Category: Uncategorized

How Effective was Masking for SA in Preventing COVID?

Image by Quicknews

COVID restrictions have finally come to an end altogether in South Africa, as Health Minister Joe Phaahla gazetted a number of changes to the rules, as reported by BusinessTech. This means the end of mask use requirements, social gatherings restrictions and COVID border testing. Prof Shabir Madhi was welcoming of the move in a recent tweet, having criticised SA’s lockdowns as overly harsh and economically damaging. Around the world, many had questioned the widespread use of masks, or their use by some subset of the population, such as children – and even questioned locally by a scientist who argued that it didn’t and wouldn’t work in a South African setting, where people are less adherent to regulations.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim likened such a viewpoint to saying Africans with HIV can’t use ARVs because they didn’t have watches to take them at the right time, reminiscent of “a colonial mentality”.

The case for public mask use is well established. Experiments had shown that even simple cloth masks were moderately effective at hindering the transmission of SARS-CoV-2–containing aerosol particle from infected individuals, though they were less effective at protecting a wearer against infection. Predictably, N95 masks and others are better at doing the job than simple cloth face coverings.

There are no real-world studies for South Africa comparing mask use vs non-mask use as mask wearing was compulsory from the early stages of the outbreak. It would have been downright unethical to ask people to not wear masks, although some people may have had exemptions due to medical conditions or other important reasons. There is a country with good COVID surveillance and a distinct division in mask wearing – the United States. Implementation of mask mandates in the US was down to local authorities, which provides a basis for comparison.

One US study, published in Health Affairs, found that, compared to nonmasking counties, masking counties saw a daily case incidence decline by 25% at four weeks, 35% at six weeks after introduction of masking mandates. The reductions were strongest in Republican-leaning counties, which is notable since Republican voters were less in favour of lockdowns and mask mandates.

Another study found a 16.9% drop in cases four weeks after counties introduced masking mandates. Real-world data also show mask use was effective in preventing infection. A case-and-control study done in California by the CDC showed a 29% drop for surgical mask/respirator use “some of the time” and a 56% drop for “all of the time”.

While a direct comparison between a wealthy country like the US and South Africa as a middle-income country is impossible, it is easy to believe that masking mandates reduced cases by a significant percentage, perhaps saving tens of thousands of lives especially against the country’s possible true COVID death toll of 300 000.

Moderate Beer Consumption May Improve Gut Health

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels

The negative effects of beer on health have long been studied, but a new research suggests that beer – both alcoholic and nonalcoholic – has a positive impact on gut health. A lucky group of adult male volunteers drank moderate amounts of beer daily for a month, and the findings on their gut health biomarkers were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Gut microbiota modulation might constitute a mechanism mediating the effects of beer on health. However, intestinal microorganisms can use compounds present in beer. Previous work has found beneficial effects on intestinal from moderate beer drinking, mostly from butyric acid and gut bacteria changes.

In this randomised, double-blinded, two-arm parallel trial, 22 healthy men were recruited to drink 330 mL of nonalcoholic beer (0.0% v/v) or alcoholic beer (5.2% v/v) daily during a 4-week follow-up period. Blood and faecal samples were collected before and after the intervention period. To measure diversity, gut microbiota were gene sequenced to identify strains.

Drinking nonalcoholic or alcoholic beer daily for 4 weeks did not increase body weight and body fat mass, an encouraging sign. The nonalcoholic beer had 26kcal of energy and 5.9g of carbohydrates per 100mL, but the alcoholic beer had more energy (38.5kcal/100mL) despite having fewer carbohydrates (2.8g/100mL). The researchers also found no significant effect on serum cardiometabolic biomarkers.

Both types of beer increased gut microbiota diversity, something which has been associated with positive health outcomes and tended to increase faecal alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, a marker of intestinal barrier function.

The increase in gut microbiota may be down to phenolic compounds in the beer, chiefly from the yeast, and other types of beer besides the Lager used may have higher levels of these beneficial compounds. This benefit appears to outperform the negative effect alcohol

These results suggest the effects of beer on gut microbiota modulation are independent of alcohol and may be mediated by beer polyphenols.

