.Sc., Yair Goldberg, Ph.D., Micha Mandel, Ph.D., Omri Bodenheimer, M.Sc., et al.
September 15, 2021
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2114255

U.K. Govt Guidance
COVID-19 vaccination: a guide to booster vaccination
Published 16 September 2021

BMJ. Editorials
Covid-19 vaccination: evidence of waning immunity is overstated
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2320 (Published 23 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2320

Daily Mail. UK’s daily Covid cases rise 5% in a week to 37,960 as hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall – amid fears FOURTH wave may have already began with cases starting to spill over from children to their parents. By Emily Craig Health Reporter For Mailonline and Luke Andrews Health Reporter For Mailonline
12:35, 27 Sep 2021 , updated 16:44, 27 Sep 2021

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Risks and benefits of COVID vaccines in 12 to 15 year olds

Previously, the UK vaccine expert committee (JCVI) decided that would NOT advice COVID vaccines to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds because the “direct individual benefit” to their health was only marginal.

But the Chief Medical officers have decided the other way now. The UK Government is now offering 12-15 year olds COVID vaccination and believes that this is the way out of the pandemic.

This is a very finely balanced decision. Decision seem to have been made on “public health grounds” rather than “individual” benefit.

In England, children aged 12 to 15 will be offered one dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine ( one dose instead of the usual two doses so as to minimise risks).

Lot of Vaccines offered for many other childhood illnesses have much greater benefit than COVID vaccines.

A nice article in Guardian by a Paediatrician discusses the benefits and risks of COVID vaccines in the 12 to 15 year olds. Boys seem to be more at risk of Heart side effects compared to Girls.

It would be difficult decision for lot of parents with healthy children.

References

Guardian. As a paediatrician, I believe it’s right to vaccinate young people aged 12 to 15
Russell Viner
There are no simple solutions to Covid, but children themselves will, on balance, benefit from being vaccinated. Russell Viner is a paediatrician and professor at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
Tue 14 Sep 2021 14.31 BST

BMJ. Covid-19: Vaccinating children will help end pandemic, says minister
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2254 (Published 14 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2254

Daily Mail. It makes you think…’ Holly Willoughby finds herself conflicted about son Harry, 12, getting the COVID-19 vaccine as she’s caught between debating doctors on This Morning. By Andrew Bullock For Mailonline
13:19, 14 Sep 2021 , updated 14:28, 14 Sep 2021

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

COVID vaccination of 12-15 year olds: benefits vs risks

Should young teenagers have the COVID vaccine?

At present, this is a difficult question to give a straightforward answer.

For most of “middle to old age” people, the benefits of COVID vaccines are far greater than potential side effects from vaccines.

On the other hand, in case of 12-15 year olds, the benefits are marginally better than risks and individual circumstances need to be taken into account.

UK’s vaccine advisory body is called JCVI. ( Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ).

JCVI on Friday declined to recommend universal vaccination of all 12-15 year olds. This is because the chances of children becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is very small. This needs to be balanced against a tiny risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart in young people due to the vaccines. It is a matter of weighing up disease versus vaccine.

But, this does not mean COVID vaccines are not being given to 12-15 year olds.

USA, France, Italy, Israel and Ireland are offering vaccines to this group.

In U.K., vulnerable children with heart and lung problems, blood disorders, diabetes and various other diseases are eligible for the COVID vaccine. Children living with extremely vulnerable adults are also eligible.

Parents with healthy 12-15 year olds have a difficult choice to make in the coming weeks.

References

BMJ news. Covid-19: JCVI opts not to recommend universal vaccination of 12-15 year olds
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2180 (Published 03 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2180

BBC news. Covid: What do parents think about vaccinating children?
By Jennifer Meierhans & Kris Bramwell
BBC News

BBC news. Scientists not backing Covid jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds
By Philippa Roxby and Nick Triggle
BBC News

BBC news. Why vaccinating all teens is a difficult decision
By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

Gov.U.K. Guidance
Coronavirus (COVID-19): antibody testing

Updated 22 August 2021

NHS. Antibody testing to check if you’ve had coronavirus (COVID-19)

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Is Moderna COVID vaccine better than Pfizer Vaccine?

Are all COVID Vaccines equally effective ?

Probably not.

But until recently there has been hardly any direct clinical studies comparing different vaccines.

A recent study conducted in Belgium compared the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines.

The study looked at antibody responses following vaccination in Health care workers. Antibody levels were measured prior to vaccination as well as 6 to 10 weeks after the second dose.

Higher antibody levels were observed in people vaccinated with Moderna vaccine compared with those vaccinated with Pfizer vaccine.

Future research is needed to see how these differences affect the general population.

Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are based on same technology (mRNA based vaccines).

If significant differences exist between between vaccines of same technology, then it is likely that differences would exist between vaccines of different technology (eg Pfizer vs Astra Zeneca).

The public health authorities would need to decide whether booster vaccinations should be done with a different vaccine.

References

Bloomberg. Moderna Creates Twice as Many Antibodies as Pfizer, Study Shows
By Jason Gale
31 August 2021, 03:54 BST

JAMA Research Letter
August 30, 2021
Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Response Following Vaccination With BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273
Deborah Steensels, PharmD, PhD1; Noella Pierlet, MSc1; Joris Penders, MD, PhD1; et al . JAMA. Published online August 30, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.15125

(mRNA-1273 is Moderna Vaccine and BNT162b2 is Pfizer vaccine).

