A fourth vaccine dose might be needed this fall, Moderna CEO says

1 week ago 13
31 min ago

A fourth vaccine dose might be needed this fall, Moderna CEO says

From CNN’s Katherine Dillinger, Elliott Gotkine, Maggie Fox, Amanda Sealy and Nick Thompson

Dosage of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are being prepared to give to patients at L.A. Care Health Plan Community Resource Center on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in El Monte, California. Dosage of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are being prepared to give to patients at L.A. Care Health Plan Community Resource Center on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in El Monte, California. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

More people may need a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine this fall, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Thursday, as booster doses are likely to become less effective over time. 

I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Bancel said at a Goldman Sachs health care CEO conference. 

A preliminary Israeli study found that a fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine raises coronavirus antibodies fivefold in a week’s time. People who are 60 and older, health care workers and those with weakened immune systems are eligible for fourth doses in that country.

The Canadian province of Ontario will offer fourth doses to people in settings such as long-term care homes and retirement homes.

Pfizer Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton warned last month that “we’re going to have to wait for a couple of months yet, until we can see how those data develop and mature, to understand when will that additional booster dose -- if needed -- have to be given.”

Medical experts have also advised caution around expanding vaccine programs. 

“We can’t vaccinate the planet every four to six months. It’s not sustainable or affordable,” Professor Andrew Pollard of the Oxford Vaccine Group, head of the UK’s Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, who helped create the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published Tuesday.

In a separate interview with Sky News on Tuesday, Pollard also cited the glaring unevenness of vaccine rollouts across the world.

"And remember that, today, less than 10% of people in low-income countries have even had their first dose, so the whole idea of regular fourth doses globally is just not sensible," he said.

Meanwhile in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on December 24 that it was too early to be discussing a potential fourth dose for most people.

"One of the things that we're going to be following very carefully is what the durability of the protection is following the third dose of an mRNA vaccine," Fauci told Michael Wallace and Steve Scott of WCBS Newsradio 880. Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are mRNA vaccines.

"If the protection is much more durable than the two-dose, non-boosted group, then we may go a significant period of time without requiring a fourth dose," Fauci said. "So, I do think it's premature -- at least on the part of the United States -- to be talking about a fourth dose."

Moderna is also developing Covid-19 boosters that specifically target coronavirus variants like Delta and Omicron. 

39 min ago

China's vice premier tells hospitals not to turn away patients amid Xi'an lockdown

From CNN's Beijing Bureau 

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, attends the opening ceremony of the 11th National Games for Persons with Disabilities and the 8th National Special Olympic Games at the Xi'an Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province October. 22, 2021. Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, attends the opening ceremony of the 11th National Games for Persons with Disabilities and the 8th National Special Olympic Games at the Xi'an Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province October. 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Getty Images)

China's vice premier Sun Chunlan told hospitals not to turn patients away after they were reportedly denied immediate medical care for not presenting valid Covid-19 tests, resulting in widespread despair and public outcry.

"Patients should not be turned away under any excuses," Sun said Thursday, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. "Patients in serious or critical conditions must be treated immediately regardless of the Covid-19 test result as long as safeguarding the medical staff."

Sun's comments came after harrowing tales of loss and despair emerged from locked down Xi'an city in northwest Shaanxi province — highlighting the immense human cost of China's zero-Covid policy.

One heavily pregnant woman was allegedly turned away from a hospital on New Year's Day because she didn't have a valid Covid-19 test, according to a post from a user who said she was the woman's niece.

She was finally admitted two hours later — but had a miscarriage, said the post, which was shared widely on Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo before it was deleted.

