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Delayed second jab may have done you good



Covishield vaccine induces immunity for at least one year following a single dose

Strong immune responses following either a late second dose or a third dose

by Emme Haddon

In early March 2021, I received my first shot of Covishield but began to get a little worried when the recommended three-month time frame had passed for the second dose with no sign of the promised shipment from India. Finally, in the first week of August, some months later, after what seemed like an interminable wait, I was fortunate enough to secure my second dose of Covishield, along with 490,000 or so others.

The findings of a study of Vaxzevria, the European brand name for the UK’s AstraZeneca vaccine of which the Indian-manufactured Covishield is biologically identical, from the Oxford-led COV001 and COV002 trials by researchers at the University of Oxford, released on June 28, 2021 on the pre-preprint server of the Lancet, demonstrated that antibody levels remain elevated from baseline for at least one year following a single dose.

Furthermore, a 45-week dosing interval between the first and second dose of Covishield, resulted in an 18-fold increase in antibody response, measured 28 days after the second dose. Antibody titers (test determining level of antibodiess in the blood) were four times higher than with a 12-week interval, demonstrating that a longer dosing interval is not detrimental but can derive stronger immunity. The analysis included volunteers aged 18 to 55 years who were enrolled in COV001 and COV002 trials and had received either a single dose or two doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.

In addition, a third dose of Vaxzevria given at least sixmonths after a second dose, boosted antibody levels sixfold, maintained T cell response and also resulted in higher neutralising activity against the Alpha (B.1.1.7, ‘Kent’), Beta (B.1.351, ‘South African’) and Delta (B.1.617.2, ‘Indian’) variants. Both the late second dose and the third dose of Vaxzevria were less reactogenic than the first dose.

It seems that those of us who patiently endured a five-month wait for their second dose of Covishield, may in fact, be better protected than those who, by whatever means they felt necessary, managed to secure their second dose in the previously recommended three-month dosing interval, before supplies ran out. As the old adage goes: good things come to those who wait springs to mind!

The release of the findings of a second study on July 28. 2021, by researchers from the University of Oxford, concluded that the risk of the rare blood clotting thrombocytopenia, venous thromboembolism and arterial thromboembolism after receiving first doses of AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID-19 jabs is far lower than from the actual virus.

Rates of venous thromboembolism were eight times higher after a diagnosis of COVID-19 infection compared with the expected rate. Many developed countries limited AstraZeneca’s use to older adults because of concerns about an elevated risk of blood clots affecting the younger population. These findings should allay any fears about the vaccine’s safety.

Results from the Canadian Immunization Research Network with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, published as a pre-print on July 23, 2021, showed that one dose of Vaxzevria (Covishield) was 82% effective against Beta/Gamma and 87% and 90 % effective against the Delta (B.617.2, ‘Indian’) and Alpha (B.1.1.7, ‘Kent’) variants’ hospitalisation or death.

Research into the coronavirus is on-going and it important to ensure that officials keep abreast of new developments and plan accordingly. In countries such as Sri Lanka with limited resources, hard hit economically by Covid-19, where the majority of those under the age of 30 have yet to receive a first vaccine, the findings that Covishield’s antibody levels remain elevated from baseline for at least one year following a single dose, with increased immunity provided as a result of a longer dosing interval are potentially game-changing.

The Delta virus variant has changed the shape of the pandemic. At a time when the vaccination program is struggling to keep up with rapid transmission of the Delta variant, any Covishield vaccines kept aside for second doses, might be better utilised now as first doses to prevent hospitalizations and deaths in those higher risk as yet unvaccinated groups.

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Amidst farmers’ protests, ministers at BIA to welcome first stock of liquid fertiliser



Minister Bandula Gunawardena and State Minister Shashindra Rajapaksa standing near the airlifted fertiliser consignment.

Activist alleges violation of procurement procedures

Amidst continuing protests in several parts of the country against a severe shortage of fertiliser, SriLankan Airlines yesterday (21) airfreighted a stock of nano-nitrogen liquid fertiliser from India.

UL 1156 touched down at the BIA 12.25 am. Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena and State Ministers, Shashendra Rajapaksa and D. V. Chanaka and Agriculture Secretary Prof. Udith Jayasinghe were there to receive the first consignment of fertiliser.

The Presidential Secretariat said that during this week 500,000 litres of nitrogen fertiliser would be brought in. It said that altogether the government had ordered 3.1 mn litres from India’s IFFCO.

The Indian fertiliser would be made available to farmers through Agrarian Centres in the Ampara, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee Districts and other districts, where paddy cultivation has already commenced, the Presidential Secretariat quoted the Agriculture Secretary as having said.

Methsiri Gunawardena, Chairman of the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser was also at the BIA.

Former Governor of Uva, Central and Southern Provinces and civil society activist Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon in a statement issued yesterday alleged that the fertliser had been ordered at a cost of Rs 9 bn without following proper procurement procedures.

Tennakoon asked whether the government deliberately created an environment for the emergency import of fertliser from India. Tennakoon said the government should explain how such large scale imports were made contrary to basic procedures. Tennakoon alleged that the government had created a monopoly for fertliser imports for the benefit of a few (SF)

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Govt. seeks an eco-tourism plan



By Ifham Nizam

The Environment Ministry and the Tourism Ministry had joined hands to appoint a joint expert committee to formulate an eco-tourism strategic plan, a senior government official said.

Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the objective of the programme was to promote the tourism industry as well as environmental protection.

“Sri Lanka has a vast flora and fauna biodiversity, pristine beaches and priceless ancient sites. The mangrove system can also attract a large number of tourists. But biodiversity is under serious threat due to the unintentional destruction by certain people in our country,” he said expressing concern.

Although there are many places in Sri Lanka where eco-tourism can be found, the ecotourism industry has not yet developed in a formal way. Therefore, the Environment and Tourism Ministries have decided to initiate a joint program to formulate an eco-tourism strategic plan aimed at attracting tourists to the ecotourism industry as part of promotion and development of our tourism industry.

A special discussion on this matter was held at the Ministry of Environment earlier this week. Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe, and Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi chaired the discussion.

Attention was drawn to the identification of eco-tourist attractions, the implementation of this program as a tactic to protect the environment, and to encourage more tourists to come to the country not only for entertainment but also for knowledge.

It was agreed to appoint a committee of experts with a standard knowledge of tourism and the environment to carry out the task.

It was also emphasized that the eco-tourism industry is very important as a source of income for our country as the 2018-22 Biodiversity Action Plan and the National Environmental Plan also include the development of eco-tourism industries.

Officials from the Special Projects Division of the Ministry of Environment also participated in the discussion.

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Finally, Lohan’s statement recorded but not by police



Retired High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena on Tuesday (19) recorded former Prisons Minister Lohan Ratwatte’s statement as regards incidents involving him at the Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons, sources said.

They said that the retired judge had asked for two months to prepare her report on the incidents at Welikada and Anuradhapura on 6 and 12 Sept. respectively.

Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC asked the retired HC judge to inquire into the incidents. Once completed, the report would be submitted to the cabinet by the Justice Minister, sources said.

The police are yet to record the State Minister’s statement regarding the incidents.

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