Covid-19 vaccine in the US | news summary for Monday 31 May

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Covid-19 vaccine in the US live updates: CDC investigating potential heart problems, vaccination lottery...

US vaccine latest news live: Monday 31 May 2021


-Can my employer ask for my vaccine card? (Full details)

- Buttigieg responds to plane mask complaints as air travel takes off

-Teenager accidentally given wrong covid-19 vaccine

- Texas hospital faces lawsuit over covid-19 vaccine mandate

- India in talks over Sputnik Light vaccine

- Single-dose covid Janssen vaccine approved in the UK

- Dr Fauci points to likely need for booster shots

- 50% of US adults now fully vaccinated, as Biden calls the milestone "a big deal"

- Moderna claim vaccine 'strongly' protects against virus in 12 to 17 year olds

- CureVac vaccine approval expected in June

- 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

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

- Study shows AstraZeneca vaccine works well as third booster

- Over 135 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)

- US covid-19: 33.3 million cases / 594,431 deaths (live updates from JHU)

Scroll through some of our related articles:

Where is vaccine hesitancy most present? 

On 17 May the CDC released data on vaccine hesitancy from across the country. Researchers conducted a survey and asked respondents how likely they were to receive a cover-19 vaccine. The responses were divided into three groups:

-Estimated hesitant

-Estimated hesitant or unsure 

-Estimated strongly hesitant.

The researchers estimate that around 13% of individuals across the US are hesitant, 20% are hesitant or unsure, and 8% are strongly hesitant.  

Eighteen of Alaska’s twenty-nine countries had the highest levels of “strong” vaccine hesitancy with an estimated eighteen percent of residents who will not get vaccinated. 

Counties were also divided into five equal groups based on  “Level of Concern” which includes: 

-Very High Concern 

-High Concern 

-Moderate Concern 

-Low Concern 

-Very Low Concern.

Among those with Very High Concern, the estimated percent of residents who will not be getting a shot rose five percent, from eight to thirteen.  For those interested in seeing how this data looks geo-spatially, check out the CDC’s interactive map


$116 million California Vaccine Lottery: how to enter and sign up

$116 million California Vaccine Lottery: how to enter and sign up

To encourage residents to get the covid-19 vaccine Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a new state-wide lottery which will give $1.5 million to ten vaccinated Californians.

Full details on how to enter here

Brookings examines the disproportionate impact the covid-19 pandemic has had on developing countries. 

As vaccine hesitancy began to increase in the US, the government made active efforts to make vaccines more widely available at places where they would feel comfortable including doctor's offices, and even Churches. Desert News reports on where those interested in getting a vaccine can find one, and how efforts to expand options have impacted vaccination rates. 

Governors from both Republicans and Democratic states have started vaccine lotteries in order to get more people vaccinated in their state's. However, today South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announces that a vaccine lottery is not in the state's future. ABC Colombia reports that Gov. McMaster was quoted saying that the program is necessary given that “all South Carolinians have been given all available information about a vaccine and that is all they need in order to make this personal decision." He continued his remarks calling the "lure of a lottery jackpot," poor use of public funds, and "irresponsible"



Coronavirus US: What is the minimum age to get vaccinated?

How many children have been vaccianted in the US? 

CDC data shows that to date around 8.2 million people between the ages of 12 and eighteen have been vaccianted.

Read our full coverage for more information on which age groups are eligible to receive the vaccine. 

2021 Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout 

Since January 2021, 290,334,856 doses have been administered in the US. 

Percent of the Population with at least One Dose 

January -- 0%

February -- 16%

March -- 30% (+14%)

April -- 55% (+25%) 

May -- 61% (+7%) 

Percent of Population Fully Vaccinated 

January -- 0% (insignificant) 

February -- 0% (insignificant) 

March -- 17% 

April -- 31% (+14%)

May -- 41% (+10%)

Harvard Health releases information for those still considering whether or not to get vaccianted. The experts put together an extensive Q&A to address some of the many concerns those hesitant have. 

Covid-19 origins come under scrutiny 

President Biden has announced that his asking the US intelligence community to look into possible evidence that the covid-19 virus was not naturally occurring and came out of a Chinese lab. Many of these claims were initially overlooked, but emerging information has led the US to further investigate the origins of the virus. 

