China fully vaccinates 1 billion people, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards nearly $470 million for studies on "long Covid," and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.
- Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine may be more effective than Pfizer-BioNTech's and Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) vaccines at preventing hospitalization from the disease, according to study from CDC. The study, which is the largest U.S. study to date of the vaccines' real-world effectiveness, included 32,000 people treated in hospitals, EDs, and urgent care clinics in nine states between June and early August. Researchers found that Moderna's vaccine was 95% effective at preventing hospitalization. In comparison, Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine was 80%, and J&J's vaccine was 60% effective. Overall, the three vaccines were collectively 86% effective at preventing hospitalization. According to the Washington Post, while CDC did not explain why Moderna's shot may be more protective against hospitalization, one possible reason is that Moderna's vaccine dose is three times higher than Pfizer-BioNTech's and requires a longer interval between shots. (Anderson, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/13; Sun/Achenbach, Washington Post, 9/10)
- The United States has now reached more than 665,800 Covid-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University—indicating that roughly one in 500 Americans have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the Washington Post, the highest death rates have been among older adults, with one in 150 deaths occurring among those ages 65 to 84 and one in 35 occurring among those 85 and older. However, younger populations in certain groups, including Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, have experienced higher Covid-19 death rates than others, underscoring racial disparities in the coronavirus's impact. "So often when we think about the majority of the country who have lost people to Covid-19, we think about the elders that have been lost, not necessarily younger people,” Abigail Echo-Hawk, EVP of the Seattle Indian Health Board and director of the Urban Indian Health Institute, said. "Unfortunately, this is not my reality nor that of the Native community." (Keating et al., Washington Post, 9/15; Bacon et al., USA Today, 9/15)
- A study from the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics found that just 0.5% of all Covid-19 deaths in the first six months of this year were due to breakthrough infections, The Hill reports. In the study, researchers examined 51,281 Covid-19 related deaths between Jan. 2 and July 2. They found that 640 deaths, or 1.2%, had occurred among the vaccinated, but some had been infected before their second dose or before protection from the second dose was effective. In total, 256 deaths were identified as "breakthrough deaths," making up 0.5% of all Covid-19 deaths in the country. According to the researchers, the median age of individuals who experienced a "breakthrough death" was 84 years old compared with a median age of 82 for other deaths overall, including from Covid-19. In addition, more than 60% of the people with breakthrough deaths were male, and more than 75% were classified as "clinically extremely vulnerable," meaning they had chronic illnesses that increased their risk of death from Covid-19, the Wall Street Journal reports. Overall, Covid-19 deaths accounted for 0.8% of all deaths among those who had been fully vaccinated during the period included in the study, The Hill reports. In contrast, Covid-19 deaths made up 37.4% of all deaths among those who were unvaccinated during the same time frame. (Schnell, The Hill, 9/13; Douglas, Wall Street Journal, 9/13)
- China on Thursday announced that it had fully vaccinated 1 billion people against Covid-19, a milestone figure that brings the country closer to meeting its goal of vaccinating 80% of its population by the end of the year, the New York Times reports. Currently, 71% of China's 1.4 billion residents have been fully vaccinated. According to Our World in Data, China has administered 2.16 billion vaccine doses, which is nearly three times more than India, which is ranked second in number of doses given at 752.7 million. Since the arrival of the delta variant in China, the country has worked to expand access to vaccines, with health care workers going door-to-door and nurses administering vaccines to farmers working in fields. Several Chinese city leaders have also warned residents that those who refuse vaccination could be punished if found responsible for spreading outbreaks, the Times reports. (Wee/Chen, New York Times, 9/16)
- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday announced that the number of new coronavirus cases worldwide decreased for the first time in more than two months, The Hill reports. According to WHO, 4 million cases were reported globally last week—down from nearly 4.4 million new weekly infections reported previously. The United Nations health agency also said that every region around the world experienced a decline in new cases compared to the week before. The number of global Covid-19 deaths also dropped to around 62,000, with the largest decline seen in Southeast Asia, The Hill reports. Currently, the countries reporting the highest number of Covid-19 cases are the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, and Turkey, primarily due to the spread of the delta variant. (Jenkins, The Hill, 9/15)
- NIH on Wednesday awarded approximately $470 million to New York University Langone Health for a nationwide project studying the long-term effects of Covid-19. Through NIH's Researching Covid to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) project, more than 100 researchers at 30-plus institutions will receive funding for existing and new studies on Covid-19 "long-haulers." According to Axios, the studies will include adult, pregnant, and pediatric participants. Researchers will track real-time data through wearable devices and smartphones, as well as analyze millions of electronic health records. "We know some people have had their lives completely upended by the major long-term effects of COVID-19,” NIH Director Francis Collins said. “These studies will aim to determine the cause and find much needed answers to prevent this often-debilitating condition and help those who suffer move toward recovery." (Fernandez, Axios, 9/15; American Hospital Association, 9/15)