Omicron gives better immune responses than booster shot, reveal Studies

News Network
May 16, 2022

People who are vaccinated and then get infected with Omicron may be primed to overcome a broad range of coronavirus variants, early research suggests.  

A pair of studies showed that infection produced even better immune responses than a booster shot in vaccinated patients. Teams from Covid-19 vaccine maker BioNTech SE and the University of Washington posted the results on preprint server bioRxiv in recent weeks.

The findings offer a reassuring sign that the millions of vaccinated people who’ve caught Omicron probably won’t become seriously ill from another variant soon -- even though the research needs to be confirmed, especially by real-world evidence. 

“We should think about breakthrough infections as essentially equivalent to another dose of vaccine,” said John Wherry, a professor and director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania who wasn’t involved in the research but reviewed the BioNTech study. That could mean that if someone had Covid recently, they could wait before getting another booster shot, according to Wherry. 

Alexandra Walls, a principal scientist at the University of Washington who authored one of the studies, cautioned that people shouldn’t seek out infections in response to the findings.

The data comes as Omicron continues to fuel outbreaks around the world, most notably in China, where residents of Shanghai have endured almost six weeks of lockdown. Waves of new variants are coming more quickly in part because Omicron is so transmissible, giving it ample opportunity to spread and mutate as countries drop restrictions, said Sam Fazeli, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. Meanwhile, regulators are weighing whether Covid vaccines should be updated to target Omicron.

BioNTech’s team argued that the data indicate that offering people an Omicron-adapted booster shot may be more beneficial than multiple ones with the original vaccines.

The Washington research, conducted together with Vir Biotechnology Inc., looked at blood samples from people who had been infected, and then had two or three doses of vaccine, as well as those who’d caught the delta and Omicron variants after two or three doses; others still had been vaccinated and boosted but never caught Covid. A final group had only been infected with Omicron and never vaccinated.

One part of the study zeroed in on antibodies, the protective proteins tailored to recognise and neutralise invaders. It showed vaccinated people who’d caught Omicron had antibodies that outperformed the others. They were even capable of recognizing and attacking the very different delta variants. 

“That indicates that we are at the point where we may want to consider having a different vaccine to boost people,” said David Veesler, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, who led the research. The scientists were also able to identify antibodies in the nasal mucous of these patients, which could help them neutralise the virus as soon as it enters the body. 

Nasal sprays are poised to be the next weapon for fighting Covid

Both the Washington and BioNTech studies also looked at another piece of the immune system: B cells, a type of white blood cell that can kick in to produce a burst of fresh antibodies if they recognise a pathogen. People who’d had an Omicron breakthrough infection had a broader response from these useful cells than those who’d had a booster shot but no infection, the BioNTech team found. 

Crucially, the Washington team also found that the broad response was missing in unvaccinated people who had caught Omicron as their first exposure to the virus. This “would be a problem if a new variant that is significantly different emerged,” Veesler said. 

There’s no guarantee that future mutations will be as mild as Omicron, and the pandemic’s future is hard to predict since it depends not just on immunity in the population, but also on how much the virus mutates. 

Other researchers who reviewed the studies said the findings match up with the growing body of evidence for an immune boost from exposure to different virus variants via vaccination and infection. Scientists have also shown broad immune responses in people who caught delta after getting their shots. 

“Maybe this is an indication that an updated booster might be a good idea,” said Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist at The Rockefeller University who helped lead a team that looked at breakthrough infections in a group of vaccinated people in New York City. 

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News Network
September 20,2022

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Bengaluru, Sept 20: In a shocking case, the Karnataka Police have cracked the murder mystery of a Chennai-based doctor in Bengaluru. The probe has revealed that the young doctor was killed by his fiance for allegedly releasing her and her mother's private photos and videos on social media, police said on Tuesday.

The deceased has been identified as Dr Vikas, 27, and the accused have been identified as his fiancée 25-year-old Pratibha, a resident of Mico Layout, her friend Susheel (25) and Gowtham (27). The police have launched a hunt for the other accused called Surya.

Vikas was fatally attacked on September 10 and he succumbed on September 18 at a private hospital. The incident took place in the limits of Begur police station of Bengaluru.

According to police, Dr Vikas and accused Pratibha hailed from Chennai. She worked as an architect. They got introduced to each other through social media two years ago.

