Vaccines and Immunity: Is Omicron the last threat?
SARS-CoV-2 variations are keeping us on our toes in our fight against COVID-19. WHO announced in late November that there is a Variant of Concern (VOC), Omicron, with 32 mutations in the spike protein. This is about double that of the Delta strain, which is currently dominating COVID-19 infections around the world. This new VOC is expected to be more transmissible and infectious than the Delta strain. How quickly and widely would Omicron spread? Would it dominate the other variants? Would this new variant reduce vaccine effectiveness? In this webinar, we will discuss the recent developments in our fight against COVID-19 and changes in vaccination programmes to effectively combat Omicron.
Vaccines and Immunity: When can we achieve herd immunity?
Aggressive vaccination programmes are underway in ASEAN, even as new variants appear on the horizon. What do we know about these variants and the challenges they pose to sero-conversion in a vaccinated population, longevity of host immunity, and achieving the ‘holy grail’ of herd immunity? Earlier estimates for achieving herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2 were 60-70%. The new estimate is 80-90% due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, according to a report from Infectious Diseases Society of America on Aug 3, 2021. In this webinar, we will discuss ongoing vaccination efforts using various vaccines, challenges posed by mutating virus and possible approaches to eventually achieve herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, the webinar will introduce the ASEAN Serosurveillance Study for COVID-19 Vaccines. The study is coordinated by ASEAN Dx Initiative and supported by Temasek Foundation.
Genomic Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 Variants: What is the impact and why we need it now?
SARS-CoV-2 has been continuously mutating. The delta variant is now the dominant variant globally, and the lambda variant has already spread to 29 countries. Details about the evolution of the virus are analysed by epidemiologists to advise about incidence, distribution, and control of diseases. Understanding the evolving genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 informs participants two important things – how the virus is mutating and how it is moving through the population. In this webinar, we will introduce the use of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for virus variants surveillance. With public health interventions adjusted accordingly, we can control the rampant spread of new variants through the country and globally
Direct PCR as an alternative platform to conventional PCR
Viral RNA detection through RT-PCR is WHO’s recommended confirmatory test for SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, many countries faced challenges in ramping up RT-PCR testing capacity, such as shortage of swab sticks, transport media, RNA extraction reagents and costly platform equipment. The testing demands have led to the development of alternative PCR protocols with similar sensitivities to relieve the testing load. In this webinar, we discuss how using direct PCR test can manage COVID-19 testing demands.
COVID-19 Vaccines, Immunity & Diagnostics
As excitement soars over pending COVID-19 vaccination programmes in 2021, it is timely to know how an effective vaccine works in producing virus neutralizing antibodies in recipients that generates immunity, and how serology monitoring can measure herd immunity.