50 New York teens will win full college scholarship for getting a COVID-19 shot, Cuomo says

Cuomo   Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

  • New York has offered teenagers a chance to win a full state college scholarship if they get a COVID-19 shot.
  • The scholarship adds to a growing list of incentives for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
  • New York’s vaccination rate is slowing, and young people are the least vaccinated group.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that 50 teenagers living in the state could win a full scholarship to any state college or university if they get a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Thursday.

The “Get a Shot to Make Your Future” prize draw would allow parents of vaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds to add their child’s names to a raffle. State officials would randomly pick ten names every week for five weeks, Cuomo said at a press conference Wednesday.

The scholarship adds to the list of incentives state officials are using to boost vaccine uptake. Last week, Cuomo unveiled a new “Vax and Scratch” program, which would give people $20 scratch-off lottery tickets for a $5 million cash prize. He announced a two-day free pass to any state park for vaccinated New Yorkers on Monday.

Winners of the prize draw would receive up to five years’ worth of funds to cover tuition, books, and room and board for those enrolling in an undergraduate or approved bachelor’s degree program, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said it was open to all vaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds.

New York state also offers the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers tuition costs for students whose parents make $125,000 or less per year.

Cuomo said the state needed to “get creative” to encourage more New Yorkers to get their shot, amid slowing demand.

“Vaccination rates across the state are beginning to slow and our greatest need is with young New Yorkers who make up a large percent of positive cases and have the lowest vaccination percentage in the state,” Cuomo said at the press conference.

As of Wednesday, 46% of New York residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 55% have received at least one dose, according to a New York Times database.

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The Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the variant first found in India, but only if you get both doses, real-world data shows

covid19 vaccine
On March 1, 2021, a woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a newly-opened vaccination site in Los Angeles, California.

  • Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines work against variants first found in India, real-world data shows.
  • Pfizer’s vaccine was 88% effective after two doses and AstraZeneca’s was 60% effective against the variant, a UK study found.
  • A single dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 33% effective, highlighting the importance of a second shot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the variant first found in India, which has fueled record-breaking infection numbers in the country and overwhelmed its healthcare system, new real-world data shows.

The UK-based study, from England’s public-health authority, found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine was 88% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the variant first found in India, which is called B.1.617.2. Two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 60% effective, the study found.

The UK has reported more than 4,000 cases of the variant, which has now spread to 49 countries including the US, according to Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data. B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the UK, remains the most common variant in both countries.

One dose offered far less protection, the Public Health England (PHE) study showed. A single dose of either vaccine was 33% effective against COVID-19 with symptoms caused by B.1.617.2.

The study, which was posted as a preprint Saturday and is yet to be peer-reviewed by other experts, is the first in the world to show that vaccines offer some protection against B.1.617.2, which has mutations that make it highly infectious and potentially able to escape antibodies produced by vaccines.

For comparison, two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine was 93% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the most common variant in the US, B.1.1.7, and AstraZeneca’s was 66% effective. After one dose, both vaccines were 50% effective against B.1.1.7, the data showed.

Matt Hancock, the UK’s health and social care secretary, said Sunday in a press release that the findings were “groundbreaking” and showed the importance of getting a second dose to secure the “strongest possible protection” against coronavirus variants.

Second shot of Pfizer and AstraZeneca boosted protection

The PHE study adds to a growing body of real-world evidence that one dose of COVID-19 vaccines provide some protection against coronavirus, and that protection is boosted by the second dose. PHE’s most recent surveillance report, for example, said that a single dose of either Pfizer’s or AstraZeneca’s vaccine was between 55% and 70% effective, rising to between 85% and 90% after two doses.

Adam Kucharski, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said on Twitter Sunday that “first and foremost” the study was “another reminder that second doses matter.”

The actual amount of protection offered by the vaccines could be more than it seems from the figures, as the PHE researchers did not look at whether the vaccines protected against severe disease caused by variants. COVID-19 vaccines typically offer more protection against these outcomes.

The lower efficacy of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after two doses, compared with Pfizer’s, could be down to the fact that it was mostly given to older people, who have weaker immune responses, the study’s authors said.

Other data has shown that AstraZeneca’s vaccine can take longer than Pfizer’s to reach maximum effectiveness after the second dose.

