Pfizer and BioNTech said they would seek authorization for a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine to boost its efficacy as the Delta variant drove devastating outbreaks in Asia, including in Thailand where fresh curbs were announced Friday.
The highly-transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, is sweeping across the globe as countries race to vaccinate their populations to ward off fresh outbreaks.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they expected that a third dose will perform well against the strain and that they would be seeking authorization in the United States, Europe, and other regions in coming weeks.
Initial data from an ongoing trial showed a third shot pushed antibody levels five to 10 times higher against the original coronavirus strain and the Beta variant, first detected in South Africa, compared with the first two doses alone, according to a statement.
The companies said they expected similar results for Delta—but added they were also developing a vaccine specifically tailored to fight the deadly strain.
Medical frontliners to get booster jab
Health workers in coronavirus-hit Indonesia will get a third booster jab using the Moderna vaccine, authorities said Friday, after several fully inoculated medics died from COVID-19.
The Southeast Asian nation, battling its most serious outbreak to date driven by the Delta variant, has relied heavily on the Chinese-made Sinovac jab in its vaccine roll-out.
But out of 1,000 medical workers who have died of COVID-19, more than a dozen were fully inoculated, according to the country’s medical association, raising fresh concerns about Sinovac.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the government would give 1.47 million health workers an extra jab using the vaccine made by US biotech company Moderna.
Vietnam’s economic hub Ho Chi Minh City began a two-week lockdown Friday in the hope to contain the country’s worst COVID-19 virus outbreak.
The city of nine million had previously been subjected to travel restrictions for a month but infection rates were steadily rising – with more than 9,400 cases registered.
Before the outbreak kicked off in late April, Vietnam had recorded fewer than 3,000 cases across the entire country.
Vietnamese authorities are not using the term lockdown but are calling the measures “social isolation orders.”
Delta variant dominates
COVID cases are rising rapidly in the United States as the highly contagious Delta variant dominates and vaccinations stagnate.
The seven-day-average of new cases was 13,859 as of July 6, up 21 percent compared to two weeks earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The spike comes as the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than any previous strain, accounted for around 52 percent of cases in the two weeks ending July 3, according to the CDC.
Despite having among the highest availability of vaccines of any country, America’s immunization campaign has dropped off steeply since April.
‘No jabs, no job’—Fiji
Fiji has announced plans to make the coronavirus vaccine compulsory for all workers as it battles a runaway outbreak of the Delta variant, with the prime minister issuing a blunt message: “no jabs, no job.”
Frank Bainimarama said all public servants in the South Pacific nation of 930,000 must go on leave if they have not had their first injection by August 15 and would be dismissed if they did not receive their second by November 1.
Private sector employees must have their first jab by August 1, with individuals facing hefty fines if they fail to comply and companies threatened with being shut down.
“No jabs, no job—that is what the science tells us is safest and that is now the policy of the government and enforced through law,” Bainimarama said in a national address late Thursday.