Oxfam on Covid inequality, tax wealthy to pay for vaccines, defend local weather

A pedestrian wearing a face mask delivers food to a homeless man who died on March 23.

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

The pandemic has made the rich richer while the income of the rest of the world – about 99% of humanity – has plummeted, according to a new Oxfam report titled “Inequality Kills”.

The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has doubled from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion during the pandemic, according to the global charity said on Monday.

“It has never been more important to right the violent injustices of this obscene inequality by reclaiming the power and extreme wealth of the elites, including through taxes – to put that money back into the real economy and save lives,” Gabriela said , Executive Director of Oxfam International Bucher.

A 99% windfall tax on the pandemic profits of the world’s 10 richest men would raise enough money to pay for vaccines for the world — and fund various social measures for more than 80 countries, the report said.

Billionaire wealth has risen more sharply since the start of Covid compared to the past 14 years, and a new billionaire has been minted every 26 hours since the pandemic began, Oxfam said.

The CEOs of the Covid vaccine developers Modern and BioNTech earned billions in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

At the same time, the vast majority of the population is worse off after losing income during Covid-19, and 160 million more people fell into poverty, the press release said.

windfall tax

One way to “recoup” the huge gains billionaires made during the crisis is to tax the money billionaires have made since the pandemic began, the report said.

“A one-time windfall tax of 99% on the wealth gains from Covid-19 for the 10 richest men alone would generate $812 billion,” the report said.

“These resources could be enough to produce enough vaccines for the entire world and to fill funding gaps in climate action, universal health and social protection, and efforts to combat gender-based violence in over 80 countries,” it said.

If these ten men lost 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of everyone on the planet.

Gabriella books

Managing Director, Oxfam International

Even after taxes, the world’s 10 richest men would still be billionaires and, as a group, have increased their wealth by $8 billion since the pandemic began, the report said.

“If these ten men lost 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all people on this planet,” said Bucher.

Beyond a one-time windfall tax, governments must also introduce or increase permanent wealth and capital taxes to “fundamentally and radically reduce wealth inequality,” the report says.

The Oxfam report was released ahead of this week’s virtual meetings of the World Economic Forum, where world leaders will discuss global challenges.

CDC panel recommends Pfizer, Moderna vaccines over J&J attributable to uncommon blood clot circumstances

A health care worker holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Phill Magakoe | AFP | Getty Images

An advisory board for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended Pfizer and Modern‘s vaccines over Johnson & Johnson‘s shot for adults ages 18 and up after dozens of people found a rare blood clot after the J&J vaccination, all of whom were hospitalized and nine of them died.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has unanimously decided to recommend Pfizer and Moderna over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. CDC director Rochelle Walensky has yet to accept the recommendation.

The CDC has confirmed 54 cases of people who develop blood clots and have low blood platelet levels, a new condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome that mainly affects younger women. All patients were hospitalized, nine people died and 36 were treated in the intensive care unit.

The US has administered more than 17 million J&J doses since the Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency syringe in February.

“TTS case reporting rates after Janssen vaccines are higher in men and women in a wider age range than previous estimates,” said Dr. Keipp Talbot, chairman of the CDC’s vaccines and safety subgroup, the advisory body.

Although the panel’s recommendation was unanimous, some members struggled with the vote. The CDC experts could also have recommended giving up the shot altogether or restricting it to certain age or demographic groups.

Dr. Pablo Sanchez, a professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University, said he was not recommending J&J admission to any of his patients, despite ultimately standing for the panel’s proposal.

“I just can’t recommend a vaccine associated with a disease that can lead to death,” Sanchez told the committee. “I don’t recommend it to any of my patients’ parents.”

Seven of the patients who died were women and two men, with a mean age of 45 years. Most of the deceased had previous health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. The death reporting rate was 0.57 deaths per million doses administered, according to the CDC.

“In reviewing these cases, we noticed how quickly patient status deteriorates and leads to death,” said Dr. Isaac See of the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Team joined the advisory board.

