Covid-19 vaccine in the US news summary: 3 May 2021

AS English

Covid-19 vaccine in the US live updates: FDA approves Pfizer for 12 -15 years old, side effects, Indian variant...

US covid-19 vaccine news: live | 3 May 2021


EU regulator begins real-time review of Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine

Europe's medicines regulator said on Tuesday it has started a real-time review of Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine, based on preliminary results from animal and human trials that suggested the vaccine produces an immune response against the coronavirus. Data on the vaccine, Covid-19 Vaccine (Vero Cell) Inactivated, will be assessed as they are made available to help speed-up potential approvals, the European Medicines Agency said.


Britain set to announce travel 'green list'

Britain is set to announce the green list for countries that people can travel to on holiday shortly, and will have the right procedures in place to ensure travel can happen safely, said trade minister Liz Truss on Tuesday.

Hopes that Britons will be able to travel to Europe rose on Monday after the European Union recommended easing restrictions to allow in people who were fully vaccinated or from countries with a 'good epidemiological situation', boosting travel stocks.

The British government said in mid-April it would announce which countries would be open for quarantine-free travel from England in early May, ahead of a plan to allow holidays again from 17 May at the earliest. "I don't think it will be much longer before we make those announcements," Truss told Sky News.

Sources have suggested the list could be published on Friday, after local elections are held on Thursday. "People are looking to book a holiday but I would encourage people to wait until we make that announcement," Truss added.

Shares in airlines and travel companies were buoyed by the EU news. TUI, the world's largest holiday company, was up 5% in early trading, while easyJet, Jet2 and British Airways-owner IAG were between 2% to 4% higher.

Britain's biggest airport, Heathrow, has raised concerns that a rise in passenger numbers could lead to long queues and overcrowding at border control as Covid-19 means border staff must check multiple forms. Truss said procedures would be in place to facilitate travel safely once it restarts. 'We need to make sure that we do have the set-up correct at the airports, that we do have the mechanisms right before we go ahead,' she said.


FDA expected to authorize Pfizer vaccine for teenagers aged 12-15

(Reuters) The US Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years by early next week, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing federal officials familiar with the agency's plans.

An approval is highly anticipated after the drugmakers said in March that the vaccine was found to be safe, effective and produced robust antibody responses in 12- to 15-year-olds in a clinical trial.

Responding to a Reuters request for comment, the FDA said its review of expanding the vaccine's emergency use authorization is ongoing, but did not provide further details. A total of 471 children under the age of 18 have died of Covid-19 - around 0.1% of all US coronavirus deaths. 

The vaccine has already been cleared in the United States for people aged 16 and above. Pfizer declined to comment on the NYT report.

New York

Cuomo announces easing of restrictions in New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont today announced a significant easing of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on the region's businesses, venues and gatherings given significant progress in vaccinations and sustained reduction in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will lift most industry capacity restrictions starting from 19 May due to the results of a successful vaccination program and a decline in Covid-19 cases.

Business capacity limits will be replaced with Space Available to maintain six feet of Social Distancing on 19 May in New York and New Jersey

Outdoor social gathering limit will be increased to 500 on 10 May in New York; Indoor social gathering limit will increase to 250 on 19 May in New York

Outdoor residential gathering limit is removed and indoor residential gathering limit will increase to 50 in New York from 19 May

Large-scale indoor venue capacity will increase to 30% and large-scale outdoor venue capacity will increases to 33% on 19 May, Proof of vaccination or recent negative test is still required in New York


Mexico hopes to finish vaccinating its population in early 2022

Mexico hopes to finish vaccinating its entire population against covid-19 by the end of next year's first quarter, Mexico's deputy health minister, Hugo López-Gatell, said Monday evening.

The projection takes into consideration global delays in vaccination production and vaccine delivery to Mexico, said López-Gatell, who has spearheaded the country's response to the coronavirus.

"We hope to have vaccinated the entire population, those that hope to get vaccinated, by the end of the first quarter 2022," he said at a regular news conference.

So far Mexico has administered one vaccine dose to some 10% of its 126 million inhabitants. López-Gatell said that by mid-July, 20% of the population will have received at least one dose.

The Health Ministry earlier in the day reported 1,027 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 112 more deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 2,349,900 and fatalities to 217,345.

Separate government data published in March suggested the real death toll may be at least 60% above the confirmed figure.