Read our coverage on the call for more on the investigation into this emerging evidence. 

US News

Can my employer ask for my vaccine card? 

Can my employer ask for my vaccine card? 

The legal precedent for this sort of situation is in short supply and employers must ensure that they respect their workers’ privacy.

Both OSHA and the EEOC, organizations leaders look to for guidance on workplace safety have not updated their guidance since the CDC lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated people. In December the EEOC released a statement that affirmed it was okay for employers to ask about the vaccination status of their workers. Both organizations are currently revising their guidance. 

Read our full coverage for more details on what employers can ask for. 

How have vaccination levels changed since last month? 

Since April, the percent of full-vaccinated individuals in the US has increased from thirty-one to forty-one percent.

The percent of adults who have received at least one dose of the vaccine increased from seven percent from fifty-four percent to sixty-one percent.

In May, the percent of vaccines distributed to states that were administered hit a record high of eighty percent, meaning that demand is inching closer to the supply available. 

Data: Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Kaiser Family Foundation highlights covid-19 case numbers around the world. India has seen the largest increases, followed by Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Russia, and Iran. 

California governor discusses new $116.5m vaccine incentive program

Now This News has conducted an interview with California governor Gavin Newsom after the state launched the new vaccine incentive program to help fight COVID-19.

"We want to get younger folks and maybe those that are on the fence and drive to June 15 ... We fully reopen the state on June 15 and we think these $116.5m worth of incentives, driving through to June 15, may be the ticket to getting them."

UK to cancel vaccine passport plans

The UK is planning to scrap vaccine passports as a legal requirement to enter large events, according to report by The Daily Telegraph.

UK officials believe there is no chance the law will be changed to make the use of the Covid-19 status certificates mandatory within the UK, the report added.

“It’s not a case of it’s finely balanced, it’s not going to happen,” a government source told the paper. “Everyone says it’s dead.”

Hungarian vaccine plant to be fitted for production of Chinese shots - minister

Hungary's planned vaccine plant will be fitted out for production of Chinese COVID-19 shots as well as a local dose, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in China on Monday, according to state news agency MTI. Szijjarto made the announcement after talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and added that the agreement would mean a 'great strategic advantage' for Hungary.

Hungary has been the only EU country to inoculate people with China's Sinopharm vaccine, after rolling out Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, although neither shot has been granted approval for emergency use by the bloc.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government announced in December that it was planning to build a vaccine factory to help combat the pandemic. Hungary has earmarked 55 billion forints ($193.04 million) for the construction of the plant that is expected to make Hungary self-sufficient in vaccine production from the end of 2022, MTI reported. Hungary, a country of 10 million, has vaccinated 5,146,949 people as of Monday, with more than 3.6 million having received two doses, the government said. (Reuters)

Global vaccine rollout speed reaches 32M shots per day

The rate at which vaccinations being administered globally continues to grow day by day, and has now reached 32 million shots per day.

According to data from John Hopkins University, 1,891,943,541 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. 294,404,236 of those doses have been administered in the United States.



Cross-border covid-19 vaccine certifcates

Turkey and Greece agreed to recognize each other’s covid-19 vaccine certificates, the foreign ministers of the two countries announced on Monday.

“The agreement we reached today will mutually contribute positively to our tourism sectors,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Athens.

Turkey has started to work on concrete projects with a focus on action and cooperation with the Greek side and the two countries agreed on 25 items in the list of areas of cooperation including in transport, energy, environment, tourism, and trade, Cavusoglu said.

J&J takes talc case to Supreme Court

Johnson & Johnson has mainly been in the news of late over its covid-19 vaccine offering but the company has other big concerns, and are asking for a Supreme Court review of a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from using the company’s talc products.

The case features an array of high-profile attorneys, some in unusual alliances, including former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who is representing the women who sued Johnson & Johnson. The nation’s largest business groups are backing the company, and a justice’s father also makes an appearance because of his long association with the trade group for cosmetics and personal care products.

The court could say as soon as Tuesday whether it will get involved.

