Restrictions on who can get COVID-19 booster shots have been rolled back after federal agencies took multiple actions Friday, clearing the way for all adults to get a booster dose.
Initial vaccines are still doing an excellent job of protecting against severe disease and hospitalization, particularly of young healthy people. But their effectiveness against any infection starts to fade at about six months. Boosting brings the level of protection back up above 90%, Pfizer-BioNTech data shows.
Widespread booster shots should also help cut down on transmission of the virus. Although vaccines have only been shown to reduce someone's infectiousness for a short period, that may be enough to get through the holiday season and the coldest part of the winter, when the risk for more COVID-19 cases is highest, officials said.
Health officials have been bracing for the possibility of a surge in cases over the winter. The latest projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation warns of a worst-case-scenario where cases — fueled by seasonal spread and the delta variant — surge far higher than last winter. However, the projection currently expects cases to stay essentially flat in coming months.
Although boosters have been available to a limited population for a while, only about 16% of those eligible for the extra shots have gotten them so far. Some states have already allowed boosters for all adults.
— Karen Weintraub
Also in the news:
► Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Friday he will not renew the COVID-19 state of emergency, letting it expire Friday night. By doing so, Lee is officially ending a 20-month-long status that granted the governor elevated authority to suspend state laws and regulations to combat COVID-19.
► COVID-19 vaccines got a shoutout at a Thanksgiving tradition on Friday. When President Joe Biden pardoned two Thanksgiving turkeys, he said they were selected based on their “temperament, appearance and, I suspect, vaccination status.” Biden joked: “Instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted today.”
📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 768,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 256 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 195 million Americans – 58.9% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we're reading: The pandemic has spurred many workers to reevaluate their lives and the role work plays in them, leading some to set fresh boundaries, find new jobs or maintain the side hustles that got them through the shutdowns and layoffs. Read more.
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CDC studies highlight danger of COVID infection during pregnancy
Two studies published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight the dangers of COVID infection during pregnancy, further emphasizing the importance of vaccination.
Pregnant women infected with the Delta variant are at an increased risk of stillbirth, according to one of the studies that analyzed outcomes of more than 1.2 million pregnancies among U.S. women between March 2020 and September 2021.
While stillbirths remain rare, the study found 1.26% of deliveries among people infected with the virus resulted in stillbirths while 0.65% of pregnancies among non-infected people resulted in stillbirths.
While the overall risk for stillbirth is still low, Dr. Mark Turrentine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said pregnant people shouldn't underestimate COVID-19.
“What’s really sad is we have 10 months of a vaccine that’s been highly effective and we just can’t convince people to take advantage of this,” Turrentine said.
The CDC also published a report analyzing 15 COVID-related deaths among pregnant women in Mississippi between March 1, 2020 and Oct. 6, 2021. The study found an increase in death rates among pregnant women after the Delta variant became predominant. It reported five deaths for every 1,000 cases among pregnant women before Delta became predominant, and about 25 deaths per 1,000 after Delta became predominant.
Police in the Netherlands open fire at protest against COVID restrictions
Police opened fire on protesters in rioting that erupted in downtown Rotterdam in the Netherlands around a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions late Friday night. The Dutch city’s mayor called it “an orgy of violence.”
Police said that two rioters were hospitalized after being hit by bullets and investigations were underway to establish if they were shot by police. The condition of the injured rioters was not disclosed.
Officers arrested 51 people, about half of them minors, police said Saturday afternoon. One police officer was hospitalized with a leg injury sustained in the rioting, another was treated by ambulance staff and “countless” others suffered minor injuries.
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that “on a number of occasions the police felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves” as rioters ran rampage through the port city’s central shopping district, setting fires and throwing rocks and fireworks at officers.
— The Associated Press