China’s first mRNA #coronavirus vaccine ready for final stage trials overseas

China’s first domestically developed mRNA vaccine is ready to start its final stage trials overseas next month.The vaccine – which uses the same advanced revolutionary techniques as the drugs developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – is at the end of phase 2 human trials and will start large-scale phase 3 trials next month, Ying Bo, founder and chief executive of Suzhou Abogen Biosciences, told China National Radio.

The vaccine, known as ARCoV, has been jointly developed by Abogen, the Academy of Military Science and Walvax Biotechnology.

SCMP report

China: Our vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” says the director of Chinese CCDC

China’s top disease control official says the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines is low and the government is considering mixing them to give them a boost.  Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference Saturday in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses in other countries while also trying to promote doubt about the effectiveness of Western vaccines.

“It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process,” Gao said.

The effectiveness rate of a coronavirus vaccine from Sinovac, a Chinese developer, at preventing symptomatic infections has been found to be as low as 50.4% by researchers in Brazil. By comparison, the vaccine made by Pfizer has been found to be 97% effective.

Mainichi.jp report

 

Image by Willfried Wende from Pixabay
 

Sinovac #coronavirus vaccine – 27.7% effective within the first two weeks, 56.5% effective two weeks after the second dose

The study by the University of Chile found inoculation to be 56.5 percent effective in protecting recipients two weeks after the second dose, and 27.7 percent effective within the first two weeks.

But for a single dose, efficacy in the 28 days between the first and second dose was only three percent — on par with the margin of error in such studies, it said.

ABS-CBN.com report

 

 Image by Victor Millan from Pixabay

“Gain of Function research hasn’t protected us from this outbreak, hasn’t provided us with any effective treatments or vaccines to save hundreds of thousands of lives lost to CoV2, and if there is even a 0.1% chance GOF research caused the whole thing, that chance is too high”

Lab-Made? SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research

CoV2 is an obvious chimera (though not nesessarily a lab-made one), which is based on the ancestral bat strain RaTG13, in which the receptor binding motif (RBM) in its spike protein is replaced by the RBM from a pangolin strain, and in addition, a small but very special stretch of 4 amino acids is inserted, which creates a furin cleavage site that, as virologists have previously established, significantly expands the “repertoire” of the virus in terms of whose cells it can penetrate.

From an investigation into the Lab Leak theory for Sars-Cov-2 By Yuri Deigin

 

 

 

 

 

WOW. Unexpected novel Merbecovirus discoveries in agricultural sequencing datasets from Wuhan, China #coronavirus

In this study we document the unexpected discovery of multiple coronaviruses and a BSL-3 pathogen in agricultural cotton and rice sequencing datasets. In particular, we have identified a novel HKU5-related Merbecovirus in a cotton dataset sequenced by the Huazhong Agricultural University in 2017.  We have also found an infectious clone sequence containing a novel HKU4-related Merbecovirus related to MERS coronavirus in a rice dataset sequenced by the Huazhong Agricultural University in early 2020. Another HKU5-related Merbecovirus, as well as Japanese encephalitis virus, were identified in a cotton dataset sequenced by the Huazhong Agricultural University in 2018. An HKU3-related Betacoronavirus was found in a Mus musculus sequencing dataset from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2017. Finally, a SARS-WIV1-like Betacoronavirus was found in a rice dataset sequenced by the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in 2017. Using the contaminating reads we have extracted from the above datasets, we were able to assemble complete genomes of two novel coronaviruses which we disclose herein. In light of our findings, we raise concerns about biosafety protocol breaches, as indicated by our discovery of multiple dangerous human pathogens in agricultural sequencing laboratories in Wuhan and Fouzou City, China.

Arxiv Preprint

 

 

Image by Tuan Hoang from Pixabay

Chile heads back into #coronavirus lockdown despite massive vaccination campaign with Sinovac vaccine

Chile’s big coronavirus vaccine bet on China’s Sinovac shots. Chile hopes to reach herd immunity by the middle of the year and is nearly halfway to vaccinating its entire population. The Chinese made Sinovac vaccine has played a major part in the campaign, despite not releasing final phase data.

