Archive for the ‘Infectious disease’ Category

At 38.5% vaccinated, US may be running low on people eager for a shot

April 17th, 2021
Residents wear protective masks while waiting to be vaccinated at a West Virginia United Health System Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

Enlarge / Residents wear protective masks while waiting to be vaccinated at a West Virginia United Health System Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, March 11, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The US logged another 4 million or so vaccinations Friday, bringing the total doses administered in the country over 200 million at the time of writing. Over 127 million adults—38.5 percent of the US population—have received at least one shot. Over 80 million adults—24 percent of the US population—are now fully vaccinated.

The seven-day rolling average of US vaccinations per day is now around 3.35 million and the Biden administration is on track to make its latest goal of 200 million vaccinations within the first 100 days in office.

Even with a current pause in use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, Biden officials expect availability of vaccine to remain strong.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in CDC, COVID-19, immunity, Infectious disease, public health, science, vaccination, vaccines | Comments (0)

99.992% of fully vaccinated people have dodged COVID, CDC data shows

April 15th, 2021
Residents wait in an observation area after receiving Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Richmond, California on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Enlarge / Residents wait in an observation area after receiving Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Richmond, California on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Cases of COVID-19 are extremely rare among people who are fully vaccinated, according to a new data analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among more than 75 million fully vaccinated people in the US, just around 5,800 people reported a “breakthrough” infection, in which they became infected with the pandemic coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated.

The numbers suggest that breakthroughs occur at the teeny rate of less than 0.008 percent of fully vaccinated people—and that over 99.992 percent of those vaccinated have not contracted a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Breakthrough, CDC, COVID-19, infection, Infectious disease, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, vaccines | Comments (0)

The very common vaccine ingredient at the center of J&J, AstraZeneca drama

April 14th, 2021
Adenoviruses seen via transmission electron microscopy.

Enlarge / Adenoviruses seen via transmission electron microscopy. (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Out of an abundance of caution, US officials on Tuesday recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Officials linked the vaccine to six peculiar illnesses in which people developed life-threatening blood clots in combination with low levels of blood platelets, the cell fragments in blood that form clots. One person died from their condition and another is in critical condition.

It’s unclear if the vaccine caused the illnesses. Even if it did, the illnesses would represent an exceedingly rare side effect. The six cases occurred among more than 6.8 million people in the US who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That would make it a side effect seen in fewer than one in a million. The risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, which the vaccine protects against, easily exceeds those odds. Without question, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential risks.

Still, with robust supplies of vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech—neither of which have been linked to these unusual cases—US officials took the cautious route of pausing Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine while they investigate the cases further and inform clinicians about how to spot and treat any others that may arise. This latter point is critical, because if doctors try to use standard blood clot treatments in these vaccine-linked cases, the outcomes can be fatal.

Read 27 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in adenovirus, Astrazeneca, CDC, COVID-19, fda, Features, Infectious disease, Johnson & Johnson, science, vaccine development, vaccines, viral vector | Comments (0)

It’s too late for vaccines to save Michigan, CDC director explains

April 12th, 2021
A woman adjusts her face mask while sitting in front of a microphone.

Enlarge / Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adjusts her protective mask during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Highly effective COVID-19 vaccines are simply too slow to stop surges like the one underway in Michigan, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

Dr. Walensky’s explanation during the White House COVID-19 press briefing comes amid mounting requests and calls for federal authorities to flood Michigan with vaccine supply. The state has seen a 400 percent spike in cases since March 5, when state officials eased restrictions on residential gatherings and occupancy limits for bars, restaurants, venues, and stores. Since then, the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant has also increased in prevalence. Now, the state’s seven-day average for new daily cases is over 7,377, and hospitals are filling up.

On March 30, when the surge was already in full swing, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appealed to the White House for additional vaccine shipments. However, the White House declined, opting to stick to its largely population-based strategy for dolling out vaccine supply to each state and jurisdiction.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in CDC, COVID-19, Infectious disease, lockdown, Michigan, outbreak, science, social distancing, surge, vaccine, WHO | Comments (0)

Coronavirus variant that spreads easily doesn’t do so by surviving in air better

April 5th, 2021
People practice social distancing in white circles in Domino Park in Williamsburg during the coronavirus pandemic on May 17, 2020, in New York City.

Enlarge / People practice social distancing in white circles in Domino Park in Williamsburg during the coronavirus pandemic on May 17, 2020, in New York City. (credit: Getty | Noam Galai)

The B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant is estimated to spread about 50 percent more than previous versions—but it doesn’t seem to manage that higher transmissibility by surviving in the air better than other versions of the virus, according to a new study.

