Start Your Day Here: A Senator's Warning On Afghanistan And The New N.Y. Governor's Plan

Published August 25, 2021 at 7:15 AM EDT
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is sworn in on Tuesday.
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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, next to her husband William Hochul, is sworn in by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore during a ceremony at the New York State Capitol in Albany on Tuesday.

Good morning,

Criticism of the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan keeps coming, less than a week before President Biden's deadline to get U.S. forces out. Today we're looking at the latest on that effort and other news to get your day going:

Getting Americans out: Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., says it will be a disaster if U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan without also evacuating all Americans. He calls the Tuesday deadline "arbitrary" and dangerous.

Restoring credibility in New York: Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took over this week, says COVID-19 vaccinations and mask mandates are top priorities for her. She's also promising more transparency in the wake of the Cuomo administration.

Voting rights update: The House has approved voting legislation that’s likely to hit a wall in the Senate, while voting restrictions keep cropping up around the country.

🎧 Also on Up First, our daily podcast, the Supreme Court disrupts Biden's plans for asylum-seekers at the Southern border.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Rachel Treisman, Dana Farrington, Nell Clark and Casey Noenickx)

Before You Go
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Israel's New Prime Minister Is In Washington For His First Foreign Trip

Posted August 25, 2021 at 10:33 AM EDT
A balding man in a suit and navy tie stands at a podium, speaking with one hand in the air. Behind him is a blue wall with Hebrew lettering.
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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds a media briefing at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on August 18, 2021.

Israel's new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, has arrived in Washington to meet President Biden for the first time. Bennett's top concern is Iran's nuclear enrichment.

It's Bennett's first overseas trip since taking office in June. He meets Wednesday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and leaders of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC.

Bennett is trying to differentiate himself from his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had rocky relations with Democratic leaders.

Before departing for Washington, he said "I'm bringing from Jerusalem a new spirit of cooperation."

But like his predecessor, Bennett is focused on Iran. He says he'll speak with President Biden about how to curb Iran's nuclear enrichment.

They're set to meet in the Oval Office on Thursday. Here's what else you need to know.

Just In

Reversing A Planned Ban, OnlyFans Will Allow Pornography On Its Site After All

Posted August 25, 2021 at 10:22 AM EDT
In this photo illustration, a blue and black OnlyFans logo is displayed on a phone screen placed on top of a laptop keyboard.
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A photo illustration shows the OnlyFans logo displayed on a smartphone.

The website OnlyFans announced it is reversing a planned ban on pornography and other sexually explicit content and will continue allowing it on the platform.

The London-based company said just days ago that it would block sexually explicit material starting in October in response to concerns from banks and other financial services companies that enable transactions on the subscription service. It did not name the companies.

But on Wednesday, OnlyFans said it would be able to continue allowing adult content, which is a large part of its business, after all.

“We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change,” the company tweeted Wednesday morning. “OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.”

The reversal came after pushback from content creators on OnlyFans, some of whom lost work during the pandemic and now earn an income through the site.

Morgan Music, a single mom from Washington who sells explicit photos and videos on OnlyFans as a side hustle, told NPR that the money she earns on the website has helped reduce her anxiety.

“To have that lifted because I have, like, a savings account for the first time and have a good credit score for the first time in my life, I think it's hard to really convey how much that means to a person's quality of life,” Music said.

OnlyFans previously tweeted that the company would “not be what it is today” without sex workers and that the policy change was “necessary to secure banking and payment services to support you.”


Updates On The Fight To Protect Voting Rights

Posted August 25, 2021 at 10:12 AM EDT
Women wearing masks stand outside the U.S. Capitol, holding a large photo of late Rep. John Lewis standing on a road in front of a white curved bridge.
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Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., holds a photo of the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., at a press event with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, and Texas House Democratic lawmakers outside of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

The battle for voting rights continues to play out in Capitol Hill and state legislatures across the country. Here are some of the developments we're watching:

At the federal level

House lawmakers approved legislation yesterday that would protect the right to vote amid a wave of restrictive laws from a number of Republican-controlled states.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed along party lines and faces steep GOP opposition in the evenly divided Senate.

