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New hope for University of Queensland COVID vaccine following new ‘technology’ report

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It’s been four months after Queensland’s home-grown COVID vaccine plans were dashed, but a new hope has reignited University of Queensland researchers to carry on where they left off.A new report released today looking into the University’s pre-clinical trials has revealed that the local jab could be a major contender against current Pfizer and Astra…

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It’s been four months after Queensland’s home-grown COVID vaccine plans were dashed, but a new hope has reignited University of Queensland researchers to carry on where they left off.

A new report released today looking into the University’s pre-clinical trials has revealed that the local jab could be a major contender against current Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines.

Findings have also revealed the UQ jab isn’t as delicate as the others, allowing it to be stored in your average refrigerator, as compared to Pfizer’s required -70 degree storage temperature.

READ MORE: What’s gone wrong with Australia’s vaccination rollout?

There are also suggestions the vaccine’s ‘clamp technology’, a feature that sees an extra little protein introduced that helps keeps the injection in the right shape, would potentially make the UQ jab more effective as compared to other vaccines.

The vaccine was originally scrapped late last year following initial results showing some patients had contracted HIV, but they actually didn’t.

A false reading that infectious diseases expert Dr Paul Griffin said was caused by a “protein that resembled a protein in HIV”.

“(It) certainly carried no risk of giving anybody HIV, but it did mean there was some interference of testing for HIV,” Dr Griffin told 9News.

The report revealed the local jab could be a major contender against current major vaccines.

While researchers still continue to work away on its current jab, the effort alone won’t help it re-enter the vaccine race – with the university needing to put forward a whole new case to be considered for a mass-produced vaccine.

Researchers would need to restart up to two year-long clinical trials – and would need a chunk of funding from the Federal Government, who have already set aside up to a billion dollars for the Melbourne-made CSL jab.


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Zac Efron splits from Aussie girlfriend

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The Daily Telegraph has confirmed the relationship is over.The High School Musical star, 33, met the waitress, 25, in June 2020 while she was working at the Byron Bay General Store in New South Wales. According to the Daily Mail, Valladares quit her job to spend more time with Efron.RELATED: Why Zac Efron’s brother was…

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The Daily Telegraph has confirmed the relationship is over.The High School Musical star, 33, met the waitress, 25, in June 2020 while she was working at the Byron Bay General Store in New South Wales. According to the Daily Mail, Valladares quit her job to spend more time with Efron.RELATED: Why Zac Efron’s brother was given an exemption to enter AustraliaIn the months that followed, the aspiring model was continuously photographed by the actor’s side as the duo travelled around Australia while he worked on projects including the movie Gold, which was shot in Adelaide, and the Netflix documentary series Down to Earth with Zac Efron.Last October, Valladares threw the Greatest Showman star a surprise birthday bash in Byron. The couple were joined by guests including KIIS FM radio star Kyle Sandilands, tennis champion Pat Rafter and members of the Hemsworth family.The pair also spent time in New South Wales’ Lennox Head where they were spotted enjoying a leisurely brunch in September after a skiing trip to Thredbo.Efron and Valladares were last photographed together in March while filming an abseiling session in the Blue Mountains for Down to Earth.The former Disney star has been living in Australia for over a year. In August, he reportedly cancelled a flight back to Los Angeles and had his tourist visa extended from three months to 12 months while shopping for a home in Byron Bay.Efron’s publicist declined to comment.This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission
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Victoria to open three mass vaccination hubs today

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Three mass vaccination hubs will be opened today in Victoria with the hope they will speed up the COVID-19 inoculation program. They will be located at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Royal Exhibition Centre and Geelong’s former Ford factory. Bookings are recommended but not essential to receive the vaccine at one of the hubs.…

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Three mass vaccination hubs will be opened today in Victoria with the hope they will speed up the COVID-19 inoculation program.

They will be located at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Royal Exhibition Centre and Geelong’s former Ford factory.

Bookings are recommended but not essential to receive the vaccine at one of the hubs.

Today also marks the end of Victoria’s temporary two week pause on the AstraZeneca vaccine for anyone under 50 over blood clotting concerns.

People in that age group will now be able to receive that vaccine if they fill out a form and give consent.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton will receive his vaccine today, taking to Twitter to share his excitement and reaffirm confidence in the AstraZeneca jab.

