Covid-19 vaccine in the US | news summary for Friday 14 May
Covid-19 vaccine latest news | Live Fri 14 May 2021
- CDC updates mask advice: not required if vaccinated in most places (full story)
- Ohio lines up $1 million vaccine lottery
- Leading scientists cast more doubts over covid-19 origin (full story)
- China slams US for hoarding and hundreds of millions of vaccines
- CDC approve vaccine for children 12-15 (full story)
- Biden urges parents to vaccinate eligible kids
- Vaccines show less efficacy against India variant
- WHO gives emergency approval to first Chinese covid-19 vaccine (full story)
- US Treasury opens access to $350 billion in covid-19 relief funds
- 119 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)
- 70% by 4 July: President Biden sets new adult target (full story)
- New recommendations from CDC for fully vaccinated individuals, read about them here
- Covid-19 vaccine passports apps: which ones can be used in the US? Learn more
- US covid-19: 32.89 million cases / 585,225 deaths (live updates from JHU)
Scroll through some of our related articles:
WHO talking to US about sharing vaccines with poorer countries
The World Health Organization said on Friday it is in touch with the United States about sharing vaccines with the international COVAX scheme, which distributes doses to poorer countries.
"They recognise that sharing those doses may help ensure greater impact overall," Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser, told a virtual brieing in Geneva. "They want to be ready when the doses are ready [...]. We're working in parallel."
California kids get vaccine at Pasadena clinic
Sandra Cervantes, 14, receives a coronavirus vaccination at a vaccine clinic for newly eligible 12 to 15-year-olds in Pasadena, California, on Friday.
(Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Financial rewards would encourage many to get covid-19 vaccine
A recent study of over 1,200 unvaccinated Americans found that over half would be willing to get the shot if they were offered a large financial incentive to do so. There are concerns that those who have not yet applied to get the vaccine will be difficult to persuade, with Republican-supporting males proving most reluctant to get the shot.
Many states have started to implement their own incentive programmes for getting a vaccine: from free drinks in local bars to the million-dollar Ohio Vaccine Lottery.
France offers covid-19 vaccines to developing nations
The international COVAX initiative aims to encourage wealthier nations to share doses of the coronavirus vaccines with less wealthy countries, in the hope of bringing an end to the global pandemic as swiftly as possible. COVAX is a World Health Organization scheme and France have announced that they will be the first to make use of the programme.
French President Emmanuel Macron said of the decision: "One in six people in Europe got the vaccine, one in five in North America, but only one in 100 in Africa. This is unacceptable."
How effective are covid-19 vaccines in the real world?
The effectiveness of the various covid-19 vaccines will pbe a key factor in the global battle against coronavirus, but we have been relying on information from clinical trials to gauge their use so far. However a new study of more than 1,800 health care workers is beginning to show the real-world effectiveness of the shots.
It was good news with the study data confirming the estimates put forward in the clinical trials. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said: “This report provided the most compelling information to date that Covid-19 vaccines were performing as expected in the real world."
Vaccination rates differ drastically between Democrats and Republicans
Across the country health officials are reporting a reluctancy amongst some Republican voters to get a covid-19 vaccination, and a new report from CNN suggetss that that is the same in Congress. They found that while all Congressional Democrats have been fully vaccinated, less than half of Republicans in the House would confirm that they have received a shot.
There is concern that the unwillingness to publically support the national vaccination effort is discouraging voters from getting the shot. When asked about the prospect of removing a Congressional rule on mask-wearing, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said no, adding: "Are they all vaccinated?"
Obama visits Maryland vaccination centre
In a new video posted on his Twitter account, former President Barack Obama attends a vaccine administration site to thank those there for helping the national effort. Obama was one of a number of former Presidents who featured in a video appeal earlier this year which called on Americans of all party allegiances to get vaccinated against covid-19.
Vaccine rollout brings covid-19 deaths to lowest since April 2020
The first of the coronavirus vaccines was only approved for emergency use in December but already the shot appear to be having a dramatic effect on the death toll across the United States. The latest figures show that the number of hospitalised covid-19 patients is at the lowest level since October, with an average national daily death toll below 600.
