The vaccines developed by Pfizer with German partner BioNTech and Moderna using mRNA technology may offer protection against the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 for years, according to a new study published Monday.
The study, conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests that people vaccinated with those shots may not need boosters, as long as the virus does not mutate or give rise to new vaccine-resistant variants. It also found that people who have recovered from COVID before being vaccinated “produced the most robust serologic responses,” showing they enjoy a strong immune response.
The study has been peer-reviewed, according to Nature, although it published it before copy editing and proofing.
Separately, an Oxford University study found that a third dose of the AstraZeneca
vaccine administered more than six months after the second could boost protection against COVID-19. The researchers found that a third dose leads to a substantial increase in antibodies and induces a strong boost to immune response against the virus, including variants. The findings, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, were published in a preprint study on Monday.
The news comes at a time when many countries are struggling to stop the spread of a highly infectious variant of COVID dubbed the delta variant, which was first detected in India but is now in at least 85 countries, according to the World Health Organization. That variant has created clusters in Australia, in what some experts have described as the country’s most dangerous stage of the pandemic since its earliest days, as the Associated Press reported.
Sydney in the east and Darwin in the north were locked down on Monday. Perth in the west made masks compulsory for three days and warned a lockdown could follow after a resident tested positive after visiting Sydney more than a week ago.
Brisbane and Canberra have or will soon make wearing masks compulsory. South Australia state announced new statewide restrictions from Tuesday.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing clusters throughout the pandemic, registering fewer than 31,000 cases since the pandemic began. But the new clusters have highlighted the nation’s slow vaccine rollout, with only 5% of the population fully vaccinated.
In a sign of just how fast the delta variant moves, most of the new cases stem from a Sydney limousine driver who tested positive on June 16. The driver, who was not vaccinated, reportedly drove a foreign air crew from the Sydney airport while not wearing a face mask.
Elsewhere, South Africa has reimposed strict restrictions on movement, extended a nightly curfew and banned alcohol sales as it works to contain a surge of delta-driven cases. South Africa recorded more than 15,000 new cases Sunday, including 122 deaths, bringing its total fatalities to nearly 60,000, the AP reported.
Russia’s two biggest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, recorded record deaths in a single day from COVID on Sunday, the Moscow Times reported. Moscow counted 124 deaths, while St. Petersburg counted 110. Russia is also struggling with a wave of delta cases and is having a tough time persuading its citizens to get vaccinated. Russia has vaccinated just 11.7% of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
In the U.S., vaccine efforts are now firmly focused on persuading unvaccinated people to roll up their sleeves, and the administration of President Joe Biden is rallying senior officials to push the message, the AP reported. The government is also devising ads for certain markets and enlisting community organizers, reminding people that the delta variant has taken hold in the U.S. and is infecting many young and unvaccinated people.
“We’re not just going to do the mass vaccination sites,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “It’s door-to-door. It’s mobile clinics. We’re doing vaccinations at church, the PTA meeting, the barber shop, the grocery store.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker is showing that 153 million Americans, equal to 46.1% of the entire population, are fully vaccinated. That means they have had two shots of the Pfizer-BionNTech
Among adults 18 and over, almost 59% are fully inoculated, while 66% have received at least one dose.
The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness headed above 181 million on Monday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while deaths climbed above 3.9 million.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in total cases with 33.6 million, while deaths, now totaling 603,967, also rank first globally.
India is second in total cases at 30.3 million and third by fatalities at 396,730, although those numbers are expected to be undercounted given a shortage of tests.
Brazil has the third highest caseload at 18.4 million, according to Johns Hopkins data, and is second in deaths at 513,474.
Mexico has fourth highest death toll at 232,564 and 2.5 million cases.
In Europe, Russia has overtaken the U.K. by deaths. Russia has 131,671 fatalities, while the U.K. has 128,364, making Russia the country with the fifth highest death toll in the world and the highest in Europe.
China, where the virus was first discovered late in 2019, has had 103,727 confirmed cases and 4,847 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.