Both vaccination and prior infection help protect against new COVID-19 infections, but vaccination protects against hospitalization significantly more than natural immunity from prior infection alone, according to a study published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers analyzed the risk of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization among four groups of individuals: vaccinated with and without prior infection and unvaccinated with and without prior infection. The study case data from about 1.1 million cases in California and New York between the end of May and mid-November 2021. Hospitalization data was available from California only.
Overall, COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates were highest among unvaccinated people who did not have a previous diagnosis.
At first, those with a prior infection had higher case rates than those who were vaccinated with no history of prior infection. As the Delta variant became predominant in the U.S. in later months, this shifted and people who survived a previous infection had lower case rates than those who were vaccinated alone, according to the study.
“Experts first looked at previous infections confirmed with laboratory test by the spring of 2021, when the Alpha variant was predominant across the country. Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection. When looking at the summer and the fall of 2021, when Delta became the dominant in this country, however, surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against subsequent infection than vaccination,” Dr. Benjamin Silk, lead for CDC’s surveillance and analytics on the Epi-Task Force, said on a call with media Wednesday.
However, this shift coincides with a time of waning vaccine immunity in many people. The study did not factor the time from vaccination — and potential waning immunity — into the analysis. The study also does not capture the effect booster doses may have and was conducted before the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Throughout the period of the study, risk of COVID-19 hospitalization was significantly higher among unvaccinated people with no previous COVID-19 diagnosis than any other group.
“Together, the totality of the evidence suggests really that both vaccination and having survived COVID each provide protection against subsequent reinfection, infection and hospitalization,” said Dr. Eli Rosenberg, New York State Deputy Director for Science. “Having COVID the first time carries with it significant risks, and becoming vaccinated and staying up-to-date with boosters really is the only safe choice for preventing COVID infection and severe disease.”
Experts also noted that characteristics of variants change, including how well they effect immunity from prior infections.
The CDC said in a statement it will publish additional data on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters against the dominant Omicron variant later this week.
A Logarithmic Map of the Entire Observable Universe – Visual Capitalist
A Logarithmic Map of the Entire Observable Universe
Among the scientific community, it’s widely believed that so far humans have only discovered about 5% of the universe.
Yet, despite knowing about just a fraction of what’s out there, we’ve still managed to discover galaxies billions of light-years away from Earth.
How Does the Map Work?
Before diving in, it’s worth touching on a few key details about the map.
First off, it’s important to note that the celestial objects shown on this map are not shown to scale. If it was made to scale with sizes relative to how we see them from Earth, nearly all of the objects would be miniscule dots (except the Moon, the Sun, and some nebulae and galaxies).
Secondly, each object’s distance from the Earth is measured on a logarithmic scale, which increases exponentially, in order to fit in all the data.
Within our Solar System, the map’s scale spans astronomical units (AU), roughly the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Beyond, it grows to measure millions of parsecs, with each one of those equal to 3.26 light-years, or 206,000 AU.
Exploring the Map
The map highlights a number of different celestial objects, including:
- The Solar System
- Comets and asteroids
- Star systems and clusters
- Galaxies, including the Milky Way
- Galaxy clusters
- Cosmic microwave background—radiation leftover from the Big Bang
Featured are some recently discovered objects, such as the most distant known galaxy to date, HD1. Scientists believe this newly-discovered galaxy was formed just 330 million years after the Big Bang, or roughly 8.4 billion years before Earth.
It also highlights some newly deployed spacecraft, including the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is NASA’s latest infrared telescope, and the Tiangong Space Station, which was made by China and launched in April 2021.
Why is it called the “Observable” Universe?
Humanity has been interested in space for thousands of years, and many scientists and researchers have dedicated their lives to furthering our collective knowledge about space and the universe.
Most people are familiar with Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity, which became a cornerstone of both physics and astronomy. Another well-known scientist was Edwin Hubble, whose findings of galaxies moving away from Earth is considered to be the first observation of the universe expanding.
But the massive logarithmic map above, and any observations from Earth or probes in space, are limited in nature. The universe is currently dated to be around 13.8 billion years old, and nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light.
