A top U.S. official suggested people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine likely are protected against the delta variant.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNBC data shows the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot – a “cousin” of the J&J vaccine – is highly effective against the variant first identified in India and currently surging across the nation.
“While we are still awaiting direct studies of Johnson & Johnson and the delta variant, we have reasons to be hopeful, because the J&J vaccine has proven to be quite effective against preventing hospitalizations and deaths, with all the variants that we’ve seen to date,” Murthy said Wednesday.
Murthy’s comments come as other companies such as Moderna announced that their vaccine is effective against all variants of COVID-19, including the delta variant, which is thought to be more contagious.
The World Health Organization recommended even vaccinated people continue to wear masks in light of the delta variant spread in recent weeks, even as the Centers for Disease Control assures vaccinated Americans they are safe from the variant and do not need to wear masks.
Also in the news:
►Fifty-two Italian prison officers have been suspended for their alleged involvement in an assault on inmates who had protested the lack of face masks and virus tests during the peak of Italy’s pandemic last year.
►About 77% of vaccinated adults said everyone in their household is vaccinated, while 75% of unvaccinated adults said no one they live with is vaccinated, according to a recent survey from Kaiser Family Foundation.
►A Washington state lawmaker apologized Wednesday for wearing a yellow Star of David – a symbol forced on Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust – at a speech over the weekend to protest restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
►More than 80 teens and adult staff tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a summer camp in central Illinois that did not require masks indoors or vaccination status.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 604,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 182.2 million cases and more than 3.94 million deaths. More than 154.8 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – nearly 46.7% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Across the country, there is growing evidence that Black and Latino boys fell furthest behind in school this year. In this moment of upheaval, educators and advocates see a chance to rethink how schools serve boys of color.
As a diabetic, Joshua Garza had a chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine within the first month. In a decision that will forever haunt him, Garza passed; he thought the vaccine was still too new.
It almost cost him his life and made him a vaccine convert. On Thursday, Garza is scheduled to tell his story before the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in a hearing on overcoming vaccine hesitancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 63.4% of adults have gotten at least one shot, well below President Joe Biden’s July 4 goal of 70%. In announcing the hearing, the committee said more outreach needs to be done in rural areas and communities with low vaccination rates.
About 20 percent of Americans are either refusing to get vaccinated or remain unsure, the committee said. Thursday’s five witnesses include two public health experts, a business school professor, an activist and Garza. Read more.
– David Heath
After a year of virtual living during the COVID-19 pandemic, younger generations feel online presence is more important than real-life interactions, a study released Thursday shows. The survey finds that 60% of Generation Z and 62% of millennials say that how you present yourself online is more crucial than how you appear in person.
On average, Americans visit more than eight websites per day, amounting to more than 3,000 per year, according to the study by Squarespace on how Americans engage with digital platforms. Of the 2,032 adults surveyed, Squarespace found Americans are becoming more invested in the online world, especially millennials and Gen Z. Read more.
– Kate Mabus
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to announce details Thursday of COVID-19 vaccine sweepstakes that will give vaccinated Michiganders a chance to win a combined total of more than $5 million in cash and nine college scholarships worth $55,000 apiece.
Called the “MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes,” the lottery-style raffle will be operated by the state in conjunction with Meijer and the Michigan Association of United Ways as an incentive to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.
Any resident 18 or older who has gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine is eligible for the sweepstakes. For teens and tweens 12-17, there will be a chance to win one of nine Michigan Education Trust (MET) Charitable Tuition Program four-year contracts valued at $55,000. The scholarships can be used to pay for tuition and mandatory fees at a college or university in accordance with MET terms and conditions.
As of Wednesday, just over 5 million Michiganders 16 and up had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which amounts to 61.8% of that population, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. The state in April endured a surge in cases related to the alpha variant. Read more.
– Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
German vaccine maker CureVac said Wednesday that its vaccine is 53% effective against COVID-19 of any severity in 18- to 60-year-olds. Overall, CurveVac says the shot is 48% effective, based on 83 cases in the vaccine group and 145 in the placebo group.
The World Health Organization has said vaccines with an efficacy above 50% are worth using, though many of those already approved have a far higher rate.
CureVac says it has sent the data to the European Medicines Agency, which is conducting a rolling review of the vaccine. CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas says the vaccine fully protects 18- to 60-year-olds against hospitalization. He calls it “an important contribution to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic variant spread.”
The company says it sequenced 204 case samples to identify the variant causing the infection but did not provide complete details on the variants found.
The head of the CDC reaffirmed on various networks Wednesday that fully vaccinated Americans still don’t need to wear COVID-19 face masks in most situations but acknowledged local officials may implement stricter policies.
“Here in the United States, we’re fortunate. We have three vaccines that we know are safe and effective. We have two-thirds of the adult population that is fully vaccinated and really quite protected from the variants that we have circulating here,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday morning on NBC News’ “Today.”
Walensky’s comments come after the World Health Organization this week recommended even vaccinated people continue to wear masks, and Los Angeles health officials recommended all people wear them indoors because of concerns about the delta coronavirus variant.
“We are still seeing an uptick of cases in areas of low vaccination, and in that situation we are suggesting that policies be made at the local level. And those masking policies are really intended to protect the unvaccinated. The vaccinated we believe still are safe,” Walensky said on “Good Morning America.”
The delta variant, which is believed to be more contagious, accounts for more than one in four COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to CDC estimates.
Contributing: The Associated Press