• A pre-print paper reports on severity of COVID-19 among 1,446,913 people in the US, focusing on outcomes among people living with HIV (N= 8,270), transplant recipients (N=11,392) and transplant recipients living with HIV (N=267). Disease severity was classified on a scale from 1 to 5 (asymptomatic or mild illness with outpatient care; mild illness with an emergency department visit; moderate disease and hospitalization without invasive ventilation; severe disease with hospitalization requiring invasive ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment). The study confirmed previous findings of worse outcomes among transplant recipients. Outcomes among the small number of people living with HIV who were also transplant recipients were similar to those of transplant recipients, although the researchers noted that data from a larger number of people would increase the precision of their findings.

Among people living with HIV who had an undetectable viral load, a CD4 cell count below 500 cells/mm3  increased the risk for severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death. Having detectable HIV viremia (greater than 50 copies/mL) also increased these risks, even among people with a CD4 cell count above 500 cells/ mm3. The authors underscored that people living with HIV – especially those who have fallen out of care – should be prioritized for outreach and COVID-19 vaccination. Source

• The Delta variant has begun to spread in China despite the country’s mass testing and quarantine systems. A cluster of infections among nine fully vaccinated airport cleaners in Nanjing has expanded to 200 cases, Beijing reported its first case in half a year, which was linked to an outbreak among recent visitors to Nanjing. Nanjing’s residential compounds have been placed under lockdown, the airport has cancelled most flights and the city is starting a third round of testing for its over 9 million residents. Source 

• The WHO warns that the pandemic has created an opening for other preventable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean by disrupting routine inoculations and medical care. Over 300,000 children missed routine vaccinations, mainly in Brazil and Mexico, while measles vaccinations have declined dramatically across the region and diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis have slowed. COVID-19 is still surging across the region, where only a sixth of the population is fully vaccinated. Source 

• The B 1.621 coronavirus variant, which originated in Colombia (and has not been assigned a Greek letter yet), has appeared in Florida. The variant has also appeared in the UK, where experts have not found evidence that it causes more severe disease ort is able to evade immune responses. It is considered a variant of interest in the EU. Source

• The US CDC revised its guidance on COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated people, recommending that anyone who has been in contact with a person who has COVID-19 get tested- even if they have no symptoms. Indoor masking is recommended after contact with someone who has the virus, and people should get a test 3 to five days later. People who test positive should isolate for 10 days.  Previously, testing was only recommended for fully vaccinated people who had COVID-19 symptoms. Source

• A pre-print study following participants in phase II and III trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reports a peak efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine of 96.2 percent, based on antibody levels. They began to decline two months after the second dose, with efficacy reaching 83.7 percent after six months; the average decline was 3 percent per month. Nonetheless, the vaccine was still 97 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19 six months later. The authors suggested ongoing follow up to assess the persistence of immune responses, the need for boosters and when they should be administered. Source 

• Pfizer raised the sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine by 29% to $33.5 billion while saying that a third booster shot will be needed. It is planning to apply for an EUA for boosters as soon as August. Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said “…I think a third dose would strongly improve protection against infection, mild moderate disease, and reduce the spread of the virus. Source

• The US FDA has extended the shelf life of J & J’s vaccine from four-and-one-half to six months if it is stored at  2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36–46 degrees Fahrenheit). Source

• New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that state employees will have to show proof of coronavirus vaccination or be tested on a weekly basis – and that staff of state-run hospitals with patient-facing jobs must be vaccinated without an option for weekly testing. Source       

• Google is mandating coronavirus vaccines for its over 144,000-person global workforce. Source