CDC director warns delta variant is one of the most infectious respiratory diseases known | ABC News

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Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, at a meeting on Thursday, spoke of the urgent need to give additional doses to people with fragile immune systems, as they are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 outcomes and may also spread the virus to others more frequently, the Washington Post reported.

Immunocompromised patients which include organ transplant recipients, people on cancer treatments, and those living with rheumatologic conditions, HIV and leukaemia, represent about 3 per cent of US adults.

"I think what you're asking about is, you know, is there a way to offer a third dose to individuals through a study, or through an investigational new drug format for this population? I will just say that we are actively looking into ways that could be done to potentially provide access earlier than any potential change in regulatory decisions," Amanda Cohn, the CDC's chief medical officer for vaccine policy, told panel members.

However, the advisory panel cannot recommend it until the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives full approval, the report said. FDA has currently authorised a two-dose regimen of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.

As a result, the CDC is exploring a programme that allows sick people to get unapproved drugs until FDA grants the permission, the report added.

The programme known as expanded access or, more commonly, compassionate use, can help patients with a serious disease or condition get access to investigational new drug/product, that is not FDA-approved. The coronavirus vaccines are considered such products.

The process would require enrolling individuals in a clinical study where additional doses can be given, the Post said.

Earlier this month, the CDC and FDA released a joint statement on vaccine boosters, saying that people who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe illness and death, including from emerging variants such as the highly contagious Delta variant.

"FDA, CDC, and NIH (National Institutes of Health) are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary," said the statement.

However, studies have suggested that booster dose in immunocompromised people may enhance disease-fighting antibody responses and increase the proportion of those who respond to the vaccines, Sara Oliver, a CDC vaccine expert, told panel members.

At a Senate panel hearing this week, Anthony S. Fauci, the US top infectious disease expert, also agreed on the need for an additional dose.

Immunosuppressed individuals "may actually need a boost as part of their initial regimen, in the sense of getting them up to the point where they are protected", he said.

Meanwhile, Israel has rolled out a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to severely immunocompromised adults. Britain has also announced plans for a booster shot to immunosuppressed, people older than 70 and front-line healthcare workers in September.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 23 July, 2021 - 01:02pm

CDC's Walensky: U.S. at 'another pivotal moment'

Reuters 23 July, 2021 - 01:02pm

Delta variant is one of the most infectious respiratory diseases known, CDC director says

CNBC 22 July, 2021 - 04:19pm

The delta Covid variant is one of the most infectious respiratory diseases ever seen by scientists, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The variant is highly contagious, largely because people infected with the delta strain can carry up to 1,000 times more virus in their nasal passages than those infected with the original strain, according to new data.

"The delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing Thursday. "It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career."

The delta variant has spread quickly through the U.S., accounting for more than 83% of sequenced cases in the U.S. right now, up from 50% the week of July 3.

The seven-day average of new cases is up about 53% from last week, currently at 37,674 new cases per day. Hospitalizations are up 32% from last week at about 3,500 per day and deaths have also increased 19% in the same time frame to about 240 per day.

The virus is ripping through U.S. counties with low vaccination rates, while counties with high vaccination rates are seeing lower rates of new cases.

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Three states, Florida, Texas and Missouri, with low vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all new cases nationwide, White House Covid czar Jeff Zients said. Florida alone accounted for 1 in 5 of all new cases in the U.S. for the second week in a row.

In hospitals around the country, 97% of people admitted with Covid symptoms are unvaccinated, and 99.5% of all Covid deaths are also among the unvaccinated.

In the past week, the five states with the highest case counts had higher rates of people getting newly vaccinated compared with the national average.

"We are at yet another pivotal moment in this pandemic, with cases rising again and some hospitals reaching their capacity in some areas, we need to come together as one nation," Walensky said.

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