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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More time between COVID vaccine doses may help build more durable immunity, experts say.

Why it matters: The three- or four-week interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines was relatively short — and may help explain why the U.S. is now preparing for third doses.

What they're saying: "When you make that decision to do a three- or four-week interval, it sacrifices length of protection and durability of protection," said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College.

  • He said it was a smart decision to pursue that vaccine interval early on, "because so many Americans were losing their lives from COVID — 3,000 deaths per day — and we had to get people fully immunized."
  • But it also made boosters much more likely, he said.
  • Longer intervals between doses may allow the immune system time to mature, or allow antibodies to improve in quality while dwindling in number, John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell, told MedPage Today.

Between the lines: On Thursday, a report from U.K. health officials offered similar observations.

  • COVID vaccines were more effective against symptomatic disease with at least six weeks between doses than with only three to four weeks between doses, the paper says.

What we're watching: Experts say the eight-month gap the U.S. is planning before third doses could offer a significant boost.

  • "That may be it for a while, we may not need annual boosters," Hotez told MedPage. "This could be the third and done."

Go deeper

Updated Nov 27, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Nov 27, 2021 - World

South Africa says it's being "punished" for detecting new COVID variant

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor addresses the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz - Pool/Getty Images

South Africa said Saturday it's being "punished" for detecting the new Omicron coronavirus variant as more countries rush to enact travel bans and restrictions.

Driving the news: The U.S. imposed air travel restrictions from eight countries Friday in response to the Omicron variant. Countries in Europe and Asia have also implemented their own travel restrictions in response to Omicron.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

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