Covid-19 vaccine in the US news summary: 24 May 2021

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Headlines

- Nine US states pass 70% vaccine target

- CureVac vaccine approval expected in June

- US vaccine rollout tops 357.2 million doses delivered, 285.7 doses administered

- Indian state unable to obtain covid-19 shots directly from Moderna

- 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

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

- Study shows AstraZeneca vaccine works well as third booster

- India case total passes 26.75 million

- Ohio lines up $1 million vaccine lottery

- Over 130 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)

US covid-19: 33.13 million cases / 590,141 deaths (live updates from JHU)

Scroll through some of our related articles:

CDC reports on the national covid-19 vaccine rollout. The US health authority has reported that sixty percent of residents have received at least one dose. 

Vaccine Roll-Out Update 

The average increase of the percent of residents fully vaccinated from late April to now was around 9 percent. However, half of all states fall under that average. The states that saw the smallest increases in the percent of fully vaccinated residents were:  

1. Mississippi: 26.5% from 23.2%, 3.3% change

2. North Dakota: 36% from 32.1%, 3.9% change 

3. Oklahoma: 33.2% from 29.1%, 4.1% change

4. Louisiana: 30.5% from 26.3%, 4.2% change

5. West Virginia: 33.5% from 29.3%, 4.2% change

CORONAVIRUS US

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

Have you received a covid-19 vaccine in California, New York, Texas, or FloridaCheck out what freebies are available! 

 

Vaccine Update

Since late April, the percent of fully vaccinated people across the US has increased nearly nine percentage points from 29.7% to 38.7%.

States that saw the greatest increases were: 

1. Vermont: 16.4%, 52.7% from 36.3%

2. District of Columbia 15.6, 44.3% from 28.7

3. Massachusetts: 15.4, 50.5% from 35.1%

4. Rhode Island: 14.5%, 49.9% from 35.4%

5. Connecticut: 14.4%, 51.6% from 37.2%

Data from Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Read our full coverage on the vaccine roll-out here

 

Which states have vaccinated at least 50% of their population fully? 

1. Vermont: 52.7%

2. Maine: 51.9%

3. Connecticut: 51.6%

4. Massachusetts: 50.5%

Coronavirus

Can the covid-19 vaccine cause heart problems?

Can the covid-19 vaccine cause heart problems?

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the Pfizer & BioNTech vaccine for those between the ages of twelve and fifteen in mid-May. A few short weeks later, the CDC is looking into possible cardiac-related issues in teenagers and young adults after vaccination.

Read our full coverage here

CORONAVIRUS US

What is a vaccine booster and why would people need it?

Vaccines give us different levels of protection from harmful viruses and bacteria. For some diseases more than one shot can be necessary, either to create a stronger immunity or to rebuild immunity as a virus mutates or the effectiveness of the vaccine itself wears off over time. Think of a tetanus shot every ten years or the flu shot every year.

In the case of the covid-19 shot, the length of time that it confers immunity hasn't been fully determined yet.

Full story

Vaccine Florida

Private sector steps up in Florida to increase vaccine demand

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

Full story

(Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP)

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 hoping to encourage more to go out and get vaccinated.

Find out more

CORONAVIRUS US

Can I take ibuprofen after getting covid-19 vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends talking to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications to relieve any discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated.

Full details

Over-12s can get Pfizer jab in Cleveland

Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is now available to Ohio children ages 12-15 years old. "I am encouraged that the FDA has already updated Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization to include youth ages 12-15," Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement. "Following a recommendation, as soon as Wednesday, from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the CDC, Ohio will immediately expand vaccine eligibility to youth ages 12-15 and provide appropriate guidance for parents, guardians, and vaccine providers across the state".

For more information about how to book a vaccine appointment in Ohio, visit the state Health Department's page here:

Thailand to extend dose gap for AstraZeneca vaccine to 16 weeks

Thailand will extend the gap between the first and second doses of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to 16 weeks, in an effort to inoculate more people faster, a senior health official said on Monday.

The plan follows a similar decision by Spain to stretch the gap between two AstraZeneca doses to 16 weeks, which is beyond the 12 weeks maximum interval approved by the European Medicines Agency.

A 16-week interval has not been tested in human trials. Thailand's change, from a 10-week gap previously, comes ahead of the planned start of a mass immunisation campaign from June, for which AstraZeneca's vaccine will be the main one used.

Since the start of April, Thailand has been grappling to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections, with its latest outbreak accounting for about 80% of its total 132,213 cases and 806 deaths.

