New CDC data shows the risk of dying from Covid-19 is 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than for fully vaccinated adults


Throughout August, the risk of dying from Covid-19 was 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than for fully vaccinated adults in the United States, according to new data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unvaccinated adults faced a six times higher risk of testing positive for Covid-19 throughout the month, and In the last week of August, the risk of being hospitalized was nearly 19 times higher for unvaccinated adults than fully vaccinated adults.

Some states and local jurisdictions have recently started publishing Covid-19 case, death and hospitalization rates by vaccination status on their own dashboards, and the CDC has been working with health departments to link case surveillance data with immunization information systems for their own analysis.

While the CDC analysis is not fully comprehensive, the data published late Thursday is the first federal look at Covid-19 risks by vaccination status made publicly available with plans for regular updates.

U.S. to lift travel ban Nov. 8, allowing vaccinated international visitors into the country


The White House said Friday it would allow international travelers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 into the U.S. starting Nov. 8, lifting a ban on visitors from the European Union, UK and other countries.

The White House last month said it planned to lift the travel restrictions, which barred most non-U.S. citizens who had recently been in Europe, Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere, in early November. The rules were first set Trump administration early in the pandemic to slow the spread of Covid-19, and extended by the new Biden administration in the winter. The Biden administration had said visitors would have to be fully vaccinated against Covid to enter.

Inbound travelers, including U.S. citizens, still need proof of a negative Covid test to travel to the United States from abroad.

One coronavirus vaccine may protect against other coronaviruses


Northwestern Medicine scientists have shown for the first time that coronavirus vaccines and prior coronavirus infections can provide broad immunity against other, similar coronaviruses. The findings build a rationale for universal coronavirus vaccines that could prove useful in the face of future epidemics.

“Until our study, what hasn’t been clear is if you get exposed to one coronavirus, could you have cross-protection across other coronaviruses? And we showed that is the case,” said lead author Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, assistant professor of microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Will there ever be one universal coronavirus vaccine?

Given how different each coronavirus family is, that answer is “likely no,” said the study authors. But there may be a path forward for developing a vaccine for each coronavirus family (Sarbecovirus, Embecovirus and Merbecovirus), they said.

“Our study helps us re-evaluate the concept of a universal coronavirus vaccine,” Penaloza-MacMaster said. “It’s likely there isn’t one, but we might end up with a generic vaccine for each of the main families of coronaviruses, for example a universal Sarbecovirus vaccine for SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 and other SARS-related coronaviruses; or a universal Embecovirus for HCoV-OC43 and HKU1 that cause common colds.”

85% of NYC Adults Have Received at Least 1st Dose of COVID Vaccine


New York City is set to reach a milestone Thursday, as six million New Yorkers will have received at least the first dose of a COVID vaccine — a staggering 85 percent.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement during his daily press briefing Thursday, saying “today is going to be one of those milestone days in our fight against covid” and calling the lofty figure “unbelievable.”

“This is a staggering figure,” he said. “This is how we are coming back. When you look around the country and you see other places that are struggling — and I feel horrible for them — in a lot of cases it’s because their leaders didn’t do the right thing and didn’t focus on vaccination. Here together we did.”

De Blasio went on to say that while the figures show more than 84 percent have gotten at least one dose, a great percentage of those have already gone back to receive their second dose in a two-dose vaccination series.

Vaccinated people are less likely to spread Covid, new research finds


People who are vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to spread the virus even if they become infected, a new study finds, adding to a growing body of evidence that vaccines can reduce transmission of the delta variant.

British scientists at the University of Oxford examined national records of nearly 150,000 contacts that were traced from roughly 100,000 initial cases. The samples included people who were fully or partially vaccinated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as people who were unvaccinated. The researchers then looked at how the vaccines affected the spread of the virus if a person had a breakthrough infection with either the alpha variant or the highly contagious delta variant.

Both vaccines reduced transmission, although they were more effective against the alpha variant compared to the delta variant. When infected with the delta variant, a given contact was 65 percent less likely to test positive if the person from whom the exposure occurred was fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. With AstraZeneca, a given contact was 36 percent less likely to test positive if the person from whom the exposure occurred was fully vaccinated.

The risk of transmission from a breakthrough infection was much higher if someone had received just one dose of either vaccine.

‘Mix and match’ Covid vaccine boosters are effective, NIH study finds


A highly anticipated study on “mixing and matching” Covid-19 vaccines found the approach to be safe and effective, though the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were found to spark a stronger immune system response than Johnson & Johnson.

Mixing and matching refers to giving a booster dose of a vaccine that’s different from the vaccine type that was used for the initial vaccination series.

The National Institutes of Health study, which was released Wednesday and has yet to be peer reviewed, found that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine produced stronger antibody levels after receiving a booster shot made by Moderna or Pfizer, compared to a booster from Johnson & Johnson. Those who were originally vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and received either company’s booster shot produced comparably strong immune responses, the researchers observed.

The study, credited to 37 doctors and academics, followed 458 volunteers and measured their antibody levels two weeks and four weeks after the boosters were administered. The booster shots were given four to six months after the original vaccinations.

Individuals were divided into different groups based on their original immunizations and were given one of three boosters made by Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. For instance, those who were originally vaccinated with Pfizer’s two-dose regimen received either a matching Pfizer booster or a “mixed” one from either Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

French study of over 22m people finds vaccines cut severe Covid risk by 90%


Vaccination reduces the risk of dying or being hospitalised with Covid-19 by 90%, a French study of 22.6 million people over the age of 50 has found.

The research published on Monday also found that vaccines appear to protect against the worst effects of the most prevalent virus strain, the Delta variant.

