Fauci Floats Three Doses; U.S. Hospitals Strained: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Three doses of Covid-19 vaccine may become the standard regimen for most people, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said. His comments came as medical experts who advise U.S. regulators on vaccines are chafing at what they perceive as political interference by the Biden administration in the review process of booster shots.
Children’s hospitals in Ohio pleaded with the public to get vaccinated, saying more kids are in intensive-care units with Covid-19 “than ever before.” Indiana’s largest health-care system said it will temporarily halt inpatient elective surgeries and other procedures starting Monday.
Israel, one of the world’s most-vaccinated nations, reported record cases amid widespread testing of children ahead of the opening of the school year. In India, increasing cases are raising concerns about a potential new wave.
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Fauci Says Three Doses Could Become Norm (4:15 p.m. NY)
Three doses of Covid-19 vaccine may become the standard regimen for most people, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Thursday at a briefing.
A study in Israel showed dramatic improvement in protection among recipients of three doses of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, normally given in two doses, Fauci said. If the gains last, “you’re going to have very likely a three-dose regimen being the routine regimen,” he said.
The durability of immunity will need to be confirmed when data are presented to the Food and Drug Administration, Fauci added.
Third of Wyoming Patients Have Covid (4:11 p.m. NY)
In Wyoming, about 30% of patients at the state’s largest hospital were being treated for Covid-19 Thursday with the majority under age 65, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. “It is rare at any time for a quarter of patients to be hospitalized for a single diagnosis. And, many of those hospitalizations could have been prevented had the patients chosen to receive the vaccine,” Mandy Cepeda, a spokesperson for Wyoming Medical Center, told the newspaper. As of Thursday morning, there were 42 virus patients at the facility in Casper.
U.S. Invests to Expand Vaccine Manufacturing (3:53 p.m. NY)
The U.S. government will allocate $2.7 billion to expand vaccine manufacturing, though it’s not yet clear which companies will receive the funds, President Joe Biden’s Covid response team announced.
The money will be used to increase production of ingredients and supplies used to make vaccines. It will support the manufacturing of raw materials, vials and syringes, as well as the bottling process known as fill-finish, according to an official familiar with the plan.
The investment will “help us deliver on the president’s commitment to be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and strengthen our long-term capabilities to respond to future threats,” White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a briefing Thursday.
Indiana System Halts Elective Procedures (3:29 p.m. NY)
Indiana University Health, the state’s largest health-care system, said it will temporarily halt inpatient elective surgeries and other procedures starting Monday. “The surge of Covid-19 patient volumes has continued to accelerate at a rapid pace, and this temporary change is needed to further relieve pressure on our care teams and to free up space for critically ill patients,” the system said in a statement.
Indiana has more than 2,300 patients hospitalized for Covid-19 compared with about 400 at the start of July, state data show.
North Carolina Schools Masking Up (2:34 p.m. NY)
North Carolina’s schools have rapidly been adopting mask mandates, now with 106 of the state’s 115 districts requiring them, said Betsey Tilson, the state health director, according to the News and Observer. About half the districts changed their minds since the start of August, she said, amid the spread of the delta variant, which has hit children harder than previous viral waves. Two districts have suspended in-person learning.
Children’s Hospitals Warn of Kids in ICU (2:20 p.m. NY)
Children’s hospitals in Ohio pleaded with the public to get vaccinated, saying more kids are in intensive-care units with Covid-19 “than ever before” and the “pediatric safety net” is under unprecedented strain.
In an open letter on Thursday, the six hospitals also asked Ohioans to wear a mask, including during school, and to take other common measures to avoid infection. It’s the latest local alert about the Covid risks related to children, the youngest of whom aren’t eligible for vaccines in the U.S.
About 56% of Ohio residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, compared with 61% nationwide, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Maryland Passes Vaccine Milestone (1:37 p.m. NY)
Maryland has administered at least one shot to 80% of the eligible population, Governor Larry Hogan announced. That compares with 72.4% of all people in the U.S. 12 years and older, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Amtrak Mandates Vaccines for Employees (12:12 p.m. NY)
Amtrak will require all of its employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 1.
“The science is clear,” Bill Flynn, chief executive officer of the passenger rail line, said in an email to passengers signed up for Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program. “The Covid-19 vaccines are safe, effective and lifesaving. They are proving effective against the current surge of variants, especially at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death.”
Amtrak joins United Airlines in requiring vaccines for transportation workers. Delta Airlines has announced a health care surcharge for unvaccinated workers.