Bacteriophage Therapy over 50% Successful against Mycobacterium Infections

A bacteriophage. Credit: Wikimedia CC0

Using bacteriophages, viruses which prey on bacteria, is an emerging alternative to antibiotic use but with limited evidence. Now, with a new paper published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, collaborators report 20 new case studies on the use of the experimental treatment in Mycobacterium infections, with successes in more than half of the patients.

This is the largest ever set of published case studies for bacteriophage (or ‘phage’) therapy, giving unprecedented detail on their use to treat dire infections while laying the groundwork for a future clinical trial.

“Some of those are spectacular outcomes, and others are complicated,” said Professor Graham Hatfull at the University of Pittsburgh. “But when we do 20 cases, it becomes much more compelling that the phages are contributing to favourable outcomes – and in patients who have no other alternatives.”

The patients in the study had an infection from one or more strains of Mycobacterium, a group of bacteria that can cause deadly, treatment-resistant infections in those with compromised immune systems or cystic fibrosis. In 2019, Prof Hatfull led a team showing the first successful use of phages to treat one of these infections.

“For clinicians, these are really a nightmare: They’re not as common as some other types of infections, but they’re amongst some of the most difficult to treat with antibiotics,” said Prof Hatfull. “And especially when you take these antibiotics over extended periods of time, they’re toxic or not very well-tolerated.”

Since 2019, Prof Hatfull and his lab have fielded requests from more than 200 clinicians looking for treatments for their patients, working with them to find phages that could be effective against the particular strain of bacteria infecting each patient.

This newest paper, with collaborators from 20 institutions, dramatically expands the body of published evidence on the effectiveness of the therapy.

“These are incredibly brave physicians, jumping off the ledge to do an experimental therapy to try to help patients who have no other options,” said Prof Hatfull. “And each of these collaborations represents a marker that can move the field forward.”

Going on patient health and presence of Mycobacterium in samples, the team found that the therapy was successful in 11 out of 20 cases. No patients showed any adverse reactions to the treatment.

In another five patients the results of the therapy were inconclusive, and four patients showed no improvement. According to Prof Hatfull, even these apparent failures are key to making the therapy available to more patients. “In some ways, those are the most interesting cases,” he said. “Understanding why they didn’t work is going to be important.”

Several unexpected patterns emerged from the case studies. In 11 cases, researchers were unable to find more than one kind of phage that could kill the patient’s infection, even though standard practice would be to inject a cocktail of different viruses so the bacteria would be less likely to evolve resistance.

“If you’d asked me whether that was a good idea three years ago, I would have had a fit,” Prof Hatfull said. “But we just didn’t observe resistance, and we didn’t see a failure of treatment from resistance even when using only a single phage.”

Additionally, the team saw that some patients’ immune systems attacked the viruses, but only in a few cases did that render the virus ineffective. And in some instances, the treatment was still successful despite such an immune reaction. The study paints an encouraging picture for the therapy, said Prof Hatfull, opening up the possibility for new phage regimens that clinicians could use to maximise the treatment’s chance of success.

Along with the study’s significance to patients facing Mycobacterium infections, it also represents a substantial advance for the wider field of phage therapy. One concern is that researchers may be only publishing case studies of successful phage therapy.

“A series of consecutive case studies, where we’re not cherry-picking, is a much more transparent way of looking to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Prof Hatfull. “This adds considerable weight to the sense that the therapy is safe.”

This is still a very early stage in the development of phage therapy, and phages have not even begun to be tailored for treatment, Prof Hatfull said.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

Whistle-blowing Paediatrician at Rahima Moosa Suspended

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The whistle-blowing paediatrician Dr Tim de Maayer who spoke out about appalling conditions at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital (RMMCH) was suspended yesterday, apparently in a retaliatory move.

In the widely-read open letter appearing on the Daily Maverick, he spoke of the preventable tragedy of babies dying due to lack of resources. This came shortly after a viral video showed pregnant mothers sleeping on the floor.

Presciently, the Daily Maverick, which broke the story, stated that there were two options: act to change the situation for the better, or “shoot the messenger”. As the newspaper wryly noted as it broke the news on Friday, 10 June, the option of shooting the messenger has been taken.

Although there appeared to be an initial positive response, Dr Maayer gave notice on Thursday evening that he was not able to come into work on Friday as he was being placed on suspension. RMMCH doctors then contacted the Daily Maverick.

