Experts say efforts to vaccinate the United States may continue for years to come as Covid-19 variants spread around the world

As the virus spread around the world, it mutated into more transmissible strains, including alpha and delta variants. While vaccines have been shown to be effective against these variants, experts warn that it is necessary to anticipate them with widespread immunization.

Offit said that as the virus continues to spread, the chances of producing more infectious variants increase.

“If the virus is more contagious, a larger proportion of the population needs protection and immunity if you want to stop its spread,” he added.

As of Monday, 52.5% of Americans had received at least one dose of the vaccine, but only 43.7% had received the full vaccination, according to data from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By winter, when the virus is likely to spike again, Offit said, the United States should have full vaccination rates of 80% or higher to protect the population.

The good news, Offit said, is that while the spread of more infectious variants may be less inhibited by vaccines, the level of protection remains high.

“I think the vaccines will keep you out of the hospital, keep you out of the ICU and keep you from dying,” Offit said.

A study shows that immune system protection can extend for up to a year after infection

Fortunately, people with Covid-19 seem to maintain their immune response for at least a year, according to a study published in the journal. nature.

Researchers report that memory B cells in the human immune system will continue to protect against Covid-19 for at least another year.

Studies have shown that people who have recovered from coronavirus infection can be susceptible to new variants of the virus, but vaccines, especially mRNA vaccines such as those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, generate a strong response that protects people from these variants.

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The researchers say additional boosters to the vaccine may further protect recovering patients.

“The data suggest that agonist-containing immunity will be long-lasting and that purified individuals receiving available mRNA vaccines will produce antibodies and memory B cells that should be protective against circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers wrote.

“Antibodies produced by memory cells have increasingly evolved in size and potency,” Michael Nussensweg, a molecular immunologist from Rockefeller University who worked on the study told CNN.

Nussensweg said the study should encourage people who have previously had Covid-19 to get vaccinated if they don’t already have it. “Yes, they should be vaccinated,” he said, “and if they did, they should be bulletproof against SARS-CoV-2.”

The first country to close its doors completely

California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order due to coronavirus concerns. And now, 15 months later, it’s fully reopened.

From Tuesday, capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements will be lifted for all businesses. While major events, such as concerts, conferences and sports, are still subject to some restrictions, including vaccine verification requirements for attendees at indoor events with 5,000 or more people and recommendations for outdoor events with more than 10,000 people.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that California has provided nearly 40 million vaccines, and about 72% of the state’s population has been at least partially vaccinated. About 47% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated.

FDA vaccine advisors discuss urgent need to vaccinate children against coronavirus

There will be no purported vaccine passport, but Newsom plans to release an electronic version of the government’s vaccine cards later this week.

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California invested $116.5 million in incentives, offering gift cards and cash prizes. On Tuesday, state officials will hold a drawing where 10 vaccinated people will win a grand prize of $1.5 million.

People who have not been vaccinated must wear face coverings in indoor public places, but those who have been vaccinated can remain without a mask in most cases.

The masks will remain in certain places, including on public transportation and inside hospitals and prisons.

Companies can order masks as they see fit and Cal/OSHA will introduce new rules for face coverings in the workplace, but because this is not expected until the end of June, Newsom said he will sign an executive order later this week to “clear any ambiguity.” “”.

CNN’s Holly Yan, Virginia Langmaid, and Sherry Mossberg contributed to this report.

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