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Long Island tops 1,000 COVID-19 cases, as Moderna booster trial begins locally

The study of the impact of a third

The study of the impact of a third Moderna dose on liver and kidney transplant recipients will help doctors understand whether the extra doses are building up immune response, said Dr. Christina Brennan of the Feinstein Institutes. Credit: Bloomberg/Johnny Milano

Long Island surpassed 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 11 people died of the virus, according to state data released Tuesday, while a local medical facility started trials of a third Moderna booster shot on liver and kidney transplant recipients.

At the same time, Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that a second shot of its vaccine could increase protection against the virus substantially.

Nassau County registered 401 new cases in test results from Monday, and Suffolk County logged 607, for a total of 1,008. Long Island has surpassed 1,000 new daily cases several times in recent weeks as the delta variant continues to spread.

As recently as June, the region’s daily total was well under 100.

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

Hospitalizations statewide increased by 69, to 2,402. Long Island’s seven-day average of positivity in testing continued to decline slightly, to 3.80%.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said vaccinating more people remains the key to stopping the pandemic. She announced 120 new pop-up vaccination sites will open throughout the state over a 12-week period in areas with low vaccination rates among people ages 12 to 17.

The state did not provide details on how many will be on Long Island.

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

People who are 75 or older are 85.3% fully vaccinated. Long Island’s overall fully vaccinated rate, according to state officials, is 65.9%.

Meanwhile, researchers at Manhasset’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research this week administered COVID-19 booster shots 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 shot on that group.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month authorized booster shots for organ transplant recipients and certain others for whom the vaccine may not stimulate a strong enough immune response.

But there has been only limited research and data on how effective the booster shots are in transplant recipients.

The study will help doctors understand whether the extra doses are building up immune response, and, if they are, to what degree, said Dr. Christina Brennan, vice president of clinical research at the Feinstein Institutes, which is Northwell Health’s research arm.

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

The results will help transplant recipients determine whether they can begin resuming some activities — such as going back to work in person — that they have avoided for fear of contracting the coronavirus, she said.

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

That is compared to 74% efficacy with a single shot, the company said. Two shots showed 100% efficacy against severe disease, although that estimate had a wide range of uncertainty.

With Matt Clark

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