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No Surprise ,Pfizer and BioNTech said initial lab studies show a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine may be needed to neutralize the omicron variant

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, having only been on the global radar since late November, early analysis around the world regarding the Omicron variant of concern (VOC) is providing insight into its characteristics and risks. Some preliminary laboratory analyses suggest that the Omicron variant could exhibit some resistance to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. One study conducted by researchers in Germany (preprint) found that blood serum collected from fully vaccinated individuals had reduced efficacy in neutralizing the Omicron variant. The researchers tested sera from a variety of vaccinated patients, including those who received the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines, including some with heterologous combinations and some who received booster doses. The researchers observed reductions in neutralizing capacity on the order of 10-30 times, compared to the Delta variant. Additionally, sera from participants who received a heterologous combination of the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines exhibited “no efficacy against Omicron.” Preliminary findings from studies conducted by researchers in South Africa and Sweden (both preprint) are similar.

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New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu Signs “Medical Freedom” Bill 

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Concord, New Hampshire , New Hampshire (US) Governor Chris Sununu last week signed into law a  “medical freedom” bill that prohibits “any public facility, any public benefit, or any public service” from requiring state residents be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 to receive or access such services or facilities. The law states that “every person has the natural, essential, and inherent right to bodily integrity, free from any threat or compulsion by government to accept an immunization.” Notably, the law sets out several exceptions, including vaccination requirements for schools, childcare, county nursing homes, and the state’s mental health system. Additionally, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections may mandate certain medical treatments or immunizations “when a direct threat exists.” The law does not address private businesses. Governor Sununu continues to voice support for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. According to state data, nearly 54% of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, above the national average.

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Health Officials Monitoring for signs of “breakthrough” Infections—ie, Infections in fully Vaccinated Individuals

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, according to Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security , in order to understand the effectiveness of vaccination efforts, health officials are monitoring for signs of breakthrough” infections—ie, infections in fully vaccinated individuals—which provide insight regarding both the degree of protection provided by the vaccines as well as risk factors that could affect that protection. But in order to effectively utilize these data, health officials must determine (1) what qualifies as a breakthrough infection and (2) whether they should treat all breakthrough infections equally. As we covered previously, clinical trials for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines utilized different metrics to estimate efficacy, and depending on whether you look at SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic COVID-19 disease, or severe disease or death, vaccine efficacy can vary widely. An article published in The Atlantic takes a similar look at breakthrough infections.

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