The Biden administration announced they expect that 70% of adults will be vaccinated by July 4th. All the projections to date have been highly conservative, so I assume they'll beat this one as well. Today about ~58% of adults are vaccinated.
About one-third of US adults previously had Covid. Some of those have been vaccinated, but those prior infected are helping contribute to overall immunity. Only two of the top 20 metro areas have an R over 1, and even those are below 1.05. I believe we have seen the final nationwide wave. My only remaining concern is a handful of states that have low vaccination rates.
Variants continue to not concern me. Pfizer released data showing its' standard vaccine is 75% effective against infection from 351. Furthermore, it is 97% effective against severe disease. The 351 variant is believed to have the highest immune escape of any variant analyzed to date. Moderna also released data showing their booster against 351 was highly effective. We may need a booster in the fall, but even that seems more and more unlikely.
The new variant from India, 1617.2, has reached the UK. In the unvaccinated population, the Indian strain 1617.2 is spreading at a rate similar to 117, implying it does indeed have significantly higher spread abilities. This isn't great and likely helps explain the surge in India itself. Still, at first glance, it doesn't appear to have significant immune evasion.
The week the US announced it would back an effort to waive IP rights related to Covid-19 vaccines. The action was first started by India and South Africa at the WTO last fall. As popular as this is in some circles, it is unlikely to make a difference in the number of vaccines available.
As I've discussed before, the limitation to more vaccines is the supply chain. We've never widely deployed an mRNA vaccine before, and it's a highly complicated, complex process. Additionally, Moderna had previously stated they wouldn't enforce IP rights for their Covid vaccine.
Moderna and Pfizer are doing incredible jobs scaling their manufacturing operations. This week Pfizer announced it expects to produce 3 billion doses this year, up from the 2.5 billion doses it had earlier projected, and at least 4 billion next year. So by the end of 2022, one company will have produced enough for half the world. I continue to be optimistic about the worldwide rollout over the next 18 months.
This week there were some massive announcements about vaccines for the younger population. Pfizer stated that it will go for EUA approval for 12-15-year-olds next week. This group has 16 million people in the US. We're currently vaccinating 2 million people a day, down from 4 million a day at our peak. With all that current excess capacity, we could do that entire cohort in 16 days. Moderna also released its' initial study on 12-17-year-olds, which showed that it was 96% effective.
Pfizer also laid out the plans for further age-based approvals. It expects to submit for a EUA for 2-11-year-olds in September. Then in late November / December, they plan to submit approvals for 0.5 - 2-year-olds. It looks like it'll be less than a year from first approval to approval for all.
Pfizer announced it will go for full approval soon. In general, this won't change much. Still, I think it will help those who are hesitating due to the "emergency" part of the authorization. Overall hesitancy continues to go down, but we are moving into the rollout phase, where we need to be more proactive.
Some states and employers are rolling out cash and other incentives to get your shot. There are now mobile teams equipped with J&J going into areas where people have had a hard time getting to shots in other places.
More work was done with individuals who had SARS, and it showed that 17 years later, those people still had antibodies. For MERS, prior work showed at least 6+ years of protection. Both SARS and MERS are Coronaviruses like Covid-19. While we won't have data on Covid-19 till later, this type of research suggests we might get long-term immunity.
As things start to open up, I recommend going out, seeing friends. It's been a long year, and it's good for all of us to begin to see each other again.
Take care out there.
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