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Vaccination offers more protection against Covid than prior infection, CDC study suggests

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that vaccination provides stronger and more reliable protection against the coronavirus than a past infection does, the agency said Friday.

Unvaccinated people who had previously recovered from a coronavirus infection were five times as likely to get COVID as people who had received both shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, the CDC said.

The study’s authors cautioned, however, that certain gaps inpatient data and biases in their study participants could have influenced the results.

“We now have additional evidence that reaffirms the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, even if you have had prior infection,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said in a statement accompanying the release of the report.

The question of whether people who have had COVID really need a shot has gained traction among some Americans as vaccine mandates take hold across the country. Scientists have urged COVID survivors not to skip the vaccine, noting that the strength and durability of so-called natural immunity depends heavily on people’s age and health, and the severity of an initial infection.

The CDC study used a roundabout experimental design. The researchers examined roughly 7,000 people hospitalized this year with COVID-like illness across nine states. They then looked at how many of those hospitalized patients were indeed infected with the coronavirus. The odds of testing positive for the virus were considerably higher among unvaccinated, previously infected patients than they were among vaccinated people.

The study comes with several caveats, however. The researchers cautioned that the findings may not translate to nonhospitalized people with different levels of access to medical care, and that some patients in the vaccinated group may unknowingly have also had previous infections.

The researchers also noted that separate research in Israel had failed to show that vaccinated people were better protected than those who had only been infected. In general, scientists said, studies on the topic had drawn contradictory conclusions.

Still, some patterns have emerged. Two doses of an mRNA vaccine produce more antibodies, and more reliably so, than a coronavirus infection does. But the antibodies from prior infection are more perse, potentially helping people fend off variants.

Whatever the effect, doctors have warned that acquiring natural immunity is perilous and uncertain. Not everyone survives COVID in the first place, and those who do may not be able to count on a vigorous immune response.

COVID-19: Sri Lanka ends domestic travel restrictions amidst warnings

Sri Lanka’s inter-provincial travel ban, which was imposed in May due to the raging third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on Sunday despite warnings from medical professionals. The travel ban was continued despite the government ending the quarantine curfew on October 1, which was continuously in force from August 20.

Public Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said that transport services would come into operation from Monday.

The lifting of the travel ban came as the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) warned of a possible new wave with restrictions being relaxed.

In a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the SLMA said it was more important than ever before the precise steps are taken at this point of time.

It recommended close monitoring as health guidelines are not being implemented and the general public keeps disregarding them.

They recommend a third dose or a

Pfizer

vaccine booster to priority groups such as the elderly and the frontline health workers.

The SLMA cited recent studies which have shown that seven per cent of the elderly population, who had been administered with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, have not developed adequate level of immunity against the virus.

With the public movement increasing, the SLMA said that the risk of elderly people getting the virus has increased and they are more prone than other groups to severe conditions and death.

The health ministry’s epidemiology unit said that as of Saturday, over 15.4 million of the island’s 21 million population had received at least one dose. Also, 13.4 million had received both jabs.

Sri Lanka’s death toll since the outbreak in March 2020 stood at near 13,800 with over 540,000 infections.

Covishield may offer over 90% protection against death from Delta variant: Study

Two doses of Covishield and

Pfizer

COVID-19 vaccines may be 90 per cent effective at preventing deaths from the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday. The study, using data from the Scotland-wide EAVE II COVID-19 surveillance platform, is the first to show across an entire country how effective vaccines are at preventing death from the Delta variant, the dominant form of the virus in many other countries.

The research team from Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland analysed data from 5.4 million people in Scotland between April 1 and September 27, 2021.

During this period, 115,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 through a PCR test conducted in the community, rather than in hospital, and there were 201 deaths recorded due to the virus.

The study found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90 per cent effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield in India, is 91 per cent effective in preventing deaths in people who have been double vaccinated, but who have tested positive for coronavirus in the community.

