Covid-19 vaccine in the US | news summary for Saturday 15 May
Covid-19 vaccine latest news live | Sat 15 May 2021
- Covid-19 vaccines have no impact on pregnancy, study finds
- Canada 'storage' vaccine decision questioned by experts
- CDC updates mask advice: not required if vaccinated in most places (full story)
- WHO flags concern over India second wave
- 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
- Biden urges parents to vaccinate eligible kids
- NFL removes mask restriction for fully vaccinated players
- Vaccines show less efficacy against India variant
- WHO gives emergency approval to first Chinese covid-19 vaccine (full story)
- Over 121 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)
- 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: 32.92 million cases / 585,708 deaths (live updates from JHU)
Scroll through some of our related articles:
CDC recommends US schools continue to use masks
Schools in the United States should continue to use masks for the 2020-2021 academic year as all students will not be fully vaccinated, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Saturday.
The CDC in its latest guidance said all kindergarten through grade 12 schools "should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing."
The recommendation comes after the agency on Thursday said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.
The CDC said masks should be worn at all times by all people in school facilities and buses, while maintaining a six foot distance between teachers and students.
Earlier this month US regulators authorized Pfizer and BioNTech's covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12 years old.
“This report provided the most compelling information to date that COVID-19 vaccines were performing as expected in the real world.
“This study, added to the many studies that preceded it, was pivotal to CDC changing its recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The US is now moving to vaccinate younger ages, considered an important step for getting children back into schools safely. Biden has now asked states to make the vaccine available to younger adolescents immediately.
"Now that vaccine is authorized for ages 12 and up, and I encourage their parents to make sure they get the shot," the President said on Wednesday. "This is one more giant step on our fight against the pandemic."
The FDA authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-15 age group means an additional 17 million children will be eligible to receive a covid vaccine.
New York subway vaccination centres prove popular
As the national vaccine effort continues local and health authorities are trying creative ways to make getting the covid-19 vaccine as easy as possible, and appear to have struck upon a good one in New York. The city's subway system is the busiest in American with 1.6 billion annual passenger rides in a typical year, the perfect place for a pop-up vaccination centre.
Nsikan Akpan, PhD and health and science editor for WNYC, believes that this could be a particularly effective way to get the shots into people's arms, with over 1,000 doses administered in just the second day in operation.
Retailers lift mask rules for the fully vaccinated
Masks have become an unavoidable fact of life for much of the last year, but as the number of fully vaccinated Americans continues to rise some retailers are removing the mask rules for their stores. The likes of Costco, Starbucks, Trader Joe's and Walmart have confirmed that they will no longer require visitors who have received both doses of a vaccine to wear a mask.
The news comes shortly after the CDC advised that it may no longer be neccessary for vaccinated people to be masked in public spaces, citing the siginificant decrease in virus transfer amongst those who are immune.
Racing incentives for vaccine recipients
States across the country are begining to introduce all sorts of prizes and incentives for residents who get the covid-19 vaccine, in an attempt to quicken the process towards herd immunity. All adults are now able to register to get vaccinated, but some are reluctant to do so.
One such incentive, introduced in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Public Health, will see vaccinated adults able to take their car for a two-lap spin on the famous Talledega Superspeedway. Other states have offered everything from a million-dollar lottery draw to a feee beer.
US vaccination effort tops 270m doses
A new report from Reuters has confirmed that the United States has administered 270,832,342 doses of coronavirus vaccines as of Saturday morning. In total, a massive 344,503,395 doses of the life-saving shots has been distributed by health authorities across the country but some groups are proving reluctant to receive the vaccine.
Crucially, more than 156 million people had received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 121 million Americans are fully vaccinated against covid-19.
Covid-19 vaccine no impact on pregnancy - study finds
A new study on pregnant people and covid-19 vaccines is adding to the growing body of evidence showing the vaccine is safe during pregnancy.
Researchers at Northwestern University studying people who had been fully vaccinated during pregnancy, found the vaccine had no impact on pregnancy and no impact on fertility, menstruation and puberty.
The study, published 11 May in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, is believed to be the first to examine the impact of the covid-19 vaccines on the placenta, according to the university.
"At this point, as we're collecting data, the news is reassuring that this vaccine is safe, both based on its biology and what we’re actually seeing in the real world," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN.
Full story by Katie Kindelan.
Canada vaccine decision questioned
Some health experts are questioning Canada's decision to accept thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from a global vaccine-sharing alliance, only to have them sit in freezers in an Ontario warehouse.