According to the CDC, patients typically developed symptoms 9 days after vaccination and were hospitalized 5 days after symptoms appeared. The overwhelming majority of patients were women, 37 total, and the mean age was 44. Seventeen men developed TTS.

Johnson & Johnson’s director of global therapeutic vaccines Penny Heaton defended the company’s shot during the meeting, saying it “saves lives here in the US and on every continent around the world”.

“It’s easy to store and transport,” said Heaton. “In many low- and middle-income countries, our vaccine is the primary and sometimes even the only option in the US as its permanent protection may be the preferred choice for people who cannot or do not want to return for multiple vaccinations.”

Heaton said J&J recognizes the incidents of TTS related to the vaccine and that the condition can be fatal, although cases are rare. She said patient safety and wellbeing remain a top priority for J&J, and the company has several studies underway to identify risk factors related to developing TTS.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC stopped briefly the use of the Johnson & Johnson single vaccine after six adult women developed blood clots and low platelet counts at the same time.

A week later, the FDA and the CDC did canceled the break on J&J shots after the independent advisory panel said the benefits of the shots outweigh the risks. At the time, the panel did not recommend restricting admissions based on age or gender. It suggested that the FDA put a warning label on for women under 50.

The FDA has advised health care providers not to give a J&J booster to people who have developed TTS in the past after the first injection. The FDA also said the J&J syringe should not be given to people who received the vaccine from AstraZeneca, even though AstraZeneca is not approved for use in the United States

CDC experts said Thursday that people who received J&J booster doses have not seen any cases of TTS, although the number of boosters is relatively small.

“Currently available evidence supports a causal relationship between TTS and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine,” the FDA said in the factsheet for healthcare providers.

In October, the FDA and CDC approved authorized J&J boosters for all adults at least two months after receiving their first J&J syringe. More than 800,000 people have received J&J boosters, according to CDC data. People who received their primary vaccination with the J&J shot can also be boosted with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

This is the latest news. Please check again for updates.

Andy Slavitt on omicron Covid variant, vaccines

The new omicron Covid variant poses a greater risk for those who have not been vaccinated and there is reason to believe that the current vaccines will be “quite effective,” a former White House adviser said Monday.

“What we know for sure is that it is a dangerous variant for people who have not been vaccinated,” Andy Slavitt told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia. “

“What we need to learn is whether or not Omicron – how it spreads in an environment where the delta is strong,” he said.

Slavitt previously served as a senior advisor on president Joe Bidens Coronavirus response team and headed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Obama administration.

Anecdotal reports suggest that Omicron may cause milder disease compared to other variants, but that could be due to “pre-existing immune responses,” said Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute.

He told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia on Monday that a “significant part” of the world had been vaccinated or infected with Covid-19 before Omicron even appeared.

“Having a vaccine or previous infection … will mitigate any disease that occurs,” he said, adding that not many people are exposed to Omicron who have not yet been vaccinated or infected.

“We really can’t say if it’s actually more severe in a natural setting or if it’s less severe now because of pre-existing immune responses,” said Kim.

What we know about omicron

The Omicron strain was first identified by South African scientists and has been proven in several countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany.

Health professionals are concerned on the transferability of the Omicron variant in view of its unusual constellation of mutations and profiles that differ from earlier, worrying variants. Scientists are also trying to find out how effective the current vaccines are in protecting people from serious illnesses due to the new strain.

“I think we have good reason to believe that the vaccines will be effective, if not as effective, and that they will be quite effective with a booster,” Slavitt told CNBC. “But Pharma is also going back to the drawing board.”

Covid vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, BioNTech, Modern, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca called they examine and test the omicron variant.

Slavitt said it was possible for updated vaccines to become available if needed in the next few months before the Omicron variant begins to meaningfully spread.

However, the main problem the world is facing right now is vaccine inequality. Information compiled by Our World In Data showed that only around 44% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19. But only a small percentage of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

WHO has set a goal of vaccinating 70% of people in all countries by mid-2022. Kim of the International Vaccine Institute said there are also inequalities in Covid testing and sequencing, but that such differences would “hopefully” be resolved over time. He also said it was important to focus on developing vaccines that can prevent transmission.