“With the Delta variant now the dominant strain in many places worldwide and posing a higher risk of hospitalisation than previous variants seen in the UK, it is reassuring to see that vaccination offers such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose,” said Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, and EAVE II study lead.

“If you still have not taken up your offer to be vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so based on the clear benefits it offers,” Sheikh said.

The researchers defined death from COVID-19 as anyone who died within 28 days of a positive PCR test, or with COVID-19 recorded as a cause of death on their death certificate.

The study analysed a dataset as part of the EAVE II project, which uses anonymised linked patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine roll out in real time.

The researchers said to increase confidence in these early findings, the study needs to be repeated in other countries and settings, and with longer follow-up time after full vaccination.

They noted that because of the observational nature of the study, data about vaccine effectiveness should be interpreted with caution and it is not possible to make a direct comparison between both vaccines.

“Our findings are encouraging in showing that the vaccine remains an effective measure in protecting both ourselves and others from death from the most dominant variant of COVID-19,” said Professor Chris Robertson, from the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland.

“It is very important to validate these early results in other settings and with a longer follow-up study,” Robertson added.

Benefits of Pfizer child shot likely outweigh risks, FDA says

The staff of the Food and Drug Administration said the benefits of

Pfizer

Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine for young children likely outweigh its risks, ahead of a meeting next week where experts will weigh whether the shot should be cleared for use.

According to the staff report, which was posted on the FDA website late Friday, the vaccine’s capacity to prevent hospitalizations and deaths likely exceed the risk of adverse outcomes such as the heart condition myocarditis, which has been reported in some younger males who have received messenger RNA shots for Covid-19.

Pfizer and BioNTech earlier this month asked the FDA to grant an emergency authorization for children age 5 to 11 to receive its vaccine. The formulation for young kids is one-third the dose of the adult shot.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet on Tuesday to evaluate the data and hear presentations from the company and health officials. The group, made up of outside scientific experts, will then make a recommendation on whether to grant an authorization.

The staff report made no explicit recommendation as to whether the advisers should support authorization. If the panel votes to back a clearance and the FDA agrees, it could pave the way for kids to begin getting shots by early to mid-November.

Clearing a vaccine for elementary-school age children would mark a major milestone in the pandemic. It is like to provide peace of mind for many concerned parents and for kids themselves, and could open the door to resume activities that have been on hold since Covid-19 first began to spread in the U.S.

However, in contrast to the initial wave of demand for shots when they were first cleared for adults, there is evidence that some parents could be slower to get shots for their children.

A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September, before Pfizer first revealed results from its trial of the 5-11 vaccine, found only about 34% of parents would vaccinate their kids right away when a shot was authorized for the age group.

High Effectiveness
The FDA also posted documents from Pfizer on Friday in which the drug company said that the reduced-dose vaccine was 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in kids in a study.

Additionally, data from an additional 2,250 children enrolled in the trial as part of an expansion requested by regulators found no new safety problems.

The staff report said that side effects for younger children were similar to older groups who had received the shot, and included pain at the injection site, redness and swelling. Reactions such as fever, fatigue, headache, chills, and muscle pain were generally reported less frequently and were milder than in people 12 and older.

The FDA’s myocarditis risk-benefit estimates in young kids were based on modeling various scenarios for Covid incidence and assuming an 80% efficacy of the shot preventing hospitalization in young kids, similar to the real-world efficacy in adults during the period when the delta variant was circulating.

In the efficacy portion of the trial, 1,305 kids without prior evidence of Covid-19 received two shots, while 663 got placebo injections. Among those who got the vaccine, there were three cases of symptomatic disease starting a week after the second shot, compared with 16 cases in the placebo group.

Symptoms were milder in the cases that occurred among vaccinated kids, with none developing fevers. Most of the cases occurred in August and September, when the delta variant was becoming the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Covishield may offer over 90% protection against death from Delta variant: Study

Two doses of Covishield and

Pfizer

COVID-19 vaccines may be 90 per cent effective at preventing deaths from the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday. The study, using data from the Scotland-wide EAVE II COVID-19 surveillance platform, is the first to show across an entire country how effective vaccines are at preventing death from the Delta variant, the dominant form of the virus in many other countries.

