Americans 'do not need' COVID-19 booster shot, FDA, CDC say

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Fox News 09 July, 2021 - 06:45am 16 views

A booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech strongly extends protection, a new study shows. The latest COVID updates.

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The Delta variant is spreading in the US, but the WHO, CDC and local governments have put out conflicting mask-wearing guidance. Here's what we know. USA TODAY

A booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech strongly extends protection, a new study from the companies shows, as case rates in the U.S. have been rising for weeks and the rate of hospitalizations has started to tick up. 

The study comes as another, published Thursday in the journal Nature, found a single dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines “barely inhibited” the delta variant, which first arose in India. However, a second dose "generated a neutralizing response in 95% of individuals,'' even if it was a little less potent than against earlier versions of the virus.

"On the one hand we have seen the success of our vaccination programs over the last eight months… and yet on the other hand we are starting to see some new and concerning trends," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.

Because the authorized vaccines largely protect against hospitalization and death from the delta variant, this trend has largely been driven in unvaccinated populations, she said.

Populations like Springfield, Missouri, who on Tuesday reported that hospitalizations in the city tripled in the last month.

"99.5% of COVID deaths over a 6 month period are unvaccinated," Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield, said on Twitter. "So if you're vaccinated there is a light at the end of a tunnel. If you're unvaccinated that's probably a train."

►All of Maryland’s reported coronavirus deaths last month were made up of unvaccinated people, as well as most of the new cases and hospitalizations, the state reported Tuesday.

►Cases have increased over 160% in Los Angeles County over the last week, though vaccinated people remain well protected, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health said. 

►Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the U.S., is requiring all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help stop the spread and protect patients, staff and their communities. Trinity is one of the first hospital groups to mandate vaccinations.

►Australian authorities are further tightening restrictions in Sydney after reporting 44 new community cases, the largest number since a coronavirus outbreak began there last month. The city of more than 5 million is already in lockdown.

►Arizona on Thursday reached a coronavirus milestone with 50% of its population, or nearly 3.6 million people, having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.79 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 606,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 185.5 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. More than 158.28 million Americans — 47.7% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we're reading: As COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to fall, several states have spent millions of dollars on lottery prizes to encourage unvaccinated Americans to get their shot. Did it work?

The Iowa Department of Public Health's pandemic reporting website is no longer updating daily as the state continues "to transition to COVID-19 pandemic recovery," according to state's memo.

State officials outlined the changes in a memo to local public health authorities on June 24. The changes to coronavirus.Iowa.gov went into effect Wednesday.

All positive and negative tests will continue to be reported, along with demographic data including county of residence, age, gender, race and ethnicity. The positive case analysis, hospitalization analysis, the Regional Medical Coordination Center dashboard and death analysis dedicated pages are still live. 

The changes come as case counts continue to hover around where they were in April 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic and before the coronavirus swept over the state. On Wednesday, 85 people were reported hospitalized in Iowa with COVID-19, an uptick from the recent low of 46 reported on June 24, but far from the November spike that saw more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in a single day.

In March, the Oklahoma State Department of Health adjusted the level of information previously reported in its daily updates. Oklahoma residents can't see much of the information previously provided over the past year; gender and age of victims are no longer available, but deaths are still being reported, along with their general location.

Black and Latino communities often have low vaccination rates, and the reason is often directed towards vaccine hesitancy. A study by CommuniVax shows the reason is more nuanced.

The medical anthropologists who contributed to the study shared in The Conversation that many people in these communities are not “vaccine hesitant” but rather “vaccine impeded."

Those involved in the study reported feeling excluded from the vaccine because of a lack of access. Challenges included finding transportation, internet access and general information on how to get the vaccine.

Some, the study suggests, were ambivalent about the vaccine because they felt that the shot had the same threat level as getting infected with COVID-19. They thought that both could lead to illness or complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 63.4% of adults have gotten at least one shot, well below President Joe Biden’s July 4 goal of 70%. About 20 percent of Americans are either refusing to get vaccinated or remain unsure, according to the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

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On the other hand, transmission has effectively ceased in Northeastern and Western states where governors have made vaccination a top priority, and where resistance was low among residents from the start.

“We are seeing that communities and counties that have high vaccine coverage and low case rates are getting back to normal,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Thursday briefing of the White House pandemic response team.

Walensky depicted a national scenario that has become highly fractured as a result of stark differences in vaccination rates. Those differences have to do with cultural, social, economic and political factors.

At the same time, the vaccines remain highly effective against every variant of the coronavirus, including the more transmissible Delta variant that Walensky said accounts for eight out of 10 new cases in parts of the Mountain West. Delta is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States.

Walensky said that in recent months, 99.5 percent of all deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. were among unvaccinated individuals. “Those deaths were preventable with a simple, safe shot,” the CDC director said. President Biden has made much the same point, and he and his top public health officials look for ways to galvanize a stalled vaccination effort.

Although some vaccinated people do contract the coronavirus, it tends to lead only to mild sickness.

For weeks, the path of the pandemic has been steadily bifurcating, with parts of the country returning to normal and others seeming to slip back into rising case rates. Overall, case rates and hospitalizations are rising slightly, while deaths are continuing to fall. But those national trends are not indicative of more nuanced on-the-ground realities.

In particular, Walensky singled out 173 counties with the highest incidence of new infections — 100 or more cases per 100,000 individuals over the last week. Of those 173 counties, 93 percent have vaccinated less than 40 percent of their respective populations, according to Walensky.

In recent days, parts of Missouri and Arkansas have seen a sharp rise in cases. So have parts of Colorado and Utah.

Meanwhile, the high-vaccination state of Maryland is recording about one new coronavirus death per day.

“Low vaccination rates in these counties coupled with high case rates and lax mitigation policies that do not protect those who are unvaccinated from disease will certainly and sadly lead to more unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations and, potentially, death,” the CDC director said.

Unvaccinated people are supposed to continue wearing masks, according to the most recent CDC guidance. Walensky and other top public health officials have said that rather than returning to wearing masks, people should get vaccinated.

“Widespread vaccination is what will truly turn the corner on this pandemic,” Walensky said on Thursday. According to the CDC, 47.6 percent of the American population is fully vaccinated. That is among the highest rates in the world, but not nearly enough, most epidemiologists believe, to declare that final corner turned.

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