When accounting for the expansion of the universe and observed objects moving away from us, that means that the farthest we can “see” is currently calculated at around 47.7 billion light-years. And since light takes time to travel, much of what we’re observing actually happened many millions of years ago.
But our understanding of the universe is evolving constantly with new discoveries. What will we discover next?
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist’s Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
‘Urgent’ action needed in Europe over monkeypox spread: WHO – Al Jazeera English
WHO’s Europe director calls on governments and civil society ‘to scale up efforts’ to reverse the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for ‘urgent’ action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe, noting that cases had tripled there over the past two weeks.
To date, more than 5,000 monkeypox cases have been reported from 51 countries worldwide, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Infections in Europe represent about 90 percent of the global total of cases, and 31 countries in the European region have now identified cases, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri Kluge said on Friday.
“Today, I am intensifying my call for governments and civil society to scale up efforts … to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself across a growing geographical area,” Kluge said in a statement.
“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” Kluge said.
Kluge also said in his statement that there are no reported deaths from the current outbreak so far.
“The vast majority of cases have presented with a rash and about three-quarters have reported systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, chills, sore throat or headache,” Kluge said.
Until May, monkeypox had never been known to cause large outbreaks beyond Africa, where the disease is endemic in several countries and mostly causes limited outbreaks when it jumps to people from infected wild animals.
‘No room for complacency’
Kluge said that Europe remains at the centre of the expanding outbreak and the risk remains high.
“There is simply no room for complacency, especially right here in the European Region with its fast-moving outbreak that with every hour, day and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas,” he said.
The WHO does not think the outbreak currently constitutes a public health emergency of international concern but will review its position shortly, he added.
The UN agency estimates that the disease can be fatal, but smallpox vaccines are protective and some antiviral drugs are also being developed.
To date, there have been about 1,800 suspected monkeypox cases including more than 70 deaths in Africa. Vaccines have never been used to stop monkeypox outbreaks in Africa. The WHO’s Africa office said this week that countries with vaccine supplies “are mainly reserving them for their own populations”.
Most monkeypox infections so far have been observed in young men who have sex with men, chiefly in urban areas, according to the WHO. It is investigating cases of possible sexual transmission but maintains the disease is primarily spread through close contact.
Kluge said the problem of stigmatisation in some countries might make some people wary of seeking healthcare and said the WHO was working with partners including organisers of gay Pride events.
As Monkeypox Spreads, Here's Who Should Get A Vaccine—And How – Forbes
Monkeypox vaccines will be offered to anyone in the U.S. who thinks they have been been exposed to the virus and groups most at risk of catching it, including men who have sex with men, measures officials hope will contain the growing outbreak as they work to bolster limited supplies.
The new strategy recommends anyone with a confirmed or suspected exposure to monkeypox get vaccinated, expanding earlier rules limiting the shots to those with known exposures only.
This includes people who have had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox, people who know their sexual partner was diagnosed and “men who have sex with men who have recently had multiple sex partners in a venue where there was known to be monkeypox or in an area where monkeypox is spreading,” the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.
HHS said it will make 56,000 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine immediately available to states from the national stockpile and will provide an additional 240,000 doses in the coming weeks.
Jynneos, produced by Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic, is given in two doses delivered 28 days apart and is the safer of two vaccines used against monkeypox.
Supplies are limited and officials said states with the highest rates of monkeypox and that have more people vulnerable to severe disease will be prioritized, with Hawaii, Massachusetts, Utah, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, California, Colorado and Florida and Washington, D.C., slated to be in the first tier of vaccine recipients, according to a draft of the plans seen by the Washington Post.
States may also request supplies of ACAM2000, an older vaccine developed for smallpox that is also believed to protect against monkeypox and is in much greater supply, though it is associated with serious side effects and its design makes it unsuitable for immunocompromised and pregnant people.
