July 9 coronavirus news

By Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:02 PM ET, Fri July 9, 2021
21 Posts
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8:01 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

It's normal for vaccine immunity to decline over time, Pfizer researcher says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

It is “not unusual” for vaccine-induced immunity to wane over time in the world of vaccine production, Dr. Stephen Thomas, coordinating principal investigator for Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine trial, said Friday.

“For those of us that have been making vaccines for a long time, it is not unusual for immune responses after vaccination to wane over time,” Thomas told CNN. “What is the crucial point though, and which we don’t know the answer to right now is, even though that immunity wanes over time, does it remain above a level which we need to protect people?”

Thomas said even though protection from vaccination may decline over time, it’s important to focus on the relative risk posed by a Covid-19 infection. 

“I would kind of focus people on the point here, that the public health burden of Covid is severe disease, hospitalization and death,” he said. “Even though these vaccine immune responses wane over time, they are very, very effective at preventing those three outcomes.”

7:22 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Fauci approves of in-person school guidance from CDC

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that he agrees with new guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which recommends a return to in-person school for children this fall.

“I think that the message from the CDC is clear and I totally agree with them,” Fauci told CNN. “We want all the children back in in-person classes in the fall term.”

The guidance places in-person learning as the priority this fall even if not all mitigation measures can be implemented. It also encourages vaccination for all eligible people.

“Obviously, depending upon the age of the children, some will be vaccinated, some not. Those who are not vaccinated should be wearing masks,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The CDC says they’d like to maintain the three-foot distance and if they can’t, they’re going to work around it, do other things, make sure there is good ventilation."

“The message is loud and clear: come the fall, we want the children back in school," he added.

7:09 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Delta variant combined with low vaccination rates could create "mini-surges," Fauci says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

The spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, particularly in under-vaccinated regions, could create localized “mini-surges,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday.

“I’m very disturbed by the fact that there is a substantial proportion of people in the country, generally geographically and ideologically localized, who don’t want to get vaccinated,” Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Those communities are at particular risk from the Delta variant of Covid-19, Fauci said. 

“We know it transmits much more efficiently than the original virus and it very likely has a greater degree of pathogenicity, which means it can make you more sick,” he said. 

“I’m concerned as this variant becomes more dominant, those select areas of the country that have a very low level of vaccination, like 30% or so, you’re going to start seeing mini-surges that are localized to certain regions.”

“You don’t want to see two separate Americas, one that’s vaccinated and protected and yet another that’s unvaccinated and very much at risk,” Fauci said. 
6:59 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Fauci says Pfizer CEO apologized to him for Thursday's surprise booster announcement

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

CNN
CNN

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla apologized to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci for not warning him the company was planning to apply for authorization for a third Covid-19 vaccination booster dose, Fauci told CNN on Friday.

“It was one of those facts of life, that they came out with the announcement without giving us a heads up,” Fauci told CNN.

“The CEO, who is a really good guy, got on the phone with me last night and apologized that they came out with that recommendation,” he said. “Not to apologize about the recommendation, to apologize for not letting us know that he was going to do it ahead of time.”

Fauci said he was pleased with the level of coordination between pharmaceutical companies and the federal government on vaccinations so far.  

6:41 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

California plans to keep masks in place for in-person classes

From CNN’s Brisa Colón

Students wear masks as they return to in-person learning on March 24, in Long Beach, California.
Students wear masks as they return to in-person learning on March 24, in Long Beach, California. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

California plans to keep a face-covering requirement in place to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 when students and staff return to in-person classrooms, a move it says is in line with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance.

The CDC's guidelines state that vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings. Still, California health officials announced today that they will continue to require students and teachers to wear face coverings indoors.

Masks and “robust testing” will be among the mitigation factors schools will be expected to implement, but physical distancing will not be recommended “due to the obstacles it would present to California schools’ fully reopening,” the state health department said Friday.

"We don't think we are diverging at all" from the new CDC guidance, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explained in a news conference Friday. “We believe that with masking and with testing as a as an available option, that we can get kids back here in person 100% in our schools, and we are glad that the CDC supported this vision,” he added.

Ghaly described mask-wearing as the "superior form of mitigation," noting that it is "a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction."

Some context: The updated guidance came as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $123.9 billion Pre-K through K-12 education package focused not just on resuming in-person instruction, but also providing all 4-year-olds' universal Pre-K transitional kindergarten by the year 2025, funding summer school and after school programs, and offering free school nutrition.

Dr. Tomás Aragón, California's public health officer, said that the department is reviewing the CDC's guidance and plans to release official statewide guidance on Monday.

 

6:16 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Fauci says if you're fully vaccinated against Covid-19, "you do not need a booster shot"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a hearing on May 11 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a hearing on May 11 in Washington, DC. (Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, made clear today that if you have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, there is no need for a booster shot.

"The message is very clear, the CDC and the FDA say if you have been fully vaccinated at this point in time, you do not need a booster shot. We're doing the studies to determine if and when, as I mentioned and as data come out, we'll make that available. There is no mixed message here," Fauci said.