Slavitt stated that it was too early to say how Omicron will fare compared to the deadly Delta Tribe.

“We get to a point where we have a variant to replace Delta that is not severe or easily medicated, then it will be a whole new day for this pandemic. We can knock on wood what happens now if so. ” not with omicron, it might be next, “he said, adding that such a scenario could potentially make Covid more like a cold.

How HIV analysis paved the best way for the Covid mRNA vaccines

Every December 1st, the world commemorates those who died of an AIDS-related illness. Known as World AIDS Day, it is a reminder that there has been an ongoing pre-Covid pandemic for the past 40 years.

The Covid vaccines were sequenced, developed and approved in record time in the US, but that would not have been possible without decades of work by HIV researchers.

“Almost everyone who works on Covid vaccines is from the HIV world,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, a global advocacy group for HIV prevention. “Moderna had been working on an mRNA-based HIV vaccine before it was even known that SARS-CoV-2 existed.”

An HIV vaccine has escaped scientists for decades. The traditional way of thinking about vaccines is to mimic the body’s natural immune response to a virus. The problem with HIV is that the body’s natural immune response isn’t strong enough to fight the virus. This means that a vaccine needs to address the problem in a different way. Scientists hope mRNA technology – the same technology used in Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccines – could be a tipping point.

Government funding is an integral part of all vaccine research and development. In just a few months, Operation Warp Speed ​​provided $ 10 billion for Covid vaccine research and development. In contrast, between 2000 and 2020, the US government contributed $ 12 billion to research and development of HIV vaccines. These funds often go to private companies.

“Almost every vaccine we get today was developed by a private company, although the actual research and development may have been a joint venture,” said Dr. Jeffrey Harris, Co-Founder of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Public-private partnerships can have a serious impact on who makes a profit and who ultimately gets access to the vaccine. Moderna and the National Institutes of Health are currently locked in a lawsuit on a key patent for the Moderna Covid vaccine.

Watch the video above to learn what the success of Covid mRNA vaccines means for HIV and who would benefit from an HIV vaccine.

Covid vaccines for teenagers are coming quickly — some households are counting the minutes

Judi Hayes, a Florida mother, said she couldn’t wait to get her 10-year-old son, Will, back into the classroom. However, she persists until he can be vaccinated.

“He’s sad. He misses his friends and his teachers and the Special Olympics tennis,” said Hayes, whose child has Down syndrome and has been doing virtual learning since the pandemic began in spring 2020.

Hayes said she excluded her son from face-to-face learning because his Down syndrome puts him at greater risk of complications from Covid-19. She and a handful of other parents are currently suing Governor Ron DeSantis and state education officials over the governor’s ban on masking obligations in schools. Will’s 13-year-old brother is vaccinated and goes to class, albeit masked.

Parents lead their children on the first day of school amid the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) at West Tampa Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, the United States, Aug. 10, 2021.

Octavio Jones | Reuters

“He doesn’t really understand why his brother goes to school and he doesn’t,” said Hayes. “This is where the vaccine comes in. We’ll get him vaccinated as soon as possible and hopefully he can go back to school in January.”

While the Biden administration takes care of the compilation and dispatch of cans of. begins Pfizer‘s and BioNTechAs early as this week, some parents say they are preparing their children for a return to “normal” – face-to-face learning, exercise, and other extracurricular activities that are largely conducted, “s Covid vaccine for children ages 5-11 for vaccinations as early as this week were holding on because of the pandemic.

Even though the daily number of Covid cases in the US is falling, the virus infects an average of more than 72,000 Americans per day, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. Children make up a larger proportion of new infections.

Children aged 5 to 11 made up 10.6% of all reported Covid cases nationwide for the week ending October 10, despite the fact that they make up about 8.7% of the US population, according to data Data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although children are less prone to serious illnesses than adults, a small proportion of them do. At least 5,217 children have suffered from Childhood Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C, a rare but serious complication associated with Covid.

