Covid-19 vaccine in the US news summary: 22 May 2021

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US vaccine latest news | Sat 22 May 2021

Headlines

- US vaccine rollout tops 357.2 million doses delivered, 283.9 doses administered

- Pfizer and BioNTech pledge to give one billion doses to low- and middle-income countries by end of year

- California won’t create vaccine passport, but large events may require vaccine/test proof

- Biden helping overseas by sending 100 million vaccine doses

- 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 26.2 million

- Ohio lines up $1 million vaccine lottery

- Over 129 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)

US covid-19: 33.1 million cases / 589,702 deaths (live updates from JHU)

Scroll through some of our related articles:

CureVac working to boost production capacity ahead of expected vaccine approval

Germany's CureVac expects European approval of its Covid-19 vaccine in June at the latest and is working to expand production capacity, the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper quoted a company spokeswoman as saying. Around 1,500 volunteers have been taking part in trials with the CureVac vaccine in the Basque Country, Spain.

Since starting out in 2000, the biotech company has focused on so-called messenger RNA (mRNA), a drug and vaccine technology that has also become the recent focus of the European Union's procurement negotiations. The mRNA approach has been validated by the wide use of coronavirus vaccines developed by pioneers BioNTech and its partner Pfizer, as well as by Moderna, in Europe and North America. But more volumes will be needed to boost lagging immunisation coverage in Europe and potentially for repeated booster shots.

"We hope for approval in the course of the second quarter,' the newspaper quoted the spokeswoman as saying in comments released on Sunday. "We are working to further expand production capacity with a growing network of partners."

The Nasdaq-listed firm, which is backed by investor Dietmar Hopp, GlaxoSmithKline as well as the German government, has said it aims to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2021 and up to 1 billion in 2022.

A look at what children learned from the covid-19 pandemic 

The covid-19 pandemic has forced innumerable changes in everyday life for young and old alike. The resilience of children, how they have adapted to the changes and all they’ve had to learn, though is just mind boggling. Sage Stossel shares what she learned from her son upon getting her final jab of the covid-19 vaccine.

CORONAVIRUS US

What freebies can you get for getting covid-19 vaccine in California?

Californians who have their covid-19 jab can enjoy free stuff from businesses in the state in the hope of encouraging even more Californians to go out and get vaccinated.

Full details

Coronavirus

What freebies can you get for getting the covid-19 vaccine in Florida?

In an effort to encourage more residents to get vaccinated, Florida businesses are offering “freebies” and discounts to those who have been poked.

Full details

Family asks doctor to share video of the effects of covid-19 

A Vanderbilt University Medical Center ICU doctor shared a video of a COVID-19 patient on Twitter. The video has been viewed over 200,000 times. Dr. Wes Ely said it was the family that wanted to share what could happen if you contract the virus in the hope of encouraging those hesitant to get vaccinated to get their shot. 

"His wife really wanted to use it as an educational tool to help people grapple with this very personal decision of getting the vaccine," Ely said. "Getting vaccinated, in my opinion, is really an act of charity. It's an act of charity towards myself, and it's the act of charity towards other people." 

The video may be uncomfortable for some

Vaccines and dating apps: a love match

Nine of the largest dating apps in the US, including Bumble Inc.’s namesake and Match Group Inc.’s Tinder and Hinge, are adding badges that show a person’s vaccine status and offering perks for those who have already gotten their innoculations.

The program is the federal government’s latest effort to boost vaccination rates in the US and achieve President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of adults at least one jab by 4 July. The administration partnered with Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. in April to send push notifications informing users of their vaccine eligibility and teamed up with Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. this month to offer free rides to anyone going to get vaccinated.

Roughly half of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 38% are fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.

Full story below.

Covid-19 vaccine available to over-12s in Hamilton, Ontario from tomorrow

From tomorrow, Sunday 23 May 2021 those aged 12 years old and older will be eligible to book an appointment to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Hamilton, Ontario. Those who book, must be 12 years of age by the date of their appointment. Individuals who are not 12 years old on 23 May 2021 can book an appointment for a later date through the provincial call centre. Book online: Online: ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by phone: 1-888-999-6488

Swiss scientists discover coronavirus’ ‘Achilles heel’

Researchers at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich have discovered an important weak point of Covid-19 which could lead to the development of antiviral drugs that can also treat more distantly related coronaviruses. During the step-by-step reading of the blueprint from ribonucleic acid (RNA), the ribosome (the cell’s own protein factory) occasionally “miscounts” and omits letters. However, certain viruses such as coronaviruses rely on such shifts in the reading frame to regulate the production of their proteins. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, induces frameshifting by folding its RNA in an unusual and complex manner, the research team explained, adding that any compound which inhibits frameshifting by targeting this RNA fold could potentially be useful as a drug to combat infection.

