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Nasal vaccine might help fight new COVID-19 variants: Study

In a new study by Yale’s Akiko Iwasaki, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology, it was found that intranasal vaccination provided broad-based protection against heterologous respiratory viruses in mice.

The research has been published in the ‘Science Immunology Journal’.
“The best immune defence happens at the gate, guarding against viruses trying to enter,” said Iwasaki, senior author of the study.
Mucous membranes contain their own immune defence system that combat air- or foodborne pathogens. When challenged, these barrier tissues produce B cells which in turn secrete immunoglobin A (IgA) antibodies. Unlike vaccines which elicit a system-wide immune response, IgA antibodies work locally on mucosal surfaces found in the nose, stomach, and lungs.

While the protective role of IgA-producing cells had been well established in combating intestinal pathogens, Iwasaki’s lab wondered if triggering IgA response might also produce a localized immune response against respiratory viruses.

Working with researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, they tested a protein-based vaccine designed to jump-start an IgA immune response, administering it to mice through injections, as is commonly done with systemic immunizations, and also intranasally. They then exposed mice to multiple strains of influenza viruses. They found that mice that had received vaccine intranasally were much better protected against respiratory influenza than those that received injections. Nasal vaccines, but not the shot, also induced antibodies that protected the animals against a variety of flu strains, not just against the strain the vaccine was meant to protect against.
The Yale team is currently testing nasal vaccine strains against COVID strains in animal models.

“While both vaccine injections and nasal vaccines increased levels of antibodies in the blood of mice, only the nasal vaccine enabled IgA secretion into the lungs, where respiratory viruses need to lodge to infect the host,” Iwasaki said.
If the nasal vaccines prove to be safe and efficient in humans, Iwasaki envisions them being used in conjunction with current vaccines and boosters that work system-wide in order to add immune system reinforcements at the source of infection.
Other co-first-authors of the study are Ji Eun Oh, Eric Song, and Miyu Moriyama, all from Yale.

COVID 19

Centre extends COVID-19 restrictions till February 28

On Thursday, the Central Government extended the existing COVID-related restrictions until February 28 because of the rising COVID-19 and Omicron variants.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued the order directing all the states and the Union Territories (UTs) to instruct their local and district administrations to promptly take containment measures against the threat of the Omicron variant based on their assessment of the situation.

Taking evidence-based COVID-19 containment measures at the district and local level, as conveyed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the MHA order mentioned that COVID restrictions “will remain in force till February 28, 2022.”

“In exercise of the powers, conferred under Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the undersigned hereby directs that the Order of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ of even number dated December 27, 2021, to ensure compliance to the normative framework for taking evidence-based COVID-19 containment measures at district and local level, as conveyed vide Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) dated December 21, 2021, will remain in force up to February 28, 2022,” the order mentioned.

According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday, the order was issued when India logged 2,86,384 new coronavirus infections, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 40,371,500.
As per the order, containment measures have been extended to February 28.

“Due to the current COVID wave, led by the new variant, Omicron, there has been a steady increase in the number of COVID cases in the country and the active cases have increased to over 22 lakhs. Though a majority of active cases are recovering fast and a low percentage of cases are in hospitals, it is still a matter of concern that 407 districts in 34 States and UTs are reporting a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent,” the order said.

Therefore, looking at the current trends of the COVID virus, the order said there is a need to exercise caution and vigilance.

Against this background, the order issued by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said, “I would like to reiterate that all the states/UTs must observe all precautions and not let the guard down”.

“Based on the normative framework, mentioned in the MoHFW dated December 21, 2021, and assessment of the situation, local/district administration should continue to take prompt and appropriate containment measures.”

The order directs “imposition and lifting of local curbs or restrictions dynamic and based on the case positivity and hospitalisation status at the local level”.

It also emphasised that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy– Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour.

“The state enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of COVID Appropriate Behaviour– wearing of face masks and maintaining safe social distancing in all public areas/gatherings,” the order further reads.

Further, states and UTs are advised to continue holding regular media briefings to disseminate the right information and discourage any misinformation on new variants of concern.

It is also urged to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned to take the measures required for prompt and effective management of COVID-19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoHFW on the new VOC and strict enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour.

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Air India to be officially handed over to Tata Group today

Air India

After a long journey of 69 years, Air India is set to be officially handed over to Tata Group on Thursday. Sources said that Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekhar is in Delhi to witness the formal transfer.

“Officially, Air India hands over to Tata Group today in the afternoon. Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran will be in the ministries for the official handover process,” a senior government official said.

A formal announcement from the Tata Group regarding the official handover process will be made today.

Maharaja is Air India’s official mascot, operating globally apart from domestic operations. According to the available data in 2020, “Air India operates around 101 destinations including 57 domestic operations including 33 countries on four continents worldwide.”

Also Read: Militancy incidents on decline in Pulwama, but local militant recruitment still up: GoC D P Pandey

Aviation experts say that Air India is carrying a substantial number of the latest aircraft in its fleet from Airbus and Boeing, which is Air India’s strength.

Air India code share with Star Alliance and operates 172 wide and narrow-body aircraft with Air India Express globally, including domestic operations.

Recently, Vinod Hejmadi, Director Finance, Air India, emailed employees and said, “Air India disinvestment has been decided to take place on January 27, 2022. The closing balance sheet on January 20 is to be provided today, January 24, so that Tata can review it and any changes can be made on Wednesday.”

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Centre Likely to Cap COVID Vaccines at this Price: Details Inside

The price of Covishield and Covaxin, the Covid vaccines, which are expected soon to get regular market approval from India’s drug regulator, is likely to be capped at Rs 275 per dose plus an additional service charge of Rs 150, official sources said.

According to them, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has been directed to start working towards capping the price to make the vaccines affordable.

Covaxin is priced at Rs 1,200 per dose, while Covishield costs Rs 780 in private facilities. The prices include Rs 150 service charge. Both the vaccines are only authorised for emergency use in the country.

A Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation on January 19 recommended granting regular market approval to Covid vaccines Covishield and Covaxin for use in the adult population subject to certain conditions.

“The NPPA has been asked to work towards capping the price of the vaccines.

Also Read: Driver dead, another injured as lorry rolls down into gorge

The price is likely to be capped at Rs 275 per dose along with an additional service charge of Rs 150,” an official source said.

Prakash Kumar Singh, the director (government and regulatory affairs) at Serum Institue of India, had submitted an application to the Drugs Controller General of India on October 25, seeking regular market approval for its Covishiled vaccine.

A couple of weeks ago, V Krishna Mohan, the whole-time director at Bharat Biotech, submitted complete information on the chemistry, manufacturing and controls, along with the pre-clinical and clinical data while seeking regular market authorisation for Covaxin.

Covaxin and Covishield were granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) on January 3 last year.

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Covid-19 Stats

28 Jan 2022, 5:01 AM (GMT)

Coronavirus Stats

40,622,709 Total Cases
492,356 Death Cases
38,024,771 Recovered Cases

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