Fully vaccinating 1 million children aged 5 to 11 would prevent 58,000 Covid infections, 241 hospital stays, 77 ICU stays and one death a modeled scenario published by the Food and Drug Administration last week. Up to 106 children would have vaccine-induced myocarditis, but most would recover, according to the agency.

A student is attending an online class from home in Miami, Florida, United States on Thursday, September 3, 2020.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Children are generally less severely infected, but “they can get infected to the point where they suffer and are hospitalized and die,” said Dr. Paul Offit, pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Offit joined his colleagues on the FDA committee last week Pfizer vaccine recommendation for young children. “The benefit of vaccinating children is obvious,” he said.

The White House said it had raised enough doses to vaccinate all 28 million 5-11 year olds in the US and said it started the process on Friday of taking 15 million doses from Pfizer’s freezers and facilities to transport the distribution centers. The FDA approved the doses on Friday, and a CDC panel is expected to make a recommendation on the doses on Tuesday. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky could sign out soon afterwards.

The cans will have different directions and packaging to help medical providers not to confuse the shots with the company’s doses for people over 12, officials said. The vaccine is given in smaller doses in children, one third of the dose for adolescents and adults.

States are already preparing. California health authorities, for example said Wednesday The state will have 4,000 sites ready to deliver 1.2 million Covid vaccinations to children ages 5-11 once the vaccines are approved by federal agencies.

Katie O’Shaughnessey, an educator and mother of three who lives in Connecticut, said her 10-year-old daughter Maeve asked to be injected for her birthday in a few weeks. She said they are already trying to make an appointment with a local pediatrician.

Aside from attending school and some extracurricular activities, O’Shaughnessey said that she and her wife didn’t allow their daughter much else. While she acknowledged that children are generally less at risk of severe Covid, they are not at risk.

“For them this is their freedom,” she said. “We didn’t allow her to go to a restaurant. We didn’t see a show. A neighbor of ours was on a show in the theater, like on a professional tour, and we wanted her to see her friend and we said, ‘Sorry, you can’t go.’ “

O’Shaughnessey said she doesn’t know of any parents who say they are reluctant to get their child vaccinated – although surveys show many parents in the U.S. are reluctant.

According to a survey published by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday a third of the parents in the US say they would not vaccinate their children between the ages of 5 and 11 immediately and wait to see how the vaccine roll-out goes. The main concerns parents have about vaccinating their children have to do with “possible unknown long-term effects and serious side effects of the vaccine,” Kaiser said.

Pfizer says its study, which included more than 3,000 children who received the vaccine, found the syringes were well tolerated, with the most common side effects being mild and comparable to those seen in a study of teenagers and adults in old age From 16 to 25 years of age, effects for adolescents and adults are fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea, according to the CDC.

A boy rides his bike past a sign at the Pershing School in Orlando, advising that face masks are required for students until October 30, 2021.

Paul Hennessy | LightRakete | Getty Images

Still, federal agencies say they are monitoring for rare heart infections, myocarditis, and pericarditis, which have occurred in a very small number of young adults who have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. There were no cases of myocarditis in Pfizer’s study for children, but officials said the study may have been too small to identify the rare heart disease.

Dr. Theodore Ruel, director of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said parents’ concerns are understandable, especially since mRNA vaccines are a relatively new technology that many people are unfamiliar with.

“But at the end of the day it’s just like a regular vaccine, that is, you get this protein from the virus and your body reacts to it,” he said. “I’m afraid that part of the innovation angle may have mystified it, even though it works in the same way as other vaccines.”

Lora Vail, a Florida parent, said she wasn’t hesitant about getting her 6-year-old son, Cooper, vaccinated. She and her husband are already fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine and have an appointment to get a booster dose.

“We look forward to having our son vaccinated too, so he is protected and can protect others,” she said.

She said that many children don’t really get seriously ill with Covid, but it “doesn’t take into account the children who get sick, end up in intensive care and sadly die”.

