The World Health Organization (WHO) warns and warns that the Covid-19 pandemic is absolutely not behind us: there is in fact the risk that new even more dangerous variants will arise. An alert that increases concerns, while infections are rising throughout Europe and in Italy, the Gimbe Foundation highlights how over 2 million over-60s are still not vaccinated and therefore are at risk. At the same time, the European Medicines Agency (Ema) confirms the effectiveness of vaccines also available against variants and soon a second immunizer could be available for children over-12.
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The new alarm comes from the usual briefing from Geneva on the pandemic situation: the WHO emergency committee has warned that new variants of the SarsCoV2 virus could spread around the world making it even more difficult to stop the epidemic. “It’s not over at all”, said the experts, pointing out “the strong likelihood that new and perhaps more dangerous variants will emerge that could be even more difficult to control”. Currently, however, the EMA reassures, a complete cycle of the four anti-Covid vaccines available still provides high protection against all variants in circulation, including Delta, especially against serious illness and hospitalization.
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Further confirmation also comes from the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of the data confirming the efficacy of the single-dose J&J vaccine against Delta and the duration of the immune response for at least 8 months. In the face of effective vaccines, it is therefore extremely important to immunize as many people as possible in Europe. The EU Agency is also evaluating the request to extend the use of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine to young people between 12 and 17 years – currently vaccinated only with the Pfizer immunizer – and a decision is expected at the end of next week.
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As for a possible third dose, “it is now too early to confirm if and when a booster dose will be needed, because there is not yet enough data from vaccination campaigns and ongoing studies to understand how long the vaccine’s protection will last”, he said. clarified the Ema head of vaccine strategy Marco Cavaleri.
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Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign in Italy is proceeding. But with an ‘Achilles heel’ that is represented, the Gimbe Foundation notes in its weekly monitoring, of the more than 4.7 million over-60s at risk of serious illness not covered by the double dose of vaccine. Of these, 2.2 million (12.4%) have not yet received even a dose of vaccine with significant regional differences (from 21.8% in Sicily to 7.2% in Puglia), while 2.55 million (14 , 2%) must complete their course after the first dose. But “to determine the control of the epidemic we should probably exceed 80% vaccination coverage”, recalled Gianni Rezza, director of Prevention of the Ministry of Health.
Covid, how to fly in the times of variants
by Noemi Penna
Already at the beginning of July, the WHO had begun to alert the population and the scientific world by observing the growing spread of the Delta variant. “The world is in” a very dangerous period “of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Delta variant now identified in almost 100 countries”. So the WHO ruled, again through the mouth of the director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, just a couple of weeks ago. There was confirmation that the variant first identified in India was continuing to evolve and mutate, becoming the predominant strain in many countries.
“I have urged leaders around the world to ensure that, by this point of the year in 2022, 70% of all people in every country are vaccinated,” said Ghebreyesus – because that would effectively end the acute phase of the pandemic. “.
Of the doses administered globally, less than 2% was in the poorest countries. The Delta pushes infections into Africa, which double every three weeks, WHO said. South Africa has the most worrying data, with over 20,000 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the total to 1.9 million infections and 66,323 deaths. According to the African Centers for Disease Control, this is more than 30% of the 5.5 million cases reported by 54 African countries. WHO explained that Delta was detected in 97% of the sequenced samples in Uganda and in 79% in Congo.
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Less than 2% of the 1.3 billion Africans have received a dose of the vaccine. Johnson & Johnson announced that its single-dose serum “generates strong and persistent activity against Delta” and other variants, and that “the data showed that the duration of the immune response is at least eight months”.
Unicef then announced an agreement with Janssen for the supply of vaccines on behalf of Covax, for a maximum of 200 million doses in 2021 for 92 countries, after similar agreements with Serum Institute of India, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Human Vaccine and Modern. The data is worrying around the world. In the United Kingdom, Delta-related infections increased by 46% in one week (Public Health England data), while the strain represents 95% of confirmed cases. And India has exceeded the threshold of 400 thousand deaths, a figure considered an underestimate due to the lack of official tests and data. It is the third country in the world to do so, after the USA and Brazil.
A new death record was then found in Russia. The Kremlin, however, rules out the lockdown. “Nobody wants it,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, admitting that the health situation is “heavy” in various regions. So “we all need to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” he added. Only 15% of the Russian population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while at least 20 regions, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, have made vaccination mandatory for employees in certain sectors. The authorities recorded over 5.5 million confirmed infections, 136,565 deaths.