J&J says vaccine works against delta variant; WHO pushes Western nations to accept travelers with Chinese vaccines: COVID-19 updates

Concern about thehighly transmissible delta COVID-19 variant and its spread among the unvaccinated continues to grow as U.S. cases rise, but positive news about vaccines’ ability to fight the virus keeps coming.

On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson said its one-dose shot protects against the delta variant, citing lab tests of vaccine recipients’ blood. And amid concern that their shot might require a booster, the company said its immune response lasts eight months and counting.

But public health experts say the variant poses the most danger in regions where vaccinations are sparse.

The variants “are able to find any gaps in our protection,” Dr. Hilary Babcock of Washington University at St. Louis said, pointing to how hospital beds and intensive care units in Missouri’s least-vaccinated southwestern counties suddenly are filling — mostly with adults under 40 who never received the shots.

“Any suffering or death from COVID-19 is tragic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday in urging more Americans to roll up their sleeves ahead of the delta variant’s spread. “With vaccines available across the country, the suffering and loss we are now seeing is nearly entirely avoidable.”

►Even as Californians seek a return to normal, the specter of the coronavirus pandemic lingers. New cases of COVID-19 in the state and the Bay Area have jumped more than 20% since California’s June 15 reopening, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stay safe and informed with updates on the spread of the coronavirus

►Preliminary data reviewed by the CDC suggests nearly all the people who died from COVID-19 over the past six months were unvaccinated, Walensky said during a Thursday White House briefing.

►Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a budget provision that would have refunded fines to state businesses cited for violating public health orders during the pandemic, saying that would send a “horrible” message.

►Thailand reopened its popular resort island, Phuket, to fully vaccinated foreigners from lower-risk countries Thursday, with hopes the move will breathe new life into a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic.

►Israel has pushed back the reopening of its borders to vaccinated visitors to Aug. 1, after the country reported its highest daily infection rate in three months.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 605,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 182 million cases and more than 3.9 million deaths. More than 155.8 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 47% of the population, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: Florida schools lost migrant students at a rate nearly five times higher than the non-migrant population during the 2020-2021 school year. Virtual learning, economic trials and high COVID-19 rates in farmworker communities magnified inequities for students already prone to learning loss.

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