Its supporters say it would strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which has been gradually dismantled by Supreme Court rulings over the decades — while critics decry it as federal overreach into the states' role in elections.

President Biden is facing mounting pressure from activists and progressive lawmakers to do more to protect voting rights nationally. NPR's Juana Summers explains what's at stake here.

At the state level

Laws restricting access to the ballot come in largely two forms, as KCUR's Frank Morris puts it: those that make it harder to vote, and those that make it harder to register to do so in the first place.

A new law in Kansas effectively shuts down voter registration drives, by making it a felony offense to engage in conduct that constitutes impersonating an election official — a vague standard that experts say could probably be applied to any volunteers approaching people with clipboards to help them register to vote.

"There have been a little more than 3,000 bills introduced ... this legislative session and which is the most bills we've seen around election administration," said Tammy Patrick, who tracks election legislation for the nonpartisan group Democracy Fund. "Many of them actually have included things very similar to the Kansas law."

View our map of election laws nationwide.

Plus, in Texas, Democratic lawmakers returned to the Capitol after a 38-day holdout, paving the way for Republicans to pursue controversial legislation that critics say would make it even harder for people to vote.

As member station KUT reports, the bill cleared another hurdle earlier this week. Here's where things stand.


How New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Plans To Tackle COVID-19 And Repair Credibility

Posted August 25, 2021 at 9:45 AM EDT
A woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a white collared shirt, stands at a podium speaking with the American and New York flags behind her.
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New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks to the media during her swearing in ceremony at the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York on Tuesday.

Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York at midnight on Tuesday. As NPR's Steve Inskeep put it, she's "the first woman to hold that office, although not the first New York governor to take charge after the previous one resigned in disgrace."

She spoke with Inskeep about the significance of her new role and what she plans to do in it. Listen to their conversation and read on for excerpts.

On how she sees her essential task: "Well, my task right now is very immediate. I have to get COVID-19 under control, protect the safety of New Yorkers, and I started with a mask mandate in schools effective immediately, and also get more vaccinations out there ... I'll be having a very aggressive program to get the boosters out, but there's still a lot of people who never got the first dose, and that's going to be a barrier to getting people feeling secure about going to schools and to work. And so I'm laser-focused on those two big initiatives."

On repairing the state's credibility, especially after the Cuomo administration undercounted COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes: "Simply it's about being more transparent ... as of yesterday we're using CDC numbers which will be consistent. And so there's no opportunity for us to mask those numbers, nor do I want to mask those numbers. The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what's happening, whether it's good or bad, they need to know the truth ... That's what I've done for 27 years of elected office, it's not a new concept to me."

On her relationship with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "It's no secret that I've not been close to the governor. I've believed in many of the policies that I championed and I worked hard for: increasing the minimum wage, paid family leave, child care initiatives, protecting our gun safety laws ... but also, I've not been in the rooms. I've not been in Albany very much."

"Is this a clean break, then?" Inskeep asked.


Tokyo Paralympics

How These 2 Members Of The Paralympic Refugee Team Got To The Games

Posted August 25, 2021 at 9:35 AM EDT

The Tokyo Paralympics are officially underway after yesterday's moving opening ceremony (which you can catch up on here).

Its iconic "Parade of Athletes" kicked off with the Refugee Paralympic Team, a six-person delegation that organizers have called "the world's most courageous sports team."

Here & Now — from NPR and member station WBUR — spoke with two of its members earlier this summer about their journey to, and hopes for, the Games.

Here are their stories:

A man wearing a blue shirt and black shorts throws a discus, with one arm in the air and both feet off the ground, surrounded by green trees and a blue sky.
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Shahrad Nasajpour competes in the Men's Discus Throw Ambulatory F37 during the Desert Challenge Games at Westwood High School on May 30 in Mesa, Ariz.

Discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour, who was born with cerebral palsy, left Iran to seek asylum in the U.S. in 2015. He lives in Arizona and hopes to earn U.S. citizenship status — and a spot on Team USA — in the next two years.

Nasajpour says his relationship with the sport wasn't love at first sight, but after a few weeks, he was hooked. He made the Iranian national team in 2011 and traveled to two international competitions with those athletes.

Nasajpour left the team after several years in part because of its religious practice requirements, regardless of athletes'personal beliefs. He says he appreciates that athletes in the U.S. are valued because of their performance rather than their point of view.

His own athletic achievements are noteworthy: He holds multiple national and international titles, and says he can throw past the 50-meter mark. He will compete in the shot put on Friday.

Nasajpour has limited mobility on his left side and says he's worked to push those limits. He encourages others to adopt a similar mindset about whatever challenges they face.

"Everybody fails in their life in different points," Nasajpour says. "Just do not take those no answers as a response. Just go get it, I think, that's the best thing in life you can do." More of his story here.

A man with no arms, wearing a yellow swim cap and goggles on his forehead, smiles off-camera while upright in a blue swimming pool.
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Abbas Karimi of the Refugee Para Team competes in the Men's 50m Butterfly during Day 1 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials on June 17 in Minneapolis.

Abbas Karimi, who was born without arms, fled Afghanistan at age 16 and lived in four different refugee camps before making it to the U.S. to swim competitively.

He made history at the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships, where he swam the men's 50-meter butterfly and became the first refugee athlete to reach the podium there.

Karimi, 24, calls competing in the Paralympics a "dream come true." Getting there was some journey, especially since he moved around so much. He left Afghanistan first for Iran, then Turkey, and had to find a new pool and coach every time he moved refugee camps.

He swims the butterfly, a stroke he says it took years to perfect. He says for swimmers without arms, it involves dolphin kicking, lots of core and fewer chances to come up for air.

Karimi will compete in the men's 50-meter butterfly and 50-meter backstroke on Friday and Monday, respectively. And he says it's an honor to represent millions of displaced people, as well as people — especially kids — with disabilities.

"No one is the same in this world and everyone is different," he says. "But we all have to accept [ourselves] and accept each other the way we are.” More of his story here.


Sen. Sasse Says It Will Be A Disaster If Americans Are Left Behind In Afghanistan

Posted August 25, 2021 at 9:20 AM EDT
A U.S. soldier stands guard next to barbed wire fence near the international airport in Kabul on Aug. 20.
Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images
A U.S. soldier stands on guard as Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on Aug. 20.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., is not holding back in his criticism of the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The administration has the obligation to make sure that every American is out and that they don't leave us with a hostage situation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Taliban with whom we should have never been negotiating,” Sasses, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

🎧 Listen to the interview with Sasse on Afghanistan here.

It’s possible not all Americans get out by Aug. 31. “Right now, unless something changes, it looks like the president and his team have a plan that is just to accept the risk that we will leave Americans behind. And leaving a single American behind is a disaster,” Sasse said. (The Biden administration is expected to give a report today on how many Americans have been evacuated and how many are believed to still be in the country.)

Biden’s deadline is now being used by the Taliban. “The Taliban doesn't get to run a countdown clock on American lives," Sasse said. "So, the Aug. 31 deadline was always arbitrary. And now the Taliban is insisting on it, and President Biden is deciding that they control whether or not Americans live or whether or not Americans are taken hostage. It's completely unacceptable.”

Sasse said it sends a bad message to allies, too. “It is imperative that the president, as our leader, as our commander-in-chief, declare that we're going to keep our word to our allies, because these are individual moms and dads who are at risk of torture and rape and beheading when the U.S. is gone," Sasse said. "But also, because we need to be sure that other countries ... know that when the U.S. makes a commitment, the U.S. is the kind of country that honors its word.”

