July 6, 2021 -- Though President Joe Biden missed his goal of having 70% of adult Americans partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4, the mark was hit in 19 states and territories, along with the District of Columbia.

The CDC’s newest data says 67.1% of people over 18 have had at least one vaccine dose, with 58.2% fully vaccinated. Biden announced the 70% goal in early May.

The New York Times, citing information from the CDC, said the states and territories with more than 70% of adults partially vaccinated are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, , Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, DC.

Vermont leads the way, with 85.3% of the population having one dose.

The state with the worst vaccination rate is Mississippi, at 46.3%, followed by Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Wyoming, and Alabama.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases have gone up in nearly half the states, USA Today reported, citing data from Johns Hopkins University. Health experts think the increases in cases and hospitalizations are being caused by the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Study Suggests Long-lasting Protection from COVID-19 VaccineWebMD's Chief Medical Officer, John Whyte, MD, speaks with Rachel M. Presti, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Infectious Disease, Washington University in St. Louis, about the positive results of a new study on the Pfizer mRNA vaccine.432

[MUSIC PLAYING]

DR.JOHN WHITE: Welcome,

everyone.

I'm Dr. John White,

chief medical officer, WebMD

and you're watching Coronavirus

in Context.

Have you been hearing

about the boosters?

Are we going to need a booster

in the fall?

I'm not so sure.

And to help provide

some insights, I've gone to one

of the experts, Dr. Rachel

Presti.

She's an associate professor

of infectious disease

at Washington University, st.

Louis and an author

of a study that looked

about the durability of the mRNA

vaccine.

Dr. Presti, thanks for joining

me.



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: It's

nice to be here.

Thank you.



DR.JOHN WHITE: Well, let's get

right to it because everybody

wants to know how long

this immunity last?

Are we going to need a booster?

Does it protect

against the variance?

Your study recently came out

in the journal, Nature.

I want you to describe it

to our viewers

and what you found.



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: So what we

looked at

was people who had gotten

the Pfizer vaccine.

So I want to be very, very clear

that the only vaccine we looked

at was the Pfizer vaccine.

So we looked at people who were

eligible to get that vaccine

very early.

So we started enrolling people

in December or January

and we looked at two

different things.



So initially, we looked at blood

and looked at the B cell

produced, the antibody cells

producing cells, the B cells

in the blood over time.

And then in some

of the participants, we also

looked at what is happening

in the lymph nodes.

And what we found

was in the blood

you see good antibody responses

that's already sort of been seen

in all of these vaccines.

And the interesting thing that

is potentially relevant

is that it looked like even

in people who'd previously been

infected with COVID,

there was a boost,

there was an increase

in their response in the blood

after getting the vaccine.



So there's been some discussion

about whether or not if you had

COVID if you still need

a vaccine.

I think this would suggest

that having a vaccine

there's a benefit.



DR.JOHN WHITE: What period

of time did you look at?



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: So starting

in December and then we have

data through about March, April.

So 12 weeks or so.

About three months after people

had been fully vaccinated.

So after they've gotten

their two doses,

we started looking in the blood.



DR.JOHN WHITE: And what did you

conclude?

This is the exciting.



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: So that

is what we saw.

We saw that people had

nice antibody responses

but that they also even more

importantly had B cells

in their blood.

So antibody producing cells

in their blood

and we saw that there were sort

of lasting through that time

period.



DR.JOHN WHITE: That's not

something we see

with all vaccines, correct?



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: So, you know?

In the blood we do--

what we would expect to see

with any vaccine

is that you get antibodies that

are produced in the blood

and then you expect

those antibodies in the blood

to go down.

In the second and more important

part of what we did

was to look at the lymph nodes.

And what we saw in the lymph

nodes was antibody producing

cells in the germinal centers

of the lymph nodes.

And the germinal centers

are kind of like training camp

or school for B cells.



And what we saw that was sort of

surprising

was even 12 weeks

after the vaccine had gone

in the arm, we were still seeing

in quite a few of those folks,

we were still seeing these cells

in the lymph nodes.

And what's important about that

is the lymph nodes are where

your antibodies get better,

right?

Where they learn how to bind

better, where they learn how

to make a broader response

to variance.



DR.JOHN WHITE: So what's

the bottom line?