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Companies across the US are offering workers perks for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s the running list.

covid vaccine card cdc
ICU nurse Megan Tschacher shows off her vaccination card at UC Health Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado on December 14, 2020. Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images

  • Workers across the US can receive extra pay from their employers for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Many front-line workers are now able to receive the vaccine in various states and localities.
  • So far, almost 34 million people have received one or more doses of the two-shot immunization.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Companies across the US are joining in the largest-ever vaccination effort by offering employees perks if they receive the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Receiving the vaccine is voluntary, but most companies have strongly encouraged employees get the immunization when it’s their turn. The two-dose vaccines, one from Pfizer and BioNtech and the other from Moderna, were emergency approved in the US in December. Since then, almost 34 million people have received one or more doses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many states and localities have begun moving from the first phase of vaccinating health care workers and elderly living in long-term care facilities to immunizing front-line workers. With that, some companies are giving workers two to three hours of paid time off per dose received, and others are offering a stipend for employees who voluntarily get the shots when it’s their turn.

Recently, Publix, Petco and AT&T joined the growing list. Here’s the 18 Insider knows about so far:

Know of a company not on this list that’s offering employees time off, pay, or other perks to get vaccinated? Email Natasha, the reporter of this piece, at ndailey@insider.com.

1. Target

Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Target is offering workers up to four hours of paid time off to get both shots of the vaccine and will pay for Lyft rides up to $15 for employees needing transportation to and from their appointment.

2. Dollar General

dollar general
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The discount chain was the first major retailer to announce an incentive for workers to get vaccinated. Dollar General employees can earn up to four hours of pay for receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and will receive extra time off if they have an adverse reaction.

Read more: What’s coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here’s the latest on 11 leading programs.

3. Darden Restaurants

olive garden
Patrons enter an Olive Garden Restaurant. Steve Helber/AP Photo

Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and The Capital Grille, will offer workers four hours of paid time off, two hours per dose, Bloomberg reported. Employees must show proof of their vaccination to earn the time. The company doesn’t require the shots, but strongly encouraged workers to get them.

4. Shake Shack

shake shack
Noam Galai/Getty Images

The burger-and-shake restaurant chain will give workers 3 hours of pay per shot of the two-dose vaccine. Shake Shack didn’t mandate employees receive the vaccine but “strongly encouraged” it.

5. Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company.
Noodles & Company.

Workers will earn up to four hours of paid time off for receiving the vaccine, the company said in a Feb. 10 statement to Insider. The restaurant strongly recommended employees receive the vaccine but did not require it.

6. Kroger

Kroger logo is seen at one of their stores in Athens, Ohio. Stephen Zenner/SOPA

The grocer is giving employees a one-time $100 payment for getting the vaccine. On top of that, Kroger said it would give associates an added bonus of a $100 store card and 1,000 fuel points to “thank and reward” workers during the pandemic.

7. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The grocery retailer will offer all 50,000 employees two hours of pay per dose and allow for flexible scheduling so workers can make it to appointments.

8. Aldi

Aldi store shop
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The German grocer will cover employee costs associated with receiving the vaccine and provide two hours of pay for each of the two doses received.

9. Instacart

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SOPA Images/Getty Images

The app will offer its US and Canada shoppers, who deliver groceries to customers, a $25 stipend to get vaccinated.

10. Lidl

Leonhard Foeger/File

The German grocery chain is encouraging workers to get vaccinated by offering its US workers $200 in extra pay if they receive the immunization.

11. McDonald’s

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

The fast food chain is giving workers four hours of pay for receiving the vaccine. Though getting the shots is not required, the company said it will connect employees with groups that can answer questions on the vaccination, Restaurant Business reported.

12. Starbucks

starbucks barista drinks
Richard Drew / AP Photo

The coffee chain is offering workers two hours of pay per dose of the COVID-19 vaccine they receive.

13. Chobani

Chobani Greek Yogurt
Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER

Chobani will give workers up to six hours of pay, three per dose, for receiving the vaccine, Human Resource Executive reported.

14. Amtrak

AJ Packer/Shutterstock.com

Amtrak is allowing employees to get vaccinated during work hours, and will pay for two hours off if employees provide proof they received the shot. Workers will also be excused with pay for up to 48 hours if they have side effects.

15. JBS USA and Pilgrim’s

jbs meatpacking greely colorado
The JBS meatpacking facility in Greeley, Colo. Chet Strange for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The meat-packing company is offering employees a $100 bonus incentive if they receive the vaccine voluntarily.

