Pfizer booster vaccinations being administered in San Rafael, Calif., on Friday.

Johnson & Johnson to seek F.D.A. authorization for booster shot

Johnson & Johnson is planning to ask federal regulators early this week to authorize a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine. Last month, the company announced that a second dose, given two months after the first, increased the vaccine’s effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 by about 22 percentage points, to 94 percent. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said the data show that there is a dramatic increase in efficacy when the boost is given at two months and could potentially be even better when given later.

Dr. Sharon Wright, BILH

Mass. doctor on improving COVID-19 picture

Sharon Wright, MD, MPH (Infection Prevention, BILH) discussed that while vaccination rates continue to increase in Massachusetts and across the U.S. and the number of new COVID cases and hospitalizations is declining, there is concern that transmission rates might increase as colder weather approaches.

J&J Vaccine Recipient

J&J recipients feel left out in rollout of booster shots

J&J recently announced that a second shot substantially increased protection in a clinical trial. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said the shot has proven durable despite the Delta variant and cited a recent study where 390,000 J&J recipients found that the one-shot vaccine alone had an 81 percent efficacy rate against COVID-related hospitalization and 79 percent against symptomatic infections, with no evidence of decline from March to July.

Why you’re not getting a delta-specific booster yet

Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) reasons that delta-specific vaccines probably won’t be that much better than the original vaccines because delta’s spike protein is pretty similar to the ancestral coronavirus’s in terms of its look and shape.

Doctor on why Mass. mask mandate was extended in schools

The mask mandate in Massachusetts public schools, previously scheduled to expire Friday, October 1, has been extended to November 1. Preeti Mehrotra, MD (Infection Control, BIDMC) said masks have been an effective mitigation method throughout the pandemic and that the mask mandate extension in schools could be part of the state’s efforts to keep mitigation methods in place as vaccination rates continue to increase.

Johnson & Johnson says COVID-19 booster dose dramatically increases protection

According to data released by the company, people who receive a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster shot are better protected against the coronavirus for a longer period of time. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC), who helped develop the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine but was not involved in this study, said these new data show that a second shot of the vaccine results in substantially increased protective efficacy both in the United States and globally.

A key part of Biden’s plan to combat Covid is at risk as FDA meets to debate booster shots

A key FDA panel is set to meet today to debate and vote on Pfizer and BioNTech’s application to offer booster shots to the general public. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said there is currently not a consensus in the biomedical community on boosters for the general public and there are senior experts different sides of the debate.

How COVID-19 hybrid immunity could be a potential pandemic game-changer

Researchers are pointing to preliminary data suggesting that mixing different vaccines could offer an even stronger immune boost than booster shots.Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said our immune system is built to have repeated exposures to the same antigen, which will substantially enhance immune protection.

FDA staff declines to take stance on Pfizer’s Covid vaccine booster shots, citing lack of verified data

The FDA staff declined to take a stance on whether to back booster shots of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, saying U.S. regulators haven’t verified all the available data. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said there is currently not a consensus in the biomedical community on boosters for the general public and with experts on both sides of the debate, it’ll be interesting to see where the debate goes.

Mass. doctor on new, proposed travel restrictions amid COVID-19 delta spread

The European Union is recommending new travel restrictions for American tourists as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to surge. Preeti Mehrotra, MD (Infection Control, BIDMC) discussed the proposed travel restrictions and said international travel plays a role in global transmission.

Booster shot rollout against COVID-19 is likely to differ from the first vaccine effort

Russell Phillips, MD (Internal Medicine, BIDMC) comments on how some primary care doctors are using a state-driven system to order vaccination doses for their patients.

mRNA was supposed to stay ahead of variants. Why aren’t we using its full potential?

Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said vaccine manufacturers have created shots updated for the Delta variant but that the reason why the Delta variant is able to cause so many breakthrough infections has more to do with its hyper infectiousness rather than its intrinsic ability to evade antibodies.

J&J vaccine booster shot raises antibody levels 9-fold, company says

A new study submitted to medRxiv found that giving a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot six months after primary vaccination results in a nine-fold increase of a crucial antibody response. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC), who helped in the vaccine development with his team but was not involved with this trial, said that boosting after six months appears to be safe, and boosts immune responses substantially.

The State of the pandemic

In this Harvard Magazine feature, Dan Barouch, MD, Ph.D. (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) is listed amongst three scientists who took stock of the virus’s epidemiology and pathogenesis, the diagnosis and treatment of the disease it causes, and the interplay of variants and vaccines. Barouch helped develop the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, previously developed vaccines against HIV and Zika, and is actively involved in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine research and assessment.

What to know about boosters if you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) discusses data from a clinical trial released earlier this month showing that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine his team helped develop provides substantial protection against the Delta variant.

Cooperation under pressure: Lessons from the COVID-19 swab crisis

In a first-person retrospective and analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Ramy Arnaout, MD, DPhil (Pathology, BIDMC) details the collaborative and open-source effort he coordinated to address the shortage of swabs that hampered the nation’s ability to test for and track the spread of COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic, and details the lessons learned.

As Virus Cases Surge, Biden Administration Encourages More Use of Antibody Treatments

As Delta variant cases surge around the country, the Biden Administration renewed its call for health providers to use monoclonal antibody treatments. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said monoclonal antibody treatments are important tools that have shown substantial therapeutic effects.

FDA permits Covid vaccine booster shots for people with weakened immune systems

In a CDC advisory group meeting in June, Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said the hardest to vaccinate people are those who are immunosuppressed.

FDA to authorize third vaccine dose for people with weak immune systems

Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said the FDA’s move to make third shots available to some with weakened immune systems made sense. Barouch also commented on the long and successful history of mixing and matching different vaccine platforms for other viruses, and because of the similarities in how coronavirus vaccines were produced, mixing could potentially be particularly appealing approach.

Push to approve COVID-19 vaccines for kids as child cases climb

As researchers examine the effect of COVID-19 vaccines on children, Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said the risks of not getting vaccinated vastly outweigh the risks of getting vaccinated for adults and children.