His suspension leaves the hospital without its only paediatric gastroenterologist, according to an anxious doctor who got in touch with the Daily Maverick late Thursday night. The news has spread like wildfire across social media, with other doctors quick to come to Dr de Maayer’s defence.

A petition on to reinstate the paediatrician is being circulated by ordinary citizens and clinicians including Professor Shabir Madhi, who has been vocal in his support of Dr de Maayer.

Guy Richards, critical-care professor at Wits University tweeted that it was a “shocking response”.

The Progressive Health Forum (PHF) called for the suspension of Dr de Maayer to be overturned.

“Dr de Maayer has been suspended on the grounds that he has a voice, a conscience and a professional ethic and being a committed public health clinician. This pattern of victimisation has been repeatedly applied to clinicians who dare call out inadequacies of the administration and negative impact on clinicians and on the lives of patients,” the PHF said in a statement.

Source: Daily Maverick

Secrets of Pregnant Mothers’ ‘Super Antibodies’ Revealed

Pregnant with ultrasound image
Source: Pixabay

Pregnant mothers have the ability to confer greater immunity to the vulnerable developing foetus with ‘super antibodies’. Now, a far-reaching study published in Nature provides a surprising explanation of how this actually works, and what it could mean for preventing death and disability from a wide range of infectious diseases.

The findings suggest the amped-up antibodies that expecting mothers produce could be mimicked to create new drugs to treat diseases as well as improved vaccines to prevent them.

“For many years, scientists believed that antibodies cannot get inside cells. They don’t have the necessary machinery. And so, infections caused by pathogens that live exclusively inside cells were thought to be invisible to antibody-based therapies,” said Sing Sing Way, MD. “Our findings show that pregnancy changes the structure of certain sugars attached to the antibodies, which allows them to protect babies from infection by a much wider range of pathogens.”

“The maternal-infant dyad is so special. It’s the intimate connection between a mother and her baby,” says John Erickson, MD, PhD, first-author of the study.

Drs Way and Erickson are both part of Cincinnati Children’s Center for Inflammation and Tolerance and the Perinatal Institute, which strives to improve outcomes for all pregnant women and their newborns.

Erickson continues, “This special connection starts when babies are in the womb and continues after birth. I love seeing the closeness between mothers and their babies in our newborn care units. This discovery paves the way for pioneering new therapies that can specifically target infections in pregnant mothers and newborns babies. I believe these findings also will have far-reaching implications for antibody-based therapies in other fields.”

How mothers make super antibodies
The new study identifies the specific change in the sugar. During pregnancy, the “acetylated” form of sialic acid (one of the sugars attached to antibodies) shifts to the “deacetylated” form. This subtle molecular shift lets immunoglobulin G (IgG) take on an expanded protective role by stimulating immunity through receptors that respond specifically to deacetylated sugars.

“This change is the light switch that allows maternal antibodies to protect babies against infection inside cells,” Dr Way said.

“Mothers always seem to know best,” Dr Erickson added.

Revved-up antibodies can be produced in the lab
The research team pinned down the key biochemical differences between antibodies in virgin mice compared to pregnant ones. They also identified the enzyme naturally expressed during pregnancy responsible for driving this transformation.

Further, the team successfully restored lost immune protection by supplying lab-grown supplies of the antibodies from healthy pregnant mice to pups born to mothers that were gene-edited to lack the ability to remove acetylation from antibodies to enhance protection.

Hundreds of monoclonal antibodies have been produced as potential treatments for various disorders, including COVID, with a variety of results.

Dr Way said this molecular alteration can be replicated to change how antibodies stimulate the immune system to fine-tune their effects. This potentially could lead to improved treatments for infections caused by other intracellular pathogens including HIV and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common virus that poses serious risks to infants.

Another reason to accelerate vaccine development
“We’ve known for years the many far-reaching benefits of breastfeeding,” Dr Erickson said. “One major factor is the transfer of antibodies in breastmilk.”

The study shows that nursing mothers retain the molecular switch, passing through the antibodies to their newborns.

Additionally, Dr Way says the findings underscore the importance of receiving all available vaccines for women of reproductive age – as well as the need for researchers to develop even more vaccines against infections that which are especially prominent in women during pregnancy or in newborn babies.

