Well-Known HK Artist Infected After Four Doses of Sinovac Vaccine


Maria Cordero, a well-known Hong Kong artist, more commonly known as “Fat Mama” in Hong Kong, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. She has previously received four shots of China’s Sinovac vaccine. Although by now her fever has subsided, she has not fully recovered yet.

Maria is a Hong Kong singer, actress, and cooking show host. She is 68 years old now. On June 24, 2022, Maria announced on her Facebook page that she had been diagnosed with the virus. She said through a video clip that she was still normal the day before, and had gone out to the mountains, exercised, shopped around and dined outside.

On the 24th, after she got up and before going out to the mountain again, she felt a little headache, and the result of the rapid test was positive. After that the headache became increasingly serious. She has notified the government immediately and started quarantine at home, avoiding contact with family members and domestic helpers, also telling them not to go out.

She also said in the same video clip that she is “an extremely careful person.” She has a quick test every day, and always wears a mask when she goes out. With all such good practices in place, she is still puzzled by how she could be infected with the virus. Maria said many times, “It’s really, really unexpected.” She urged everyone else to be more careful in order to stay safe.

As of June 27, Maria said on Facebook that her fever had subsided, but she still coughed badly and that happened even during gasping. She felt that was one hell of a nasty experience. Anyhow she did take the chance to thank everyone for their concern.

Maria received her fourth dose of the China made Sinovac vaccine two months ago. At that time, she even uploaded a photo of the injection process on Facebook and gave it a thumbs up.

In recent years, she has actively participated in lots of pro-CCP (Chinese Communist Party) activities, including presiding over police rallies during the “anti-extradition” movement, and co-signing support for the Hong Kong National Security Law. In March this year, she visited Hong Kong’s Tsing Yi “Fangcang” shelter hospital as a delegate of China’s rubber stamp legislature, and boasted that the hospital’s environment was “better than a private hospital.”

Studies Rule Sinovac Vaccine Ineffective Against Omicron

There are all sorts of Omicron variants currently circulating around the world. A study by Yale University found that the full inoculation of Sinovac vaccine would be ineffective against the Omicron variant. The results were published in the medical journal Nature Medicine in January 2022.

Researchers from Yale University in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic analysed the serum of 101 volunteers from the Dominican Republic. The results showed that no antibodies for neutralizing Omicron were detected in those who received two doses of Sinovac vaccine. And those who received the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine and booster shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech had a 1.4-fold increase in antibody levels against Omicron.

The paper also said that those who received Pfizer-BioNTech booster after two doses of Sinovac vaccine, produced antibodies at levels similar to that produced after receiving two doses of the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine.

The University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong also published similar findings in December 2021. In their study they tested two batches of 25 people, The first batch of 25 had received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and only five people’s serum contained neutralising antibodies to Omicron “and the vaccine efficiency was significantly reduced to 20 – 24 percent.” For the twenty-five people who received two doses of Sinovac vaccine, none of their serum could neutralise the Omicron virus. The study also found that the antibody level after three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was sufficient to protect against Omicron, while the antibody level after three doses of Sinovac vaccine did not provide sufficient protection.

 

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Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.



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Pfizer Says Tweaked COVID-19 Shots Boost Omicron Protection

Pfizer announced Saturday that tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and works — just days before regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall.

The vaccines currently used in the U.S. still offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death — especially if people have gotten a booster dose. But those vaccines target the original coronavirus strain and their effectiveness against any infection dropped markedly when the super-contagious omicron mutant emerged.

Now with omicron’s even more transmissible relatives spreading widely, the Food and Drug Administration is considering ordering a recipe change for the vaccines made by both Pfizer and rival Moderna in hopes that modified boosters could better protect against another COVID-19 surge expected this fall and winter.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech studied two different ways of updating their shots — targeting just omicron, or a combination booster that adds omicron protection to the original vaccine. They also tested whether to keep today’s standard dosage — 30 micrograms — or to double the shots’ strength.