Daily Mail. ALL over-50s will get Covid booster shots by autumn: People who got AstraZeneca ‘are set to be offered a Pfizer jab’ in new vaccine drive because it is more effective against Indian variant. By Katie Feehan For Mailonline and Glen Owen for The Mail on Sunday
10:12, 01 Aug 2021 , updated 18:02, 01 Aug 2021

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Are booster vaccines the way out of this pandemic?

Vaccination promised a straightforward way out of the pandemic. Protection from TWO doses of vaccine initially promised to end the pandemic.

Israel led the way in mass vaccination. Infection rates plummeted and life seemed to be returning to normal.

But infection rates then started rising in Israel and Israel was forced to use booster vaccines for high risk population.

It is now hoped that the THIRD booster vaccines would provide a way of keeping COVID infections at a manageable level.

Only time will tell whether this strategy would be successful!

References

BBC Covid: What Israel tells us about the way out of the pandemic
By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter

Sky News. COVID-19: Scientists say vaccines could control pandemic … After two doses of Pfizer, there was a 70% reduction in all cases and a 90% drop in symptomatic cases, new data shows. Friday 23 April 2021 09:08, UK

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

COVID-19: Disease versus Vaccine

Two contrasting news about COVID vaccine and disease recently.

First, a New Zealand woman dies after COVID vaccine. Death was attributed to heart inflammation caused by the vaccine.

Second, a 40 year vaccine-sceptic dies of COVID disease and sadly, leaves behind a pregnant wife.

How to interpret this information?

Remember everyday life is full of risks. Almost nothing is risk free. People balance risks and benefits everyday for most things in life. The same approach should be used for COVID vaccines.

It is understandable that some people are worried about side effects of vaccines. These concerns are REAL There is still lot unknown about long term efficacy and side effects of COVID vaccines.

If you are worried about vaccines and yet to have the vaccine, do note that the available evidence indicates that it is in your interests to have the vaccine.

If you are a vaccine sceptic, do NOT believe everything that is said on social media. Sometimes people put wrong information on social media. Sometimes people post information that is out of context.

What to do?

Ignore information that is not directly relevant to COVID vaccines.

Do NOT mix politics with Vaccines.

Beware that social media can make you paranoid about COVID vaccines.

Read official information. Available scientific evidence now indicates that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccine far outweighs the risks for vast majority of adults.

In particular, if you are above 50 years, do consider having the vaccine as a matter of urgency without further delay.

This is because in England, the Schools and Universities are going to open this month. Data from Scotland shows that COVID cases will spike after schools and Universities open.

Be selfish and do what is right for you and your family. Do not worry about “loss of face” on social media because you have changed your mind about vaccines.

Live to post another day !

Stay safe and be careful even after vaccination. No vaccine give you 100% protection.

References

BBC News. New Zealand woman dies after receiving Pfizer vaccine.

BBC News. Staffordshire Covid sceptic Marcus Birks dies in hospital.

Daily Mail. BBC presenter Lisa Shaw, 44, died due to incredibly rare blood clot complications caused by AstraZeneca covid vaccine three weeks after she had first jab, coroner rules. By Katie Weston and Joe Davies For Mailonline.
11:29, 26 Aug 2021 , updated 13:46, 26 Aug 2021

Daily Mail. Hillsong member, 34, who tweeted ‘got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one’ dies after month-long battle with COVID-19 and final ‘pray for me’ message. By Emily Crane For Dailymail.com
14:17, 23 Jul 2021 , updated 18:41, 23 Jul 2021

Daily Record. Mum-of-three dies after suffering rare reaction to AstraZeneca vaccine
The 47-year-old developed blood clots on her brain – causing a catastrophic stroke – and her fiance Mark Tomlin has now spoken of the devastating impact her death has had on him and five-year-old son Orson.

By Dan Martin Kaitlin Easton
17:46, 27 JUN 2021

MHRA. COVID-19 vaccines: updates for August 2021.

GOV. UK Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread . Last updated
27 August 2021

CDC. Vaccines for COVID-19.

BBC News. Covid in Scotland: Return of schools ‘fuelling’ record case numbers

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Can Vaccinated people spread the disease to others if they get a COVID infection?

Yes.

Normally Vaccines that are highly effective (for various other diseases) prevent most vaccinated people from getting the infection completely.

But that does not seem to be the case with COVID vaccines.

The COVID vaccines are highly successful in preventing severe COVID, hospitalisations and deaths. But they seem to be a bit less effective in preventing people from catching mild COVID infections.

So if a vaccinated person gets a mild COVID infection, can they pass it onto others?

Yes, they can.

This is an important fact for people with vulnerable family members and friends.

If you have mild symptoms, do get tested and be extremely careful when you are with your vulnerable family members ( elderly parents, grandparents etc).

You can pass COVID to them even if you do not have much symptoms.

As vaccines lose some effectiveness over a period of time, do NOT assume that double vaccination would protect your vulnerable family members.

A recent Public Health England report indicates that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people with COVID infection are equally infectious and capable of spreading to others.

A similar report was also published from USA recently.

The end is not in sight yet. Be careful when you are with vulnerable family members !

References

Nature. COVID vaccines slash viral spread – but Delta is an unknown.
Smriti Mallapaty

CDC. How Vaccines work.

CDC. Diseases that Vaccines prevent.

U.K. Public Health England. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England: technical briefing 20. Ref: PHE publications gateway number: GOV-9220. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1009243/Technical_Briefing_20.pdf

USA. BMJ. Covid-19: Delta infections threaten herd immunity vaccine strategyBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1933 (Published 02 August 2021)Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1933

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

When will the COVID Virus go away?