Nebraska Shores Up Hospitals (12:05 p.m. NY)
Nebraska is re-establishing a special center to coordinate patient transfers between stressed hospitals as Covid-19 overwhelms the health-care system again, the Omaha World-Herald reports. The state last week declared a hospital staffing emergency. Nebraska’s larger hospitals currently report daily occupancy rates of 85% to 100%, reflecting both Covid-19 and other admissions, the newspaper reported.
U.S Ships More Antibody Therapeutics (11:31 a.m. NY)
U.S. shipments of monoclonal antibody therapeutics for Covid-19 have surged during the latest wave of infections, with the government distributing one treatment for every five cases.
The U.S. shipped 200,513 doses for the week of Aug. 18, a five-fold increase from a month earlier, according to the latest data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the same period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported just shy of a million new cases.
Italy Weighs Compulsory Vaccination (11:18 a.m. NY)
Italy will eventually make vaccination compulsory, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a press conference in Rome on Thursday.
Italy will also start administering a third vaccine shot from September, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, adding that the campaign will start from those with a weak immune system. Speranza stressed that vaccination is already required for health workers, and that this requirement could be expanded to other groups.
The country expanded the use of the EU’s vaccine passport, the so-called “green pass,” this month, and will continue adding activities and venues for which it is required.
Israel Hits Record Cases (11:08 a.m. NY)
Israel reported a record of 11,187 new cases, topping the previous record of 11,140 recorded earlier in the week, amid widespread testing of children ahead of the opening of the school year. The percentage of positive tests rose to 7.92%, the highest for the current wave of infections, but only about half the rate at the end of last September.
About 30% of the new cases were children age 0-11 and an additional 13% were teenagers age 12-18. Serious cases declined to 666, well below levels recorded at the beginning of the year.
Israel had one of the earliest vaccine drives, and health officials said this week that the effects of the shots weaken five months after inoculation. The country started giving booster shots and eligibility has been gradually expanded to include the entire population aged 12 and over.
Biden’s Booster Plan Faces Pushback (10:33 a.m. NY)
Medical experts who advise U.S. regulators on vaccines are chafing at what they perceive as political interference in the review process by the Biden administration.
Last month, the White House announced plans to begin distributing Covid-19 booster shots to Americans Sept. 20. However, the effort still needs the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to sign off. Members of a key panel that advises the CDC on vaccines have pushed back consideration of the plan to mid-September and said this week they were concerned that politics was getting ahead of the process.
It’s “very frightening to me that health-care providers are trying to do the best job that they can, and are taking guidance from HHS and the White House,” said Helen Talbot, a Vanderbilt University professor of medicine and member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, in a meeting Monday.
Long-Covid Risk Reduced in Double Vaccinated (8 a.m. NY)
New data from the U.K.’s Zoe Study suggest that those who are fully vaccinated have lower risk of long-term symptoms and fewer near-term symptoms, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s Sam Fazeli.
Separate studies show fully vaccinated people may be less infectious than those who haven’t been vaccinated, and a reduction in mutation frequency of the virus in countries with high vaccination rates.
Europe’s Poorer East Far Behind on Vaccines (5:19 p.m. HK)
The European Union this week celebrated reaching a key milestone of 70% fully vaccinated. But in the bloc’s poorest country, the rate hasn’t reached a quarter.
The figures in Bulgaria stand out as extreme, but also capture an east-west divide that’s gotten worse in recent months. Bulgaria has fully vaccinated just 20% of adults, while its neighbor Romania is at 32%.
Unvaccinated UBS Staff Can Work From Home (4:30 p.m. HK)
UBS Group AG staff who don’t wish to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus can apply to work from home, Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers said, signaling a flexible approach on a topic that’s disrupting banks’ effort to get workers back to their desks.
“We have 25,000 employees alone in the U.S. and thousands more in Singapore and Hong Kong, and every country has a different legal framework around what you can and can’t make mandatory” with respect to vaccines, Hamers said at the Swiss Economic Forum in Interlaken on Thursday.
As Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS has around 70,000 staff worldwide.
EU Regulator Sees No Urgent Booster Need (4:25 p.m. HK)
The European Medicines Agency said there is no urgent need for booster doses for fully vaccinated people, according to a statement. The regulator also said that additional doses should already be considered for people with severely weakened immune systems as part of their primary vaccination.
Earlier, Portugal said it’s recommending that people over 16 with immunosuppression get an additional dose of a mRNA vaccine.
India Cases Raise Fears of Third Wave (1:26 p.m. HK)
India’s increase in daily case numbers is raising concerns of a possible third wave. The country reported 47,092 new cases, including 509 deaths, on Thursday, marking the highest daily infections in two months. This is driven by surging numbers in the southern state of Kerala, which has contributed 70% of the total.
India has 32.86 million confirmed cases, including 439,529 deaths and administered a total of 663 million vaccine doses so far.
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