“I wonder how much is too much,” she said. “For me it is one.”

South Carolina mother Shirley Grace said she looks forward to “adventuring” her 6-year-old son Michael again once he’s vaccinated. They used to go to weekly markets, museums, the zoo and libraries before the pandemic broke out.

“Although I’ve only limited our trips to places with Covid precautions, better protection for his father and me gives him the peace of mind that we have to go out again,” she said.

Unvaccinated People falsely say want for boosters proves Covid vaccines do not work

Jason Armond | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Protesters opposed to masking and compulsory vaccination for students gather outside Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters as board members voted for all children 12 and older in Los Angeles public schools to be fully opposed to COVID-19 by January Must be vaccinated to be vaccinated on Thursday, September 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Kaiser surveyed 1,519 randomly selected adults September 13-22 after the Biden government announced plans to introduce booster doses for all Americans, but before federal health officials recommended booster doses for people 65 and older and those at high risk of disease.

Disagreements over vaccines in general remain largely biased, the survey data shows: 90% of those who are Democrats say they received at least one dose of vaccine, compared with 58% of Republicans.

This breakdown by political identity has remained constant at around 30 percentage points since vaccines became widely available in the spring, Hamel said, although other gaps by race and ethnicity have narrowed.

The surge in Covid cases, hospital admissions and deaths from the Delta variant was the main driver of a recent surge in vaccinations, the survey found, with the largest increases in vaccination rates between July and September among Hispanic adults and ages 18-29 Similar proportions of white, black and Hispanic adults reported having been vaccinated at 71%, 70% and 73%, respectively, and reported having received at least one vaccination. Hamel noted that a separate Kaiser analysis of government-reported data The study published last week found that black and Hispanic Americans were less likely to have received a vaccine than white Americans, but that inequality between groups decreased over time.

The political divide over vaccines extends to the public’s plans to get a booster, as 68% of Democrats said they would “definitely” get one if recommended, almost twice as much as the proportion of Republican respondents.

The vast majority of fully vaccinated adults overall said they would “definitely” or “likely” receive a booster vaccination if recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

the The FDA approved the Covid-Booster vaccination from Pfizer and BioNTech on Wednesday for people 65 and older along with other Americans at risk. On Friday, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky authorized the distribution of boosters to those in high-risk professional and institutional situations who override an advisory panel that voted against this proposal. She also endorsed three other recommendations from the group that paved the way for distributing boosters to people over 65, other vulnerable groups, and a wide variety of U.S. employees – from hospital workers to grocery store cashiers.

president Joe Biden received a booster vaccination on Monday, as his age of 78 qualified him for an additional dose under the latest CDC guidelines.

“Boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated,” Biden said before receiving his injection.

According to CDC data, about 75% of the eligible population age 12 and older in the United States have received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 65% ​​are fully vaccinated. About 2.7 million people have received a booster vaccination since health officials approved it for people with compromised immune systems in August.

The pace of Daily recordings taken over the summer As the Delta variant quickly spread across the country, the seven-day average of daily doses reported peaked at 954,000 on September 3. It has slowed since then, and the seven-day average is about 632,000 syringes a day than Monday.

Covid vaccines do not improve threat of miscarriage or delivery defects, CDC says

A pregnant woman is given a vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Skippack pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, USA on February 11, 2021.

Hannah Beier | Reuters

Getting vaccinated against Covid doesn’t increase the risk of miscarriages or birth defects, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC prosecuted 1,613 pregnant women who a Covid-19 Vaccine, 30% of which were vaccinated in the second trimester while the remaining 70% received their vaccinations in the third trimester, said Dr. Christine Olson, a doctor with the CDC, told the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday.

These participants gave birth to 1,634 children, including 42 twins.

“We reviewed the currently available registry data and found no evidence of an increase in spontaneous abortion rates or any disproportionately negative birth outcomes in infants,” said Olson.