The bad news is that it looks like that the virus is NOT going away any time soon.

COVID Vaccination has been tremendously successful in preventing people from getting severe disease.

A couple of months back, it was hoped that “Herd immunity” (Wide spread protection) caused by Vaccination would make the virus go away.

But recent news from Massachusetts, USA indicates that Vaccination is NOT going to produce herd immunity and make the virus go away.

Lot of Vaccinated people do get infected and the only good news is that “the vaccines offer strong protection against severe disease”

China fights to contain a new outbreak in Wuhan now. There is a possibility of further outbreaks elsewhere as well. That can create favourable conditions for new variants to emerge .

So don’t be surprised if new variants emerge in winter and COVID is still the headline news early next year !

References

BMJ. Covid-19: Delta infections threaten herd immunity vaccine strategy
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1933 (Published 02 August 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1933

BBC news. 3Aug 2021. Wuhan: Chinese city to test entire population after virus resurfaces
By Yvette Tan

BBC. Covid: ‘Israel may be reaching herd immunity’
By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter
Published14 April

BMJ News
Covid-19: What new variants are emerging and how are they being investigated?
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n158 (Published 18 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n158

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Pfizer COVID Vaccine: How much efficacy is lost every month?

COVID vaccines lose some efficacy over time.

How much ?

Pfizer vaccine has been reported to lose, on average, about 3% efficacy every month.

An updated trial report of the Pfizer vaccine says that “ Pfizer vaccine efficacy decreased from 96% to about 84% over 4 months.

The results of this study certainly indicates that booster vaccines are needed for the winter months to prevent another wave of deaths.

References

BMJ News. Covid-19: Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy declined from 96% to 84% four months after second dose, company reports
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1920 (Published 30 July 2021)Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1920

BMJ News. Covid-19: Millions could be offered booster vaccinations from September
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1686 (Published 02 July 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1686

Thomas SJ, Moreira ED Jr., Kitchin N, et al. Six month safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA covid-19 vaccine.medRxiv2021 [Preprint].

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Why COVID Vaccine boosters may be necessary during winter ?

Vaccine boosters may be offered to adults, particularly vulnerable adults, during this winter.

Why?

Two reasons.

1. The amount of protective antibodies produced by a person’s body after vaccination seem to fall after a few months. This may mean that that some protection is lost and that some vaccinated people may become more vulnerable to COVID infection during the winter wave. A booster would benefit.

2. The COVID vaccines may also have reduced protection against new variants. A booster using an updated vaccine may give better protection.

References

Guardian. Vaccines and immunisation.
UK scientists back Covid boosters as study finds post-jab falls in antibodies
Exclusive: Waning antibody levels are possible warning sign of lower protection in months after vaccination.
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 22 Jul 2021 12.45 BST

Guardian. Rates of double-jabbed people in hospital will grow – but that does not mean Covid vaccines are failing.
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 22 Jul 2021 16.34 BST

Daily Mail. Pfizer says booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine extends protection and is being updated to target Indian ‘Delta’ variant. By Mary Kekatos Acting U.S. Health Editor For Dailymail.Com
22:23, 08 Jul 2021 , updated 23:32, 08 Jul 2021

Daily Mail. Are these the numbers scaring Boris? Study shows 29% of the 42 people who have died after catching the new strain had BOTH vaccinations as cases soar another 40%. By James Robinson for MailOnline
14:08, 13 Jun 2021 , updated 12:22, 14 Jun 2021

How long does covid-19 immunity last?
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1605 (Published 30 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1605

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Would COVID Vaccination become mandatory for all adults ?

It is unlikely to become mandatory in most western countries. It almost certainly would not become mandatory in USA, where Vaccination seems to become tangled with highly divisive politics.

But it is not an impossible scenario in European countries.

It is possible that more countries would follow the example of Turkmenistan, which has a policy of “no jab, no job”

Also, it does not have to a direct government policy.

If the governments change the law to allow businesses to demand vaccination proof, then indirectly vaccination becomes mandatory for most people.

Private Businesses and Travel industry may decide to make vaccination mandatory for their employees and customers so as to avoid further disruption to their business.

In countries, such as Israel and U.K., where there is already high uptake of vaccination, a change in Law may not be needed at present.

But if the present surge in infections continue, and variants emerge, Governments may change their approach.

References

BMJ. Covid-19: Turkmenistan becomes first country to make vaccination mandatory for all adults
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1766 (Published 12 July 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1766

Daily Mail. Get ready for Covid jab passports at busy pubs that don’t do enough to tackle infections, warns Boris Johnson. By Daniel Martin Policy Editor For The Daily Mail
23:54, 12 Jul 2021 , updated 01:47, 13 Jul 2021

Daily Mail. Pingdemic pandemonium! Chaos at airports and on the railways as key workers are ordered to go into self-isolation by controversial app. By David Churchill, Transport Correspondent For The Daily Mail
23:51, 12 Jul 2021 , updated 23:59, 12 Jul 2021

Daily Mail. It IS full steam ahead on freedom day: Boris Johnson puts faith in the public’s common sense on July 19 – even though some doctors and scientists want to delay it. By Glen Owen and Anna Mikhailova For The Mail On Sunday
22:00, 10 Jul 2021 , updated 01:52, 11 Jul 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Would we be having a third dose of COVID-19 Vaccine as a Booster ?

