Covid-19 Live Updates: Pfizer and Others Plan Vaccine Boosters

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A health worker prepares a dose of vaccine in Asuncion on Wednesday.  Paraguay plans to link with China to get more vaccines.


Credit…Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

Scientists have long said that giving people just one treatment with a Covid-19 vaccine might not be enough in the long term, and that boosters and even annual vaccinations might be needed.

In recent days, this proposal has started to sound less hypothetical.

Vaccine makers are off to a good start on possible new vaccine series, although they seem more certain of the need for boosters than independent scientists.

Pfizer’s chief executive said on Thursday that a third dose of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine would “likely” be needed within a year of the initial two-dose inoculation – followed by annual vaccinations.

“There are vaccines like polio for which one dose is enough, and there are vaccines like influenza that you need every year,” said Albert Bourla, the chief of Pfizer, in a conversation hosted by CVS Health. “The Covid virus looks more like the flu virus than the polio virus.”

Dr David Kessler, who is leading the Biden administration’s vaccination effort, told a House subcommittee on Thursday that the government was also considering the future. One of the factors at play is the spread of coronavirus variants and whether further vaccination could better target the mutant strains.

Mr. Bourla said that “a probable scenario” is “a third dose between six and 12 months, and from then on it would be an annual revaccination”. Moderna said this week that she is working on a booster for her vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson said her single-shot vaccine should probably be given every year.

Dr Kessler stressed the “high efficacy” of current vaccines, including against the variants, but said the government “was taking steps to develop the next generation of vaccines that are directed against these variants if in fact they can be more. effective ”.

He was one of the few senior federal health officials in the House hearing to implore Americans to get vaccinated and reassure the country that the three federally licensed vaccines are safe. They said little about the resumption of injections from Johnson & Johnson, which the Food and Drug Administration halted to examine a rare blood clotting disorder.

Late Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they had scheduled a new emergency hearing for April 23.

As of Thursday, more than 125 million people in the country had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including around 78 million who had been fully vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

In February, Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, said they planned to test a third vaccine and update their original vaccine. The FDA has said that vaccine developers will not need to conduct long trials for vaccines that have been adapted to protect against variants.

Moderna said on Tuesday its vaccine continued to provide strong protection in the United States against Covid-19 six months after its administration, and company chief executive Stéphane Bancel told CNBC he hoped for boosters ready in the fall. .

Credit…Smita Sharma for The New York Times

Ashish Anand dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. The former flight attendant borrowed from relatives and invested his $ 5,000 savings in opening a clothing store outside of New Delhi selling bespoke suits, shirts and pants.

It was February 2020, just weeks before the coronavirus hit India and the government imposed one of the toughest national lockdowns in the world.

Unable to pay the rent, Mr. Anand closed his doors two months later.

As a second wave of coronavirus hits India, which reported a new daily record of more than 216,000 cases on Friday, the pandemic reverses decades of progress for a country that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Already, deep structural problems and the sometimes brash nature of government policies had hampered growth. A shrinking middle class would inflict lasting damage.

Today, Mr. Anand, his wife and two children are among millions of Indians at risk of falling out of the middle class and falling into poverty. They depend on help from his in-laws, and khichdi – watery lentils cooked with rice – has replaced eggs and chicken at the table.

Sometimes, he says, children go to bed hungry.

“I have nothing left in my pocket,” he said.

Credit…Santi Carneri for The New York Times

In Paraguay, the government of Taiwan built thousands of homes for the poor, modernized the health care system, awarded hundreds of scholarships, and helped fund a futuristic Congress building. But the alliance faces an existential threat as Paraguay’s quest for Covid-19 vaccines becomes increasingly desperate.

Paraguayan officials from all walks of life say now is the time to consider throwing out Taiwan, which does not export vaccines, to establish diplomatic ties with China, which it does.

Beijing’s one-China principle forces countries to choose between having full diplomatic relations with China or Taiwan, an island it considers Chinese territory. In recent years, three Latin American countries have severed ties with Taiwan after secret talks with Beijing. All three were the first beneficiaries of Chinese vaccines.

This week, China’s leading Covid-19 vaccine maker, Sinovac, made a move that is sure to fuel speculation about Beijing’s Paraguay plans. Paraguay-based South American football federation Conmebol said it was receiving a donation of 50,000 doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine produced by Sinovac.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, front, on the Cyclone roller coaster at the opening of Luna Park in Coney Island last week.
Credit…James Estrin / The New York Times

It has been a spring of reopening around New York.

Bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and even amusement parks come back to life after closing. Rather than turning on the lights and opening the doors, many homeowners have sought to celebrate with meaningful gestures.

When Coney Island reopened its amusement park this month, the first passengers to ride the Cyclone, the 90-plus-year-old wooden roller coaster, were 100 essential workers at the nearby Coney Island hospital who had been selected in a draw.

One of the runners was Dawn Lanzisera, who works in the psychiatric emergency room and grew up near the Brooklyn neighborhood. “It’s so great to be here and to see life come back,” she said.

As soon as the speeches ended and the doors opened, the rickety roller coaster cars, filled with hospital workers, began their ascent to the top, which offered breathtaking views of the ocean and mountain. walk.

As the roller coaster plunged 85 feet, the screams may have reflected the release of a year of pandemic tensions.

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