The 1,613 participants were part of the CDC’s v-safe pregnancy registry, which had 5,096 participants as of September 13. The CDC reported that 79.4% of the registry participants were white, 8.4% Asian, 8.1% Hispanic, and 1.4% black. About 65% were between 25 and 34 years old, 33% were 35 to 44 years old.

Olson cited a CDC study of miscarriage-related Covid vaccines conducted December 14 through July 19. The report included a 12.8% risk of miscarriage by 20 weeks of pregnancy in 2,456 participants who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccines while pregnant. This is the normal risk of miscarriage after adjusting for the mother’s age.

Of the 1,634 babies Olson examined, 99 were premature babies, 45 were considered small for their gestational age, and 158 needed an intensive care unit. There were no infant deaths in the group.

Only 45 babies in the group were born with birth defects, and Olson did not report any unusual types or clusters of birth defects to the panel. Covid vaccines are also not linked to stillbirth, said Dr. Elyse Kharbanda, a researcher from the HealthPartners Institute, who presented her results to the committee.

Kharbanda monitored pregnant, Covid-immunized individuals within the CDC’s vaccine safety data link from December to July and recorded 11,300 live births compared to 26 stillbirths during that period. Placental complications, obstetric complications, and maternal comorbidities were the main causes of these stillbirths, said Kharbanda.

“No worrying patterns related to timing of vaccine exposure or the etiology of stillbirths have been identified,” said Kharbanda.

The CDC reports that pregnant people are at higher risk for tougher Covid cases than the non-pregnant population. According to the agency, Covid also increases the likelihood of premature birth.

Are Covid vaccines turning into much less efficient?

Juan Rodriguez (L) reacts as he receives the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson administered by professional nurse Christina Garibay at a Skid Row community event held on August 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California, Covid-19 vaccines and tests were offered.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines are still “amazingly effective,” experts said, despite fears that immunity could wane over time.

There have been some concerns about the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines after a number of new studies suggested it a growing number of so-called “breakthrough” covid cases among fully vaccinated people. However, the studies have shown that those who are fully vaccinated are still very well protected from serious infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the virus.

Preliminary data released by the Israeli government in July showed that the Pfizer vaccine was only 16% effective against symptomatic infections in people who received two doses in January. In people fully vaccinated by April, the vaccine was 79% effective against symptomatic infections, suggesting that the immunity gained from immunization decreases over time.

A Pfizer-funded study published in July showed that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was most effective between one week and two months after receiving the second dose, at 96.2%. After that, however, it decreased by an average of 6% every two months. Four to six months after a second dose, the effectiveness dropped to about 84%.

In August, a UK study of more than a million fully vaccinated people found that protection from both the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines deteriorated over time. One month after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the protection against the virus was 88%, the analysis showed. After five to six months, this protection dropped to 74%.

Protection was 77% monthly after full vaccination with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and decreased to 67% after four to five months.

Lessons from Israel

In late July, Israel began offering a third dose of vaccine to anyone over 60 years of age. The booster program was expanded quickly and third shots have been available to anyone over 30 years of age in the country since August.

Professor Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center who treats Covid patients in Israel, told CNBC that although the number of cases has increased despite a high vaccination rate, the rate of serious illnesses in the country has remained “significantly lower” may be.

“We attribute this to the fact that most of our adult population have been vaccinated with two doses and more than a million people have received the third booster dose,” he said on a phone call.

“Serious disease rates among those who were vaccinated are about a tenth of those among those who have not been vaccinated, which means the vaccine is still over 90% effective in preventing serious illnesses,” added Leshem. “People who received the booster dose also have a much, much lower risk of getting infected, as our short-term data shows.”

Richard Reithinger, infectious disease expert and vice president of global health at RTI International, based in the US, told CNBC in an email that most of the vaccines developed against Covid-19 “were just mind-boggling, even with the emerging variants “.

“Undeniable evidence of this is that cases, serious illnesses that required hospitalization, and deaths in countries that have rapidly increased vaccination rates have all decreased dramatically,” he said.

