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Third Covid vaccine dose likely needed within a year

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. He said it is possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually. The comment comes after Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC in February that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Researchers still do not know how long protection against the virus lasts once someone has been fully vaccinated. Pfizer said earlier this month that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology like Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at six months. Pfizer’s data was based on more than 12,000 vaccinated participants. However, researchers say more data is still needed to determine whether protection lasts after six months. In February, Pfizer and BioNTech said they were testing a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the virus. Late last month, the National Institutes of Health started testing a new Covid vaccine from Moderna in addition to the one it already has, designed to protect against a problematic variant first found in South Africa. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC on Wednesday that the company hopes to have a booster shot for its two-dose vaccine available in the fall. (CNBC)

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China’s economy expanded at its fastest pace in record in the first quarter, data showed on Friday (Apr 16), in a sharp turnaround from its historic contraction caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The world’s second-largest economy was the only major one to grow at all in 2020, supported by industrial activity and better-than-expected exports as the virus hit markets around the world. While the disease first emerged in central China in late 2019, the country was also the quickest to bounce back after authorities imposed strict control measures and consumers stayed home. Although the GDP figure was slightly below forecasts in an AFP survey of economists, it still marks the fastest pace since records began three decades ago. (CNA)

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U.S. retail sales rose by the most in 10 months in March as Americans received additional pandemic relief checks from the government and increased COVID-19 vaccinations allowed broader economic re-engagement, cementing expectations for robust growth in the first quarter. The brightening economic prospects were underscored by other data on Thursday showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to the lowest level since March 2020, when mandatory closures of nonessential businesses were enforced to slow the spread of the first COVID-19 wave. Though output at factories rebounded modestly last month amid a global semi-conductor chip shortage that is hurting automobile plants, manufacturing remains underpinned by the strong domestic demand. The upbeat data, which followed on the heels of recent reports showing inflation heating up, will likely not shift the Federal Reserve’s ultra-easy monetary policy stance. Retail sales rebounded 9.8% last month, the largest increase since May 2020, the Commerce Department said. Data for February was revised higher to show sales dropping 2.7% instead of 3.0% as previously reported. (Reuters) (mannyrabacal1144@ gmail.com)