Coronavirus update: Fourth COVID-19 vaccine protection doesn’t last long, study finds

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An Omicron subvariant is becoming the dominant strain in the U.S.

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 80,219,035 (80,181,869)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 983,229 (982,161)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 494,264,883 (492,743,552)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,164,408 (6,156,480)‌

Protection from a fourth vaccine shot wanes quickly

Late last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for Pfizer and Moderna to offer a second booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccines. But a recent study conducted in Israel casts doubt on how long these shots may be able to provide protection from infection.

The study showed that protection against COVID-19 infection continued to decline several weeks after fully vaccinated participants received their fourth shot of the Pfizer vaccine. However, the researchers noted that protection against severe illness was a benefit that lasted over time.

“Protection against confirmed infection appeared short-lived, whereas protection against severe illness did not wane during the study period,” the researchers said.

BA.2 subvariant becoming dominant, CDC says

The subvariant of the COVID-19 Omicron variant – the strain known as BA.2 – now accounts for most of the new cases of the virus in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In its weekly update, the health agency said BA.2 is causing about 72% of new cases. That’s up from 55% a week ago.

The CDC said there is no cause for increased concern. Currently available evidence suggests that BA.2 does not cause more severe symptoms than previous strains. However, it is thought to be highly contagious.

Further research to be conducted on ‘long COVID’

Many consumers who become infected by COVID-19 eventually recover from their symptoms and can resume normal life. But there are some people out there who experience lasting symptoms from the virus – a condition that has been called “long COVID.” 

This week, President Biden directed the Health and Human Services Department to put together a plan to research long COVID to bolster diagnosis and treatment efforts. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said he has plans for any additional funding that is granted by lawmakers.

“If we receive additional financial support for it from Congress, we will launch new centers of excellence in communities across the country to provide high quality care to individuals experiencing long Covid,” he stated.

Around the nation

  • New York: Cases are up sharply across the state, and the New York Health Department is renewing its recommendation to mask up when in indoor public spaces. Cases of the coronavirus were up 17% last week in parts of New York.

  • Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation that will allow fully vaccinated teachers and other school employees to take COVID-19 related paid time off without burning up sick days. Pritzker vetoed a similar version of the measure earlier this year after it sharply divided the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools.

  • Washington: State health officials say thousands of doses of a potentially life-saving COVID-19 drug are available and could benefit those who have the highest risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab) is a monoclonal antibody treatment that has sometimes been in short supply.

  • Arkansas: Arkansas is another state that got hit hard by COVID-19, but it now appears to have turned the corner. After falling to an almost 23-month low over the weekend, the average daily increase in cases over a rolling seven-day period rose on Monday by two, to 84, the second-smallest of the year.

  • Minnesota: State health officials are cautioning residents to not let down their guard, saying Minnesota could face a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Specifically, officials say they are concerned about the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron. "We will see more waves. That’s almost I'd say guaranteed,” Dr. George Morris, COVID lead physician with CentraCare Health told Minneapolis’ FOX 9.

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