People who got Johnson & Johnson Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine as a first shot had a stronger immune response when boosted with vaccines from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE or Moderna Inc, a study run by the National Institutes of Health showed on Wednesday.The study, which is preliminary and has not been peer reviewed, is the latest challenge to J&J’s efforts to use its Covid-19 vaccine as a booster in the United States.The study, which included more than 450 adults who received initial shots from Pfizer,…
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals from dozens of countries and jurisdictions on the Philippines’ “green list” will no longer be required to undergo facility-based quarantine, the government said, provided they have a negative test result from within 72 hours of departure.Mainland China, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Taiwan are among those on the green list.Meanwhile, passengers from countries on the yellow list must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, with the first 10 days in a facility…
South Korea on Wednesday established a panel to debate a strategy on how to “live with Covid-19” in the long-term, as the country seeks to phase out coronavirus restrictions and reopen the economy amid rising vaccination levels.Under the strategy, the government aims to relax coronavirus restrictions for citizens who can prove they have been fully vaccinated, while encouraging asymptomatic and mild Covid-19 patients aged below 70 to recover at home, the health ministry said last week.The…
Australia’s Northern Territory has announced a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for those working in public-facing jobs, including hairdressers and shop workers, requiring they get jabbed or risk fines and being barred from the workplace. Read Full Article at RT.com
The team of 26 scientists is set to revive the stalled investigation into the origins of the virus. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed that he will not be vaccinated. Follow DW for the latest.
Early last year, the US banned visitors from more than 30 countries, including China, the UK and most of the EU
The US will lift restrictions for international travelers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 on 8 November, a White House official said on Friday, allowing people from dozens of countries to reunite with their families and take leisure trips to the US for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
The White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said international air and land travel would be permitted for vaccinated travelers on 8 November.
A parliamentary report says the initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak was one of the worst public health failures in UK history. Could tens of thousands of deaths have been avoided – and what are the lessons for the future?
Nearly 19 months after the coronavirus pandemic was declared, a landmark Commons report – the first major report looking into the UK’s response to coronavirus – has been published. The 151-page report, titled Coronavirus: Lessons Learned to Date, led by two former Conservative ministers, praises the government’s handling of the vaccine rollout and says that it has saved many lives.
But it finds that the initial handling of the crisis – from the delay going into lockdown to the protection of older people in care homes – amounted to one of the worst public health failures in British history.
Scientists don’t agree on whether approving COVID-19 boosters for certain non-elderly Americans, as the CDC did recently, was the right move. The president, the CDC, and the FDA have issued a series of conflicting statements on the issue. Some experts have indignantly resigned. Others have published frustrated op-eds.
President Joe Biden, who got a booster shot this week and called on other eligible Americans to do the same, remains enthusiastic. The split between Biden-administration scientists, such as Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and other scientists over boosters might seem confusing. One possible explanation for it has largely escaped notice: Vaccinated Americans seem to really want boosters, which means that the shots could have benefits that go well beyond extra protection against COVID. Those benefits could be psychological and economic—and, for the president, political.
The administration’s booster decision was not intended to inspire confidence or encourage economic activity, a White House official who was granted anonymity to discuss internal decision making told me. Biden was following the science and his experts’ recommendations, the official insisted. Every presidential administration claims that its decisions are the products of pure, high-minded policy debates. But like all political operations, Biden’s White House closely monitors public sentiment, and the president’s team is no doubt aware of how popular boosters are.
New data back up the idea that most vaccinated Americans are eager to get boosters. In a new Atlantic/Leger poll, 62 percent of vaccinated respondents said they are likely to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the majority of respondents in their 30s and 40s—considered a less at-risk population—said they’re likely to get a booster. The poll of 1,001 Americans was conducted from September 24 to 26. Our results mirror past polls suggesting that among people who take COVID-19 seriously, boosters are extremely popular. In several late-Augustpolls, about three-quarters of vaccinated adults said they’d get one, and concern about the Delta variant was the leading reason they cited.
So far, boosters are less widely available in the U.S. than Biden had initially suggested they would be. In mid-August, the president said the government would “be ready to start this booster program during the week of September 20, in which time anyone [fully] vaccinated on or before January 20 will be eligible to get a booster shot.” The CDC has ultimately recommended boosters for a narrower group: People over 65 and nursing-home residents, as well as non-elderly frontline workers and those with underlying health conditions, starting this month. Perhaps to the chagrin of the Johnson & Johnson crowd, only Americans who received the Pfizer shot qualify for a booster right now.
