Covid-19 vaccine in the US live updates: CDC says fully vaccinated no mask, guidelines, Ohio lottery...

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Vaccine news live: Thu 20 May 2021

Headlines

- US vaccine rollout tops 346.6 million doses delivered, 275.5 doses administered

- Biden to send up to 80 million surplus vaccines overseas

- New travel rules for vaccinated US citizens (Read more)

- US vaccine roll-out to children aged 12-15

- Study shows AstraZeneca vaccine works well as third booster

- India case total passes 25.5 million

- Ohio lines up $1 million vaccine lottery

- Over 125.4 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)

US covid-19: 33.05 million cases / 588,539 deaths (live updates from JHU)

Scroll through some of our related articles:

US Covid-19 deaths expected to hit 600,000 next month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecasts that the United States will reach 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 by the end of next month. Forecasts from 35 modeling groups predicts that the number of newly reported Covid-19 deaths will likely decrease over the next 4 weeks, with 1,200 to 4,600 new deaths likely reported in the week ending 12 June 2021. The national ensemble predicts that a total of 594,000 to 604,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported by 12 June.

The state- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that over the next 4 weeks, the number of newly reported deaths per week will likely decrease in 14 jurisdictions. Trends in numbers of future reported deaths are uncertain or predicted to remain stable in the other states and territories.

Read more on the CDC forecast here:

Taiwan says has asked US for help getting Covid-19 vaccines

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Friday that the government has asked the United States for help in getting COVID-19 vaccines, amid a spike in domestic cases on the island.

Adelaide man on life-support after Astrazeneca vaccine

A South Australian man is in a serious condition in intensive care after developing blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. Spurrier said 53-year-old Clive Haddon received his first dose of the vaccination on 4 May and was admitted to hospital on 18 May with severe abdominal pain.

On Thursday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) confirmed there had been six additional cases of blood clots with low blood platelets which have been assessed as TTS and considered likely to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

'Goodbye masks' - Hungary to lift most Covid-19 restrictions

Hungary will lift most remaining Covid-19 curbs, including a night-time curfew, as soon as the number of those vaccinated reaches 5 million this weekend, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.

Orban told state radio that masks would no longer need to be worn in public, and gatherings of up to 500 people could be held in the open air, with events in closed spaces open to though to people with vaccination cards.

"This means we have defeated the third wave of the pandemic," Orban said, adding that the time has come to say "goodbye to masks" in public places. Hungary is the only EU country to have approved and used Russian and Chinese vaccines in large quantities before the European Medicines Agency has examined or approved them. This has enabled it to reach one of the EU's highest inoculation rates, with 50% of its population of around 10 million having already had at least one shot.

Most aspects of its service industry are already back in operation, including hotels, restaurants, spas, theatres, cinemas, gyms and sports venues. The economy shrank by 5% last year, and Orban, who faces elections in 2022, said this year's GDP growth could be higher than the government's current projection of 4.3%.

Maryland joins the list of states to offer a covid-19 vaccine lottery. Gov. Larry Hogan announced that each day for the next forty, a vaccine recipient will be eligible to win $40,000. Full details. 

FDA recommends not using syringes from Chinese firm after safety issues with vaccine injections

The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday asked healthcare providers to stop using certain syringes and needles manufactured by Chinese medical device maker Guangdong Haiou Medical Apparatus Co (HAIOU).

At least one pharmacist that Reuters spoke to said the syringes had been shipped for use with the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE covid-19 vaccine.

An FDA spokesperson said the devices stopped being shipped in covid-19 vaccination kits as of 22 March. The agency does not believe that stopping use of these syringes will cause vaccination delays.

The FDA said it has received information about quality issues, including certain HAIOU needles detaching from the syringe and getting stuck to the patient's arm after injection and a few incidents involving accidental needlestick injuries to healthcare providers.

The agency has recommended against use of two of HAIOU's syringe-needle combinations - 1mL syringe with 25Gx 1-inch needle and the 1mL syringe with 23G x 1-inch needle - until further notice.

