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Covid vaccine in the US news summary: 25 April 2021

Update:
Covid vaccine in the US - live updates: J&J pause lifted, side effects, locations, My Turn...

US covid-19 vaccine news: 25 April 2021

Vaccine Covid

US has administered 228,661,408 doses of Covid-19 vaccines

The United States had administered 228,661,408 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Sunday morning and distributed 290,692,005 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

That is an increase from the 225,640,460 vaccine doses the CDC said had been administered by 24 April out of 290,685,655 doses delivered. The agency said 139,978,480 people had received at least one dose while 94,772,329 people had been fully vaccinated as of Sunday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine as of 6 a.m. ET Sunday. Top U.S. health regulators said the country can immediately resume use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine, ending a 10-day pause to investigate its link to extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots. A total of 7,791,490 vaccine doses have been administered in long-term care facilities, the agency said.

Kids Covid

CDC says children can get within 3 feet at summer camp

Children attending summer camp can get within 3 feet (1 meter) of each other but should wear masks to limit the spread of Covid-19, according to fresh guidance issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC's updated recommendations for camps, issued on Saturday, have been eagerly awaited by parents as the end of the school year approaches. The agency said its camp guidance aligns with its evidence for social distancing at schools, with at least 3 feet between children - and at least 6 feet (2 meters) when eating and drinking. Camp counselors and other adults should stay at least 6 feet from children and each other, the CDC said.

Summer camp activities should be held outdoors as much as possible, and if indoors, doors and windows should be left open when possible, the CDC said. Group events and large gatherings should be avoided, it added.

Covid-19 vaccinations have ramped up across the country, but younger children are not currently authorized for the three shots approved in the United States. Pfizer and BioNTech SE's Covid-19 vaccine is authorized for use starting at age 16, with approval now being sought for children ages 12 to 15.

Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson are studying their vaccines in children. The CDC said that while fewer children have gotten sick with Covid-19 compared to adults, they still can be infected with the coronavirus and spread it to others and sometimes can have severe outcomes themselves.

Bill Gates: "The world will be completely back to normal by the end of 2022

Bill Gates told Sky News he remains hopeful the coronavirus nightmare will be over and the world will be "completely back to normal" by the end of 2022.

He explained, "There are still some questions about how broadly the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will get used, if that's accepted it would be very beneficial but some of the rich countries including the US and the UK, even this summer will get to high vaccination levels and that'll free up so that we're getting vaccines out to the entire world in late 2021 and through 2022 and so, we won't have eradicated this disease but we'll be able to bring it down to very small numbers by the end of 2022.

"Well, over the balance of the year, the US, the UK and others will be able to make sure that the vaccines are now going to the developing countries"

US to send Covid-19 aid to help India

The United States has promised to provide India with raw materials for Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear as the Asian country tries respond to a massive surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.

"The United States is working around the clock to deploy available resources and supplies," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.

She said the United States would send raw materials required for India to manufacture the Covishield vaccine, as well as therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for frontline workers.

Fashion designer Alber Elbaz dies of Covid-19 aged 59

Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz, who worked at Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin, has died of Covid-19 at the age of 59, fashion company Richemont announced in a statement on Sunday. Richemont’s chairman Johann Rupert said, “It was with shock and enormous sadness that I heard of Alber’s sudden passing. Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures.

Novavax

Novavax vaccine in stage III clinical trials

Maryland-based biotech company Novavax are hoping that their protein-based NVX-CoV2373 Covid-19 vaccine will be approved by the FDA before the summer. Phase I  trials began in May last year, followed by Phase IIb trials in South Africa and Phase III trial in the UK in September which yielded results showing it to be 89.3% efficient

A large-scale Phase III trial in the US and Mexico involved 30,000 participants aged 18 or over is underway. NVX-CoV2373 neither causes Covid-19 nor can it replicate. One of its advantages over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is that it is easier to store and transport - it is stable at 2°C to 8°C (refrigerated) and is shipped in a ready-to-use liquid formulation that permits distribution using existing vaccine supply chain channels.

Novavax is also working on parallel vaccines to combat the emerging variants and mutant strains of Covid-19 and expects to start clinical trials on the candidates for a booster and/or combination bivalent vaccine for the new strains by the second quarter of this year. Novavax has an agreement with the US government to supply 100 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 once it’s authorized for emergency use.

8% of Americans miss appointment for second shot

Over five million Americans who have received their first Covid-19 injected have missed their appointment for the second dose for one reason or another, the New York Times reports. Some have decided against getting a second jab because they think they are now protected while others are frightened they might suffer side effects. A recent survey showed that around a fifth of Americans have no intention of being vaccinated against Covid-19.

Low risk of catching Covid-19 off surfaces

The risk of surface transmission of Covid-19 is low, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has admitted. Far more important is airborne transmission of the virus, which can enter the body through the nose or mouth. Disinfecting surfaces makes no difference as the virus dies quickly soon after landing on porous surfaces.

