COVID-19 Discussion (No Politics)

The rollout reminds me of the line in Armageddon when Billy Bo Thornton’s character describes the NASA near Earth object collision budget.

Greg’s take - Hopefully we get enough folks vaccinated before we collide with another wave of infection.

The data’s trajectory is so encouraging that I almost don’t want to believe it.

Los Angeles Times

Coronavirus Today

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February 22, 2021 View in browser

Good evening. I’m Thuc Nhi Nguyen , and it’s Monday, Feb. 22. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Last spring, Gov. Gavin Newsom told Californians we couldn’t return to the 2019 version of normal “until we have herd immunity.” At the time, we were just beginning to settle into our first stay-at-home order, making face masks out of T-shirts and still getting used to eyeballing six feet of distance.

It seemed like a far-off dream to reach the point where so many people had immunity to the coronavirus that it would stop spreading because it couldn’t find new hosts. But nearly a year later, that goal might be coming into focus, my colleagues Soumya Karlamangla and Rong-Gong Lin II report.

With coronavirus cases plummeting and vaccinations increasing, “we’re really talking something starting to sound and look like herd immunity,” said UC San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford. “Although that true herd immunity is a ways off in the future.”

Scientists are still unsure of the exact threshold that will be necessary to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus. Some estimate it could happen when 50% of people are immune; others think the figure is closer to 90%.

Each day that new infection rates decline and vaccination rates rise is a day that gets us closer to the goal , though coronavirus variants could slow that progress if they’re more resistant to vaccines or spread more easily. Shifts in behavior could also render the good news moot. Experts continue to stress the importance of following COVID-19 protocols like wearing masks and social distancing. “I don’t want to provide a false sense of assurance here,” said Dr. Paul Simon, L.A. County’s chief science officer.

Researchers at USC estimate that 33% to 55% of people in L.A. County have been infected with the coronavirus, after an autumn and winter surge that killed more than 12,000. Many of the cases were concentrated in low-income neighborhoods, disproportionately affecting Black and Latino people. The uneven geographical distribution of infections may leave some pockets of the county more vulnerable than others, Simon said.

Inequities in vaccine distribution have also been a concern. My colleagues on the data desk showed how the geography of infections intersects with vaccinations by parsing data from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Their maps show that the areas with the highest case rates also have some of the lowest vaccination rates.

For example, 25% of Beverly Hills residents have received the first dose of a two-shot vaccine. In South L.A. and neighboring cities like Compton, where incomes are lower and a majority of residents are Latino, only 5% of residents have been vaccinated.

Numbers like those “clearly indicate very significant inequities in the distribution of vaccine to date,” Simon said. “These inequities are unjust and unacceptable and demand renewed efforts to address them.”

The Times has been tracking the coronavirus outbreak across L.A. County and throughout the state for nearly a year, counting up more than 3.5 million infections and nearly 50,000 deaths. Now our tracker is available in Spanish as well as English.

From the article:

States receive weekly vaccine allocations from the federal government based on their total adult populations.

We have a lot of kids around here (sigh). Maybe those numbers should be adjusted to percentages of adult population only.

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That’s exactly why our numbers are lower.

Cox even had the CDC audit it. We are getting our share.

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Their numbers aren’t correct. Per Utah’s reporting were at 9% fully vaccinated and 18% with one shot.

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Not sure where you got those numbers but according to the state’s Covid site (coronavirus.Utah.gov) 405,203 have gotten their first dose and 206,887 have had their second dose, which is about 12.6 and 6.5% respectively if our state population is 3.206M according to the google machine.

Perhaps your figure is percentage of adult population?

Either way, I’m glad the reason we are low is because of our youthful population. My 80+ year old parents are due to get their second shot mid March, which will be great. My mom’s significant health problems means I’ve basically not seen them in person more than a handful of times in almost a year now despite them living about 4 blocks away.

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Does seem like it makes more sense to report % eligible that are vaccinated (I think that is 16+ right now, younger ages still being tested).

I do wonder about reaching the magic herd immunity as they say it’s probably 75-85% vaccinated (or from having it - booster could help). I assume they are talking about the whole herd including children although they are less likely to catch it/have severe symptoms/pass it on (moreso the younger you get, especially pre-pubescent). Probably why we won’t really know when we reach it until we do (and it still will be endemic and have little outbreaks here and there). There won’t be some person somewhere that gets vaccinated and a banner rolls down with confetti saying - you just created herd immunity!

It’s right at the top of that page, 9% of the population has been fully vaccinated. :man_shrugging:t2:

Looks like a denominator issue - site says “based on 2018 population estimates”. Seems like they would have a more recent number. This would imply 2.2M-2.43M (8.5%-9.4%). Who knows what number they are using because even the google machine says 2018 number was 3.154M. Maybe adults? 16+?

Either way I’m just glad that Utah isn’t getting shorted on vaccines like it appeared. I’m sorry I sent up a false alarm.

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The real question I have about Utah distribution fairness is among the counties. It seems there is high demand in SL County (people lined up daily hoping for cancellations) vs lukewarm demand immediately north and south (appointments easier to come by). It’s sadly still a political thing, so is it more “fair” to give more to the people who really want them?

Then again, probably still better to shoot for statewide immunity rather than continuing to develop rural hot spots for the virus.

Sometimes you need to protect people from their own stupidity.

Here in Oregon’s mad scramble to secure a first Covid19 vaccine shot, this morning my wife and I managed to score appointments for Friday morning. YES!

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Maybe I won’t have to wait until June.

Looks like good news. I prefer Pfizer’s and Moderna’s 95% effective rates, however.

J&J Covid Vaccine Found Effective by FDA Before Panel Meets (2)

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, U.S. regulators said, a key milestone on the path toward giving Americans access to the first such shot to work in a single dose.

