Covid-19 vaccine news in the US summary: 13 May 2021
Covid-19 vaccine news | Thu 13 May 2021
Biden on CDC's updated vaccine guidelines
During the course of the pandemic mask-wearing has become a dangerously partisan issue, but President Biden has today announced a key change in advice that would see vaccinated people allowed to go mask-less. The United States opened up vaccination eligibility to all adults just four weeks ago, and already the CDC is able to offer this more optimistic outlook.
Successful vaccine effort reduces the need for mask-wearing
New guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevent (CDC) has suggested that it may now be safe to go mask-less if you are fully vaccinated against covid-19. The CDC has updated its guidance to say that those who have received both doses of a vaccine are no longer required to wear masks in public.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said of the decision: "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."
Johnson & Johnson shipments to states on hold
No additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine will be sent to states next week according to US health officials. The contamination event at a Baltimore subcontractor continues to disrupt domestic production.
States will have to use the remaining stocks of the J&J vaccine with no new shipments expected in the coming weeks. Many states still have remaining supplies of the J&J vaccine because its use was paused for 11 days while health officials investigated unusual blood clots in a tiny number of the millions of vaccine recipients.
CDC relaxes covid-19 rules for fully vaccinated, but caution is still uurged
People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to practice social distancing or wear masks indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances where space and spacing is especially tight. The director of the CDC gave the updated guidance on Thursday.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House covid-19 briefing. "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."
Health officials in Alaska continue to encourage Alaskans to wear face coverings in crowded public spaces, wash their hands frequently and get vaccinated against covid-19 to prevent further spread. The state is reporting its lowest numbers since September as 52% of the state residents have gotten at least one shot.
University of Oklahoma will require some students, faculty and staff to get covid-19 vaccine
Beginning 1 June, students, faculty and staff at the University of Oklahoma who interact with patients at the university’s medical centers and those who study abroad will be required to be vaccinated. All others will be encouraged to get a shot.
OU President Joseph Harroz, Jr. said “Based upon the information available at this time, we do not believe requiring vaccination for all of our students is necessary. We do strongly urge them to consider being vaccinated if they haven’t already.”
Free tickets to Six Flags for Illinois residents who get vaccinated
On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois residents who get vaccinated against covid-19 will get free tickets to Six Flags Great America. The amusement park is donating 50,000 free tickets its parks in Gurnee and Rockford. Pritzker's office said Six Flags will announce more details on the vaccination effort and free tickets in the coming weeks.
De Blasio offers incentives to get vaccinated
Different government officials around the US are seeking ways to overcome vaccination hesitancy as the rate of people getting their covid-19 jab decreases. Ohio is the most extreme so far with a weekly lottery for $1 million for those who get vaccinated.
In New York City the reward is a little more modest, Mayor de Blasio announced that gift cards for NYC Public Markets and Chelsea Market will be given out at some city sites. Also people can get a voucher for a free burger or sandwich from Shake Shack. And for those already vaccinated free fries with a burger or sandwich if they can show proof of vaccination.
Amazon to hire 75,000 workers, offers $100 extra for vaccination proof
Amazon.com Inc will give $100 more to new hires with proof of covid-19 vaccination, the world's largest e-commerce retailer said on Thursday, as part of its plan to employ 75,000 workers for fulfillment and logistics operations.
As vaccines become crucial to reopening of the economy, several US retailers, including Dollar General, Kroger and Target, are offering bonuses or other perks to staff getting their shots.
Demand for hourly staff at restaurants, factories, retail stores and fulfillment centers is rising as e-commerce demand remains robust, while more consumers are expected to step out of their homes after a year of lockdown living.
The vaccine-related incentives are also aimed at attracting workers flush with relief checks and wary of the pandemic as well as the lack of childcare facilities back to work.
Amazon will pay the new hires an average starting pay of more than $17 per hour, reflecting recent hikes of between 50 cents and $3 an hour for about half a million fulfillment-center workers in the United States. It will also pay a sign-on bonus of up to $1,000.
The e-retailer has benefited from a surge in e-commerce sales as more consumers moved online last year, forcing it to hire thousands and offer attractive perks and bonuses.
Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
How many people have died from the covid vaccine in the US?
Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been widely condemned for suggesting thousands of US citizens have died from covid vaccines, a claim experts dismissed.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been roundly condemned after suggesting on his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, that thousands of Americans had died after receiving a covid-19 vaccine, based on information gleaned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention VAERS system. Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ leading expert on infectious diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, has termed Carlson’s claims that covid vaccines are ineffective as “a crazy conspiracy theory.”
Carlson’s latest assertion on 5 May has caused a huge backlash from the medical community, who have called the Fox host’s remarks “dangerous and misleading.” Tucker Carlson Tonight is aired during primetime in the US and is the most-watched news show on cable in the US with around four million viewers on average. "Between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the covid vaccine in the United States — 3,362," Carlson said. "That’s an average of roughly 30 people every day. The actual number is almost certainly higher than that, perhaps vastly higher than that. It’s clear that what is happening now, for whatever reason, is not even close to normal."
The CDC states that of the “245 million doses of covid-19 vaccines administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 3, 2021,” the VAERS system received reports of 4,178 deaths among people who received a vaccine, representing 0.0017% of the total number of people vaccinated in the US.
Read of full coverage on vaccine safety and the partisan divide on vaccines here.
Can covid-19 vaccines cause a rash? What to do if you have an allergic reaction?
The United States continues the vaccination effort but what should you do if you experience side effects? The CDC has issued new guidance for allergy sufferers.
The covid-19 vaccines while having a life-saving potential does not mean they are without side effects.
Some have reported experiencing a red, itchy, swollen or painful rash around the area where they got the shot, which can appear a week after the injection was received. These rashes are sometimes known as ‘covid arm’ according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but they advise that it should not stop you getting the second dose.
Read our full coverage on this side effect here.
Vice Global News reports on disparities in covid-19 vaccinations across the world and how wealthy countries used their power to limit vaccine creation in Africa.
The article follows the story of Dr. Christian Happi who now runs The African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID). Early in the pandemic, Dr. Happi was able to develop a vaccine that “showed 90 percent efficacy in treating multiple strains of COVID-19 circulating on the continent, but despite those results, it has not been able to secure either public or private funding to take the vaccine to human clinical trials.”
Africa has the lowest vaccination rate of any continent, with only 2% of people having received a vaccine. Having the ability to create an effective low cost could make a monumental difference in fighting the virus, yet investment is still out of sight.
Read the full story here.
Vaccines show less efficacy against double mutant virus discovered in India
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said in its covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna have shown decreased effectiveness against the double mutant variants discovered in India.
“Potential impacts of B.1.617 lineage on the effectiveness of vaccines or therapeutics, or reinfection risks, remain uncertain. Preliminary laboratory studies awaiting peer review suggest a limited reduction in neutralisation by antibodies; however, real-world impacts may be limited,” WHO said in its note.
"The resurgence in covid-19 cases and deaths in India has raised questions on the potential role of B.1.617 and other variants (e.g., B.1.1.7) in circulation."
Vaccine patent suspension could open dangerous doors
'America’s decision to support the suspension of patents on covid-19 vaccines is being hailed by some as victory for public health - but it is also a win for copyright pirates, misguided NGOs, and other vested interests that have long sought to undermine property rights,' argues Shanker Singham for CapX.
'Waiving the WTO’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights,' he continues, 'will set back industry in developing countries and harm our ability to fight future pandemics. Rather than helping get the world’s poorest vaccinated, this move by the Biden administration will serve only to make rich Westerners feel good about themselves.'
Read the full article and make up your mind about what is most important in this global society during a pandemic.
The vaccine rich-poor divide
Covid-19 vaccine distribution has been largely concentrated in higher income countries, despite dire need in conflict-affected areas as more transmissible covid-19 variants drive up cases and intensify pressure on already strained health systems.
Inequitable vaccine access has seen the US, UK and the EU each pre-purchase enough approved covid-19 doses to vaccinate their populations more than twice over; excess doses could vaccinate people aged 16 and over of all 20 of the IRC’s 2021 Emergency Watchlist countries.
The IRC looks at the international vaccine distribution discrepancy.
Vaccine revolution: mRNA compared to Internet
On the back of the Financial Times' piece looking at mRNA technology being revolutionary, Vijay highlights some key takeaways.
