Task Force for COVID


As vaccines start to arrive on these and other shores, it is only a matter of time before they reach you.

The NMSS has created a vaccination “Task Force”. The last time I heard that term was when I was a young mouse at Uni and I thought I was off to the Falklands on a state-sponsored trip c/o The Iron Lady :-(. Luckily conscription did not occur.

However, there are some simple questions: –

1-4. Do people with MS make T and B cell responses to the COVID-19 vaccine and how long do they last.

This is probably going to be of limited difference to the age-matched general public.

5. However, the answer we are less sure about is about for people on DMT. . So hopefully the US task force can give us the answer.

6. When is the optimum time to vaccinate?

The answer is before you start DMT, but that is not the question we need answers to. Importantly, the answer will depend on which DMT you are taking.

Please help ProfG and the lovely Kit and Pom support the infrastructure that can be used to get this answered.


ProfGs walk

Kit’s Cornish Splash

P.S. We would be happy to accept Corportate sponsorship/donations. Why not build this into your safety monitoring.

FYI. Our lot at Queen Mary have been a real tight-fisted bunch, I think the article of ProfG’s accident in the College News letter raised about five quid (only joking). Maybe they felt that “Captain Tom” had done this form of “ice bucket challenge” already. So ProfG should not have got run-over to raise a few bob:-) for research. Anyway thank you all so much, for your support. It is greatly appreciated.

As you know the whole publishing approach has gone out of the window and we (Scientific Community) are putting stuff in the public domain before it has been reviewed.

Therefore, so you know …we…yep the Royal we…i.e. Dr Angry has made a COVID-19 antibody test based on shrimp vomit:-) …oK that is only part of the magic….We can spot if you have made an antibody response and we (the Royal we) have found that we can do a number of tests off a single drop of blood….yep we use about 2 and a bit microlitre in an assay, so that is about 2millionth of a litre. Any less and it is difficult to dispense. For your information a drop of blood is about 60 microlitre. We can collect this on absorbant paper (Whatman 903). Meaning you don’t have to come into Hospital to give blood and we don’t have to employ anyone to take blood, which adds to the cost and time taken to process the sample and importantly we dont have to buy and fill up a freezer to store all the bloods.

Blood spot card

Once the card dries the antibodies contained within the blood spot are remarkably stable. We can get them out of a dried blood spot from a finger prick. We mix the blood (or reconstute a dried blood spot) with chemicals that destroys viruses not just SARS-CoV-2 but hepatitits B and others so it is safe to work with, without need for special equipment. . We can punch the blood spot into a tube to do the assay.

If you have been willing to participate and have been sent the card and the kit and the consent form from DrRuth and team. I would say one good spot is better than five tiny spots and don’t worry if one spot is not as good as the others and we only need one spot. These have been done on our local population….its a long story…. but with ProfGs and Kit’s effort I am sure we can go further afield, as was originally planned before the Spanners started to fly If you are a neuro who is interested contact DrRuth.

I had a go and was pretty rubbish at getting any blood out. If you get your hand after finger prick below your heart the blood flows better, if you can stand up after the needle prick it helps the flow and remember add some pressure to the finger prick and raise your hand above the heart to stem the blood flow.

Did you know that President Donald Trump was auditioning for a video on how to do a blood spot. However, he kept on getting it wrong….Too much conditioning to putting pressure on the index figure.

Use your thumb to put pressure on your pricked finger and raise you hand above your heart to stem blood flow, I suggested he use his ring finger for the prick. But Prof Trump couldn’t get it right

We got a spot of blood from two related people, one of whom had a positive COVID-19 swab test 5 months before the blood spot was taken. The blood spot was kept at room temperature for a few months before the assay was done. One gave a response of about 25,000 light units, the other was well over 6 million light units. Can you guess which one had COVID-19 and gave the positive swab result. Now you dont have to have our assay to do this, but some just won’t do because they do not quantitate the response properly and some are not that sensitive.

The clock is ticking because we want to get this started before people get vaccinated. The baseline is important. The UK and now USA and Canada have given emergency approval for an RNA vaccine, the EU will shorly follow. No doubt some National Approaches will monitor people using serum collected blood by puncturing veins. This will work but it is more labour, however we also view the blood spots and COVID-19 as a tool to develop something more useful for pwMS or other indications .

If you are interested in reading about the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in USA/UK here is the paper (click here).

 The main side effect was injection site reactions but the local reactions did not increase after the second dose. No participant reported a grade 4 (Severe) local reaction. In general, local reactions were mostly mild-to-moderate in severity and resolved within 1 to 2 days.

This RNA vaccine may provide some early protection, starting 12 days after the first dose. The vaccine efficacy between the first and second doses was 52% (95% credible interval 29.5% to 68.4%), and Seven or more days after the second dose, vaccine efficacy then rose to 95% (90.3% to 97.6%).

You may have heard that some people had allergies, perhaps we can look at this to see if they are certain types of antibodies before the infusions

If you want to read the data from the most advanced adenoviral study then click here. It shows that when big pharma run the show things run more clockwork like. I hate experiments where you start with a big group and then decide to do everything and slice the experiment into little pieces, but I guess the take home message is that the double dose offers about 60% protection.

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  • I have said a few times on here about working in the NHS and being a pwMS on ocrelizumab. I had two half doses and one full dose (last March). I declined my September infusion due to covid risk at work plus the possibility of a vaccine and Prof G suggesting vaccines may be less efficient for anti CD20 patients.

    I’m happy to report I had the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at work on Tuesday (yes, day 1!). They had some left over at the end of the day which they offered to vulnerable staff. Other than a sore arm for <24hrs I had no side effects whatsoever.

    Second dose booked in for end of December and then I’ll look at restarting ocrevus some point next year. I have this site to thank for enabling me to consider delaying my infusion in sept. Yes, I still may have no reaction due to my meds, but being 9 months out is better than being 3 as I would have been.

    I was/am happy to take part in any study as I have offered previously. I wonder if I was the first/one of the first anti CD20 patients to receive the vaccine?

    • A pioneer…Well done…I think that you could indeed be the first, as the US doesnt start vaccinating until tomorrow….the Margaret Keenan of MS.
      Vaccine lucky you…I signed up for vaccine trial but looks like I have been given the miss:-(…I guess I will just have to wait.

      Thanks for your insight. You should be at maximum titre within a week of second infusion and then get the MS sorted as this 3-4months on. We are currently auditing out ocrelziumab users to see the time gaps and I am sure it will show the delay is safe. Ensure you get your bloods checked if you can and please email david.baker@qmul.ac.uk and this will be passed on to DrRuth and I have asked to see what the process is for none-Barts volunteers as it may need request from your neuro. I don’t know.

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