Calls grow for national lockdown in India

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi called for a nationwide lockdown as the country's tally of coronavirus infections surged past 20 million on Tuesday, becoming the second nation after the United States to pass the grim milestone.

India's deadly second wave of infections, the world's biggest surge in coronavirus infections, has seen it take just over four months to add 10 million cases, versus more than 10 months for its first 10 million. Currently, the country has 3.45 million active cases.

On Tuesday, India reported 357,229 new cases over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose 3,449 for a toll of 222,408, health ministry data showed.

Medical experts say actual numbers in India could be five to 10 times higher than those reported.

"The only way to stop the spread of Corona now is a full lockdown... GOI’s inaction is killing many innocent people," Congress MP Gandhi said on Twitter, referring to the Government of India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown due to the economic fall out, yet several states have imposed various social restrictions.

The surge in cases of the highly infectious Indian variant of covid-19 has swamped the health system, drained supplies of medical oxygen vital for survival for those infected, and seen patients dying in ambulances and carparks outside hospitals.

India has postponed exams for trainee doctors and nurses in a desperate effort to fight the infections sweeping across the world's second-most populous country.

Modi has been criticized for not moving sooner to limit the latest wave of infections and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies during March and April.

Photo by Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

Catch up with the World Health Organization Update on the pandemic and global vaccine rollout.

Quotes and Highlights 

"More cases of #COVID19 have been reported globally in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic."-Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

"India and Brazil account for more than half of last week’s #COVID19 cases, but there are many other countries all over the world that face a very fragile situation" - Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

"COVAX has now shipped almost 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 121 countries and economies, but we continue to face severe supply constraints. Solving this dilemma demands courageous leadership from the world’s largest economies."-Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus




How many doses has the US secured and what will it be enough?

As of 3 May, more than 246 million covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the US, leaving around a third of the adult population fully vaccinated. 

How many vaccines has the US secured? 

President Biden has stated that he intends to have all residents in the US who want a vaccine, able to receive a shot -- or two --  by the Forth of July. The federal government was able to secure a combined total of 600 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines. As two doses are needed, this quantity represents enough doses to vaccinate nearly 300 million people, and currently, about forty-one percent of the doses requested have been administered.

In August 2020, Johnson and Johnson (J&J) announced that they had reached a deal with the US government to provide 100 million vaccines. . The company has provided almost twenty million doses of the vaccine, of which around nine million have been administered.

How many vaccines has the US sent abroad? 

As of 3 May, more than 246 million covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the US, leaving around a third of the adult population fully vaccinated. 

In the past month, the US has been more willing to send doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries as it is currently not approved for use in the country. In March, the US sent four million doses to its neighbors Canada and Mexico. Following concerning data out of India and other global hotspots, the federal government, in conjunction with a few other countries, will send sixty million doses of Astra Zeneca’s vaccine to countries in need. 

Read more about how international health experts have responded to vaccine scarcity in hard-hit countries here


Calls grow to suspend patents on covid-19 vaccines 

NYT - President Biden, faced with surging Covid-19 crises in India and South America, is under intensifying pressure from the international community and his party’s left flank to commit to increasing the vaccine supply by loosening patent and intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines. 

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies, also feeling pressure, sought on Monday to head off such a move, which could cut into future profits and jeopardize their business model. Pfizer and Moderna, two major vaccine makers, each announced steps to increase the supply of vaccine around the world. 

The issue is coming to a head as the World Trade Organization’s General Council, one of its highest decision-making bodies, meets Wednesday and Thursday. India and South Africa are pressing for the body to waive an international intellectual property agreement that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets. The United States, Britain and the European Union so far have blocked the plan. 

Full story 

Photo; Reuters/Pool

New PSAs to hope change vaccine skepticism 

New public service announcements based on conversations with people who have changed their minds about getting the covid-19 vaccine will begin to air on Monday. The Beaumont Foundation has produced a new series of public service announcements featuring Republican doctors in Congress.  

The GOP lawmakers believe their appeals will resonate with a conservative base that’s disproportionately resistant. Health officials and the White House hope to re-create the moment when skeptical Americans decided to go get vaccinated for the tens of millions of Americans who remain in the “no” camp.

New report shines light on vaccine doses going to waste in the US 

According to a report from Kaiser Health News released on Monday pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS wasted more shots than all US states, territories and federal agencies combined. Of the doses wasted those produced by Pfizer account for about 60 percent.  