16. Petco

petco groomers
Petco groomers. AP Photo/Richard Vogel

The pet-supply retailer told Insider it would offer employees a one-time payment of $75 for getting vaccinated. Plus, it will give a $25 donation to the Petco Partner Assistance Fund for each person who receives their shots.

17. AT&T

People walk past the AT&T store in New York’s Times Square, June 17, 2015. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

AT&T is giving employees up to four hours of paid time off per dose, adding up to eight hours total for anyone who needs the hours to get the vaccine, a spokesperson said in an email to Insider. The company is also giving workers access to Castlight, a tool to help them find available vaccines in their area based on eligibility.

18. Publix

Publix grocery store night
Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Publix will give associates a $125 gift card to the store after they get both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Workers aren’t required to get the shots at Publix, but they will need to show proof of vaccination. The vaccine is optional, though encouraged, the company said.

19. Walmart and Sam’s Club


Beginning May 18, Walmart and Sam’s Club will give its associates below the store manager level $75 for being fully vaccinated, the companies announced on May 14. Workers are required to show their vaccine card in order to receive this bonus.

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The US shouldn’t prioritize vaccinating teens over donating shots abroad if it wants to get back to normal, experts say

pfizer administered to a teenager
A teen ‘COVID-19 student ambassador’ received a dose of Pfizer at Ford Field on April 6, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

  • The US is expected to expand its vaccine rollout to teens as soon as Thursday.
  • Meanwhile, low and middle income countries haven’t vaccinated their most vulnerable people.
  • To get back to normal, the US need to both immunize teens and send doses abroad, experts told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In January, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general at the World Health Organization (WHO), warned that the world was on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure” by not giving enough vaccines to poorer countries. “It is not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries,” he said.

Five months on, more than half of Americans have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, US vaccine supply has outstripped demand, and 12-year-olds could be offered Pfizer’s shot as early as Thursday.

Meanwhile, vaccines remain scarce in low- and middle-income countries and many of the most vulnerable people in those nations haven’t yet received a shot, a WHO spokesperson told Insider. In India, where millions are dying and the virus has mutated, less than 10% of people have had at least one vaccine dose, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data.

Some experts see this disparity as a moral dilemma. “You don’t need to vaccinate all the way down, say, to your teen population … before you send out vaccine doses to COVAX,” Melinda French Gates, co-chair at the Gates Foundation, said May 9. COVAX is the WHO-backed initiative that aims to get more vaccines to low and middle-income countries.

To get itself – and the world – back to normal, the US needs to both vaccinate its young people and send more shots abroad, some experts told Insider. Others went further, and said that it doesn’t make sense to vaccinate low-risk populations, such as kids, when vulnerable people abroad are at risk abroad.

Fauci: We need to do both

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor, has said that immunizing young people is essential to achieve herd immunity, which is when enough people are vaccinated that the virus can no longer spread from person to person.

But Fauci has also advocated sending doses abroad to curb the virus’ spread.

“[India has] got to get their resources, not only from within, but also from without, and that’s the reason why other countries need to chip in to be able to get either supplies for the Indians to make their own vaccines or to get vaccines donated,” Fauci told ABC News Sunday.

A spokesperson from US President Joe Biden’s administration told Insider that it had committed 60 million AstraZeneca doses to countries in need, once cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Read more: How coronavirus variants called ‘escape mutants’ threaten to undo all our progress

Kathleen Neuzil, professor in vaccinology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told Insider that vaccinating teens and sending doses abroad via COVAX were not “necessarily mutually exclusive.”

Neuzil said that she’d witnessed more younger people from ethnic minorities and with chronic conditions getting sick with COVID-19 in the US, who needed access to vaccines. But she said a coordinated response was required between nations. “No single country alone can beat this pandemic.”

Dr. Erlinda Ulloa, a pediatrician studying the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in kids at the University of California, told Insider that fair vaccine distribution and immunizing teens in the US were separate issues.

Ulloa said that 12 to 15 year-olds should get vaccines if and when it’s recommended. “It’s remarkably safe and effective in this age group,” she said. But from an ethical perspective, if there’s opportunity to support vaccination efforts abroad then the US should do it, Ulloa said.

Getting back to normal

coronavirus hug
Jacquie Carney runs to hug her grandma, Donna Vidrine, upon arrival in Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2020.

Janet Englund, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told Insider that if US teens weren’t immunized the virus would continue to spread in younger age groups. “To get back to ‘normal,’ we need to immunize our younger people,” she said.

