COVID-19 vaccine booster shots may be available to all fully vaccinated Americans in a week, but an expert review by international scientists â€“ including some at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration â€“ says we may not need them.
The review, published Monday in The Lancet, summarizes scientific evidence from randomized controlled trials and observational studies that appeared in both peer-reviewed journals and pre-print servers. The consistent finding was that vaccines remain highly effective against severe disease, including from the delta variant and other main variants.
â€œTaken as a whole, the currently available studies do not provide credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination,â€ said lead author Dr. Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, medical officer for vaccine research at WHO.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that rich countries with large supplies of vaccines should refrain from offering booster shots through the end of the year and make the doses available for poorer countries.
Originally, President Joe Biden said a third shot booster dose for people with healthy immune systems would be offered beginning Sept. 20 but walked that back slightly over concerns the announcement got ahead of recommendations from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committees.
â€“ Adrianna Rodriguez
Also in the news:
â–ºAlaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold has asked to be excused from legislative sessions until next year, saying she has no way to fly to Juneau after she was barred from Alaska Airlines for violating mask policies, according to theÂ Anchorage Daily News.
â–ºHospitals in Iowa are amongÂ the latest to limit elective procedures to deal with COVID-19.Â UnityPoint Health-St. Lukeâ€™s Hospital and Mercy Medical Center toldÂ The Cedar Rapids GazetteÂ they are preserving capacity.Â
â–ºFlorida accounted for 1 of every 26 deaths reported in the world in the week ending Friday, Johns Hopkins University data shows. Florida had 2,448 deaths, 21.4% of the 11,413 U.S. deaths andÂ 3.9% of the 62,559 global deaths.
📈Today’s numbers:Â The U.S.Â has recorded nearly 41 millionÂ confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 660,000 deaths,Â accordingÂ toÂ Johns Hopkins UniversityÂ data. Global totals: More than 224 million cases and 4.6 million deaths. More than 178 million AmericansÂ â€“Â 53.8% of the populationÂ â€“Â have been fully vaccinated,Â according toÂ theÂ CDC.
📘What we’re reading:Â President Joe Biden initiatedÂ a nationwide vaccine mandate last week,Â ordering employers with 100 orÂ more workers to be inoculated or enforce weekly COVID-19 testing.Â But what are the consequences for someone who doesn’t comply? Is a failure to meet the mandate the same as breaking the law? Read more here.Â
New York City public schoolsÂ welcomed back students for in-person learning Monday, re-opening schools fully for the first time in more than a year because ofÂ the coronavirus pandemic.Â Schools don’t plan on offeringÂ remote options in hopes of getting students back in classrooms,Â despite the delta variant’s spread across the country and increases in the number of children infected and hospitalized.Â
New York City will require students and faculty to wear masks. The city mandated employees to get at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27.Â
The return to normal for students in New York City comes as areas around the country wrestled withÂ new case surges and mandates that both were impacting health care. A hospital inÂ rural New York said it was pausingÂ its maternity services as employees quit instead of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
In just a week, COVID-19 vaccine boosters could begin to beÂ available to all fully vaccinatedÂ Americans. But exactly who will be eligible and when won’t be decided until two key scientific advisory committees meet days before the Biden administration’sÂ Sept. 20 start date.
That leaves little reaction time for health care system administrators likeÂ Dr. Tammy Lundstrom,Â chief medical officer for Michigan-based Trinity Health, which operates 92 hospitals and 120 continuing care facilities in 22 states.Â
“We have our data team poised, ready to hit the button to help us identify all our patients who are ready for a booster,” Lundstrom said. “We’re anxiously waiting for guidance, as is everybody.”
â€“ Elizabeth Weise
As many as 12 million Americans have takenÂ months to recover from the coronavirus or are still struggling with symptoms. These â€œlong-haulersâ€Â suffer from whatâ€™s called Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, better known simply as long COVID.Â Theyâ€™re all waiting for help and for a better understanding of just what is making them so miserable. Dr. Stuart Katz, is principle investigator of NYU Langoneâ€™sÂ Clinical Science Core, which has been tasked by the federal government with leading the long COVID research activities of clinical sites around the country.
â€œI do very much understand the feeling where your body is feeling a bit out of control and none of the doctors know why,â€ Katz said. Read more here.
â€“ Karen Weintraub
A hospital inÂ rural New York will not be delivering babies after employeesÂ quit instead of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.Â Six employees at the Lewis County Health System have resigned and seven more are unwilling to get vaccinated, meaning Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering babies for the time being, according to reports.
“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24,” Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald R. Cayer said at a news conference.
The move appears to be temporary. During the pause in maternity services, Cayer said the health system will focus on recruiting nurses to get baby deliveries back up and running.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed aÂ mandateÂ Aug. 16 to ensure that all health care workers in New YorkÂ be vaccinated. More specifically, hospitals and long-term care facility employees need to get their first dose of the vaccine by Sep. 27.Â
Consumers could soon get discounted coronavirus tests at Amazon, Kroger and WalmartÂ as part ofÂ President Joe Biden’s planÂ to significantly increase testing.
The Biden administration said those three major retailers over the next three months will sell rapid, over-the-counter tests “at cost,” a discount of up to 35% from retail prices.
Biden’sÂ strategyÂ calls for spending nearly $2 billion to procure 280 million rapid tests forÂ long-term care facilities, community testing sites, homelessÂ shelters, prisonsÂ and other vulnerable populations. AnotherÂ 25 million free at-home rapid tests would be sent to communityÂ health centers and food banks.Â
Companies say federal support to expand testing options is needed as theÂ delta variant drives demand higher and manufacturers scramble to keep pace.Â
“There is a big shortage in the market right now across the board,” said Ron Gutman, co-CEO ofÂ Intrivo, a testing manufacturer.Â “We have a lot more demand than weâ€™ve ever seen before.”
â€“Â Ken Alltucker, USA TODAYÂ
As the United States battles COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amid a surge in cases fueled by the delta variant, a new study co-authored by a New Mexico State University researcher examines how COVID-19 infections in social circles may influence vaccine willingness.
In the study, Jagdish Khubchandani, public health sciences professor at NMSU, and a team of researchers conducted a national assessment of COVID-19 vaccine willingness among American adults based on COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths within their friend and family groups.
â€œIn this study, and in our prior studies, we have extensively studied COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and some factors repeatedly emerge as predictors of vaccine hesitancy,â€ said Khubchandani, who has conducted multiple studies on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy since late 2020. â€œEducation, race and political ideology are the major factors, and we need more efforts to reach sections of our society that remain hesitant about the vaccines.â€
Researchers found the rates of vaccine hesitancy differed significantly based on whether participants in the study had a close friend or family member who was affected with COVID-19. Read more here.
â€“Â Carlos Andres LÃ³pez,Â Las Cruces News