Many scientists remain skeptical. There’s no evidence that vaccinated young and healthy people face an increased risk of hospitalization or death, even if their COVID-vaccine antibodies fade over time, says Céline Gounder, an infectious-disease expert at New York University. She was vaccinated eight months ago, but she doesn’t feel the need to get a booster. Non-elderly people with normal immune systems might never really need one, she told me. (In an interview with my colleague Ed Yong at The Atlantic Festival recently, Fauci disagreed, saying, “It is likely, for a real complete regimen, that you would need at least a third dose.”)
To political strategists, though, Biden’s promise of boosters for all is a no-brainer. It’s the Oprah Winfrey school of politics: YOU get a booster, and YOU get a booster. The Delta wave of COVID-19 cases “has led to a resurgence in COVID concern, especially among people who are already vaccinated,” says Matt Grossmann, a political-science professor at Michigan State University. Boosters are “one thing that can be offered that doesn’t have an obvious downside,” unlike a mandate or a lockdown.
Of course, launching a booster program right now might have less obvious costs. Administering boosters takes up the time and resources of health-care workers when they are already stretched. Billions more dollars will go to vaccine manufacturers at a time when many of Americans’ basic needs, such as food and shelter, aren’t being met. Some experts have argued that rather than boost Americans, the Biden administration should donate vaccine doses to poorer countries, some of which have administered so few doses that they won’t reach herd immunity until 2023. And, if further data support the need for boosters for all, future vaccination efforts could be hampered if the public sees boosters mainly as a political tool.
But those critiques may not sway many voters. “The American people are not going to blame Joe Biden for being too aggressive in combatting the pandemic,” says Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist. “If there’s a fire in your neighborhood, nobody complains that the fire department sprayed too much water.” That’s perhaps why some governors were promoting boosters weeks before the CDC’s official announcement.
During times of heightened health anxiety, some people will do whatever they can to stay healthy, even if it’s premature or unnecessary. During the 1918 flu, some people died not of the virus but of overdoses of the aspirin they took to treat it. Even in modern times, some people have doubled up on the flu vaccine, says Steven Taylor, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia. “People who are highly worried about their health tend to have greater medical knowledge than the average person,” Taylor told me. These people have not only heard about boosters; they’ve already read a bunch of articles about them and mapped out the nearest booster sites to their house. In our poll, the most common motivator for boosters, selected by 45 percent of respondents, was that though people believe their immunity to COVID-19 is fine, they want “extra” immunity. As Gounder put it, “You have people who think vaccines are great, and if they’re great, one is good, two is better, even more is even better.”
Boosters could also aid the economy. In mid-September, Fauci told Reuters that one motivation for boosters is to reduce the number of “breakthrough” infections among the fully vaccinated. Though two doses of the vaccine may protect against severe disease, boosters might keep more people from testing positive and having to quarantine. “What boosting does is that it increases your antibody levels,” says Larry Corey, a virologist at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “The risk perception of going to a restaurant, the risk perception of going to any indoor event or outdoor event will markedly go down because you're enhancing the vaccine efficacy.” Unlike Gounder, Corey would feel more comfortable going to a baseball game after getting a booster.
He and others say this seems to have played a role in the administration’s thinking about boosters. “President Biden stated this. If you bring the pandemic to an end more quickly, you open up the economy more quickly,” Andy Slavitt, a former adviser to the White House’s COVID-19 response team, told MarketWatch.
Boosters could help the economy even if they don’t immediately reduce breakthrough infections, simply by making some Americans get out more. A quarter of vaccinated respondents in our poll said that getting a booster would change their day-to-day behavior, making them feel more comfortable going on vacation, visiting friends and family, or doing indoor activities with others.
“Boosters are going to be contributing to increased economic activity,” says Tina Dalton, a health-economics professor at Wake Forest University. “More people can go to work; there’s fewer days off of work; people feel more confident about being in the economy.”
Unvaccinated people are driving COVID-19 hospitalizations, but getting people who already like vaccines to get even more vaccines is easier than getting people who refuse vaccines to accept them. Unvaccinated people are “a complicated policy question that is going to involve a lot more than just money to solve,” Dalton told me. “But an easy one is just to put boosters out there. Everyone feels very happy about getting their booster, and you feel like you’re moving the needle.”
Experts will be arguing for months about whether the boosters are truly necessary for younger people, and what the global downsides of focusing extra doses on Americans might be. But they overlook a simple political reality: The boosters aren’t just boosting COVID-19 resistance—they’re boosting morale.