- Australian researchers have developed a nasally administered subunit vaccine that has the potential to improve protection against COVID-19 infection and minimize viral spread.
The research team from the University of Sydney and the Centennial Institute reported preclinical testing of their newly developed nasal vaccine in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
The subunit vaccine, which combines the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and a Pam2Cys adjuvant, could induce substantial neutralizing antibodies against the virus in mice, with increased T-cell responses in the lungs, according to the study. and the respiratory tract.
"Current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines substantially reduce mortality and severe disease, but protection against infection is less effective. Vaccinated people still contract COVID-19 and can spread the infection, so they are still are producing major infections," said Anneliese Ashhurst, lead author and a researcher at the University of Sydney and the Centenary Institute.
"Our vaccine differs from most current COVID-19 vaccines in that it enables an immune response to be generated directly in those areas of the body that are likely to be the first point of contact for the virus, the nose, respiratory tract, and lungs," he said. indicated.
Ashhurst said Friday that they have tested giving the vaccine by injection or through the nose.
“While both routes were effective, nasal administration substantially enhanced immune responses locally in the nose, airways, and lungs. We achieved complete protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the expert said.
The study also noted that adapted versions of this new nasal vaccine could also potentially be applied to other viral or bacterial respiratory diseases, such as influenza, bird flu, SARS, and MERS. ■
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has reported additional 41 new cases of Monkeypox disease between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4, from 12 states of the Federation.
The NCDC via its official website on Sunday said that the 12 states were: Lagos (14), Abia (7), Imo (6), Ogun (5), Ondo (2), Akwa Ibom (1), Borno (1), Delta (1), Osun (1), Oyo (1), Plateau (1) and Rivers (1).
It stated that there has been 815 suspected cases, 318 confirmed cases and seven deaths from Monkeypox so far in the country in 2022. The Public Health Agency said that the seven deaths were recorded in seven states in 2022: Delta (1), Lagos (1), Ondo (1), Akwa Ibom (1), Kogi (1), Taraba (1) and Imo (1), with Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) of 2.2 per cent.
According to NCDC, Since 2017 till date, only four states in country accounted for 270 out of 544 cases of Monkeypox in the country – Lagos (93), Rivers (71), Bayelsa (62) and Delta (44).
The Nigerian Public Health Institute said that this translates to approximately 50 per cent (49.6 per cent) of the total number of confirmed cases.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus similar to the now-eradicated smallpox virus.
It has been most common in some African countries, but outbreaks have occurred in other areas from time to time.
In 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO), declared a global health emergency since monkeypox had spread to many countries through social interactions and intimate contacts.
While monkeypox cases spreading globally in 2022 can cause severe disease, the infection most often clears up on its own.
Monkeypox may be most severe in young children, especially if they have poor nutritional status.
In previous years fatal cases had occurred, primarily among children in Africa.
Vaccines can prevent monkeypox but they are currently in short supply and are used to prevent monkeypox disease in people, who have been exposed to the virus.
When it becomes more widely available, the vaccine may be appropriate to protect at-risk populations, such as men who have sex with men, bisexual people, commercial sex workers and others who engage in behaviour that put them at higher risk.
The infection continues to spread, but because transmission requires close personal contact, the rate is much slower than that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) and causes fewer cases.
Meanwhile, Europe and North America have been following a gradual downward trajectory.
Public Health experts have suggested that if it persists, it will “probably persist at sporadic low levels”.
The experts said that many other countries have also seen recent outbreaks and it became apparent there had been human-to-human transmission, with the vast majority of cases in men who had sex with men.
They said that since May 2022, there have been more than 65,000 cases reported worldwide and the World Health Organisation called it a global public health emergency in July. Although, WHO noted that the data was not clear-cut, it looked like behaviour change would have made a difference to those numbers.
This might be because people started isolating once they recognised symptoms or checked their partners for unusual spots or lesions.
The UN agency said that the best way to ensure that cases stayed low was to continue to vaccinate those at risk and maintain strict surveillance.
“The take-home message from WHO is that vaccines are being rolled out, if you’re offered one, make sure to take it”.
“And if you might be at risk but haven’t received any vaccination at all; then make use of new supplies of the jab coming on board, as even one dose offers a high level of protection.