"Their usage for vaccine is like email. So potent and effective.
"IMO, next 10 years and so, we will see some smartphone like powerful usage of mRNA on cancer to diabetes."
Quite a thought...
CDC panel opens vaccination door to 12-15 year olds
US states are set to begin using the vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE to inoculate young adolescents against covid-19 after advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backed the plan in a unanimous vote on Wednesday.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, offering relief to parents eager to get their children back to schools and summer camps. The action by the CDC group is an important, but not required, final seal of federal regulatory approval.
The youngest age previously approved for the Pfizer vaccine was 16 years old.
Full story as another step to normalcy is taken.
Fauci vs Rand Paul: heated session over covid virus origins
During a Senate HELP hearing on the efforts to combat covid-19, Sen. Rand Paul clashes with Dr. Anthony Fauci when asking him if he still supports NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan, where he speculated the Covid pandemic began.
Watch and listen.
Slovak journal refuses to remove article criticising Sputnik V vaccine
The Russian Fund for Direct Investment (RFDI) has asked Slovak newspaper Denník N to withdraw a story, citing the Slovak authorities’ assessment of the Sputnik V vaccine, which it stated is “misleading.”
The Slovak newspaper said it would not adhere to the request.
RFDI, which has financed the development of the Sputnik V vaccine, and is responsible for its marketing worldwide, has claimed that the article published on 8 April contains incorrect and misleading statements about the jab made by the Slovak regulator. The fund threatened legal action if the story was not removed or at least amended by last Sunday.
“The story accurately quoted an official statement of the State Institute for Drug Control,” said Denník N’s editor-in-chief, Matúš Kostolný. “It stands by its doubts about Sputnik and we see no reason to remove the story,” he added.
Get vaccinated: it's easy to do
Across the United States it's getting easier and easier to get yourself, or a loved one, vaccinated against covid-19.
Here's just another example of walk-ins being made available.
Biden urges parents to get kids vaccinated
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged parents to get their children vaccinated after a government advisory panel authorized the Pfizer's covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15.
"Now that vaccine is authorized for ages 12 and up, and I encourage their parents to make sure they get the shot," Biden said. "This is one more giant step on our fight against the pandemic."
Don't take our word for it, watch and listen to the man himself.
The vaccination effort has been a key priority of President Joe Biden’s first few months in the Oval Office and on Wednesday he announced that the United States is on the brink of administering 250 million doses of vaccines.
So far three covid-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration, each with its own characteristics. One of the most talked about differences between the three vaccines is their efficacy, but ranking them may not be as easy as it appears.
Will Gittens reports on the effectiveness of the covid-19 vaccines.
Vaccine lottery: $1 million per week
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine confirmed details of the state's upcoming 'vaccine lottery', which will see recipients of the life-saving shot entered into a weekly prize draw worth $1 million.
In the announcement, he said: "the real waste at this point in the pandemic - when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it - is a life lost to covid-19."
Many states are offering some form of incentive to residents to get the vaccine as they attempt to reach herd immunity as quickly as possible. West Virginia is offering $100 savings bonds to those aged 16-35 who get vaccinated, while breweries participating in New Jersey’s “Shot and a Beer” scheme are giving out free drinks.
CDC has approved Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12-15
In case you missed the important news, yesterday the CDC Advisory committee voted to endorse the Pfizer vaccine for children aged from 12-15. The vote was 14 in favour, 1 abstain/recuse, none against.
Earlier in the week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the two-shot vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech. A study of more than 2,000 12- to 15-year-olds found the same dose adults use is safe and strongly protective in the kids, too.
CBS' Norah O'Donnell was quick getting the news out when it broke.
US trade chief pushes for vaccine waivers
With reference to the previous post on vaccine production, a reminder that US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has said that she is pushing for a waiver of covid-19 vaccine intellectual property rights because the United States and drug makers have "an obligation to help save the world right now."
Tai, speaking at a US Senate Finance Committee hearing, said that she views the World Trade Organization talks as a way to remove the intellectual property issue as an obstacle to vaccine production. She backed the WTO negotiations last week. She praised the work of US companies in quickly developing and producing safe and effective vaccines, adding that on intellectual property, "The message that I want to give to them is, 'You can be a hero here.''
