The myths and facts of COVID-19 vaccination and boosters: Current strategies and foresight
Since launching the COVID-19 Vaccination Program in Hong Kong, 60.8% of the total population has received the 1st vaccine dose (as of August 29, 2021). 1 Currently, some studies point out that the immunogenicity varies greatly across the COVID-19 vaccines locally available, sparking controversy on the protection after vaccination and the necessity of receiving a booster dose.2-4 In a recent interview with Omnihealth Practice, Professor Cowling, Benjamin, Head of Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Hong Kong, went into the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination and reviewed the public health policies in Hong Kong.
Ofatumumab shows a favorable long-term benefit-risk profile in COVID-19 vaccinated relapsing MS patients
B cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS), hence immunosuppressive therapy employing B-cell depletion is an important milestone in MS management.1 Ofatumumab is a fully human B-cell depleting, anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody approved in 2020 for treating adults with relapsing MS.2 Ofatumumab has been shown to be safe, efficacious and have significant benefits over teriflunomide, a mitochondrial enzyme inhibitor, in relapsing MS patients in the phase 3 ASCLEPIOS I and II trials.1 However, its long-term safety and efficacy as well as the increased risks associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for MS patients has to be monitored further.4 Recently, interim data on the long-term (up to 4 years) safety of ofatumumab in relapsing MS from the ALITHIOS study were presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting.3 Additionally, interim analysis from another prospective open-label study, KYRIOS, also evaluated the T- and B-cell responses in COVID-19 vaccinated relapsing MS patients on ofatumumab.5
Safeguard children’s health from Omicron-associated complications with BNT162b2
The fifth wave of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused more than a million people being infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Omicron BA.2, predominant) and over 9,000 COVID-19-associated deaths in Hong Kong.1 Children, a subgroup of the population who had experienced more favorable outcomes vs. the older adults during the first 4 waves of the pandemic, were reported to have disproportionately higher hospitalization rates under the Omicron era.2 Some studies revealed that seizure and laryngotracheobronchitis, or croup, were common severe complications which led to pediatric hospitalization.2 The findings highlighted the importance of COVID-19 vaccination among children, but those aged <5 years were still not eligible for this mitigation measure. In an interview with Omnihealth Practice, Dr. Leung, Sze-Yin Agnes presented the latest safety and efficacy data of BNT162b2 among children aged ≥6 months and encouraged parents to arrange COVID-19 vaccination for their children to reduce the negative impact of this pandemic in young children.
Addition of molnupiravir in the evolving SARS-CoV-2 treatment landscape
At a symposium organized by the Hong Kong Society for Infectious Diseases, Dr. Marissa Grifasi Williams kicked off the symposium by sharing how the evolution of virus has changed the management of SARS-CoV-2, highlighting the current guidelines to recommend molnupiravir as an oral therapy for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). She further discussed the MOVe-OUT trial, which demonstrated that molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in at-risk and unvaccinated COVID-19 adults. Concluding her presentation, Dr. Williams featured the additional data of molnupiravir from the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) 2022, validating that molnupiravir was effective in clearing the virus as early as 3 days, as well as improving symptoms. Then, Dr. Yap, Yat-Hin Desmond shared his experience in managing COVID-19 patients with renal failure in Hong Kong.
Multi-peptide CoVac-1 vaccine induces T-cell immunity in immunoglobulin-deficient cancer patients
In the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting 2022, Dr. Claudia Tandler from the University of Tübingen, Germany, discussed the safety and immunogenicity of a novel multi-peptide vaccine, CoVac-1, for the induction of a (SARS-CoV-2) T-cell immunity in cancer patients with dis
BNT162b2 boosters and beyond: Strategies to overcome waning immune responses against omicron variant
During the fifth wave of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) [B.1.1.529 (Omicron), predominant] infected over a million people and claimed more than 9,000 lives in Hong Kong.1 Elderly people aged ≥60 years were the most vulnerable population and accounted for ≥95% of the total death cases.1 Among the deceased, most were unvaccinated (>70%), or had received only 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and/or were with known chronic diseases.1 Even for people who have received 2 doses of vaccines, increasing evidence showed that protection against severe COVID-19 would be reduced due to the waning immune responses against the Omicron variant.2 As such, in an interview with Omnihealth Practice, Professor HUNG, Fan-Ngai Ivan, addressed the rising concern about Omicron and presented the latest data showing that BNT162b2 boosters are still highly effective against the new threat. He also provided some updates on the development of new Omicron-adapted vaccines for conferring better protection to people.
Emerging from covid-19 predicament: An update on its management and vaccination
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has afflicted more than 200 million people, with a death toll of more than 4 million people worldwide.1 As of September 29, 2021, Hong Kong has recorded 12,210 COVID-19 cases with 213 deaths.2 Although the situation in Hong Kong has been stabilized since the end of the fourth wave of epidemic in May 2021, the emergence of variants, especially the Delta variants, could be another threat to our society.3,4 In a lecture held by the Macau Association of Health Service Executives (MAHSE), Professor Hung, Fan-Ngai Ivan addressed the concerns over the emergence of the Delta variant and provided an update on the COVID-19 management and vaccination.
Latest updates: Six-month safety and efficacy of BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
In brief With up to 6 months of follow-up in an ongoing, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded, multinational, pivotal efficacy study, the 6-month safety and efficacy data of BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 have been updated and summarized in this report.1 Background The current outbreak of the novel coron
Breaking the myths: Consensus statements from local rheumatologists recommend covid-19 vaccination in patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases
In brief The Hong Kong Society of Rheumatology (HKSR) published a set of consensus statements for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination in adult patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs). This statement serves as a guide to local rheumatologists and other specialists, nurses, he
High prevalence of thrombotic complications found in ICU-admitted COVID-19 patients, systematic screening warranted
Ever since the report of the very first case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan back in December 2019, increasing evidence indicates that COVID-19 is associated with a high thrombotic risk.1,2 While the underlying mechanism of thrombus formation among COVID-19 patients had been well-inv