In a study of more than 1,200 middle-aged and older adults who’d already had three vaccine doses, Pfizer said both booster approaches spurred a substantial jump in omicron-fighting antibodies.

“Based on these data, we believe we have two very strong omicron-adapted candidates,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

Pfizer’s omicron-only booster sparked the strongest immune response against that variant.

But many experts say combination shots may be the best approach because they would retain the proven benefits of the original COVID-19 vaccine while adding new protection against omicron. And Pfizer said a month after people received its combo shot, they had a 9 to 11-fold increase in omicron-fighting antibodies. That’s more than 1.5 times better than another dose of the original vaccine.

And importantly, preliminary lab studies show the tweaked shots also produce antibodies capable of fighting omicron’s genetically distinct relatives named BA.4 and BA.5, although those levels weren’t nearly as high.

Moderna recently announced similar results from tests of its combination shot, what scientists call a “bivalent” vaccine.

The studies weren’t designed to track how well updated boosters prevented COVID-19 cases. Nor is it clear how long any added protection would last.

But the FDA’s scientific advisers will publicly debate the data on Tuesday, as they grapple with whether to recommend a change to the vaccines’ recipes — ahead of similar decisions by other countries.


© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Study: Long COVID After Omicron Half as Likely Than With Previous Strains

The omicron variant is less likely to give you long COVID than a previous strain of the virus, British researchers say.

What was described as the first peer-reviewed report to investigate omicron and patients’ risk of persistent symptoms found 4.4% of omicron cases resulted in long COVID. That’s well below the nearly 11% associated with the delta variant, which was the dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 earlier in the pandemic, researchers said.

But because the omicron variant is far more contagious than delta, more people get infected with omicron and, therefore, more experience long COVID, they added.

“We still need to keep providing support for people with long COVID while we try to understand why it occurs and how we can treat it,” said lead researcher Claire Steves, a senior clinical lecturer at Kings College London.

Long COVID can include a variety of symptoms and last for weeks, months or, potentially, years, affecting a person’s quality of life, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sometimes the symptoms can go away or come back.

They can include fatigue, fever, malaise, trouble breathing, cough, chest pain, heart palpitations and dizziness. People can also have foggy thinking, depression, anxiety, headaches and sleep problems, as well as loss of smell and taste. Diarrhea, stomach pain, muscle ache, rash and changes in the menstrual cycle are also possible.

For the study, Steves and her colleagues used the U.K.-based ZOE COVID Symptom study app to collect data on 56,000 people infected with the omicron strain. They were compared with more than 41,000 people infected with the delta strain.

The upshot: Odds of getting long COVID were 20% to 50% lower with omicron than delta. The odds were dependent on a patient’s age and time since vaccination.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said long COVID is probably more common than realized.

“[Omicron] doesn’t cause as much deep lung infections, but it’s also true that there’s immune protection from the vaccine and previous infections to some extent,” he said.

It follows that if cases are less severe, there won’t be as much long COVID, said Siegel, who reviewed the findings.

“That’s my personal experience,” he said. “In my practice, I never see anyone with loss of smell and taste anymore.”

Still, Siegel predicts COVID may become a permanent part of the landscape, like the flu.

“We’re still seeing disease and hospitalizations, but we’re seeing a lot more disease than hospitalizations now,” he said. “I think that’s where we’re heading with this. I can’t be sure, but I think we’re heading into a semi-permanent phase of persistent disease, but less severe outcomes.”

He emphasized that having had COVID doesn’t mean you won’t get it again, because immunity from the infection appears to be short-lived. And breakthrough cases are possible even if you’re vaccinated, though they’re likely to be less severe than if you weren’t, Siegel said.

“Don’t count on prior infection to completely protect you and don’t count on a vaccine to completely protect you, but get as much immunity as you can,” he said.

It’s reassuring to know that omicron appears to cause fewer long-term symptoms, Siegel said.

