J&J Jab Efficacy; Delta Now 83% of New U.S. Cases: Virus Update

One dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is much less effective against the delta and lambda variants than against the original strain of the virus, the New York Times reported, citing a study that hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. Delta now makes up 83% of all sequenced cases in the U.S., up from 50% in early July, health authorities said.

A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that the country’s self-isolation rules aren’t optional following some mixed messaging from a government minister.

France has seen a jump in vaccinations since President Emmanuel Macron announced that passes showing proof of testing or immunization will be required in restaurants and cafes. Apple Inc. is pushing back its return-to-office deadline because of the resurgence in cases across many countries.

Tokyo’s infections continue to rise with just a couple of days left until the Olympics, and more Japanese companies have decided against sending executives to Friday’s opening ceremony.

One Dose of J&J Less Effective Against Delta (5:30 p.m. NY)

A study found Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is much less effective against the delta and lambda variants than against the original virus, the New York Times reported. The lab-based findings, which haven’t been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal, suggest the need for a second dose for the 13 million people who have received the inoculation. The authors of the study recommended an mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer Inc.-Biontech SE or Moderna Inc. as the second shot.

The results contrast those from smaller studies published by J&J earlier this month that suggested a single dose of its vaccine is effective against delta even eight months after inoculation, the Times said. Seema Kumar, a J&J spokeswoman, told the newspaper that the new data “do not speak to the full nature of immune protection.”

The new study is credible because the authors don’t have ties to any vaccine makers, John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told the Times. He cited several studies in monkeys and people that show that two doses of the J&J vaccine are more effective than just one.

The data should prompt the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider its recommendation that fully vaccinated people don’t need booster shots, said Nathaniel Landau, a virologist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, who led the study.

Pelosi Staffer, White House Aide Test Positive (3:10 p.m. NY)

A senior spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a White House official have tested positive for Covid-19. Both had been fully vaccinated and are among several staffers in Congress and at the White House who’ve been recently infected.

The Pelosi staff member had no contact with the speaker since being exposed, Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, said in a statement. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that contract tracing had determined that the infected staff there had no close contact with senior people or President Joe Biden.

Delta Now Accounts for 83% of U.S. Cases (11:45 a.m. NY)

The delta variant now makes up 83% of all sequenced Covid-19 cases in the U.S., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said in a Senate hearing. The new figure is up from 50% from the week of July 3. She said areas of the country with limited vaccination coverage are allowing spread of the highly transmissible variant, which was first identified in India.

“Each death is tragic and even more heartbreaking when we know that the majority of these deaths can be prevented with a simple, safe, available vaccine,” Walensky said.

NYC Daily Vaccination Rate Drops to 15,000 (10:30 a.m. NY)

New York City’s vaccine administration rate has plunged to less than 15,000 a day, from more than 100,000 a day in mid-April, as cases increase.

The city has fully vaccinated 4.5 million residents, data show, falling short of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal to have 5 million New Yorkers fully vaccinated by June.

The city reported a seven-day average of 576 confirmed and probable cases on July 18, more than double the average on July 6.

Hospitalizations have edged up just slightly. Almost all of those admitted for Covid-19 haven’t been vaccinated, according to Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi. “This is preventable suffering,” he said on Twitter.

Netherlands Weekly Cases Rise (9:10 a.m. NY)

The Netherlands reported 69,731 weekly cases on Tuesday, up from 51,957 last week. The number of hospitalizations has gone up in recent days, though at a slower pace than infections. Official figures showed 50 new admissions on Monday, the biggest daily increase since May 10.

The Dutch government has reintroduced some restrictions, including limiting opening hours for bars, while a recommendation for people to work from home if possible was reinstated from Monday.

Indonesia May Begin Easing Curbs (9:05 a.m. NY)

Indonesia may start to gradually ease nationwide emergency curbs if cases and levels of hospital occupancy decline. The government may relax the restrictions starting July 26 if cases continue to fall, according to President Joko Widodo. This will include allowing some eateries and shops to stay open for longer, Jokowi, as the president is known, said in a televised address on Tuesday.

J&J Jab Efficacy; Delta Now 83% of New U.S. Cases: Virus Update

Mauritius Outbreaks Among Vaccinated Workers (8:52 a.m. NY)

Mauritius recorded a record daily number of cases after outbreaks among vaccinated foreign factory workers living in hostels, according to the Health Ministry.

The Indian Ocean island nation, which reopened its borders to tourists last week, added 368 new infections on Monday, with 305 of them being factory workers and almost all asymptomatic. Foreign labor in the country’s export-oriented manufacturing industry accounts for 47% of total employment.

Mauritius is seeking to revive its tourism industry after ramping up vaccinations, and about a third of its 1.3 million people are fully inoculated.

French Shots Surge After Passes Announced (7:51 a.m. NY)

France’s vaccination rollout is accelerating after President Emmanuel Macron announced that “health passes” — showing proof of testing or immunization — will be required in restaurants and cafes.

A Health Ministry official said at a briefing that 4.3 million injections were administered last week, including 1.7 million first doses. In another record, 880,000 shots were administered on Friday. And this week saw the best Monday of the rollout, the official said.

French vaccinations are proceeding twice as much fast as the rollouts in Italy and Germany, the official said. After Macron’s speech, the number of online vaccine appointments climbed to 520,000 daily from 140,000 daily in early July. France will reach its target of 40 million first doses ahead of schedule, the official said.

U.K. Says Self-Isolation Crucial (7:20 a.m. NY)

The U.K. government insisted people told to isolate by the National Health Service contact-tracing mobile app can’t ignore the advice. Earlier, a minister had said it was “optional” and not legally binding.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Press Association that “isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.” The mixed messaging came after Business Minister Paul Scully told Times Radio on Tuesday “it is up to individuals and employers” whether they isolate after being “pinged.”

Iran Reports Most Deaths in Two Months (6:27 a.m. NY)

Iran reported a record number of new cases, with 27,444 in the past 24 hours. The country also posted its highest daily death toll in two months, at 250. The latest figures bring Iran’s total infections to more than 3.5 million and its fatalities to 87,624. About 2% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to Health Ministry data.

Hong Kong, Singapore Travel Bubble Review (4:38 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong and Singapore agreed to conduct a review in late August on whether to implement a quarantine-free air travel bubble, the Hong Kong government said on its website. The condition for launching the bubble couldn’t be met for the time being given the recent surge of confirmed cases in Singapore.

Tokyo Cases Continue to Rise Before Olympics (4:27 a.m. NY)

J&J Jab Efficacy; Delta Now 83% of New U.S. Cases: Virus Update

With just three days left until the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese capital’s cases continue to rise, with 1,387 confirmed on Tuesday, up from 830 a week earlier. The seven-day average, at 1,180, has roughly doubled over the past two weeks.

Infections among Olympics staff, athletes and others linked to the games are also increasing. Organizers say a total of 71 people have tested positive, including 31 who are among the tens of thousands of international visitors expected in Japan to compete or work at the Olympics.

Meanwhile, more Japanese companies have decided against sending executives to Friday’s opening ceremony.

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