Why vaccinated people still need to wear a mask
Many vaccines that were made in record time racing against the pandemic are now being successfully rolled out across the world. Those from Pfizer and Moderna have shown to trigger robust immune response, while the Astrazeneca shot, made in parternship with Oxford University, is reasonably effective as well. These vaccines have successfully proven effective in trials and now, after the roll-out, that they are safe and help people from getting sick. However, there is little information or proof that these shots will stop the transmission -- that is, people spreading the virus even after vaccination. It is completely possible that some of those inoculated will get infected without developing symptoms, and could then silently transmit the virus — especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks. Read here
Complete strangers in Hong Kong helping ease pandemic pain of others
When the coronavirus pandemic hit Hong Kong late March last year, a group of complete strangers came together to create a facebook community called Hong Kong quarantine support group, that seeks to look after the physical and mental needs of those in grueling quarantine periods. No one knew how long this experiment would last in the initial phase as none predicted that the virus would drag on. Now, with over 30,000 members, the group has become a refuge of positivity and compassion. The community members will drop off the saliva samples of those in quarantine, bringing people groceries, walk their dogs, celebrate birthdays of the kids and most importantly listen to the pain and hardships of people in quarantine. Read here
WHO plans vaccine approvals for global rollout
With rich nations already securing millions of doses through billion-dollar deals with vaccine makers, poor nations were left with no option but to rely on WHO for the shots. COVAX, a WHO initiative set up to facilitate vaccines for the poor, has so far not been able to do so on the scale that it had aimed to due to the shortage of funds. But now the WHO is planning to expedite approvals for several western and chinese vaccines, in line with the global rollout plans. The Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) could be authorised by the WHO in next few months, according to an internal document of the Covax seen by Reuters. Read here
How effective is the Oxford vaccine for the over-65s?
The United Kingdom and European medical agencies have cleared Astrazeneca vaccine made with Oxford University a while ago and the countries have rolled out the vaccine successfully. However, Germany, France and six other European nations have recommended it only for those under 65, Belgium and Italy for people under 55 and Switzerland for nobody at all. The reason partly for such varied regulatory decisions is because of the serious under representation of over 65 age group in trials. Just 665 people were aged 65 in trials or about 6 per cent of participants. The story suggests one cannot estimate efficacy from this data alone. Many regulatory agencies concluded there was insufficient evidence on older people. Having said that, lack of data doesn't mean that there is lack of protection. If the available scientific evidence is anything to go by, as with other mRNA vaccines, the AstraZeneca shot has similar levels of neutralising antibodies across age. It is reasonable to assume protection in older people will be like that in younger adults. Read here