“But if we don’t take care of the rest of the world, it’s going to be a temporary fix,” she added. “All these variants will eventually escape our vaccine and the best way to handle that is to vaccinate [the US and the rest of the world].”

Englund said the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech – the shot that has been authorized for US teens – might be technically difficult to use in low and middle income countries right now as it requires very cold storage temperatures, although the groups are working on a vaccine that can be stored in a normal fridge. Other vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) could be more useful as they can be stored at normal temperatures already, and J&J’s shot is just one dose, she said.

Prioritize vulnerable adults abroad, two experts say

Russell Viner, professor of adolescent health at University College London, told Insider in a statement that the “key risk” for society was the “diversion of vaccines” to low risk groups while vulnerable adults in other countries remain unvaccinated.

Viner said very few children and teenagers ended up in intensive care with COVID-19 disease, and almost all of these were the same children that are vulnerable to winter viruses every year. It’s difficult to argue that vaccination benefits healthy teens, given our current knowledge, he said.

Viner said there was undoubtedly a very small group of teenagers who were clinically extremely vulnerable and should be vaccinated. Teenagers also play a role in transmission so if they remain unvaccinated they could act as a reservoir of infection, he said.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, told Insider in a statement that giving vaccines to adolescents wasn’t a priority, at least for now.

Finn explained that most children who catch coronavirus don’t get seriously ill. “Indeed, most don’t get sick at all,” he said.

Finn said that at this point in the pandemic, when there are global shortages of vaccines, and lots of vulnerable people who haven’t got a shot, the priority was to prevent large epidemic waves, like the one in India.

“Those outbreaks pose a global threat as they drive the evolution of vaccine-resistant variants and their dissemination around the world,” he said.

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The US just authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for teenagers, making it the first COVID-19 shot OK’d for 12- to 15-year-olds

16-year-old participates in coronavirus vaccine trial for Pfizer at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, pediatric vaccine studies COVID-19
A 16-year-old in Pfizer’s clinical trial to test its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

  • US regulators have OK’d Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for use in younger teenagers.
  • The two-dose shot is the first vaccine to be authorized for use in the 12- to 15-year-old age group.
  • US health officials have said they will soon be ready to start giving the shot to kids.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Teenagers in the US are now eligible for a leading coronavirus vaccine, as the Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded the authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 shot to include 12- to 15-year-olds.

The two-dose vaccine was approved in December for anyone 16 years old and up. US health officials said they were prepared to soon start giving the shot to younger teenagers.

Canada is the only other country to have OK’d a COVID-19 vaccine for younger teenagers. On May 5, it authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for use among people 12 and older.

Expanding eligibility to include the younger age group could give the immunization campaign a boost. The US has seen the daily rate of people getting their first dose plummet since early April, from a peak of 1.9 million people a day to about 830,000 a day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A major driver for that decline has been that a majority of adults in the US have already received at least one dose. About 58% of US adults have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, according to CDC data.

“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the FDA, said in a statement. “Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”

Pfizer tested the vaccine in a clinical study that enrolled 2,260 children ages 12 to 15. Half of the volunteers received Pfizer’s shot, while the other half got a placebo injection. Overall, the trial recorded 18 COVID-19 cases, all in the placebo group. Side effects of the shot were in line with those observed in people 16 to 25 years old, Pfizer said.

Pfizer and other vaccine developers are also testing COVID-19 shots in younger populations down to 6-month-olds

The New York drugmaking giant is still testing the shot in younger ages, hoping to further expand its eligibility later this year.

In September, Pfizer anticipates study results showing whether the shot works in children ages 2 to 11.

The final step down for kids – from 6-month-old babies to 2-year-olds – should produce data in November, according to Pfizer’s projections.

Other leading vaccine developers are also testing their shots in younger populations.

On May 6, Moderna said its vaccine was highly effective in an initial review of a clinical trial enrolling more than 3,000 teenagers. The Massachusetts biotech said it was “in discussions with regulators about a potential amendment to its regulatory filings” after those early results. Moderna is also enrolling volunteers for a study testing the vaccine in kids 11 years old all the way down to 6 months old.

Johnson & Johnson also started testing in April its single-dose vaccine in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age.

