Covid vaccine in the US news summary: 2 May 2021

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Covid-19 vaccine in the US live updates: India variant, side effects, Pfizer, alcohol after doses...

Covid-19 vaccine news: live | 2 May 2021


- Moderna covid-19 vaccine listed for emergency use

- Canada to start to get Pfizer vaccines next week

- India facing deadly surge in cases; US and other countries pledge assistance. Read more

- Researchers suspect connection between swollen lymph nodes after vaccination in individuals who had returned positive tests for covid-19. Read more

- 100 million Americans now fully vaccinated

- AstreZeneca CEO denies overstretch on supply promises

- New recommendations from CDC for fully vaccinated individuals, read them here

- CDC: More than five million Americans did not receive a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. 

- Covid-19 vaccine passports apps: which ones can be used in the US? Learn more

US covid-19: 32.42 million cases / 577,045 deaths (live updates from Johns Hopkins University)

Scroll through some of our related articles:

Why Covid-19 'decays' as quickly as it 'surges'

Zoe McLaren, an associate professor at the University of Maryland has used a mathematical model to explain how Covid-19 can both rise and fall exponentially. "Exponential growth means case numbers can double in just a few days. Exponential decay is its opposite. Exponential decay means case numbers can halve in the same amount of time,' the professor wrote in a piece for the New York Times. "Every case of Covid-19 that is prevented cuts off transmission chains, which prevents many more cases down the line. For example, reducing 1,000 cases by half each day would mean a reduction of 500 cases on Day 1 and 125 cases on Day 3 but only 31 cases on Day 5".


EU executive recommends opening Europe to foreign travellers

The European Union's executive recommended on Monday that foreign citizens fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation be allowed to travel into the bloc without additional restrictions.

The 27-nation bloc currently allows citizens of seven countries to come on holidays or for other non-essential reasons and the European Commission's proposal would expand that list. "The (European) Commission proposes to allow entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine," the executive arm said in a statement. "This could be extended to vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process. In addition, the Commission proposes to raise... the threshold related to the number of new COVID-19 cases used to determine a list of countries from which all travel should be permitted," it said, adding that should lead to the expansion of the list.

To limit the risk of importing new coronavirus variants, the Commission also offered a new 'emergency break' that would allow introducing swift travel restrictions for countries where the health situation deteriorates sharply. EU member states are due to start discussing the proposal on Tuesday. Their agreement is needed to put it into effect.

246 million Covid-19 vaccines administered in the US

As of Monday morning, a total of 246 million Covid-19 vaccine shots have been administered in the United States, according to the latest data from the CDC. 147,047,012 people, 44.3% of the population have received at least one dose while 104,774,652, 31.6% of the population is now fully vaccinated.

New Mexico, Hawaii and District of Columbia are the states who have the highest vaccination rates, all with well over 80% of the public having received t least one shot of the vaccine.

LA County: zero Covid-19 deaths for the first time in 410 days

Los Angeles County reported no deaths relating to Covid-19 Sunday, the first time in 410 days that the county has not reported at least one Covid-19 death. The county recorded its first Covid-19 deaths on 19 March 2020, when four people succumbed to the virus. California now has the lowest Covid-19 infection rate of any state in the country with 31.2 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. It is closely followed by Alabama and Mississippi, who have recorded 35.7 and 37.8 cases per 100,000 people respectively.


India's Covid-19 case total nears 20 million

On Monday, India reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a 12th straight day, taking its overall caseload to just shy of 20 million, while deaths from Covid-19 rose by 3,417. With 368,147 new cases over the past 24 hours, India's total infections stand at 19.93 million, while total fatalities are 218,959, according to health ministry data.

Medical experts say real numbers across the country of 1.35 billion may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally. Hospitals have filled to capacity, medical oxygen supplies have run short and morgues and crematoriums have been swamped as the country deals with the surge in cases.

At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions to try and stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, concerned about the economic impact. "In my opinion, only a national stay at home order and declaring medical emergency will help to address the current healthcare needs," Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan said on Twitter. "The # of active cases is accumulating, not just the daily new cases. Even the reported numbers state there are around 3.5M active cases."

The Indian Covid-19 variant has now reached at least 17 countries including Britain, Switzerland and Iran, leading several governments to close their borders to people travelling from India.