At the root, Johnson & Johnson argues that the company didn’t get a fair shake in a trial in state court in Missouri that resulted in an initial $4.7 billion verdict in favor of 22 women who used talc products and developed ovarian cancer.

Mark Sherman reports for AP.

Teenager given adult-only approved vaccine

A teenager in Vancouver said she was accidentally given the Moderna covid-19 vaccine instead of the Pfizer-BioNTech, which is the only one in Canada approved for children under 18. 

Noora Alenezi, 13, was so excited about getting her covid-19 vaccine that she booked her appointment as soon as health officials approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 17.

But when she showed up at the Vancouver Convention Centre with her mother and brother for her appointment, the nurse who was about to administer her shot told her she was getting the Moderna vaccine.

"I thought she knew better than us," Noora Alenezi said. "I thought it got approved or something before we came."

Full story

OECD raises growth forecasts on vaccine rollouts and US stimulus

The global economic outlook is improving as vaccine rollouts allow businesses to resume operations and as the United States pumps trillions of dollars into the world's largest economy, the OECD said on Monday, nudging its forecasts higher.

Follow the latest news on US stimulus payments

The global economy is set to grow 5.8% this year and 4.4% next year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said, raising its estimates from 5.6% and 4.0% respectively in its last forecasts released in March.

The global economy has now returned to pre-pandemic activity levels, but has not yet achieved the growth expected prior to the global health crisis, the OECD said in its latest Economic Outlook publication.

"The world economy is currently navigating towards the recovery, with lots of frictions," OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said in an editorial to the Outlook.

"The risk that sufficient post-pandemic growth is not achieved or widely shared is elevated," she added.

While vaccination campaigns were allowing advanced economies to gradually reopen for business, many emerging market economies were being held back by slow vaccination deployment and new covid-19 outbreaks, the OECD said.

The OECD said central banks in advanced economies should keep financial conditions relaxed and tolerate inflation overshooting their targets.

Leigh Thomas reports for Reuters.


Who won Ohio vaccine lottery?

In case you missed the news, Ohio was the first state to implement a lottery to increase lagging vaccination numbers, according to the Governor the plan is working. On Wednesday the first winners were announced, one for adults of $1 million and another for teenagers who will get a four-year scholarship to any Ohio college.

Abbey Bugenske was in her car when she got a call from Governor Mike DeWine to inform her that she was the first to win the state’s weekly Vax-a-Million lottery. “I thought it was a prank call initially,” said Ms Bugenske.

Greg Heilman brings you the full story.

Concerned about the 'expired' vaccine offer?

The following thread has been posted by an antibiotic-specialist. In it she explains why, if offered, you should probably not hesitate in getting that second dose of post-expiry-date vaccine.

Read on to see what she says...

Impresiive vaccine rollout but is the UK at risk of a third wave?

There are signs the UK is in the early stages of a third wave of coronavirus infections, a scientist advising the government has said. 

Prof Ravi Gupta, from the University of Cambridge, said although new cases were "relatively low" the Indian variant had caused "exponential growth". He said ending covid restrictions in England on 21 June should be postponed.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government could not rule out a delay to the planned lockdown easing.

On Sunday, the UK reported more than 3,000 new covid infections for a fifth successive day.

Full story at the BBC.


Covid-19 spread impacts on Copa America

The Copa America has been thrown into disarray after CONMEBOL removed Argentina as hosts amid the country's coronavirus situation.

Argentina were set to stage the showpiece South American tournament, starting 13 June in Buenos Aires, following the governing body's decision to strip Colombia of co-hosting rights due to anti-government protests and covid-19 concerns in the nation.

CONMEBOL had been identifying new locations in Argentina to replace Colombia ahead of next month's scheduled curtain-raiser between Lionel Messi's La Albiceleste and Chile at El Monumental.

Find out more on the Copa turmoil.

Buttigieg explains airline mask need

Mask requirements on airplanes and other transitremain in place because workers “don’t have a choice” about being there, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg argued on Sunday - as air travel boomed for Memorial Day weekend.