More than 655,000 doses of AstraZeneca arrived in Canada through the COVAX initiative Thursday even as most provinces have temporarily paused their use for first doses amid supply issues and the potential risk of rare blood clots.
It is the first time vaccines have been delivered to Canada without immediately being distributed to provinces and territories, because Ottawa isn't yet clear who wants them.
"Depending on how and when the provinces want to use them, they can either have them all now, have them on a scheduled delivery, we can hold (them) for a couple of weeks," said Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin at a vaccine briefing Thursday.
Full story below.
Cubs face vaccine resistance
The Chicago Cubs still have not reached the 85 percent vaccination rate for Tier 1 personnel that would loosen Major League Baseball’s covid-19 protocols around the team. Cubs manager David Ross, who has repeatedly tried to highlight the benefits of getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, did not sound convinced the team would cross that threshold.
“I’m holding out hope,” Ross said Friday. “And I feel like that might just be what it is right now.”
Hope is not a strategy. Ross set the tone and leveraged his respect inside the clubhouse during an unimaginable first year as a manager, when the Cubs did not have a single player test positive for covid-19 during the 60-game season.
The Cubs viewed that as a competitive advantage within a division in which a covid-19 outbreak forced the St. Louis Cardinals to shut down for two-plus weeks and then play their final 53 games in 44 days. In making off-the-field choices that minimized some of the risks, the Cubs proudly pointed to their sense of diligence and regard for each other’s families.
Patrick Mooney looks at the situation for The Athletic.
Knowing your vaccine rights
A common question being asked at the moment as vaccinations ramp up around the country, is surrounding what information you may or may not have to provide.
This is especially important when it comes to your employer.
Britain to hold meeting to encourage global vaccine take-up
Britain said on Saturday it plans to hold a virtual meeting on June 2 to encourage global take-up of covid-19 vaccines, bringing together medical experts, officials from G7 countries and other partners.
The event will discuss how to tackle misinformation about vaccines, including the role social media companies can play in stopping the spread of damaging falsehoods.
Britain, which has one of the world's fastest inoculation campaigns and an uptake of over 90% in older age groups, hopes to use its presidency of the Group of Seven nations to improve access to coronavirus vaccines.
Rich countries are generally far ahead of most poorer nations in inoculating their populations. The World Health Organization has repeatedly urged them to do more to help distribute vaccines around the world, including boosting supplies to the COVAX scheme to provide vaccines to poorer nations.
"This UK-hosted Summit is a significant opportunity for G7 countries to come together with partners across the world to take action to maintain high levels of trust in vaccines and those that provide them," vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a statement.
"We must work collectively to ensure people across the world can reclaim their lives and livelihoods."
Your questions on covid-19 vaccines answered by the experts
The White House has released a question and answer session with Anthony Fauci, Kizzmekia Corbett and Vivek Murthy in which the most pressing concerns over the US government's vaccine program among US citizens are addressed by the experts.
Following the decision of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel on Wednesday to authorize the use of covid-19 vaccines in school-age children, the race is now on in the United States to bring the number of kids getting their jabs up to speed with the rest of the population.
As of 15 May, the US vaccine rollout has resulted in over 36 percent of US citizens being fully vaccinated and almost 47 percent having received at least one dose with 268.4 million doses administered overall, according to CDC figures.
Italian study shows covid infections, deaths plummeting after jabs
Covid-19 infections in adults of all ages fell by 80% five weeks after a first dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine, according to Italian research published on Saturday.
The first such study by a European Union country on the real-world impact of its immunisation campaign was carried out by Italy's National Institute of Health (ISS) and the Ministry of Health on 13.7 million people vaccinated nationwide.
Scientists started studying data from the day Italy's vaccination campaign began, on Dec. 27 2020, until May 3 2021.
The analysis showed that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalisation, and death decreased progressively after the first two weeks following the initial vaccination.
"As of 35 days after the first dose, there is an 80% reduction in infections, 90% reduction in hospitalisations, and 95% reduction in deaths," the ISS said, adding that the same pattern was seen in both men and women regardless of age.
"This data confirms the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign and the need to achieve high coverage across the population quickly to end the emergency," ISS president Silvio Brusaferro said in the statement.
Among the nearly 14 million people included in the Italian study, 95% of those who had taken Pfizer and Moderna had completed the vaccine cycle, while none of those given AstraZeneca had received a second dose.
