Skipping the Second Shot, Fainting After the J&J Jab, Brazil Says No to Sputnik V, Joe Rogan's Walk Back and Other COVID Vaccine News This Week

The number of second-shot scofflaws is in the millions

Some five million people, or about 8% of those who got a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines haven’t gotten the second dose, the New York Times reported on Sunday (April 25).

“The reasons vary for why people are missing their second shots,” said the newspaper. “In interviews, some said they feared the side effects, which can include flulike symptoms. Others said they felt that they were sufficiently protected with a single shot.”

The Times also reported that some people vaccinated at Walgreens skipped the second dose because the outlet they went to didn’t have the same vaccine as the one they received as their first dose.

At the Friday (April 30) weekly press briefing by the White House COVID-19 Response Team, Anthony Fauci, M.D., the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, showed data from a number of studies that show an immunogenicity boost from a second shot. One of the studies that Fauci cited that was conducted in Israeli showed that the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine increased the efficacy from 46% to 92%.

Racial disparities in vaccination rates grow, say KFF researchers

The pandemic has featured many racial disparities, and now they are extending to vaccination. Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation used state-level data to examine vaccination rates by race. In findings posted on Wednesday (April 28), a research team led by Nambi Ndugga reported that across 43 states, the proportion of White people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose (38%) was 1.6 times higher than the rate for Black people (24%), and 1.5 times higher than the rate for Hispanic people (25%) as Monday (April 26). Moreover, the KFF researchers found that the disparities have widened since March 1.

A cluster of J&J jab-related anxiety events

A report yesterday (April 30) in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows why a 15-minute observation period after getting a COVID-19 is important. According to data collected by CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, there were 64 “anxiety-related events,” including 17 cases of syncope, among the 8,624 people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at five mass vaccination sites during April 7-9.

“Anxiety-related events, including syncope, can occur immediately after vaccination with any vaccine and might be caused by anxiety about receiving an injection,” noted the researchers, and none of these events were considered serious. Still, t maybe for a whole set of reasons, the COVID-19 vaccine is more anxiety producing than other vaccines. The MMWR report notes that reports of syncope were about 164 times more common for the J&J vaccine than the flu vaccine during the 2019-2020 flu season (8.2 per 100,000 versus .05 per 100,000).

240,159,677 doses administered and 30.5% of the population fully vaccinated

As of yesterday (April 3)) at 6 a.m., data collected by the CDC show 240,159, 677 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. The CDC figures also show that 101,407, 318 people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, which works out to 30.5% of the population.

Antibody titer as a way to measure protection

Researchers at Oxford (and perhaps elsewhere) are investigating whether measuring antibody levels could be to assess people’s protection against infection either after vaccination or a bout of COVID-19, NPR’s Joe Palca reported on Wednesday

"It may be not possible to reinfect with an antibody level above a certain amount," a researcher told Palca.

If antibody titers were reliable indicators of protection, they could be used to gauge whether a vaccine’s effect was waning and therefore the need for a booster. If they could be used as surrogate markers for protection, antibody levels might also mean that clinical trials of COVID-19 trials could conducted with far fewer study subjects.

Brazil rejects Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Sputnik makers threaten defamation suit

Brazil has been hit hard by the pandemic, and the country is second only to the U.S. in the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. But on Monday (April 26), Brazil health regulatory agency, Anvisa, refused to authorize the importation of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, according to a report inScience. Brazilian health officials said they based their decision on evidence that the adenoviruses used to make the vaccine are capable of replicating. On Thursday (April 29), tweet on the Twitter account for the vaccine said that “following the admission of Brazilian regulator Anvisa that it did not test Sputnik V vaccine, Sputnik V is undertaking a legal defamation proceeding in Brazil against Anvisa for knowingly spreading false and inaccurate information.”

Podcaster Joe Rogan walks back his vaccine statements, kinda.

Last week, Joe Rogan, Spotify’s most-listened to podcaster, suggested that young people didn’t need to get vaccinated. Although Rogan said the vaccines are safe, he went o and riffed: "If you are like, a 21-year-old and you say to me should I get vaccinated, I go no.” In an acknowledgement of his influence, Rogan’s comments caused an uproar and Fauci rebutted the Wednesday (April 28) on the Today Show. On Thursday during his show, Rogan qualified his comments of last week: “I just said that I don’t think if you’re a young healthy person that you need it. Their argument was that you need it for other people. But that is a different argument.”