Thailand will focus on administering the first of two AstraZeneca doses between June and September, Kiattiphum said. It previously said it aimed to vaccinate 70% of its population by September to achieve herd immunity.

Thailand has so far administered at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to 1.94 million people, including healthcare and frontline workers, using AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines .

Curevac vaccine yields positive results in Basque Country trial

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by German biopharmaceutical company Curevac has delivered encouraging results in a study involving 1,500 volunteers in the Basque Country, Spain. The Curevac vaccine uses mRNA messenger technology, the same as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

It remains stable and within defined specifications for at least three months when stored at a standard refrigerator temperature of +5°C (+41°F) and for up to 24 hours as ready-to-use vaccine when stored at room temperature.

Curevac's CVnCoV Covid-19 vaccine is awaiting approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which, according to Diario Vasco, could be granted by mid-June.

Dr. Walensky answers questions about how Covid-19 vaccine affects pregnancy, fertility

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky took time out to answer the public's questions about how the Covid-19 vaccines' effects on fertility or if you are pregnant.

New Mexico becomes 9th to reach 70%

The White House senior advisor on Covid-19 response, Andy Slavitt, shares the positive news that New Mexico is the latest state to pass 70% of their adults receiving the first vaccine shot.

Tedros urges countries and drug makers to get more vaccine to poorer countries

The Covid-19 pandemic is being perpetuated by a 'scandalous inequity' in vaccine distribution, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, addressing its annual ministerial assembly, urged countries to donate vaccine doses to the COVAX mechanism to inoculate 10% of populations of all countries by September, and 30% by year-end. Tedros also called on vaccine manufacturers to give COVAX the first right of refusal on new volumes of vaccines, or to commit 50% of their volumes to COVAX this year.

Israel

Israel to end Covid-19 restrictions after vaccine success

Israel will end local Covid-19 restrictions following a successful vaccine rollout that has nearly stamped out new infections, the country's Health Ministry said on Sunday.

With the majority of the population having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and about 92% of those 50 and older inoculated or recovered, Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns.

The country reported just 12 new virus cases on Saturday, down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January.

Curbs on higher-risk activities and limits on how many people can gather in a specific area remain, with a government-issued “Green Pass” that indicates immunity post-vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 allowing greater freedom.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that he will not be extending the arrangement, meaning the restrictions and the Green Pass system will be revoked from the start of June. "The economy and the citizens of Israel will get extra room to breathe," he said, but also warned that they could be reimposed should the situation take a turn.

Israel will still keep its borders closed to most incoming travel, though it has started to let in small groups of vaccinated tourists. The Health Ministry will also reexamine the requirement to wear face masks in closed spaces.

Mexico reports lowest daily coronavirus death toll in over a year

On Sunday, Mexico's health ministry registered 50 new confirmed deaths from Covid-19, the lowest daily increase reported from the pandemic in over a year, according to government data.

The rise, which brought the official death toll to 221,647, was the smallest since the final Sunday of April 2020, and it follows a steady decline in new daily infections in Mexico during recent weeks as a vaccine roll-out gathers pace.

Mexico has said the real number of coronavirus deaths and infections is likely considerably higher than the official tally. Separate government data has suggested the death toll could be at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

The ministry on Sunday also reported 1,274 new Covid-19 infections, lifting the total to 2,396,604. Despite the upbeat data, efforts to get life back to normal suffered a setback at the weekend, with authorities in the states of Campeche and Nayarit saying a return to teaching in schools had been suspended due to an uptick in infections.

Sputnik V

India's Panacea Biotec begins producing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

Indian biotech firm Panacea Biotec Ltd began production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 on Monday, said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the shot internationally.

The first batch made by the Indian manufacturer will be shipped to Gamaleya, the Moscow institute which developed the vaccine, for quality controls, RDIF said in a statement.

Full-scale production is expected to begin this summer, RDIF added. Panacea Biotec plans to produce 100 million doses of Sputnik V annually, RDIF said in April.

Vaccine

Macron calls for WHO powers to be boosted; Merkel backs call for pandemic treaty

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Monday for the World Health Organization (WHO) to be empowered to visit countries rapidly in case of outbreaks with potential to spark a pandemic, and to access data.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in separate pre-recorded remarks to the WHO's annual ministerial assembly, called for the UN agency's funding to be improved and backed the idea of a new international treaty to prevent pandemics.