“Some of the differences have to do with the physical space, some of them have to do with it being a workplace where, in some of these transit and travel situations, people don’t have a choice,” Buttigieg told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week,” when asked why vaccinated Americans can go mask-free in restaurants and gyms but not planes.

Full story from David Meyer.


"Are you vaccinated, doctor?" - the questions we should be asking

The New York Times Magazine’s Ethicist columnist wrote about navigating a world in which vaccination against covid-19 is both common and contested.

'Recently, I asked my chiropractor if he had received his covid vaccine. He said no. He and his assistant do wear masks, but they see patients in a small room with a closed door. When I asked him again several weeks later, he said:

“Well, we have to talk. I am not going to get the vaccination. I don’t believe in vaccinations. My family and I are all healthy and see no need for it.”

On my way out, I asked his assistant if she had been vaccinated, and she replied:

“No, and I don’t plan to. It’s a personal decision.”

I called the next morning to explain that I wouldn’t be coming back to their practice because they weren’t vaccinated. Later that day, the chiropractor called and asked me if I would please respect his privacy and not tell anyone else about his decision not to be vaccinated.'

A very interesting insight brought to you by Kwame Anthony Appiah, one that may answer some of the doubts that have been running through your mind in recent months.

Vaccine passport face off in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is on a collision course with one of the state's biggest industries over a law he signed banning businesses from asking customers whether they've been vaccinated against covid-19.

Cruise ship operators, who sail out of Florida's large southern ports, say the order will make it make it harder for them to safely return to the seas, possibly imperiling a major economic driver in the state.

The GOP, under the influence of former President Donald Trump, has pursued cultural fights that roil its base at the expense of traditional conservative values, like free-market capitalism, with DeSantis, who is considering a presidential bid in 2024, and otherspicking fights with companies that they say undermine American values.

Alex Seitz-Wald reports for NBC.

Almost three million vaccine doses into Canada this week

Canada is set to receive 2.9 million covid-19 vaccine doses this week thanks in large part to an increase in planned deliveries from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The two pharmaceutical companies had been delivering about 2 million shots per week through the month of May, but will increase that to 2.4 million doses per week starting on Monday.

The federal government says the other 500,000 shots due to arrive this week will come from Moderna, which will deliver the jabs in two separate shipments.

The first will arrive in the middle of the week while the second is due for delivery next weekend, with the doses set for distribution to provinces and territories next week.

Full story

Sputnik Light vaccine could be arriving in India

India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories (REDY.NS) is in talks with the government to bring Russia's Sputnik Light covid-19 vaccine into the country, a company spokesperson told Reuters on Monday.

Dr. Reddy's is also in talks with the Indian government and the private sector to supply the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine, which the company expects to commercially launch in the country in the middle of next month.

Singapore to allow special access for more covid-19 vaccine brands

Earlier today, Singapore's health minister said the city-state will allow access to other covid-19 vaccines, besides the ones already approved, under a special access route (SAR) in order to enhance overall coverage.

The SAR can be used for the supply of covid-19 vaccines that are on the World Health Organization's (WHO) emergency use listing, Ong Ye Kung said. Singapore has so far approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna.


$116 million California Vaccine Lottery: how to enter and sign up

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the introduction of an enormous cash lottery aimed at convincing more of the state’s residents to get the covid-19 vaccine. The US’s most populous state is offering the largest cash incentive in the country, with ten lucky Californians set to receive a $1.5 million jackpot.

So far more than 20 million Californians are at least partially vaccinated, but there are still roughly 12 million residents who are eligible for the life-saving shots who are yet to sign up. The hope is that the California Vaccine Lottery, with a combined prize pot of $116.5 million, will convince anyone yet to be vaccinated to get the shot.

Read more on one of the latest vaccine incentive schemes.

South Korea vaccine ramp-up

On the back of the earlier news, South Korea plans to send a military air tanker to the United States this week to bring coronavirus vaccines that Washington pledged to provide to the country, the defense ministry said today.

The US plans to provide Johnson & Johnson (J&J)'s Janssen vaccine doses for 1 million people after President Joe Biden vowed to help South Korea with vaccine supplies to fully inoculate all 550,000 Korean troops. 

