“We’ve been getting about 80,000 doses a week, and that’s not much for a state with 11 million people,” Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said Tuesday.
• Cases: The nation averaged 250,052 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week as of Tuesday, down 19% from the previous week but still nearly three times the country’s peak average last summer, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
• Hospitalizations: 123,820 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals on Tuesday — a number that has dipped five consecutive days for the first time since late September, according to COVID Tracking Project data.
• Deaths: The country has averaged 2,989 deaths a day over the past week, down 10% from the week prior, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Officials say they need more vaccines
But state and local officials are worried the supply will not be enough to continue the momentum.
San Francisco’s Department of Public Health announced its supply will be exhausted by Thursday if there isn’t an additional allotment. New York City is set to run out by the same day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
“If we don’t get more vaccine quickly, we will have to cancel appointments,” de Blasio said.
Due to their low vaccine supplies, Baptist Health South Florida has canceled all vaccination appointments for anyone scheduled to receive a first dose beginning Wednesday.
Studies suggest vaccinated people are protected from variants identified in UK and South Africa
New research provides evidence that people vaccinated against coronavirus would be protected against at least some of the variants.
Two teams tested two of the variants against blood taken from people who had received the full two-course dose of either the Moderna or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
While the mutations in the new variants of the virus — the one first seen in Britain and another first identified in South Africa — did allow them to evade some of the immunity induced by vaccination, it was far from a complete escape, the two teams reported separately.
A team led by Dr. Michel Nussenzweig of the Rockefeller University tested plasma taken from 20 people who got two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine as part of clinical trials. They found the vaccines produced strong antibody responses, as well as cells that keep producing new antibodies for months or years.
“We measured their antibody responses to the wild type virus. Then we took their plasmas and measured them against the variants,” Nussenzweig told CNN.
Different mutations in the viruses did allow some escape from some types of antibodies, but the bodies of the volunteers threw an army of different types of antibodies at the viruses, the team reported in a preprint — not peer reviewed — published online.
“When you start putting all these mixtures of antibodies together, what it means is that together they can take care of the variants,” Nussenzweig said. Even though they had a reduced effect, overall the response was so overwhelming that it should not mater, he said.
“What we really want to do with these vaccines is keep people out of the hospital. They are extremely likely to do that, irrespective,” Nussenzweig added.
Eventually, the vaccines should be updated — but the new mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna can be changed very quickly. “Should the vaccines be tweaked?” he asked. “Probably — but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be effective.”
Separately, Ugur Sahin, who helped invent the BioNTech vaccine being made and distributed by Pfizer, teed his vaccine against the variant first seen in the UK. The team found “no biologically significant difference in neutralization activity,” they reported in a pre-print report. But they said it would be “prudent” to start tweaking the vaccine, just in case.
CNN’s Christina Maxouris, Naomi Thomas, Jamiel Lynch, Kay Jones, Alexandra Meeks Elizabeth Cohen and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.