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Covid booster shots important to stop infection, finds English study

booster shots

Covid booster shots important to stop infection, finds English study

Scientists have urged eligible people to have Covid booster shots after a major survey in England found evidence of “breakthrough infections” more than three months after full vaccination.

Researchers at Imperial College London analysed more than 100,000 swabs from a random sample of the population and found that Covid infection rates were three to four times higher among unvaccinated people than those who had received two shots.

But while full vaccination drove infection rates down substantially, from 1.76% in the unvaccinated to 0.35% in the three months after the second dose, infection rates rose again to 0.55% three to six months after the second shot.

The finding suggests that protection against infection, with or without symptoms, starts to wane several months after full vaccination, though other studies show that vaccine protection against hospitalisation and death is far more robust.

“The possible increase of breakthrough infections over time reinforces the need for a booster programme,” said Paul Elliott, head of the React study and professor in epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial. “It’s an incentive for people to get their booster dose when it becomes available to them,” added Prof Christl Donnelly, a statistical epidemiologist on the study. The results came as new Covid cases in the UK rose to 42,776, the highest recorded since late July.

The React study has used community testing to provide regular snapshots of the epidemic in England throughout the Covid crisis. The latest data include results from 100,527 swabs provided between 9 and 27 September, and another 98,233 swabs taken in June and July.

All of the viruses sequenced in the study were the highly-transmissible Delta variant, with one sample carrying a mutation called E484K which may help the virus evade immunity from past infection or vaccination. The relative of Delta is being monitored by the UK Health Security Agency.

Preliminary results from the survey, which are not yet peer-reviewed, show that the highest rates of infection in September were among five to 17-year-olds, with about 2.5% testing positive, followed by 35 to 54-year-olds, the age group most likely to have children at school. Efforts to vaccinate healthy 12 to 15-year-olds and provide boosters for those aged 50 and above are now under way.

According to the study full vaccination reduced the risk of infection, with or without symptoms, by about 60%. The Pfizer vaccine appeared to be more effective than AstraZeneca’s, but the vaccines were given to different age groups at different points in the epidemic, so they cannot be directly compared.

While previous studies have shown that antibodies against Covid decline in the months after vaccination, recent work suggests that two doses are highly protective against severe disease. Last week, US researchers reported that two shots of Pfizer vaccine were 90% protective against hospitalisation for at least six months, even though protection against infection halved over the same period.

The React survey shows that while infection rates for England were broadly flat in September, the overall picture masked distinct trends in particular age groups and regions. Infections were rising sharply in school children, with the R number at 1.18 in those aged up to 17 years old. Rates were generally falling in those aged 18 to 54 and steady in those aged 55 and over.

Though R, the number of people an infected person typically passes the virus on to, stood at 1.03 for England as a whole in September, infections appeared to be rising in the East Midlands and London, with R at 1.36 and 1.59, the survey found. The infection rate was nearly twice as high in black participants than white (1.41% versus 0.78%), and more common in those in larger households, and among people who shared their home with at least one child.

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Health

AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Health

Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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