Kids lining up for vaccine in Pa and NJ

Tens of thousands of children in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have received their first coronavirus shots, prompting providers to up their orders of doses, bringing school districts into the vaccination effort and ushering in a wave of outreach efforts aimed at kids and parents.

In the first 10 days the two-dose Pfizer vaccine was available to adolescents aged 12 to 15, more than 50,000 in Pennsylvania and nearly 44,000 in New Jersey received first doses. Lines were long at some providers, and school gyms turned into immunization clinics.

But there were also signs that the effort to vaccinate children - seen as key to reaching immunity levels that will suppress the spread of the virus and getting education back to normal - will run up against the same hesitancy barriers and equity divides that have affected the rollout for adults.

Full story from Justine McDaniel, Erin McCarthy, and Maddie Hanna.

CDC investigation into Chinese vaccine

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s investigating reports of heart inflammation in teenagers and young adults who have received the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine.

Noting that there have been “relatively few” reports of “mild” cases of myocarditis, the agency said that its covid-19 Vaccine Safety Technical Work Group should investigate and communicate the findings to vaccine recipients.

The agency said that vaccines using the mRNA technology—from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna—appear to be causing the issue. Vaccines using mRNA, which are relatively uncommon, use messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA) to create a protein that prompts an immune response within an individual, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine instead uses an adenovirus that was rendered unable to replicate.

Full story below.

Coronavirus

Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause heart problems?

The CDC is examining isolated cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) after some patients experience issues after vaccination. Health experts warn against inciting panic before a scientific connection is made. 

Read more about myocarditis and vaccination here:

Taiwan

Taiwan considering extending Covid-19 alert level

Taiwan is considering extending its second highest Covid-19 alert that was due to expire at the end of the week, the health minister said on Monday, as he reported a further increase in domestic cases despite tighter social restrictions.

However, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung also said an infection peak was registered last Monday and should continue to decline. "Judging from the trend of confirmed cases, it seems that the peak has reached a certain point," Chen said.

Taiwan has been battling a rise in infections after months of relative safety, shocking a population used to living with few restrictions, though the total case numbers remain low compared to some other parts of the world. Chen announced another 590 new domestic Covid-19 cases, including 256 cases added to the totals for days over the past week or so as it continues to readjust its infection numbers following delays in reporting positive tests.

Chen said he hoped changes to the testing and reporting system would soon start to take effect so going forward there would be no need to adjust case tallies. The government is also working to set up more test stations in 'hot spots' across the island and has asked manufacturers to speed up the production of Covid-19 test kits.

Taiwan has reported 4,917 cases since the pandemic began, including 29 deaths. Most of those infected in the current wave either have no or light symptoms. Northern Taiwan has been most badly affected, but cases have been reported across the island.

CORONAVIRUS US

What is a vaccine booster and why would people need it?

Several vaccines require a booster shot to strengthen the bodies immunity to a given virus, Moderna CEO says a third shot may be needed by September.

Read more here about Covid-19 vaccine booster shots:

Vaccine

India's Cadila to produce up to 30M Covid-19 vaccine doses a month

India's Cadila Healthcare is aiming to triple monthly production of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate to as many as 30 million doses, its managing director said on Monday, as the country battles a massive wave of infections.

The virus has killed nearly 100,000 Indians in May alone according to official figures, although experts say actual numbers are likely many times higher. India's Covid-19 death toll surged past 300,000 on Monday, health ministry data showed.

India is also facing a shortage of vaccines. Weekly vaccinations have fallen from a peak of nearly 25 million doses in early April to about 9 million. The government has pledged to make 2.67 billion doses available this year.

Cadila, headquartered in Ahmedabad in western India, is looking to increase monthly production of its vaccine candidate ZyCoV-D to up to 30 million doses in four to five months, from 10 million now, its managing director, Sharvil Patel, said in text messages to Reuters. Reuters reported last month Cadila was seeking emergency use authorisation for the shot from India's regulators in May or June.

"We still think we should be able to submit (the vaccine for emergency use authorisation) in May," Patel said on Monday. The company will use both in-house capacity as well as third-party manufacturers to boost production, he said.

ZyCoV-D is a DNA plasmid vaccine, which uses a portion of the genetic code - DNA or RNA - in the virus to stimulate an immune response. It is undergoing late-stage trials in nearly 30,000 adults after being found safe and immunogenic in earlier studies. It is meant to be given in three doses but Cadila is also doing trials on a two-dose regimen, Patel has said previously.

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Monday 24 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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