Because some people are saying

you can interpret this data even

though it's based on 12

weeks that the durability

the vaccine, the mRNA vaccines

could provide protection

for years.

Is that what we can conclude,

maybe even a lifetime

for those people

that have been previously

infected with COVID.



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: Yeah, so

immunology is still one

of those fields

where we know a whole lot more

about what happens in animals

than we do what happens

to humans.

But the whole point

of the immune system

is to make an immune response

that lasts your whole lifetime.

And so I think we get very

focused on what's going on

in the blood

because that's easy to see,

right?



But what your immune system is

supposed to do when it sees

a pathogen is it takes that

to the lymph node,

it makes a really strong

immune response.

And then after that, the really

good cells will go to the bone

marrow and they make

those memory cells that are

supposed to last you life.



So we're still trying to figure

out the bone marrow part,

we don't have that data

yet but we should hopefully,

have that soon.

But what we're seeing

in the lymph nodes is they're

making a really good response.

And I think that's promising

that we might have a response

that's going to last

for a long time.



DR.JOHN WHITE: How long is

a long time?



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: You know,

we've only known

about this virus for a year,

actually a little bit more,

well, a year and a half.

So scientists don't like

predicting the future

but I think it's likely

that this is going to be

a durable immune response.

Having yet to that is what is

the virus going to do?



DR.JOHN WHITE: Sure,

with the variants and mutations.

But could one reasonably

conclude, from your research

that the vaccine effectiveness

for the mRNA vaccines

could last for years?



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: I think you

could.

I think it looks very promising

that you at least make

an antibody response that

is likely to last for quite

some time.



DR.JOHN WHITE: So there Presti,

are a lot of people are excited

about this research

and it may show us that we don't

need boosters, we need a little

more time to tell.

But others will say, Dr. Presti,

it was a very small study.

How do we know

that this information is going

to hold up?



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: This study

gave us a tremendous opportunity

that we haven't really had

to see how does

your immune system

work to a new virus

and to see it in extreme detail,

right?

So we were able to look

in the blood but also

in the lymph nodes

and hopefully also in the bone

marrow.

And that's important data.



DR.JOHN WHITE: Well,

some encouraging data about how

long the mRNA vaccines may

provide protection

against Coronavirus.

Dr. Presti, I want to thank you

for the research

that you're doing to help

provide answers to the questions

that we're all having.



DR.RACHEL PRETSI: Thank you very

much.

John Whyte, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD.<br>Rachel M. Presti, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Infectious Disease, Washington University in St. Louis./delivery/aws/fa/64/fa64eb1e-879a-3bc1-bb83-dd2eb9fb56c2/Presti_063021_v5_,4500k,2500k,1000k,750k,400k,.mp407/02/2021 12:00:0018001200Presti_063021_1800x1200_v2/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/covid19-images/Presti_063021_1800x1200_v2.jpg091e9c5e821dab86

Cases more than doubled in Alaska and Arkansas in the last week, and cases went up more than 50% in South Carolina and Kansas, USA Today reported.

More worrisome, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients rose sharply in places with a low vaccination rate.

One of those places is Springfield, MO, where the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients went up 27% over the Fourth of July weekend, The Associated Press reported.

The city’s two hospitals, CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield, were treating 213 COVID-19 patients on Monday, up from 168 on Friday, the AP said. The two hospitals had only 31 COVID-19 patients on May 24.

“After what we’ve seen in the last month, everyone is just holding their breath, especially after a holiday weekend like this, knowing that there were large gatherings,” said Erik Frederick, the chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield.

The influx of patients was so extreme that Mercy Springfield ran out of ventilators at one point over the weekend and had to borrow some from other hospitals, Frederick said.

The state has had the most new cases per capita in the last 14 days, USA Today said. Only 55.7% of the state’s population had gotten at least one dose of vaccine.

In Mississippi, new COVID-19 cases increased almost 15% in June, with about 95% of those hospitalizations being unvaccinated people, USA Today said.

WebMD Health News

Sources

The New York Times: “See How Vaccinations Are Going in Your County and State.”

USA Today: “Almost half of US reports rising cases, attributed largely to delta variant surge: Latest COVID-19 updates.”

The Associated Press: “Ventilator shortage as Missouri virus hospitalizations spike.”

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