Fauci says no immediate need for Covid booster for fully vaccinated Americans

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The Guardian 11 July, 2021 - 01:14pm 11 views

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced last week that it had observed that its vaccine, while effective against the virus, had “a decline in efficacy against symptomatic disease over time”. The company suggested that as new variants continue to emerge a booster shot after six months “may be beneficial”.

The announcement prompted a rare joint statement from the US Food and Drug Administration [FDA] and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], stating that fully vaccinated Americans did not requite a booster.

Appearing on CNN on Sunday Fauci, president Biden’s chief medical adviser, reiterated the CDC and FDA’s advice but acknowledged the guidance may change in the future.

“This isn’t something we say ‘no we don’t need a boost right now the story has ended forever’. There’s a lot of work going on to examine this in real time to see if we might need a boost,” Fauci said. “But right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don’t feel that we have to tell people right now you need to be boosted.”

Reports over the weekend indicated that Pfizer will brief US health officials next week over the need for a third booster shot. The reporting, published in the Washington Post, came as Israel announced it would offer a third booster shot to adults with weak immune systems but was still weighing whether to rollout boosters to the general population.

As Covid-19 vaccination rates continue to plateau around the United States and cases rise in certain areas Fauci urged millions of unvaccinated Americans to “put politics aside” and receive the inoculation.

The country’s leading infectious disease expert appeared on three Sunday morning politics shows, and cautioned that those who remained unvaccinated were particularly vulnerable to the fast spreading Delta variant. The variant was present in over half of new Covid cases over the last two weeks, according to the CDC with 24 states reporting an uptick of at least 10% in total cases. Only 56% of the eligible population, aged 12 and over, are now fully vaccinated in the US.

Appearing on ABC News Fauci said of the variant: “It’s very clear that this is a nasty variant. It has a much greater capacity of transmitting form person to person.”

He added: “The bad news is that we have a very nasty variant, the good news is that we have a vaccine that works against it.”

The comments came as a recent polling and data analysis continues to indicate a substantial and widening political divide in vaccination rates. A report by healthcare non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation published this week found the average vaccination rate in counties that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election was 35% compared to 46.7% in Biden counties. The analysis also showed that the average gap between red and blue county vaccination rates had increased significantly in less than a month.

Meanwhile, a poll published by ABC News and the Washington Post earlier this month found that 93% of Democrats said they were vaccinated or were planning to get the vaccine, compared with only 49% of Republicans.

“What we’re trying to do is to just put politics aside, this is no time for politics. This is a public health issue and viruses, and public health don’t know the difference between a Democrat and Republican or an Independent,’’ Fauci told ABC.

The public health expert continues to be targeted as a figure of political point scoring by conservative leaders, who have pushed a number of baseless conspiracy theories tied to the release of his emails under freedom of information laws last month.

At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Fauci was targeted by former president Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr during a speech on Friday. The conference has also seen overt support for vaccine hesitancy from some speakers.

During his appearance on CNN, Fauci was played a clip from one event at the conference during which a crowd of attendees cheered as the conservative author Alex Berenson celebrated the fact the Biden administration had reached its vaccination rate targets earlier this month.

Asked to respond, Fauci said: “It’s horrifying. They are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives. I mean if you just unpack that for a second… it’s almost frightening.”

Read full article at The Guardian

Infections rise in 42 states; Fauci says it's 'horrifying' to see people cheer lack of vaccinations: COVID-19 updates

Yahoo News 11 July, 2021 - 10:37pm

Forty-two states saw an increase in COVID-19 cases last week from the week before, a sign that the pandemic is not yet over. Latest news.

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Pfizer is prepared to administer them, and the CDC is saying they are not needed at the moment, find out why booster shots may become necessary. USA TODAY

Forty-two states saw an increase in COVID-19 cases last week from the week before, a sign that the pandemic is not yet over in the United States.

Only Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia saw a decline in cases from the previous week over the seven-day period that ended Saturday.

The rate of vaccinations has slowed, and less than half of all Americans, 47.9%, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said more than 99% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. in June were among unvaccinated people. In addition, preliminary data indicates that over the past six months, nearly all of the COVID-19 deaths in various states have occurred in unvaccinated people, she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top Biden administration adviser, said Sunday that it was “horrifying” to see people at the Conservative Political Action Conference cheering because the government has not being able to get more of the country vaccinated.

"They are cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives," Fauci said. "It's almost frightening."

►As many adolescents and young adults prepare to return to the classroom in the fall term amid the spread of the delta variant, the lagging vaccination rate among Generation Z is raising concerns among experts.

►The bar scene is returning in full force to New York and other cities as partiers reemerge and ditch COVID precautions.