“The immunity needs to exist within the mother for it to be transferred to her child,” Dr Way said. “Without natural exposures or immunity primed by vaccination, when that light switch flips during pregnancy, there’s no electricity behind it.”

Source: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

By Now, Nearly All South Africans Have COVID Antibodies

South African flag with COVID theme
Image by Quicknews

The latest COVID seroprevalence survey shows that nearly every adult in South Africa has either been vaccinated or had COVID. For many, it’s both.

The study analysed blood from over 3000 blood donors. It was conducted by the South African National Blood Service, which is responsible for blood donations in eight provinces, and the Western Cape Blood Service.

The researchers estimated that by March 2022, before the fifth wave which appears to have peaked in the last few weeks, 98% of adults had some detectable antibodies, whether from COVID or from vaccination. This means that only 2% had neither been vaccinated nor been infected.

Only 10% had been vaccinated but not infected by COVID.

Read the study

(Note: The study has been published as a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.)

What the survey tested for

Blood samples were collected and tested from 3395 consenting donors from all provinces in mid-March 2022. While blood donors are not precisely representative of the population, the researchers have argued that the study is representative enough.

This is the first time the blood services researchers have been able to look for two types of antibodies.

One test indicates if a sample has antibodies to the nucleocapsid proteins (anti-nucleocapsid antibodies). These antibodies develop if someone is infected, but won’t develop after a person receives a vaccine only (at least not those vaccines currently available in South Africa).

The other test indicates if the sample has antibodies to the spike protein (anti-spike antibodies). These antibodies develop when someone has been infected or has been vaccinated (or both).

Using these two tests together, researchers can, for the first time, evaluate the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated and not infected.


After weighting the results to reflect national demographics, the researchers found that a mere 2% of the population had neither anti-spike nor anti-nucleocapsid antibodies. These are people who have likely never had COVID nor been vaccinated.

10% had only anti-spike antibodies. These are people who were likely vaccinated, but never infected.

The researchers noted that there is “an increasing incidence of reinfection” with the omicron wave.

Blood service survey is the best we have

The blood services have been regularly testing blood samples from donors throughout the pandemic, looking at the presence of anti-nucleocapsid antibodies.

While other surveys might be more representative of the population than the blood donor ones, these have been infrequently published or published long after the survey was conducted. By contrast the blood donor surveys are relatively affordable and quick to publish. Also, as far as we are aware, it is the only survey repeatedly testing the same group of people, so that comparisons across time are possible.

Past blood surveys

The blood services’ survey from samples taken in May 2021 estimated that 47% of the adult population had previously been infected.

The next survey of blood samples was taken in November 2021 after the delta wave. This was just before the omicron wave. The researchers estimated that about 70% of people had been infected.

The latest survey indicates that about 87% of people have been infected.

The previous surveys found that levels of infection differed by province. Now these differences have “largely disappeared as prevalence appears to have saturated”.

Differences across race

There are significant differences in rates of infection when different races are compared.

The November survey showed that about 80% of black donors and 40% of white donors had been infected with COVID.

In the latest survey the proportion of white and Asian donors that only have anti-spike antibodies (indicating vaccination but no infection) was higher than black and coloured donors.

The researchers suggest that “white donors are both unusually likely to avail themselves of vaccination, and they are unusually able to avoid exposure, for instance by working predominantly from home, [and] living in smaller family units.”

Article by By James Stent. Republished from GroundUp under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Source: GroundUp

Omicron-derived Immunity Protects Less against Other Variants

Image from Pixabay

In unvaccinated individuals, omicron-derived immunity provides little long-term immunity against other variants, according to new research in the journal Nature.

In experiments using mice and blood samples from omicron-infected, the team found that the omicron variant induces only a weak immune response. In vaccinated individuals, this weak response helped strengthen overall protection against a variety of COVID strains. In contrast, the immune response in unvaccinated individuals failed to confer broad, robust protection against other strains.

“In the unvaccinated population, an infection with omicron might be roughly equivalent to getting one shot of a vaccine,” said Melanie Ott, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and co-senior author of the new work. “It confers a little bit of protection against COVID, but it’s not very broad.”

A weaker infection

When it emerged in late 2021, omicron infection was soon observed to cause less severe disease, but whether it conferred broad, long-term immunity was not known.

