COVID-19 Roundup: ‘Compelling’ Data on Vaccine Effectiveness; Urban vs. Rural Vaccine Rates; and More

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May 21, 2021


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CDC: Latest ‘Real World’ Study Confirms Effectiveness of Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines

New research released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the “most compelling” yet to confirm that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are performing effectively in the “real world,” according to the CDC’s director.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to be 94 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 illness, says the new study involving more than 1,800 health care workers in the United States.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said the findings is the latest evidence that the vaccines are working as expected outside of controlled clinical trials.

“This report provided the most compelling information to date that Covid-19 vaccines were performing as expected in the real world,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said in a statement.

“This study, added to the many studies that preceded it, was pivotal to C.D.C. changing its recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.”

Understanding vaccine effectiveness among healthcare worker is important because they are at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19 through patient interactions, the CDC says. “Vaccination of healthcare personnel protects them and their patients against COVID-19 and ensures continuation of critical health care services, the agency said as part of the latest study on the vaccines.

The CDC’s study found that COVID-19 symptomatic illness was reduced by 94 percent among healthcare workers who were fully vaccinated — defined as seven or more days after receipt of a second vaccine dose. And symptomatic illness was reduced by 82 percent among those who were partially vaccinated, or 14 days after receipt of dose one through six days after dose two.

The CDC concludes: “These findings support CDC’s recommendation that everyone should get both doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines) to get the most protection.”


CDC: Vaccination Rates Lower in Rural Areas, Compared to Urban Centers — More Outreach Needed

People in urban regions are receiving the COVID=19 at higher rates than those living in rural areas, creating a potential hurdle toward ending the pandemic, says a new study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 60 million persons in the U.S. live in rural counties, representing almost one fifth (19.3 percent) of the population. The CDC reviewed county-level vaccine data among dults who received their first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC reviewed data from 49 states and the District of Columbia through April 10.

COVID-19 vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties (38.9 percent) than in urban counties (45.7 percent). Among adults aged 18–64 years, rates were 29.1 percent for rural, 37.7 percent for urban. Those e aged 65 years and older, rates were 67.6 percent for rural, 76.1 percent for urban). The gender breakdown:  women (41.7 percent rural, 48.4 percent urban), and men (35.3 percent rural, 41.9 percent urban).

“Disparities in COVID-19 vaccination between urban and rural communities can hinder progress toward ending the pandemic,” states the CDC. “Public health practitioners should continue collaborating with healthcare providers, pharmacies, community-based organizations, faith leaders, and local employers to address vaccine hesitancy and ensure equitable vaccine access and distribution, particularly in rural areas.”


Study: Exercise can Help ‘Long Haul’ COVID-19 Patients With Lingering Symptoms

There’s no doubt that regular exercise has many health benefits. A new study adds to the growing research on the benefits of exercise to counter the lasting or severe impact of COVID-19.

Patients with lasting symptoms of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as “long haulers,” completed a six-week, supervised rehabilitation program as part of a study by researchers at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre in the United Kingdom.

The study participants “demonstrated significant improvements in exercise capacity, respiratory symptoms, fatigue and cognition,” according to a statement. The study, published in the journal Chronic Respiratory Disease, involved 30 patients. They took part in supervised rehabilitation classes twice a week over six weeks. The program included aerobic exercise, including walking or using a treadmill, and strength training of the arms and legs.

“Researchers found a statistically significant improvement in exercise capacity, as measured by scores of distance travelled and ability to keep going without a rest, using incremental and endurance shuttle-walking tests,” states a news release on the study. During their initial bout with COVID-19, most of the study participants had been admitted to a hospital and were hospitalized for 10 days, on average.

Last month, a large-scale U.S. study found that people who exercised regularly or led active lifestyles were less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 or develop serious symptoms from the coronavirus.

The U.S. study involved almost 50,000 Californians who developed COVID. Researchers have known for years that aerobically fit people are less likely to catch colds and other viral infections, and are more likely to avoid serious complications, in addition to recovering faster than those who lead sedentary lifestyles. Being fit sharpens antibody responses to vaccines against influenza and other viruses.

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