They fell in love and announced it to their families. After getting the consent, they fixed their marriage for next year in November. Dr Vikas had completed his medicine course in Ukraine and practiced in Chennai.

He had come to Bengaluru for coaching regarding pursuing his course further for six months, and they started living together. During this time, Dr Vikas made private videos of his fiance Pratibha. He had recorded her mother's videos also, police said.

Later, he had opened a fake account on social media and published the private videos, which had gone viral. Police said that both Vikas and Pratibha's families fought over the issue.

Pratibha was hurt with the development and shared it with her other accused friends. Susheel invited Dr Vikas to his home on September 10 and when he came, the accused assaulted him with a mop stick and other weapons, police said. Further investigation was on. 

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News Network
September 27,2022

Bengaluru, Sept 27: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Tuesday that the state police have picked up members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) as a “preventive” measure.

“It’s not a raid,” Bommai told reporters here. “Preventive measures have been taken through tahsildars. It’s just that, a preventive measure,” he insisted.

Over eighty persons have been detained by the Karnataka police across the state in swoops at the residences of office-bearers and members of the PFI under the provision of 'Preventive Action' under the CrPc.

“Police work on a lot of information. Based on that, preventive measures are needed. That’s what the Karnataka police have done. In fact, police in other states have also done the same thing,” Bommai said. 

The crackdown has given fresh life to demands by BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders for PFI and its affiliates to be banned.

“PFI and SDPI are another avatar of SIMI, indulging in anti-national activities. They tried to bomb a public event attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar,” former union minister Basanagouda Patil Yatnal said. “Centre has taken a strong decision. On one night, the NIA and state police forces raided 200 locations unearthing documents on anti-national activities and foreign fund flow,” the Bijapur City MLA said.

Yatnal said “patriots” want PFI and SDPI to be banned. “Our PM and home minister have made a strong decision. We’re confident that both organisations will be banned soon.”

BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel blamed the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government for the rise of PFI, SDPI and KFD. “When Siddaramaiah was CM, cases on 2,000 rioters were withdrawn, which emboldened them. Their own MLA Tanveer Sait was attacked and still nothing was done. Because of their vote bank politics, these groups flourished across the state,” Kateel charged.

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News Network
September 26,2022

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New Delhi, Sept 26: The mother of the 19-year-old receptionist, whose murder sparked massive protests in Uttarakhand, has claimed her daughter was hastily cremated, and she never got to see her body. She has accused the administration of tricking her into going to a hospital on the pretext of taking her to her daughter.

News reports had earlier said the mother was admitted to a hospital as she was unwell. However, a video has now surfaced where she has claimed she was fine and was ferried to a hospital on false pretext.

"The took my husband along forcibly, but didn't take me. They brought me here from the forest where I live, saying I will see my daughter," the visibly upset mother could be heard complaining in the video shot in the hospital.

She said she kept asking where they were taking her, and they reassured her, saying they were taking her to her daughter. 

"Doctors then put me in a wheelchair. I asked why was it needed but they took me to a hospital. They then forcibly put me on intravenous sugar solution and started recording a video," she said.

Narrating her ordeal, she said four-five people had come to her and said they would take her to the cremation site. "I said I am her mother, I won't do anything until I see her. I said I won't budge until you show me my daughter. I wasn't unwell at all. They tricked me into coming here. I was sitting at the civic body's office. This is just for show, they have betrayed us," she said.

The teen receptionist was cremated last evening amid massive protests against the police for alleged slow action. The family had also raised questions on the government action in the case.

The family and protestors had initially refused to cremate the body, questioning the demolition of the resort where she worked. They said it was an attempt to destroy evidence in the case, in which the son of a senior BJP leader -- now expelled -- is the prime accused.

A provisional postmortem report stated the teen died due to drowning and that her body bore signs of injury caused by blunt force.

The teen was murdered allegedly by the hotel's owner, a BJP leader's son, and two others after she resisted their alleged attempts to push her into prostitution. Initially she was reported missing, and her body was recovered from a canal on Saturday.

Pulkit Arya, son of now expelled BJP leader Vinod Arya, resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta have been arrested.

Vinod Arya, former chairman of a state board with the rank of a minister, and his brother Ankit Arya, also a BJP functionary, have been expelled by the party. 

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