“And most importantly – if you have symptoms, stay at home, call your local sexual health clinic and avoid sharing towels or bedding until you’ve been told what to do,” the UN health agency explained.
Meanwhile, globally, by Sept. 28, 106 countries reported a total of 67,556 laboratory-confirmed cases and 3,193 probable cases, including 27 deaths, according to WHO.
The Indonesian food and drug administration (BPOM) has issued an emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the mRNA-platform COVID-19 vaccine, AWcorna, developed by Chinese companies.
AWcorna is a SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine developed by Suzhou Abogen Biosciences Co., Ltd. with the participation of Walvax Biotechnology Co., Ltd. AWcorna could be stored and transported at two to eight degrees centigrade.
“The AWcorna vaccine has been approved for EUA to prevent infection with the SARS CoV-2 virus in individuals aged 18 years and above, as a primary and heterologous booster dose,’’ said Penny Lukito, head of BPOM, at a press conference on Friday in Jakarta.
The EUA for the primary 2-dose series was based on safety and efficacy data from the pivotal phase 3 clinical trials, currently ongoing in 31 sites of three countries including Indonesia.
A group of Chinese scientists have developed a face mask that can detect viral exposure from a 10-minute conversation with an infected person.
Respiratory pathogens that caused COVID-19 and influenza spread through small droplets and aerosols released by infected people when they talk, cough, and sneeze.
The wearable bioelectronic mask designed by the researchers from Tongjin University could detectcommon respiratory viruses, including influenza and the coronavirus, in the air in droplets or aerosols, and then alert the wearers via their mobile devices.
According to the study published in the journal, the highly sensitive face mask is capable of measuring trace-level liquid samples of 0.3 microliters and gaseous samples at an ultra-low concentration of 0.1 femtograms per milliliter.
Fang Yin, a professor at Tongji said detection benchmark for liquid containing viral proteins in an enclosed chamber was “about 70 to 560 times less than the volume of liquid produced in one sneeze, cough or talk.
Fang who is also the paper author and his team designed a small sensor carrying three types of synthetic molecules that could simultaneously recognise surface proteins on SARS-CoV-2, H5N1, and H1N1.Once those molecules clicked onto the target proteins, an ion-gated transistor integrated into the mask would amplify the signal and alert the wearers, according to the study.
The designer said they could easily update the wearable device to detect novel respiratory viruses.
World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday released six short policy briefs that outline key actions that all governments must take to end COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, announced this at a news conference at the UN health agency’s headquarters in Geneva.
He said the policy briefs are based on evidence and experiences of the last 32 months, outlining what works best to save lives, protect health systems, and avoid social and economic disruption.
He added that the briefs will serve as urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future pathogens with pandemic potential.
He explained that the documents, which are available online, include recommendations regarding vaccination of most at-risk groups, continued testing and sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and integrating effective treatment for COVID-19 into primary healthcare systems.
He, therefore, urged authorities to have plans for future surges, including securing supplies, equipment, and extra health workers.
The briefs also contain communications advice, including training health workers to identify and address misinformation, as well as creating high-quality informative materials, he added.
He said WHO had been working since New Year’s Eve 2019 to fight against the spread of COVID-19 “and will continue to do so until the pandemic is truly over.
“We can end this pandemic together, but only if all countries, manufacturers, communities and individuals step up and seize this opportunity.
” According to him, as the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 plunged to its lowest since March 2020, the end of the pandemic is now in sight.
He said “we have never been in a better position to end the pandemic.
“However, the world is not there yet.
“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view.
She runs harder, with all the energy she has left.
So must we.
“We can see the finish line.
We’re in a winning position.
But now is the worst time to stop running.
“The policy briefs outline the key actions that all governments must take now to finish the race.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Ondo, Edo and Bauchi recorded 70 per cent of the 909 confirmed cases and 170 deaths from Lassa Fever cases.
The Assistant Director and Head of Response Division of the NCDC, Dr Aderinola Olaolu, made this known at the Ministerial Press Briefing on update on COVID-19 response and Development in the Health Sector in Abuja.
He said response activities continue in all areas, particularly in areas of state advocacy, IPC support, and laboratory diagnostics.
Olaolu said that the centre reported Lassa fever cases from 25 states and 101 LGAs. On measles, he said impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt across several other areas including the increase in the risk of measles and a probable increase in yellow fever outbreaks due to delayed planned vaccination campaigns.
