UK advisers: Vaccine protection highly likely to wane over time

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk at Borough Market, central London on July 27, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)

SAN SALVADOR / ADDIS ABABA – The protection that vaccines give against coronavirus infection, and potentially severe disease, is highly likely to wane over time so vaccine campaigns will continue for years to come, scientists told the British government's advisory group.

"It is highly likely that vaccine induced immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and potentially severe disease (but probably to a lesser extent) will wane over time," according to an executive summary of a document considered by the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

"It is therefore likely that there will be vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2 for many years to come, but currently we do not know what will be the optimal required frequency for re-vaccination to protect the vulnerable from COVID disease," the scientists said.

The document, titled "How long will vaccines continue to protect against COVID?", was written by prominent virologists and epidemiologists from Imperial College London, University of Birmingham and Public Health England.

UK officials are close to an agreement to allow travelers to pass through airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Doha and Bahrain, without having to quarantine in a hotel when they arrive, the Telegraph reported Saturday.

The move will make it cheaper and easier for business travelers and families to reunite with relatives in Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East who often have to pass through these transit hubs.

US

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday there will be no nationwide mandate for Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine, clarifying comments she made earlier during a televised interview.

"To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government," Walensky wrote in a Twitter post. "There will be no federal mandate."

Earlier on Friday, when asked by a Fox News Channel interviewer, "Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level," Walensky said: "That's something that I think the administration is looking into."

Florida reported 21,683 new cases on Friday, breaking a daily record for the entire pandemic, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s previous one-day record was more than 19,100 in early January, according to CDC data. As the highly infectious delta variant has spread around the US, new infections in Florida have skyrocketed over the last month, from a low near 1,000 new daily cases last month.

Florida, the third most populous state, now accounts for about one in five new virus infections in the entire US, making it the country’s new epicenter for the outbreak.

The state reports publicly once a week, but more often to the CDC, and on Friday reported 110,477 cases for the previous seven days. Weekly cases in the U.S. were almost 545,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

The positive test rate of 18.1 percent is more than twice the national average of 7.8 percent. Florida currently has the highest daily hospital admissions of the entire pandemic, according to CDC data. New admissions rose more than 50 percent from the previous week, the data show.

El Salvador

El Salvador has detected its first case of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, Health Minister Francisco Alabi said on Saturday.

Ireland

Over 72 percent of adults in Ireland have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Saturday.

"The vaccine rollout (in Ireland) is continuing at great pace. Today we edged ahead of our nearest neighbours, a brilliant effort by everyone involved," he said in a tweet.

The prime minister said that 72.4 percent of adults in Ireland have been fully vaccinated, while the figure in the UK is 72.1 percent.

On Saturday, a number of walk-in vaccination clinics have opened across Ireland. People aged 16 and over can receive a first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at these clinics without appointment.

Earlier this week, Karina Butler, chair of Ireland's National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), said that the NIAC had recommended the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the 12-15 year olds.

The online vaccination registration for this age group has reportedly started.

Ireland on Saturday reported another 1,427 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Cuba

Cuba registered 8,875 new cases and 65 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health reported on Saturday.

With these figures, the total number of cases rises to 384,596 while the pandemic death toll increases to 2,758.

The ministry's national director of hygiene and epidemiology Francisco Duran said that 98.5 percent of the new infections in the last 24 hours were contacts of confirmed cases.

Havana reported the most new cases, with 1,994, followed by the provinces of Cienfuegos (1,194) and Matanzas (1,042).

Tunisia

Tunisian Health Ministry on Saturday reported 3,419 COVID-19 cases, raising the tally in the North African country to 589,565.

The death toll from the virus rose by 183 to 19,686 in Tunisia, while the total number of recoveries reached 510,696, the ministry said in a statement.

A total of 2,248,435 lab tests have been carried out in Tunisia so far, according to the ministry.

Chile

Chile reported on Saturday 1,152 new COVID-19 infections and 82 more deaths in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,615,771 cases and 35,448 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

Chile reported 1.8 percent positivity in tests carried out for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the lowest recorded at the national level during the pandemic, Minister of Health Enrique Paris reported on Saturday.

The official said in a statement that the positivity rate in the Santiago Metropolitan Region remained at 2 percent, while 13 regions have reported positivity rates of less than or equal to 2 percent.

Africa

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 6,678,949 as of Saturday afternoon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stands at 169,280 while 5,845,926 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.