Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Boosters for South African variant in the works

Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Boosters for South African variant in the works

NEW YORK (WABC) — Officials have confirmed the first cases of a highly contagious South African variant of COVID in the United States.

Two people, who have no connections to each other or a history of travel, were infected in South Carolina.

Early tests showed the South African variant may chip away at the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both are now working on a booster shot.

And now, the CDC is urging Americans to avoid travel. President Biden added South Africa to the list of countries banned from traveling to the US, although the ban that doesn’t take effect until Saturday.

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Here are more of today’s headlines:

Cardinal Dolan in quarantine
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has cancelled all public appearances, including celebrating 10:15 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to remain in quarantine after last week having been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Church officials say Dolan has not tested positive, feels fine, and has no symptoms. He will, however, continue to follow health and safety protocols as instructed by medical professionals, as will others on his staff who also had close contact with this individual.

NYC indoor dining to resume on Valentine’s Day, Cuomo says
Indoor dining will be allowed to resume in New York City on Valentine’s Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday. Restaurants in the city will be allowed to open their doors to diners at 25 percent of capacity. Restaurants in other parts of the state have already been allowed to open indoor dining at 50 percent capacity.

Weddings can resume in New York
Governor Cuomo says weddings can restart on March 15 at 50% capacity of the venue or up to 150 patrons. Testing all patrons attending the event will be required. Local health departments will approve.

Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine 85% effective against severe COVID-19 disease
Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited vaccine appears to protect against COVID-19 with just one shot – not as strong as some two-shot rivals but still potentially helpful for a world in dire need of more doses. J&J said Friday that in the U.S. and seven other countries, the single-shot vaccine was 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe illness, and much more protective – 85% – against the most serious symptoms. There was some geographic variation. The vaccine worked better in the U.S. – 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 – compared to 57% in South Africa, where it was up against an easier-to-spread mutated virus.

Cuomo deals with fallout from nursing home response report
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration confirmed Thursday that thousands more nursing home residents died of COVID-19 than the state’s official tallies had previously acknowledged, dealing a potential blow to his image as a pandemic hero. The surprise development, after months of the state refusing to divulge its true numbers, showed that at least 12,743 long-term care residents died of the virus as of Jan. 19, far greater than the official tally of 8,505 on that day, cementing New York’s toll as one of the highest in the nation. Those numbers are consistent with a report released just hours earlier by state Attorney General Letitia James charging that the nursing home death count could be off by about 50%, largely because New York is one of the only states to count just those who died on facility grounds, not those who later died in the hospital.

Pandemic triggers a Grape-Nuts cereal shortage
If you’re having a hard time finding Grape-Nuts at your local supermarket, you are not alone. The pandemic has come for Grape-Nuts. Supply chain constraints and higher demand for cereal have led to shortages of the product, Kristin DeRock, Grape-Nuts Brand Manager, said in an emailed statement. Grape-Nuts should be “fully back” on shelves in the spring, she said.

4-year-old home from hospital after COVID-19 leaves her paralyzed
A 4-year-old girl is paralyzed after she was diagnosed with Acute Transverse Myelitis as a result of COVID-19, the girl’s mother tells KOAT.

KOAT spoke to 4-year-old Stella Martin and her mother, Cassandra Yazzie, a day after Stella was finally released from the hospital after an 8-month long hospitalization.

Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.

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Positive COVID-19 cases by zip code – New York City

A 4-year-old girl is paralyzed after she was diagnosed with Acute Transverse Myelitis as a result of COVID-19, the girl’s mother tells KOAT.

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