Third time’s the charm for vaccine doses

3 minute read

And rates of disability diagnosis among children has shot up since the pandemic began.

Your weekly pandemic wrap from Australia and around the world.

6 June

Three doses of covid vaccine are associated with a 57% lower risk of infection with Omicron and a 61% lower risk of symptomatic infection compared with two doses, according to a study in US basketballers.
A paper, published in JAMA, found that the rate of confirmed infection among 2215 individuals was significantly lower than that seen in the 390 who had only had two doses of vaccine. The majority of infections were Omicron, and no hospitalisations or deaths were reported.

The number of public-school students with a disability has increased by 12% since 2019, with one in 15 school students reporting a “social/emotional” disability such as depression, anxiety or autism, The Australian reports.
The newspaper reports that data from the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability office shows that in 2021, 12% of school students were reported to have a cognitive disability or learning disorder, and 2.5% had a physical disability.
That has increased since the start of the pandemic, with an additional 43,000 children diagnosed with a disability from 2019 to 2021. In contrast, the number of children in public schools has only increased 1%.

Sick of having your brain swabbed for a RT-PCR? Get a dog instead.
According to a paper published in PLOS One, dogs are incredibly good at detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection, and in some cases have 100% agreement with the gold standard RT-PCR test.
A study used specially trained dogs – who were taught the difference between positive and negative samples and had that reinforced with rewards such as toys – to sniff sweat samples of 335 volunteers, some of whom had covid-like symptoms and some who didn’t.
Overall, 109 participants tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on RT-PCR, and researchers found that dogs correctly identified 97% of positive cases, but 100% of asymptomatic positive cases.
The dogs were significantly more sensitive at picking up positive cases than rapid antigen tests, although they were less specific.
“Canine testing is non-invasive and provides immediate and reliable results,” the authors wrote.

At least two-thirds of the world’s population are now considered to be seropositive for SARS-CoV-2, either from infection or vaccination, the World Health Organisation reports.
The latest seroprevalence data suggests that the global rate of seropositivity rose from 16% in February 2021 to 67% in October 2021, with higher rates seen among those in their 20s.
Meanwhile, global covid infections have continued to decline, down 11% in the past week compared to the previous week, and deaths have decreased by 3% but are increasing in places such as the US and China.
The latest WHO figures on covid show a sustained drop in infections since the Omicron peak in late January this year, which was briefly interrupted when infections rose slightly towards the end of February.
Altogether, there have been more than half a billion confirmed cases of covid globally since the pandemic began – although the true infection rate is likely to be far higher – and more than six million deaths from covid.
In Australia, 288 people died from covid last week, bring the total number of deaths to 8662 since the pandemic began.

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