Michael DeAngelis, a spokesperson for CVS, blamed the wasted shots on “issues with transportation restrictions, limitations on redirecting unused doses, and other factors.” Adding “Despite the inherent challenges, our teams were able to limit waste to approximately one dose per onsite vaccination clinic.” 

However, KHN did point out that compared with the number of shots delivered and administered so far that the overall amount of wasted vaccines is minimal.


Can you drink alcohol before getting the covid-19 vaccine?

Just under 2.5 million Americans are being vaccinated every day on average and before people go out, they are wondering; Is it safe to drink before getting the jab?

Although having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner won’t be the end of the world, health experts recommend holding off. 

Full details

First-ever image of covid-19 variant supports faith in current vaccines

The first images of a mutation on a covid-19 variant of concern have been captured by researchers at the University of British Columbia who say the photos offer some reassurance about how the virus strain may react to current vaccines.

The University of B.C. says the researchers are the first to publish structural images of the mutation found on one portion of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. 

The spike protein is the part of the virus that opens the door to infection, while the mutation is the change believed partly responsible for the rapid spread of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

Full story:

FDA set to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12-15 year-olds

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years old by early next week, according to federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans, opening up the nation’s vaccination campaign to millions more Americans.

The news is highly anticipated: Eager parents have been counting down the weeks since Pfizer announced results from its trial in adolescents, showing the vaccine is at least as effective in that age group as it is in adults. Vaccinating children is also key to raising the level of herd immunity in the population and bringing down the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

Full story in the NYT.

Vaccine refusers: inside their head

Several days ago, the mega-popular podcast host Joe Rogan advised his young listeners to skip the covid-19 vaccine. “I think you should get vaccinated if you’re vulnerable,” Rogan said. “But if you’re 21 years old, and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, ‘No.’”

Rogan’s comments drew widespread condemnation. But his view is surprisingly common. One in four Americans says they don’t plan to take the covid-19 vaccine, and about half of Republicans under 50 say they won’t get a vaccine.

This partisan vaccine gap is already playing out in the real world. The average number of daily shots has declined 20 percent in the past two weeks, largely because states with larger Trump vote shares are falling off the pace.

Derek Thompson has collected an insight into the people that are saying no to the covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccine reaction: personal stories

Another experience shared, this time from ABC7's anchor Jacqueline Matter.

'The best description I can give is I feel like a bowl full of Jello'

Vaccines and children: is Israel the example?

A pediatric immunologist at Columbia, Mark Gorelik, wrote his strong views on what the situation regarding covid-19 is like in Israel, with a particular focus on how children should be treated.

'The mRNA vaccine works fabulously,' he writes adding, 'we can also see from the data that children must be very minor contributors to spread and also spread poorly between each other.'

Vaccine shot and a beer

In an attempt to target certain members of the population, New Jerseyans will be offered a beer to go along with their vaccination shot.

A reverse chaser, you could call it!

Vaccine reaction: personal stories

We like to share individual examples of experiences people are having with the vaccine rollout.

Here's Emmy-award-winning reporter at FOX 5 SanDiego, and self-confessed needle hater, Jeff McAdam, with his.

Vax track: vaccine rollout by state

Vaccinating a high percentage of the population against covid-19 is a crucial part of the US strategy to curb the pandemic. 

Since covid-19 vaccine distribution began in the United States on 14 December 2020, more than 245 million doses have been administered, fully vaccinating over 104 million people or 31.6% of the total US. population. 

Explore how the vaccine rollout is going in the following five graphics from NPR, built using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'Vaccinate us from the vaccine effects'

That would go down well, Keith!

Vaccinations and mask wearing

If you've got a couple of spare minutes, listen to this short interview which covers aspects including rational and irrational fear over mask wearing and covid-19.

Be wary of vaccine conspiracy theorists

...they tend to believe and push a lot of proven nonsense for their own means.

Radical right-wing conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles used Friday’s edition of his “TruNews” broadcast to declare that covid-19 vaccines are really part of a plot to carry out “global genocide.”

“I am not going to be vaccinated,” Wiles said. “I’m going to be one of the survivors. I’m going to survive the genocide.”