►The Navajo Nation's largest casino is preparing to reopen Monday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. The Twin Arrows Resort Casino east of Flagstaff, Arizona, has been closed since March 2020.

►CONMEBOL said guests at the Copa America final on Saturday brought false COVID-19 tests to Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The South American soccer governing body said in a statement it detected “a considerable amount of fraudulent PCR tests” brought by accredited guests.

►Moldova is set to receive half a million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States to help the nation of 3.5 million combat the coronavirus pandemic. The first 150,000 doses are to arrive in Moldova – Europe’s poorest country, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine – on Monday, U.S. Embassy officials in Moldova said.

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 607,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 186.6 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 159 million Americans – 47.9 % of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we're reading: The CDC has updated its mask guidelines for schools. Some states will listen, some won't. Read more here. 

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Representatives from Pfizer and federal health officials, who sent out conflicting signals about the need for vaccine booster shots Thursday, are planning to meet this week. Reuters reported that the gathering would take place Monday.

Last week, the American pharmaceutical giant and its partner BioNTech said they would pursue U.S. and European regulatory approval for a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, given the spread of variants and data they said showed diminished vaccine potency six months after the initial shots.

In a joint statement late Thursday, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized that people who have been fully vaccinated do not need booster shots yet

Pfizer and BioNTech said a third dose, given six months after the second, increases neutralizing antibodies five to tenfold against the original virus and the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.

For months, President Joe Biden's administration refrained from criticizing Republican officials who played down the importance of coronavirus vaccinations or sought to make political hay of the federal government’s all-out effort to drive shots into arms. Not any longer. With the COVID-19 vaccination rate plateauing across the country, the White House is returning fire at those they see as spreading harmful misinformation or fear about the shots. When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster tried this week to block door-to-door efforts to drive up the vaccination rate in his state, press secretary Jen Psaki did not mince words in her reaction.

“The failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people, so maybe they should consider that,” she said.

India has already reported more than twice as many COVID-19 cases in 2021 as it had all of last year, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

India passed the mark early Sunday. Of the 30.8 million cases India has reported, two-thirds have come in the less than 6 1/2 months of 2021. India's COVID deaths, widely believed to be drastically undercounted, have added up to 259,302 this year, compared with 148,738 in 2020.

Only the United States has reported more cases than India, by a margin of about 3 million. At the current rate, India would surpass the U.S. total in about 19 weeks. India's pace has plummeted in the last two months after a massive spring surge, while infections in the U.S. have jumped in the last two weeks.

The U.S. also has the most recorded COVID deaths in the world with upward of 607,000, and Brazil ranks second at nearly 533,000. At recent rates, Brazil would pass the U.S. death toll in about 10 weeks, though the pace of reported deaths in the South American country has fallen by more than half in the last three months, while the pace of U.S. deaths has stopped declining.

Thousands of couples are flocking to Las Vegas as the coronavirus pandemic wanes in a boom that has the local wedding industry in high demand. With COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings loosened, Las Vegas wedding chapels, venues and planners said they’re about as busy as ever.

After 30 years of marriage, Don and Cindy Couse made the cross-country trip from New York to renew their wedding vows at the Graceland Wedding Chapel. Friends and family back home watched and cheered through Zoom during the ceremony. The two met nearly five decades ago in Albany, New York, during kindergarten class and have had a bond ever since. The trip came at a good time for the couple, who are both 51 and work in IT. After over a year of quarantine, they were in need of a getaway. “Really, it was just great to be back out doing things,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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Fauci: Too soon to say if Americans will need Covid-19 vaccine booster

syracuse.com 11 July, 2021 - 04:06pm

Washington — The top U.S. infectious diseases expert said Sunday “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that Americans will need a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the coming months, but it is too soon for the government to recommend another shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration did the right thing last week by pushing back against drugmaker Pfizer’s assertion about a booster within 12 months. Hours after Pfizer’s statement Thursday that it would seek authorization for a third dose, the two agencies said they did not view the booster shots as necessary “at this time.”

Fauci said clinical studies and laboratory data have yet to fully bear out the need for a booster to the current two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen.

“Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we stop there. ... There are studies being done now ongoing as we speak about looking at the feasibility about if and when we should be boosting people.”

He said it was quite possible in the coming months “as data evolves” that the government may urge a booster based on such factors as age and underlying medical conditions. “Certainly it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely at some time, we will need a boost,’' Fauci said.

Currently only about 48% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Some parts of the country have far lower immunization rates, and in those places the delta variant is surging. Last week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said that’s leading to “two truths” — highly immunized swaths of America are getting back to normal while hospitalizations are rising in other places.