“When the omicron variant first emerged, a lot of people wondered whether it could essentially act as a vaccine for people who didn’t want to get vaccinated, eliciting a strong and broad-acting immune response,” said Irene Chen, co-first author of the new study and graduate student in Ott’s lab.

To find the answer, the team of researchers first examined the effect of omicron in mice. In the omicron-infected mice, despite the milder symptoms, the immune system still generated the T cells and antibodies typically seen in response to other viruses.

“We demonstrated in this study that the lower pathogenicity of omicron is not because the virus cannot take hold,” said Nadia Roan, PhD, an associate investigator at Gladstone.

This means the difference in symptoms and immune response due to other reasons, such as lower replication or the type of antibodies that are generated.

No cross-variant protection

The researchers took blood samples from mice infected with the ancestral, delta, or omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 and measured the ability of their immune cells and antibodies to recognise five different viral variants – ancestral (WA1), alpha, beta, delta, and omicron.

Blood from uninfected animals was unable to neutralise any of the viruses. Samples from WA1-infected animals could neutralise alpha and, to a lesser degree, the beta and delta virus – but not omicron. Samples from delta-infected mice could neutralise delta, alpha and, to a lesser degree, the omicron and beta virus.

Blood from omicron-infected mice could only neutralise the omicron variant.

The team confirmed these results using blood from ten unvaccinated people who had been infected with omicron, and found their blood was unable to neutralise other variants. When they tested blood from 11 unvaccinated people who had been infected with delta, the samples could neutralise delta and, as had been seen in mice, the other variants to a lesser extent.

When they repeated the experiments with blood from vaccinated people, the results were different: vaccinated individuals with confirmed omicron or delta breakthrough infections all showed the ability to neutralize all the tested variants, conferring higher protection.

“When it comes to other variants that might evolve in the future, we can’t predict exactly what would happen, but based on these results, I’d suspect that unvaccinated people who were infected with omicron will have very little protection,” said Ott. “But on the contrary, vaccinated individuals are likely to be more broadly protected against future variants, especially if they had a breakthrough infection.”

Scans of Brain Connectivity in Veterans Yield Objective Pain Measures

MRI images of the brain
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

A brain connectivity study of military veterans discovered three unique brain subtypes potentially indicating high, medium, and low susceptibility to pain and trauma symptoms. This could constitute an objective measurement of pain and trauma susceptibility, possibly leading to personalised treatments and new therapies based on neural connectivity patterns.  

Comorbidity Goes Unexplored

“Chronic pain is a major public health concern, especially among veterans,” said first author Prof Irina Strigo. “Moreover, chronic pain sufferers almost never present with a single disorder but often with multiple co-morbidities, such as trauma, posttraumatic stress, and depression.”

It is already understood that both pain and trauma can affect brain connections, but this had not been studied in the context of comorbid trauma and pain. Much pain and trauma research also relies on subjective measurements, such as questionnaires, rather than objective measurements like brain scans. This study, published in Frontiers in Pain Research, addresses these problems.

Theresearchers studied a group of 57 veterans with both chronic back pain and trauma, who had quite varied symptoms in terms of pain and trauma severity. Functional MRI scans of the veterans’ brains showed the strength of connections between brain regions involved in pain and trauma. The researchers then used a statistical technique to automatically group the veterans based on their brain connection signatures, regardless of their self-reported pain and trauma levels.

Based on the veterans’ brain activity, they were sorted into three groups. Strikingly, these divisions were comparable to the severity of the veterans’ symptoms, and they fell into a low, medium, or high symptom group.

The team hypothesised that the pattern of brain connections found in the low symptom group allowed veterans to avoid some of the emotional fallout from pain and trauma, and also included natural pain reduction capabilities. Conversely, the high symptom group demonstrated brain connection patterns that may have increased their chances of anxiety and catastrophising when experiencing pain.

Interestingly, based on self-reported pain and trauma symptoms, the medium symptom group was largely similar to the low symptom group. However, the medium symptom group showed differences in their brain connectivity signature, which suggested that they were better at focusing on other things when experiencing pain, reducing its impact.

Putting the findings into future practice

“Despite the fact that the majority of subjects within each subgroup had a co-morbid diagnosis of pain and trauma, their brain connections differed,” said Prof Strigo.

