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. 

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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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Agencies
January 26,2023

India.jpg

New Delhi, Jan 26: India's military prowess infused with a spirit of "aatmanirbharta" and diverse and vibrant cultural heritage were showcased on the Kartavya Path as the nation celebrated its 74th Republic Day on Thursday.

"Nari Shakti" was predominantly the theme of the celebrations with President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of other dignitaries joining people and members of the armed forces in marking the august occasion.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the chief guest at the ceremonial event.

A combined band and marching contingent of the Egyptian Armed Forces also took part in the parade that started around 10:30 am and ended close to noon after a fly-past.

The Egyptian contingent included 144 soldiers representing the main branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces and it was led by Col Mahmoud Mohamed Abdelfattah Elkharasawy.

The ceremony commenced with Prime Minister Modi visiting the National War Memorial and paying tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

According to tradition, the national flag was unfurled followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute. However, the ceremonial salute this year was given with 105-mm Indian field guns, which replaced the vintage 25-pounder guns, reflecting upon the growing "aatmanirbharta" in defence.

Shallow fog lowered visibility at the Kartavya Path on Thursday as spectators strained their eyes to watch aerial manoeuvres by a battery of 50 aircraft that flew in different formations.

The military assets which were displayed during the parade included made-in-India equipment, showing the spirit of "aatmanirbhar bharat", officials said.

The main battle tank Arjun, the Nag Missile System (NAMIS) and the K-9 Vajra were also showcased.

All equipment from the Army which were part of the Republic Day celebrations are made-in-India, Chief of Staff Delhi Area Maj Gen Bhavnish Kumar had earlier said.

With 'Nari Shakti' being the theme, the Akash weapon system display had Lt Chetana Sharma at the forefront.

The marching contingents from the Army included one each from the mechanised infantry, the Dogra Regiment, the Punjab Regiment, the Maratha Light Infantry, the Bihar Regiment and the Gorkha Brigade. A camel band from the Border Security Force also took part in the parade.

The Republic Day celebrations were held on the revamped Central Vista avenue and was the first at the ceremonial boulevard after Rajpath was renamed to Kartavya Path last year.

Lt Commander Disha Amrith, a woman naval air operations official posted at a strategic base, led the Indian Navy's contingent of 144 young sailors.

The naval tableau, designed on the theme 'Indian Navy - Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive and Future Proof', showcased the multi-dimensional capabilities of the force, "Nari Shakti" and key indigenously designed and built assets under "aatmanirbhar bharat", officials said.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) showcased one tableau and equipment. The theme of the tableau was "Securing Nation with Effective Surveillance, Communication and Neutralising Threats".

Indigenously-developed Wheeled Armoured Platform (WhAP), a modular 8X8 wheeled combat platform, carried on a 70-ton trailer was displayed by the DRDO.

Three Param Vir Chakra awardees and three Ashok Chkara awardees also took part in the parade, and a "veterans' tableau" with the theme -- "Towards India's Amrit Kaal with a Resolve of Veterans' Commitment" was also part of it.

The Indian Air Force contingent comprising 144 air warriors and four officers, was led by Sqn Ldr Sindhu Reddy. The air force tableau, designed on the theme "Indian Air Force Power Beyond Boundaries", displayed a rotating globe highlighting IAF's expanded reach, whereby it has been able to provide humanitarian assistance across borders, as also exercises conducted with friendly countries.

A group of "Shramyogis" involved in the construction of the Central Vista, the Kartavya Path, the new Parliament Building along with milk, vegetable and street vendors were specially invited for the parade.

A total of 23 tableaux - 17 from states and union territories and six from various ministries and departments -- depicting India's vibrant cultural heritage, economic and social progress took part in the ceremonial parade with 'Nari Shakti' as the theme for majority of the floats. 

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P A Hameed Padubidri
January 26,2023

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India and Indian diaspora across the world are once again celebrating the Republic Day commemorating the date on which the Constitution of India, described as one of the largest constitutions in the world, came into effect. 

The real spirit and ethos of the India's independence became visible when the full-fledged constitution of India came into existence in January 26, 1950. 

India's capital-Delhi-takes vibrant colours with the display and reverberation of national flags and songs on each and every street and avenue, demo of military parade, exhibition of the Indian cultural vibes and various programs. 

We can describe this national day as an embodiment of Poorna Swaraj or the complete autonomy. It's a plaque of pride to rule and to be ruled by ourselves with our own laws and rules without any play of foreign rule, say the British reign. Also, it's described as the fervent vibes of a great deal of sacrifices done by our great personalities, who shed their blood & flesh for this great country as a one family. 

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others had stood as a solid wall against the British Raj and as a result, now India stood out tall with its largest democracy & constitution in the world; that makes every Indian in India and  across the globe proud of their identity & stature. Fundamental, civil rights and human rights are securely guaranteed under the provisions of this Constitution. 

This national carnival makes a special stint for the Indian diaspora living in the different parts of the world especially for those who are residing in the gulf countries and MENA regions. This makes them to stand in all the pomp and pride & to share the good message to their host countries' citizens. 

Indian Embassies, Missions & High Commissioners in their respective host countries celebrate this Republic Day by hoisting the Indian flags on the top of the roofs and by organizing various events. Interestingly, this year's Republic Day came as coincidental with the diamond jubilee year of the India's independence, which is termed as "AZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV" as well as the initiation of the Indo-Saudi diplomatic relations. This brings all the pomps & prides among the NRIs especially residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That too with the posting of new Ambassador,  to the KSA, Dr. Suhel Aijaz Khan, after the gap of around 9 months. 

Besides, this year's Republic Day celebrations coincides with the year of India's taking on the prestigious Presidency of G20. The tangs of all these co-incidents makes this Republic Day more meaningful and historical. 

ONE EARTH, ONE FAMILY & ONE FUTURE is the catchphrase of G20 that makes this day fervent & more spirited. 

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News Network
February 7,2023

rahul.jpg

New Delhi, Feb 7: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday linked the massive rise in the business fortunes and personal wealth of businessman Gautam Adani to the Modi government coming to power in 2014, as he launched a sharp attack on the BJP dispensation over the Adani issue.

His charges in Lok Sabha drew a sharp response from the treasury benches, with Law Minister Kiren Rijiju asking him to not level "wild allegations" and furnish proof of his claims.

Speaker Om Birla also asked him to focus on the President's address and disapproved of the Congress leader displaying a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Adani in the business tycoon's plane to highlight their alleged proximity.

Participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address in Lok Sabha as the first opposition speaker, Gandhi also questioned the Agniveer scheme for recruiting defence personnel claiming that youths aspiring to be in the army were not on the same page as the government on the scheme.

Senior officers have said the scheme will weaken the army, he claimed.

Gandhi said he learnt a lot during his recently concluded Bharat Jodo Yatra and got the opportunity to listen to the inner voice of India.

He said the highlights of what people told him during the Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir march were the issues of unemployment, price rise and farmers' problems. Adani's name was also frequently heard from people across states as they wondered how he is successful in every business he enters, Gandhi claimed.

The Adani Group is in the eye of a storm following the allegations of fraud and stock manipulation by a US-based short-selling firm. The company's stocks have been hammered even though the group has rejected the charges.

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