Real-world data shows vaccines kicking butt—including against scary variant


In a small trial, the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine fully protected people from symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the worrisome B.1.351 coronavirus variant widely circulating in South Africa, the companies announced in a press release.

Though researchers will need more data to confirm the result, it is just the latest bit of positive news to come out this week about how the vaccines are performing with real-world conditions and in real-world settings.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released real-world data showing that the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine and Moderna mRNA vaccine were, collectively, 90 percent effective at preventing infections in fully vaccinated health care, frontline, and essential workers.

On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNtech announced that their vaccine is highly effective in adolescents 12- to 15-years old—not just the adult part of the population. And on Thursday, the companies announced the B.1.351 news as well as new data on durability. That is, the latest monitoring data on people vaccinated in a Phase III trial suggests the vaccine is still 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease up to six months after the second dose. That’s longer efficacy than was previously established, but researchers will need more data still to assess efficacy beyond six months.

“The bottom line message is that vaccines work very well in the real-world setting,” top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a White House COVID-19 press briefing Friday. “They work against variants, although we need further data to confirm that. They are durable for at least six months and they work in adolescents. Very, very good reason for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as its becomes available to you.”

Second vaccinations pass five million as UK reports lowest deaths since September


The UK has reported its lowest number of COVID deaths since mid-September, while more than five million people have now had both doses of a vaccine.

The landmark vaccination count was passed as a further 3,423 infections were reported in the latest 24-hour period.

Another 10 deaths have been recorded within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, according to government figures, compared to 52 on Friday and 58 last Saturday. It’s the lowest since nine were reported on 14 September.

An extra 381,285 jabs were registered yesterday in total.

Of those, 124,415 were first doses, meaning 31,425,682 have now received an initial injection.

A further 256,870 second jabs were administered, bringing the total to 5,205,505.

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 shot 91% effective in updated data, protective against South African variant


Pfizer Inc and BioNTech said on Thursday their vaccine is around 91% effective at preventing COVID-19, citing updated trial data that included participants inoculated for up to six months.

The shot also showed early signs of preventing disease in a small subset of study volunteers in South Africa, where a concerning new variant called B.1.351 is circulating.

Although lower than the stunning 95% efficacy result reported from its 44,000-person clinical trial in November, overall efficacy of 91.3% shows the vaccine to be a powerful tool against an evolving virus. The virus now has more transmissible forms and those that have been shown to evade antibody protection in lab studies and real-world clinical trials.

“These data reinforce our view that we have some really potent vaccines,” said Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Britain’s Imperial College London, who was not involved in the Pfizer trial.

Pfizer’s Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said the updated result, which includes data on more than 12,000 people fully inoculated for at least six months, positions the drugmakers to submit for full U.S. regulatory approval.

U.S. administers nearly 154 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines: CDC


The United States has administered 153,631,404 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Thursday morning and distributed 200,496,635 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The tally is for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, the agency said.

According to the tally posted on March 31, the agency had administered 150,273,292 doses of the vaccines and distributed 195,581,725 doses.

The agency said 99,565,311 people had received at least one dose while 56,089,614 people are fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

Single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine to be delivered in EU from April 19


Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine will first be delivered in European countries on April 19..

The vaccine was the fourth to be approved by the European Medicines Agency after the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

It is already being administered in the United States and South Africa.

The EU’s agreement with the company is for 200 million doses which Johnson & Johnson has committed to deliver in 2021.

The Commission has said that 55 million doses are expected from the company by the end of June 2021 but the exact schedule of deliveries has not been made public.

US nursing homes see 96 percent drop in COVID-19 cases with vaccine


A new report shows the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on nursing homes.

The numbers come from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living–which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities in the country that care for more than 5 million people.

The report they released Tuesday says that nursing homes nationwide are seeing a 96 percent decline in COVID cases since the vaccine rollout just before Christmas.

On December 20th of last year there were more than 30,000 new resident cases. The latest numbers show 1,349 cases.

And since that same time, the number of COVID-related deaths has dropped by 91 percent!

Pfizer says Covid vaccine 100 percent effective in children ages 12 to 15


Pfizer says its Covid-19 vaccine is safe and 100 percent effective in preventing the illness in teenagers ages 12 to 15.

“This is exactly the news that we hoped to hear,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Creech was not involved in the Pfizer research.

The vaccine, given in two doses three weeks apart, is already cleared for emergency use in people ages 16 and up.

The company plans to request emergency use authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds in the coming weeks, “with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

20 second Israeli COVID test gets European approval; airport rollout planned


An Israeli company said Wednesday that it received European approval for its rapid coronavirus test and it was poised to help kickstart international travel.

The handheld SpectraLIT machine eliminates the need for complex lab equipment by shining light through samples and giving immediate results using the spectral signature.

This means that staff in airport booths who are currently tasked with collecting test samples and dispatching them to labs will simply have a machine at hand and be able to give passengers results after just 20 seconds of analysis.

The system, which is being piloted at 36 hospitals worldwide, received European Medical Devices Directive approval for a swab version of its test, which allows it to start rollout across the European Union.

EU to get 107 million COVID doses by end of March, 30 million from AstraZeneca


European Union states are expected to receive 107 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of March, an EU Commission spokeswoman said on Wednesday, hitting an earlier target but far below initial plans.

Under contracts signed with drugmakers, the bloc had expected to receive 120 million doses by the end of March from Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca alone and tens of millions more doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

But after major cuts from AstraZeneca, the EU had revised down its target until the end of March to about 100 million doses.

The Commission spokeswoman told a news conference that AstraZeneca was expected to deliver 29.8 million doses by Wednesday, in line with its revised-down goal.

CDC – COVID-19 is UNLIKELY to transmit after vaccination


A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights extensive efficacy in preventing infections from the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.

The report shows the 2 vaccines were 90% effective in preventing infections—regardless of symptom status—14 days after the second dose was administered.

In addition, the 2 vaccines were 80% effective 14 days after the first dose, but before the second dose.

The findings come from studying nearly 4000 health care personnel, first responders, and other frontline workers from mid-December 2020 through mid-March 2021. The participants were tested weekly for 13 weeks in 8 US locations.

According to the CDC, both vaccines were given to participants in all the locations, but the timing on their availability differed. Of the vaccinated, 62.7% of participants received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and 29.6% received the Moderna shot.

“Among fully immunized (≥14 days after second dose) persons, 0.04 infections per 1000 person-days were reported, and among partially immunized (≥14 days after first dose and before second dose) persons, 0.19 infections per 1000 person-days were reported,” the CDC stated on their website.

“These findings indicate that authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of symptom status, among working-age adults in real-world conditions,” the CDC stated.