Yes, it is a possibility that a third booster dose of COVID vaccine would be offered later this year.

Vaccination has been tremendously successful so far. But it is too early to declare victory against the virus.

Data from Israel indicates that the current Pfizer vaccine, although still highly active, offers less protection against delta variant.

In June, the vaccine was found to be just 64 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infection whereas during May, when the delta strain was less prevalent, the vaccine was 94.3% effective.

So if more variants emerge, then vaccine boosters may be particularly needed for the vulnerable people.

References

Ministry data said to show Pfizer shot blocks majority of serious Delta cases. Figures reportedly indicate vaccine less effective against contagion from variant, but hospitalizations remain low; officials said weighing use of Moderna for 2nd dose for over 18s. By AMY SPIRO
Today, 10:23 am

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should you elect to wear masks when restrictions are lifted ?

U.K. is on course to lift almost all COVID restrictions in mid July 2021.

A U.K. minister has said that “wearing masks” would become a personal choice.

Just because there is a choice, it does not mean it is always good for you.

Government decisions are often made not only with scientific facts but also with economic and political considerations. Compulsory masks may not be liked by a section of society and Government has to take that into account in a democratic society.

Personally electing to wear masks in crowded public places could be sensible for the following reasons.

– There is some debate about the extent of protection a person gets wearing masks following the Danish mask study. But no robust scientific study has shown significant harm from wearing masks. So it is better to be safe and wear masks even if the extent of protection is debatable.

Infections are rising now and luckily, vaccines seem to have protected most people from getting severe COVID. But Vaccines are not 100% effective. Moreover, when infection rates go up further and society opens up more, there is a risk of variants emerging that may be partially vaccine resistant. So wearing masks may provide some protection.

– Not all people get poorly when they get COVID. But these people with COVID can still pass infection to other vulnerable family members and people who don’t have the protection from vaccines. So wearing a mask can stop people with mild COVID from spreading the infection to others.

– Some people do not want to wear masks because they think they are not at risk of death or hospitalisation. Remember, COVID related problems affect different people in different ways. Lot of people do recover from COVID without major problems. But some people do develop long-term symptoms from COVID. So it is better to wear masks for COVID protection.

References

1. BBC news. Covid-19: Masks will become personal choice, says Robert Jenrick
By Emma Harrison & Kathryn Snowdon
BBC News

2. Bloomberg. Face Masks in England to Become ‘Matter of Personal Choice’
By Andrew Atkinson
4 July 2021, 09:47 BST
Updated on 4 July 2021, 11:14 BST

3. Daily Mail. SAJID JAVID: The economic arguments for opening up Britain are well known. But, for me, the health case is equally compelling. By Sajid Javid For The Mail On Sunday 22:02, 03 Jul 2021 , updated 23:13, 03 Jul 2021

4. BBC news. Covid-19 in the UK: How many coronavirus cases are there in my area?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

5. Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

6. BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

7. NICE. COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19
NICE guideline [NG188] Published: 18 December 2020

8. Coronavirus: When can we stop wearing face masks or coverings?
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

9. Science. Implications of defective immune responses in SARS-CoV-2 vaccinated organ transplant recipients. Peter S. Heeger, Christian P. Larsen, Dorry L. Segev

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Do face masks prevent COVID illness ?

Yes, good masks may help to reduce infections that are spread by airborne particles.

But not all masks are the same.

Cloth masks were promoted during 2020 when the proper surgical masks were in short supply . The effectiveness of cloth masks are not well studied and they are of varying quality depending who made them and how well they were made.

Properly manufactured surgical masks are better than home made cloth masks. But how much protection they can offer is a matter of scientific debate. Surgical masks have been found to give some protection against other respiratory viruses in past. But a recent Danish study found no significant benefit against COVID among the general public.

The high quality FFP3 masks which filter most of the inhaled air is superior to normal surgical masks. A recent study from Cambridge found that Heath care workers who used FFP3 masks had better protection from COVID compared to normal surgical masks in the Hospital.

Overall, clean, well manufactured masks are likely to of some benefit to the public rather than wearing no masks at all. In the hospital setting, FFP3 masks seem to provide superior protection to Health care staff working with COVID patients.

And most importantly people have to understand that masks are not to be used alone. Masks got to be used along with protective measures such as social distancing and Hand-washing.

References

CLOTH MASKS

BMJ. Covid-19: What is the evidence for cloth masks? BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1422 (Published 07 April 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1422

DANISH STUDY- SURGICAL MASKS

Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers : A Randomized Controlled Trial
Henning Bundgaard et al. Ann Intern Med. 2021 Mar.

BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

BMJ. The curious case of the Danish mask study
BMJ 2020; 371
doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4586 (Published 26 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4586

Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

Spectator (magazine) https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/do-masks-stop-the-spread-of-covid-19-

Full fact.org. Danish study on mask efficacy only tells us half the story. 24 NOVEMBER 2020

Forbes. Lead Researcher Behind Controversial Danish Study Says You Should Still Wear A Mask
Leah Rosenbaum. Forbes Staff 18 Nov 2020. Critics of mask-wearing policies used a Danishstudy on mask-wearing to bolster their claims such policies are ineffective, but scientists, including those involved with the study, disagree.