“Be aware that omicron causes fewer long-term symptoms but not zero,” he emphasized. “We need to continue to be aware of this virus and to be cautious about it.”

The new findings were published online June 18 in The Lancet.



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Study: Omicron as Severe as Previous COVID Variants

The omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus is intrinsically as severe as previous variants, unlike assumptions made in previous studies that it was more transmissible but less severe, a large study in the United States has found.

“We found that the risks of hospitalization and mortality were nearly identical between periods,” said four scientists who conducted the study based on records of 130,000 COVID-19 patients, referring to times in the past two years when different variants were dominant across the world.

The study, which is undergoing peer review at Nature Portfolio and was posted on Research Square on May 2, was adjusted for confounders including demographics, vaccination status, and the Charlson comorbidity index that predicts the risk of death within a year of hospitalization for patients with specific comorbid conditions.

The studies that assumed that the omicron variant was less severe were conducted in various places including South Africa, Scotland, England, and Canada, said the scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital, Minerva University and Harvard Medical School.

They said their study could have several limitations, including the possibility that it underestimated the number of vaccinated patients in more recent COVID waves, and the total number of infections, because it excluded patients who performed at-home rapid tests.


© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.



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Jeffrey Tucker: US May Not Know Alternatives to Lockdown, China’s Zero-COVID Strategy

What has the lockdown situation in Shanghai taught the rest of the world? Is the method and invention by a totalitarian regime, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), proving to be correct? Has public health gone too far going into politics? We discuss these questions with Jeffrey Tucker, founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, as well as his view on why China invented the lockdown for COVID-19 and why the world adopted the method. Plus, we discuss the CCP regime and it’s nature amid the humanitarian crisis in China.
 
Click the “Save” button below the video to access it later on “My List.”




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BA.2 Omicron Subvariant Now Causes Nearly 90 Percent of US COVID-19 Cases: CDC

The BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the CCP virus is being pegged as responsible for causing the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The data, for the week ending April 9 and released by the federal health agency on April 12, indicates that cases have gone up nearly 10 percent from a week earlier, with Omicron BA.2 now accounting for 85.9 percent of cases nationwide.

The hardest-hit regions are in Northeast states such as New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts, where the BA.2 subvariant makes up a slightly higher case count amounting to over 90 percent of all infections.

Although CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus infections have been back on the rise during the last few weeks, overall cases have dropped sharply since hitting record levels in January, according to data from the agency.

Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also announced the trend of an overall decline in cases has now reversed.

“It’s clear that there is now a trend towards an increasing number of cases across the country and particularly in the Northeast,” Kuritzkes said.

The vast majority of CCP virus cases involve no or mild symptoms, but a small number lead to severe disease. A small percentage of patients go to hospitals and die. The CCP virus causes the disease COVID-19.

BA.2 made up 75.4 percent of the variants identified in the country for the week ending April 2, according to CDC estimates. That’s compared with a previous estimate of 72.2 percent.

Emerging data on BA.2 indicate that the subvariant is more transmissible than Omicron and other variants, but “there’s no evidence that BA.2 variant results in more severe disease,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, told reporters during a news briefing in late March.

Omicron itself is much better than Delta at evading protection bestowed by vaccines or prior infection, especially the former. The vaccines authorized or approved in the United States provide little shielding against infection from Omicron, though they have held up better against severe disease.

Because of the waning effectiveness, U.S. regulators on March 29 authorized a fourth shot of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for tens of millions of Americans, and the CDC quickly recommended those eligible to get one.

Some experts fear BA.2 could cause a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the United States, but that has not turned out to be the case so far.

BA.2 also appears to render some treatments less or ineffective, including a monoclonal antibody made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology.

Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD News



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New Hybrid Omicron Variant XE is Most Transmissible Yet

As the coronavirus continues to mutate, we are now seeing the emergence of the most transmissible variants ever. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that a hybrid of the BA.1 and BA.2 omicron mutation named XE was first detected in the U.K., and now China is reporting COVID-19 cases of two novel omicron subvariants that don’t match any existing sequences. Experts are not sure whether the latest outbreaks caused by these variants are transient or could eventually cause problems around the world.