Read ETH Zurich's full technical report on frameshifting here:

India

Covid-19 spreads to rural India as deaths again rise above 4,000

India's Covid-19 outbreak has stabilised in parts of the country, a government official said, but deaths rose by 4,194 on Saturday and infections were spreading in rural areas where public health services are scarce and already overstretched.

India reported more than 400,000 infections a day in early May but the numbers have gradually eased. On Saturday, government data showed 257,299 new cases. Active cases in the richest state of Maharashtra and Karnataka, home to the tech hub of Bengaluru, and the coastal state of Kerala had fallen in the last two weeks, health ministry official Lav Agarwal told reporters.

Daily numbers in states including West Bengal, which recently concluded state elections, and the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were on the rise, he said. With hospitals overflowing, the health system overwhelmed in the cities and a shortage of vaccines, experts have warned India could face a third wave of infections in coming months.

Dr. V. K. Paul, part of a federal government panel on Covid-19 management, told a news conference, "For the first time, we have seen that rural areas have been affected in this pandemic." Total infections in the country stood at 26.3 million, the second highest in the world after the United States, while the country's total death toll was 295,525.

US seven-day average of Covid-19 deaths drops

For the first time since March 2020, the 7-day average for deaths from Covid-19 in the United States has fallen below 500, White House coronavirus response senior adviser Andy Slavitt tweeted on Friday. The rolling seven-day average for Covid deaths has been steadily in decline since mid-April, on Friday, the figure was 555.86 according to ourworldindate.org.

India needs to order 1 billion jabs to cover 60% of the population

India needs a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to vaccine enough of the population to get close to herd immunity, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates. "To get to 60% coverage, India will need to immediately place sufficient vaccine orders of about 1 billion doses through contracts that incentivize investment in additional capacity and augmentation of the supply chain," a discussion note, co-authored by IMF's chief economist Gita Gopinath and economist Ruchir Agarwal noted. The IMF has proposed a $50 billion plan to tackle the pandemic in India.

Several provinces pause AstraZeneca vaccine

Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia have pointed to a connection between the Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine and a rare blood clotting condition - vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) - as part of their reason to pause giving out the shot. Some provinces, like Alberta, plan to reserve their remaining supply of AstraZeneca for second doses. Ontario Ministry of Health spokesperson Bill Campbell said the province was expects to receive 254,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of last week.

Reopening schools too soon may have led to thousands of Covid-19 cases and hundreds of deaths in Texas

Reopening schools too early in Texas may have contributed to thousands of Covid-19 cases and hundreds of deaths, according to a study by the University of Kentucky, ABC reports.

The analysis, which has not yet been peer reviewed, used a statistical model to estimate that roughly 43,000 people contracted Covid-19 and 800 people possibly died in Texas two months after schools reopened statewide, when virus transmission already was high.

White House partners with dating apps to encourage vaccination

(Reuters) Want to know if your next new love interest has been vaccinated against covid-19? Just check your favorite app.

The White House has partnered with popular online dating platforms such as Match, Tinder and Bumble to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against the virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone.

With restrictions loosening across the country as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, people are increasingly getting back to some semblance of normalcy in their lives, including dating.

President Joe Biden's administration has set a goal of getting at least one vaccine shot into at least 70% of US adults by the 4 July Independence Day holiday. The partnership with dating sites is meant to attract young people otherwise reluctant to get vaccinated.

"Social distancing and dating were always a bit of a challenging combination," White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt told reporters on Friday.

He said OkCupid, one of the dating sites, reported that people who display their vaccination status were 14% more likely to get a match. "We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive: a vaccination," Slavitt said.

The dating platforms, which cater to more than 50 million people in the US, will offer badges showing vaccination status, free access to "premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes" for vaccinated individuals, and filters to potential hook-ups based on people's vaccination status, the White House said.

Match Group Inc confirmed the participation of its top US brands including Tinder, Match, OkCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, BLK and Chispa. Promotional campaigns will launch in coming weeks and run until 4 July.

Shar Dubey, CEO of Match Group, said: "We are honored to work with the White House on increasing vaccinations across America, which will allow people to once again meet in person and engage in meaningful ways. This will make dating safer for everyone, everywhere."

To meet the 70% target as demand slows for vaccines, the White House this month announced partnerships with ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft.

Jab and a pint

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his "Shot and a Beer” initiative in which anyone over the age of 21 who gets their first vaccination dose this month will be eligible for a beer - on the house. The plan is part of Murphy's plan to increasing the state's vaccination numbers and reach its goal of 4.7 million residents vaccinated by the end of June.