Up until now, Italy has been following the makers' recommendations, giving a second dose of Pfizer three weeks after the first, a second dose of Moderna after a four week gap and a second dose of AstraZeneca after a 12 week gap.
As of Saturday morning, some 8.3 million Italians, or 14% of the population, were completely vaccinated, while around 10 million people had received a first jab.
Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
Poland celebrates covid "New Year"
Champagne corks popped at the stroke of midnight on Friday as bars and restaurants in Poland opened their outdoor terraces for the first time in over six months and many Poles went out to celebrate.
Bars and restaurants can now offer outdoor service, with indoor service due to reopen with limited capacity on May 28. Since October, they have been able to serve only take-away food.
Additionally, from Saturday Poles are no longer required to wear masks outside in places where they can observe social distancing.
"We've been closed for so long, over 200 days, and it was very stressful and exhausting for different reasons, we didn't know if we could survive at all," said Zuzia Mockallo, 34, co-owner of Bar Studio, located in the capital's landmark building, the Palace of Culture and Science.
"I really feel that the emotions are a bit comparable to the New Year, where everyone has huge expectations of the old year ending and a new opening ... We are very happy and a little excited, a little nervous, but very emotional."
New coronavirus cases in Poland dropped sharply during April and the government began easing restrictions this month.
Photo by Omar Marques/Getty Images
India's daily covid deaths near 4,000 as WHO flags concern
India reported a smaller rise in daily coronavirus infections on Saturday, but deaths stayed near the 4,000 mark, with the World Health Organisation warning that the second year of the pandemic could be worse than the first.
Over the past 24 hours, India had 326,098 new coronavirus infections for its lowest rise in nearly three weeks, taking the tally to 24.37 million, along with 3,890 deaths.
But the slow growth may reflect lower test rates, which are at their lowest since May 9. In Geneva, the World Health Organization's chief said the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus's remarks to an online meeting on Friday came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm over the rapid spread of the disease through the vast countryside.
During the past week, the south Asian nation has added about 1.7 million new cases and more than 20,000 deaths. Its death toll stands at 266,207, health ministry data shows.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country would accelerate its vaccination programme, to try to contain a fast-spreading Indian variant that could knock off-track the re-opening of Britain's economy.
Cases have fallen steadily in states hit by an initial surge in infections, such as the richest state of Maharastra and the northern state of Delhi, after they imposed stringent lockdowns.
But the eastern state of West Bengal, which held elections recently, experienced its biggest single-day spike, suggesting a fall in the overall caseload may take a while.
Infections in Modi's western home state of Gujarat fell below 10,000 after four straight weeks but officials warned against any relaxation in curbs until they return to levels seen before the breakout of India's second wave in mid-February.
Photo by Diptendu DUTTA / AFP
Fully vaccinated NFL players, staff no longer required to wear masks
Players and staff in the National Football League (NFL) who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 will no longer be required to wear masks at team facilities, the league said on Friday, in line with updated guidance from the US health agency.
On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated Americans do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.
People are considered "fully vaccinated" if fourteen days have passed since their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or their single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the NFL said.
"Effective immediately, fully vaccinated ... staff and players will not be required to wear masks anywhere in the club facility, either indoors or outdoors," the NFL said in a statement.
The league said that teams would still have to follow the local and state regulations even if those are more restrictive.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images/AFP
According to a Monmouth University poll published on 14 April, 43 percent of Republican voters said they would not be lining up to receive a vaccine. Across the political spectrum of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, 21 percent of US citizens have stated they will avoid the vaccine altogether if they are not obliged to get one.
This creates a serious problem for the Biden administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA: if one in five Americans refuse to be vaccinated, herd immunity may be impossible to achieve. Estimates of what percentage of a population need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity vary from 60-70 percent to 70-85 percent, but the reality is nobody is entirely sure: The World Health Organization states “herd immunity against measles requires about 95 percent of a population to be vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80 percent.”
A new incentive introduced by Gov. Mike DeWine will see vaccinated Ohioans entered into a weekly draw, which he hopes will encourage more people to get the shot.
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?"
How effective are covid-19 vaccines in the real world?
The effectiveness of the various covid-19 vaccines will be 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."
Financial rewards would encourage many to get 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.
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)
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."
Over 36% of US population now fully vaccinated
At the time of reporting, a total of 120,258,637 Americans have received both doses of the covid-19 vaccine. That represents 36.2% of the population.
155,251,852 people, or 46.8%, have received at least one dose.
Track US covid-19 rollout data via the CDC
Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP
Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome
Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Saturday 15 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.