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One dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine was highly effective at preventing coronavirus in older people, real-world data from South Korea suggests

Worshippers wearing face masks have their temperature taken at a buddhist temple in Seoul as south korea reopens during the coronavirus pandemic
Worshippers wearing face masks have their temperature taken as they attend a prayer ceremony entitled ‘overcoming and healing the COVID-19 coronavirus’, while marking Buddha’s birthday at the Jo gye Buddhist temple in Seoul on April 30, 2020.

  • One dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines was more than 86% effective at preventing COVID-19, data shows.
  • South Korean health officials said Tuesday that more than 520,000 Koreans over 60 had had a single shot.
  • The data from South Korea didn’t show how long protection lasts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A single dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines was more than 86% effective at stopping coronavirus in older people at least two weeks after vaccination, real-world data from South Korea shows.

Both vaccines are authorized to be given as two injections, spaced weeks apart, but this data again shows how effective the vaccines are overall.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Twitter Tuesday that one dose of the vaccine co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was 89.7% effective at preventing COVID-19 in South Koreans aged over 60. The vaccine co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was 86% effective at preventing COVID-19 after one dose, it said.

The KDCA analysis included more than 520,000 people who had been vaccinated with a single dose of either vaccine.

In the data collected, 1,237 COVID-19 cases were reported, and only 29 came from the vaccinated group, the KDCA said in a press release.

The agency didn’t provide a breakdown of how many people received each shot or the severity of illness – COVID-19 vaccines are generally more effective at preventing COVID-19 infections that cause hospitalization or death.

The KDCA said the vaccines’ protective effect was higher when the second vaccination was completed, so a second shot within the recommended period was “absolutely necessary”.

Read more: One slide lays out Pfizer’s busy 2021 plans for its COVID-19 vaccine, including when it could start being used in kids

South Korea’s findings adds to a growing body of real-world data suggesting that a single shot of a COVID-19 vaccine protects against COVID-19, but it’s still not clear how long protection from a single dose may last.

Real-world data from the UK, posted as a pre-print study on April 23, found that either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine cut COVID-19 infections with symptoms by 72%. Protection from a single dose probably holds up for at least 10 weeks, based on measurements of antibody levels, the study, which wasn’t peer-reviewed, said.

Another real-world study from Scotland published in the Lancet on April 23 found that a single dose of Pfizer’s vaccine was 91% effective against hospitalization at 28 to 34 days following vaccination. One dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 88% effective against hospital admissions after the same time period, the study found.

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One dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine cuts COVID-19 spread by up to 50% within a household, a study found

three generations multigenerational household
Multi-generational household.

  • One dose of a Pfizer of AstraZeneca vaccine cut household transmission by up to 50% in a study.
  • Protection kicked in from 14 days after vaccination regardless of age, Public Health England said.
  • It remains unclear how long protection from one dose lasts for.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A single dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine cut the spread of coronavirus within a household by up to 50% in a new study.

People who had one dose of either vaccine were between 40% and 50% less likely to pass on the virus to people in their household, 21 days after the shot, compared to those who weren’t vaccinated at all, the study authors from Public Health England said in a preprint paper posted Wednesday.

Protection kicked in at around 14 days after vaccination, with similar levels of protection regardless of age, PHE said in a press release.

Both vaccines – one made by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, the other by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford – are two-dose vaccines.

The virus is highly likely to spread from person to person within a household. PHE said it expected similar results in other high-risk settings, such as shared accommodations and prisons.

“Not only do vaccines reduce the severity of illness and prevent hundreds of deaths every day, we now see they also have an additional impact on reducing the chance of passing COVID-19 on to others,” Mary Ramsay, head of PHE, said in a statement.

The study has not yet been peer-reviewed by experts.

So far, more than 33 million Brits have had one vaccine dose, according to government figures. In the US, more than 141 million people have received a single COVID-19 shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized in the US, but AstraZeneca’s is not.

Read more: COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: AstraZeneca’s shot proves safe and effective, and is headed to the FDA

The researchers looked at 57,000 contacts of people who had a COVID-19 vaccine, and compared them to a group of nearly 1 million contacts for unvaccinated people.

Given the researchers looked at lab-confirmed cases only, it was not possible to conclude from the research how well vaccines stop people spreading asymptomatic COVID-19.

Dr. Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control, said in a statement that the authors may have actually underestimated the vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing transmission, because the vaccinated person’s contacts could have caught COVID-19 from someone else.

“This study shows that even if people who are vaccinated do become infected, they are considerably less likely to be infectious, and to pass the infection on to others,” he said.

