Russia’s EpiVacCorona Vaccine Has 100 Percent Efficacy, Watchdog Says


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EpiVacCorona is a coronavirus jab developed by the Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology just outside the Russian city of Novosibirsk.

The immunological efficacy of the Russia-developed coronavirus inoculation EpiVacCorona amounts to 100 percent based on the results of the first and second stages of clinical trials, according to the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor).

“The overall efficacy of a vaccine is made up of its immunological and preventive efficacy”, the press service said in a statement.

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CoronaVac efficacy at 50-90% in Brazilian trial -Sao Paulo official


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RIO DE JANEIRO — The CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd showed efficacy between 50% and 90% in Brazilian trials, Sao Paulo’s state health secretary said, and full trial results will be released on Jan. 7.

Results of trials in Brazil are known exclusively by Sao Paulo state’s Butantan Institute biomedical research center, which has an agreement with Sinovac to produce the vaccine, said health secretary Jean Gorinchteyn.

First trials showed efficacy above 50%, the minimum required by Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, and below 90%, Gorinchteyn said in an interview with CBN radio aired late on Thursday.

At Sinovac’s request, Sao Paulo’s health department has not received the Chinese drugmaker’s full trial results, he said, adding that the company will review the data before announcing final results.

Gorinchteyn said on Friday in a televised interview with the GlowboNews channel that Butantan will disclose the data trial results on Jan. 7.

The South American country has registered 7,448,560 confirmed coronavirus cases and 190,488 deaths from COVID-19, the country’s Health ministry said on Friday.

On Wednesday, Butantan had declined to specify the efficacy rate from a trial with 13,000 volunteers, citing contractual obligations with Sinovac, raising questions about transparency.

The CoronaVac vaccine showed 91.25% efficacy in Turkey, according to an announcement on Thursday of interim data from a late-stage trial in the country.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by David Goodman and Dan Grebler)



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Sputnik V coronavirus vax has 95 percent efficacy, says Russia – POLITICO



Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is more than 95 percent effective and will be free for all Russian citizens, the government announced Tuesday.

Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute, which serves under the Russian health ministry, said in a release that international markets will be able to purchase the serum for $10 per dose, with patients requiring two.

This would mean Sputnik V is “cheaper than mRNA vaccines with similar efficacy levels,” the institute said, referring to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna candidates.

If those claims are true, it would put Russia’s vaccine candidate in a unique position compared to other promising vaccines. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna candidates have efficacy of over 90 percent, too, but they use a brand-new mRNA formula that will need to be kept in subzero conditions.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was found to have similar effectiveness, but it can be stored in standard fridges, which reduces costs. The Sputnik V uses the same viral vector technique, allowing it to be stored in similar conditions, the Russian institute said.

Russia’s announcement in August that it had found a vaccine candidate both shocked and excited the world, but was promptly met with criticism and concerns over transparency.

Notwithstanding Tuesday’s findings, independent researchers have expressed trepidation.

Ian Jones, of the University of Reading, said that the “the Sputnik dose […] is twice that of the Oxford full dose yet appears not to have had any issues of inhibition. What exactly the ideal dose is for these adenovirus vectored vaccines is therefore a little uncertain.”





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Why Does the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine’s Efficacy Vary?


AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective, the company said Monday in a press release, making it the third pharmaceutical firm to report promising vaccine news, following Pfizer and Moderna. AstraZeneca, which partnered with University of Oxford researchers to develop its two-dose vaccine, reported efficacy from two different dosing regimens; one led to 62% efficacy and another to 90%, with an average, the company says, of 70%.

The company’s vaccine was initially developed by Oxford scientists, who started with a disabled cold virus that commonly infects chimpanzees. It’s a more traditional approach than the strategy used by Moderna and Pfizer, both of which relied on the genetic mRNA code from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Oxford team used the cold virus as a molecular Trojan horse (technically known as a “vector”) to disguise the true payload: material from SARS-CoV-2, which triggers the human immune system into action. The chimp virus helps to deliver the coronavirus more efficiently without causing actual COVID-19.

Among people who received a half dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and then a full dose about a month later, about 90% were protected from symptomatic COVID-19 illness. Among those getting two full doses of vaccine a month apart, 62% were protected from getting sick. None of the people receiving either regimen were hospitalized or became severely ill.

The data, part of a scheduled efficacy review, are based on 131 cases of COVID-19 among both the vaccinated and placebo groups. But because the full set of data has not been published, vaccine experts—including regulators—are still trying to figure out why the different regimens led to different results. “The different levels of efficacy with two different dosing regimens is scientifically intriguing,” says Dr. Jessica Justman, associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and senior technical director of ICAP at Columbia, a global public health services group.

