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The White House is expected to advise most Americans to get a third Covid-19 dose, a move that will align the US with a growing number of rich countries that have turned to booster shots in the face of the highly transmissible Delta variant and waning immunity.
- US President Joe Biden’s plan, expected to be discussed on Wednesday, would see booster shots rolled out in mid- to late September, one source told CNN, pending authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The news follows the recommendation last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that people with immunocompromised systems get an extra dose of the vaccine.
- Data from vaccine-maker Pfizer-BioNTech submitted to the FDA showed that the third dose elicited a significantly higher antibody response against the initial strain of the coronavirus, as well as against the Delta and Beta variants, compared with that seen following a two-dose course.
- But the FDA and CDC say there is no clear argument yet for giving boosters to people with normal immune systems, as data continues to show that the vaccines still protect against severe disease. As Delta surges across the US, nearly all of those becoming severely ill with the virus are unvaccinated.
- Public health experts aren’t convinced, either. The answer to reducing deaths and hospitalizations, many say, is simple: Get unvaccinated people the shots first. Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, points to the fact that some 90 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated – and are the main vehicle for the virus’ spread across the country. “Of course we want people to be protected and to receive the full course,” he said. “But what we are trying to move against is giving a third dose to people who already are well protected.” He added: “If you think a third dose of the vaccine is going to end the pandemic, then you are kidding yourself. The way to end this pandemic is to get the vaccine distributed across the globe.”
- It’s an argument the World Health Organization has been making for months. Fiercely opposed to the use of booster shots for now, WHO says the move will undoubtedly exacerbate vaccine inequality. Countries including Israel, Germany, France and the United Arab Emirates have already authorized booster shots for older adults. But only 1.3% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data.
- Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, and Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, warned in an essay published by the Guardian on Friday that “large-scale boosting in one rich country would send a signal around the world that boosters are needed everywhere.” They said: “This will suck many vaccine doses out of the system, and many more people will die because they never even had a chance to get a single dose.”
- Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the ongoing chaos in the wake of the Taliban takeover is taking a “heavy toll” on the country’s “fragile health system,” WHO Spokesperson Jarik Jašarević said Tuesday, with disruption at the airport delaying urgently needed health supplies, including Covid vaccines. Crowding at health facilities and internally displaced people’s camps will further hamper infection prevention measures, he said.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: What’s the risk of indoor dining if you’re fully vaccinated?
A: Indoor dining in a restaurant definitely has more risk than dining outdoors, says CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. What that risk is depends on several factors. For starters, what’s the space configuration in the restaurant? A very crowded, poorly ventilated setting will have higher risk than a venue in which you can spread out from other diners.
Some shared symptoms of Covid-19 and the common cold include a sore throat, fatigue and a headache, according to Wen. Coughing is another common symptom of both viruses, although according to the Mayo Clinic, the Covid-19 cough tends to be drier.
If you suspect your child has Covid-19, the most important thing is to not send them to school, Wen cautioned, and get them tested. “I would encourage parents to have a high index of suspicion and to definitely not send your child to school if they are not feeling themselves and have any symptoms that could be Covid-19,” she said.
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READS OF THE WEEK
New Zealand reports its first case of Delta, goes into national lockdown
A year and a half since the first Covid-19 cases were identified, many countries in Asia-Pacific feel right back where they started. While Britons hit the nightclubs after a long winter of coronavirus restrictions, millions of people in Australia and China are back in lockdown. Health systems in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are overwhelmed. And countries such as the Pacific island nation of Fiji, which last year had only reported a handful of cases, are now battling major outbreaks.
To some, it’s hard to understand why Asia-Pacific is being hit so hard. Many Asia-Pacific countries turned themselves into hermit nations, closing off borders to almost all foreigners, imposing strict quarantines for arrivals, and introducing aggressive testing and tracing policies to catch any cases that slipped through their defenses. And it worked – until the highly contagious Delta variant took hold. Now the fresh outbreaks are throwing the zero Covid strategy favored by China and Australia into question, and prompting a larger debate about just how sustainable the approach is, Julia Hollingsworth writes.
Unvaccinated dad records days of regret in hospital – and makes heartbreaking request for daughter’s wedding in case he dies
Some politicians are using Covid-era misinformation to side with lies
The father of several children has been in a hospital in Bristol since late July, and has been recording a video diary of sorts from his room, documenting a startling roller coaster of declines and improvement. “I messed up big time, guys,” he said through an oxygen mask in one video posted to Facebook on Wednesday. “I didn’t get the vaccine … I made a mistake, I admit it.”
In two interviews with CNN from his hospital bed this week, he said he didn’t get vaccinated because he thought he’d had Covid before. On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study suggesting that people who got Covid-19 in 2020 and didn’t get a Covid-19 vaccine were more than twice as likely to be reinfected in May or June 2021, compared with people who also had Covid-19 but were later fully vaccinated.
Pregnant? Get vaccinated.
The myth that kids can’t get seriously sick from Covid-19 has been further debunked as more children get hospitalized during the Delta variant surge.
Since this time last year, more than 45,000 children have been hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the CDC. As of Saturday, an average of 203 child Covid-19 patients were admitted to US hospitals every day over the past week, CDC data shows. That’s a 21.4% increase from the previous week in the number of new children getting hospitalized every day with Covid-19.