Some context: The biopharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Thursday that it has seen waning immunity from its coronavirus vaccine — although efficacy in preventing serious illness remains high — but did not detail the evidence. It said a third dose may be needed six to 12 months after full vaccination.

The company said it would publish "more definitive data soon" and in August would seek emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for a booster dose.

But just hours after Pfizer made its announcement, the FDA and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement saying people who are fully vaccinated do not need booster shots yet.

5:55 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Delta variant cases are surging in Israel and the UK, but deaths aren't following

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

People walk by a sign on June 15 in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
People walk by a sign on June 15 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Getty Images)

As Covid-19 cases rise in the United States and the Delta variant rises in prevalence, trends from Israel and the United Kingdom – where the variant became dominant a few weeks earlier than in the US – present hope for a less deadly and severe surge than others that have come before.

And while there is some evidence that the Delta variant may evade some natural immunity from prior infection and reduce the efficacy of the vaccines, experts say that vaccination progress will be the most critical factor in preventing the worst outcomes.

In Israel, average daily cases are twice what they were in mid-April, when the first cases of Delta were identified in the country. At that time, there were an average of five deaths each day in Israel. But despite the rise of the Delta variant – which now accounts for more than 90% of new cases in the country – average daily deaths have stayed consistently below that. In fact, Israel has had an average of less than two Covid-19 deaths per day since the last week of May, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In the United Kingdom, both cases and deaths are higher than they were when the Delta variant became the dominant strain in the country in mid-May, but cases have climbed exponentially faster than deaths. Average daily deaths in the UK are about twice what they were when the Delta variant became dominant, and cases are about 12 times what they were. Even three weeks ago, cases had climbed to nearly four times what they were when the variant became dominant.

When the first cases of the Delta variant were identified in Israel, about 56% of the population was already fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. But in the UK, only 2% of the population was fully vaccinated when the Delta variant was first identified there, only reaching 50% vaccination within the past week.

Overall, vaccination rates in the US fall somewhere between Israel and the UK. About 16% of the population was fully vaccinated when the first cases of Delta were identified in the US and about 48% are fully vaccinated now that the variant has become dominant. 

“In my mind, vaccines are the single most important factor” in the fight against the Delta variant, Becky Dutch, a virologist and chair of the University of Kentucky’s department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, told CNN.

“The US is a patchwork now,” she said. “It depends on where you live. If you live in a place with high vaccination rates and you’re vaccinated yourself, I’m not overly concerned about you. But if you’re sitting in an area of the country with 35% of the population vaccinated and you’re not vaccinated, I’m much more concerned.”
4:32 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Covid-19 outbreak linked to gymnastics facility infected 47 people, CDC says 

From CNN's Sarah Braner

A Covid-19 outbreak at an Oklahoma gymnastics facility infected 47 people and exposed a total of 194 people over a two-week period in April and May, according to a report released Friday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

Cases included 21 gymnasts, along with three staff members of the facility, and 21 household contacts who caught “secondary cases” of Covid-19 from the initial outbreak. Twenty-one of the 47 cases were available to sequence, and all 21 of them were identified as the more transmissible Delta variant.

The investigation found several potential risk factors at the facility that may have contributed to the outbreak. These include a failure to follow recommended quarantine and testing guidance, not recognizing symptomatic cases, inconsistent mask use, poor ventilation, using the same staff members to treat multiple groups of gymnasts, low vaccination rates, groups training at the same time, and inadequate cleaning of high-touch surfaces. 

Out of all 47 cases, four of them were in people who were fully vaccinated and were mildly symptomatic, while three were partially vaccinated. The remaining 40 were unvaccinated. Two unvaccinated adults were hospitalized, with one requiring intensive care.

Twenty-seven infected people, including one 5-year-old, weren’t eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine by the time the outbreak happened. 

After athletes, staff, and family members were alerted of the outbreak at the facility, on-site testing and vaccination was offered, which led to nine people being vaccinated. 

4:17 p.m. ET, July 9, 2021

Covid-19 vaccines are "highly effective" against hospitalization and death among risk groups, study says

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at Thornton Little Theatre in Thornton-Cleveleys, England, on January 29.
A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at Thornton Little Theatre in Thornton-Cleveleys, England, on January 29. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

The existing Covid-19 vaccines in England are “highly effective” in preventing hospitalization and death among risk groups, Public Health England (PHE) said Friday following a recent study. 

For people in risk groups age 16 to 64, the study showed that “overall vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease in risk groups is approximately 60% after one dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech” and 81% after the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with no data for Pfizer.

According to the study, vaccine effectiveness is even higher for those age 65 and over – the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 89% effective, while AstraZeneca was 80% effective. 

While PHE has said more data is needed, the study’s findings show “protection against hospitalization and death in risk groups is expected to be greater than protection against symptomatic disease, as has been seen in studies of the general population.” 

More context: The study – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – included more than one million people from risk groups, which may include people with “diabetes, severe asthma, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, neurological disease, and diseases or therapies that weaken the immune system – such as blood cancer, HIV or chemotherapy.”