What is vaccine shedding? Can it cause side effects?

Experts have moved quickly to rebuff claims covid-19 vaccines can cause reproductive issues in women who come into contact with recipients.

Full story

Jennifer Lopez

Singer Jennifer Lopez performs onstage during the taping of the 'Vax Live' fundraising concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Sunday. The event, put on by international advocacy organization Global Citizen, is pushing businesses to "donate dollars for doses," and for G7 governments to share excess vaccines. Pre-taped in Los Angeles, it will stream on YouTube along with American television networks ABC and CBS on 8 May.


US administers 245.6m vaccine doses - CDC

The United States has administered 245,591,469 doses of covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Sunday morning, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Sunday.

The agency said 147,047,012 people had received at least one dose while 104,774,652 people were fully vaccinated as of Sunday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE as well as Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Sunday.

A total of 7,801,659 vaccine doses have been administered in long-term care facilities, the agency said.


Army developing new covid-19 vaccine against variants 

As long as covid-19 can freely jump from on host to another there will be a greater risk of the virus mutating, as the saying goes “viruses live to mutate and mutate to live.” A team of Army scientists in Washington DC are working on an experimental coronavirus vaccine that may be able to defeat the current mutations now present in the US and future ones that arise. 

Six Olympic torch staffers contract covid-19

Reuters - Six people who helped with Japan's Olympic Torch relay were diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total number of participants in the event who got the coronavirus to eight, organisers said.

The six people, who included a man in his 20s and another man in his 30s, helped on the relay in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima on April 27, Tokyo 2020 said in a statement late on Saturday.

All of them assisted with traffic control and wore masks, with three of them doing so in the city of Amami and the other three in the city of Kirishima, said the organisers.

Earlier last month, two other people who helped with the torch relay on the southern island of Shikoku were diagnosed with COVID-19, including a police officer in his 30s who guided traffic in Kagawa prefecture.

Full story

Worries about keeping Olympic volunteers safe from covid-19 

NYT - For Olympic host cities, one of the keys to a successful Games is the army of volunteers who cheerfully perform a range of duties, like fetching water, driving Olympic vehicles, interpreting for athletes or carrying medals to ceremonies. 

If the rescheduled Tokyo Games go ahead as planned this summer, roughly 78,000 volunteers will have another responsibility: preventing the spread of the coronavirus, both among participants and themselves. 

For protection, the volunteers are being offered little more than a couple of cloth masks, a bottle of sanitizer and mantras about social distancing. Unless they qualify for vaccination through Japan’s slow age-based rollout, they will not be inoculated against the coronavirus. 

Full story

Fringe group shut down mass vaccination site in Montreal

Montréal’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination site was shut down this weekend following an anti-lockdown protest attended by thousands organized by online fringe groups.

The event ended with police deploying tear gas to disperse an “aggressive” crowd gathered at the Olympic Stadium, which has been administering thousands of COVID-19 vaccinations per day since the beginning of March.

Full story

Hospital makes vaccination mandatory for employees 

CNN - A hospital system in Houston is requiring all of its employees to get vaccinated against covid-19, making it one of the first major hospital systems in the US to mandate vaccination among employees and move to fire them if they don't comply. 

Houston Methodist, a network of eight hospitals that has 26,000 employees, said it will require every employee to provide proof of vaccination by June 7. 

If employees aren't vaccinated before the June deadline, they'll be suspended, without pay, for two weeks. If they're not vaccinated within that suspension period, the company will "initiate the employee termination process," according to the company's new HR policy, implemented this month. 

"As health care workers we must do everything possible to keep our patients safe and at the center of everything we do," Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Bloom told employees in an email obtained by CNN. "By choosing to be vaccinated, you are leaders -- showing our colleagues in health care what must be done to protect our patients, ourselves, our families and our communities." 

Employees have until May 3 to apply for exemption for religious or medical reasons. If their request is denied, they're expected to get vaccinated before the June deadline. 

Full story

Mexico vaccination centers entertain those waiting to be vaccinated

NYT - In a bid to improve their customer service, vaccination centers in Mexico’s capital now come with a slate of entertainment options, including dancing, yoga, live operatic performances and the chance to watch large, bare-chested Lucha Libre wrestlers do the limbo.