The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S.-based trial arm of its global study of more than 43,000 participants, Food and Drug Administration staff wrote in a document that summarized the company’s results and confirmed findings J&J released earlier this month.

The FDA’s analysis found the shot to have a favorable safety profile. There were no Covid-related deaths in the vaccinated group, the staff wrote, nor any other safety concerns that would preclude an emergency-use authorization. The agency lacked data to determine whether the J&J vaccine prevented asymptomatic cases, the report said.

Vaccines from Moderna Inc. and the partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE were authorized by the FDA in December, just before the first major coronavirus variants spread rapidly around the world and appeared in the U.S. J&J’s vaccine, which was studied later in the course of the pandemic, has been found to be less effective in South Africa and Latin America, where two quickly spreading mutants were identified.

J&J’s vaccine was 64% effective in preventing moderate-to-severe Covid-19 cases in South Africa, and 68% effective in Brazil, the FDA confirmed. In both countries, the one-shot vaccine proved more effective against severe and critical cases of the disease.

Another variant that first arose in the U.K., called B.1.1.7, has been seen at even higher levels in the U.S., and has likely affected the U.S. results, experts have said.

https://www.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberglawnews/exp/eyJjdHh0IjoiSExOVyIsImlkIjoiMDAwMDAxNzctZDQ0Yy1kYWQzLWEzN2YtZGRmZjc3NWUwMDAxIiwic2lnIjoibDFRc2J3elpkb3Q0SVFDcHYramd6b2tJdDdvPSIsInRpbWUiOiIxNjE0MTc0ODE4IiwidXVpZCI6IlVDVTBab0Q1RGZJdUZVcGtoRk9sTXc9PUlRUjE0eis5SDF0bEdhVWthK2NObGc9PSIsInYiOiIxIn0=?bwid=00000177-d44c-dad3-a37f-ddff775e0001&cti=LFVL&emc=bhlnw_cn%3A2&et=CHANNEL_NOTIFICATION&item=read-button&qid=7063931&region=digest&source=breaking-news&uc=1320009744&usertype=External

Here’s what has to happen before the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available

From CNN’s Jacqueline Howard and Jen Christensen

Johnson & Johnson says that it has four million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine ready to ship “immediately” once it receives emergency use authorization, which could happen this week.

In an analysis just released, the US Food and Drug Administration said the company’s single-dose vaccine has met the requirements for emergency use authorization.

However, despite the excitement and anticipation, there are still several steps Johnson & Johnson has to go through before the vaccine will be available.

Here’s what happens next:

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets on Friday to review data on the vaccine and decide whether to recommend it for emergency use authorization in adults 18 and older.

Once the vaccine is authorized, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, makes recommendations to the CDC on how the vaccine should be used, such as among what age groups and on what type of schedule. An emergency meeting of ACIP is scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1.

Typically, the CDC director accepts the committee’s recommendation. Shortly after that, the vaccine can be distributed, and can start going into arms.

What everyone wants to know is where the federal government will send those doses, and who they’ll be steered toward.

“We’re hoping that ACIP will provide some guidance on the most effective use of the J&J one dose vaccine,” Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, wrote in an email to CNN on Tuesday.

“States are looking for guidance for use of the vaccine in populations which might really benefit from the one dose series complete, such as transient populations,” Hannan said. “We aren’t hearing much on this.”

(CNN) A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday suggests that Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine can protect people against concerning new coronavirus variants, including one first seen in South Africa called B.1.351.

For the study, researchers at Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch genetically engineered versions of the virus to carry some of the mutations found in B.1.351. They tested them against blood samples taken from 15 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as part of a clinical trial.

While the blood serum samples produced less neutralizing antibody activity, it was still enough to neutralize the virus, they wrote in a letter to the journal. This is in line with other studies. And it’s well within what is seen with other viruses, one of the researchers said.

“Although we do not yet know exactly what level of neutralization is required for protection against COVID-19 disease or infection, our experience with other vaccines tells us that it is likely that the Pfizer vaccine offers relatively good protection against this new variant,” Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch and an author of the study, told CNN.

“The reduction in the levels of neutralization against the South African variant of about 2/3 is fairly small compared to variations in neutralization levels generated by vaccines against other viruses that have even more variability in their protein sequences than SARS-CoV-2,” Weaver added.

Pfizer said there is no evidence in real life that the variant escapes the protection offered by its vaccine. “Nevertheless, Pfizer and BioNTech are taking the necessary steps, making the right investments, and engaging in the appropriate conversations with regulators to be in a position to develop and seek authorization for an updated mRNA vaccine or booster once a strain that significantly reduces the protection from the vaccine is identified,” Pfizer said in a statement.

Separately, a team at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna published a letter in the same journal outlining findings from an experiment they reported last month. They also reported a reduction in the antibody response to viruses genetically engineered to look like the B.1.351 variant – but not enough of a reduction to make the vaccine work any less effectively.
“Despite this reduction, neutralizing titer levels with (the variant discovered in South Africa) remain above levels that are expected to be protective,” the company said in a statement.

They found no reduction in efficacy against a variant first seen in the UK and known as B.1.1.7.

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It seems like the big advantage of the J&J vaccine was the one shot and standard refrigeration. However now with the Pfizer shot being 85% effective even before the second shot and also now only requiring standard refrigeration it seems like we shouldn’t bother with the J&J vaccine for the adult population.

Maybe that would be a good one for those under 18 and they should start studying its efficacy and safety for them, who rarely got severe symptoms.

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Maybe if we had an unlimited supply of the others. But vaccination is about reaching herd immunity. If we can get millions people vaccinated with J&J quickly, this thing dies out sooner.

That is my completely unqualified and ignorant response.

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