“I am not going to allow the covid maniacs to convince me to be vaccinated or [to] vaccinate me against my will,” he continued. “I know what I’m reading. I know what I’m seeing. There is a mass death campaign underway right now—and I don’t care what people [say], they can they write any article they want to write about me, they can do everything they can to deplatform me—I’m going to survive a global genocide.”

We don't normally give air-time to these people, but it's important to know what is doing the rounds so that you can stand up against it.

Full story:

Covid vaccines: your questions answered

It's good to have questions about the covid-19 vaccines. It’s normal to be cautious when something new comes along. Wanting to know more is a good thing - it means you want to be informed.

And getting informed about covid-19 vaccines is an important step to help us stop this pandemic.

Covid Collaborative is here to help.

Get the vaccine, the alternative can be deadly

Kathy Griffin has re-shared this video which some people may find disturbing.

The truth is that millions of familiies have had to deal with harrowing situations due to loved ones catching covid-19. As Kathy says, get the vaccine.

Covid-19 vaccine myths given Oliver take down

If you’re hesitant about getting a covid-19 vaccination because you’re worried that Bill Gates is going to plant a microchip in it and track you for some reason, John Oliver had a message for you Sunday night.

The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” took on the Gates conspiracy theory and other myths worthy of debunking. Here's how his rant began:

“That rumor is based on the fact that the Gates Foundation funded research years ago, which is frequently taken out of context. In that study, researchers looked into creating an invisible ink that could potentially be injected along with a vaccine in order for populations, like refugee kids, to be able to retain vaccine records without paperwork.

"Over time, the original context was lost, contorted and kind of ‘telephoned’ its way to becoming ‘something something Bill Gates microchips’ on Facebook. If you think about it for just a second, it doesn’t make sense. If your main concern is that Bill Gates could use microchips to track you, he can already do that — that’s what your f**king phone is.”

Watch and listen...

In the next few months we do not expect Serum Institute of India to be able to supply the kind of volumes that were originally predicted [for COVAX]

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief scientist WHO

Walgreen's same-day vaccinations

There is no doubt that this is positive news from Ana Cabrera about same-day appointments, although it comes on the back of reports that national pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS reportedly account for the majority of wasted covid-19 vaccine doses, government data obtained by Kaiser Health News shows.

NBC News reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 182,874 wasted doses as of late March. The data reportedly showed CVS was responsible for nearly half of those wasted doses, and Walgreens was responsible for 21%.

According to the report, the CDC data suggested the companies have wasted more doses than states, US territories and federal agencies combined. The vaccine wasted most was reportedly Pfizer's vaccine, which requires storage at ultracold temperatures.

Vaccines for Panthers

A reminder from the Florida International University that it has a limited number of Pfizer vaccines that will be made available to students, faculty, staff and eligible members of their households.

Keep an eye on your local services to find out what's happening in your area.

Vaccine discussion live

The Black Caucus Chair Rep. Beatty and Central Ohio's leading medical experts join for a special telephone Town Hall on covid-19 and the vaccine.

Watch now!

(If video doesn't show, click on this link)

Vaccine access a 'basic right' - Prince Harry

Prince Harry got the crowd riled up and on their feet at Global Citizen’s “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World” event on Sunday. 

“Tonight is a celebration of each of you here, the vaccinated frontline workers in the audience and the millions of frontline heroes around the world,” the duke said in his opening remarks to raucous applause.

“You spent the last year battling courageously and selflessly to protect us all. You served and sacrificed, put yourselves in harm’s way and acted with bravery knowing the costs. We owe you an incredible depth of gratitude - thank you,” he added. 

Harry spoke about vaccine misinformation and the need for immediate vaccine equity. He referenced India, which is undergoing a “devastating” second wave of covid-19. 

“The virus does not respect borders and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography,” he said. “It must be accepted as a basic right for all and that is our starting point.” 

J&J banned in Denmark

Denmark said on Monday that it will bar the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from its covid inoculation drive over worries about blood clots, following a similar move against the AstraZeneca jab.

"The Danish Health Authority has concluded that the benefits of using the covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson do not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect... in those who receive the vaccine," the authority said in a statement.

"Therefore, the Danish Health Authority will continue the Danish mass vaccination programme against covid-19 without the covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson," it added.

Full story:

US vaccine hesitancy and the associated risks

ABC news tells the story of  Joshua Smith, an 18-year-old former high school baseball player who beat the coronavirus back in May, doesn't particularly fear it, but he does fear side effects from the vaccine - and he doesn't trust most sources that tell him otherwise.

