Hot Topics in Infection Prevention: Booster Shots, Vaccine Mandates, Ebola Outbreak

The delta variant is taking advantage of opportunities presented by some Americans who resist getting vaccinated and masking up.

Booster Shots for COVID-19 in Works

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the United States surges and states like Florida and Louisiana report some of their highest case counts of the entire pandemic, we’re still struggling to vaccinate people. In the past two weeks, the US has seen an 86% increase in cases, according to the New York Times, and a surge in hospitalizations is probably fast approaching. Children are being hospitalized more now than we anticipated and the delta variant is taking advantage of opportunities presented by some Americans who resist getting vaccinated and masking up. One particular question we’ve been facing is that of booster shots: Will they happen? When? And for whom? A new study cited by CIDRAP, a publication of the University of Minnesota, is shedding some light on a high risk population–organ transplant recipients. “The University of Health

Network researchers enrolled 120 organ transplant patients who had no history of COVID-19 infection, and who had suboptimal results from their 2 doses of Moderna vaccine. Two months after their second dose, half received another Moderna vaccine, while the remainder received a placebo. The resulting 2-month follow-up showed that patients who received a third dose had a higher likelihood of achieving satisfactory antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as well as higher neutralizing antibody levels.” The authors reported that “A third dose of mRNA vaccine in transplant recipients had substantially higher immunogenicity than placebo, as determined in our analysis of both primary and secondary trial end points.” They add that “this trial had short follow-up and was not powered to detect differences in clinical outcomes. We also acknowledge that the cutoff value of 100 U per milliliter for the anti-RBD antibody level is arbitrary and is not necessarily predictive of resistance to infection.”

Vaccinations: To Mandate or Not to Mandate?

With only half the country vaccinated, we’re still racing against the spread of the delta variant and the significant surge that has caused over 124,000 cases in a single day. Vaccine mandates though are a challenging problem for employers, as many now face the decision. Airlines are now considering mandating vaccines, but it’s a controversial issue.

Ebola Outbreak in Guinea

Remember when infection preventionists and the rest of the heath care system was dealing with Ebola virus disease in 2014? Somehow that seems worlds away and yet here we are–a new outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Guinea. CIDRAP reports that “Guinea's ministry of health (MOH) has confirmed the country’s first Marburg virus case, also marking the first in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office said today in a statement.

“A few days ago, Guinea's government said the suspected case was reported from Gueckedou in the N'zerekore region near the borders of Liberia and Sierra Leone. The area—located in southern Guinea—was the epicenter of Guinea’s recent Ebola outbreak, which totaled 23 cases and 12 deaths. The event was declared over on Jun 19.” The patient sought care at a local health clinic and now is the time for control measures as viruses like Ebola can spread easily. While the world is focused on COVID-19, outbreaks like this are reminders that infectious diseases don’t stop simply during a pandemic, but rather require continued investment in public health, infection prevention, research, etc. Now is a good time to break out your Ebola plans and do a quick review of what might new updating!