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Bermuda seeking vaccine which fights new Covid-19 variant

The Ministry of Health is seeking supplies of a newly approved booster vaccine against Covid-19 that could ward off infectious fresh strains of the virus now responsible for waves of new cases worldwide.

The updated booster could prove effective against contagious new varieties of coronavirus identified in Bermuda.

The island now has 1,170 doses of its previous stock of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available.

But another 5,800 adult jabs and as well as 400 more vaccines for children are expected by the end of September.

A ministry spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: “When we are able to confirm the type of vaccine being delivered, an announcement will be made.”

Health officials this evening recorded a slim rise in the island’s Covid-19 numbers, with 141 active cases confirmed.

Seven people are in hospital with the illness, but none are in intensive care.

The news came as the latest genetic sequencing showed the presence of the Omicron variant of the virus in all samples.

Of those, 60 per cent were the BA.5 variant and 25 per cent were BA.4.

The two strains are thought to be better at infecting people who were able to fight off earlier varieties of the virus.

The latest figures follow 121 active cases reported on August 24, when the island had five people undergoing hospital treatment for the virus, with none in intensive care.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health reported that Bermuda had extra doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, after the manufacturer extended the shelf life of old supplies.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, advised anyone wanting to avail of the jab to check online for a list of participating clinics.

She said the Hamilton Pharmacy had 24 bookings available from 8.30am to 11.30am tomorrow, and a further 24 bookings at the same times for next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

But the Hamilton Health Centre on Victoria Street is closed for renovations and unable to provide vaccinations.

The figures on variants, which came from samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency, showed 15 per cent prevalence of the BA.2 variant, which emerged early this year when the World Health Organisation classed it as a “variant of concern”.

It was overtaken this summer by the other strains, with BA.5 standing out as the dominant variety as a contagious version able to duck immunity from earlier infections and vaccines.

The US Food and Drug Administration has just given the green light to an updated vaccine booster said to be capable of targeting BA.5, however.

Local officials believe BA.5 has been on the island since May, and BA.4 since July, although further sequencing results are being awaited to determine when they arrived.

The island has seen no deaths linked to the virus since four were reported on August 3.

Active cases have see-sawed this summer, with fewer serious hospital cases seen than in previous surges.

The latest figures came from 5,011 test results over the last week, with 128 positive, while 108 people have recovered.

Of the new cases, 69 have come from overseas, 21 are classed as locally transmitted and 38 are under investigation.

In keeping with recent updates on Covid-19, the island’s test positivity rate stands at 3 per cent.

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Published September 01, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated September 01, 2022 at 3:51 pm)

Bermuda seeking vaccine which fights new Covid-19 variant

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