A decision not to use AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for elderly people in some European countries could help explain why the virus is currently triggering such high levels of infections in mainland Europe, the company’s chief executive has said.
Pascal Soriot told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that heightened T-cell immunity could be giving those who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab more durable immune protection against the virus.
His comments came as the former chair of the UK vaccine taskforce Dame Kate Bingham urged the government to do better in its preparation for future disease outbreaks. Writing in, she said that the machinery of Whitehall was “dominated by process, rather than outcome, causing delay and inertia”, adding that the jab rollout would have been delayed if it had been left to the normal workings of government.
Germany was the first European country to recommend not giving the AstraZeneca jab to those aged over 65 in late January, citing a lack of efficacy data for the vaccine in this age group. Other European countries swiftly followed with similar recommendations, including Italy, France, Poland and Sweden, although many later reversed this guidance following the publication of further efficacy data.
Some eventually even said it should only be used in older age groups, after the the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported a possible link between the vaccine and very rare cases of blood clots. Possibly as a result of these mixed messages, many Europeans were initially reluctant to receive the jab.
Soriot was careful not to apportion blame, but said the high uptake of the vaccine among elderly people during the UK’s initial vaccine rollout might help to explain why hospital admissions in the UK have remained relatively low despite continued high levels of infection.
He said: “It’s really interesting when you look at the UK. There was a big peak of infections but not so many hospitalisations relative to Europe. In the UK [the Oxford/AstraZeneca] vaccine was used to vaccinate older people whereas in Europe people thought initially the vaccine doesn’t work in older people.
“I’m not saying there was any mistake done by anybody, I’m just saying that there’s a lot of data that still need to be made available that we don’t have.”
Soriot added that T-cells – immune cells that both educate antibody-producing B cells about the nature of the viral threat, and directly kill infected cells – might provide some explanation for differences in hospitalisation rates between countries.
He said: “Everybody is focused on antibodies, but antibodies you see them decline over time. This T-cell response remains important. As soon as this virus attacks you, they wake up and they come to your rescue and they defend you. But it takes them a little while. So you may be infected but then they come to the rescue and you don’t get hospitalised.
“What I’m saying is that T-cells do matter and in particular it relates to the durability of the response, especially in older people, and this vaccine has been shown to stimulate T-cells to a higher degree in older people.”
However, Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said it would be extremely difficult to attribute the differential shape of the curves for the surges of infection in the UK and other European countries to any single factor.
“It would be slightly foolhardy to try and attribute that to the quite nuanced differences in choices of vaccine across different countries,” he said. “I don’t know where you’d start to do that scientifically.”
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Netflix The Summit of the Gods (2021) Dual Audio [Hindi+English] WebRip Download | 480p [200MB] | 720p [900MB]
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A photojournalist’s obsessive quest for the truth about the first expedition to Mt. Everest leads him to search for an esteemed climber who went missing.
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MasterChef Christmas special 2021 | Release date, celebrity line-up
The BBC has announced a trio of MasterChef specials to entertain us through the festive season this year, including special episodes of Celebrity MasterChef.
BBC One’s Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off will feature 10 of the most memorable celebrities from former series returning to compete in two festive themed specials.
MasterChef judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode will be back to critique celebrities including ex-EastEnders star Joe Swash, Strictly Come Dancing pro Oti Mabuse, TOWIE’s Gemma Collins, the Reverend Richard Coles, and Loose Women’s Judi Love. They’ll be competing in the kitchen for the prestigious title of Christmas champion and the glamorous all-new Celebrity MasterChef Golden Whisk trophy.
Meanwhile, the MasterChef Champions Special features five of the most memorable amateur champions returning to the MasterChef kitchen. They are: Tim Anderson (Champion 2011), Ping Coombes (Champion 2014), Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed (Champion 2017), Kenny Tutt (Champion 2018), and Irini Tzortzoglou (Champion 2019).
The MasterChef: The Professionals Rematch Special will see four of the most memorable chefs from past MasterChef: The Professionals series returning to battle it out and complete challenges set by MasterChef judges Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace.
The line-up includes: Philli Armitage-Mattin (finalist 2020), Jamie Park (finalist 2017), Santosh Shah (finalist 2020) and Bart van der Lee (finalist 2020).
Here’s everything we know about the MasterChef Christmas specials so far…
MasterChef Christmas special release date
The exact air date for the Masterchef Christmas specials has yet to be confirmed by the BBC, but we do know that they will arrive in time for the festive season in December.
Who is in the MasterChef Christmas special line-up?
Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off will feature the welcome return of some of the most unforgettable celebrities from past series. The celebrity line-up includes actor Les Dennis, singer Mica Paris, former professional football player Neil Ruddock, national treasure Su Pollard, Loose Women’s Judi Love, former EastEnders star Joe Swash, reality TV star Joey Essex, Strictly Come Dancing pro Oti Mabuse, TOWIE’s Gemma Collins, and broadcaster the Reverend Richard Coles.
Last year’s Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off featured Janet Street-Porter winning the first edition of the series, and Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood named the second winner.
Is there a trailer?
There isn’t a trailer yet for Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off, so we’ll keep you updated.
MasterChef Christmas specials returns to BBC One in December. Visit our Entertainment hub for more news and features, or find something to watch with our TV Guide.
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