Moderna study says vaccine reduces symptomatic infection, contagiousness: COVID-19 updates

A new study released by Moderna found that its vaccine was 93.2% effective in reducing symptomatic coronavirus infections.

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The research, released Thursday, studied over 800 volunteers who caught COVID-19. Some trial participants received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, while others received a placebo.

Researchers found that volunteers who received the placebo had 100 times as much virus in their bodies compared to those inoculated with Moderna’s COVID vaccine.

Those who received the placebo were also much more contagious than those who received the real vaccine: while the vaccinated shed the coronavirus and remained contagious for a median of four days after infection, participants with the placebo were shedding virus for seven days. 

The study took place between July 2020 and May 2021, before the delta and omicron variants infected residents of all 50 states within the U.S. 

Nationally, cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 have dropped markedly after peaking earlier this year amid the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, and the vast majority of Americans are protected against the virus by effective vaccines and boosters.

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Also in the news:

► Expectant mothers who contract the coronavirus are at risk of stillborn deliveries because COVID-19 can lead to placental failure, according to a new study that supports the CDC’s conclusion that the virus enhances the chances of adverse perinatal outcomes.

►Some local fans are getting to watch the Beijing Games in person, though it’s not clear exactly how they were selected for a visit inside the tightly controlled Olympic bubble.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 77 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 915,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 405 million cases and over 5.7 million deaths. More than 213 million Americans – 64.3% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: USA TODAY asked a dozen public health and infectious disease experts whether it makes sense for people to continue to wear masks and under what conditions. The answer, they say, depends on how much someone wants to avoid infection, the rate of COVID-19 where they live and who else is around them. 

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Nevada governor ends state’s mask mandate

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced an end to the state’s mask mandate Thursday morning, ending a regulation that had been in place since late July 2021.

Effective immediately, the governor has lifted the mandate to wear face masks in public places in Nevada. Sisolak cited a decreasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state and the abundant supply of vaccines as reasons for lifting the mandate.

State casino regulators followed with a rule change for casinos. 

“Individuals are no longer required to wear a mask in public indoor settings in licensed gaming establishments,” the Nevada Gaming Control Board said, “unless a local jurisdiction still imposes such a requirement.”

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend wearing a mask indoors in places of “substantial or high transmission” of the virus, which as of Wednesday was all of the U.S. but 14 rural counties. 

New cases in Nevada have continued a steep decline since a statewide peak in mid-January. But the rate of the virus spread remains high – far above the CDC’s thresholds for positivity and new cases per population of 100,000.

— Brett McGinness, Reno Gazette-Journal; Associated Press

Contributing: The Associated Press

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