JAMA Insights
February 10, 2021
Effectiveness of Mask Wearing to Control Community Spread of SARS-CoV-2
John T. Brooks, MD1; Jay C. Butler, MD1
Author Affiliations
JAMA. 2021;325(10):998-999. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.1505

CAMBRIDGE REPORT ON HIGH QUALITY MASKS

BMJ. Covid-19: Upgrading to FFP3 respirators cuts infection risk, research finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1663 (Published 29 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1663. https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1663

BBC news. Covid: Masks upgrade cuts infection risk, research finds
By David Shukman
Science editor

Guardian. Cambridge hospital’s mask upgrade appears to eliminate Covid risk to staff
Hospital infection study shows use of FFP3 respirators at Addenbrooke’s ‘may have cut ward-based infection to zero’
Nicola Davis and Denis Campbell
Tue 29 Jun 2021 10.49 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should we continue to wear masks and be cautious in public places after July 19th ?

Yes, we should be cautious after the freedom day on July 19th and this is for the following reasons.

1. Vaccines are highly effective but they are NOT 100% effective.

2. Two doses are needed for full protection. Even though, more than two third of adults have had atleast one vaccine, only about half the U.K. population had double vaccination so far.

3. Vaccine Protection against New COVID variants may NOT be as good as it is now. For instance , vaccines are slightly less effective against the delta variant particularly after first dose.

4. Vaccine protection may decrease over time and Vaccines may not give the same level of protection as months pass by.

4. Being cautious now, may helps us to avoid lockdowns during Autumn and would help to save Christmas !

Of course, some people may feel strongly against any compulsory restrictions and hence it should not be made compulsory.

People, who are comfortable at being cautious, can try to wear masks and practice as much social distancing as possible in public places.

References

BBC News. Covid-19: End of England’s Covid rules still set for 19 July
By Hazel Shearing
BBC News

Daily Mail. Freedom Day ‘will see virtually ALL Covid curbs axed’: Ministers prepare full unlocking on July 19 with masks, social distancing and work from home advice dropped to save shattered businesses – but date will NOT be brought forward. By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline
08:29, 23 Jun 2021 , updated 14:52, 23 Jun 2021

Daily Mail. Now Jacob Rees-Mogg joins the calls to DITCH masks as soon as restrictions are lifted: Three Cabinet members break ranks to urge PM to ditch face coverings amid calls for clarity. By Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline and James Tapsfield Political Editor For Mailonline
17:40, 24 Jun 2021 , updated 19:56, 24 Jun 2021

Guardian. Vaccines are not magic bullets – we’ll still have to take precautions
Zania Stamataki
To make the most of England’s vaccination rollout we may need to keep wearing masks even after restrictions are lifted
Dr Zania Sta. Tue 22 Jun 2021 06.00 BST

Public Health England. Press release
Vaccines highly effective against hospitalisation from Delta variant
New analysis by PHE shows for the first time that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant. Published 14 June 2021

Public Health England (page 39).
Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern: technical briefings
Technical briefing documents on novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Last updated
25 June 2021

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Immune responses and immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
(last update 18 May 2021)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Vaccine Hesitancy

Worries about vaccines are nothing new. Anti_vaccination groups were formed in 1860s when small pox vaccination was made compulsory. Even when small pox was causing untold devastation, some people were opposed to it.

The Vaccine hesitancy of 19th century is somewhat excusable. Some of the worries were real, and not much was known about the safety of small pox vaccine at that time. Lot of people were ill-informed and did not have access to good sources of information. They didn’t know the immense potential of the vaccination to eliminate distressing diseases.

Vaccines have now successfully eradicated small pox. Many other devastating infectious diseases such as polio have been controlled in many countries across the globe due to the vaccines.

Some of the vaccine hesitancy in west is because western people are not fully aware of the devastating power of infectious diseases (at least until COVID-19 came to the world in 2020).

Vaccine hesitancy is also sustained by “confirmation bias” . Confirmation bias is the tendency of human beings to seek information that confirms what they believe in. If you distrust vaccines, you go looking for information that confirms you beliefs and you disregard information that proves vaccines are hugely beneficial.

Some people wish for a 100% safe vaccine. But there is no such thing as completely risk free vaccine. It is true Vaccines can cause serious side effects. It is true that Vaccines can cause long term side effects. It is true that Vaccines can rarely cause life threatening side effects and even deaths.

It is normal to worry about side effects of vaccines. But the potential for side effects should not be the reason to decline vaccination.

One has to look at benefits as well as risks. Some people focus on everything bad that can happen as a result of vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines had an unusually short development period. This is because of the pandemic. The available evidence indicate that the benefits of the vaccines are far greater than risks. It is true that there is no long term safety data. But in the middle of a pandemic, which has caused untold misery to millions, waiting for perfect long term data is not an option.

If you are sceptical about vaccines, please do focus on benefits as well as risks. Do not focus on risks only.

References

BMJ. Practice Pointer. Covid-19 vaccination hesitancy. BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1138 (Published 20 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1138

BMJ. News. Covid-19: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is “likely” responsible for deaths of some elderly patients, Norwegian review finds.
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1372 (Published 27 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1372

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How effective is a single dose of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine?

UK government wanted as many people have “some” degree of protection against the COVID-19 rather a only few people having “full” protection against COVID-19.

So the U.K. government delayed the second dose of Covid vaccine for 12 weeks.

Some people have now been offered two vaccines but still there are many people who were yet to have the second dose. They would be wondering how effective a single dose of the vaccine is. How much protection they have now.

A recent paper published in BMJ provides very encouraging news .

With Pfizer vaccine, vaccine effectiveness reached 61% after 4 to 5 weeks of the first dose.

With AstraZeneca vaccine, vaccine effectiveness reached 73% after 5 weeks of first dose.

