play

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that studies show a booster dose of its vaccine offered a ninefold increase in antibodies compared with the vaccine on its own. 

The studies, released by Johnson & Johnson, come as the U.S. gears up next month to offer a third dose for those who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The Johnson & Johnson announcement said studies showed a booster dose of its vaccine showed “a rapid and robust increase in spike-binding antibodies, ninefold higher than 28 days after the primary single-dose vaccination.” The company said it was working with federal officials, including the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on next steps to boost the effects of the vaccine and ready a possible booster shot. 

The announcement came as CDC studies show vaccines are less effective against delta and a heightened need for such booster shots, though vaccines still were crucial in preventing hospitalizations. 

A CDC study released Tuesday shows protection from the vaccines may decline over time as the wildly contagious delta variant surges across the country. Once delta became the dominant strain in the U.S., vaccine effectiveness against infection decreased from 91% to 66%.

A second CDC study found that a quarter of COVID-19 infections between May and July in Los Angeles were breakthrough cases, but hospitalizations were significantly lower for those who had been inoculated. Unvaccinated people were more than 29 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people, and about five times more likely to be infected.

Also in the news:

Tennessee surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases Tuesday amid a rise in hospitalizations and the rapid spread of the virus among the unvaccinated and school-age children. It’s the 12th state to hit the milestone, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

►Georgia called in more than 100 National Guard troops to help hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Kentucky similarly called on troops Monday due to surges. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said requiring vaccination or weekly testing for K-12 teachers and staff and mandating masks inside schools will be among her first actions after being sworn in as governor Tuesday.

►Leading pediatricians said loudly and in unison Monday that doctors should not prescribe COVID-19 vaccines to children under 12

Health officials are warning people to not use a drug called ivermectin, an animal dewormer, to treat or prevent COVID-19 after several hospitalizations. 

►Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, promoted the use of monoclonal antibodies, saying its been an underutilized intervention in the COVID-19 fight and the treatment can be used to prevent infection.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded nearly 38 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 630,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 213 million cases and 4.45 million deaths. More than 171 million Americans – 51.6% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: Experts are renewing warnings of “twindemic” as U.S. enters flu season amid rising COVID-19 cases. Read more here.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

US military, Disney World, CVS Health announce vaccine mandates

The Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine launched a flood of vaccination mandates across the United States that will push millions of Americans to either get vaccinated or face serious consequences.

The range of people covered by vaccine requirements on the heels of Monday’s action now includes the U.S. military, New York City public school teachers and staffers, all New Jersey teachers and state employees, students at multiple university systems, corporate employees and pharmacists at CVS Health, and 30,000 unionized workers at Disney World.

That adds to millions of Americans for whom putting off COVID-19 vaccination could mean anything from having to get tested for the virus every week to losing their job or being barred from school.

New intelligence report falls short on finding COVID-19 origins

The White House received a new classified intelligence report about the origins of the coronavirus on Tuesday, but it did not come to a solid conclusion as to whether the virus originated in animals before transferring to humans or was released from a lab, according to news reports. 

Biden had asked the intelligence community in May to step up efforts to investigate COVID-19’s origins after officials could not agree on a conclusion. According to The Washington Post, intelligence officials will seek to release portions of the report publicly.

The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials said part of the reason for inconclusiveness was a lack of information about China.

“It was a deep dive, but you can only go so deep as the situation allows,” a U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal. “If China’s not going to give access to certain data sets, you’re never really going to know.”

The World Health Organization and China concluded back in March that it was “extremely unlikely” the virus escaped from a lab, a theory that emerged from a series of sources with circumstantial evidence, including repeated assertions from former President Donald Trump and his allies, without citing specific evidence.

College students who don’t follow vaccine mandates are facing consequences 

A handful of schools are charging unvaccinated students thousands of dollars in COVID-19 testing fees to remain on-campus this fall during the pandemic.

And some schools are imposing extra punishments: Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, announced that along with fining unvaccinated students, it would cut off their campus Wi-Fi access.

Now, schools are starting to disenroll unvaccinated students.

Last week, the University of Virginia disenrolled 49 students who didn’t comply with the school’s vaccine mandate. Xavier University of Louisiana, a private Catholic HBCU in New Orleans, confirmed to USA TODAY that it had also started disenrolling unvaccinated students on Monday, the first day of classes.

Rowan University, a public school in Glassboro, New Jersey, announced Monday that with the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, students have until Sept. 7 to get their first shot. After that day, students who can’t prove vaccination or have valid declination form are at risk of having their “accounts put on hold, removal from residence halls (if applicable) and eventually, removal from the University.” Read more here.

— Lindsay Schnell

Contributing: The Associated Press

Read More