The research team from Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland analysed data from 5.4 million people in Scotland between April 1 and September 27, 2021.

During this period, 115,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 through a PCR test conducted in the community, rather than in hospital, and there were 201 deaths recorded due to the virus.

The study found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90 per cent effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield in India, is 91 per cent effective in preventing deaths in people who have been double vaccinated, but who have tested positive for coronavirus in the community.

“With the Delta variant now the dominant strain in many places worldwide and posing a higher risk of hospitalisation than previous variants seen in the UK, it is reassuring to see that vaccination offers such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose,” said Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, and EAVE II study lead.

“If you still have not taken up your offer to be vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so based on the clear benefits it offers,” Sheikh said.

The researchers defined death from COVID-19 as anyone who died within 28 days of a positive PCR test, or with COVID-19 recorded as a cause of death on their death certificate.

The study analysed a dataset as part of the EAVE II project, which uses anonymised linked patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine roll out in real time.

The researchers said to increase confidence in these early findings, the study needs to be repeated in other countries and settings, and with longer follow-up time after full vaccination.

They noted that because of the observational nature of the study, data about vaccine effectiveness should be interpreted with caution and it is not possible to make a direct comparison between both vaccines.

“Our findings are encouraging in showing that the vaccine remains an effective measure in protecting both ourselves and others from death from the most dominant variant of COVID-19,” said Professor Chris Robertson, from the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland.

“It is very important to validate these early results in other settings and with a longer follow-up study,” Robertson added.

Sri Lanka gives booster shots to front-line workers, seniors

Sri Lanka on Saturday announced plans to offer booster shots to front-line workers followed by the elderly as the island nation gears up to further ease COVID-19 restrictions.

Starting Nov. 1, workers in the health, security, airport and tourism sectors will start receiving a third dose of vaccine, said Channa Jayasumana, the state minister of pharmaceutical production, supply and regulation.

The

Pfizer

booster shots will then include those above 60 years, he said.

So far, 59% of the 22 million population have been vaccinated, and the Health Ministry expects the rate to rise to 70% within three weeks.

The booster rollout comes ahead of the government’s plans to lift monthslong travel restrictions between provinces on Nov. 1. The government has also announced that train service that has been halted for nearly two months would restart next week.

Sri Lanka lifted a six-week lockdown on Oct. 1 and since then, life has begun returning to normal with the reopening of cinemas, restaurants and wedding parties as COVID-19 daily cases fell to below 1,000 with less than 50 deaths.

However, a ban on public gatherings continues along with some restrictions on public transport.

‘Vaccinating class 12 students before board exams important but impractical at present’

The demand by several states, including Kerala and Delhi, to vaccinate class 12 students before conducting board exams is a pertinent point but seems to be impractical at present, several health and education experts have said. During a high-level meeting called by Ministry of Education to decide the fate of pending class 12 board exams, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had demanded that students be vaccinated before conducting class 12 board exams.

Noting that around 95 per cent class 12 students are above the age of 17.5 years, Sisodia had suggested that the Centre should consult experts on whether Covishield and Covaxin jabs can be given to them.

He had also recommended consulting

Pfizer

for getting vaccines for children since their trials for children have already concluded.

Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Meghalaya have also urged the central government to vaccinate teachers and students on priority to ensure their safety during their time at the test centre.

A medical expert from a leading private healthcare facility, requesting anonymity, said, “Unless you have a vaccine that is licensed for that age group, you cannot administer it. The trials for Covaxin have begun and we don’t know about Covishield’s trials for the 2 -18 years age group. Only Pfizer is the one available for aged above 12”.