“In other words, despite demographic and diagnostic similarities, we found neurobiologically distinct groups with different mechanisms for managing pain and trauma. Neurobiological-based subgroups can provide insights into how these individuals will respond to brain stimulation and psychopharmacological treatments.”

Thus far, it’s not known whether these neural hallmarks represent a vulnerability to trauma and pain or a consequence of these conditions. The technique does however provide an objective and unbiased hallmark of pain and trauma susceptibility or resilience, not reliant on subjective measures such as the surveys. In fact, subjective measurements of pain in this study would not differentiate between the low and medium groups.

Techniques using objective measures like brain connectivity appear more sensitive and could provide a clearer overall picture of someone’s resilience or susceptibility to pain and trauma, thereby guiding personalised treatment and paving the way for new treatments.

Source: Frontiers

Carrying Naloxone in EDs Could Save Lives

Source: Mat Napo on Unsplash

In a study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers found that after a visit to the ED, many opioid overdose patients carried naloxone, which helps reverse opioid overdoses, which could save their lives in the event of a future overdose.

About 70% of current overdose deaths in the US involve opioids, which means that many of them could be prevented with naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, blocking the effect of opioids in overdoses and able to save lives when used in time. It is easy to carry and use, and studies have demonstrated that laypeople can administer it safely and effectively to reverse overdoses.

However the people most likely to witness an overdose, including opioid users and their friends and relatives, may not be able to easily obtain naloxone. Strategies are needed to increase uptake, carrying, and administration of naloxone, especially among at-risk individuals in the community who may not be engaged in routine health care or with community naloxone distribution efforts.

Many at-risk individuals find themselves in the emergency departments (ED), either because of an overdose or other complications of substance use. The Perelman School of Medicine’s Anish Agarwal, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, and Margaret Lowenstein, an assistant professor of medicine, recently examined the potential for ED visits as a critical, reachable moment to engage high-risk individuals in overdose prevention. The team reached out to at-risk patients prescribed naloxone in the ED to understand whether they had obtained their naloxone during or after their ED visit, whether they were carrying it, and their plans to carry it in the future.

The survey asked patients about their experiences and perceptions following the ED encounter related to accessing, using, and carrying naloxone. Most of the patients did not carry naloxone prior to their ED, yet over a third reported having a personal history of an overdose requiring naloxone, and more than a quarter had used naloxone to reverse an overdose for another person in the past. Approximately half of the patients said that they were carrying naloxone after their ED visit, and two-thirds planned to continue carrying. And of patients not carrying naloxone prior to their ED visit, 54% reported a plan to continue carrying it in the future.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

Man Takes Nearly 90 COVID Jabs for Fake Vaxx Passports

Covid vaccines
Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

In Germany, a 60-year-old man allegedly received nearly 90 doses of various COVID vaccines in order to fraudulently sell vaccination cards to people unwilling to be vaccinated themselves, the Guardian reported.

The man, whose name was not released due to German privacy rules, apparently received up to three jabs a day at different vaccination sites in the area of Saxony alone, according to DW.

While the man was not detained, he is being investigated for issuing vaccination cards without authorisation and document forgery.

A vaccination centre staff member in the city of Dresden became suspicious when he recognised the man. When the suspect showed up at a vaccination centre for a COVID shot for the second day in a row, staff members alerted the police, who arrive and arrested him. Several blank vaccination cards were confiscated from him by the police, who initiated criminal proceedings. The man was able to take use the real vaccine batch numbers from the shots he received to fill in the blank cards.

It was not immediately clear what impact receiving at least 87 shots of COVID vaccines, which were from different brands, had on the man’s health.

The case also laid bare the gaps in Germany’s health care system, which does not centrally store medical information or keep digital records.

“A national vaccine register or a coronavirus vaccine register would have shed light on the case immediately,” said Knut Köhler, a spokesperson for the Saxony state medical association.

In recent months, German police have conducted a number of raids in connection with forgery of vaccination passports. Many COVID sceptics refuse to get vaccinated in Germany, but still want to have the coveted vaccine passports that allow much easier access to public life and venues such as restaurants, theatres, swimming pools or workplaces.

Source: The Guardian