Monkeypox is a well-understood entity that has flared up in parts of Central and Western Africa for decades. For decades, too, monkeypox has mostly been ignored by the global community who, before this year’s outbreak, rarely encountered the disease and these instances were almost always linked to travel. It does not spread easily and is primarily transmitted through close contact with an infected animal or person or contaminated objects like towels, clothes or bedding, though it can also spread via respiratory droplets produced when people breathe, cough, talk or sneeze. Monkeypox typically causes symptoms that include fever and a characteristic rash. The infection is usually relatively mild and will go away on its own within a month or so. It can kill and cause serious illness, however, and infection is particularly risky for children and pregnant people. The virus is a close relative of smallpox, unarguably one of the deadliest diseases to plague humanity and the only human disease to have ever been eradicated. This proximity means treatments and vaccines are available for monkeypox, even if not designed for it.
In May, the near-simultaneous emergence of monkeypox in countries where it does not usually spread in Europe and North America alarmed experts and public health authorities. Some of these experts have long warned that the complete cessation of smallpox vaccination would leave the world vulnerable to monkeypox outbreaks and the way cases cropped up suggests it may have been quietly circulating for some time. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there have been 351 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of June 29, with large clusters in California (80), New York (72), Illinois (46) and Florida (35). The official count is likely to be a severe underestimate and could be painting an overly rosy picture of the disease’s spread. Experts warn that inadequate and underwhelming testing for the virus has left the nation ignorant as to the true extent of the outbreak. Globally, the CDC said there have been more than 5,000 cases confirmed across 51 different countries by laboratory testing during the 2022 outbreak. The bulk of these have been recorded in European countries like the U.K. (1,076), Germany (874), Spain (800), France (440), Portugal (391) and the Netherlands (257). A notable cluster has also been documented in Canada (276). Many more cases are suspected, but not confirmed, and official tallies likely underestimate the number of cases, particularly in areas with poor testing infrastructure. This data also does not capture the extent of the much longer monkeypox outbreak that has been ongoing in some African countries, notably Nigeria, from earlier this year and as an endemic disease for decades. Despite seeing more infections over a much longer time period, these countries have not received any monkeypox vaccines.
1.6 million. That’s how many doses of the Jynneos vaccine the federal government will make available this year, HHS said, including the nearly 300,000 doses already released or expected in coming weeks. HHS said it expects an additional 750,000 doses will be made available over summer and another 500,000 throughout fall. As of late June, HHS said it had already distributed more than 9,000 doses of vaccine.
What To Watch For
Vaccine supplies and changing eligibility. There is not nearly enough of the Jynneos vaccine available in the federal stockpile for everyone who might want it. There have already been supply issues in areas that launched their own initiatives ahead of the national campaign. In Washington, D.C., and New York City, for example, vaccine supplies reportedly ran out less than a day after they kick started their immunization drives. The issue could intensify if eligibility guidelines expand or the outbreak grows. Officials have acknowledged the limited supply of vaccines and suggested the national strategy may change once supplies are on firmer footing. A stronger vaccine supply chain could mean a shift to vaccinating people before they have been exposed to monkeypox, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing.
While the Jynneos vaccine may be in short supply, HHS officials told Forbes there is enough smallpox vaccine in federal stockpiles to immunize the entire U.S. population. The precise breakdown is not clear, but a significant portion consists of the ACAM vaccine. There is also a third shot, the Aventis Pasteur Smallpox Vaccine (APSV), which has similar setbacks to ACAM and has not been cleared for use. The nature of the ACAM vaccine poses some unique challenges if Jynneos supplies are insufficient. Aside from the noted risk of potentially serious side effects, the vaccine uses a related virus, vaccinia, to induce a sore or pock in the recipient, usually on the upper arm. On rare occasions, this can spread elsewhere on the body or even to other people and can leave a distinctive scar. The use of live virus limits who it can be given to, notably excluding people with compromised immune systems, those in close contact with such people and pregnant people. As monkeypox cases have been reported disproportionately among men who have sex with men, this poses a potentially significant problem, as rates of people living with HIV are higher in that community. An additional issue arises with how the ACAM shot is used. It relies on an old form of immunization featuring a distinct technique and special bifurcated needle, which most practicing clinicians are unlikely to have much, if any, experience using.
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