“The risk of really serious adverse events is rare, which is why I’m getting my vaccination. The best vaccine to get is the one available right now,” he wrote.
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EU regulator finds link between J&J shot and blood clots

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The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said Tuesday that it found a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and extremely rare blood clots and that a warning should be added to the label. But experts at the agency reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.The European Medicines Agency made those determinations after…

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The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said Tuesday that it found a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and extremely rare blood clots and that a warning should be added to the label. But experts at the agency reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.

The European Medicines Agency made those determinations after a very small number of blood clot cases in people who had gotten the vaccine were reported in the United States. The agency said a warning about the blood clots should be added to labels for the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and that these rare blood disorders should be considered “very rare side effects of the vaccine”.

The EMA also recommended a label change for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after finding a link between it and rare blood clots. In both cases, the agency said the benefits of being immunised against COVID-19 still outweighed the very small risks of recipients developing the unusual clots.

READ MORE: Contact tracing form fails for first NZ bubble travellers

Last week, Johnson & Johnson halted its European roll-out of the vaccine after US officials recommended a pause in the vaccine, when they detected six very rare blood clot cases among nearly 7 million people who had been vaccinated.

European officials said they considered all currently available evidence from the US, which consisted of eight reports of serious cases of rare blood clots associated with low blood platelets, including one death. All of the cases occurred in people under age 60, but the EMA said that it hadn’t been able to identify any specific risk factors.

Last week, J&J halted its European rollout of its one-dose vaccine after the US Food and Drug Administration recommended officials pause its use while the rare blood clot cases are examined. Officials identified six cases of the highly unusual blood clots among nearly 7 million people who were immunised with the shot in the US.

Johnson & Johnson advised European governments to store their doses until the EU drug regulator issued guidance on their use; widespread use of the shot in Europe has not yet started.

READ MORE: Australia’s ‘new problem’ with vaccine rollout

The delay was a further blow to vaccination efforts in the European Union, which have been plagued by supply shortages, logistical problems and concerns over unusual blood clots also in a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Experts worry the temporary halt on J&J’s shot could further shake vaccine confidence and complicate worldwide COVID-19 immunisation efforts.

Last week, South Africa suspended its use of the vaccine in the wake of the US. pause, and countries including Italy, Romania, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia put their J&J doses into storage.

The blood clots linked to the J&J vaccine are occurring in unusual parts of the body, such as veins that drain blood from the brain. Those patients also have abnormally low levels of blood platelets, a condition normally linked to bleeding, not clotting.

In its statement, the EMA said the cases it reviewed of unusual blood clots in people who received the J&J shot “were very similar to the cases that occurred with the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.”

With the AstraZeneca vaccine, scientists in Norway and Germany have suggested that some people are experiencing an abnormal immune system response, forming antibodies that attack their own platelets.

One shot doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are prepared at a Los Angeles clinic.

It’s not yet clear if there might be a similar mechanism with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as a Russian COVID-19 vaccine and one from China, are made with the same technology. They train the immune system to recognise the spike protein that coats the coronavirus. To do that, they use a cold virus, called an adenovirus, to carry the spike gene into the body.

“Suspicion is rising that these rare cases may be triggered by the adenovirus component of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines,” said Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh. She said that while more data was needed, “it remains the case that for the vast majority of adults in Europe and the USA, the risks associated with contracting COVID-19 far, far outweigh any risk of being vaccinated.”

On Monday, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 5 million new coronavirus cases were confirmed worldwide last week, the highest-ever number in a single week. He noted that cases and hospitalisations among younger people were “increasing at an alarming rate.”

A US health worker prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus in New York.

The European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs used in European Union member nations, said last month there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots but said the benefits of vaccination far outweighed the risks of COVID-19. It noted the risk is less than the blood clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills.

The European Union ordered 200 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson for 2021 and EU officials had hoped the one-shot vaccine could be used both to boost the continent’s lagging vaccination rates and to protect hard-to-reach populations, like migrant workers and the homeless.

Last month, the African Union announced it signed a deal to buy up to 400 million doses of the J&J vaccine. Johnson & Johnson also has a deal to supply up to 500 million doses to the UN-backed COVAX initiative that helps get vaccines to the world’s poor.

Any concerns about the J&J vaccine would be another unwelcome complication for COVAX and for the billions of people in developing countries depending on the program. COVAX recently was hit by supply issues after its biggest supplier, the Serum Institute of India, announced it would delay exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine for several months due to a surge of cases on the subcontinent.


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