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Covid: Trials to test combination of Oxford and Sputnik vaccines

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UK and Russian scientists are teaming up to trial a combination of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines to see if protection against Covid-19 can be improved.
Mixing two similar vaccines could lead to a better immune response in people. The trials, to be held in Russia, will involve persons over the age of 18, although the number of people involved is unclear. While Oxford researchers are still collecting data on the effectiveness of its vaccine in older age groups, AstraZeneca is exploring combinations of different adenovirus vaccines, to find out whether mixing them leads to a better immune response and, therefore, greater protection.

Are two vaccines better than one?

Analysis box by James Gallagher, health and science correspondent

The hope is combining different vaccines will give either stronger or longer-lasting immunity to the virus.

There are reasons to think this might be beneficial for the Oxford and the Sputnik V jabs.

Both use harmless viruses to deliver the important part of the vaccine (a bit of the coronavirus’ genetic code) into the body.

The risk is the body becomes immune to the “viral postman” making the second or booster jab less effective.

This is one explanation for why Oxford had better results from giving someone a half dose followed by a full one, rather than two normal doses.

Other vaccine combinations are also planned in the hope that approaching the challenge from different angles will lead to better results.

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FBI has warned of possible armed marches by pro-Trump supporters

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All 50 US states and the District of Columbia (DC) are on alert for possible violent protests this weekend, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

National Guard troops have been sent en masse to Washington DC, to deter any repeat of last week’s deadly riots.

The FBI has warned of possible armed marches by pro-Trump supporters at all 50 state capitols.

Meanwhile, the Biden team has set out plans to reverse key Trump policies.

In the hours after Mr. Biden sets foot in the White House, he will embark on a blitz of executive actions designed to signal a clean break from his predecessor’s administration, according to a memo seen by US media.

 

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US to receive Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine

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The US public will start receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine from Monday after it was authorised for emergency use, officials say.

The first three million doses of the vaccine would be shipped “across all states” this weekend, said Gen Gustave Perna, who is overseeing distribution.

The vaccine offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 and was deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

On Saturday, the US recorded a daily toll of 3,309 Covid-related deaths.

The figure, reported on the Johns Hopkins University website, is the highest total in a single day anywhere in the world.

Coronavirus deaths have been rising sharply since November in the US.

Authorising the emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Friday, the FDA – which had come under intense pressure from the Trump administration to do so – said the move was a “significant milestone” in the pandemic.

mass inoculation drive using doses of the same vaccine has already begun in the UK.

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