Vaccine hopes were heightened by data from Novavax and J&J, but fears of new variants remain

The global case of coronavirus-borne disease COVID-19 was on its way to 102 million on Friday, as health experts melted the latest vaccine updates from Novavax Inc. and Johnson & Johnson with hopes that they will soon win emergencies and strengthen supplies.

Novavax
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+ 52.81%

said late Thursday its vaccine candidate, which has a different mechanism than those already approved in the US – one developed by Pfizer Inc.
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and German partner BioNTech SE
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+ 3.08%
,
and a separately developed by Moderna Inc.
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– appears to be 89% effective, based on early data from a UK study of 15,000 patients, reported AP.

The company said that about half of the subjects who became infected with the virus had the mutated version that has been circulating in the UK for several weeks. A preliminary analysis suggested that the vaccine is almost 96% effective against the original virus and almost 86% effective against the new variant.

See also: The Novavax vaccine is effective. Now I seriously hope that was what I was injected with

Researchers have been even more concerned about a strain first discovered in South Africa that carries various mutations – and results from a small Novavax study suggest that the vaccine works but not as well as it does against the UK variant

Read now: Pharmaceutical manufacturers investigate the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for new, more infectious South African strain

It was a similar story from J&J
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when it released early data from a phase 3 study of its COVID vaccine candidate early on Friday, says that it seems 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe illness 28 days after vaccination, but less effective – only 57% – in managing the South African tribe.

J&J will submit the data to a peer-reviewed journal in the coming weeks and expects to submit an emergency use permit in early February. There are high hopes for this vaccine, as it requires only one dose, unlike the currently approved ones, which require two doses with separate weeks.

The information comes when the US added at least 165,073 new cases on Thursday, according to a tracker from the New York Times, and counted at least 3,862 deaths, although it was lower than the more than 4,000 deaths reported in the two previous days.

The case has decreased in the last 14 days. The United States had an average of 159,598 new cases per day over the past week, a decrease of 34% from the average two weeks ago.

Hospital stays are also improved, according to the COVID Tracking Project. There were 104,303 COVID-19 patients in US hospitals on Thursday, down from 107,444 the day before. The number has now decreased for 17 consecutive days and is at the lowest level since 7 December.

“Reported deaths increased by 7 percent this week, with states reporting a total of 22,797 lives lost to COVID-19,” wrote the COVID Tracking Project in its weekly blog. “Deaths lag behind cases – both because it takes time to die from the virus and because the reporting process for deaths is very slow. Even with cases that fall over the United States, we can have another week or more very high death rates. ”

Against this background, President Joe Biden is running his pandemic response team to speed up the pace of vaccination and buy more doses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker shows that as of 6.00 ET on Thursday, 26.2 million doses had been administered and 48.4 million doses delivered to states.

In other news:

• The European Medicines Agency on Friday approved the use of AstraZeneca AZN, -2.07% COVID-19 vaccine for people over 18 years, MarketWatch’s Lina Saigol reported. The European Medicines Agency, or EMA, said it had assessed quality, safety and efficiency of AstraZeneca’s shots, developed by the pharmaceutical company in collaboration with the University of Oxford, and recommended conditional marketing authorization in the European Union.

Read: When can younger, healthy people be vaccinated? A former Biden COVID-19 adviser says it will take months

• Separately, Europe stepped up its fight to secure COVID-19 vaccines on Friday, after Brussels warned it would use all legal means to block the export of shots if it does not receive the vaccine doses promised by pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca.
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and Pfizer, MarketWatch’s Lina Saigol reported. In a letter to four EU leaders, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said the 27-member bloc could take “urgent action” by invoking an emergency measure in the EU treaties “to address the bloc’s coronavirus vaccine shortage, which is approaching a crisis point. Several EU countries – including France, Portugal and Spain – said this week that they are canceling their inoculation programs due to vaccine shortages.

Read: AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to people under the age of 65, Germany recommends as EU EU crisis deepens

• Older people are on bigger risk of COVID-19 hospital stays and deaths, but many may lack access to online systems that can help facilitate their vaccinations and save their lives, MarketWatch’s Meera Jagannathan reported. Forty-five percent of Americans between the ages of 65 and 80 report that they have not created an account on their healthcare provider’s online patient portal system, according to a recent analysis of survey data from University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. Some older adults who may face even higher COVID-19 risk are less likely to use patient portals, the survey shows: While 39% of older white adults did not have an account, almost 50% of older black adults and 53% of those older Latin American adults did not have one.

Also read: Quick information about COVID-19 vaccines for the elderly – where, when and how to get them

• The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed to manufacture the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, according to AFP, so many countries are climbing to secure short deliveries. The news comes after the French pharmaceutical company earlier this week said it would also help produce 125 million doses of Pfizer / BioNTech jab.

• World Health Organization experts will begin face-to-face meetings with their Chinese counterparts on Friday in central Wuhan City at the start of the team’s long-awaited fact-finding mission on the origin of the coronavirus. reported AP. These meetings should be followed by the first field visits in and around the industrial and transport hub on Friday, the WHO said on Twitter but did not provide further details about the team’s agenda. They said the team had already requested “detailed underlying data” and planned to talk to early responders and some of the first COVID-19 patients. “All hypotheses are on the table when the team follows science in its work to understand the origin of the COVID19 virus,” the WHO tweeted. “When members begin their field visits on Friday, they should receive the support, access and information they need.”

Recent speeches

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide rose above 101.6 million on Friday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, and the death toll rose to 2.19 million. About 56 million people have recovered from COVID-19.

The United States leads the world by fall, 25.8 million, and deaths, 433,431, or about one-fifth of the total.

Brazil has the second highest number of deaths, 221,547, and is the third of 9.1 million.

India is second in the world in cases with 10.7 million, and now fourth in deaths at 154,010, after being surpassed by Mexico.

Mexico has the third highest number of deaths at 155,145 and the 13th highest case is 1.8 million.

The UK has 3.8 million cases and 103,324 deaths, the highest in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.

China, where the virus was first detected at the end of last year, has had 99,797 confirmed cases and 4,813 deaths, according to its official number.

What does the economy say?

Americans cut spending in December for the second month in a row as a record increase in coronavirus cases opened new cracks in the economy and hampered the recovery, MarketWatch’s Jeffry Bartash reported.

Consumer spending fell by 0.2%, said the government on Friday.

The decline in expenditure towards the end of the year deprived the economy of momentum. Gross domestic product slowed to 4% annual growth and left the economy with some gaping holes to fill.

If there is a silver lining, the expenses do not fall as much as expected. Economists surveyed by the Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal have forecast a decline of 0.4%. In addition, the decline in November was not as sharp as originally reported.

Read: The US economy grew more slowly by 4% at the end of 2020, GDP shows

At the same time, revenues increased by 0.6% in December, indicating that consumers still have money to spend when they regain confidence in the economy. The savings rate is still extremely high at 13.7%, about twice as much as normal.

Separately, the Americans were leery but hopeful in late January on the prospect of an economic renewal later in the year when coronavirus vaccines become widely available, a study showed.

The second of two readings of consumer sentiment this month rose to 79 from an original 79.2, according to an index produced by the University of Michigan.

Economists surveyed by the Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had predicted that the index would remain at 79.2.

Still, the index changed slightly from December reading of 80.7, indicating that Americans are looking ahead instead of looking back.

Read: Consumer confidence is recovering from the vaccine, Biden hopes

Dow Jones Industrial Average
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and S&P 500
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was lower in the morning trade.

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