Several Republican senators criticized Tai for 'giving away' US innovations to foreign competitors by supporting the WTO negotiations. Tai said she views the talks to be less about preventing other countries from 'stealing' U.S. technology and more about finding a way to have a positive impact on people's lives by ending the coronavirus pandemic.
"What we are trying to accomplish is the saving of lives," she said, adding that ending the pandemic is a necessary first step in any trade policy going forward. "Unless we are able to bring the rest of world's economies back online, there's not going to be a lot of upside for us in what we're going to be doing" on trade, Tai said.
Asked by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren whether USTR would support a broader WTO intellectual property waiver on covid-19 treatments, therapeutics, protective equipment and other medical products, Tai said she is currently only focused on increasing vaccine access and equity.
Double world's coronavirus vaccine production, pleads UN chief
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Wednesday for the need to double the capacity of Covid-19 vaccine production and for fairer redistribution of the shots in the developing world, which faces new waves of the coronavirus.
Many countries are experiencing shortages of the vaccine, especially India, worsening a dire second wave of infections that has left hospitals and morgues overflowing while families scramble for increasingly scarce medicines and oxygen. At the same time, the European Union has reserved a surplus of the vaccines.
"It is totally unacceptable to live in the world, in which developed countries can vaccinate most of its population, while many developing countries have not access to one single dose," Guterres told a briefing after meeting Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. He mentioned the risks of coronavirus mutations and new variants as the virus spreads 'like wildfire' in different parts of the developing world. "So, that's in interest of everybody that everybody is vaccinated everywhere. We believe that we need two things: to double the world's capacity of production of vaccines and at the same time to have a more equitable distribution of vaccines", Guterres said.
J&J vaccine: CDC finds more clotting cases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday via Reuters it had found more cases of potentially life-threatening blood clotting among people who received the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine and sees a “plausible causal association”.
The CDC said in a presentation the agency has now identified 28 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) among the more than 8.7 million people who had received the J&J vaccine. TTS involves blood clots accompanied by a low level of platelets - the cells in the blood that help it to clot.
So far, three of the 28 have died. Previously, as of April 25, the CDC had reported 17 cases of clotting among nearly 8 million people given vaccines.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP, which advises the US CDC, recommended on 23 April that the US lift a 10-day pause on the J&J vaccinations imposed to review safety data on the clotting issue. The panel will review the new data later on Wednesday.
The CDC said on Wednesday the events appear similar to what is being observed following administration of the AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine in Europe.
Both vaccines are based on a new technology using adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, that have been modified to essentially render them harmless. The viruses are used to carry instructions into the body to make specific coronavirus proteins, priming the immune system to make antibodies that fight off the actual virus.
Scientists are working to find the potential mechanism that would explain the blood clots. A leading hypothesis appears to be that the vaccines are triggering a rare immune response that could be related to these viral vectors.
The syndrome does not appear to be associated with either of the covid-19 vaccines produce by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SA or Moderna Inc.
Most of the cases were among women aged 18 to 49, the CDC said, with rates among women aged 30-39 at 12.4 cases per million and those aged 40-49 at 9.4 cases per million.
Only six of the clotting events identified were in men.
Symptoms typically occur several days after vaccination to up to 2 weeks.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s for use in children as young as twelve and this was later accepted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.
Ahead of the CDC’s Wednesday approval, some states and cities were moving to let parents and guardians make appointments for their children. In Chicago, parents are able to book appointments for their children starting Thursday. Other states and localities are awaiting guidance from the CDC to make vaccine appointments available to children.
Everything you need to know from Maite Knorr-Evans.
Over 35% of US population now fully vaccinated
At the time of reporting, a total of 117,647,439 Americans have received both doses of the covid-19 vaccine. That represents 35.4% of the population.
153,986,312 people, or 46.4%, have received at least one dose.
Track US covid-19 rollout data via the CDC
Photo: Stefanie Dunahay, 39, and Matt Dunahay, 39, wait to receive their coronavirus vaccine at the Bradfield Community Center in Lima, Ohio. (Reuters/Megan Jelinger)
Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome
Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Thursday 13 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 and around the world.