What he does trust is what he sees around him, which is why Smith's decision not to get a vaccine isn't set in stone.

"I won't say that I won't," he told ABC News. But he wants to see firsthand that the vaccine "is really helping and people had good reviews on it."

"It won't be quick, it would have to be a steady progression, getting better and better. And then I would say, 'OK, I would be comfortable doing it now'," Smith said.

Cheyenne Haslett reports on the risks to those hesitant people and the rest of society.


Vaccine shot and alcohol. Do they mix?

One of the most common questions in the United States and elsewhere has been around any complications that could arise if drinking alcohol before or after getting your covid-19 vaccination.

Here is what Ilhem Messaoudi, director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California, had to say on the matter.

“If you are truly a moderate drinker, then there’s no risk of having a drink around the time of your vaccine.

“But be very cognizant of what moderate drinking really means.

"It’s dangerous to drink large amounts of alcohol because the effects on all biological systems, including the immune system, are pretty severe and they occur pretty quickly after you get out of that moderate zone.”

More information from the NYT's Anahad O’Connor.

Vaccinations in troubled India plummet

India's daily covid-19 shots have fallen sharply from an all-time high reached early last month as domestic companies struggle to boost supplies and imports are limited, even as the country fights the world's worst surge in infections, Reuters reported.

Daily inoculations have averaged 2.5 million since hitting a peak of 4.5 million on 5 April. A quadrupling of coronavirus cases during the period has collapsed the public health system in many regions of the country.

India, with the world's biggest vaccine making capacity, has partially or fully immunised only 12% of its 1.35 billion people, according to data from the government's Co-Win portal.

Public forecasts by its only two current vaccine producers show their total monthly output of 70-80 million doses would increase only in two months or more, though the number of people eligible for vaccines has doubled to an estimated 800 million since 1 May.

India on Saturday received 150,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and the government said "millions of doses" more will come in. Pfizer said on Monday it was in discussions with the Indian government seeking an "expedited approval pathway" for its vaccine.

"Unfortunately, our vaccine is not registered in India although our application was submitted months ago," CEO Albert Bourla said.

"We are currently discussing with the Indian government an expedited approval pathway to make our Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for use in the country." Pfizer was the first company to seek emergency use authorisation for its vaccine in India late last year. It withdrew its application in February after the drugs regulator sought a small, local safety study for the shot before considering its request.

But as cases surged, India said last month it would fast-track approval for some foreign shots, with companies now required to do a local trial within 30 days of approval, not before.

GlobalData analyst Prashant Khadayate said Pfizer will become a "vaccine of choice among people who can afford it" but that its need to be stored in ultra-low temperatures would be a challenge.

India has also invited Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to sell their vaccines to the country.

Selena calsl out vaccine mistruths

Over the weekend, Selena Gomez partnered with Global Citizen on “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.”

“Extra’s” Rachel Lindsay spoke with Gomez before she hosted the star-studded show, which aims to celebrate families and communities reuniting after getting the vaccine, and which calls on world leaders to make the vaccine accessible for all.

As for how she was feeling about the event, she shared, “The feeling I get about being here has been so encouraging — I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t been onstage hosting anything for a very long time. I think this cause is extremely importat. I want to do my best to use my platform to confront these issues. People getting false information, it’s scaring people and it’s circulating on all these different sites and I see these heads of companies not doing anything about it.

I wanted to be a part of this to make those conversations happen, to reach out to people who aren’t getting the vaccine and help them in any way we can.”

Full story below:


Vaccine hesitancy drops to 9%

According to the latest survey by the Office for National Statistics in the UK, vaccine hesitancy has dropped to as low as 9%.

The hope is that this continues to fall in the UK and around the world to help us end the pandemic for good.

Vaccines beat variants so far

A useful, and regular, reminder from Adam that the current approved vaccines are doing their job across the globe.

What we need to do is ensure that populations in every country receive them before a new, significantly different, variant emerges.

Denmark drops Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine from its immunization program

Denmark has excluded Johnson & Johnson’s covid-19 vaccine from its national vaccination program, after health authorities in the country judged the risk of blood clots unacceptable, local media including broadcaster TV2 reports. The decision comes less than a month after Denmark became the first European Union member to drop the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine - also over blood clot concerns.