Erin Fox, senior director of drug information at University of Utah Health, said it had previously received the syringes with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as part of ancillary supply kits shipped by McKesson Corp. She said they were using those syringes in March, but have not had them for a while and are not currently using them.

The FDA issued an import alert on 30 April, to prevent these syringe and needle configurations from entering the United States.

(Reuters)

CORONAVIRUS US

Coronavirus US: can the second dose be different from the first?

The two-dose covid-19 mRNA vaccines are not interchangeable and each should be taken at a specified interval to ensure they are as effective as possible.

Full story

Thirty six states have at least one federal prison. Across the federal prison system, around 52% of inmates are vaccinated.

States with the highest percent of inmates vaccinated are: 

1. Kentucky - 67%

2. Ohio -- 67%

3. Massachusetts -- 65%

4. North Carolina -- 65% 

5. South Dakota -- 64% 

States with the lowest rate of vaccination among inmates are: 

1. Maryland -- 36%

2. Florida -- 39%

3. New Hampshire -- 41%

4. Michigan -- 42% 

5. Tennessee -- 42%

Romney urges US to speed global covid-19 vaccine distribution

US Senator Mitt Romney called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday to act with more urgency to distribute covid-19 vaccines to countries in desperate need, noting that international rivals Russia and China have been acting more quickly to send their vaccines abroad.

Romney, an influential moderate Republican voice in the deeply divided Senate, said he was "dismayed to learn" that China and Russia are pushing out their vaccines, while the United States has not been communicating in detail when needy countries can expect doses.

"While the US continues to 'plan' and 'prioritize' vaccine distribution, China is using its weight and its own, far less efficacious, vaccine to push countries needing vaccines to follow China's political goals," Romney wrote in a letter to Blinken seen by Reuters.

He said China could use vaccine diplomacy, for example, to forge closer ties with countries in Latin America, such as Honduras, whose foreign minister recently said the country wanted to avoid breaking long-standing ties with Taiwan, but access to vaccines was more urgent than anything else.

"I respectfully urge you to immediately enter discussions with countries around the world and implement a strategy for vaccine distribution to those countries. Upon doing so, I urge you to announce and publish timelines for vaccine distribution by country," Romney wrote.

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, poorer countries that make up half the world's population have received just 17% of doses, a situation the World Health Organization head has labeled "vaccine apartheid."

Developed nations have been debating how to handle the situation, including arguing over whether intellectual property rights should be waived for the vaccines to help boost international production.

(Reuters)

Vaccine photo

US First Lady Jill Biden holds the hand of Skylah Jackson as she receives a coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination clinic at the Children's National Hospital in Washington, DC on Thursday.

(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Covid-19 vaccine study launched for pregnant, breastfeeding individuals

University of British Columbia researchers are launching a Canada-wide covid-19 vaccine registry and survey to collect immunization data from pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.

“While covid-19 clinical trials with pregnant and breastfeeding individuals are now underway, the initial clinical trials excluded both groups so there remains a huge knowledge gap,” UBC’s Dr. Deborah Money said in a release.

“There is reassuring data emerging from the vaccine rollout in the U.S., but at this time there is no Canadian data on the impact of these vaccines in pregnancy,” she said, adding it’s also important to monitor vaccine uptake.

While the overall risk remains low, early results from the surveillance project show a concerning trend — pregnant people who test positive for the virus are more likely to be hospitalized or admitted to the ICU compared to the general population.

Full story from Catherine Garrett.

Ruin covid vaccine, hand out huge executive bonuses

Emergent BioSolutions, the biotech company whose Baltimore plant ruined millions of coronavirus vaccine doses, awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to its top executives last year, and the company’s board praised its founder and chairman for “leveraging his critical relationships with key customers, Congress, and other stakeholders,” according to documents released Wednesday by a House subcommittee.

