August 27, 2021

Covid-19 roundup: What new studies reveal about 'booster' shots

Daily Briefing

    The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that global coronavirus cases may be stabilizing, Moderna completes its data submission for full FDA approval of its vaccine, and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.

    • New studies from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer-BioNTech suggest that booster shots can dramatically increase antibodies against the coronavirus, the New York Times reports. According to J&J, a study of 17 people who received a booster shot six to eight months after their first dose found that participants had "a rapid and robust increase in spike-binding antibodies, nine-fold higher" than antibodies after the first dose. Similarly, Pfizer-BioNTech reported that a study with 306 participants who received a booster shot five to eight months after their second shot found that their antibody levels more than tripled after the third dose. According to the Times, the companies said they are submitting their study data to FDA for evaluation, and Pfizer-BioNTech has formally asked the agency to authorize its Covid-19 booster shot for individuals ages 16 and older. (Zimmer/LaFraniere, New York Times, 8/25; Doherty, Axios, 8/25)
    • FDA last week urged people to stop using ivermectin—a drug used to treat parasites in animals—to treat or prevent the coronavirus. The agency's guidance cautioned against using medications intended for animals and explained that "[i]vermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans." The agency's statement comes after the Mississippi State Health Department sent a letter warning health workers of an increase in poison control calls due to ivermectin ingestion. According to the letter, at least 70% of the calls at the Mississippi Poison Control Center were "related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations purchased at livestock supply centers." (Gonzalez, Axios, 8/21)
    • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Wednesday acknowledged an additional 12,000 coronavirus deaths that had not been reported under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). "We’re now releasing more data than had been released before publicly, so people know the nursing home deaths and the hospital deaths are consistent with what’s being displayed by the CDC," Hochul said. According to the Associated Press, the number of coronavirus deaths published by the Cuomo administration had been significantly lower than data from the CDC, prompting allegations that his administration withheld data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, Axios reports. The state is now reporting 55,395 Covid-19 deaths, up from 43,400, which was reported on Monday during Cuomo's final coronavirus news briefing. (Knutson, Axios, 8/25)
    • WHO on Tuesday said that the number of global coronavirus cases is now stabilizing after months of steady increases, The Hill reports. According to the Associated Press, worldwide infections are now seemingly steady at 4.5 million cases a week. While coronavirus cases have increased by 20% and 8% in the Western Pacific and the Americas, respectively, cases have either decreased or remained constant in other areas of the world. WHO also reported that there were nearly 68,000 new Covid-19 deaths worldwide. Europe and the Americas were the only areas where deaths increased by almost 10%. (Jenkins, The Hill, 8/25)
    • India on Wednesday granted emergency approval to the world's first DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine, which is called ZyCoV-D. The vaccine, which was developed by Zydus Cadila, requires three doses and is administered without using needles, Axios reports. According to Bloomberg, Phase 3 trials of the vaccine, which included more than 28,000 participants in 50 locations, showed a 67% efficacy rate. The company noted that the vaccine study was completed "during the peak of second wave of Covid-19, reaffirming the vaccine’s efficacy against the new mutant strains, especially the delta variant," Bloomberg reports. ZyCoV-D is the sixth vaccine approved for use in India, and around 9.3% of the country's population has been fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. (Gonzalez, Axios, 8/21; Shrivastava/Lyu, Bloomberg, 7/1)
    • Moderna on Wednesday announced that it completed its submission for full FDA approval of its Covid-19 vaccine. According to The Hill, Moderna began submitting data to the agency for full approval of its vaccine for individuals 18 or older in June. In a statement, Stéphane Bancel, the company's CEO, said, that the submission is an "important milestone in our battle against Covid-19 and for Moderna." The company has also applied for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for people ages 12 and older, The Hill reports. (Sullivan, The Hill, 8/25)
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