”We recorded 18,577 confirmed cases, and 190 deaths as at week 35 in 36 states and the FCT and there are 40 LGAs with the active outbreak.
”We will continue to support state responses to measles outbreaks,” he said.
He said that the NCDC has continued to record confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, just as in several other parts of the world.
“Unfortunately, SARS-CoV-II is still exerting impacts globally, however, the effects of vaccinations, diagnostics and therapeutics are evident in our ability to continue with regular life.
“In Nigeria, we have had 5,547,250 samples tested, 264,802 confirmed cases, 257,880 discharged cases and unfortunately 3,155 deaths.
“The virus is still circulating and we must continue to adhere to all measures to prevent transmission while strengthening our capacity to respond across states”.
He, however, admonished Nigerians to continue to take responsibility to prevent COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
“Take advantage of the increasing knowledge and resources we have to get tested early if you have symptoms or are exposed, and get vaccinated to prevent severe disease.
“As we have seen with COVID-19 and the outbreak of monkeypox in countries globally, diseases will continue to emerge, so we must learn to live safely and continue to protect our lives and livelihoods,” he said.
Also speaking, the Director, Hospital Service Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, said that was no surge in oxygen demand in Isolation wards across the country.
“Oxygen availability at the isolation wards is ramped up because of the already completed few Federal Government driven PSA oxygen plants,” she said.
Speaking on case management strengthening activities, Adebiyi said the minister through the Case Management Pillar and in collaboration with NACA were holding coordination meeting with partners in the oxygen ecosystem implementation strategies.
“FHi360, CHAI and UNICEF are expected to present stewardship so especially about roles and responsibilities as it relates to C19RM funds.
“On oxygen support systems, the five-Year National Policy and Guidelines on oxygen use (2017-2022) has just undergone the second phase of collaborative review in collaboration with partners (CHAI, UNICEF) and private sector involvement,” Adebiyi said.
According to her, One important target is to increase oxygen demand through expanded capacity building and knowledge sharing across all levels of care.
She said the ministry has advised NACA to officially communicate with the ministry through the minister on the distribution of oxygen commodities to eligible health facilities in the country.
“The National Guidelines for Clinical Management of COVID-19 Version five was reviewed last week.
Paxlovid is one of the new additions to the guideline and CHAI is currently harnessing partnership and securing support to ensure availability for Nigerians,” she explained.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported 21 more cases of monkey pox in the country within the past seven days.
The NCDC via its official website announced on Sunday that the disease could be spread by close contact and exposure to an infected person’s respiratory droplets, skin lesions or bodily fluids.
The agency also reported that Nigeria recorded six monkey pox related deaths between January and August and that six states in the country had recorded one death each from the disease.
It listed the six states where monkey pox deaths occurred as Delta, Lagos, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Taraba and Kogi. According to the NCDC, monkey pox symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever and a rash that may initially be mistaken for chickenpox or a sexually transmitted disease, if in the genital or anal region.
“Between Aug. 15 and Aug. 21, Taraba and Kogi States recorded two deaths,” the agency added.
It said that the total number of confirmed cases of monkey pox in the country had also risen to 241, with 21 new cases reported in one week between Aug. 15 and Aug. 21. The NCDC said that the 21 confirmed cases were reported from 12 states.
It listed the states as Lagos – seven, Adamawa – two, Ebonyi – two, Imo -two, Akwa Ibom – one, Anambra – one, Edo – one, FCT – one, Katsina State – one, Kaduna State – one, Kogi – one and Ondo State – one.
“Of the 241 confirmed cases of monkey pox in the country, Lagos State has the highest burden of the disease, with 42 confirmed cases since the beginning of the year.
“This translates to 17.4 per cent of the total burden of the disease in the country.
“Overall, since the re-emergence of monkey pox in September, 2017 to August this year, a total of 1,116 suspected cases have been reported from 35 states.
“Of the 1,116 suspected cases, there have been 467 (41.8 per cent) confirmed (309 male, 158 female) from 32 states.
“In addition, from September, 2017 to August, 2022, a total of 14 deaths have been recorded, with a case fatality rate of three per cent, in 10 states.