The goal is to make the process as appealing as possible for people waiting for a shot .

Full story

Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa to start getting Pfizer covid-19 vaccine

Reuters - Pfizer Inc will ship 4.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to South Africa by June, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Sunday.

The first batch of 325,260 doses will arrive in the country Sunday night, Mkhize said, adding that they will be expecting same number of doses to arrive on a weekly basis.

"The vaccine supply will increase to an average of 636,480 doses weekly from 31 May which will see us accumulating close to 4.5 million doses by the end of June," the statement added.

South Africa has secured 30 million doses of Pfizer's two-shot vaccine.

The country's health regulator also approved Johnson & Johnson's vaccine in early April and the government has ordered 31 million doses of the one-shot vaccine.

Pool/Reuters - President Cyril Ramaphosa

Cuban vaccine

Nature talks to Cuba's vaccine designer Vicente Vérez Bencomo about the Latin American country's plan to develop and manufacture a homegrown covid-19 vaccine. Cuba's leading vaccine candidate, Soberana 02 (Sovereign 02), entered phase III trials in March, although the communist island has another vaccine in the pipeline, called Abdala. 

According to Vérez Bencomo the results so far are looking good for Soberana 02, with an antibody response of 80%. 

Why did Cuba make its own vaccine? Basically because they wanted to depend on themselves, not the international community, which is highly influenced by the US, and the US is still operating a trade embargo against the island. 

If one of the Cuban vaccines is successful don't rule out it, or the knowhow to make it, being exported to other countries, particularly in Latin America.


Shoppers walk around a covid-19 vaccine check-in area inside a Wal-Mart in San Antonio, Texas. America's Covid-19 immunization campaign is stalling: while vaccination programs are lagging badly in many countries -- if they've begun at all -- mass vaccine sites across the US are closing due to dwindling demand, leaving the authorities exploring new ways to reach people who haven't yet gotten a shot.

In Texas, as in much of the country, vaccinations are in freefall. A huge federal site in Arlington, between Dallas and Fort Worth, shut its doors in mid-April because of insufficient numbers.



What is vaccine shedding? Can it cause side effects?

Experts have moved quickly to rebuff claims covid-19 vaccines can cause reproductive issues in women who come into contact with recipients.

Read more

China reaches 270.41 million doses of covid vaccines

China has administered 270.41 million doses of covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.

That compares with 265.06 million doses given as of Friday, up 5.34 million doses.

China's vaccination pace has quickened recently. However, because of its large population, China still lags behind the United States in terms of the proportion of the administered population per 100 people.

Perth at risk of second snap-lockdown

Australia's fourth-largest city faces prospects of its second snap lockdown in two weeks, officials said on Sunday, after a hotel quarantine security guard in Perth and two of his housemates tested positive for COVID-19.

Western Australia (WA) Premier Mark McGowan said late on Saturday he had yet to decide whether the state's capital city, which last week emerged from a three-day snap lockdown after reporting one covid-19 infection, would go into lockdown on Sunday.

"Our restrictions in place, and the use of masks, and the ability of our contact tracers and testing give us the ability to hold on a lockdown decision," McGowan told reporters late on Saturday.

"But it is possible that this could change tomorrow, or the day after."

Australia, which has no other community transmissions of the coronavirus, this weekend banned citizens who had been in India within 14 days from returning home, as the world's second-most populous nation contends with a surge in covid-19 cases and deaths.

The antipodean country has all but stamped out community infections after closing its borders to non-citizens in March 2020, recording just 29,800 cases and 910 deaths.

TSA extends obligatory mask use

The Transportation Security Administration has announced the use of face masks will remain obligatory at US airports and on public transportation until after the end of summer.

Covid shots could determine travel entry permits

As Bloomberg reports, entry permits and work authorizations when international travel eventually resumes could be determined largely by which vaccine a person has been given. US vaccines are likely to ensure smooth passage for the most part but other, including China's Sinovac and Sinopharm, may not be internationally approved.

Full story


Covid in India: shortage of vaccines and a new variant

The situation regarding coronavirus in India has worsened significantly over recent weeks and this has been magnified by the lack of vaccines and the risk of new strains.