These figures are extremely promising as President Biden hopes to meet his target of removing a number of major restrictions in time for Independence Day celebrations on 4 July.
Majority of misleading vaccine posts come from just 12 accounts, report finds
A new study has found that more than half of all shared posts which perpetuate falsehoods about the covid-19 vaccines can be traced back to just 12 people. Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, christened them "The 'Disinformation Dozen'" who are responsible for "65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms."
The battle against false information has become particularly crucial in recent weeks as the rate of uptake begins to slow, causing some fears that the US may never reach herd immunity. A number of states have started offering incentives to get the life-saving shots, with Ohio opening a weekly million-dollar lottery for vaccine recipients.
WHO thanks the US for support on the vaccine patent waiver
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has thanked the United States' trade representative Katherine Tai for supporting the vaccine patent waiver. Currently, the big pharmaceutical companies who produced the first covid-19 vaccine hold patents that would prevent manufacturers in other parts of the world from using a similar design.
The waiver would allow other vaccine makers to use similar techniques to produce the life-saving shots, improving the speed of vaccine rollout in developing countries. But although the US has supported the move, the WHO is not able to remove the restrictions until all countries involved agree to do so.
Earlier this week the CDC made the striking recommendation that people who have been fully vaccinated against covid-19 may not be required to wear a mask in public places. The news marks a new stage in the pandemic, with over 46 percent of the US population has received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine and nearly 36 percent is now fully vaccinated.
But while this is great news for the ever-increasing number who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus: how can you prove that you are fully vaccinated?
Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall
Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.
Canada has administered one dose of a covid-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.
On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.
On Friday, Canada's public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.
The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.
Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again. "I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we'll advise people to remove," Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.
"We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States," she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors. Less than 4% of Canada's adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.
Photo by Claus Andersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Delta will require covid-19 vaccine for new employees
Delta Air Lines will require all new hires in the United States to be vaccinated against covid-19, one of the first major companies to issue such a mandate.
"Any person joining Delta in the future, future employees, we're going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company," Chief Executive Ed Bastian told CNN in an interview late Thursday.
Delta is not making the requirement for current employees, he said.
Bastian noted, however, that employees who are not vaccinated may not be able to work on international flights given possible entry requirements by other countries.
"We know that vaccines are the best tool we have to protect one another and bring an end to the pandemic," Delta said in a statement on Friday. It called the move to require vaccines for new hires important as "our business recovers and demand for air travel continues to rise."
Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
US officials hope new mask advice drives vaccine uptick
With new federal guidance allowing people to ditch their masks in most places, it will be up to individuals to decide how to protect themselves now that vaccines are readily available, top US health officials said on Friday.
"What we're really doing is empowering individuals to make decisions about their own health," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "If you are vaccinated and you're making the decision to take off your mask ... you are safe. If you are unvaccinated, then you've made the decision to take that risk."
She said officials were still encouraging unvaccinated people to get their shots as soon as possible to protect themselves and others against the novel coronavirus that is still circulating even as cases decline.
"People who are unvaccinated should not be taking off their masks," Walensky told CBS News' "CBS This Morning" program. In mixed settings where people aren't wearing masks, "It is the vaccinated people who will be protected."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease official, echoed the idea that looser recommendations should encourage people to get their covid-19 shots so they can shed their masks.
"Hopefully this will be an incentive for people to get vaccinated," Fauci, US President Joe Biden's chief medical officer, told MSNBC in an interview.
The CDC's official recommendation on Thursday that fully vaccinated people could avoid wearing face masks indoors in most places marked a significant shift toward normalcy for the country, where more than half a million have died in the pandemic over the past year.
Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Sports New: Eight members of the New York Yankees test positive for covid-19 after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
US State Department shows eagerness to support Taiwan in the creation of another covid-19 vaccine and to have them included in global health disucssions in addressing the pandemic.
A press release from the Secretary states:
Beginning on May 24, the world will gather virtually for the 74th annual World Health Assembly (WHA). The Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, and it sets the agenda for strengthening international cooperation to end the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing global health and global health security — issues that affect us all. And yet, unless the Organization’s leadership takes appropriate action, the Assembly will once again exclude the vital participation of Taiwan.