Fine Art

Hung Liu Memorialized The Invisible. Her Work Will Be At The National Portrait Gallery

Posted August 25, 2021 at 8:41 AM EDT

Hung Liu’s upcoming exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery stands in stark contrast to the museum’s countless images of powerful white men, curator Dorothy Moss says.

"The scale is monumental," Moss told NPR. "The colors are searing. The texture is dripping with linseed oil, like a veil of tears. And the faces: there's so much humanity in the faces."

Hung Liu stands in front of two of her portraits in her studio in 2020.
John Janca via Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
Artist Hung Liu stands in front of her work.

The exhibit, Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands, opens on Friday. Liu died earlier this month, weeks after being diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer.

Liu’s work mostly features Chinese peasants and prostitutes from historical photographs and Dust Bowl migrants inspired by Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photos, KQED’s Chloe Veltman reports.

Read more from Veltman about Liu’s work and her life here, including how Liu was sent to work in the fields in China during the Cultural Revolution in 1968.

And hear more from Liu about her approach to her subjects in this 2005 KQED video profile.

Must Read

The Story Of How An Afghan Interpreter And His Family Escaped Afghanistan

Posted August 25, 2021 at 8:00 AM EDT
Families with young children walk towards military transport planes. Some have suitcases and small backpacks.
Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps via AP
U.S. Marine Corps
Families walk toward their flight during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Tuesday.

When Reggie spoke with NPR on Aug. 15, he said he couldn't sleep or relax "for a single minute" with the Taliban in control of Kabul. He believed he and his family were in danger of being killed by the Taliban in retaliation for his work helping the U.S. Military.

Reggie is the nickname given to him by the Americans. For security reasons, NPR is not using his full name.

"Because of my service, my family is suffering right now," he told Morning Edition last week. "My family, my kids is telling me that, 'Bad guy is going to come and is going to kill you, then us.' And I keep telling them, 'No, there are a lot of good friends that I have in America. I have made a lot of good friends and they're going to take us, baby, you don't have to worry about it.' "

It turned out Reggie was right.

Reggie, his wife and five kids left Afghanistan on a military transport plane sometime after midnight on Aug. 20.

The journey to get the family out of the country was tense and pulled together with the help of many veterans in the U.S. who haven't forgotten those who served with them in Afghanistan.

One of those veterans is retired Capt. Flo Groberg, a Medal of Honor recipient who heard Reggie's story and recognized him.

Groberg wears a dress military uniform and shakes someone's hand.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
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U.S. Army Capt. Florent "Flo" Groberg (center), a recipient of the Medal of Honor, visits the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after ringing the opening bell in November 2015.

While serving in Afghanistan in 2012, Groberg was approached by a man wearing a suicide vest. Groberg protected other members of his unit by shoving the bomber aside, but the vest detonated and Groberg lost some of his hearing and much of the use of one leg. The person who helped him control the bleeding was Reggie, even though he too was injured.

Since the Taliban takeover, Groberg has been pulling every string he can to get Afghans on planes, including for Reggie and his family.

Once inside the airport's gates, Reggie says his kids finally smiled. "I told them, 'We are safe.' And I took a very deep breath."

Read the full story of how a constellation of people worked to get Reggie and his family out of Afghanistan and on to safety.


After He Almost Died From COVID-19, A Texas Pastor Regrets Not Getting The Vaccine

Posted August 25, 2021 at 7:48 AM EDT

Last month, Pastor Danny Reeves was fighting for his life in the ICU at Dallas’ Baylor Medical Center. He had COVID-19 and he wasn’t vaccinated.

Now, the senior pastor at First Baptist Corsicana in North Central Texas regrets not getting the shot earlier.

“I was falsely and erroneously overconfident,” Reeves told NPR’s Morning Edition. You can listen to the full conversation here.

Reeves says he isn't against vaccines, and he encouraged certain people in his community — mostly seniors — to get vaccinated before he contracted COVID. But he thought since he’s in his 40s and generally healthy, getting COVID wouldn’t be a big deal.