Full story

More possible side effects reported from covid-19 vaccination 

Side effects—while temporarily uncomfortable—are a standard part of vaccination, says Dr. Stanley Perlman, a professor at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine and a member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee. They show that the body is responding to the shot and mounting an immune response.  

Vaccination side effects can be far more varied than what’s often discussed in the mainstream. There are bound to be more side effects observed and reported by the general population than are uncovered during a clinical trial, Perlman told Time. Adding, even side effects that were uncommon during clinical trials may affect a relatively large number of people once vaccines are widely distributed. 

“If you have a trial where you’ve looked at 30,000 people and something happens to 0.1% of them, that’s 30 people,” Perlman says. “But then when you change that 30,000 to 30 million, now there’s many more people having the same side effect.” 

Full story

Pfizer BioNTech covid-19 vaccine could be available for 5 to 11 year-olds by end of year

CNBC - In late March, Pfizer and BioNTech began a clinical trial testing their vaccine on healthy 6-month to 11-year-old children, a crucial step in obtaining federal regulatory clearance to start vaccinating young kids and controlling the pandemic.

For the first phase of the trial, the companies will identify the preferred dosing level for three age groups – between 6 months and 2 years old, 2 and 5, and from ages 5 through 11. The doses will be evaluated in children ages 5 through 11 first before researchers move on to the other age groups.

Oxygen aid arrives in India 

More emergency medical aid from foreign donors to alleviate a dire oxygen shortage arrived in India on Sunday, as Covid-19 deaths in the South Asian nation rose to a new record.

The country of 1.3 billion reported 3,689 deaths on Sunday, the highest single-day rise yet in the pandemic, to take the overall toll to more than 215,000.

Just under 400,000 infections were added, bringing the total number of cases past 19.5 million. The latest figures came as medical equipment, including oxygen-generation plants, was flown into the capital New Delhi from France and Germany as part of a huge international effort.

Moderna Covid-19 vaccine listed for emergency use

The World Health Organization listed the Moderna covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday — a step that will allow countries to speed up their own regulatory approval.

The WHO said the emergency-use listing is also a prerequisite for the vaccine to be part of the COVAX facility, which aims to share vaccines fairly around the world.

Moderna's vaccine is the fifth to be approved for emergency use by the WHO — following those of Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and two versions of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It has already received a green light from EU and US regulators.


A woman wearing a faceshield and a mask listens to a medical staff after getting inoculated with a dose of Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at the BKC Jumbo vaccination centre in Mumbai on May 2, 2021, on the second day of India's vaccination drive to all adults.

Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP


Mexico looks for US help as AstraZeneca admits Latin American vaccine delay

Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador said the United States would probably send his country 5 million more doses of AstraZeneca's covid-19 vaccine, as the company admitted production in Latin American had suffered multiple setbacks.

Mexico is struggling with behind-schedule local AstraZeneca production and shortfalls in deliveries from foreign suppliers and has asked the United States to help with more vaccines.

The request is in addition to some 2.7 million AstraZeneca doses Washington sent to Mexico in March.

"It's probable that they'll help us with a loan, while the AstraZeneca plant in Mexico gets up and running," López Obrador said at a regular news conference.

The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Under a deal reached last year, the mAbxience laboratory in Argentina manufactures the active ingredient of the vaccine and ships it for bottling to a factory in Mexico owned by a company called Liomont. The shots are to be delivered across Latin America, excluding Brazil, which has a separate production deal.

Argentina has delivered cargos of the active ingredient to Mexico, but Liomont's commercial production has slipped from an original target of March.

In a statement shared with Reuters on Friday, AstraZeneca said deliveries of the shots would now begin before the end of June.


Malaysia reports first case of Indian covid-19 variant

Malaysia has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, Health Minister Adham Baba said on Sunday, days after imposing a ban on flights from India.

The variant, named B.1.617, was detected in an Indian national screened at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, he said.

The World Health Organisation has described it as a "variant of interest", suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade vaccine immunity.

"We advise the public to remain calm... All public health efforts will continue in order to break the chain of infection and ensure public safety," Adham said.

He did not say when the variant was detected. Malaysia, which is facing a surge in covid-19 cases, on Wednesday banned flights to and from India and prohibited travellers from any Indian destination from entering the country to prevent the spread of the new variant.

India is battling a devastating second wave of the coronavirus that has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums.

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Sunday 1 May 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.