“The states are: Lagos – three, Edo – two, Imo – one, Cross River – one, FCT – one, Rivers – one, Ondo State – one, Delta – one, Akwa Ibom – one, Taraba – one and Kogi – one.
” The News Agency of Nigeria reports that monkey pox is an infection, caused by a virus similar to the now-eradicated smallpox virus.
It has been common in some African countries but outbreaks have occurred in other parts of the world from time to time.
In 2022, the World Health Organisation declared a global health emergency after the spread of monkey pox to many countries through social interactions and intimate contacts.
Monkey pox may be most severe in young children, especially if they have poor nutritional status.
In previous years, fatal cases have occurred primarily among children in Africa.
Vaccines can prevent monkey pox, but vaccines are currently in short supply worldwide.
When widely available, the vaccine may also be used to protect at-risk populations, including men having sex with men, bisexual people, commercial sex workers and others who engage in behaviours that put them at risk.
The infection continues to spread but because transmission requires close personal contact, the rate is much slower than that of SARS-CoV-2 virus (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19).
One of the valuable tools in the global, regional and national response to the COVID-19 pandemic is genomic surveillance.
Genomic sequencing is a process used by scientists and public health experts to track the spread of viruses, how viruses are changing, and how those changes may affect public health.
Information from genetic surveillance, used in conjunction with clinical and epidemiological data, guides the development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostic trials, as well as decisions on public health and social measures.
Zimbabwe has registered five variants of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, since the start of the pandemic, and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) introduced genome sequencing in May 2021.
This was done by repurposing laboratory departments that had hitherto been devoted to other viral diseases.
To support the ongoing effort to strengthen Zimbabwe's genomic sequencing capacity, MoHCC, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), conducted a COVID-19 genomic surveillance situation analysis from 10 to 19 July 2022.
The exercise aimed to identify successes, gaps and challenges faced so far and make recommendations to further strengthen genomic surveillance capacity in Zimbabwe.
In addition, the visit was also in line with the WHO's ongoing efforts to strengthen genomic surveillance in the African region.
“The visit of the WHO/AFRO genome sequencing experts was welcome and timely, as it gave us the opportunity to identify gaps and strengthen our genomic surveillance,” said Dr. Raiva Simbi, MoHCC Director of Laboratory Services.
"With the recent resurgence of Marburg virus and monkeypox in the region, it is important for us to strengthen our sequencing capacity beyond COVID-19 for other diseases."
At the start of the mission, the Ministry of Health and Child Care convened a stakeholder meeting during which WHO/AFRO experts discussed with partners supporting genomic surveillance and other key areas of the COVID-19 response in Zimbabwe.
These partners include the African Centers for Disease Control (Africa CDC), the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST), the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), the Biomedical Training and Research Institute (BRTI), the City Health Departments, the Clinical Trials Research Center (UZCHS-CTRC), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Cordaid.
Also Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), Global Fund (GF), UNICEF, UNDP, US Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Bank and WHO.
The meeting was followed by supportive on-site visits to four laboratories, including the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL), Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital Laboratory, Mbare Poly Clinic and Upper East Laboratory, a tour by the COVID-19 testing clinic.
The visits were made to appreciate the available infrastructure and to understand how the sample reference system and processing works from the point of collection to the NRML where the genomic sequencing is performed.
The mission ended with a briefing where the team presented their findings and recommendations to the MoHCC and its partners.
The mission appreciated the commendable work done by both the surveillance pillar and the laboratory pillar, as well as the strong public-private sector laboratory collaboration.
The mission also noted that Zimbabwe is well trained in sequencing and has acquired basic knowledge in sequencing and bioinformatics analysis.
Key recommendations included incorporating genomic surveillance into the national budget to promote sustainability.
It was also recommended to partner with local research labs and universities to train and build a workforce with expertise in genomic surveillance.
Financial support for genome sequencing through WHO is being provided by the African Development Bank, as well as Health Pool Fund donors including the European Union and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
“The mission was an eye opener on all the capabilities already established within the country.
Zimbabwe has already done a lot to institutionalize genomic surveillance, and to build on these achievements, the country must continue to screen samples for new variants and monitor the population for outbreaks," said Rachel Aquilla, AFRO Laboratory Medical Officer for Zimbabwe.
Following an on-site assessment by a team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Influenza Laboratory of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) has been recognized as a National Influenza Center (NIC) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
and joined the WHO global influenza surveillance network.
