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Even four months after first jab antibodies generated by Covishield vaccine remain active – expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A significant amount of antibodies created by the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine remained even 16 weeks after receiving the first jab, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara of the Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit, Department of Immunology Molecular and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura said yesterday.

“We studied this because it was a serious issue due to hundreds of thousands of people have not received the booster doses yet. Our research shows that a significant amount of antibodies remains in those who received the first dose. This is good news and I think we can give them the second dose. But we have to conduct tests.”

Dr. Jeewandara said they would soon release a report on antibodies that developed due to the Sputnik-V vaccine, and a similar report on the Moderna vaccine too would be released in a month or two.

Dr. Jeewandara said that 500 Sputnik-V recipients and 600 Moderna recipients were being studied.

Commenting on a recent study by the department on the development of antibodies by those given the Sinopharm vaccine where it was found that vaccine induced antibody responses in over 95% of individuals, similar to levels seen following natural COVID-19 illness, Dr. Jeewandara said that the study had addressed a key concern people had about Sinopharm.

“One of the biggest problems is that we have little data on Sinopharm. This study tries to fill that,” he said.

Dr. Jeewandara said that the university had started measuring efficacy and antibodies from vaccines since Sri Lanka started administering them. The first vaccine they started studying was Covishield, he said.

“Let me explain the process. We take a blood sample before vaccination. We do that to identify antibody levels before vaccination. In Sri Lanka most people who contract COVID19 don’t develop symptoms. So we do this as a baseline blood test. Then we get a second sample before the second jab is given and a third sample at a time the manufacturer recommends as the best time to check antibodies.”

In the case of Sinopharm, the third sample was taken two weeks after the second jab. The researchers look at the level of antibodies and T-cell response because they are the two main tools to fight or prevent the virus or prevent serious illness, he said. A person can either get antibodies from contracting the virus or through vaccination, Dr. Jeewandara said.

“These are not efficacy tests. Efficacy is measured in a controlled clinical trial and is based on how many people who got vaccinated developed the ‘outcome of interest’ (usually the disease) compared with how many people who got the placebo (dummy vaccine) developed the same outcome. What we did was to test antibodies but this hints at vaccine efficacy too. Immunity and protection tend to be similar in both tests.”

Dr. Jeewandara said that Sri Lanka was an interesting case study because most Sri Lankans were genetically similar and that one variant usually dominates the country. However, Sri Lanka used several vaccines, giving the country an excellent opportunity to find out what vaccine was best.

“We also studied Covishield and over 90% of people vaccinated with it had developed antibodies,” he said.



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Washington will continue to support Lanka’s fight against Covid-19

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US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz explaining a point to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Aebywardena during their meeting yesterday.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz yesterday said that the US would continue to support Sri Lanka’s fight against Covid-19 through the COVAX facility.

She made the pledge during a courtesy call on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday, Parliament sources said.

Marcus Carpenter, Deputy Chief of political division and Kushani Rohanadeera, Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament and Chief of Staff were also present at the meeting which was held at the Speaker’s Office in Parliament.

A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed between Sri Lanka and the US, including diplomatic and economic matters. Furthermore, the future intended investments of the United States in Sri Lanka for the future of the energy sector were also discussed, sources said.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka expressed how pleased she was over the steps taken to establish a Special Committee for the purpose of reforming the current electoral system in Sri Lanka and the steps taken by Parliament to re-establish the Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament.

The Ambassador also informed the Speaker that the US continues to support the development of Sri Lanka and protect democracy in the face of COVID faced by the whole world.

 

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Institute of Chemistry organises webinar on ‘Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines’

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Arrangements have been made by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon to conduct a webinar on “Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines” with the intention of disseminating awareness on the widely spread COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination.

The webinar will be held via zoom from 8.30 am to 12.00 noon on Sept 4, a press release issued by the Institute said yesterday.

It said: The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has claimed countless lives within a span of two years causing significant damage to the world’s population and the global economy. Within the passage of a year, the emergence of changing COVID-19 variants with higher transmissibility, increased fatality was discovered around the globe. Currently, Sri Lanka is fighting the third wave of coronavirus and there has been an increase in the number of cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus across the country.

With the current situation, the need and importance of vaccination has become a vital tool in the battle against coronavirus. Vaccines save millions of lives each year and the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step taken forward in the effort to end the pandemic. Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines provided by different information channels have led to hesitations in accepting the COVID-19 vaccine among the population. This seminar will provide information on COVID-19 vaccines currently available and will be an immense help to clear any doubt with regards to COVID-19 vaccines.

The programme hopes to cover topics such as “Genomics of COVID-19” by Dr. Sameera. R. Samarakoon. “COVID-19 and Nutrition” by Prof. Ranil Jayawardena, “Immune response in COVID- 19: friend or foe” by Dr. Narmada Fernando, “COVID-19 Vaccine: What is Best” by Prof. Chandima Jeewandra and “Concluding Remarks and a Q&A session” by Prof. Nimal Punyasiri. The seminar will be moderated by Prof. Chayanika Padumadasa.

You can register to this webinar by visiting the IchemC website (ichemc.edu.lk) while more information can be obtained by contacting the Institute at 011-2861231. Also you may obtain information by sending an email to covidseminar21@gmail.com

For more details, please contact Ms. Nishadi (077 730 6270) / Ms. Shanali (076 553 2142)

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COVID Shield app introduced to Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

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Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) and the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH) have introduced the COVID Shield app to Sri Lanka to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID Shield App allows users to assess their lung health on a regular basis to identify deteriorations associated with COVID-19 early.

The app uses the in-built sound recording features of a smartphone to analyze the breathing sounds and gather additional data when the user performs several simple tests to determine breathing performance.

The app tracks lung health along with other symptoms to support identifying COVID-19 related deterioration early.

In addition to identifying the state of lung health, COVID Shield is also capable of providing the users with alerts based on overall assessment of his or her symptoms. Based on these alerts, the users can take the next step without delaying seeking medical advice. The users will also receive COVID-19 related health education and latest statistics from reliable sources on his or her dashboard.

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