“This Monday the most restrictive measures to stop contagions begin to take effect: curfew at 9 p.m. and border closures

On this day, the borders will be closed for at least 30 days, and the curfew will begin at 9:00 p.m., extending until 5 a.m. There will also be new limitations to essential activities, where by essential good will be understood those essential goods for subsistence, telework, real estate security, distance education.

LaNacion.cl report

 

 

 

Graph courtesy of Ourworldindata.org

 

 

Joint Statement on the WHO-Convened COVID-19 Origins Study signed by 14 countries

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.

The Governments of Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America remain steadfast in our commitment to working with the World Health Organization (WHO), international experts who have a vital mission, and the global community to understand the origins of this pandemic in order to improve our collective global health security and response. Together, we support a transparent and independent analysis and evaluation, free from interference and undue influence, of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, we join in expressing shared concerns regarding the recent WHO-convened study in China, while at the same time reinforcing the importance of working together toward the development and use of a swift, effective, transparent, science-based, and independent process for international evaluations of such outbreaks of unknown origin in the future.

The mission of the WHO is critical to advancing global health and health security, and we fully support its experts and staff and recognize their tireless work to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, including understanding how the pandemic started and spread. With such an important mandate, it is equally essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples. Scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings. We share these concerns not only for the benefit of learning all we can about the origins of this pandemic, but also to lay a pathway to a timely, transparent, evidence-based process for the next phase of this study as well as for the next health crises.

We note the findings and recommendations, including the need for further studies of animals to find the means of introduction into humans, and urge momentum for expert-driven phase 2 studies.  Going forward, there must now be a renewed commitment by WHO and all Member States to access, transparency, and timeliness. In a serious outbreak of an unknown pathogen with pandemic potential, a rapid, independent, expert-led, and unimpeded evaluation of the origins is critical to better prepare our people, our public health institutions, our industries, and our governments to respond successfully to such an outbreak and prevent future pandemics.  It is critical for independent experts to have full access to all pertinent human, animal, and environmental data, research, and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak relevant to determining how this pandemic emerged. With all data in hand, the international community may independently assess COVID-19 origins, learn valuable lessons from this pandemic, and prevent future devastating consequences from outbreaks of disease.

We underscore the need for a robust, comprehensive, and expert-led mechanism for expeditiously investigating outbreaks of unknown origin that is conducted with full and open collaboration among all stakeholders and in accordance with the principles of transparency, respect for privacy, and scientific and research integrity. We will work collaboratively and with the WHO to strengthen capacity, improve global health security, and inspire public confidence and trust in the world’s ability to detect, prepare for, and respond to future outbreaks.

Joint Statement on the WHO-Convened COVID-19 Origins Study

Image by Philippe Delavie from Pixabay

WHO report on #coronavirus pandemic origins published

Arguments in favour [of a lab leak] : Although rare, laboratory accidents do happen, and different laboratories around the world are working with bat CoVs. When working in particular with virus cultures, but also with animal inoculations or clinical samples, humans could become infected in laboratories with limited biosafety, poor laboratory management practice, or following negligence. The closest known CoV RaTG13 strain (96.2%) to SARS-CoV-2 detected in bat anal swabs have been sequenced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Wuhan CDC laboratory moved on 2nd December 2019 to a new location near the Huanan market. Such moves can be disruptive for the operations of any laboratory.

Arguments against [a lab leak] : The closest relatives of SARS-CoV-2 from bats and pangolin are evolutionarily distant from SARS-CoV-2. There has been speculation regarding the presence of human ACE2 receptor binding and a furin-cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2, but both have been found in animal viruses as well, and elements of the furin-cleavage site are present in RmYN02 and the new Thailand bat SARSr-CoV. There is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019, or genomes that in combination could provide a SARS-CoV-2 genome. Regarding accidental culture, prior to December 2019, there is no evidence of circulation of SARS-CoV-2 among people globally and the surveillance programme in place was limited regarding the number of samples processed and therefore the risk of accidental culturing SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory is extremely low. The three laboratories in Wuhan working with either CoVs diagnostics and/or CoVs isolation and vaccine development all had high quality biosafety level (BSL3 or 4) facilities that were well-managed, with a staff health monitoring programme with no reporting of COVID-19 compatible respiratory illness during the weeks/months prior to December 2019, and no serological evidence of infection in workers through SARS-CoV-2-specific serology-screening. The Wuhan CDC lab which moved on 2nd December 2019 reported no disruptions or incidents caused by the move. They also reported no storage nor laboratory activities on CoVs or other bat viruses preceding the outbreak.

WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2

 

Image by Julia Schwab from Pixabay

WHO #coronavirus leaked report “virus most probably jumped from bats into farmed animals, before spreading to humans”

The long awaited World Health Organization report on the origins of Sars-Cov-2 has concluded that a leak from a laboratory, while possible, is “extremely unlikely”.

Instead, the virus was most likely to have been passed from bats via an “intermediate animal host” to humans before sparking an “explosive outbreak” in Wuhan in December 2019, it says.

The Telegraph has obtained a copy of the report, which has been repeatedly delayed but was sent to all WHO member states on Sunday evening.

The Telegraph report

 

Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay

Timing the SARS-CoV-2 #coronavirus index case in Hubei province, China

“Consequently, the index case in Hubei likely contracted SARS-CoV-2 on or around 04 November 2019”.

Our results define the period between mid-October and mid-November 2019 as the plausible interval when the first case of SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Hubei province. By characterizing the likely dynamics of the virus before it was discovered, we show that over two-thirds of SARS-CoV-2-like zoonotic events would be self-limited, dying out without igniting a pandemic. Our findings highlight the shortcomings of zoonosis surveillance approaches for detecting highly contagious pathogens with moderate mortality rates.

Science Mag reportTiming the SARS-CoV-2 index case in Hubei province”

 

Image by fotografiekb from Pixabay

WHO Investigators scrap plans for interim report on probe of #coronavirus origins

WSJ:  “The World Health Organization team investigating the origins of Covid-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new probe. A group of two dozen scientists is calling in an open letter on Thursday for a new international inquiry. They say the WHO team that last month completed a mission to Wuhan—the Chinese city where the first known cases were found—had insufficient access to adequately investigate possible sources of the new coronavirus, including whether it slipped from a laboratory.”

Open Letter Link    “Call for a Full and Unrestricted International Forensic Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19”

WSJ full report

 

 

WHO mission to Wuhan finds possible signs of wider original #coronavirus outbreak in 2019

Investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) looking into the origins of coronavirus in China have discovered signs the outbreak was much wider in Wuhan in December 2019 than previously thought, and are urgently seeking access to hundreds of thousands of blood samples from the city that China has not so far let them examine.
origin of the virus.

The researcher noted that they discovered there were more than a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan as early as December 2019

CNN Report

 

Image by Eric Manzi from Pixabay

Bats in Thailand found with coronaviruses similar to Sars-cov-2

Horseshoe bats carrying coronaviruses very similar to the one that causes Covid-19 have been found in Thailand

The study found a coronavirus in the horseshoe bat Rhinolophus acuminatus in Thailand that was 91.5 per cent similar to Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

So far, the closest relative to Sars-CoV-2 has been detected in the horseshoe bat Rhinolophus affinis in China’s Yunnan province – with a genetic similarity of 96.2 per cent.

The Straits Times article

See also: A novel Sars-cov-2 related coronavirus in bats from Cambodia

 

By Marie Jullion – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3359176

New Zealand ice cream tests positive for #coronavirus in China

“Three samples of ice cream made from New Zealand-sourced milk powder and Ukrainian dried whey tested positive for COVID-19 in North China’s Tianjin, authorities announced Thursday. The company has been cordoned off and tracking of the sold products is ongoing.

The positive samples were discovered after they were sent for testing on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the ingredients include milk powder from New Zealand and dried whey from Ukraine.”

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202101/1212848.shtml

 

 
Image by Couleur from Pixabay