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
June 22,2022

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Mangaluru, June 22: The southwest monsoon has gained momentum as all the three coastal districts - Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi - are experiencing heavy showers for the past three days.

The intensity of rain increased considerably on Tuesday and it is expected to remain so till Wednesday. The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre has sounded a red alert for the coastal districts for Wednesday and a yellow alert for the next four days.

The inclement weather played spoilsport to mass yoga demonstrations in all the three districts.

Incessant showers have left several residential areas and roads, including high church road, Nandanagadda and railway station road in Karwar flooded. The national highway 66 in front of Ravindranath Tagore beach and the state highway at Habbuwada were inundated with rainwater affecting the vehicular movement for hours. Heavy rain and strong winds battered coastal taluks of Uttara Kannada - Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar and Bhatkal - throughout the day.

Honnavar recorded 82 mm of rain in the last 24 hours (ending 8 am on Tuesday) followed by Karwar 71 mm and Kumta 59 mm.

Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts also witnessed intermittent spells of rain on Tuesday. Torrential showers have left Karavali Junction, Ambalpadi, Mudanidamburu flooded in Udupi. More than 20 electricity poles have been uprooted due to rain and strong winds in the district.

According to the weather department, the twin districts are most likely to witness heavy rain (up to 20.4 cm) till June 25. The met department has warned the fishermen not to venture into sea owing to high tides. Also, the people close to the coast and river mouth should relocate to a safer place, the IMD release said.

Kodagu district received moderate to heavy showers in the day. Parts of Malnad and north interior Karnataka also witnessed scattered rainfall.

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June 20,2022

New Delhi, June 20: The Indian Army on Monday issued a notification for the Agniveer recruitment rally and registrations for the recruitment will open from July onwards.

The Army on Sunday released terms and conditions and related details for prospective applicants wanting to join the force under the Agnipath military recruitment scheme despite massive protests across the country to roll back the scheme.

The Centre and security forces have firmly defended Agnipath as a means to reinvigorate the army. The personnel to be recruited under the new scheme will be known as 'Agniveers'.
The Army said 'Agniveers' would form a distinct rank in the Indian Army that will be different from any other existing ranks and they can be posted to any regiment and unit.

It said 'Agniveers' will be barred from disclosing classified information gained during the four-year service period to any unauthorised person or source under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

"With the introduction of this scheme, the enrolment of soldiers in the regular cadre of the Indian Army, except technical cadres of medical branch, will be available only to those personnel who have completed their engagement period as Agniveer," the Army said.

It said the release of an Agniveer at own request prior to completion of terms of engagement is not permitted.

"However, in most exceptional cases, personnel enrolled under this scheme may be released, if sanctioned by the competent authority," it said.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

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June 27,2022

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Mumbai, June 27: There was jubilation in the rebel Shiv Sena legislators' camp after the Supreme Court proceedings on Monday while hectic politicking started in the Bharatiya Janata Party and the mood turned sombre in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadig.

Rebel leader Minister Eknath Shinde tweeted, "This is the victory of Hindu HridaySamrat Balasaheb Thackeray's Hindutva and the ideology of Dharmveer Anand Dighe."

The faction - currently in a Guwahati hotel - erupted into joy and celebrations after the apex court ruling and also expressed gratitude to the Centre for providing security to the rebel MLAs and their families.

Shinde is reported to have initiated the process to finalise and send a letter to the Maharashtra Governor that they have withdrawn support to the MVA government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress.

On the Opposition side, the BJP's core committee meeting got under way with top leaders present to finalise their strategy to form the next government in the state, possibly with the help of the rebel group.

Shinde has claimed the support of 39 Sena MLAs, and 11 independents or other parties, totalling to 48, and the group is likely to extend its sojourn in Assam by a few more days.

Several leaders joining the meeting were seen beaming in anticipation and some flashed the 'V' sign, indicating an upbeat mood.

Hitting out again, MVA Minister Aditya Thackeray alleged that many of the MLAs were misled or abducted to join the rebel group and the party is ready to take them back.

"If the rebels had courage, they would have first resigned and faced the electorate instead of all this," said Thackeray Jr.

Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said that "this a legal battle and will continue" and said the party will fight it out.

Court Relief For Rebel Sena MLAs

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday virtually kept the disqualification proceedings initiated against 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde in abeyance, by extending the time for them to file their response to the notice issued by the Deputy Speaker, till July 12.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala said the status quo needs to be maintained in the matter, in order to decide the competing claims. The 16 MLAs were given time to file their response by 5:30 pm Tuesday.

"We have to decide very competence of the Deputy Speaker if he is entitled to proceed with the matter. Today, we have to ensure that the matter does not become infructuous," the bench said.

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