(Bloomberg) — Pfizer and Moderna Inc. pushed for boosters, saying separately the immunity offered by their Covid-19 vaccines may wane over time.
A study in Israel backed the notion, showing a third Pfizer shot can dramatically reduce rates of virus-related illness in people 60 and older. Hong Kong sees no urgent need for boosters because the city hasn’t recorded a local infection in three months.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s commercial hub, is considering a gradual reopening starting next month. Canada’s Toronto-Dominion Bank said a broad return of workers to its offices has been delayed until at least next year. Commercial aerospace and defense giant Raytheon Technologies Corp. is also mandating U.S. employees get inoculated.
The number of people getting a first dose is declining again in the U.S. after a fleeting uptick in August. All 12 regional branches of the Federal Reserve and the Board in Washington will require staff to be vaccinated.
CDC Meeting Next Week on Boosters (5:25 a.m. HK)
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a two-day meeting next week to discuss booster shots for Covid-19 vaccines.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices posted notice of the meeting, which will be held Sept. 22-23, on its website on Wednesday. The panel of outside experts advises the CDC on how best to administer new vaccines.
Booster Dose Slashes Infections (5:00 a.m. HK)
A third dose of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE Covid vaccine can dramatically reduce rates of Covid-related illness in people 60 and older, according to data from a short-term study in Israel.
Starting 12 days after the extra dose, confirmed infection rates were 11 times lower in the booster group compared with a group that got the standard two doses, the analysis released Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicinefound. Rates of severe illness were almost 20 times lower in the booster group.
Early versions of the highly anticipated analysis have been cited by Biden administration officials, including the president’s Covid medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, as they push for a booster program scheduled to start Monday. The Israeli analysis is expected to be highlighted at a meeting of Food and Drug Administration advisers reviewing Pfizer’s application for clearance of the booster shots.
Slovenia Protests Turn Violent (5:00 a.m. HK)
Demonstrations against pandemic curbs turned violent in Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on Wednesday, as stricter restrictions came into force.
Protesters threw bottles, cobblestones and flares toward the parliament building and police, according to N1 news site. Police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and a water canon. Several protesters were arrested.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa condemned the protest on Twitter, saying the government “won’t give into pressure” and will insist on measures to protect health and lives of the people.
Toronto-Dominion Office Return Delayed (4:45 p.m. NY)
Toronto-Dominion Bank said a broad return of workers to its offices has been delayed until at least next year as the delta variant upends employers’ plans across North America.
The lender, Canada’s largest by total assets, had said in March that employees working from home would likely continue to do so into the summer or potentially longer. Toronto-Dominion now doesn’t “currently expect a broader return to TD locations before calendar 2022,” Kenn Lalonde, the bank’s chief human resources officer, said in a memo to employees Wednesday.
Fed to Require Shots for All Staff (4:41 p.m. NY)
All 12 regional branches of the Federal Reserve and the Board in Washington will require staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Staff were informed in recent weeks of the decision, apart from those at the Minneapolis Fed which led the way when Neel Kashkari, its president, announced on July 7 that it would require vaccinations. About 23,000 people work at the Fed. The move also comes as President Joe Biden requires all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated.
Moderna Says Vaccine Immunity May Wane (4:05 p.m. NY)
Moderna Inc. said that a new analysis of the late-stage clinical trial of its vaccine found a higher rate of breakthrough cases in people who got shots early in the study.
The analysis, detailed in a news release from Moderna on Wednesday, examined instances where immunized people in the company’s trial still contracted Covid-19 this summer, when the delta variant was surging.
Los Angeles to Require Vaccine Proof at Bars (3:15 p.m. NY)
Proof of vaccination will be required at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges in Los Angeles County under a forthcoming health order, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The mandate will also apply to employees of those establishments and require that both they and patrons have at least one vaccine dose by Oct. 7 and are fully vaccinated by Nov. 4, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, according to the newspaper.
N.Y. to Allow EMTs to Give Vaccines (11:30 a.m. NY)
New York state will allow basic emergency medical technicians to administer vaccines, to alleviate anticipated staffing shortages once boosters are approved, Governor Kathy Hochul said.
Approximately 2,000 EMTs are eligible, while another 50,000 can be eligible once they complete training that takes a few hours, she said.
Hochul also added child-care centers to the list of facilities in the state that must require masks.
ICU Beds Full in Southern Illinois (11:10 a.m. NY)
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported zero available intensive-care unit beds in the southern region of the state, according to the latest count. None of the 88 ICU beds were available in region 5 of the state’s emergency medical services regions. Region 5 is made up of 20 of the state’s southernmost counties. Data reported by the health department are based on daily counts that hospitals report and considered “provisional” and may be subject to change. There are 605 ICU beds available statewide.
World Expo Requires Vaccination or Tests (10:45 a.m. NY)
Visitors to Dubai’s World Expo will now be required to provide vaccination certificates or get tested to enter the event, under new rules issued days after organizers said inoculations weren’t needed.
Visitors will now be required to present proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours, Expo 2020’s organizers said Wednesday. Those who aren’t vaccinated and haven’t been tested can get a free PCR test at the event site.
The move would mark a shift from last week when the organizers said they “encourage” vaccination, but visitors wouldn’t be required to provide proof of immunization or a negative PCR test. The Expo is one of the world’s biggest in-person events since the pandemic began and is expected to attract 25 million visits over six months.
Pfizer Says Vaccine Efficacy Erodes (8:54 a.m. NY)
Pfizer Inc. said that data from the U.S. and Israel suggest that the efficacy of its vaccine wanes over time, and that a booster dose was safe and effective at warding off the virus and new variants.
The company detailed the data in a presentation it will deliver to a meeting of outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
Separately, blood plasma taken from people immunized with the vaccine was able to neutralize the lambda and delta-plus variants in a lab study, a sign that the shot continues to be protective. The company-sponsored study was posted on BioRxiv, a pre-print site, and has not been subject to peer review.
Biden to Meet Executives on Vaccine Mandates (8:07 a.m. NY)
President Joe Biden will meet with executives who’ve taken steps to require employees to be vaccinated.
Biden will meet at the White House with Brad Smith, president of Microsoft Corp.; Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co.; Roz Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.; Tim Boyle, president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear Co.; Greg Adams, CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and others, according to an official familiar with the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden will emphasize that businesses that have required shots have seen sharp increases in vaccination rates in short periods of time, the official said. White House officials hope the event serves as a rallying cry for other workplaces, the official said.
Lilly to Supply 388,000 Antibody Doses to U.S. (7:01 a.m. NY)
Eli Lilly will supply 388,000 doses of its neutralizing antibody therapy etesevimab to the U.S. government, with much of that being shipped in the third quarter.
WHO Sees Vaccine Progress in Africa (6:48 a.m. NY)
Headway is being made in efforts to secure more coronavirus vaccines for Africa, where less than 3.5% of the population has been fully inoculated, according to the head of the World Health Organization.
“Between now and the end of the year we expect the volumes of vaccines coming into Africa to increase substantially,” said Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general. “That makes it crucial that all countries step up their preparations to roll out vaccines.”
Officials from the WHO, the Covax initiative and the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust met on Tuesday to discuss the continent’s vaccine shortfall and how to address it.