Welcome to the Medical Republic’s COVID catch-up featuring highlight of the week’s COVID-19 news.
First batches of Australian-manufactured vaccine released
Australian-made COVID-19 vaccines are now available, as the first four batches – representing more than 832,000 doses – of the AstraZeneca/Oxford roll out of the CSL-Seqirus manufacturing facility in Melbourne yesterday.
Each batch has been tested and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the TGA said in a statement.
The release of locally-manufactured vaccines couldn’t have come at a better time, with the New York Times reporting that the EU is planning more regulation to snaffle vaccine shipments destined for overseas.
Vaccine rollout moves into phase 1b
Recently, a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines bound for Australia was held by Italy as part of a dispute with the manufacturer over missed deadlines and shortages for local deliveries.
The second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout launched this week, adding those aged 70 years and over, Indigenous Australians aged over 55 years, adults with certain medical conditions, and those in critical or high-risk occupations to the list of people now eligible for vaccination.
So far around 282,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been delivered in the phase 1a of the program, which was forecast to deliver up 1.4 million doses.
Could the common cold reduce the risk of COVID-19?
The much-maligned common cold has taken a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a study suggests the presence of rhinovirus in nasal passages might reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 getting a spike-hold.
A laboratory study using human bronchial epithelial cells, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, found that when both SARS-CoV-2 and human rhinovirus were applied to the same sample, the coronavirus numbers dropped rapidly. Further study suggested that the rhinovirus’s presence triggers an interferon-mediated immune response that blocks SARS-CoV-2’s replication in the epithelial cells.
“From a host’s perspective, HRV [human rhinovirus] infections, which are usually associated with mild disease, stimulate an antiviral response that prevents infections by more severe (and sometimes lethal) viruses such as SARS-CoV2 and IAV [influenza A virus],” the authors wrote.
Young children associated with lower risk of COVID-19 in a household.
Children in a household may lower the risk of adults in the same household contracting COVID-19 or developing severe disease, according to new research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
A study of 310,097 adults living in a household with a healthcare worker and varying numbers of children found the greater the number of young children, the lower the risk of adults requiring hospitalisation with COVID-19.
Each additional young child was associated with a 7% reduction in risk of hospitalisation and in the risk of infection, after adjusting for the age of adults in the household and other factors including adult profession, comorbidities and sex.
The association was strongest for preschool children, and remained significant after schools reopened in the UK.
The authors suggested that children may enhanced adults’ immunity to SARS-CoV-2 through cross-reactive protection from exposure to other coronaviruses.
“In this context, our current study provides reassurance that adults sharing a household with young children remained at no increased risk of COVID-19 during August–October 2020 when schools were reopened and community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was occurring,” the authors wrote.