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  19 Sep 2021, 13:43

U.S. details vaccine efficacy, plans use of booster shot against wildness of COVID-19

  NEW YORK, Sept 18, 2021 (BSS/XINHUA) - The United States has kept on

pushing through federal requirements of broad vaccination by highlighting the
efficacy of its three authorized COVID-19 vaccines, while planning to narrow
the use of a booster shot only to old people and those who work at high risk.

  On Friday, expert advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
voted unanimously to recommend that the agency authorize a booster shot of
the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine six months after vaccination for
people 65 years and older and for anyone at risk for severe illness.

  The vote is not binding, and Peter Marks, the FDA official overseeing
coronavirus vaccines, indicated that the final decision could be slightly
different, encompassing people who are at higher risk of infection because of
their professions, such as health-care workers and front-line employees,
including teachers.

  A decision about boosters from the FDA is expected by next week, and an
advisory committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) is slated to meet on Wednesday and Thursday to recommend how a third
shot should be used.

  According to The New York Times (NYT), the 7-day average of confirmed cases
of the pandemic stood at 148,816 nationwide on Friday, with its 14-day change
striking a 9-percent fall. COVID-19-related deaths were 1,992 on Friday, with
the 14-day change realizing a 28-percent rise.

  VACCINE EFFICACY

  A head-to-head study of all three authorized coronavirus vaccines in the
United States found that the Moderna vaccine was slightly more effective than
Pfizer's in real-life use in keeping people out of the hospital, and Johnson
& Johnson's Janssen vaccine came in third, but still provided 71 percent
protection. Pfizer's vaccine provided 88 percent protection against
hospitalization, and Moderna's was 93 percent effective.

  The CDC led a nationwide study of vaccination involving more than 3,600
adults hospitalized for COVID-19 between March and August, and announced the
findings in its weekly report on death and disease.

  Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines both use genetic material called messenger
RNA to deliver immunity, but they use differing doses and slightly different
formulations. The Janssen vaccine uses an inactivated common cold virus
called adenovirus, a viral vector, to carry genetic instructions into the
body.

  On Wednesday, Moderna shared a new analysis from its phase three study that
showed the incidence of breakthrough COVID-19 cases, which occurred in fully
vaccinated people, was less frequent in a group of trial participants who
were recently inoculated, suggesting the COVID-19 vaccine's protection wanes
over time.

  There were 88 identified breakthrough cases out of 11,431 people vaccinated
between December and March, the company said in a press release, compared
with 162 breakthrough cases out of 14,746 trial participants vaccinated in
July through October 2020.

  The breakthrough cases were not all the Delta variant's fault, and the
COVID-19 cases in vaccinated people might be a result of both vaccine
protection waning over time and the highly transmissible variant, Moderna
President Stephen Hoge told CNBC, adding that "it's the reason to get ahead
of the problem and boost."

  MANDATE INFLUENCE

  Employees in five industries will especially feel the effects of the U.S.
federal government's new vaccine mandate: management, utilities, information,
finance and insurance, and administration and waste management services,
reported CNN on Friday.

  More than 80 percent of the workforce for those five industries are
employed by businesses with a staff of at least 100 employees, which means
they'll be required to get a vaccine or a weekly COVID-19 test. That's
according to 2018 data on U.S. businesses the most recent data released by
the Census Bureau in May.

  The rules that U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week would apply to
more than 80 million working Americans, about two-thirds of the workforce.
There are 43 million employees who work at companies that employ fewer than
100 people, and who are not covered by that federal vaccine mandate.

  The vaccine mandate will also apply to state and local government workers
in 26 U.S. states, some of which have banned vaccination requirements for
public employees, thus "setting up another clash between GOP-led states and
the Democratic administration," reported USA Today on Saturday.

  Biden made no mention of vaccine requirements for state and local workers
when announcing new rules, but Labor Department spokeswoman Denisha Braxton
confirmed to media that Biden's new rules will "apply to public-sector state
and local government workers, including educators and school staff" in 26
states and two territories.

  Speaking at a middle school in Washington, D.C., the day after announcing
his multipronged approach, Biden called on governors to require vaccinations
for all teachers and staff, adding that "this isn't a game. And I don't know
of any scientist out there in this field that doesn't think it makes
considerable sense to do the six things I've suggested."

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