Denmark had pre-ordered about 7 million vaccine shots from J&J, more than from any other producer. The decision to drop the company from its inoculation program means the Danish government is unlikely to reach its target of immunizing the country’s adult population by early August.

Novavax plans to ship covid-19 vaccines to Europe from late 2021

Novavax has told the European Union it plans to begin delivering its covid-19 vaccine to the bloc towards the end of this year, new guidance that could lead to a formal contract being signed as early as this week, an EU official told Reuters.

A deal would see Novavax supply a total of up to 200 million doses of the vaccine, providing the EU with booster shots to help contain the coronavirus and potentially guard against new variants, according to the official, who has direct knowledge of the discussions. Novavax reached a preliminary deal with the bloc in December, but a final agreement has been delayed because the US company has struggled to source some raw materials, Reuters reported in March.

The EU official, who declined to be identified because the matter is confidential, said Novavax still had production problems, but what had changed is that "now they have a delivery schedule". Novavax told the EU in meetings over the last two weeks that it planned to send the first small shipments towards the end of this year, with the bulk to be delivered in 2022, according to the official, who said the shots would complement a huge planned supply of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech.

Regardless of a possible deal, the EU's purchases remain conditional on the regulatory approval of the Novavax vaccine, which has been assessed under a rolling review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) since February. The EMA has not set a date for its decision on the vaccine, which has not yet been approved anywhere in the world.

The European Commission has repeatedly expressed confidence that it has secured enough doses to reach its goal of vaccinating at least 70% of its adult population by the end of July. The World Health Organization says about 70% of a population needs to be immunized to break transmission.


US screens 1.63 million people at airports, highest since March 2020

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened 1.63 million passengers on Sunday at US airports, the highest number since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic slashed travel demand. The number of US air travellers is still about 35% lower than the same date in 2019, down about 1 million travellers, TSA said. By comparison, just 170,000 people were screened at US airports on the same day in May 2020. U.S. airlines have been adding more flights, anticipating rising summer travel demand.

Texas mass vaccination sites being wound down

Large Covid-19 vaccination sites in Texas are starting to close as the rollout has moved so swiftly that demand is on the wane. A total of 19,205,116 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Texas, with over 66,224 out of 100,000 people having received at least one shot.

That means that the temporary sites which were used to vaccinate a large number of people are now being wound down.  The mass vaccine sites at AT&T Stadium and the Arlington eSports Arena have closed, NBCDFW News reports. The largest vaccine site at Dallas Fair Park has no plans to close at the moment, but changes are expected at the Parkland Hospital run sites at Ellis Davis Field House and Dallas College – Eastfield Campus.

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 27 April, 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.

Read the full story here:

COVAX gets boost from Moderna deal

Moderna will supply 34 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine this year and Sweden has donated 1 million AstraZeneca shots to the global COVAX programme, a small boost as it struggles to get stocks to inoculate the world's poorest people.

The advance purchase contract agreed with Moderna is for up to 500 million doses, but the roll out will only start in the fourth quarter, with 34 million doses available this year, the GAVI vaccine alliance said on Monday. The bulk - 466 million - would only become available next year, it said.

The deal expands the programme's pipeline of vaccines to eight and contains options to potentially access doses of variant-adapted vaccines in the future, it said. The agreement follows the US drugmaker's shot being approved for emergency use listing by the WHO on Friday, a prerequisite for COVAX eligibility.

The WHO has repeatedly urged wealthier countries to share excess doses to help inoculate health workers in low-income countries and tame the pandemic which has killed more than 3.3 million. Moderna said in a statement the doses would be offered at its 'lowest tiered price' without disclosing further details. 

COVAX hopes to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021, half of which will go to 92 lower-income countries. In all, depending on how Gavi exercises its options, it has secured up to 3.6 billion doses, a spokeswoman said.


What do swollen lymph nodes after a covid-19 vaccine indicate?

A new study shows a connection between previous Covid-19 infection and experiencing more moderate side effects, like swollen lymph nodes, after vaccination.

Read more about Covid-19 vaccination side effects here:


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. 


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.



What is vaccine shedding? Can it cause side effects?

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

Read the full story on vaccine shedding here:


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.

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

Los Angeles County reported no deaths relating to Covid-19 on Sunday, the first time in 410 days that the county has not reported at least one death from the virus. 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.

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 at least one shot of the vaccine.


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.

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".

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Monday 3 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.