A global vaccine tracker is unveiled as cases are on the rise for the first time in two months. With herd immunity unlikely at this point, researchers are developing the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID Cases on the Rise
With COVID-19 cases trending up for the first time in two months, a dozen states are seeing an increase in the number of ICU beds used for COVID-19 hospitalizations. In the U.S., cases are up 17% from Oct 24, with 27 states seeing increases in new cases. Alaska, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota are being hit hardest. A similar increase in cases is being observed in Europe, where over half of the COVID-19 cases and deaths are recorded worldwide. This sharp increase in cases is prompting some countries to consider another round of lockdowns, potentially targeted to unvaccinated individuals. The rise in COVID-19 cases is being attributed to vaccine hesitancy and waning immunity of those previously vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
Equitable Global Distribution of Vaccines
On a call convening foreign ministers on Wednesday, November 10, Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined three new initiatives aimed to accelerate the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide. In addition, a new COVID data tracker built by the World Health Organization and other international organizations, was revealed. The tracker will be a central hub that will collect vaccination rates, ICU admissions, vaccine doses pledged for donation and doses delivered.
Vaccine Manufacturer Seeks EUA for Booster for All Adults
On Tuesday November 9, one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers asked FDA to revise its emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 booster shot to include all adults 18 and older. The current eligibility is limited to people who are 65 or older, at risk of severe COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition, or at risk due to living conditions or work. California has directed health officials in a letter not to deny booster shots to adults, allowing them to “self-determine their risk of exposure.”
Allergy Symptoms Aren’t an Impediment to Completing Vaccination
A large study found that in people with a history of allergies, vaccination was associated with increased reports of allergy symptoms after receiving an mRNA vaccine. These individuals were nevertheless able to complete the two-dose regiment successfully.
Vaccine Developers Aim for the Nose
Vaccinations to date have blunted the force of SARS-CoV-2 infections and transmissions and lowered the burden of severe COVID-19 disease. Nevertheless, the virus does not show signs of disappearing just yet. Many vaccine developers, therefore, are working on next-generation vaccines. Among the targeted improvements are easier administration (e.g., spraying up the nose instead of receiving an injection) and having the vaccine stop the virus at its point of entry (e.g., on mucosal membranes instead of through antibodies circulating in the blood). These and other advantages of intranasal vaccines are explained in a recent review and results from animal experiments have already been reported by two different groups