Coronavirus update: Pfizer CEO says another variant may be coming, Johnson & Johnson has positive booster news

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A report shows that COVID-19 rental aid is moving slowly

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 38,088,128 (37,954,406)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 630,928 (629,739)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 213,461,327 (212,802,557)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,457,027 (4,446,164)‌

Pfizer CEO says another variant may be on the way

Many states are still grappling with the impact of the fast-spreading Delta variant. Meanwhile, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is preparing for the next one.

In an interview with Fox News, Bourla said his researchers believe a future variant could be resistant to the current vaccines. Should that happen, he said the drug company has contingency plans that could produce a new vaccine in about three months.

"Every time that the variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it," Bourla said. "They are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine. We haven’t identified any yet but we believe that it is likely that one day, one of them will emerge."

Trial suggests Johnson & Johnson booster is effective

Johnson & Johnson reports that a clinical trial of its booster shot showed it significantly increased the antibody response in individuals eight months after their first shot of the vaccine.

Researchers said they found the booster increased antibody levels nine times more than the level that was present one month after receiving the first shot. The booster was administered about six months after subjects were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We look forward to discussing with public health officials a potential strategy for our Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, boosting eight months or longer after the primary single-dose vaccination,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson.

Report: Rental aid is moving slowly

Besides extending eviction moratoriums, the government has allocated billions of dollars in aid to help distressed renters. But the Wall Street Journal reports that much of that money has yet to reach people in need.

Since the end of last year, Congress has voted to provide $46.6 billion to help tenants who are behind on their rent. As of July 31, government records show that just $4.7 billion had been distributed to landlords and tenants.

The Biden administration agrees that the money has moved too slowly, but it maintains that the pace has quickened in recent months. It says the program has provided nearly one million payments to households, including about 341,000 in July.

Around the nation

  • Florida: COVID-19 cases are surging in Florida, and some doctors are getting fed up with people who refuse to get vaccinated. Seventy-five doctors from hospitals in South Florida staged a symbolic walk-out to draw attention to the issue. Florida leads the nation in new cases of the virus.

  • Kentucky: Kentucky now leads the nation in the number of COVID-19 patients that require hospital treatment. Kentucky reported 4,638 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to plead with constituents to get vaccinated and wear masks in public.

  • Texas: The COVID-19 outbreak has hit one small town so hard that it’s essentially closed. Iraan has closed its schools and most businesses after 119 people were tested for the virus and 50 tested positive during a two-week span this month. 

  • Arkansas: Hospitals in the state can no longer handle severely ill patients. Health officials report that all ICU beds in the state have been filled, mostly with COVID-19 patients. “Everybody should know the strain on our hospitals and the need to get our vaccinations, and how critical our bed space is," said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

  • Vermont: Unlike some states that have passed laws against mask mandates, a growing number of Vermont lawmakers are supporting a statewide mandate as virus cases rise. Gov. Phil Scott said he will continue with current guidance for now but is keeping his options open.

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