US on track to get 70% of Americans vaccinated by 4 July

Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that if the United States' Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues at the current pace, 70% of the population will be fully vaccinated by Independence Day on 4 July. "If we get to the president's goal, which I believe we will attain, of getting 70% of people getting at least one dose by July 4, there will be enough protection in the community that I really don't foresee there being the risk of a surge," he told the Washington Post. "One thing that is quite certain is that when you have a vaccine or a group of vaccines that are as highly effective in the real world as these vaccines are, and you get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, the chances of there being a surge are extremely low".

Biden says US will vaccinate South Korean soldiers against covid-19

(Reuters) President Joe Biden said on Friday that he and South Korean South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed on a comprehensive partnership on covid-19 vaccines and that the United States would provide vaccinations for 550,000 South Korean soldiers.

Speaking during a news conference at the White House, Moon said the vaccine partnership would contribute to boosting supplies in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

 

Houston man unable to speak after Covid-19 leave him with swollen tongue

Months of battling Covid-19 left Anthony Jones with macroglossia, a condition where the tongue becomes inflamed. Jones' tongue was so enlarged and swollen, it stretched down past his lips and chin, leaving him unable to eat or close his mouth. He underwent surgery to have part of his tongue removed and has since fully recovered. “It’s a relatively uncommon condition,” Dr. James Melville said. “Only a rare subset of people develop massive macroglossia.”

Vietnam in talks to produce Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine

A research centre under Vietnam's health ministry is in talks with Russia to produce the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in the country, local media reported on Saturday.

The Russian partner would initially transfer semi-finished products along with instructions to the Ministry of Health's Polyvac Center to produce around 50 million doses a year, the online newspaper VnExpress reported, without identifying the partner.

An official at Polyvac confirmed to Reuters that the talks were underway, but declined to give further details. In a later stage, Polyvac would produce the vaccine from scratch, the report said, citing an unnamed Polyvac source. The report said Vietnam was also in talks to buy the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine from Russia for domestic use before any domestic production of the shot.

In March, Vietnam approved Sputnik V for use against Covid-19, the second coronavirus shot to be approved in the Southeast Asian country after the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country has administered around 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine since it began its vaccination campaign in early March. It has received about 2.6 million doses, mostly through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility. Vietnam's Ministry of Finance said this week it planned to set up a 25.2 trillion dong ($1.1 billion) fund to acquire 150 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for its population.

CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

What freebies can you get for getting a covid-19 vaccine in Texas?

As the national vaccine distribution rate drops many companies and local authorities are offering incentives to get the shot, from free beer to bobbleheads.

Read more about the incentives on offer to take the jab in the US here:

Vaccine USA

US vaccine rollout update

A total of 127,778,250 people, 38.5% of the population, are now fully vaccinated in the United States. According to figures released by the CDC, 161,278,336 people in the country have received at least one dose of one of the three Covid-19 vaccines currently in use in the US

32-33-year-olds able to receive Covid-19 vaccine in England

The NHS says people aged 32 and 33 in England can book in for their first jabs from today. Those who are aged 32 or over, or who will turn 32 before 1 July 2021 can book an appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy now, or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service. Text message invitations will also be sent out over the next few days.

China

China administered 483.34M doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of 21 May

China carried out about 16.6 million Covid-19 vaccinations on 21 May, bringing the total number of doses administered to 483.34 million, according to data released by the National Health Commission on Saturday.

Coronavirus

Can an employer ask if you're vaccinated in the US?

Can an employer ask if you're vaccinated in the US?

New CDC guidance on mask-wearing for vaccinated people leaves employers in an awkward position in trying to figure out how to establish office safety.

Read our full coverage for details and advice on how to broach the topic of vaccinations with those close to you.

Scientists concern that a new Covid-19 strain could emerge

Virologist Dr Chris Smith says the greatest concern about the pandemic at the moment is the chances of a new variant of the virus being able to evade the Covid-19 vaccines currently in use.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast today, Smith explained: “It’s important that we’re vigilant to the appearance of new cases of these things – one of the reasons people are worried is that we still have a significant proportion of the population who haven’t been vaccinated yet. It could increase the number of cases, including in those who are vulnerable, and then also get into those who have been vaccinated but are not necessarily immune – not everyone who gets vaccinated is protected. The more variation there is, the more chances we’re going to see the vaccines stop working.”

Three people dying every minute in Asia to Covid-19

During the first wave of the pandemic, an estimated 228,000 children and 11,000 mothers across South Asia died due to severe disruptions in essential health services.

"The sheer scale and speed of this new surge of Covid-19 is outstripping countries’ abilities to provide life-saving treatment,” said George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. “Hospitals are overwhelmed, there is an acute lack of oxygen and other critical medical supplies, and there is a real risk of fragile health systems collapsing. We’re now looking at a surge that is four times the size of the first. We need to do everything within our power to prevent and treat COVID-19, while keeping the critical health care services that children and mothers so heavily depend on running,”

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Saturday 22 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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