One possible explanation relates to the vaccine’s design. Because it relies on a weakened cold virus to deliver the COVID-19 viral material, recipients’ immune systems may actually be mounting a response to the cold virus rather than the coronavirus. Halving the first dose helps to dampen this immune response to the cold virus, possibly increasing the response to the coronavirus.

“We know with other [cold] virus vectors you do get immunity to the vector,” says Dr. Anna Durbin, professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University and an investigator running one of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trials. “It may be that the higher [first] dose induced more immunity against the vector so when the second dose came in, it didn’t express the [SARS-CoV-2] protein as well. But we don’t know that yet.”

It’s also possible that the discordant results have something to do with the way the trials were conducted. Testing of the half dose+full dose regimen, which was done in the U.K., began after the company’s combined U.K.-Brazil trials had started and many participants already received the originally planned two full doses. Fewer people received the former combination—nearly 9,000 people received two full doses, while only 2,700 received the half dose+full dose regimen. Those in the latter group have been followed for a shorter period of time, and simply may not have had enough time to develop COVID-19.

In the U.S. trials, however, all participants are still receiving two full doses of vaccine. Results from those tests could help to explain some of the discrepancy. “I will be very interested to see if we are going to see the same results or different results from the [U.S.] trial,” Durbin says. She also notes that it would be challenging to change the U.S. trials at this point to include a half-dose+full dose regimen—the vaccine trial design was vetted and approved before they began, and modifying them would potentially compromise the data, as scientists would no longer be comparing similar groups of people across different sites.

The U.K. and Brazil data also suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine may be helping to prevent transmission of the virus. If true, that would be an “added bonus,” says Durbin. However, the company did not say how many of the 131 confirmed COVID-19 cases among trial participants tested positive but experienced no symptoms. In the U.K. and Brazil studies, the researchers tested volunteers weekly, so they could understand how many people developed asymptomatic disease, and study them for their response to the vaccine. In the U.S. study, people are only tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, meaning that among those who are positive, researchers are comparing how sick the vaccinated people get to how ill those receiving placebo get.

All of which means that the AstraZeneca results, while encouraging, leave a lot of unanswered questions. It’s not clear how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will interpret the data, and whether it will recommend the half dose+full dose regimen, or require more data to be collected about that approach.

One factor that may play a role: with infections continuing to rise around the world, it’s becoming critical to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. And if the half dose+full dose regimen proves more effective when the final data are revealed, then it also has the advantage of immunizing more people with the same amount of vaccine. “It’s a win-win,” says Justman. “You get better protection and provide it to more people.”

But it’s still too early to tell whether that’s the case, and also too early to start making decisions about which vaccine you might choose if given the option. “The advice I would give today, on Nov. 23, is to sit back and wait and see what additional information comes out,” says Justman. “As much as we want all the information right now, I think we need to just be patient and let things play out through proper scientific and regulatory channels.”

Contact us at letters@time.com.



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Studies show Perikatan Nasional government’s popularity, efficacy in COVID-19 situation: Malaysia’s PM Muhyiddin


KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday (Sep 17) said studies have shown that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government is a functional government as it has been able to help the people affected by the spread of COVID-19 in the country in just a short period of time.

He said the studies also proved that the PN government was capable of ensuring the well-being of the people through the assistance distributed to them, without anyone being left behind.

“The studies also found that the PN government is the most popular government,” said Muhyiddin at a meet-and-greet event with locals in Sepanggar, which was also attended by Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries Dr Ronald Kiandee.

“This is not the case of blowing one’s own trumpet, but this is the reality … that in a very short period of time, the government was proven capable of addressing people’s problems by helping those affected by the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

READ: Sabah state election: PM Muhyiddin unveils ‘I promise’ manifesto to extend more aid amid COVID-19

READ: As Sabah heads to polls on Sep 26, what’s at stake for the main political blocs?

Also present were Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates Yakub Khan and Jumat Idris, who are contesting in the Karambunai and Darau seats respectively in the Sabah state election slated for Sep 26.

The Prime Minister said the efforts taken by the PN-led federal government in addressing COVID-19 had been recognised as the best in the world.

“This proves the government’s capability in ensuring that the people are okay after their lives were badly affected by the economic decline following the COVID-19 outbreak in the country,” he said.

READ: Commentary: Malaysian politics is going through a midlife crisis

READ: Commentary: Muhyiddin Yassin, the all-seasoned politician, who rose to Malaysia’s pinnacle of power

Muhyiddin said the people should ensure that the Sabah government to be formed after the state election is aligned with the federal government.

