Covid vaccine in the US: news summary 24 April 2021
US covid-19 vaccine news: updates 24 April
J&J vaccine back for North Carolina
North Carolina health officials are recommending that healthcare providers in the state resume use of the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine following a safety review by federal agencies.
More than 250,000 people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in North Carolina as of 13 April.
Currently, there are approximately 132,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available in North Carolina. The state expects to be able to order new shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.
As more people receive a coronavirus vaccine some nations are considering implementing a ‘covid passport’, which would grant the owner extra freedoms if they have had a negative covid-19 test, a vaccination or other proof of immunity.
But critics of the proposals point out that this would essentially create a two-tiered society, with two distinct groups with different freedoms in society. There are also concerns about the centralisation of such private medical details. Here's what the covid passports would mean and what the White House has said about the idea.
Global vaccination effort exceeds 1 billion shots
It has been 510 days since the first confirmed case of covid-19 was found in December 2019, and the world has been altered immeasurably by the realities of the pandemic. But within 18 months seven effective vaccinations have been developed and over a billion shots have been administered.
The milestone is a significant one in the battle against coronavirus but some have noted that the vast majority of those successfully vaccinated are in developed countries. There have been growing calls for the United States, alongside others who have produced vaccines, to share important information about the breakthrough to allow developing nations to produce their own.
Calls for vaccine patents to be made freely available
After the news that President Biden hit his target of administering 200 million doses of covid-19 vaccines in his first 100 days in office, the US' march towards some level of her immunity appears to be speeding up. But a report in the New York Times questions whether the US, and other developed countries, are doing all that they could to ensure that people around the world have access to the life-saving shots.
The report reads: "There is no shortage of solutions to these problems, but the countries with leverage, clout and excess supply — like the United States — need to act now."
New Sri Lanka variant can remain airborne for an hour
Researchers in Sri Lanka say they have detected a new variant of coronavirus on the island which is highly transmissible and can remain airborne for nearly an hour, India Today reports. Sri Lanka is reporting over 600 new cases each day
East Texas doctor on a mission to vaccinate her community
Dr. Carolyn Salter at Sycamore Medical Clinic in Palestine, East Texas is making a concerted effort to ensure that those who live in isolated parts of the region will have access to a Covid-19 vaccine. In Anderson County, less than 11% of the population has been vaccinated, less than half the statewide figure.
She told the Texas Tribune, "We have a drive-in clinic behind our office so whenever we get a load of vaccinations, people can just call in, they don;t have to go on a website or anything. Even if they just show up we will vaccinate them".
The US Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues to gather pace. By the end of last week, 28% of the population had received both shots and is now fully vaccinated. President Biden is hoping that the nation will be more or less back to normal before Independence Day.
Co-creator of AstraZeneca vaccine defends safety
One of the Oxford scientists who co-developed AstraZeneca's covid-19 vaccine defended its safety on Friday and said he was not worried that some countries had opted to restrict its use amid concerns about a possible link to very rare side effects.
Adrian Hill, director of the Oxford University's Jenner Institute, said teams around the world were working to pin down any potential mechanism for what might be causing the blood clots, using real world data now so many shots have been administered.
He agreed with medicines regulators in Britain, and Europe, and with World Health Organization experts, that the risk-benefit balance for the coronavirus shot favoured its use.
"If some countries choose to use one (covid) vaccine, there will be more of the other vaccines for other countries," Hill told Reuters. "We don't see this as a huge issue."
More than a dozen European countries had suspended use of AstraZeneca's covid-19 vaccine, called Vaxzevria, amid reports of cases of the clots combined with low platelets in a very small number of people who had received it. Many countries have resumed using the shot, but with some restrictions.
After reviewing the safety reports, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) regulator said that while there was a possible link, a direct causal link had not been established and the vaccine's benefits in preventing severe covid-19 disease were substantial.
Asked whether he was surprised by the reports of blood clot cases occurring in Britain, Norway, Germany and other countries that have been rolling out Vaxzevria, Hill said such extremely rare side effects would not have emerged even in large-scale trials involving tens of thousands of participants.
"Nobody can detect something that occurs in one in 300,000 - and maybe causes death in about 1 in a million - if you're doing studies of the order of 10,000 to 20,000 vaccines," he said. "These very, very rare side effects are very hard to pick up with any vaccine. What's good is that we can now pick these up - because the data linkage infrastructure in the UK and many other countries is able to do this remarkably quickly."
CDC issues vaccine update
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of US adults have now been fully vaccinated against covid-19.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo answers a reporter's question during a virtual news conference following an event to announce five new walk-in pop-up vaccination sites for New York City Bodega, grocery store and supermarket workers, amid the coronavirus pandemic in the Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Pool
Venezuela opposition approves $100m in frozen funds for vaccines
Venezuela's opposition on Thursday agreed to use $100 million in funds frozen in the United States to pay for coronavirus vaccines via the COVAX program, as the South American nation remains one of the slowest in inoculating against the disease.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó and allies have for months been negotiating with the government of President Nicolás Maduro to pay for vaccines using the funds.
The Trump administration froze $342 million in Venezuelan central bank deposits as part of a 2019 program and put them at the disposal of Guaidó, who the United States recognizes as the country's legitimate president.
"We are making a new effort to meet what is most needed today by approving an additional $100 million for vaccines against COVID-19," Guaido wrote in a tweet.
