While new cases are increasing in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new advice for K-12 schools to reopen completely in the autumn. Pfizer has announced intentions to explore boosters and a new Delta-specific vaccine, citing the now-nationally dominant Delta strain.
A new intranasal vaccination is being developed, Tokyo has declared a COVID-19 state of emergency, and experts are keeping a watch on yet another variation. This week’s updates are listed below.
As the number of cases in the United States rises again, the Delta variety is the most common.
According to The New York Times, the average number of new COVID-19 cases each day has grown by 60% in the last two weeks. A handful of states, including hotspots in Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Nevada, have seen an increase in cases.
With 23 and 22, respectively, Arkansas and Missouri continue to have the highest number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Both states have immunization rates that are lower than the national average of 48 percent.
As the number of infections grows, vaccination rates have dropped by 82.5 percent, from 3.38 million doses per day in April to barely 0.59 million doses per day as of Friday.
Even though over half of the US population has been completely vaccinated, 13 states have failed to reach the 40% level.
According to the most up-to-date figures provided by the CDC, the Delta variety accounted for 51.7 percent of all cases in the US in the two weeks ending on July 3, due to growing cases and declining immunizations.
The variant appears to be spreading most quickly among unvaccinated populations across the country, prompting health officials to continue urging unvaccinated people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, especially given evidence that each of the three vaccines is available in the United States protects against the Delta variant to some extent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has finally released COVID-19 guidelines for schools.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines on Friday in a long-awaited update to its pandemic guidance for K-12 schools, stating that fully vaccinated instructors and children do not need to wear masks inside the classroom.
Unvaccinated persons should continue to wear masks and stay three feet away from others in the classroom, according to the guidelines. This includes all children under the age of 12 because vaccines for this age group have not yet been approved.
The standards were “written to be extremely flexible” to get students back into schools as quickly as possible, according to Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, a captain in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who spoke to The New York Times.
While the agency recommends that school districts utilize local health data to determine when to ease or strengthen masking and distancing rules, the focus is on getting children back in the classroom.
Some jurisdictions, such as Rhode Island, have already ordered schools to stop using masks, while others, such as California, are defying the CDC and mandating all students, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in the classroom.
According to USA Today, other states, such as Oregon and New Jersey, are leaving the choice to local school districts. Finally, since May, both Iowa and Texas have had regulations prohibiting public school districts from requiring kids and employees to wear masks.
Pfizer is working on boosters and a new vaccine to tackle the Delta type.
On Thursday, Pfizer and BioNTech, a German company, revealed that they will seek federal clearance for a third dosage of their mRNA coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks.
In addition, the firms said that their current COVID-19 vaccine will be updated to target Delta’s complete spike protein, with clinical trials expected to begin in August.
The two firms issued a joint press statement announcing encouraging findings from preliminary third-dose tests, although the results have yet to be published or peer-reviewed.
Pfizer executives are scheduled to inform government authorities of their findings in the coming days as part of their application for regulatory approval of a possible booster.
Following the statement on Thursday, many US authorities disputed the businesses’ claims regarding the need for a booster.
“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement, while the CDC and the FDA said in a joint statement that they “are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed,” but that fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster shot at this time.
Pfizer has publicly used Israeli health officials’ findings that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are only 64% effective against the Delta strain as justification for seeking boosters.
Other studies, however, have shown that the vaccination is effective against all variations, contradicting Israel’s claims.
According to The Washington Post, US regulators aren’t persuaded that boosters are necessary and are waiting for more proof from Pfizer.
In animal studies, the intranasal COVID-19 vaccine has shown promise.
The findings of studies testing the efficacy of a newly developed single-dose nasal vaccination for COVID-19 in animals have been reported by researchers from the University of Iowa and the University of Georgia.
The study, which was published in Science Advances last week, describes a nasal spray vaccination that may be kept for up to three months at normal refrigerator conditions.
The COVID-19 spike protein is delivered into the nasal channel via a harmless viral carrier, to elicit an immunological response in the mucosal cells that line the interior of the nose and airways.
Because nasal mucus is the coronavirus’s major entry point into the body and the location of its initial reproduction, the researchers expect that bolstering the immune system here will help to decrease transmission as well as protect vaccinated people.
This hope has been confirmed in mouse and ferret models thus far.
One dosage of the nasal vaccination elicited a local immunological response in mice, protecting them from high doses of COVID-19.
In ferrets, the vaccination offered comparable protection, preventing viral RNA from reproducing in vaccinated ferrets’ nasal passages and preventing virus transmission from infected ferrets to uninfected and unvaccinated ferrets nearby.
With such encouraging outcomes in animals, this vaccine might soon join a slew of other intranasal vaccine candidates in human clinical trials. However, it is uncertain if mucosal vaccination against COVID-19 will provide the best protection for humans.
Richard Kennedy, an immunological researcher at the Mayo Clinic, recently told MedPage Today, “There aren’t many approved mucosal vaccinations.” “These vaccinations are effective against some diseases, but SARS-CoV-2 may or may not be one of them.”
Spectators will be barred from the Olympics under the new COVID emergency.
Despite the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s declaration two weeks ago that local fans would be allowed to attend certain Olympic events, a new COVID-19 state of emergency in the host city has compelled officials to reverse their decision and prohibit all supporters from attending all Olympic activities.
While Japan’s case counts have been relatively modest compared to the rest of the globe, the country’s vaccine deployment has been sluggish.
Until June 20, Tokyo was under its third state of emergency, which was later reduced to a semi-emergency on June 21. According to The Japan Times, the latest state of emergency was caused by a surge in new daily cases, the highest level since May.
It will be in place from July 12 to August 22 and was announced by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday. The games will begin on July 23 and conclude on August 8.
As athletes begin to arrive in the host city for the summer games, tensions are rising. All athletes and staff members entering from outside Japan are subjected to stringent testing procedures, which include daily testing for each participant throughout the games.
Vaccination, on the other hand, is not required to compete. Athletes must also wear a face mask at all times save while eating, drinking, training, competing, or sleeping, and stay away from other athletes.
The Lambda variant and everything we know about it
While the Lambda coronavirus variation was discovered late last year in Peru, little is known about its transmissibility in comparison to the original virus and the more well-known Delta version.
Lambda has been added to the World Health Organization’s “variant of interest” list because of its fast spread in South America and its similarity to other, more infectious variations.
The New York Times quoted Nathaniel Landau, a microbiologist at New York University Grossman School of Medicine who is investigating the new coronavirus variations, as saying, “I think some of the attention is based on the idea that there’s a new variety, and it has a new name.”
Researchers have no reason to assume the Lambda form is more dangerous than the Delta variant, according to Landau.
The paucity of knowledge regarding Lambda has contributed to the rise of conjecture. The New York Times reported that Latin America has “little capability” for genetic monitoring, according to Pablo Tsukayama, a scientist at Peru’s Cayetano Heredia University who monitored Lambda’s development.
“I don’t believe it’ll be any worse than the others we’ve already had,” he added. “It’s simply that we don’t know much, so there’s a lot of speculation.”
According to a WHO report on June 15, the variant has been discovered in 29 countries. Many nations, like the United Kingdom, are keeping a careful eye on the Lambda variant’s spread, while experts like Landau continue to assess the implications of variations on already available vaccines.