Long Island surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 cases, as Moderna recall trial begins locally

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Long Island surpassed 1,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 11 people died from the virus, state data released Tuesday, as a local medical facility began testing of a third Moderna recall in liver and kidney transplant recipients.

At the same time, Johnson & Johnson announced on Tuesday that a second injection of their vaccine could significantly increase protection against the virus.

Nassau County recorded 401 new cases in Monday’s test results, and Suffolk County recorded 607, for a total of 1,008. Long Island has exceeded 1,000 new daily cases on several occasions in recent weeks while the delta variant continues to spread.

As of June, the region’s daily total was well below 100.

Seven people died in Nassau on Monday from causes linked to the virus, and four have died in Suffolk. Statewide, the death toll from COVID-19 on Monday was 41.

Statewide hospitalizations increased by 69, to 2,402. Long Island’s seven-day average positivity in testing continued to decline slightly, to 3.80 percent.

Governor Kathy Hochul said vaccinating more people remains the key to stopping the pandemic. She announced that 120 new pop-up vaccination sites would open statewide over a 12-week period in areas with low vaccination rates for people aged 12 to 17.

The state did not provide details on the number of people on Long Island.

On Long Island, young people have significantly lower vaccination rates than older people. The percentage of 12 to 15 year olds who are fully vaccinated is 48.4% compared to 65 to 74 year olds who are 95.2% vaccinated.

People aged 75 and over are 85.3% fully vaccinated. Long Island’s overall full vaccination rate, state officials say, is 65.9%.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset this week administered booster injections of COVID-19 to the first group of liver and kidney transplant recipients who are part of a nationwide clinical trial to study the efficacy of a third Moderna vaccine injected on this group.

The US Food and Drug Administration last month cleared booster shots for organ transplant recipients and some others to whom the vaccine may not stimulate a strong enough immune response.

But there has been only limited research and data on the effectiveness of booster injections in transplant recipients.

The study will help doctors understand whether the extra doses boost the immune response and, if so, to what extent, said Dr Christina Brennan, vice president of clinical research at the Feinstein Institutes, the research arm of Northwell Health.

Participants’ blood will be measured for antibodies to the coronavirus one week, 30 days, six months and one year after receiving booster shots, Brennan said.

The results will help transplant recipients determine if they can begin to resume certain activities – like returning to work in person – that they have avoided for fear of contracting the coronavirus, she said.

In other vaccine developments, Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that in a clinical trial, researchers found that two doses of the vaccine offered 94% efficacy against mild to severe COVID-19 in the United States.

That is compared to 74% efficiency with a single hit, the company said. Two injections have shown 100% effectiveness against severe disease, although this estimate has a wide range of uncertainties.

With Matt Clark

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