The green light also shores up Britain’s race to vaccinate more people against the spread of the virus in the country, which on Tuesday broke its daily record of cases for a second consecutive day. Previously, the team developing the vaccine said that two doses of the shot had an “an average efficacy of 70%,” with one regimen (a half-dose followed by a full dose) showing an efficacy of 90%. On Wednesday, the UK government announced that the first dose will be given to as many people as possible. Clinicians have also been advised to wait as long as 12 weeks to give the second dose.
According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, regulators found that the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers “very effective protection” from coronavirus, allowing for people to be protected for a longer period of time before receiving a second dose. This contrasts with Pfizer/BioNTech’s two-dose shot, which has to be administered three weeks apart but which has an efficacy of nearly 95%.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: How long does Covid-19 immunity last?
The good news, according to Peter Collignon, a professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, is that while some people can become infected twice, “it’s such a rare event that you get put in a medical journal.” Around 99% of people infected with the virus don’t seem to get infected again for at least six months after they are infected, Collignon said.
The big question, then, is how long does natural immunity from the virus last? Scientists can’t answer that yet as the virus hasn’t been with us for long enough. The same is true for the vaccine — we don’t know how long the immunity for that lasts either.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
US sees first confirmed case of Covid-19 variant, amid woefully slow vaccine rollout
The news comes as alarm bells are going off among health officials over the slow effort to administer the Covid-19 vaccine in the US. The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed had promised that 20 million doses would be administered before January 1. Yet the latest data shows that just over 11 million doses have been distributed, and only 2.1 million have actually been administered to people. America’s top infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the US is “certainly not at the numbers that we wanted to be at the end of December.”
China’s Sinopharm says its vaccine is 79% effective
Though few details were provided, the statement released Wednesday said the vaccine met the standards of the World Health Organization and China’s own regulator. The announcement is expected to pave the way for the vaccine’s large-scale rollout both within China and globally.
Russian official acknowledges actual death toll is much higher than official figures
Golikova, who is in charge of the country’s coronavirus response, said Monday that “more than 81% of this increase in mortality over this period is due to Covid.” According to a CNN calculation, that means 186,000 Russians died from coronavirus in these months.
ON OUR RADAR
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- 2020 was supposed to be the watershed moment for action on climate change, the year the world woke up to the challenge and started taking it seriously. Covid-19 derailed those plans.
- People in Spain who decline to be vaccinated against coronavirus will be listed in a new register that will be shared with other European Union nations
- Amid this year’s chaos and uncertainty, key workers including farm staff, transport employees and postal workers continued to perform their jobs as normal, forming an often invisible frontline during the pandemic. Here are their stories.
- Mike and Carol Bruno did everything right to avoid Covid-19. But a simple family visit to get a haircut claimed both of their lives.