Read more about Xi'an's lockdown here:

Xi'an lockdown brings heartbreak as pressure to contain outbreak grows

45 min ago

Australia's NSW to impose precautionary measures ahead of "anticipated peak" in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney and Sophie Jeong

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (centre) speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Friday, January 7, 2022. NSW has halted singing in clubs and pubs for three weeks and will impose a triple-vaccination mandate for some people as it tries to slow the Omicron wave.NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (centre) speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Friday, January 7, 2022. NSW has halted singing in clubs and pubs for three weeks and will impose a triple-vaccination mandate for some people as it tries to slow the Omicron wave. (Paul Braven/AAP Image/Reuters)

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) will impose a range of precautionary measures ahead of an “anticipated peak” in Covid-19 cases, according to a statement from the state government Friday.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state will extend the suspension of non-urgent surgeries through to February to "alleviate pressure on the hospital system and staff."

Singing and dancing will be prohibited in hospitality venues — including pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars and restaurants — entertainment facilities, and major recreation facilities from Saturday until January 27, according to the statement. The prohibition will not apply to weddings, students, instructors and performers, the statement said.

Major events scheduled for the coming weeks will be risk-assessed by authorities, but event organizers should assume their event will proceed unchanged unless they are contacted by NSW Health, the statement added.

NSW is seeing a surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. On Friday, it reported 38,625 new Covid-19 cases of Covid-19, according to the state's health department.

49 min ago

India reports more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases as doctors warn of strain on health care

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a man for a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a health centre in New Delhi on January 7, 2022. A medical worker takes a swab sample from a man for a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a health centre in New Delhi on January 7, 2022. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

India on Friday reported 117,100 new Covid-19 cases — the highest daily rise in nearly seven months, as it battles a surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant that is threatening to put a strain on medical resources.

India's capital, Delhi, reported 15,097 new cases, the highest since May 8, according to state health bulletins. Financial capital Mumbai reported 20,181 new cases — the second consecutive day of record cases.

At least 313 resident doctors have tested positive for Covid-19 across four hospitals in Mumbai, according to Dr. Avinash Yadav of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.

“We were already overworked with only 66% of resident doctors working in hospitals and now a lot of us are infected. Our health care infrastructure is suffering,” Yadav said Friday.

For months, resident doctors have protested the delay in allocating hospitals to an incoming batch of doctors, which the Indian Medical Association had said led to a shortage of 45,000 doctors on the frontline. 

“Those of us who are mild and asymptomatic are still continuing to work in Covid wards, but taking every precaution to ensure we don’t infect patients,” Yadav said. 

As of Thursday evening, Mumbai had nearly 6,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital with 16.8% of its hospital beds occupied — more than double from a week ago on December 31, according to local health bulletins. 

Mumbai's Dharavi slum reported 107 new cases on Thursday — the highest rise since the start of the pandemic, according to local administrative officials. 

India has reported a total of 35,226,386 Covid-19 cases, including 483,178 related deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. At least 3,007 cases of the Omicron variant have been reported across the country.

52 min ago

Novak Djokovic is "not being held captive," says Australia home affairs minister

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is "not being held captive" in Australia and can leave when he chooses, the nation's home affairs minister said Friday, after the Serb's visa to enter the country was canceled for not meeting the required entry rules.

"He is free to leave at anytime that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Karen Andrews told public broadcaster ABC. “It is the individual traveler’s responsibility to make sure that they have in place all the necessary documentation that is needed to enter Australia."

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday after tournament organizers, in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health, said he had been granted a medical exemption — a decision that sparked backlash among many Australians.

The men's tennis world no.1 hasn't publicly revealed his Covid-19 vaccination status — but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic "didn't have a valid medical exemption" to the vaccination requirement for all arrivals.

Djokovic's visa was canceled on Thursday, and he is currently staying at the Park Hotel, where he was allegedly transferred after being detained at the airport, according to CNN affiliates Seven Network and Nine News. The hotel was formerly used as a Covid-19 quarantine hotel for returned travelers, but is now operating as a detention facility housing asylum seekers and refugees.

On Friday, his wife, Jelena Djokovic, spoke out for the first time on social media since the saga began.

"Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband," she said in posts on Instagram and Twitter. "I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening. The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being."
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