This data is very reassuring

But the data also stresses the importance of having the second dose for further protection.

Please do make a note that (a) vaccines do take a few weeks to be become effective after the first dose (b) no vaccine is 100% effective and (c) we also do not know how long this protection from vaccine will last.

BMJ. Effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines on covid-19 related symptoms, hospital admissions, and mortality in older adults in England: test negative case-control study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1088 (Published 13 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1088

BMJ. Public health impact of delaying second dose of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 covid-19 vaccine: simulation agent based modeling study
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1087 (Published 12 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1087

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can someone die due to COVID-19 infection even after having the full course of protective vaccination?

Yes, rarely it can happen.

COVID vaccines are very highly effective in preventing serious infections that would result in hospitalisation. Even a single dose of the vaccine has very good efficacy.

But vaccines are not 100% effective.

So until the pandemic is under full control, older adults, particularly those over 60 years, should be cautious even after full vaccination.

It also has to be said that the risk is dramatically small after full vaccination. Only a tiny minority of people get serious COVID-19 infection after full vaccination.

In USA, about 5800 “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections has been reported so far among the roughly 77 million people who had been fully vaccinated. That’s less than 0.008% cases.

A much more smaller minority among this minority group had serious infections. Among the 5800 cases, 396 patients were admitted to hospital and 74 patients died from COVID-19. That’s less than 0.0001% deaths.

So unless new viral mutations dramatically reduce vaccine efficacy, it looks very promising.

References:

1. BMJ News. Covid-19: Infections fell by 65% after first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, data show BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1068 (Published 23 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1068

2. BMJ news. Covid-19: US reports low rate of new infections in people already vaccinated
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1000 (Published 16 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1000

3. Sun News. DOUBLE TROUBLE ‘Concerning’ Indian Covid variant now in UK has two ‘escape mutations’ that could dodge antibodies
Vanessa Chalmers, Digital Health Reporter
12:22, 16 Apr 2021Updated: 12:25, 16 Apr 2021

4. BBC news. Coronavirus: ‘Double mutant’ Covid variant found in India. Published 25 March

5. Daily Mail. Could the Indian ‘double mutant’ coronavirus derail Britain’s roadmap out of lockdown? Experts warn variant could ‘scupper our escape plan’ and urge Boris to put country on red list. By James Robinson for MailOnline
01:49, 17 Apr 2021 , updated 11:08, 17 Apr 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines necessary for someone who has recovered from a COVID-19 infection ?

Yes !

If someone has recovered from a COVID-19 infection, they would have some protection against getting another COVID-19 infection.

But, even if someone has recovered very well from a previous infection, vaccination is necessary because there is still a significant risk of getting COVID-19 infection again.

A recent study published in the medical journal Lancet reports that people who had a previous infection have about one-fifth risk of getting an infection again compared to those without a previous infection.

So while there is some protection against future infections, there is still a risk and hence it is prudent get the Vaccine when it is offered.

Reference:

Lancet. SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and subsequent infection risk in healthy young adults: a prospective cohort study. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00158-2

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How long do the COVID-19 vaccines offer protection?

Many millions of people have now been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective but the next important question is how long would the vaccines continue to protect.

Some vaccines for other viral diseases offer life long protection but others like flu vaccines need annual boosters. COVID-19 Studies are still ongoing.

A recently released Pfizer vaccine study data indicates that protection with Pfizer vaccine lasts for many months as a minimum. To be precise, so far, Pfizer vaccine was found to have 91% efficacy for up to six months. Ongoing studies would clarify whether booster vaccines are needed in future.

Guardian. Pfizer vaccine has 91% efficacy for up to six months, trial shows. Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 1 Apr 2021 17.27 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Does Hand Washing help to prevent COVID-19 ?

Yes,

But the extent to which Hand washing helps is uncertain.

Masks, Social distancing and Vaccination seem to be more highly important than Hand Washing.

Read the very good Guardian newspaper piece on the topic of hand washing.

References

Guardian: Q&A: Does handwashing stem the transmission of Covid-19?
James Tapper
Sun 14 Feb 2021 10.00 GMT

Daily Mail: So which Covid vaccines is Britain getting – and which one is the best? How two companies’ jabs are already being used, another is coming in March and two more could be approved within weeks. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
11:58, 29 Jan 2021 , updated 02:00, 30 Jan 2021

Daily Mail. Pfizer’s Covid vaccine COULD stop people spreading the virus as well as preventing serious illness, Israeli doctor claims after finding antibody levels surged after second dose. By Emily Webber and Sam Blanchard Deputy Health Editor For Mailonline
12:05, 19 Jan 2021 , updated 14:06, 19 Jan 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

COVID pandemic: finally, the end is in sight !

The latest good news about Oxford vaccine is hugely encouraging and denotes the end of pandemic is in sight.

The latest positive results show that even a single dose of the vaccine is highly effective.

The vaccine offered 76% effective protection from a single dose for three months”. This validates the UK decision to prioritise first dose of the vaccine and delay the second dose of booster vaccine.

Most importantly the Vaccine was shown to reduce spread of the virus causing the COVID.

It is the first time a vaccine has been shown to reduce transmission of the virus

If all the vaccines now in use continue to be safe and highly effective in real world population, then it is only a matter of months before the pandemic comes to an end and normal life returns in 2021 !

A separate study also reports very positive news. The study reports that 9 out of 10 people who had an actual COVID infection will have protective antibodies for at least six months.

Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking that there is a real infection and hence the body produces antibodies. So this study indirectly indicates the protection from vaccines will also last longer and yet another reason to be hopeful about the end of pandemic in 2021.

BBC news. Covid-19: Study showing Oxford vaccine slows virus spread ‘superb’ – Hancock.

BBC news: Covid: Antibodies last at least six months in most.
By Rachel Schraer
BBC Health reporter

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Why are some people falsely sceptical of COVID Vaccines?

Disclaimer: A personal view point !

“Vaccines hesitancy” is a problem in some sections of society.

A significant minority of people have an unhealthy scepticism about all vaccines in general fuelled by misinformation on social media. Some people in western world, who haven’t seen the horrors that can be wrecked by infectious diseases, have an ill-informed view about all Vaccines.

Vaccines have played a significant role in protection against various deadly infections diseases in the past century. The infectious diseases of childhood have become less prevalent even in developing countries now. But there is a risk of Vaccine Hesitancy spreading to these third world developing countries .

That is not to say that all vaccines are free of side effects. Lot of people do have mild side effects after any vaccination. But very serious side effects are rare.

The concerns of people with Vaccine Hesitancy particularly relating to COVID Vaccine is genuine. The COVID vaccines have been rapidly developed and there are no long term efficacy or toxicity data. Because it is a global emergency, countries are forced to begin COVID vaccination based on the available excellent short term efficacy and safety data. Only time can tell whether the Governments got it right over long term.

But there is no evidence to suggest secrecy or conspiracy surrounding development of various vaccines including COVID vaccines. For instance, two reports of severe allergies due to COVID vaccine was immediately brought to the attention of everyone by Regulatory authorities in UK.

It is now reported that Norway is investigating deaths after coronavirus vaccination in very frail elderly people. Any adverse report on vaccines will be investigated and made public.

Rare individual stories of serious side effects is understandably shocking. It is human nature not to risk when one personally feels well at a particular point in time.

It is very important to remember that life is full of risks. People make decisions every day based on benefits versus risks ( eg driving a car). People need to understand that the benefits from most vaccines against infections diseases significantly outweighs the risks of various vaccine side effects. While a handful have serious side effects, many millions do benefit from the all vaccines.

“Vaccines hesitancy” is also not helped Historic mistrust of government in sections of population which regrettably can make things difficult in terms of achieving good vaccine coverage at population level.

If you have concerns about vaccines –

“Do read information about Vaccines with an open mind and pay attention to high quality population level studies assessing risks versus benefits and ignore individual unsubstantiated stories”.

“Do speak to your doctor about your concerns with an open mind”.

“Do NOT always seek information that affirms your views and Worries. Do seek reliable information that challenges your views on vaccines before you make your choice”.

References

JAMA Insights Clinical Update
January 21, 2021
Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
Tom Shimabukuro, MD, MPH, MBA1; Narayan Nair, MD2
Author Affiliations
JAMA. Published online January 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0600

BMJ. Covid-19: Norway investigates 23 deaths in frail elderly patients after vaccination
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n149 (Published 15 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n149.

Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination in United States: data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (1990-2005)
Nizar Souayah et al. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2009 Sep.

The Atlantic. Anti-vaxxers Think This Is Their Moment. Society’s well-being depends on how well public-health officials and average internet users combat misinformation. DECEMBER 20, 2020
Renée DiResta.
Technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy. Kathryn M. Edwards, Jesse M. Hackell and THE COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE
Pediatrics September 2016, 138 (3) e20162146; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2146

Guardian. Covid vaccine: 72% of black people unlikely to have jab, UK survey finds.
Linda Geddes
Sat 16 Jan 2021 07.00 GMT

Lazarus JV, Ratzan SC, Palayew A, et al. A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nat Med 2020 doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-1124-9

BBC. Royal Marsden’s leading cancer expert Martin Gore dies.
Published 11 January 2019

Times. Cancer pioneer Martin Gore’s sudden death from routine jab.
David Brown
Friday January 11 2019, 12.01am, The Times

The benefit of the doubt or doubts over benefits? A systematic literature review of perceived risks of vaccines in European populations
Emilie Karafillakis et al. Vaccine. 2017.

BMJ. The rush to create a covid-19 vaccine may do more harm than good. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3209 (Published 18 August 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3209

MHRA: Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can Vaccines get us back to normal life again during autumn?

Possibly Yes, but not sooner than that.

Perhaps in later part of 2021, life can just approach some sort of normality in western countries with high uptake of vaccination.

There are many hurdles along the way.

The first problem is supply of Vaccines. There are limited initial supplies globally. It will take many months even for richer countries to get their full supply.

Secondly, Vaccines take many weeks to become very effective. In clinical trials, more than 90% effectiveness was noted for some Vaccines a few weeks after the second dose.

Millions in the UK are yet to receive the first dose. Lots of people would not get the second dose until 10-12 weeks after first dose. A UK minister predicts a September vaccination target for all adults.

So it will take time for the full Vaccine effect to kick in at both individual as well as society level.

Thirdly, there is a potential problem of “Vaccines hesitancy” in sections of the society. A significant minority of people have a unhealthy scepticism about Vaccines fuelled by misinformation on social media.

Fourthly, it has to be pointed out that “No Vaccine works perfectly”. A Vaccine does not offer 100% protection. The high efficacy rates noted in young healthy volunteers participating in various trials might not be observed in real world population, and efficacy rates might be lower in elderly people.