“The firm is supplying vaccines to countries and it is not yet approved here and it should agree to provide vaccines to India. Even if the Indian vaccines trials are successful, there is already a shortage of them for the existing age groups eligible for vaccination. Practically, it is not feasible in the time lines,” he said.

Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, President, Council for Healthcare and Pharma, said “as we slowly move towards normalcy and with the active vaccination drive, resumption of normal activities have become a possibility, it would become important to inoculate our younger population”.

“Although it has been observed all around the world that infections in children are nearly always mild or asymptomatic as opposed to what happens in the adult population. There are very less evidence of potential for transmission in young children and therefore vaccinating can have an impact on overall transmission,” said Sandhu.

Dr Gauri Agarwal, Founder- Genestrings Diagnostic Center and Seeds of Innocence said vaccinating students ahead of exams is a pertinent point which is the need of the hour.

“It will enhance protection against severe COVID-19 infection and related complications, including MIS-C, a rare but dangerous illness in children exposed to COVID-19.

“Whenever the vaccine (Pfizer) is authorised for use in India, we must also initiate a mass awareness drive to educate parents so they don’t believe in misleading reports against vaccinating kids,” Agarwal said.

According to Akshay Budhraja, Consultant, Department of Pulmonology, students are in the vulnerable group and need to be protected from Covid.

“Trials must be done on the Indian vaccines. Covaxin’s trials are set to start. Even one shot of vaccine is very efficacious and it gives more than 80 per cent protection. The booster dose gives us protection for a long time,” he said.

Education experts are also pided on the issue with some feeling it is an impractical plan to execute ahead of exams while others advocating it as the need of the hour.

“Ideally, it would be great if we could vaccinate all the students going for their board exams. However, if we look at the current scenario, it doesn’t seem feasible. Since there aren’t enough vaccines to go around, I don’t see how all the students in the urban and rural areas will get vaccinated,” Alka Kapur, Principal, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh.

“Then there is the anti-vaccine lobby, comprising people who do not trust vaccines. Even though 45 plus people are being vaccinated on priority, not many have come forward. Amid such confusion and chaos, I don’t think it will be possible to vaccinate all the students appearing for the board exams,” she added.

Rajat Goel, Director, MRG School, Rohini, said in order to vaccinate the entire population of Class 12 students before making them appear for offline exams, we need at least 14-16 weeks from now and the vaccination infrastructure has to be accordingly ramped up on national level by next week for them.

“This needs quick action on the part of the government amid the time of health crisis our country is facing. Not only students but the invigilating staff must also be vaccinated fully for complete safety.

“Therefore, it is only viable to look out for an alternate mode for conducting exams rather than the pen and paper mode,” he added.

Is it fair for warring brands to claim their ads are in public interest?


An ongoing marketing war between Reckitt Benckiser’s Dettol and HUL’s Vim and Lifebuoy over germ protection has gone nasty with both firms naming rivals in their ads. Lifebuoy’s latest ad that claims Lifebuoy removes more germs than Dettol, in fact, says it is “issued in public interest”. Is this fair? Or, are such ads only in self interest?

Public interest: All advertising is issued in public interest
DR MG PARAMESWARAN ED & CEO, Draftfcb Ulka Advertising

When Fortune magazine ran a story a some years ago regarding a health issue called “Erectile Dysfunction”, many eyebrows went up. A year later

Pfizer

launched Viagra with much fanfare and celebration. The company had managed to rebrand ‘impotence’ which is almost seen as a terminal illness into a temporary malfunction called Erectile Dysfunction.

Last month some reports said that the most ‘infectious room’ in Indian homes is the kitchen. A few days later Dettol launched its kitchen cleaner. The advertising claimed the ordinary kitchen cleaner (read Vim) is no longer effective in killing the germs on our kitchen tops, plates and utensils. These new germs need the power of Dettol we were told.

Hindustan

Unilever

, the country’s largest FMCG player, responded with tit-for-tat ads for Vim and Lifebuoy, which fights Dettol in the bathroom. A print advertisement for Lifebuoy that claims Lifebuoy gives better germ protection that Dettol anti-septic liquid was labelled “issued in public interest”.