“That is why the Sabah people should vote for candidates aligned with the federal government … the close ties between the state and the federal governments is important to ensure that Sabah economy could be revived quickly.

“We want to develop all states in Malaysia and I want that development to be felt and enjoyed by the people at all levels. If this can be done, the country’s economy will bounce back,” he said.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram



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Coronavirus update: WHO says efficacy of plasma therapy, touted by Donald Trump, still ‘inconclusive’, French nudists encouraged to cover up


The World Health Organization said using plasma from the recovered to treat COVID-19 is still considered an “experimental” therapy, following US President Donald Trump approving an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile a French nudist resort has seen a sharp rise in infections, leading to nudists being told to cover up… their faces.

This story will be updated throughout Tuesday.

Tuesday’s key moments:

WHO cautious on COVID-19 plasma as US issues emergency authorisation

US President Donald Trump approved an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma last week,(AP: Alex Brandon)

The World Health Organization says using plasma from the recovered to treat COVID-19 is still considered an “experimental” therapy and that the preliminary results showing it may work are still “inconclusive.”

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump approved an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said convalescent plasma therapy has been used in the last century to treat numerous infectious diseases, with varying levels of success.

Dr Swaminathan said the WHO still considers convalescent plasma therapy to be experimental but it should continue to be evaluated as studies have provided “low-quality evidence”.

She added that the treatment is difficult to standardise because people produce different levels of antibodies and plasma must be collected individually from recovered patients.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to WHO’s director-general, said that convalescent plasma therapy can come with numerous side effects, from a mild fever and chills to more severe lung-related injuries.

French nudist resort sees spike in infections

The gate to the Village Naturiste in Cap D'Agde, France.
Cap d’Agde is one of France’s oldest and biggest naturist resorts and draws tens of thousands of visitors per day in summer.(Wikimedia Commons: Martin Lindner)

A naturist resort on France’s Mediterranean coast has seen a sharp spike in coronavirus infections and nudists have been ordered to wear masks and practice social distancing, health authorities said.

Tests had shown a 30 per cent infection rate in people who had visited Village Cap d’Agde — which advertises itself as a village for naturists and libertines — a health authority said.

That was more than four times higher than the 7 per cent rate recorded in other people in the area who had not visited the centre, the health authority added.

Cap d’Agde, set in a huge circular modernist building by the beach, is one of France’s oldest and biggest naturist resorts and draws tens of thousands of visitors per day in summer.

Officials at the resort, which is about 60 kilometres down the coast from Montpellier, did not respond to calls seeking comment.

On Sunday, France reported nearly 5,000 new coronavirus infections, a new post-lockdown record.

Italy begins human testing of potential COVID-19 vaccine

Women wearing face mask disinfect their hands in central Piazza Venezia.
The potential vaccine called GRAd-COV2 was developed by a company in Rome.(LaPresse/AP: Alfredo Falcone)

Italy kicked off human trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, joining a global effort to develop a response to the virus which has shown signs of a resurgence throughout parts of Europe.

Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani institute, a hospital specialising in infectious diseases will conduct trials on 90 volunteers over the coming weeks, with the hope a vaccine may be available by spring of next year.

Francesco Vaia, health director of the Spallanzani hospital, told Reuters the first patient will be monitored for four hours before being allowed to go home where he will be kept under observation for 12 weeks.

The potential vaccine, called GRAd-COV2, was developed by ReiThera, a company based in Rome.

The Lazio region, around the Italian capital, said in a statement early trials, including on animals, had delivered positive results.

Japan defends pandemic tourism campaign

Looking across Tokyo Airport's runways, you see a Japan Airlines plane taxiing with a snow-capped mountain in the distance.
Officials said only 10 cases of COVID-19 were found at hotel lodgings during the month-long campaign.(Flickr: Kagami)

The Japanese Government has defended the nation’s GoTo campaign, which encourages travel within Japan by offering discounts at hotels and inns.

The campaign has come under fire as a risk for spreading the virus.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government-backed campaign was a success, having been used by 2 million people in the last month.

He said only 10 cases of COVID-19 were found at hotels and other lodging during the month-long campaign, and just one of those people had used the campaign discount.

The tourism business in Japan supports 9 million jobs, Mr Suga said, adding that “its importance to the economy can’t be emphasised enough”.

Japan, which has already sunk into recession, has confirmed more than 1,100 deaths and 62,000 coronavirus cases so far.

Daily cases are rising gradually to about 1,000 people lately.



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