“In countries with very high vaccination coverage, such as Iceland with more than 90%, hardly any serious cases and deaths are reported. Similarly, in countries with medium to high immunization coverage, such as the United States and Canada, severe cases and deaths are seen almost exclusively in the unvaccinated. “

Delta effect

An earlier UK study published in May found the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective in preventing symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant. Against the alpha variant, once the dominant strain in the UK, the vaccine was 93% effective in preventing symptomatic diseases.

Meanwhile, research found that two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective in preventing symptomatic disease from the Delta variant, compared to a 66% effectiveness rate versus the Alpha variant.

The data showed the importance of two doses of these vaccines, as the effectiveness of both vaccinations against symptomatic infections from the Delta variant was only 33% three weeks after the first dose, the study found.

Reithinger told CNBC that another mutation in the virus doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes more resistant to existing vaccines.

“The delta variant has been shown to be more transmissible than other variants and the vaccine effectiveness is slightly lower than the alpha and beta variants. The kappa variant that was created around the same time in India is not so transferrable, ”he emphasized.

Are booster shots the solution?

Several more countries, including the US and UK, are now offering or planning to offer third doses of Covid-19 vaccines to help boost immunity to the potentially depleted virus.

According to Gideon Schreiber, a professor at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, booster injections could become a necessity.

“Unfortunately it isn’t even [going to be] “The virus has huge potential for new varieties, many of which will help silence immunity – so there is a chance we may need more boosters in the future.”

Schreiber added that Israel’s booster program has been a great success so far. After a second dose, he told CNBC, the likelihood of developing Covid was four or five times less likely. But after a third dose, the chances of getting seriously ill with the virus were more than ten times less.

However, Reithinger argued that booster shots weren’t necessarily a logical move at this point.

“There is limited data that an immune response triggered by available vaccines wears off after six to eight months,” he told CNBC via email. “Most of the data relate to infections, not hospitalizations or deaths. The data also does not take into account the use of non-pharmaceutical measures such as masking and social distancing, which should continue to be used and followed in many contexts. The only populations for which a booster can be argued are the immunocompromised. “

However, he said a booster dose may eventually become necessary when data shows the vaccine’s effectiveness against serious illness and death over time.

Hope for treatment?

Schreiber is currently overseeing research into a therapeutic drug that is supposed to act as a “supercork” and physically wedges itself in cell receptors to which the virus attaches. By working to block the cells’ “entry ports” rather than attacking the virus itself, the scientists hope to keep an eye on future mutations.

“It should work against future variants because it doesn’t really track the virus – the virus can change, but as long as the virus attaches to it, it will block it,” he told CNBC.

However, Schreiber said the drug could not be used on a large scale.

“It’s too expensive and there is no need,” he said. “I see it as being given to people who have Covid and who belong to a high-risk group. It also has no long-term effects like a vaccine.”

The Sheba Medical Center’s Leshem argued that vaccinations are currently society’s best hope of finding a state of “equilibrium” with the virus in which the virus can circulate without serious effects.

“The best hope for people at risk is immunization, an effective vaccine we have right now that can be improved by boosting, mixing, or other methods,” he said.

“Despite very [intense] Research makes it very difficult to find effective treatments – viruses are not bacteria. So while we have developed good antibiotics that have dramatically changed the course of bacterial infections, we don’t have such good antivirals for many of the viruses that infect humans. “

In addition to vaccines, pharmaceutical companies are also looking for new treatment methods to prevent Covid. In mid-August, AstraZeneca published results of a phase 3 study of an antibody therapy that reduced the risk of symptomatic Covid-19 disease by 77%. There were no deaths or cases of serious illness among the 25 participants who became infected with symptomatic Covid during the study. A total of 5,172 people took part in the study, 75% of whom suffered from comorbidities.

Reuters reported that AstraZeneca is seeking conditional approval for the therapy in key markets this year. The pharmaceutical giant will produce 1 to 2 million doses by the end of this year, the news agency said.