In lab experiments looking at virus survival in artificially produced aerosolized particles, a B.1.1.7 lineage virus had about the same survival rate as a strain of the virus that was circulating in Wuhan, China in January 2020, according to the study, which published recently in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

For the study, government researchers created aerosolized particles that mimic those spewed from deep in a person’s lungs, then tested how well the viruses survived in those particles under different temperature, humidity, and light conditions.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in B.1.17, COVID-19, Infectious disease, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, Transmission, variant, virus | Comments (0)

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

April 2nd, 2021
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine inside the Viejas Arena on the campus of San Diego State University in San Diego, California, US on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

Enlarge / A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine inside the Viejas Arena on the campus of San Diego State University in San Diego, California, US on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

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.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in BioNTech, coronavirus, COVID-19, Infectious disease, Pfizer, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, vaccine, variant | Comments (0)

Factory mix-up spoils 15 million doses of J&J COVID vaccine

April 1st, 2021
A sign at the Johnson & Johnson campus on August 26, 2019 in Irvine, California.

Enlarge / A sign at the Johnson & Johnson campus on August 26, 2019 in Irvine, California. (credit: Getty | Mario Tama)

About 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine were ruined, and future vaccine shipments will be delayed. This all follows a mix-up at a manufacturing facility in Baltimore, according to multiple media reports.

Johnson & Johnson had partnered with Emergent BioSolutions to manufacture the active ingredient of its vaccine. But according to two US officials who spoke with Politico, workers at the West Baltimore facility mixed up the ingredients in Johnson &Johnson’s vaccine with those for a different coronavirus vaccine. Emergent BioSolutions is also a manufacturing partner of AstraZeneca, according to the New York Times, which first reported the problem.

The mishap with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine began before the Food and Drug Administration had authorized the facility to produce the vaccine. Now, that authorization has been delayed and shipments are stalled.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biden, biden administration, COVID-19, fda, Infectious disease, Johnson & Johnson, pandemic, public health, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Trial started for vaccine against one of the scariest coronavirus variants

March 31st, 2021
Extreme close-up photo of a gloved hand holding a tiny jar.

Enlarge / A vial of the current Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (credit: Getty | Ivan Romano)

Researchers have given out the first jabs of a tweaked version of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, one aimed at fighting one of the most concerning coronavirus variants—the B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa.

The jabs are part of an early trial of the tweaked vaccine, which is being run by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The agency aims to enroll around 210 healthy adults in the trial by the end of April.

“The B.1.351 SARS-CoV-2 variant, first identified in the Republic of South Africa, has been detected in at least nine states in the United States,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said in an announcement. “Preliminary data show that the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States should provide an adequate degree of protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants. However, out of an abundance of caution, NIAID has continued its partnership with Moderna to evaluate this variant vaccine candidate should there be a need for an updated vaccine.”

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in clinical trial, COVID-19, Infectious disease, moderna, NIH, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, vaccine, variant | Comments (0)

Teens fully protected by Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, company says

March 31st, 2021
Jonathan, a 16-year-old teenager, receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 23, 2021.

Enlarge / Jonathan, a 16-year-old teenager, receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 23, 2021. (credit: Getty | Jack Guez)

Adolescents ages 12 to 15 were completely protected from symptomatic COVID-19 after being vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine in a small Phase III clinical trial, Pfizer reported in a press release Wednesday.

The company also said that the vaccine was well-tolerated in the age group, spurring only the standard side effects seen in people ages 16 to 25. The vaccine is already authorized for use in people age 16 and over.

The vaccine appeared more effective at spurring defensive immune responses in adolescents ages 12 to 15 than in the 16- to 25-year-old group, producing even higher levels of antibodies that were able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. In a measure of neutralizing antibodies, vaccinated youths in the new trial had geometric mean titers (GMTs) of 1,239.5, compared with the GMTs of 705.1 previously seen in those ages 16 to 25, Pfizer noted.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in adolescents, antibodies, COVID-19, Infectious disease, Pfizer, public health, school, science, teens, vaccine | Comments (0)

Experts sound alarm of possible new COVID surge as US cases once again rise

March 26th, 2021
A health advisory sign on a beach in Florida.

Enlarge / A health advisory sign on a beach in Florida. (credit: Getty | Jeff Greenberg)

In mid-January, US cases of COVID-19 were in a nosedive from a towering record of over 315,000 new cases in a single day earlier in the month. And now, the pace of vaccinations has reached a heartening clip of 2.5 million per day. There’s almost a whiff of freedom from our pandemic confines in the sweet spring breeze.

But as anxious as we all are to return to normal life, the pandemic is not yet done with us.

The dramatic decline in cases ended weeks ago and plateaued at a disturbingly high level, matching daily case numbers seen in mid-October, at the base of the winter surge. Meanwhile, more transmissible variants of the pandemic coronavirus are swirling around the country. The B.1.1.7 variant—estimated to be around 50 percent more transmissible than earlier versions of the virus—is expected to become the predominant virus circulating in the US next month.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in cases, CDC, COVID-19, Infectious disease, science, vaccination | Comments (0)