2 doses of J&J vaccine provide 94% protection, study says; US reaches death toll of Spanish flu: COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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Johnson & Johnson released new data Tuesday showing a booster dose of its vaccine given two months after the one-shot vaccine provides 94% protection against moderate-to-severe COVID-19 symptoms.

J&J, citing three studies of the vaccine, said the booster shot offers 100% protection against severe or critical symptoms, the company said in a statement. A booster dose given six months after the single shot provides even more protection, the company said. The results are in line with data from studies of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

The one-dose J&J vaccine alone has been found to be 66% protective against moderate-to-severe disease overall worldwide, and 72% protective in the U.S. 

“A single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that is easy to use, distribute and administer, and that provides strong and long-lasting protection is crucial to vaccinating the global population,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson. “A booster shot further increases protection against COVID-19 and is expected to extend the duration of protection significantly.”

The data comes on the heels of Pfizer-BioNTech releasing the results from a study showing their vaccines are safe and effective for children 5 to 11 at one-third the dose used in adolescents and adults. 

Also in the news:

► A Florida man died from COVID-19 this month just 20 minutes before his first grandchild was born. His daughter told USA TODAY he was “super excited” about the birth of his first grandchild.

► Rep. Tim Ryan tested positive for COVID-19. The Ohio Democrat is vaccinated and quarantined at home. 

► The United States announced a new international air travel system Monday, opening travel up for all vaccinated travelers in early November, including those now affected by the U.S. travel ban.

► George Holliday, the Los Angeles plumber who shot grainy video of four white police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991, has died of complications of COVID-19, a friend said.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 42 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 676,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 229.1 million cases and nearly 4.7 million deaths. More than 181 million Americans – 54% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: News that the U.S. will be opening borders to vaccinated international travelers in early November brought a wave of relief for many. Read more here. 

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

In Tennessee, best drugs to defeat virus reserved for unvaccinated

The Tennessee state government now recommends nearly all vaccinated residents be denied access to monoclonal antibody treatment to preserve the limited supply for non-vaccinated patients. The recommendation is based on guidance from the National Institutes of Health, which notes that unvaccinated residents are more likely to suffer severe complications from a coronavirus infection. However, Tennesseans who took a common sense step to help stop the pandemic could lose access to one of the most effective treatments.

“With this limited resource, identifying those at most risk makes sense,” said Dr. Karen Bloch, medical director of the antibody infusion clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Taking out the politics, the unvaccinated fit into that category.”

Brett Kelman, Nashville Tennessean

US death toll reaches total from Spanish flu a century ago

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did – approximately 675,000. The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time.

Like the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild, seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time. For now, the pandemic still has the United States and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed up to 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million.

The Spanish flu’s U.S. death toll is an estimate, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This Pacific island hasn’t had a single case of COVID-19. Until now.

American Samoa reported its first case of coronavirus on Friday, a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began. The U.S. territory’s acting governor, Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale, and health officials said the islands’ first case of COVID-19 was in a resident who returned to America Samoa from a trip to the U.S. mainland and Hawaii earlier this week. The infected traveler flew in on Monday, the first day of newly resumed commercial flights from Honolulu to Pago Pago. The route had been suspended since March 2020 because of the pandemic.

Officials said the sick resident was fully vaccinated and had tested negative for COVID-19 before boarding the flight back to American Samoa and was asymptomatic. About 260 passengers were on the flight.

Contributing: Associated Press