There is no reasonable justification for Taiwan’s continued exclusion from this forum, and the United States calls upon the WHO Director-General to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the WHA – as it has in previous years, prior to objections registered by the government of the People’s Republic of China."
Vaccines are working
As more and more people in the US are vaccinated, new cases numbers have fallen in thirty seven states. Hospitalizations and deaths are also down across the US.
Full details from Axios here.
The origin of the novel coronavirus is still unclear and there is not yet enough evidence to say conclusively if it occurred naturally or was caused by a laboratory leak, a group of leading scientists said in a letter.
'More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic,' said the 18 scientists, including Ravindra Gupta, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge and Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Here's what else they have been saying.
Ohio's vaccine lottery: will it work?
As we reported earlier, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is going much, much further than others in the vaccination incentive game, promising $1 million prizes to five lucky Ohioans and full-ride college scholarships to five lucky Ohio teens.
'Just' for getting vaccinated against covid-19.
Laura Bischoff asked some experts if they thought it would work...
A day after criticisms of the CDC by Maine Senator Susan Collins and other Republican committee members, the CDC released updated information for fully vaccinated people. This builds on early guidance, and the main changes relate to mask-wearing and social distancing.
The health agency now states that fully vaccinated people can “resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.”
There are certain exceptions to the rule, as individuals must comply with the laws in their state or regulations implemented by businesses and other organizations for their workers and customers.
Maite Knorr-Evans brings you the latest on the CDC move.
Vaccine $1 million weekly prize in Ohio
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has made many newsworthy statements in his long political career, but perhaps none has generated such an immediate and intense response as announcing a weekly $1 million prize and full-ride college scholarships to entice more Ohioans to get the covid-19 vaccine.
The plan unveiled Wednesday by the Republican governor drew criticism from some Democratic and GOP lawmakers who said it isn’t appropriate to use federal pandemic dollars for a contest. But Andy Slavitt, President Joe Biden’s senior covid-19 advisor, said anything that draws attention to vaccines is a good thing.
“In general, I think we like the idea of contests,” Slavitt told CNN.
US are hoarding vaccines, claims China
China slammed the US for hoarding and idling hundreds of millions of vaccines as the world grapples with a short supply and restricting the export of raw materials, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Friday.
Hua made the remarks in response to a question about the US State Department spokesperson accusing some countries of using life-saving medical aid to advance their own narrow political agendas.
The US has about four percent of the world's population, but has snapped up about 2.6 billion doses of vaccines, a quarter of the global total, said Hua.
China hopes that the US can give up political manipulation of vaccines and make more concrete contributions to help and support the international anti-epidemic cooperation, Hua added.
CDC mask advice creates giddy Republicans
Republicans in the US Congress reacted jubilantly and removed their masks on Thursday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that people fully vaccinated against covid-19 can stop wearing face coverings even indoors in most cases, Reuters reports.
"Free at last," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said as he left the chamber, according to a reporter for The New York Times, who tweeted out a photo of a maskless McConnell. Inside the Senate, Senator Susan Collins, also a Republican, was seen waving her mask in the air in celebration.
Over in the House of Representatives, most members appeared to be still wearing their masks on the floor during afternoon votes. But one of them rose, maskless, to protest.
"Madam Speaker ... I ask that given the updated CDC guidance, we all take off these stupid masks," declared Republican Representative Brian Mast, demonstratively placing his mask on the seat behind him.
Masks became a political flashpoint during the pandemic that has killed more than 585,000 Americans - more than one in 600 - with Republicans arguing that public health officials' advice that masks could slow the spread of covid-19 infringed on individual liberties.
Former President Donald Trump, a Republican, resisted mandating masks and often played down the severity of the pandemic. Democratic President Joe Biden, who has made tackling the pandemic a top priority, embracing masks and mandating them for transit hubs, on Thursday celebrated the updated guidance from his administration by shedding his.
More than 30 members of Congress contracted the disease and one - Representative Ron Wright of Texas - died of it in February.
Pelosi still to respond
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not respond when a reporter asked whether the masks could now come off.