Is this fair game? Or is the claim grossly misleading? I believe that all advertising is really ‘issued in public interest’; brands are trying to educate, inform and influence consumers for a mutual win-win.

Who has fought a fair war? The brand that used editorial to give it a leg up or the brand that did an ad “issued in public interest”? It may apt to recall what Thomas Jefferson observed many decades ago: “The most truthful part of a newspaper is the advertisements”.

Self interest: Public only a bystander in this ugly battle

ROHIT OHRI Executive Chairman, Dentsu India Group

In public interest or self interest? It’s not a fine line, but a chasm that separates the two. Ruthless objectivity drives the former. Blind subjectivity defines the latter. Can brands ever be ruthlessly objective? That’s the key question.

The battle between Dettol Kitchen and Vim Dishwash Liquid has brought this debate to the fore once again. Lifebuoy’s press ad attacking Dettol unassailable ‘germ kill’ positioning was supposedly ‘issued in public interest’.

When two iconic brands battle each other in public, public interest is never part of their agenda. Eventually all this is just hate mail from one CMO to the other via mass media. The public is always merely an innocent bystander.

I believe this ugly battle between iconic brands like Dettol, Vim and Lifebuoy betrays the trust that these brands have earned from their consumers over decades.

Lifebuoy is currently running a campaign ‘Help a child reach 5’. This is a wonderful initiative and truly in public interest. Unfortunately, this competitive attack on Dettol under the guise of ‘public interest’ undermines all the credible good work Lifebuoy is doing around hand wash.

Further, the communication efforts of many organisations that genuinely serve public interest are compromised, thanks to this indiscriminate and inappropriate usage of the term ‘Issued in Public Interest’. It’s marketing myopia that often gets marketers to sacrifice share-of-heart in favour of market share. Pity.

Pfizer to stop manufacturing in its Chennai and Aurangabad facilities

CHENNAI: US-drug maker

Pfizer

will be shutting down two of its facilities in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and Irungattukottai (IKKT) near Chennai in Tamil Nadu citing non-viability of operations. The closures will affect 1700 employed at both locations of the company which has a total of five manufacturing sites across the country.

A spokesperson representing the company said, “Pfizer has conducted a thorough evaluation of the IKKT and Aurangabad sites and concluded that due to the very significant long term loss of product demand, manufacturing at these sites is not viable. As a result, Pfizer is announcing that both the Aurangabad and IKKT sites will immediately cease manufacturing with the intention to exit both sites as soon as possible in 2019.”

The company, however, said that the exact timing of the exit of the sites is yet to be determined.

IKKT currently employs approximately 1000 people and the Aurangabad site employs approximately 700 people. The company said “Our focus is on our colleagues impacted by this decision and we are committed to keeping colleagues informed of the site exit process.”

Both IKKT and Aurangabad are involved in exports and do not supply products for Pfizer’s domestic commercial operations, according to the spokesperson.

The company, meanwhile, is expanding its to operations at its Vizag site in India.”The Vizag site is now being expanded into a global Terminally Sterilized Manufacturing Center of Excellence. It will cater to export markets, such as United States and eventually we expect to Canada, ” the spokesperson said.

Cipla gets USFDA nod for contraceptive injection

Drug firm

Cipla

Monday said it has received final nod from the US health regulator for its Medroxyprogesterone injectable for prevention of pregnancy. The company has received final approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for its abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) for Medroxyprogesterone injectable 150mg/mL.

The product is a generic version of

Pfizer

‘s Depo-Provera, it added.

Depo-Provera and its generic equivalents had US sales of around USD 159 million for the 12-month period ending November 2018, Cipla further said.

The injection is indicated only for the prevention of pregnancy.

Shares of Cipla Monday were trading at Rs 493.70 per scrip on the BSE, down 2.60 per cent from its previous close.