The government, which awarded the firm a $628 million contract last year, has so far paid Emergent $271 million, even though US regulators have yet to clear a single dose of vaccine produced at its manufacturing plant in Baltimore, according to the documents released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in advance of a hearing on Wednesday.

Report for the NYT by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sharon LaFraniere

Arkansas ends covid-19 state of emergency

Ian Russell was on hand to follow Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, as he announced the end of the state of emergency from the end of the month.

“Important to understand that we are still in a pandemic.”

Russell reports that the message is clear that he’s ending the public health emergency but that doesn’t change the fact that people should be vaccinated, and hospitals still will have to deal with covid patients.

"Should not diminish anyone’s intensity to get a vaccine.”

The focus is on current vaccination campaign, worth $6.4 million. Minority ad campaign is worth $2 million targeting minority groups.

Full thread below:

70% vaccinated in within the month - Minnesota update

Minnesota data continues to offer more evidence that covid-19 is in retreat after a spring surge. Still, the vaccination pace remains at a relative crawl, raising concerns that hundreds of thousands of Minnesota adults might choose to go unvaccinated. 

That concern is overshadowing an overall positive pandemic picture. The most recent numbers show new case counts below 700 a day for three straight days - the first time that’s happened since late February - while active case counts and hospitalizations are retreating.

Full story below:

CORONAVIRUS US

Moderna covid-19 vaccine: what is SM-102?

A new type of vaccine is being employed against the covid-19 virus that came out of a scientific backwater but could now create a medical revolution helping countless around the world. In order for the vaccine to reach its destination in one piece, it requires a protective covering of lipids, one of which has wrongly drawn the attention of anti-vaxxers.

The field of messenger RNA (mRNA) has jumped into the spotlight as first Pfizer-BioNTech and then Moderna managed to get a working covid-19 vaccine using this technique approved for emergency use by the FDA before their competitors. However, it would all have been for naught without work performed over decades to develop the lipids needed to allow the workhorse of the vaccine slip into the cell where it can begin the inoculating process.

Check out all you need to know.

California envisions a post-pandemic workplace without masks or distancing

With coronavirus cases plummeting and vaccinations hitting new milestones, California is considering a dramatic liberalisation of covid-19 safety rules that would allow workers to return without masks and social distancing as long as everyone is vaccinated.

The push comes as employers are developing plans to bring back office workers after more than a year of remote work. There has been much debate about what the future of the office will look like, with some firms building elaborate barriers and spacing out work stations to avoid coronavirus spread.

Full story

Where to get 12-15 year old kids vaccinated in California

Acting on advice from an advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US regulators authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in children as young as 12 last Wednesday, making it the first covid-19 vaccine to be approved in the United States for the 12 to 15 age group.

Now the race is on to fully vaccinate the school-age population of the US - around 17 million children fall into the 12-15 age range – to ensure a return to normalcy in US classrooms ahead of the next school year.

"Now that vaccine is authorized for ages 12 and up, and I encourage their parents to make sure they get the shot," Joe Biden said after the CDC announcement. "This is one more giant step on our fight against the pandemic."

Vaccinating younger ages is considered an important step for getting children back into schools safely and Biden has asked states to make the vaccine available to younger adolescents immediately.

Full story

CDC expects covid-19 vaccine data on kids by fall, Walensky says

Health officials expect to have more data surrounding covid-19 vaccines and younger children by late fall, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. Walensky, who was testifying before a Senate subcommittee on the agency’s budget request said de-escalation studies involving children down to 9 are ongoing, and will involve younger children as more data comes in. 

"We’re working towards getting a vaccine that’s available for all people," Walensky said, adding that the agency hopes to "have more available data in late fall and by the end of the year." 

She added that even in the absence of covid-19 vaccines that are authorized for younger age groups, "schools can be a very safe place." 

Anthony S. Fauci on coronavirus vaccine boosters:

"I really don’t think it’s accurate to say we will need boosters x number of months from now."

What do they mean by ‘fully vaccinated’?