That adds to $30 million previously approved for COVAX payments from the same pool of funds, Guaidó's allies said in a statement.
Using the funds requires approval by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC. Opposition leaders say they have requested a license to use those funds for vaccine payments.
Joe Biden's covid-19 vaccination plan faces resistance from Republican voters, which may cause the US president to seek the help of Donald Trump.
Canadian PM Trudeau receives first dose of AstraZeneca's covid-19 vaccine
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday received his first dose of AstraZeneca's covid-19 vaccine at an Ottawa pharmacy, telling reporters 'I'm very excited' as the needle entered his arm.
Afterwards he posed for television cameras and photographers with his thumbs up and then watched as his wife Sophie received her first shot. Sophie came down with a mild case of the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic last year.
No blood clots among 2,200 Chilean participants in AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine trial
Chilean investigators testing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University covid-19 vaccination in 2,200 people found no instances of blood clots among participants, they said on Friday.
Dr. Maria Elena Santolaya, from the University of Chile that led the trial, said the vaccine was safe, and also 76% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 15 days after the second dose was administered, 100% effective against serious or critical covid-19 and 85% effective against symptomatic covid-19 among people over 65 years old.
Global COVAX initiative sees more than 40 million vaccines distributed
Today, #COVAX has delivered 40+ million #COVID19 vaccines to 190+ economies.
Apple to help employees get covid-19 vaccines
Apple Inc is starting a program to help employees get covid-19 vaccine shots, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Lawmakers urge Biden to back 'moral' patent waiver to speed vaccine access
U.S. lawmakers and non-profit groups on Friday heaped pressure on the Biden administration to back a temporary patent waiver for vaccines to help poor countries contain the pandemic.
The groups delivered a petition signed by two million people, adding to separate letters already sent to U.S. President Joe Biden by a group of senators, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, nearly 100 members of the House and 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners.
Senator Bernie Sanders said it was also in the United States' own interest to ensure as many people were vaccinated as quickly as possible, to limit the chance of virus mutations that could prompt further U.S. lockdowns. But he also appealed to Biden's desire to rebuild U.S. credibility in the world.
"On this enormously important health issue, this moral issue, the United States has got to do the right thing," he told a news conference.
AstraZeneca vaccine doses in U.S. should go to hard-hit countries - business group
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called on the Biden administration to release millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from storage for shipment to India, Brazil and other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it's estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able to produce enough doses by early June to vaccinate every American," Myron Brilliant, the chamber's vice president and head of international affairs, said in a statement. Shipping stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccine doses to countries struggling with the coronavirus "would affirm U.S. leadership, including in COVAX" he said, referring to an international partnership to ensure broad access to vaccines. "No one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it."
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly encourages the administration to release the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage - as well as other life-support equipment - for shipment to India, Brazil and other nations hard hit by the pandemic," he said.
AstraZeneca vaccines sent to Mexico from Baltimore plant safe - deputy health minister
Millions of doses of AstraZeneca's covid-19 vaccine manufactured at a U.S. plant that had a contamination issue and then shipped to Mexico are safe and have been approved by two regulators, Mexico's deputy health minister stated.
The doses were sent to Mexico as part of an agreement with the administration of President Joe Biden for 2.7 million shots of AstraZeneca's vaccine to help supplement Mexico's vaccination campaign amid global delays and shortages.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted production at the U.S. plant in Baltimore which produced the vaccines while it investigated an error that led to millions of doses being ruined last month.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell confirmed the vaccines Mexico received were produced at the same Baltimore plant but reiterated they were safe, and had been evaluated by the FDA as well as Mexican health regulator COFEPRIS.
"So, we are certain that it was a safe, quality product, the one that we put to Mexican people, 2.7 million," Lopez Gatell said during a regular news conference. "No dose would have been released if not all requirements had been met."
Tennis star Djokovic hopes covid vaccine will not become compulsory for players
Novak Djokovic said he hopes it will not become mandatory for players to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to compete on the ATP circuit and that their freedom of choice should be supported.
The ATP earlier this month issued new guidelines saying players who have been vaccinated would not be considered a close contact of anybody testing positive. The governing body of men's tennis also drew up an exemption list for players who have been vaccinated.
Both the ATP and the women's WTA recommended players accept vaccine shots when available.
Djokovic said there were "a lot of options in terms of vaccines" but still a lack of clarity on whether they would be compulsory.
"I don't think it'll come to that. I hope not, because I've always believed in freedom of choice," Djokovic told reporters when asked at the Serbia Open if he had been vaccinated.
"And I will keep the decision as to whether I'm going to get vaccinated or not to myself, it's an intimate decision and I don't want to go into this game of pro and against vaccines, which the media is unfortunately creating these days.
CDC confirm 1/3rd vaccinated
The CDC stated that as of April 22, 2021, more than one-third of people in the U.S. 18+ are fully vaccinated.
On April 5, Florida expanded Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years old and over. Here's all the information you need on how to book a vaccine appointment.
The Johnson & Johnson shot was paused last week after reports of rare blood clots in some recipients. The FDA is now expected to reverse the vaccine's suspension.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination was the first to be approved by the FDA but a new study has made a link to cases of herpes zoster, more commonly known as shingles.
Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome
Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Saturday 24 April 2021.
Here we aim to keep you fully up to date with all the latest news and updates regarding the covid-19 pandemic and all aspects of the vaccine development and rollout across the United States.