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Science

Tulio de Oliveira, Director of CERI: Center for Epidemic Response & Innovation, South Africa

We have been very transparent with scientific information. We identified, made data public, and raised the alarm as the infections are just increasing. We did this to protect our country and the world in spite of potentially suffering massive discrimination.

This new variant is really worrisome at the mutational level. South Africa and Africa will need support (financially, public health, scientific) to control it so it does not spread in the world. Our poor and deprived population can not be in lockdown without financial support.

This new variant, B.1.1.529 seems to spread very quick! In less than 2 weeks now dominates all infections following a devastating Delta wave in South Africa (Blue new variant, now at 75% of last genomes and soon to reach 100%).

Because this variant (B.1.1.529) can be detected by a normal qPCR due to deletion at Spike position 69-70 (like Alpha), it will make it easy for the world to track it. We estimate that 90% of the cases in Gauteng (at least 1000 a day are this variant, due to qPCR proxy testing).

We are working around the clock to understand effects on 1) Transmissibility, 2) Vaccines, 3) Re-infection, disease severity, and diagnostics. We do have funding for science, but South Africa and Africa need financial help to support their deprived population and health system.

I would like to plea to all billionaires in this world

 @elonmusk  @BillGates  @JeffBezos  @DrPatSoonShiong  @WarrenBuffett

 to support Africa & South Africa financially to control and extinguish variants! By protecting its poor and oppressed population we will protect the world.

I also want to plea to financial organizations

@WorldBank  @IMFNews  @USAID  @PEPFAR  @GlobalFund

 to support the poor population and governments in South Africa and Africa to control and extinguish variants! By protecting its poor and oppressed population we will protect the world.

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Ursula von der Leyen @vonderleyen:

The @EU_Commission will propose, in close coordination with Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529.

Blocking flights from any countries is just discriminatory and useless if TTT and isolation is not aggressively enforced everywhere. Nu has been likely cryptically circulating everywhere. We just should thank @Tuliodna and SA team, HK and Botswana Teams for their work.


Nature Medicine volume 27, pages 1385–1394 (2021)

Abstract

Widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is crucial for achieving sufficient immunization coverage to end the global pandemic, yet few studies have investigated COVID-19 vaccination attitudes in lower-income countries, where large-scale vaccination is just beginning. We analyze COVID-19 vaccine acceptance across 15 survey samples covering 10 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia, Africa and South America, Russia (an upper-middle-income country) and the United States, including a total of 44,260 individuals. We find considerably higher willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine in our LMIC samples (mean 80.3%; median 78%; range 30.1 percentage points) compared with the United States (mean 64.6%) and Russia (mean 30.4%). Vaccine acceptance in LMICs is primarily explained by an interest in personal protection against COVID-19, while concern about side effects is the most common reason for hesitancy. Health workers are the most trusted sources of guidance about COVID-19 vaccines. Evidence from this sample of LMICs suggests that prioritizing vaccine distribution to the Global South should yield high returns in advancing global immunization coverage. Vaccination campaigns should focus on translating the high levels of stated acceptance into actual uptake. Messages highlighting vaccine efficacy and safety, delivered by healthcare workers, could be effective for addressing any remaining hesitancy in the analyzed LMICs.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01454-y#Tab2

Joseph E. Stiglitz

.. a key part of the answer is a deep misinterpretation, especially among the right, of individual liberty. Those who refuse to wear masks or socially distance often argue that requirements to do so infringe on their freedom. But one person’s freedom is another person’s “unfreedom.” If their refusal to wear a mask or get vaccinated results in others getting COVID-19, their behavior is denying others the more fundamental right to life itself. The essence of the matter is that there are large externalities: In a pandemic, one person’s actions affect the well-being of others. And whenever there are such externalities, the well-being of society requires collective action: regulations to restrict socially harmful behavior and to promote socially beneficial behavior.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid19-spike-in-us-reflects-misunderstanding-of-liberty-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2021-09?

Bernardino Fantini |Professore onorario di storia della medicina e della sanità – Università di Ginevra

La vaccinazione è il più “eroico” dei rimedi sanitari, l’atto medico più celebre, un simbolo della tecnologia medica. Accanto al gesto che cura, presente sin dall’antichità in sculture, bassorilievi e vasi, si associa a partire dalla fine del Settecento, con la prima vaccinazione contro il vaiolo realizzata da Edward Jenner, il gesto che previene, che crea uno scudo protettivo della salute individuale e collettiva contro il vaiolo, la malattia all’epoca più temuta ma che diverrà poi anche la prima malattia grave ad essere eliminata, eradicata, con uno sforzo cosciente e globale di politica sanitaria internazionale basato sulla copertura vaccinale di intere popolazioni. La storia dei vaccini è relativamente breve, coprendo poco più di due secoli, dalla fine del Settecento a oggi, ma è estremamente densa di innovazioni scientifiche e tecnologiche, di  controversie intorno alle politiche vaccinali e di impatti profondi sulla vita delle persone e delle collettività. In questa breve storia si possono distinguere cinque periodi che si sono cronologicamente succeduti : 

1. Un periodo che si può chiamare di ‘preistoria’ della vaccinazione, con i tentativi anche antichi ma localizzati nel tempo e nel spazio di immunizzare i bambini con tecniche basate sul trasferimento di materia purulenta, in particolare la ‘variolizzazione’ per immunizzare contro il vaiolo.

2. La scoperta della vaccinazione jenneriana e la sua diffusione, con i primi programmi di vaccinazione obbligatoria, prima di determinati gruppi, poi di intere popolazioni. 