Finally, the most serious potential risk and hurdle would be loss of Vaccine efficacy if new variants of Coronavirus are not protected by existing Vaccines.

Keep the mask; a Vaccine won’t end the COVID-19 crisis right away !

References.

BBC. Will a vaccine give us our old lives back?
By the Visual Journalism Team.
14 January 2021

WSJ. Vaccines Are Coming but They Won’t End Covid-19 Anytime Soon. By Feliz Solomon
Dec. 13, 2020 8:00 am ET

Guardian. All adults in UK will be offered coronavirus vaccine by September.
Dominic Raab sets timescale and says ministers hope to ease lockdown restrictions in March.
Heather Stewart
Sun 17 Jan 2021 13.17 GMT

Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination in United States: data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (1990-2005)
Nizar Souayah et al. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2009 Sep.

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy. Kathryn M. Edwards, Jesse M. Hackell and THE COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE
Pediatrics September 2016, 138 (3) e20162146; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2146

Guardian. Covid vaccine: 72% of black people unlikely to have jab, UK survey finds.
Linda Geddes
Sat 16 Jan 2021 07.00 GMT

CDC. New COVID-19 Variants.
Updated Jan. 15, 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Some Good news for those who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection !

People who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection are expected to have some protection against another repeat infection by the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

The protection comes from patients own antibodies present in their blood.

Previously, there was a concern that this protection might not last very long and that the levels of protective antibody may drop off quickly and this in turn can lead to repeat infections.

Now a study from Oxford indicates that protection against repeat infection (re-infection) can last atleast 6 months.

This news indirectly might also be good news for COVID-19 vaccines .

Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking that there is a virus infection and the body then produces the protective antibodies and cells.

Based on this study, one can logically hope that the protection by vaccines can be long lasting as well. Of course, nothing is certain and further vaccine data is awaited to confirm this.

References: (1) Lumley SF, O’Donnell D, Stoesser NE, et al., Oxford University Hospitals Staff Testing Group. Antibody status and incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in health care workers. N Engl J Med2020. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2034545. pmid:33369366

(2) BMJ news: Covid-19: Antibodies protect against reinfection for at least six months, study finds. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4961 (Published 30 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4961

(3). BBC news: Covid reinfection: Man gets Covid twice and second hit ‘more severe’
By James Gallagher
Health and science correspondent

(4). Lancet Infectious diseases. Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study. Richard L Tillett, PhD, Joel R Sevinsky, PhD, Paul D Hartley, PhD, Heather Kerwin, MPH, Natalie Crawford, MD, Andrew Gorzalski, PhD, et al. Published:October 12, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30764-7

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

A third Vaccine approved for protection against COVID-19 Coronavirus infection

Pfizer Vaccine and Astra Zeneca/Oxford Vaccine were approved last month by the UK regulatory authorities.

Now the regulatory authorities have approved a third vaccine. The third vaccine from Moderna along with two other vaccines should help to bring the pandemic to an end.

The Moderna vaccine is a new technology like the Pfizer Vaccine. (based on mRNA technology).

Like the two vaccines, the short term data for Moderna vaccine is very encouraging.

Over long term, one hopes that the protective effect of all the three vaccines is long lasting and that they remain effective against any new variants of coronavirus that might emerge in the coming months.

Overall, there is certainly ‘light at end of the tunnel’ and the world can emerge out of this horrific pandemic in a short period.

BBC. Moderna becomes third Covid vaccine approved in the UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

BBC.Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online
Published2 December 2020

BBC. Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK
By James Gallagher and Nick Triggle
BBC News
Published30 December 2020

MHRA. Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine approved.

MHRA. Moderna vaccine becomes third COVID-19 vaccine approved by UK regulator.

MHRA. UK medicines regulator gives approval for first UK COVID-19 vaccine.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can you catch Coronavirus infection from Soft drink cans, Sandwich wrapper and Amazon Parcels?

Yes. Possible but chances are very small according to reports.

If someone sneezed or coughed near a parcel or food package and you touch it within a few hours, it is possible to get Coronavirus infection from parcels and packages.

But, in practice, most parcels and food packaging seem safe and no conclusive real world evidence has been published so far to indicate that packages spread infection widely.

In experimental conditions, Coronavirus has been shown to survive for upto 72 hours. The virus is “more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard”.

In laboratory conditions “On copper, no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus was measured after 4 hours . On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus was measured after 24 hours”.

In the artificial conditions of the lab “The longest viability of viruses was on stainless steel and plastic; the estimated median half-life of SARS-CoV-2 virus was approximately 5.6 hours on stainless steel and 6.8 hours on plastic”.

Solution: If you are worried , and if possible, you can try leaving parcels for 24hrs before touching them with bare hands. Alternatively, try wearing disposable gloves to remove packaging.

References

1.NEJM. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. April 16, 2020. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1564-1567. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973

2. BBC. Coronavirus: What are the risks of catching it from food packaging?

3. CDC. How It Spreads.

Can Vitamin K help fight Coronavirus?

Possible but like every other observational study, take it with pinch of salt.

Further evidence from well conducted trials are needed before it can be recommended as a COVID treatment.

In mean time, it’s better to stick to natural sources of vitamin such as those mentioned in the newspaper article ( spinach, broccoli, green vegetables, blueberries, all types of fruit and vegetables).

Guardian Newspaper: Vitamin K could help fight coronavirus, study suggests

Scientists in Netherlands explore possible link between deficiency and Covid-19 deaths

Daniel Boffey. Fri 5 Jun 2020 14.50 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of publication and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.