Vincent Hill, Chief of the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch explained, "CDC determined that the risk of surface transmission is low, and secondary to the primary routes of virus transmission through direct contact droplets and aerosols".

According to researchers, surface transmission is more likely during the first 24 hours after a person has been infected.

Indian Covid-19 variant detected in Switzerland

The first case of the Indian variant of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Switzerland, the Federal Office for Public Health (BAG) said, as other countries introduce travel bans to contain its spread.

The case involved a passenger who arrived in Switzerland via a transit airport and not directly from India, which has been hit hard by a massive wave of infections in recent days, BAG said on Twitter.

The test took place at the end of March, BAG told Reuters on Sunday, adding the person entered Switzerland via a European country. BAG said consultations were now underway on whether to add India to its list of high-risk countries, from where people must immediately go into quarantine upon arrival in Switzerland.

"The reason for this is the rapid spread of the variant in the country," a spokesman said, referring to India, adding there was currently no accurate information on how infectious or how much more dangerous the new variant was.

Italy on Sunday joined other countries by imposing restrictions on travel from India to avert the spread of the variant. India has reported more than 300,000 new cases each day for the past four days, more than anywhere else in the world since the pandemic began.

Warning signs and symptoms to look out for if you received the J&J vaccine

Although side effects such as blood clotting are extremely rare, the FDA has issued advice for anyone who has been inoculated with the J&J vaccine.

If you got this vaccine more than three weeks ago, your risk of developing a blood clot with low platelets is very low.

If you got this vaccine within the last three weeks, your risk of developing a blood clot with low platelets is also very low. However, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets - these include any of the following: severe headache, backache, blurred vision, fainting, seizures, severe pain in your abdomen or stomach, severe pain in your chest, leg swelling, shortness of breath, tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae), new or easy bruising or bleeding.

Paid leave for employees receiving Covid-19 vaccines

The IRS announced details of tax credits available to help small businesses, including providing paid leave for employees receiving Covid-19 vaccinations.

Eligible employers, such as businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees and certain governmental employers, can receive a tax credit for providing paid time off for each employee receiving the vaccine and for any time needed to recover from the vaccine. For example, if an eligible employer offers employees a paid day off in order to get vaccinated, the employer can receive a tax credit equal to the wages paid to employees for that day (up to certain limits).

"This new information is a shot in the arm for struggling small employers who are working hard to keep their businesses going while also watching out for the health of their employees," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Our work on this issue is part of a larger effort by the IRS to assist the nation recover from the pandemic."

Why are some Republicans against Biden's vaccination plan?

Coronavirus

Why are some Republicans against Biden's vaccination plan?

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.

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vaccine

US administers 225.6 million doses of vaccines

The United States had administered 225,640,460 doses of covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 290,685,655 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

That is an increase from the 222,322,230 vaccine doses the CDC said had been administered by April 23 out of 286,095,185 doses delivered.

The agency said 138,644,724 people had received at least one dose while 93,078,040 people had been fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech , and Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine as of 6 a.m. ET Saturday.

The United States can immediately resume use of Johnson & Johnson's covid-19 vaccine, top health regulators said on Friday, ending a 10-day pause to investigate its link to extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots.

A total of 7,789,075 vaccine doses have been administered in long-term care facilities, the agency said.

Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP

india

India coronavirus cases set new global record, US readies help

India set a new global record of the most number of coronavirus infections in a day, as the United States said it was racing to send help to the country.

India's number of cases surged by 349,691 in the past 24 hours, the fourth straight day of record peaks, and hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds.

"Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific covid-19 outbreak. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India's health care heroes," US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on twitter.

The United States has faced criticism in India for its export controls on raw materials for vaccines put in place via the Defense Production Act and an associated export embargo in February.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, this month urged President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on US exports of raw materials that is hurting its production of AstraZeneca shots.

Others such as US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi urged the Biden administration to release unused vaccines to India.

"When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can't let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they'll save lives," he said.

India's total tally of infections stands at 16.96 million and deaths at 192,311 after 2,767 more died overnight, health ministry data showed.

Photo by Narinder NANU / AFP

Vaccination rollout update: New York

The Governor of the Big Apple posted an update of the vaccine program there, highlighting that almost 44% of New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine shot, while over 30% have completed their vaccine series.

In the 24 hours prior to his tweet, 189,254 doses were administered, which makes it a total of 14,295,610 and counting...

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.

Coronavirus US: what is the covid-19 passport, who gets it and where can be used?

CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

Coronavirus US: what is the covid-19 passport, who gets it and where can be used?

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. 

Read more

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."

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". 

Coronavirus US: will 100% of the population be immunized by the summer?

Coronavirus US

Coronavirus US: will 100% of the population be immunized by the summer?

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.

Find out when the US is hoping that most of the population will be vaccinated here:

 

AstraZeneca vaccine safety defended

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.

Frozen vaccine funds approved in Venezuela

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.

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Sunday 25 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.

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