3. La rivoluzione pastoriana, le origini della microbiologia e dell’igiene scientifica, da cui deriva l’origine della ‘vaccinologia’, che sul modello del vaccino espande all’insieme delle malattie infettive l’idea di immunizzazione. Questo allargamento degli obiettivi vaccinali si accompagna allo sviluppo di movimenti contrari alla vaccinazione, in particolare obbligatoria.

4. Il primi decenni del Novecento, una vera ‘età aurea’ della vaccinologia, con la scoperta di nuovi vaccini, che insieme agli antibiotici e ai metodi di terapia intensiva, sono considerati come una delle tecnologie di punta e più efficaci, capaci di debellare per sempre la maggior parte delle malattie epidemiche. Da qui nasce una sorta di “illusione tecnologica”, la speranza che grazie allo sviluppo delle tecniche mediche sarebbe stato possibile disfarsi delle malattie infettive.

5. Il periodo fra la fine del XX e il nuovo millennio, caratterizzato dall’emergenza di molte nuove malattie infettive (‘malattie emergenti’, a partire dall’AIDS), dallo sviluppo di nuovi vaccini, ma anche da  una forte ripresa delle posizioni negative nei confronti della vaccinazione.

https://criticamarxista.net/2021/07/27/la-storia-dei-vaccini-%e2%80%a8medicina-politica-ed-economia/

Una discussione con Luca Ferretti, Ricercatore Senior in statistica genetica e dinamica dei patogeni presso il Big Data Institute dell’Università di Oxford (UK) e Giorgio Gilestro, Biotecnologo medico e Neurobiologo, Senior Lecturer all’Imperial College London sulla variante Delta (perché cambia tutto, sempre cambi tutto?); i dati UK ci aiutano o ci distraggono?; il pass sanitario.

Fabrizio Chiodo – Glyco-Scientist, Research Assistant Professor at the Italian National Research Council (CNR), Invited Lecturer at Havana University f.chiodo@amsterdamumc.nl

It was already an extraordinary result (62% efficacy) with two doses of Soberana02 (RBD-TT conjugate), due to the complex epidemiological situation in Havana (beta dominant). Now with the boost of SoberanaPlus (RBD-dimer) efficacy is 91.2%…!!!

It is not a race, but Cuba has now an important Public, RBD-based vaccine, showing high efficacy also with different variants circulating during the phase-3 trial. Compared to the “others” studied in South Africa for example, Soberana is an extraordinary achievement.

The design of an RBD-based vaccine was correct, the concept of conjugate-vaccine as well and the boost with the RBD-dimer to keep “high” the polyclonal antibodies (and not only) was a successful strategy.

“Poor”, under “blockade”, Cuba has two Public RBD-based vaccines (Soberana and Abdala), that showed high efficacy (phase-3) and a great safety profile.

Thanks @FinlayInstituto for these months of pure emotions: “Y siempre luchando y trabajando por mas, y mas!!!” Here the rational design: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acscentsci.1c00216 Here the pre-clinical results: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acschembio.1c00272

https://ilmanifesto.it/arriva-soberana-plus-il-vaccino-cubano-efficace-al-91/

In questo CrossWords “special edition” ritorna il virologo Matteo Bosso per fare un po’ di chiarezza riguardo alla probabile origine del SARS-CoV-2. Per quanto sia vero che la Spike del SARS-CoV-2 sia l’unica ad avere un sito di taglio della furina, Matteo ci spiega come tale sito di taglio non sia stato introdotto artificialmente ma abbia avuto molto probabilmente origini naturali.

Per approfondire ciò di cui si parla nel video:

– La review riguardo alla presenza dei siti di taglio della furina nei SARS-CoVs: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33340…

– Il lavoro che dimostra come SARS-CoV-2 e RaTG13 si leghino all’ACE2: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32225…

– L’identificazione di nuovi CoV nei pipistrelli: https://www.cell.com/action/showPdf?p…

– Pre-print riguardo all’origine del SARS-CoV-2 a 40 anni fa: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.11…

Ed Yong

I wrote about how individualism is still sabotaging the pandemic response, and how it has been accentuated by vaccinations & the CDC’s recent guidance. Our collective problem still exists & has been even more heavily shifted onto the most vulnerable.

The CDC director told the nation: “Your health is in your hands.” An odd statement from a leader in public health—a field that, more than any other, should know that one’s health is never fully in one’s hands, *especially not in a pandemic*.

This piece has 3 parts.

Part 1 looks at why vaccines reduce but don’t solve the pandemic’s collective problem. Inequities in access, the variants, & individualistic attitudes all shunt that problem onto the unvaccinated 48%.

Part 2 is about the CDC’s new mask guidance. I’ve laid out its supporters’ strongest arguments & why critics think they’re wrong. Ultimately, I think it comes down to this: Public health is meant to *center* equity. These guidelines center privilege.

Part 3 looks at individualism throughout public-health’s entire history—why epidemiology became overly focused on individual risk & why it is swinging back to a societal view. This historical tension is vital for understanding what’s happening now.

My 1st big Covid piece tried to answer the question: How will the pandemic end?

But as we enter the endgame itself, that question feels less useful.

Read More

Talha Burki

Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade was established in 2005. It has despatched cadres of health-care professionals all over the world to combat disasters and epidemics. Cuban doctors were on the scene in Haiti during the cholera outbreak that followed the 2010 earthquake; they arrived in west Africa during the 2013–16 Ebola crisis. And when COVID-19 spread to Europe, two Henry Reeve teams landed in Italy. By the end of April, 2020, more than 1000 Cuban health-care workers were helping foreign countries respond to COVID-19.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00159-6/fulltext