An Echelon Media Company
Saturday May 18th, 2024

Omicron spreads faster than Delta, but may be less severe: Hong Kong study

ECONOMYNEXT – Transmissibility of the Omicron variant of the COvid 19 virus is higher than the Delta and the original variant, and have the ability to partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, a study done by a research team in Hong Kong said.

A study done by researchers from the LKS Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong including Professor Malik Pieris, has found that the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infects and multiplies 70 times faster than the Delta variant and original SARS-CoV-2 in human bronchus, which may explain why Omicron may transmit faster between humans than previous variants.

However, the study shows that the Omicron infection in the lung is significantly lower than the original SARS-CoV-2, which may be an indicator of lower disease severity.

“At 24 hours after infection, the Omicron variant replicated around 70 times higher than the Delta variant and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, however, the Omicron variant replicated less efficiently (more than 10 times lower) in the human lung tissue than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the study said.

The research is currently under peer review for publication.

Michael Chan Chi-wai, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, and Principal Investigator said, the severity of disease in humans is not determined only by virus replication but also by the host immune response to the infection, which may lead to dysregulation of the innate immune system.

He said, by infecting many more people, a very infectious virus may cause more severe disease and death even though the virus itself may be less pathogenic.

“Therefore, taken together with our recent studies showing that the Omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, the overall threat from Omicron variant is likely to be very significant.’” Chan said.

The research was conducted by a team led by Dr Michael Chan Chi-wai, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, HKUMed and Principal Investigator, C2i, HKSTP. The research team included Kenrie Hui Pui-yan, Assistant Professor; Professor Malik Peiris, Tam Wah-Ching Professor in Medical Science and Chair Professor of Virology, Professor Leo Poon Lit-man, School of Public Health, HKUMed; and Professor John Nicholls, Clinical Professor, Department of Pathology, HKUMed.

According the World Health Organization, since the last update published on December 7, additional countries across all six WHO Regions have reported confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. As of December14,2021, the Omicron variant has been confirmed in 77 countries.

“Based on current limited evidence Omicron appears to have a growth advantage over Delta. It is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low, but also appears to be spreading more quickly than the Delta variant in countries where the incidence of Delta is high, such as in the United Kingdom,” WHO in its weekly Epidemiology update said.

WHO said, preliminary evidence suggests that there may be a reduction in vaccine efficacy and effectiveness against infection and transmission associated with Omicron, as well as an increased risk of reinfection.(Colombo/ Dec 15/2021)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka suffers over $138mn foreign outflow from govt bonds in 2024 after rate cuts

ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign investors have dumped 41.6 billion-rupee ($138.6 million) worth of Sri Lanka government securities in the first 20 weeks of 2024, the central bank data showed, after reduction in the key policy interest rates.

The foreign holding in Sri Lanka’s treasury bills and treasury bonds fell to 75.9 billion rupees on the week ended on Friday (17), May 2024, from 117.4 billion rupees on the week ended on December 29.

The central bank rate has reduced the key policy rates by 50 basis points so far in 2024, extending the rates cut by 700 basis points since June last year.

The rupee appreciated 9.1 percent in the first four months, but the gain failed to attract foreign investors amid a dragged debt restructuring negotiation with external private creditors.

Currency dealers said lackluster demand for dollars due to dampened imports with heavy controls, boom in both tourism revenue and remittances have helped to increase the dollar liquidity in the market, leading to the appreciation of the local currency.

The dealers said foreign investors can earn capital gain if they had bought government securities before the appreciation and now the offshore investors might be selling their bonds.

“They are also discouraged by policy rate cut because that will reduce their returns from the rupee bond investments,” a currency dealer said.

The yield in 12-month T-bills has fallen 336 basis points in the first four months of this year, the central bank data showed.

The central bank also reduced the Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR) of commercial banks by 200 basis points in August last year to boost liquidity in the market with an aim to reduce market interest rates.

Under tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions for its $3 billion loan program, the central bank raised key monetary policy rates in 2022 and last year to bring down inflation which hit over 70 percent in 2022. The inflation has fallen to the lower single digit now.

The rupee has appreciated to around 300 against the US dollar this week from around 330 level early in November. The local currency was at 365 rupees against the US dollar in early 2022. Depreciation causes capital loss for foreign investors. (Colombo/May 18/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka’s ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ tourist fair seeks to involve universities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ‘Sancharaka Udawa’ tourism fair kicked off this week to promote interaction between industry stakeholders and relevant Government bodies, including the Tourist Police, and also universities.

“Several universities, including Colombo, Uva Wellasa, Kelaniya, Sabaragamuwa and Rajarata were given free stalls to facilitate student interaction with industry professionals,” Chairman of the Sancharaka Udawa Organising Committee, Charith De De Alwis said in a statement.

The event takes place today (18) at the BMICH and houses stalls for hoteliers, tour and transport services, with a goal of attracting 10,000 visitors.

Organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), the 11th edition of Sancharaka Udawa offers a platform for both B2B and B2C sectors.

“Sancharaka Udawa houses over 170 exhibitors and a footfall of more than 10,000 visitors,” De Alwis said.

This year’s edition will include participants from outbound tourism sectors to facilitate capacity building. The event provides networking opportunities for industry newcomers and veterans.

“The networking platform offers opportunity for small and medium-sized service providers integrating them into the broader tourism landscape. The anticipated outcome is a substantial increase in bookings particularly for regional small-scale tourism service providers.” (Colombo/May18/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka’s CEB sells LTL shares to West Coast IPP for Rs26bn

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has sold shares of an affiliate to West Coast Power Company Limited, an independent power producer giving profits of 25.9 billion rupees in the March 2024 quarter, interim accounts showed.

The sale has been carried out as a transfer.

“Twenty-eight percent (28-pct) of share ownership of CEB within LTL Holding’s equity capital has been transferred to West Coast Power Company Ltd for a total consideration of Rs 26 billion as part of a partial settlement of outstanding dues…” the March interim accounts said.

“This transaction resulted in a net gain of Rs25.9 billion rupees which has been recognized and reflected in the ‘Gain from Share Disposal’ in the individual financial statement in CEB.”

LTL Holdings is a former transformer making unit of the CEB set up with ABB where the foreign holding was sold to its management.

The firm has since set up several IPPs.

West Coast Power operates a 300MW combined cycle IPP in Kerawalapitiya promoted by LTL group liked firms in which both the Treasury and Employees Provident Fund also have shares.

Its operational and maintenance contract is with Lakdhanavi, another private IPP. The firm has been paying dividends.

The capital gain from the transfer of shares helped the CEB post profits to 84 billion rupees for the March 2024 quarter.

CEB reported gross profits of 62.7 billion rupees from energy sales and 30.6 billion rupees in other income and gains in the March 2024 quarter. Other income was only 3.1 billion rupees in last year. (Colombo/May18/2024)

Continue Reading