The U.S. intelligence community has reportedly told President Joe Biden that it has not reached a definitive conclusion after reviewing available information on the origins of the COVID-19. The pandemic has sickened more than 213.2 million people around the globe since late 2019 and killed more than 4.4 million, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
President Biden ordered the nation’s intelligence agencies in May to deliver a report within 90 days on whether the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, was the result of an animal-to-human transmission or an accidental leak from a Wuhan laboratory.
The president ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to examine the origins of the outbreak after the World Health Organization issued a report based on its own investigation. The WHO report, which found that the outbreak more likely began as an animal-to-human transmission, was criticized as incomplete, mainly due to the Chinese government’s failure to cooperate with the global health agency’s investigation.
The director of national intelligence presented a classified report to Biden on Tuesday, U.S. news outlets reported. Unidentified officials said parts of the report will be declassified and released to the public in the coming days.
Vaccine diminishing efficacy
Meanwhile, a new study out of Britain reveals that the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines diminishes after six months.
The study found that protection from the two-dose Pfizer vaccine declines from 88% a month after the second dose to 74% after about five to six months, while the effectiveness of the two-dose AstraZeneca regimen declined from 77% a month after the final shot to 67% after a similar period.
A separate study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines against the highly contagious delta variant dropped from 91% to 66%. Both vaccines were developed using innovative messenger RNA technology.
The CDC also published a study Tuesday that shows unvaccinated people are about 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated. The findings were based on a survey of patients in the Los Angeles, California, area between May 1 and July 25.
Japan is prepared to expand its current state of emergency to Wednesday amid a continuing surge of new infections. Officials say the government will place eight more prefectures, including Aichi, Hiroshima and Hokkaido, under a full state of emergency, boosting the total number of affected prefectures from 13 to 21. Hospitals are filled beyond capacity in Tokyo and across the nation, forcing thousands of infected patients to recover at home.
The state of emergency was imposed for Tokyo and a handful of other prefectures weeks before the start of the Tokyo Olympics and remains in effect for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which began in earnest Wednesday. Two more Paralympians have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of people in the Paralympic Village who have tested positive to at least nine, including three athletes.
In Australia, in the meantime, New South Wales state reported 919 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, its biggest single-day number of infections since the delta variant was first detected in Sydney in mid-June.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters, the Agence France-Presse.