Most of the vaccines administered in the United States have been two-shot pharmaceuticals, meaning that they require two doses for immunity to be reached. However it is not quite that straight forward.

If you receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, you still need to wait until two weeks after receiving the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated. In the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will also need to wait for two weeks after the shot.

Also bear in mind that any underlying conditions or medication that weaken your immune system may mean that you are still susceptible to infection. If you think this may be the case consult your healthcare provider for more information.

CORONAVIRUS VACCINATIONS

Coronavirus US: is it possible to travel without restrictions after the vaccine?

The largest vaccination effort in American history continues as health authorities look to get the life-saving shots distributed as quickly as possible. As of 16 May, more than 274 million doses of covid-19 vaccines have been administered, at an average of 1.98 million per day over the last week.

The aim, of course, is to allow the country to return to some form of normality, potentially even in time for some summer holiday plans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as still advising against travel for anyone who has not been fully vaccinated, but those who are should be able to travel.

Read the full story

Coronavirus US

Coronavirus US: who has to wear a mask after the vaccine?

Last weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided an update on their new guidelines for those who have received both shots of the covid-19 vaccine. Those who are now fully vaccinated, they say, are now free to resume activities which they did before the pandemic.

It considers those who are fully vaccinated when two weeks have passed since an individual received the second dose in a two-dose series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a fortnight after a single-dose jab of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Full story

Anti-vaxxers find new target to spread doubt about vaccine safety

Anti-vaxxers are spreading a conspiracy theory on social media claiming that SM-102 is not safe for human use. Many of the social media posts and videos feature the US biochemical manufacturing company Cayman Chemical which sells SM-102 as a research chemical. On the product description page for the company’s SM-102, chloroform is listed as part of the formulation, “a solution in chloroform”.

This is being latched onto by anti-vaxxers but as is pointed out by interviews with scientists in Newsweek, this is ingenuous and easily misinterpreted. Just because this company says it sells its SM-102 product "for research use only, not for human or veterinary use" does not imply that the SM-102 Moderna uses is not safe. Furthermore, chloroform is not listed among the ingredients of the Moderna vaccine.

Al Edwards, impact lead for the pharmacy research division at the University of Reading, told Newsweek "A seller can label something as not for human consumption or use in medicines just because they don't want the product to be used in that way; the business does not want to certify that it's safe for human use." Adding "Peanuts sold for bird seed often are labelled in this way. That doesn't mean peanuts are hazardous to humans."

Full debunking

Carlson Tucker's vaccine mistruths defended

Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch has come to the defence of the controversial presenter who included a 17-year-old who shot himself with a gun after being vaccinated a week before as part of the proof that the vaccine was dangerous.

Careful who you listen to, folks.

Not anti-vaccine, but anti-vaccine mandate

Out of a total enrollment of 51,000 undergrads, these are the select few Rutgers students who say they intend to fight the university's mandate that they get the coronavirus vaccine in order to return to campus this fall. They plan to hold a protest against the mandate this Friday on the College Avenue campus in New Brunswick.

"I'm very angry. I think the decision to get a covid vaccination should be a personal choice, not the government's," said Sara Razi, a 21-year-old Rutgers junior. "And I'm not anti-vaccine at all. I've gotten the flu shot; my childhood vaccines. I'm anti-vaccine mandate."

Vaccine requirements in Nashville colleges

While schools adjust to changing covid-19 mask guidance, colleges in Nashville are sharing their plans for vaccines for students.

Vanderbilt University announced that all students are required to get the covid-19 vaccine for the upcoming fall semester.

The university says the requirement applies to all undergraduate, graduate and professional students for the 2021-2022 school year. Accommodations can be made for those with medical and religious exemptions.

Tennessee State University (TSU) said it's not requiring vaccines for students in the fall, but is working with partners to offer the vaccine.

Belmont University says there's no vaccine requirement at this time. Lipscomb is undecided on the covid-19 vaccine policy for upcoming fall classes.

Find out more at the following link.

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Thursday 20 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.

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