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Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India

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A note: There will not be an edition of Corona Letter tomorrow given the Diwali holiday. We will be back on Friday with your daily dose of health and Covid dispatch, delivered straight to your inbox.

Count
  • India on Wednesday reported 11,903 new cases and 311 fatalities, taking the cumulative caseload to 34,308,140 (151,209 active cases) and fatalities to 459,151.
  • Worldwide: Over 248.28 million cases and over 5.03 million fatalities.
  • Vaccination in India: 1,072,966,315 doses. Worldwide: Over 7.1 billion doses.
TODAY’S TAKE
Did skin microbes keep India’s Covid death rate low?
Did skin microbes keep India’s Covid death rate low?
  • Scientists in Pune and Bengaluru are set to study the unique composition of skin and oral microorganisms of Indians, as well as their distinct immune responses, which could give clues into why the Covid death rate in India was relatively lower than among the European and American populations.
  • Spearheading the expansive study involving 800 volunteers, they said the relatively low Covid mortality in India perhaps had something to do with protection provided by the unique microbiota (community of microorganisms) on the skin, as well as in the oral and nasal cavities of Indians.
  • The study will also assess the long-term immunity, up to nine months, after Covishield/Covaxin vaccination in healthy adults. “In-depth immunogenicity data will improve the ability to make public health decisions on need and timing for booster shots,” Dr Anand Kawade, lead principal investigator of the study from Pune-based KEM Hospital Research Centre told TOI. (The other institutions involved in the study include Pune based Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre, Bangalore Baptist Hospital and St John’s Research Institute in Bengaluru.)
  • On assessing the composition of skin and oral microbiome of volunteers before and nine months post-vaccination, Dr Kawade said: “Covid death rate in European and American populations is high in comparison to India. There are theories on distinct skin and mucosal microbiome as well as nutritional components in the Indian population. The study will thus characterise the microbiome in the saliva samples and skin of the 800 participants. The results can give clues into the role of this indigenous microbiome in protecting Indians from a greater number of Covid mortalities.”
THE GOOD NEWS
US approves vaccine for children between 5-11 years
US approves vaccine for children between 5-11 years
  • In a major boost to vaccination efforts for children, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) has given the go-ahead for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 5 to 11 years, following a unanimous recommendation by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices. The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) had granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to the vaccine last week on Friday. The US CDC decision could see similar approvals being granted in other countries where the vaccine is available.
  • The US CDC authorisation, which came late on Tuesday night, could see the vaccine rollout as early as today with parents keen to see their kids return to ‘normalcy’ of in-person learning, sports and other extracurricular activities that were largely suspended due to the pandemic. The virus infected 1.9 million children in the 5-11 year age group, of which 8,300 were hospitalised with 94 fatalities.
  • The dose amount given to this age group will be 10-microgrammes, which is one third the dose amount of 30-microgrammes administered to those who are 12 years or older. According to a study done by the US FDA which was made public last week, every 1 million children in the 5-11 year age group who will be fully vaccinated will help prevent 58,000 Covid-19 infections, 241 hospitalisations, 77 intensive care unit stays and one death. There are 28 million children in the US who are eligible for this shot.
  • According to Pfizer, clinical trials of its vaccine in children between 5-11 years showed the vaccine was well tolerated, with an efficacy of 90.7% and the side effects seen in this age cohort were not only mild but also similar to those seen among teens and adults between the ages 16 to 25 in clinical trials. The US CDC lists fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea as common side effects of the vaccine among teens and adults.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma


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