A UK-based study reported by Insider Thursday showed a single dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s vaccine reduced symptomatic and asymptomatic coronavirus infections overall by more than 65%.

Deborah Dunn-Walters, British Society for Immunology COVID-19 Taskforce chair and professor of immunology at the University of Surrey, said in a statement that the study was welcomed, but there was still much to learn about how COVID-19 vaccines affect transmission.

“It is still very important for us all to get two doses of the COVID vaccine to ensure we receive the optimal and longest lasting protection, both for ourselves and our communities,” she said.

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One dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer’s vaccine provides protection against COVID-19 that lasts at least 10 weeks

pfizer vaccine distribution UK
A nurse prepares to inject staff with the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at Bradley Manor residential care home in Belfast on December 9, 2020.

  • A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech of AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine reduced infections by 65% in a UK survey of about 275,000 people.
  • Effectiveness rose to 72% against COVID-19 with symptoms.
  • Antibody responses lasted for up to 10 weeks for both vaccines, the study found.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can give people significant protection against the disease for at least 10 weeks, a UK study of about 375,000 people suggests.

There was a 65% reduction in COVID-19 infections overall after one dose of either the AstraZeneca-Oxford University or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, study authors from Oxford said in a press briefing on Thursday. Protection from a single dose probably holds up for at least 10 weeks, based on measurements of antibody levels.

The vaccines are intended to be given as two injections, spaced several weeks apart. But the UK has pursued a strategy of delaying the second vaccine dose for up to 12 weeks to give more people a first injection. The study provides evidence supporting that strategy, said Sarah Walker, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford who led the survey.

“But people must get their second dose,” she added.

Getting a second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine boosted people’s protection. Researchers found that in people who’d had both doses, the vaccine reduced the number of overall infections by 90%. There’s not enough data yet to draw any conclusions on AstraZeneca’s shot. Doses of Pfizer’s shot are supposed to be given three weeks apart, while AstraZeneca jabs can be given four to 12 weeks apart.

The studies provide more evidence that COVID-19 vaccines work

The data provide the latest real-world evidence that coronavirus vaccines are highly effective at halting the virus. Another real-world study from Israel published in February showed Pfizer’s vaccine was 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 with symptoms when two doses were given 21 days apart.

The UK results come from the National COVID-19 Infection Survey conducted by Oxford University, the Office of National Statistics and the Department of Health and Social Care. The Oxford researchers who led the study were not involved in the coronavirus vaccine work with AstraZeneca.

The researchers collected 3.9 million random nasal coronavirus swabs from more than 218,000 UK households between December 2020 and April. They then looked at how many people got infected with the coronavirus, and checked whether or not those people were immunized.

“The benefit of this study is learning real world effectiveness,” said Sarah Walker, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford who led the survey. “The scale of the study is helpful here in determining what is going on in a range of different ages and groups.”

The results were released as two studies posted as pre-prints on Friday, and have not yet been scrutinized by other experts in a peer review.

To figure out how long protection may last, the authors also looked at the antibodies the body creates in response to being vaccinated. Antibodies are one part of the natural defenses against infection that vaccines are intended to stimulate.

Antibodies from the vaccines lasted for at least 10 weeks

They found that after one dose of either vaccine, antibodies persisted for at least 10 weeks, across all age groups. A second dose of Pfizer’s shot boosted antibody levels. Results aren’t provided for a time period longer than 10 weeks.

Pfizer has released data showing that protection from its vaccine lasts for at least six months. Still, some medical experts have suggested that people may need annual boosters to maintain protection over time.

The UK study didn’t look at whether the vaccines prevented hospitalization or death. Another pre-print study from Scotland posted on February 22 suggested that one vaccine dose helps protect against hospitalizations, but effectiveness waned after five weeks.

The Oxford scientists cautioned that immunized individuals can still get COVID-19 and transmit the virus, even if at a lower rate than those who have not had a COVID-19 shot at all.

They did find that a single dose of either vaccine provided more protection against infections associated with a high level of virus particles, known as a viral load. People with a higher level of the virus may be more likely to transmit the virus to others.

The vaccines also worked well at preventing symptomatic cases of coronavirus. There was a 72% reduction in symptomatic infections, but just a 57% reduction in infections that didn’t cause symptoms after one dose.

“The people with symptoms are those who could potentially end up in hospital,” Walker said.