“If the Chinese authorities’ efforts to constrain transmission are ineffective against a highly, highly transmissible virus, like an omicron variant, this could become a threat for the rest of the world,” said Rajeev Venkayya, an expert in global vaccine issues who has done extensive research on neutralizing omicron and its subvariants for Aerium Therapeutics, according to Bloomberg. “We know that uncontrolled transmission of the virus can lead to more viral evolution and an evolution around vaccines and therapeutics, potentially making them less effective.”

According to reports, the XE variant is 10% more transmissible than the BA.2 subvariant, which has been the most contagious mutation so far, according to Express.co.uk. The WHO says that the BA.2 is still the most dominant mutation of the omicron virus with 86% of all sequenced cases attributed to it. So far, the XE accounts for only a small fraction of COVID-19 cases, but its extremely high transmissibility means it could become the dominant strain in the future.

The Food and Drug Administration is holding a hearing this week to investigate what booster shots are needed and what strains of viruses they should target. While the number of infections from these variants isn’t significant at this time, scientists say they still should be monitored to avoid a global health threat. So far, most of the infections in China and Hong Kong have been caused by existing variants, says virologist Stephen Goldstein, of the University of Utah.

“I don’t really expect a new variant to emerge from the omicron epidemics in Hong Kong and China,” he said. “That said, this virus has certainly surprised us before, and we need to stay vigilant.”

© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.



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China Reports New Omicron Subtype Near Shanghai as City Locks Down Residents


A new subtype of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has been found near Shanghai, where residents are currently under a lockdown.

The new iteration of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus was reported by municipal authorities in Suzhou, a city that borders Shanghai, on April 2. The strain was isolated from a local infected patient with the surname Yang on March 28.

Municipal officials said the isolated virus had evolved from the BA.1.1 branch of the Omicron variant. What’s more, the subtype did not match other COVID-19 variants already found in China, nor those found in the public virus tracking database GISAID.

Meanwhile, health officials in Dalian, a port city in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, also found a new subtype from a local infected patient on April 1, according to China’s state-run media. The strain was said to not match any CCP virus found in China and had evolved from the BA.2 branch of the Omicron variant.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now thousands of coronavirus variants around the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BA.1, BA.1.1, and BA.2 are the three most common lineages of the Omicron variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in its weekly epidemiological report published on March 22, declared that BA.2 had become “the predominant variant” around the world. The BA.2 stain has been nicknamed the “stealth variant” because it contains mutations that make it harder to detect.

The BA.1 strain was responsible for a large number of infections in the United States in late 2021. Now, BA.2, which is known to be more transmissible than BA.1 and BA.1.1, makes up the majority of new infections (54.9 percent) in the United States, the CDC announced on March 29.

The BA.2 variant is also mostly responsible for the new wave of infections in China, with China’s commercial hub of Shanghai being one of the hardest-hit areas. On March 28, the city began enforcing a two-stage lockdown, with officials ordering people to stay home, restricting access to roads, shutting down non-essential businesses, and launching mass testing. These methods are all part of China’s harsh “zero-COVID” strategy.

On April 4, Shanghai health officials reported a total of 9,006 new daily cases for April 3.

A day earlier, China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), dispatched more than 2,000 medical personnel to Shanghai, according to state-run PLA Daily. One of their duties is to carry out nucleic acid tests.

There have been many complaints from Shanghai residents who are struggling to carry on with their lives amid the lockdown. Some demand having more access to food and medicine, while others complain about how their children have been forcibly taken away.

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Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a master’s degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.



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UPDATE 1-AstraZeneca COVID Drug Neutralizes Omicron Sub-variants in Study

AstraZeneca said its antibody-based cocktail to prevent and treat COVID-19 was shown to retain neutralizing activity against Omicron coronavirus variants, including the highly contagiouos BA.2 sub-variant, in an independent lab study.