“Unfortunately, that was the attitude that I had: That if I did get it, I thought it would just be a nothing issue. And in that I was deeply, deeply wrong.”
Pastor Danny Reeves, on why he didn't get a COVID-19 vaccine

Reeves describes his experience at the hospital as “harrowing.” At one point during his two night stay at the ICU, a doctor told Reeves he might die.

Weeks later, Reeves is still recovering.

“It ravaged my healthy body,” he said. “There's no doubt.”

Next week is his first service back at the pulpit since he contracted COVID over a month ago. He says he’ll tell his congregants his story.

COVID-19 cases are surging across North Texas and projections indicate they may soon reach last winter's peak.

“We're going to praise God together for his rescue,” Reeves said. “I'm going to lay out lessons that I've learned ... And certainly I'm going to talk straight to our people about who we can and should be as God's people and what it really means to love our neighbor.”

Reeves says he plans to get vaccinated once his doctor tells him it’s safe to do so.

Click here to see case numbers and vaccination rates where you live.


The Latest Updates From Afghanistan As The Troop Withdrawal Date Approaches

Posted August 25, 2021 at 7:36 AM EDT

President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is less than a week away. Despite some indications that he might extend it, Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. is on track.

The operation has been chaotic and broadly criticized, but the president insists leaving is the best decision for the U.S. and says it's safest for American troops to do so now with the Taliban in control and a growing threat fromISIS in Afghanistan.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Roughly 19,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by U.S. and other coalition countries in the last 24 hours, according to the White House. Biden has promised that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will provide a "detailed" report today on how many of the evacuees are American and how many Americans remain in the country. All told, the White House says 82,300 people have been evacuated since Aug. 14.
  • Biden wants troops out by next Tuesday, but he’s asked the Pentagon and State Department for contingency plans. He also said the withdrawal depends on “continued coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport.”
  • Two congressmen — both veterans, one Democrat and one Republican — made a “secret” trip to Kabul yesterday. They argued they were exercising their duty to oversee the executive branch, but a State Department official said: "They have chosen to put themselves, our servicemembers, and our diplomats at even greater risk — all while potentially depriving those in need of a seat to safety."

  • CIA Director William Burns met with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday. There was no official word on what was discussed, but the withdrawal date likely loomed over the talk. It was also the highest-level meeting so far between the Biden administration and the Taliban since the group’s takeover on Aug. 15.

Biden Wants Insurance Companies To Help Prevent Hacking And Ransomware Attacks

Posted August 25, 2021 at 7:17 AM EDT
A close-up of the presidential seal on a podium, with two hands grasping it.
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U.S. President Joe Biden rests his hands on the lectern as he speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

President Biden plans to meet with the CEOs of the biggest tech companies on Wednesday — Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and IBM — to talk about how to reduce the threat posed by hackers and ransomware attackers.

The administration has been trying to urge the private sector to do its part to boost defenses after a series of attacks, including one on the Colonial pipeline and on meat supplier JBS. Those attacks were linked to group in Russia, and were front and center in Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June.

There will be some other players around the table on Wednesday, too, including a group of insurance company executives. “We really see insurance as a way to drive better cybersecurity practices,” a senior administration official told reporters. Another focus will be education, and looking at train people to fill an estimated 500,000 open jobs in cybersecurity.

There will be some big financial companies at the meeting, including CEOs from Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, and the head of ADP, which handles payroll and other human resources services for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The companies are expected to announce some concrete plans to help step up measures, the official told reporters.


Kids' Masks, Vaccine Mandates And States' Warnings: The Latest On COVID-19

Posted August 25, 2021 at 7:15 AM EDT
A white sign with purple lettering urges people to get their COVID-19 vaccine here. It's placed in the middle of a sidewalk, and people in maroon shirts are crossing a city street in the background.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
Volunteers in maroon shirts walk the neighborhood to let residents know about a COVID-19 vaccine location in Los Angeles, California on August 17, 2021.