The on-site assessment was conducted by a WHO team consisting of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) lead, a technical specialist from the WHO Regional Office for Africa, and a laboratory coordinator.
of the WHO Country Office in Ethiopia.
The Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) was founded in 1952 as a worldwide network to protect people from the threat of influenza through effective collaboration and sharing of viruses, data, and benefits based on in the commitment of the Member States to a global public health model.
To date, including the National Influenza Center of Ethiopia, 155 institutions in 125 countries are recognized by WHO as part of the GISRS.
These GISRS member centers collect samples in their country, perform primary virus isolation and preliminary antigenic characterization, and send freshly isolated strains to WHO regional collaborating centers for genetic and antigenic analysis.
The assessment mission recognized the National Influenza Center as a full member of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) after assessing its status against the WHO NIC terms of reference using a standardized assessment tool.
The recommendations of the evaluation will help the country to further strengthen the center by identifying, prioritizing and undertaking capacity development activities, including training.
It will also be helpful in promoting funds, supplies, and other resources to meet the needs of the National Influenza Center.
National influenza centers in the WHO Africa Region play a key role in influenza surveillance at the national level and participate in regional and global surveillance through the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System by contribute to the implementation of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework (PIP) and International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005.
Since 2016, the WHO Regional Office for Africa has been supporting the strengthening of influenza surveillance in various countries of the region.
Ethiopia has benefited from this support and has established sentinel sites in the country for epidemiological and virological surveillance of influenza.
The National Influenza Laboratory, which is a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL 2) facility, was established in 2008 with the primary purpose of serving as a virology laboratory for influenza and other respiratory viruses, and was designated exclusively as an influenza center of EPHI in 2018 The laboratory was the first national laboratory to process COVID-19 samples during the early days of the pandemic and continues to provide the service alongside other national and regional laboratories.
The laboratory has been contributing to the regional influenza network and GISRS by sharing clinical samples with the WHO Collaborating Center for Influenza Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control in Atlanta.
The laboratory has also regularly participated in the WHO GISRS External Quality Assurance Project on the detection of influenza viruses and SARS-CoV-2 by PCR, recording good performance.
The laboratory continues to produce and share regular reports on influenza surveillance data for WHO, which are published in the bi-weekly influenza update.
The team recommended that Ethiopia continue to contribute to regional and global influenza surveillance by enhancing its participation in the GISRS by increasing the submission of positive influenza samples to a WHO collaborating center for the selection of influenza vaccine candidates four times.
per year, to continue regular reporting of influenza surveillance data.
to WHO and maintain participation in the annual WHO SIGRS external quality assurance programme.
WHO and the WHO Collaborating Centers for Influenza are committed to continuing to provide technical advice, assistance, influenza reagents and training to the National Influenza Center.
A new viral disease known as ‘tomato flu’, has been detected among infants and school kids in several Indian states, particularly in south India, over the past three months.
The viral disease gets its name from the often tomato-shaped blisters that appear across the patient’s body, and it most commonly affects children and will typically see flare-ups in children attending kindergarten.
Nearly 100 cases had been reported in the country to date, but no death has been reported so far.
Symptoms include high fever, red rashes over the body, and intense joint pain.
The kids suffering from tomato flu also show some COVID-19-like symptoms and several other common childhood diseases, said media reports.
The treatment includes isolation, rest, plenty of fluids, and a hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes.
Health experts however recommended supportive therapy beside the use of paracetamol for fever and body aches and other symptomatic treatments are required.
Earlier, following the detection of such cases, the federal government issued an advisory directing the parents to ensure that their kids avoid hugging or touching other children.
According to the federal government, as of July 26, more than 82 children younger than five years old with the infection have been reported by the local government hospitals.
The advisory issued by the federal government stated that “tomato flu is a viral disease.
This endemic viral illness triggered an alert in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
“Additionally, 26 children (aged 1-9 years) have been reported as having the disease in Odisha.
“Although the tomato flu virus shows symptoms similar to other viral infections such as fever, fatigue, body aches and rashes on the skin, the virus is not at all related to SARS-CoV-2, monkeypox, dengue, or chikungunya.
’’ The advisory said “tomato flu is a self-limiting illness and (there is) no specific drug exists to treat it.
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