Coronavirus Updates: Vaccine protection may wane after 7 months, BioNTech CEO says

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- As the Delta variant fuels the latest surge in cases of COVID-19, there's new evidence that the protection the vaccines provide may be on the decline.

Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, the company that helped develop the Pfizer vaccine, told the Wall Street Journal that "antibody levels are dropping seven months after immunization among some vaccine recipients," but he added, "Most of them will remain protected against severe disease and might not need a third dose."

Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested a booster shot may be needed for people with weaker immune systems.

"Those are the kind of individuals that if there's going to be a third booster, which might likely happen, would be among first, the vulnerable," he said.

Here are more of today's headlines:



Moderna expanding kids COVID-19 vaccine study to better assess safety
Moderna said Monday it plans to expand the size of its COVID-19 vaccine study in younger children to better detect rare side effects, such as a type of heart inflammation recently flagged by U.S. health authorities.

The company said it is in talks with the Food and Drug Administration to enroll more study participants under age 12. It had intended to test the vaccine in about 7,000 children, with some as young as 6 months. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said via email it hasn't decided on how many kids might be added.

VA mandates COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines, as the aggressive delta variant spreads and some communities report troubling increases in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people. The VA's move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and health care organizations issued a call for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated. At the VA, vaccines will be now mandatory for specified health care personnel - including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants and others who work in departmental facilities or provide direct care to veterans, said VA Secretary Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.

NYC mandates weekly testing for all unvaccinated municipal workers
All unvaccinated city municipal workers will have to get weekly testing by the start of school in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday, in a dramatic expansion of the city's vaccination policy. The new requirement will apply to all city workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers. It will also apply to some contracted employees.

"This is about keeping people safe," he said. "This is about making sure our families get through COVID OK."

NYC offering COVID vaccines at 'Summer Rising' locations
With COVID cases on the rise again across the region, vaccination sites are popping up at New York City's 'Summer Rising' youth program locations. The city will be offering the Pfizer vaccine, as officials push to get as many students 12 and older vaccinated before the school year begins. It comes as the country takes a turn for the worse, with the Delta variant spreading rapidly. An estimated 100 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, and experts say those people are driving the rising case numbers.

Connecticut Gov. Lamont urges vaccines for holdouts as COVID-19 infections rise
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on Monday urged holdouts to get vaccinated against COVID-19 but said he is not considering new restrictions as infection rates rise. He said during a news conference on the New Haven Green that vaccines are the best available protection against the virus, including the surging delta variant.

"It's highly infectious which makes it all the more important right now," Lamont said. "Anybody with any hesitancy, come forward."

NY steps up effort to get people vaccinated
New York is stepping up efforts to get more of its residents vaccinated. Governor Cuomo announced $15 million in new funding for six community organizations across the state to reach out to people in under-vaccinated communities. The goal is to step up vaccination rates in 117 zip codes, that are reporting new COVID cases above, and vaccination rates below, the state average. Sixty-one percent of those zip codes, 71 in all, are in New York City, with the majority in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, Cuomo said. Eighteen percent, 21 total, are on Long Island, and the rest are spread across the state. A total of 25% of New Yorkers - some 3.5 million people - remain unvaccinated, Cuomo said.

Cuomo announces streamlining of rent relief program
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday a new streamlined application process for New York's rent relief program to help eliminate potential barriers for eligible New Yorkers to receive funding. The new process immediately relaxes documentation standards for both tenants and landlords. It also implements a streamlined process for submission of arrears documentation for multi-tenant landlords. It goes into effect tomorrow, July 27. "The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on New Yorkers all across the State, and they need rental assistance now," Governor Cuomo said.

Most unvaccinated unlikely to get shots, new poll finds
A new poll shows that most Americans who haven't been vaccinated against the coronavirus say they are unlikely to get the shots. About 16% say they probably will get the vaccine. Most also doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant, despite evidence they do. Those findings underscore the challenges facing public health officials as soaring infections in some states threaten to overwhelm hospitals. The poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 35% of adults who have not yet received a vaccine say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not. That means "that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

NYC vaccination rates by zip code
There are about a dozen communities in the New York City area where three out of four people have not been vaccinated yet. 7 On Your Side Investigates created a map where the darkest colored zip codes have the most vaccinated New Yorkers and the lightest, the least.

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