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The billionaire scientist who developed Pfizer’s breakthrough vaccine has not sold any shares in partner BioNTech’s surging stock

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Ugur Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech, receives the Federal Order of Merit for contributing to the containment of the pandemic on March 19, 2021 in Berlin.

Ugur Sahin, the CEO and co-founder of German pharma group BioNTech, is one of two scientists whose efforts helped develop the first coronavirus vaccine authorized in the US.

Sahin and his wife, Ozlem Tureci, are the “dream team” couple whose company partnered with Pfizer to develop and supply three billion vaccine doses worldwide by the end of 2021.

The race among pharmaceutical companies to create and distribute their vaccine candidates was intense last year, with many seeing their stocks impacted by developments in clinical trials. Company insiders rushed to sell their shares, aiming to make profits off of their booming stocks.

Notably, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla cashed out 60% of his stock the day the company disclosed that its vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19.

But Sahin hasn’t sold a single share in BioNTech since February 13, 2020, according to a recent Forbes report.

Sahin, the son of Turkish immigrants who moved to Germany in the late 1960s, is among the richest people in Germany. But his family lives in a modest apartment near his office and doesn’t own a car. His lifestyle is said to reflect a simple approach to life, and he’s known for cycling to the office. His company is currently valued at $36 billion.

He grew convinced that COVID-19 would have a deadly effect worldwide as early as January 2020, Forbes said. His years of experience with the mRNA method, a safety mechanism that protects against infectious diseases, came in handy when he decided BioNTech would pivot to finding a coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer CEO Bourla has previously described Sahin as a “very, very unique individual.”

“He cares only about science. Discussing business is not his cup of tea,” Bourla told The New York Times in November last year. “He doesn’t like it at all. He’s a scientist and a man of principles. I trust him 100 percent.”

With the development of BioNTech’s vaccine, the company’s stock has surged 900% from its 2019 IPO price. Sahin’s stake in the company is worth $6.1 billion, according to Forbes.

SEC filings show Sahin holds a 17% stake in BioNTech through a limited liability company called Medine. Amid a stock transfer by Medine to other beneficiaries, a filing in February showed neither the company, nor Sahin, had sold any ordinary shares since February 13, 2020, around the time the pandemic was just beginning to spread globally.

Read more: Goldman Sachs says buy these 19 downtrodden stocks that have badly lagged the S&P 500 this year – but have immense upside potential heading into earnings season

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Pfizer vaccine may be less effective against South African and UK coronavirus variants, according to Israeli study

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vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered to front-line health care workers under an emergency use authorization at a drive up vaccination site from Renown Health in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020.

  • An Israeli study found that the Pfizer vaccine may not provide full protection against the South African strain.
  • Fully vaccinated patients saw protection against a surging UK strain, but partially vaccinated patients did not.
  • Israel has the world’s fastest vaccine roll-out, but has excluded Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Coronavirus variants first found in South Africa and the UK are able to partially “breakthrough” the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to an Israeli study that studied real-world infection data. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

The study, released on Saturday, compared the incidences of both variants between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The study, conducted by Tel Aviv University and Israeli healthcare provider Clalit tracked almost 400 people, and counted both partially vaccinated (one dose) and fully vaccinated (two dose) patients.

The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to be eight times more prevalent among vaccinated patients while the UK strain, B.1.1.7, was more prevalent among partially vaccinated patients, though the fully-vaccinated showed increased protection against the UK strain.

The study suggests that the Pfizer vaccine provides less protection against the South African variant than the original coronavirus, but it is not able to actually conclude that because it is focused on those who have already tested positive for the virus, not total infection rates.

Roughly 80% of Israel’s population is vaccinated, with almost 53% of the population having received both Pfizer doses. The study found that only 1% of total cases in the study were the South African variant, a promising sign for Israel, the most vaccinated country.

Israel’s vaccine totals do not include Palestinians. Israel occupies the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, and has rolled out the vaccine much more slowly in Palestinian territories, claiming that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the distribution of vaccines.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian student studying at Tel Aviv University in Israel won the right to be vaccinated after being turned away from a school vaccination site and then suing. Israel has just recently begun to vaccinate Palestinians.

In data released on April 1, Pfizer and Biotech found that their shot was 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 and showed early signs of preventing the spread of the B.1.351 strain as well. Earlier lab trials had suggested that the vaccine provides some protection against the strain, but not full protection.

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