Just two days ago, Pelosi announced that the rules that required all lawmakers and staff to wear masks on the House floor would be relaxed, so lawmakers could remove them when they are recognized to speak during debate.
The CDC on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places. The Capitol attending physician's office did not immediately return a phone call about the new CDC guidance.
Since December, lawmakers had been required to keep their masks on at all times on the House floor, even during debate. In January, the Democratic-run House even voted to impose fines on any members who did not comply.
This produced grumbling from a number of members, especially Republicans. "When do Americans get their freedom back," Representative Jim Jordan demanded in a hearing last month with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert.
In the Senate, meanwhile, there has been no hard-and-fast rule, but most senators have worn masks around the Capitol.
Senator Rand Paul, a Republican who tested positive for the virus back in March 2020, refused, despite complaints from some of his fellow senators. "If you've had the disease or you've been vaccinated and you're several weeks out from the second dose, throw your mask away," Paul told Fox News in January.
Risks of not wearing a mask
Forget the health risks for you and those around you related to wearing a mask, Joshua is more afraid of what not covering his nose and mouth says about his political leaning.
Vaccine and virus evidence behind CDC mask decision
After yesterday's news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised masks and social distancing are no longer necessary for people who have been fully vaccinated against covid-19. It's a move the agency said was driven by scientific evidence that the vaccines play a major role in curbing both infections and transmission of the virus.
For NBC, Denise Chow digs into the detail of the evidence.
In announcing the agency's updated guidelines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said there are "numerous reports in the literature" to demonstrate the safety and real-world effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines.
Walensky highlighted, in particular, three recent studies that demonstrated the impact of the vaccines on symptomatic and asymptomatic infections and one study published just last week on the effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines against two variants that are known to be circulating in the United States.
The findings all add to a growing body of evidence that the vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death from covid-19 and that they help prevent people from spreading the virus to others.
Read the full insight from Chow for NBC.
CDC update mask guidance for those vaccinated
The Biden administration's requirements that people wear masks on US airplanes, public transport, airports and ride-hailing vehicles are not expected to be lifted anytime soon, despite an easing in the rules for mask-wearing elsewhere.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday that it was easing its guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying they do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.
Here's CDC Director Walensky explaining the strength of the evidence behind their decision.
Death from covid 40 times riskier than J&J blood clot
The risk of dying from covid-19 is 40 times the risk of developing a rare blood clotting condition after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a CNN analysis shows.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it has received reports of 28 people who have developed a rare blood clotting syndrome out of 8.7 million given J&J's Janssen coronavirus vaccine. Three of them have died from the condition, known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).
However, in that same time period - 2 March to 7 May - more than 2.2 million people were diagnosed with covid-19 and more than 43,000 died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In a group of about 8.7 million people, that scales to nearly 59,000 new covid-19 cases reported in the past two months and nearly 1,150 new covid-19 deaths, more than 40 times the number of reported and confirmed cases of TTS.
Full story from Deidre McPhillips and Maggie Fox.
J&J vaccine 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
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.
Photo: covid-19 vaccination areas at the Fairfax Government Center vaccination clinic in Virginia. AFP.
Vaccine required at University of Oklahoma
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.”
Vaccine perks: free tickets to Six Flags
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.
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 full coverage on vaccine safety and the partisan divide on vaccines. Focus on FACTS not FOX.
Amazon 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.
The vaccine disparity issue
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.
The city has set up mobile vaccination buses at popular tourist attractions where people can get the one-shot dose of Johnson & Johnson.
"We will be in Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Central Park, the High Line, a variety of locations," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. There will also be other pop-up sites in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Flushing Meadows Park and Sunset Park.
Check out what you need to know.
Over 35% of US population now fully vaccinated
At the time of reporting, a total of 118,987,308 Americans have received both doses of the covid-19 vaccine. That represents 35.8% of the population.
154,624,231 people, or 46.8%, have received at least one dose.
Track US covid-19 rollout data via the CDC
Photo: Audrey Vakker, 14, gets a covid-19 vaccination at the Fairfax Government Center vaccination clinic in Fairfax, Virginia on 13 May. (AFP/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome
Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Friday 14 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.