On Sunday, Fauci said it was inexplicable that some Americans are so resistant to getting a vaccine when scientific data show how effective it is in staving off Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations, and he was dismayed by efforts to block making vaccinations more accessible, such as Biden’s suggestion of door-to-door outreach.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., agreed Sunday that there is a vaccine resistance in Southern and rural states like his because “you have that more conservative approach, skepticism about government.”

Describing his efforts to boost vaccinations in his state, which is seeing rising infections, Hutchinson said “no one wants an agent knocking on a door,” but “we do want those that do not have access otherwise to make sure they know about it.”

The grassroots component of the federal vaccination campaign has been in operation since April, when supplies of shots began outpacing demand. It was outlined and funded by Congress in the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill passed in March and overwhelmingly is carried out by local officials and private sector workers and volunteers.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., blasted opposition to vaccination efforts from some GOP lawmakers as “absolute insanity.” He said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California and others in the party need to speak out against “these absolute clown politicians playing on your vaccine fears for their own selfish gain.”

Fauci appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’ “Face the Nation”; Hutchinson spoke on ABC, and Kinzinger was on CNN.

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Will I need a COVID booster? Pfizer says yes. CDC, FDA warn it's too soon to know

CNET 11 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

With the delta variant becoming the dominant coronavirus strain, Pfizer said Thursday it's making a booster shot for its COVID-19 vaccine. The new booster shot will target the highly contagious delta mutation, which has spread to 100 countries and is responsible for a growing number of new infections in the US.

In a recent press release, Pfizer said a third shot of its vaccine would enhance the immunity of those who've already received the first two vaccine shots. In addition to creating a booster for its existing vaccine, the drugmaker said it would formulate a new version of its COVID-19 vaccine to target the delta variant. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration responded with a joint statement that fully vaccinated Americans "do not need a booster shot at this time." 

Earlier this month, the CDC and World Health Organization issued contradictory guidance on the need for fully vaccinated people to wear face masks. That debate, along with the ongoing discussion of booster shots, underscores how scientists and other health experts continue to grapple with the uncertainties of COVID-19 as restrictions loosen. Here's what we know about Pfizer's plans for a booster, and why the CDC and FDA caution against it, at least for now.

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Along with Moderna, Pfizer's current two-dose vaccine provides effective protection against all known variants of COVID-19 -- including the delta variant. Studies have shown the Pfizer vaccine to be over 90% effective against the virus. So why is the drugmaker pushing for a booster shot? 

Pfizer said its own research showed a third booster of its current vaccine increased antibody levels five to 10 times higher over its two-dose shots. The company noted its results have not been published or peer-reviewed.

Pfizer said it believes the level of protection the two doses of its vaccine provide can decrease over time, and a third booster dose may be needed "within six to 12 months" after a person is fully vaccinated. To prepare for the booster, Pfizer is testing both the effectiveness of a third dose of its current vaccine and working on an updated version targeting the delta variant.

Pfizer is testing the effectiveness of a COVID-19 booster shot.

Pfizer said it would begin clinical trials on the booster in August as it seeks approval from government regulators for a third dose. The company says a third shot given at least six months after the second shot in its original vaccine series would enhance protection against the delta variant, which has been known to infect fully vaccinated people (also here).

"People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Delta," the CDC and FDA said in a joint statement, without naming Pfizer. The government agencies emphasized the need for all eligible people to receive full doses of one of the approved vaccines, all of which are free. 

The CDC and FDA said the question of a booster requires extensive scientific data and doesn't depend on the input from pharmaceutical companies alone. "Virtually all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are unvaccinated," the statement mentioned, adding that the agencies will approve booster doses "if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed."

The current one-dose vaccine shot from Johnson & Johnson and two-dose versions from Moderna and Pfizer are free to anyone who wants to get vaccinated. According to the Biden administration, COVID-19 booster shots will also be free, if and when they're approved.

The Biden adminstration said booster shots would be free.

While scientists and public health officials continue to study if and when those who are fully vaccinated will need a booster shot, Moderna said -- along with Pfizer -- it is moving ahead and exploring the need for a third shot. 

The CDC doesn't recommend mixing and matching vaccines from the different makers, saying it hasn't evaluated the effectiveness of mixing vaccine doses and that the "vaccines are not interchangeable." 

However, other global health agencies and countries are testing administered vaccines from two different manufacturers. In England, for example, a recent study found that those who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and a second of Pfizer had a higher immune response than those who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

While we wait to see how the situation develops, here's what we know about the delta variant, more about COVID-19 boosters and if you need to continue to wear a mask.

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