“I really think we really need a drug,” Schreiber told CNBC. “There is a lot of drug development effort going on, there is no reason not to believe it won’t come in the near future. It will come and this will basically end history.”

He added, “The virus continues to mutate – new varieties will come, but the rate of technological advances is truly amazing. So I say there is no need to despair. “

Africa was shortchanged on Covid vaccines: African Improvement Financial institution

A health worker vaccinated a man in Abidjan on August 17, 2021 during an Ebola vaccination rollout on August 17, 2021 after the country recorded its first known case of the disease since 1994. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP) (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP via Getty Images)

ISSOUF SANOGO | AFP | Getty Images

African countries are “underserved” in terms of their access to Covid-19 vaccines, said the president of the African Development Bank.

“Africa [has] If I’m allowed to use that term, it has certainly been falling short when it comes to global access to vaccines, “Akinwumi Adesina told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

“The vaccines are not arriving on time, in the right amount and at the right price,” he said, adding that saving lives “is all about timing.”

According to Our World in Data, only 2.48% of the continent was fully vaccinated by August 23, far behind other continents.

By comparison, vaccination rates are 25.31% in Asia and 27.1% in South America, while vaccination rates in Europe and North America are both over 40%, as statistics from Our World in Data show.

“If we have learned one lesson from this, it is that Africa shouldn’t depend on the rest of the world for essential vaccines and therapeutics,” he said.

I assume that Africa will recover after this particular pandemic. The fundamentals remain very strong.

Akinwumi Adesina

President, African Development Bank

Africa “shouldn’t be dependent on others, it should be self-sufficient,” he said.

To this end, the African Development Bank wants to invest in primary, secondary and tertiary health infrastructure, Adesina said. It also hopes to allocate $ 3 billion to the pharmaceutical sector so that Africa can have vaccines and medicines for itself.

Economic effect

The pandemic had “very dramatic effects” on Africa, Adesina said, adding that GDP growth has declined, the budget deficit has doubled and the debt ratio has risen in 2020.

However, he expects growth of 3.4% this year after shrinking 2.1% in 2020.

“Africa still has fantastic fundamentals,” he said, citing rapid urbanization, good consumption potential and a large, young population.

The African continental free trade area is “too big to ignore,” said the bank president.

According to the World Bank, the AFCFTA, as it is called, is is the largest free trade area in the world based on the number of participating countries. It seeks to connect over a billion people in 55 countries with a combined GDP of $ 2.5 trillion.

“I assume that Africa will recover from this particular pandemic,” he said. “Fundamentals remain very strong.”

NJ Gov. Murphy mandates vaccines for state well being care and different frontline staff

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks at a press conference after touring the Covid-19 vaccination center at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey on January 15, 2021.

Mark Kauzlarich | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered vaccines for a variety of frontline workers at a news conference Monday, setting a September 7 deadline for healthcare workers and prisons.

Murphy added that employees who fail to get vaccinated must have regular coronavirus tests up to twice a week. The mandate applies to all employees in New Jersey’s hospitals, correctional facilities and assisted living centers.

“I want to make it perfectly clear that we are ready and willing to require all employees to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment unless we see a significant increase in vaccination rates among employees at these facilities,” Murphy said at the news conference.

Murphy’s latest move comes less than a week after he made a statement recommending vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens to wear masks in indoor public spaces where there is an increased chance of contracting the coronavirus. Citing Covid cases that “tend in the wrong direction”, Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli stated in a statement that the increased portability of the Delta variant was a decisive factor in the consultation.

Murphy originally lifted the New Jersey mask mandate with an executive order on the 24. In his order, Murphy also removed corporate social distancing requirements and capacity limits for indoor gatherings.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, one of Murphy’s frequent contributors to Covid protocols, ordered vaccines for the state’s transport workers this morning, just days after a similar mandate was issued involving government hospitals.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the average of seven-day coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 938 last week, a nearly 38% increase from the previous week. The CDC reports that 77% of New Jersey residents over 12 years of age have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.

CNBCs Nate Rattner contributed to this reporting.