Probable boosters for the immunocompromised; Those vaccinated against Delta; and more
Likely COVID-19 booster shots for people with compromised immune systems
According to various media reports, public health officials and infectious disease experts, COVID-19 booster shots for people with compromised immune systems who are at a higher risk of ‘breakthrough’ infections will likely be finalized, perhaps before the end of the year.
Breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people are still rare but increasing due to the dominance of the more contagious delta variant. COVID-19 vaccines protect the vast majority of people from serious illness and hospitalizations, experts say.
Nonetheless, momentum is building internationally for booster shots for those most at risk. German and Israeli officials said this week they would start giving boosters to some. France, Russia and Hungary are also on the verge of doing so. In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) this week called for a moratorium on booster vaccinations against coronaviruses at least until the end of September. WHO has said these countries should focus, for now, on helping to supply under-vaccinated countries with vaccines.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory group is examining whether fully vaccinated Americans with weakened immune systems need a booster dose of one of three COVID-vaccines. 19 available here. These people are less likely to have enough antibodies to fight off the virus because of their age, underlying health problems, or an immune system compromised by treatments for cancer or other illnesses. The makers of COVID-19 are currently conducting clinical trials to test the booster injections.
“So, now we are dealing with a potentially waning immunity of our body with (the delta variant) which has a much higher viral number,” says Sergio Segarra, MD, chief medical officer at Baptist Hospital. “That’s why we need to integrate our other strategies. This is why we must also bring back the wearing of masks and social distancing to protect ourselves from the virus. I behave as if I haven’t been vaccinated. So when I walk into a store, I wear my mask. When I walk into a room where I don’t know many people, I wear my mask.
Scott Gottlieb, MD, who led the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2017 to 2019, said in a TV interview this week that he believed booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine would start to be administered in the United States starting next month for the elderly and those with weakened or “immunosuppressed” immune systems. He added that the boosters would represent a third dose of vaccines currently available in the United States, with the exception of any other variant of the virus that would render the vaccines ineffective.
Infections at public events in Provincetown, Mass., Boosted CDC’s new mask-wearing guidelines
Several events and public gatherings last month, July 3-17, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, drew thousands of tourists from across the United States – and also caught the attention of researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from the United States.
It was the results of a study of COVID-19 infections from this period in Provincetown that primarily fueled the CDC’s re-evaluation of its mask-wearing guidelines for those vaccinated.
Researchers looked at the COVID-19 outbreak in Provincetown involving 469 cases and found that three-quarters of the cases occurred in people who were fully vaccinated. At the time, Massachusetts had a high vaccination rate, around 69% among eligible adults.
Additionally, testing identified the delta variant in 90% of samples from 133 patients, the CDC said. Health experts warn that the most transmissible delta variant, already the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States, can carry much greater viral loads when it infects an individual, compared to the original strain of the virus.
And most strikingly, the researchers also found no significant difference in the viral load present in “breakthrough infections” in fully vaccinated people and other cases, indicating that the viral load of vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected with COVID -19 is similar.
The discovery was preceded by the CDC’s announcement last week that fully vaccinated people are starting to wear masks indoors again in places with high transmission rates. The CDC refers to areas where there are either more than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, or where the COVID-19 test positivity rate is above 5%. Nonetheless, vaccinated Americans are still much less likely to be infected with COVID-19 and are responsible for much less spread of the disease, compared to unvaccinated people. Even in revolutionary cases, vaccines remain powerfully effective against serious illness and death from COVID-19.
In addition to urging those vaccinated to resume wearing masks in many settings, the CDC has also urged event organizers across the country to review protective measures – following the Provincetown study.
“Event organizers and local health jurisdictions should continuously assess the need for additional measures, including limiting capacity at gatherings or postponing events, based on current rates of COVID-19 transmission,” population immunization coverage and other factors, ”the CDC concluded.
Common cholesterol-lowering drugs could reduce risk of death from COVID by 40%, researchers say
The most prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, may improve the chances of survival of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and reduce their risk of more serious illness, a new study says.
In an analysis of more than 10,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the United States, the use of statins before hospital admission was associated with a more than 40% reduction in hospital deaths and a more than 25% reduction in the risk of developing a serious outcome, according to a press release from the American Heart Association (AHA). The researchers compared similar patients who used and did not use statins or antihypertensive drugs to treat high blood pressure – among those with and without underlying health conditions.
For about 30 years, cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins have been available to reduce the risk of a heart attack in people who have already had a heart attack and have high LDL cholesterol levels. Almost one in three American adults has high levels of “low density lipoprotein cholesterol” (LDL-C), considered to be “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to the build-up of fatty plaque and the narrowing of the arteries. .
“At the onset of the pandemic, there were questions about whether certain cardiovascular drugs might make COVID-19 infections worse,” said Lori Daniels, MD, lead author of the study, who is director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health. “We have found that not only are statins and antihypertensive drugs safe – they may very well be protective in patients hospitalized with COVID, especially in those with a history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease. “
What are the reasons for the lower risk in statin users and those taking antihypertensive drugs? Statins and anti-hypertension drugs stabilize the underlying illnesses for which they are prescribed, making patients more likely to recover from COVID-19. Additionally, these drugs can reduce inflammation, which can cause serious illness in COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.
The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers’ goal was to better understand the links between past drug use, existing health issues, and COVID-19 outcomes. They drew on data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 cardiovascular disease registry. The registry contains “anonymized health data on patients treated for COVID-19 at more than 140 participating hospitals across the country,” says the AHA. By July 2021, data from more than 49,000 patient records had been added to the registry.
People who have been prescribed cholesterol and / or blood pressure medications are encouraged to continue taking these medications during the age of COVID-19.