Johnson & Johnson, the only major drug manufacturer to develop a single-dose Covid vaccine, announced Friday that its injection provided reliable protection in clinical trials.
If the Food and Drug Administration grants the company an emergency license, it will ship more vaccines to the United States as the Biden administration seeks to immunize many more Americans.
An important caveat was added to the results: In the United States, the efficacy of the vaccine in clinical trials was 72%. But in South Africa, a country hit by a new, more contagious variant, effectiveness dropped to 57%.
This variant, which has spread to at least 31 countries, including the United States, could also affect the effectiveness of the Covida vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax.
Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading US expert on infectious diseases, warned that the results of the Johnson & Johnson study are a warning and urged manufacturers to be ready to adjust the composition of vaccines if necessary.
If there was a reason to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible with the vaccine we have now, now is the time, Dr. Fauci said in an interview.
Scientists still consider Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine a success: It is 85% effective in preventing serious illness. In the three regions where the study was conducted – the United States, Latin America and South Africa – none of the vaccinated participants who developed Covid-19 had been hospitalized after 28 days. It is also easier to transport and handle than its competitors.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines must be stored at extremely low temperatures and spoil quickly after thawing. This could facilitate the spread of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to poorer parts of the world, where more aggressive mutants might otherwise be seeded.
Meanwhile, in Europe: The EU has approved AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, but has temporarily restricted the shipment abroad of doses produced in the block. The UK, a former member of the bloc, has received a steady stream of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine since the vaccine was approved in early December, well ahead of the European Union.
Restaurants in New York City will be able to open 25% on Valentine’s Day, more than a month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down service to combat the second wave of the coronavirus.
For the restaurant industry, this announcement was a source of hope. The virus destroyed a major industry, shutting down restaurants and bars and destroying thousands of jobs. More tables inside, especially on the coldest days of the year, can help some businesses hold out until the weather warms up.
Cote, a top-of-the-line Korean grill, will be able to double the number of people it can serve in its outdoor booths, which currently number about 50. He already has 100 reservations for Valentine’s Day.
Now that we’re open inside, we don’t have to bleed tens of thousands of dollars every week, says owner Simon Kim.
These changes will be a welcome economic boost, but they come at an incredibly dangerous time in the state’s fight against a virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 42,500 people in New York State.
Although hospitalizations and infection rates have begun to decline in the state after a post-holiday peak, vaccination has been slow to take hold; to date, only 6% of New York City’s population has been vaccinated. More than 40 cases of the most contagious British variant have also been detected across the country.
Despite concerns about viruses, New Yorkers from the food industry rushed to secure one of the coveted reservations for the 14th. February to book in. Café Luxembourg, a cozy French bistro, immediately received many, many calls, says Judy Wong, the manager.
Covid-19 vaccines ‘
Answering questions about your vaccine
Am I eligible for the Covida vaccine in my state?
More than 150 million people, almost half the population, can now be vaccinated. But it’s up to each state to decide who starts as a last resort. Twenty-one million health care workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials asked all states to make all people 65 and older and adults of any age with conditions that put them at high risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19 eligible for assistance. Adults in the general population are on the tail. If federal and state health officials can resolve vaccine distribution bottlenecks, all people 16 and older could be vaccinated this spring or early summer. The vaccine is not yet approved for use in children, but research is ongoing. It can take months for the vaccine to be administered to people under the age of 16. Check your state’s Public Health website for up-to-date information on vaccination requirements in your area.
Is the vaccine free?
You do not have to pay anything out of pocket to get vaccinated, but you will be asked about your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you should still get vaccinated for free. This spring, Congress passed a law prohibiting insurers from offering any form of cost-sharing, such as co-payments or deductibles. It has provided additional protection by prohibiting pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from billing patients even if they are uninsured. However, health experts are concerned that patients could fall through loopholes, leaving them vulnerable to unexpected bills. This could happen to those who charge for doctor visits along with their vaccinations, or to Americans who have certain types of health insurance not covered by the new rules. If you get vaccinated at a doctor’s office or emergency room, talk to them about any hidden costs. To avoid an unpleasant bill, it is best to get vaccinated at your local health department or pharmacy as soon as vaccines become available again.
Can I choose which vaccine I get?
What is the shelf life of the vaccine? Do I need another one next year?
It needs to be defined. Perhaps the Covid 19 vaccine will become an annual event, just like the flu vaccine. The benefits of the vaccine can also last longer than a year. We will have to wait and see how long the protection of the vaccine lasts. To find out, researchers will follow vaccinated people to look for rupture cases, that is, people who contract Covid-19 despite their vaccination. This is a sign of reduced protection and gives researchers clues about the duration of the vaccination. They will also monitor antibody and T-cell levels in the blood of vaccinated individuals to determine if and when a second vaccination may be needed. It is conceivable that people may need a reminder every few months, once a year or just once every few years. Just wait for the data.
Does my employer have to vaccinate me?
Where can I find out more?
We are always preparing for change, Wong said of the state’s limitations. And it was a welcome change.
- A highly transmissible variant from South Africa has been identified in the United States, with two cases in South Carolina.
- The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in Mexico exceeded that of India on Thursday and was the third highest in the world after Brazil and the United States.
- The University of Michigan advised students to stay home after at least 14 people signed up for the new option.
Here’s a breakdown of the restrictions in all 50 states.
- After months of delay, V.H.O. scientists began fieldwork to determine the origin of the pandemic in Wuhan, China.
- WHO no longer opposes vaccination of pregnant women unless they are at high risk.
- Canada will suspend flights to several stations in Mexico and the Caribbean to prevent new options from being released. This is just not the time to get on a plane, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
- France and Germany have imposed travel restrictions to combat the spread of the variants.
Carol Landry, writer and editor of Team Briefings, wrote about her time in a part of the world where the coronavirus is almost completely absent.
Today my family and I begin the long journey back to New York, after nearly two months in a world largely free of Covid. We spent time with our family on Cape Breton Island, at the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia, where we met friends, visited restaurants, went shopping and basically immersed ourselves in the Do Times.
There are currently three active Covid Falls in the island area and nine active waterfalls throughout the province of Nova Scotia. The people here are not entirely helpless – the wearing of masks is strictly enforced and social distancing is taken seriously, as I learned when I crossed arrows on the grocery store floor.
I was struck by how much less stressful our stay here was. In New York, travel was risky. I realize now that we were living under constant, but exhausting, low stress.
I so enjoy being back in society, talking face to face with friends. I feel like I see a post-pandemic future, and, my friends, that’s wonderful.
Let us know how you are coping with the pandemic. Send us your answer here and we may publish it in a future newsletter.
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Carol Landry contributed to today’s newsletter.