Across the U.S., both the number of reported COVID-19 infections and the rate of vaccination continue to rise.

You can see how your state is doing with NPR's case tracker and vaccination tracker.

Here are some of the COVID-19 stories we're following this morning:

People who got the J&J vaccine may benefit from a booster shot

Johnson & Johnson says it has evidence that people who received the company's COVID-19 vaccine could benefit from a booster shot. The company says it gave a second shot to people who had received the vaccine six months earlier, and it's planning to submit the results of the study to the Food and Drug Administration.

Protecting kids against the delta variant

A vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is not likely to be approved before the end of this year, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told NPR's Morning Edition.

Pfizer and Moderna are still collecting trial data, though Collins said Pfizer could submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration for review by the end of September. That means it could be cleared for emergency use potentially as soon as October. Get the full story here.

In the meantime, kids are heading back to school (and in some cases, bringing the virus home with them).

Masking is a key safety measure in schools for people of all ages, especially those too young to be vaccinated. Check out these six expert tips for finding the best mask for your kids.

Pfizer's full FDA approval could mean more vaccine requirements

Collins' comments came just days after the FDA gave its full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — which is now officially called Comirnaty (say what you will about the name, but the backstory is interesting).

That move could have significant implications, both for Americans who have been hesitant about getting vaccinated up until this point and for the schools and business that may now decide to require it.

The Defense Department, New York City and New Jersey have recently announced their own mandates, and Florida's Disney World is requiring workers to get vaccinated by Oct. 22. NPR's Deepa Shivaram explains why Pfizer's full approval matters.

States are responding to COVID-19 surges

Hawaii's governor has asked that visitors and residents limit their travel to the islands to only essential business, aiming to curtail tourism through October but stopping short of a mandate.

Gov. David Ige also said that restaurant capacity is restricted and access to rental cars is limited. Read more here.

In Mississippi, officials are pleading with residents not to take ivermectin — a medicine meant for cows and horses — as an alternative to the COVID-19 vaccine, after the state's health department said at least 70% of recent poison control calls were from people who had done so. The FDA issued a strong word of warning, too.


Johnson & Johnson Says Another Dose After 6 Months May Boost Immunity

Posted August 25, 2021 at 7:11 AM EDT
A person's thumb and pointer finger hold a small COVID-19 vaccine vial on a reflective surface, with syringes nearby.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
Vials and syringes of the Johnson and Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine are displayed for a photograph at a Culver City Fire Department vaccination clinic on August 5, 2021 in Culver City, California.

Johnson & Johnson says it has evidence that people who received its COVID-19 vaccine could benefit from a booster shot.

The company says it gave a second shot to people who had received the company's vaccine six months earlier, according to a press release issued Wednesday morning.

Within a week, the additional dose increased antibody levels by nine-fold, suggesting that a second shot might someday serve as a booster if the vaccine’s effectiveness begins to wane.

The data have not yet been published in a scientific journal or reviewed by other researchers. The company did not disclose the number of people in the study.

Johnson & Johnson says it is planning to submit results of the study to the Food and Drug Administration as part of making a case for authorizing a booster for the everyone who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The company says that the study supports a strategy of giving a booster at 8 months, even though in the study, volunteers were given the second shot at 6 months.

"We have established that a single shot of our COVID-19 vaccine generates strong and robust immune responses that are durable and persistent through eight months. With these new data, we also see that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, the company's global head of research and development.

The Biden administration has already announced plans for boosters for people who received the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Several independent researchers said the finding would probably support giving people boosters with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But they noted the study seemed relatively small, reportedly with just 17 volunteers.

In addition, the study does not appear to have tested whether the increased antibodies would necessarily translate into increased protection in the real world.

“It would be reasonable to say that: Yes, have at least two doses of J&J, or have at least one more dose for those who had a single dose, including the option of having another J&J,” said Saad Omer, a vaccine researcher at Yale. “It is pointing toward the utility of a second dose. I think that’s reasonable.”