"We are scheduled to send a (KC-330) air refueling tanker on Wednesday, which is to return home on Saturday with the vaccines," Minister Suh Wook said during a parliamentary session. 

Vaccine hesitancy research

The CDC released data on vaccine hesitancy from across the country. Researchers conducted a survey and asked respondents how likely they were to receive a cover-19 vaccine. The responses were divided into three groups:

- Estimated hesitant

-Estimated hesitant or unsure 

-Estimated strongly hesitant.

The researchers estimate that around 13% of individuals across the US are hesitant, 20% are hesitant or unsure, and 8% are strongly hesitant.  

Eighteen of Alaska’s twenty-nine countries had the highest levels of “strong” vaccine hesitancy with an estimated eighteen percent of residents who will not get vaccinated. 

Counties were also divided into five equal groups based on  “Level of Concern” which includes: 

-Very High Concern 

-High Concern 

-Moderate Concern 

-Low Concern 

-Very Low Concern.

Among those with Very High Concern, the estimated percent of residents who will not be getting a shot rose five percent, from eight to thirteen.  For those interested in seeing how this data looks geo-spatially, check out the CDC’s interactive map. 

Vaccination table: states at the bottom

In terms of percentage of the population fully vaccinated, below are the five worst-performing states:

Georgia - 31.1%

Louisiana - 31.1%

Arkansas - 31%

Alabama - 29.2%

Mississippi - 27.1%


States that have vaccinated more than half their population

As things stand, just five US states have fully vaccinated more than 50% of their total population:

Vermont - 54.7%

Maine - 54.4%

Conneticut - 53.1%

(Photo: AFP | Kevin Hensley is given the J&J covid vaccine in coordination with the Cook County Health Dept. and the Chicago White Sox)

Massachusetts - 52.9%

Rhode Island - 51.2%

In total, 40.5% of the US population has been fully vaccinated, with 50.3% having received at least one dose.

Wuhan's institute of virology. Covid-19 source investigated?

A question that appeared to have been put to bed after the WHO's investigation, has once again resurfaced this week a growing number of scientists believing it may very well have.

CBS is the latest mainstream outlet to run the story...


Why is the Wuhan lab-leak theory coming up despite the WHO having already researched it?

A reminder that last week it was announced that President Biden had called for further review into the origins of covid-19 as United States intelligence considers two competing scenarios.

The explanation forwarded by the World Health Organisation suggests that the virus was the result of a natural mutation that allowed it to spread to humans, but there are claims that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Biden has confirmed that no new evidence has emerged to spark this investigation but he was spurred into action by the lack of certainty about the coronavirus’ origin. In the original statement released last Wednesday, Biden wrote: “As of today, the US Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question.”

William Gittins brings you more on this story that has plenty more to come.

US sending 1 million vaccine doses to South Korea this week

South Korea will get 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine this week mainly to innoculate military personnel, after the United States almost doubled a pledge made earlier this month, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Sunday. South Korea has reported a lower death toll than many comparable developed countries from covid-19, but the government has come under criticism for a comparatively slow rollout of vaccines. Less than 11 percent of its 52 million people have so far received a first dose.

Texas hospital sued over compulsory vaccinations

A group of 117 healthcare workers at a Texas hospital filed a lawsuit in state court against their employer's mandate requiring all staff to get Covid-19 vaccinations, Washington Post reported on Saturday. Employees of Houston Methodist Hospital said in the lawsuit that their employer's compulsory immunization requirement violated the Nuremberg Code, a set of standards designed after World War Two to prevent experimentation on human subjects without their consent, the Post reported.


Coronavirus US: What is the minimum age to get vaccinated?

The Moderna covid-19 vaccine was the latest to show to be effective in adolescents aged 12-17 and showed no new or major safety problems in a clinical trial, the developer said last week, potentially setting the stage for a second vaccine for school-aged children to be authorized in July.

US regulators took about a month to review a similar study from Pfizer/BioNtech, which was authorized for ages 12-15 on 10 May. If Moderna gets the same treatment, its authorization would come in early July.

Find out more about age limits on the vaccine rollout.

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Monday 31 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.