Data from the study https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.03.17.484787v1 by the Washington University showed the therapy reduced the amount of virus detected in samples of all tested Omicron subvariants in mice lungs, the London-listed drugmaker said https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-center/medical-releases/evusheld-long-acting-antibody-combination-retains-neutralizing-activity-against-omicron-variants-including-ba2-in-new-independent-studies.html on Monday. The study has yet to be peer reviewed.

The therapy, Evusheld, was tested against the BA.1, BA.1.1, and BA.2 subvariants of Omicron and it was also shown to limit inflammation in the lungs.

“The findings further support Evusheld as a potential important option to help protect vulnerable patients such as the immunocompromised who could face poor outcomes if they were to become infected with COVID-19,” senior AstraZeneca executive John Perez said.

The World Health Organization said last week figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem, as the Omicron and BA.2 variants spread amid the easing of restrictions and testing.

Vaccines rely on an intact immune system to develop targeted antibodies and infection-fighting cells, but Evusheld contains lab-made antibodies designed to linger in the body for months to contain the virus in case of an infection.

The results come after Britain last week approved the therapy for preventing infections in adults with poor immune response. Evusheld is currently under a European review and has been authorized in the United States.

© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.



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Mix of Delta and Omicron Variants


The Chinese regime announced COVID-19 outbreaks in the north, south, east, and west of the country on Feb. 19 that are primarily Delta and Omicron variants.

The infected cities include Heihe in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province, Huludao in northeastern Liaoning, Suzhou in eastern Jiangsu, Shaoxing in eastern Zhejiang, Wenshan, Honghe, and Ruili in southwestern Yunnan, Hohhot and Baotou in northern Inner Mongolia, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Dongguan in southern Guangdong, and Haikou in far southern Hainan.

Officials from the Chinese National Health Commission said at the press conference on Saturday that the regime has started arranging for all residents over 18 to receive a booster shot, although they couldn’t evaluate the effects of the regular vaccination nor the booster.

Just like the first two vaccinations, the Chinese regime distributed vaccines from local manufacturers for the booster shots.

Residents queue to be swabbed for COVID-19 testing in Suzhou, China on Feb. 16, 2022. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Suzhou

On Feb. 19, residents from Suzhou city, where people are facing the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, described their situation to the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times.

“A child that lives at Building 11 was infected with the CCP virus [and diagnosed on Feb. 18]. All the about one hundred residents from several dozens of families in the building were removed to quarantine centers in the night,” a resident surnamed Wang at Xingshengke residential compound in Suzhou Industrial Park said in a phone interview.

He explained that he and everyone living in other buildings in the residential compound were locked inside the compound after the child’s infection was detected.

A resident surnamed Ji at 150 Yangpu Road, Suzhou Industrial Park, said the regime locked down the whole park, an area of 107 square miles with a population of 1.13 million, and people weren’t allowed to enter or leave the park without a special permit.

Ji said the outbreak in the park was serious, and some workers were recently diagnosed including someone employed at the Bosch factory.

“Five factories [in the park] are sealed, and workers can’t leave the factories,” Ji said. “There’s about 5,000 foreign invested factories in the park.”

State-run Shanghai Observer reported on Feb. 19 that the COVID-19 patients in Suzhou are from Wuzhong, Wujiang, Gusu, and Xiangcheng districts, as well as Changshu and Zhangjiagang prefecture-level cities.

The Chinese regime rules all parts of the country with the same policies. Suzhou’s current status reflects the situation in other Chinese cities that had recent COVID-19 outbreaks.

On Feb. 19, the China’s National Health Commission said that the current COVID-19 outbreaks in Guangdong Province are mostly caused by the Omicron variant, while the virus spreading in Inner Mongolia is primarily the Delta variant. The commission didn’t reveal the variant types in other regions.

Nicole Hao

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Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.



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