“This means that those who are vaccinated are nine times less at risk of being hospitalised or dying from Covid-19 than those who have not been vaccinated,” the epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik, who oversaw the research, told Agence France-Presse.

The study – the largest of its kind so far – was carried out by Epi-Phare a scientific group set up by France’s health system, its national health insurance fund, l’Assurance Maladie (CNAM), and the country’s ANSM medicines agency.

Researchers compared 11.3 million vaccinated over-50s with the same number of unvaccinated from the same age group between 27 December 2020, when vaccinations began in France, and 20 July this year.

They found “a reduction in the risk of hospitalisation superior to 90%” from the 14th day after the second dose and a similar reduction in the number of deaths from Covid-19. Similar findings have previously been published in Israel, the UK and the US.

The vaccines’ effectiveness in combatting the most serious symptoms of Covid did not diminish during the five-month period of the study, they said. The results were the same no matter whether the patient was given the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Vaccines are highly unlikely to cause side effects long after getting the shot


Seven months after the U.S. began administering COVID-19 vaccines, the latest figures from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation’s ongoing tracking poll show that 10 percent of adults are still nervous about the vaccine and want to “wait and see” how others fare before rolling up their sleeves. Young adults ages 18 to 29 and Black and Hispanic people are some of the most likely to voice this sentiment.

The main two reasons cited for this hesitancy are that the vaccines are “too new” and that they may trigger unexpected or life-threatening side effects, perhaps even months or years later. It’s true that reports of new side effects can sometimes take months to emerge as a vaccine goes from populations of thousands in clinical trials to millions in the real world, encountering natural variations in human responses along the way. But more than a hundred million Americans have already passed that point in their vaccinations and the first participants in the clinical trials are now beyond a year.

So far, incidents of severe side effects for the coronavirus vaccines such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome and heart inflammation are very rare, and they were discovered quickly because they were on official lists of potential problems to watch for. What’s more, all these and other side effects appear soon after someone has taken the vaccine, suggesting that people don’t need to worry about delayed long-term reactions.

This picture fits with the modern history of vaccinations, which shows that most new immunizations have been incredibly safe, and even the most severe effects have reared their ugly heads right away.

“Side-effects nearly always occur within a couple of weeks of a person being vaccinated,” says John Grabenstein, director of scientific communication for the Immunization Action Coalition. He adds that the longest time before a side effect appeared for any type of shot has been six weeks.

“The concerns that something will spring up later with the COVID-19 vaccines are not impossible, but based on what we know, they aren’t likely,” adds Miles Braun, adjunct professor of medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the former director of the division of epidemiology at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A key reason for this limited window of side effects is the short time all vaccines stay in the body, says Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale Medicine and a principal investigator of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial. Unlike medicines that people take every day or week, vaccines are generally administered once or a handful of times over a lifetime. The mRNA molecules used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are especially fragile, he notes, so “they are out of your body in a day or so.”

The vaccines subsequently get to work stimulating the immune system so it can memorize the virus’s blueprint and mount a quick response if it encounters the real thing later. “This process is completed within about six weeks,” says Inci Yildirim, a vaccinologist and pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Yale Medicine. That’s why serious adverse effects that might be triggered by the process emerge within this time frame, after which everything is put on a shelf in the body’s library of known pathogens, Yildirim says.

A stroll through vaccine history confirms that even the most damaging side effects have indeed taken place within a six-week window.

After the initial Salk polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, it became clear that some of the first batches inadvertently contained live polio viruses and not the weakened form intended to be in the shot. Within weeks, this mistake resulted in some polio infections and, in a few cases, eventual death. The “Cutter incident,” named after the manufacturing labs with the biggest mishaps, prompted more stringent government regulations. Today, polio vaccines are monitored to make sure the virus is completely inactivated in shots given to children.

In 1976, rare cases of the nerve disorder Guillain- Barré Syndrome emerged some two to three weeks after people began receiving an egg-based inactivated flu vaccine against a dangerous strain of H1N1 swine flu. Scientists eventually determined the effect occurred in one to two people per million shots. Guillain- Barré is a treatable disease, but with flu season winding down that year, the vaccination effort was soon abandoned.

So, no vaccine has caused chronic conditions to emerge years or decades later, says Robert Jacobson, medical director of the population health science program at the Mayo Clinic. “Study after study have looked for this with all sorts of vaccines, and have not found it to be the case,” he says.

Is my immunity waning? Doctors advise Pfizer vaccine recipients not to worry


There’s little doubt now — study after study, in real life and in lab dishes, in the US and elsewhere — that people’s immunity starts to wane just months after they finish the two-dose series of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

While getting two doses of vaccine creates a strong immune response that reduces the risk of severe disease by more than 90%, the protection against milder and asymptomatic infections drops off gradually.

That’s why Pfizer has asked for and received US Food and Drug Administration authorization to add boosters for many people who are six months out from vaccination.

But should others be seeking boosters, too? How much should people be worrying?

“I think that we expect that immunity will slowly wane, over time, but it’s not a reason for people to panic,” said Dr. Ann Falsey, a specialist in viral respiratory diseases at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

“It’s not like suddenly one day you’re completely susceptible, like you were before you were vaccinated,” added Falsey, who is helping lead clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines.

“The vaccines are all standing up pretty well — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — for severe disease,” Falsey told CNN. “Now, that’s not to say that we might not eventually get to a point where we really need people to get boosters to prevent more severe illness. But, really, the majority of the breakthrough infections are colds, maybe flu-like illness — not the scary illnesses that we were facing before,” she added.

“So my main message is, don’t panic. You’re going to be okay.”