COVID-19 Update: Researchers Continue to Investigate Potential Link Between Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Blood Clots; and more

As of Friday, April 16, 2021, here are the latest COVID-19 numbers around the world, according to statistics aggregator, Worldometer. 

  • World Cases: Over 139.2 million.
  • World Deaths: 2,991,271 deaths.

Countries Outside of the US with Most Infections:

  • India: 14,465,797 confirmed cases; 175,238 deaths.
  • Brazil: 13,758,093 confirmed cases; 365,954 deaths.
  • France: 5,187,879 confirmed cases; 100,073 deaths.
  • Russia: 4,684,148 confirmed cases; 104,795 deaths.
  • UK: 4,383,572 confirmed cases; 127,225 deaths.

European Regulator Investigating Link Between J&J Vaccine and Blood Clots

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is investigating a possible link between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots. According to EMA, there are four serious cases of people who had developed blood clots following the J&J jab. A CNN report states that the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee is reviewing the blood clot cases and will announce what it has found once the investigation is complete.

India Reports More than 126,000 New COVID-19 Cases

India reported 126,789 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest single-day rise infections since the pandemic started, CNN reported.

EU Could Reach Herd Immunity by mid-July, says Vaccine Chief

The European Union is on track to achi “We now have 53 factories, seven days a week, and I will tell you today, that we will deliver the number of doses which will be necessary to achieve 70% of the population being vaccinated by mid-July.” herd immunity by mid-July, according to the EU’s vaccine chief Thierry Breton.

EU Regulators Find “Possible Link” Between AstraZeneca Vaccine and Blood Clots

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots” but said the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks. “EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) has concluded today that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria (formerly COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca),” the statement said. They added that, “In reaching its conclusion, the committee took into consideration all currently available evidence, including the advice from an ad hoc expert group.”

Oxford-AstraZeneca Pauses Pediatric Trial

A pediatric trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused pending a review by UK regulators over rare blood clot cases in adults, a University of Oxford spokesperson told CNN Tuesday. “Whilst there are no safety concerns in the pediatric clinical trial, we await additional information from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on its review of rare cases of thrombosis/thrombocytopaenia that have been reported in adults, before giving any further vaccinations in the trial,” the spokesperson said.

Moderna’s Vaccine Continues to Show Strong Antibody Levels at 6 Months

Moderna’s vaccine shows robust antibody levels at six months, according to a new research letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine. “Our data show antibody persistence and thus support the use of this vaccine in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic,” the research letter said.

National News

Friday, April 16, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 32.2 million.
  • US Deaths: 579,053 deaths.
  • California: 3,712,203 confirmed cases; 60,808 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,847,651 confirmed cases; 49,663 deaths.
  • Florida: 2,148,448 confirmed cases; 34,245 deaths.
  • New York: 2,024,251 confirmed cases; 51,665 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,292,515 confirmed cases; 23,793 deaths.

Researchers Still Investigating the J&J Vaccine/Blood Clot Link

Researchers are still investigating a potential link between severe blood clotting events, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Infections After Vaccination are “Very Rare,” According to Experts

The likelihood of being infected with COVID-19 following full vaccinations are “very rare,” according to one expert. “That’s the whole point of getting to herd immunity,” said Dr. Kawsar Talaat, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday. “Because once we get to a point where enough people in the community are vaccinated, then if somebody develops Covid in that community, the people around them are protected and it’s much harder for that person to spread the virus to somebody else, and therefore the transmission stops.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

CDC Advisers to Meet and Discuss Blood Clots in J&J Vaccine

Advisers from the US CDC will meet today to review blood clot cases among people who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “It makes sense now to pause, get a sense for whether this is a real phenomenon, whether it really is associated with the vaccine and who in particular might be at highest risk,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, told CNN.

White Hose Looks to Allay Vaccine Fears

The White House is looking to combat the challenge of vaccine hesitancy. “Building vaccine confidence and increasing access to vaccination is central to our efforts,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said at Wednesday’s, per a CNN report. “Yesterday’s action should give the American people confidence in the FDA and CDC, the thoroughness of the review process, and their commitment to transparency and protection of public health. We believe that by empowering Americans with data and facts, we will strengthen the public’s trust in government, and increase their confidence in the vaccine.”

US Still Doesn’t Know Where Transmission First Started

US intelligence are still looking into the origin of COVID-19’s transmission in the US in 2020. Intel does not know “exactly where, when, or how COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially” but remain focused on two alternative theories, that “it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident,” the nation’s top spy told Senate lawmakers on Tuesday, per a CNN report.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

CDC and FDA Urging Pause of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The US CDC and FDA are recommending that the US pause the roll out and use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 after six reported cases of “rare and severe” blood clots caused by the vaccine. Per a CNN report, all six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. “CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance,” the statement said. “FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

Monday, April 12, 2021

US COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations are Up, Deaths are Down, CDC Director Says

US CDC Director Dr. Rachelle Walensky, said in a White House briefing that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise – particularly among younger people – but deaths are declining. “CDC’s most recent data show that the seven-day average of new cases is a little more than 64,000 per day, up about 2% from the prior seven-day period,” Walensky said, per a CNN report. “Hospital admissions continue to also increase. The most recent seven-day average, about 5,300 admissions per day, is up about 7% from the previous seven day period.”

Johnson & Johnson “Aware” of Blood Clotting Cases, but Say No Casual Relationship to Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that the company is “aware” of cases of blood clots  “reported with all Covid-19 vaccines.” “Our close tracking of side effects has revealed a small number of very rare events following vaccination. At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement released on Friday said.

Hesitancy Remains High in Rural America

Data show that more than half of rural residents in the United States have received a COVID-19 vaccine or plan to. However, one in five say they will definitely not get vaccinated, according to analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Friday. “There’s nothing inherently unique about living in a rural area that makes people balk at getting vaccinated,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement. “It’s just that rural areas have a larger share of people in the most vaccine-resistant groups: Republicans and White Evangelical Christians.”

Friday, April 9, 2021

US Government Will Increase Resources to States Seeing Case Surge

A White House COVID-19 coordinator says the federal US government will augment resources to states seeing a surge in COVID-19 case. “When we see metrics trending in the wrong direction, we talk regularly with state officials to offer assistance, including deploying CDC teams to provide their expertise and resources,” Zients said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday.

“With recent increases in cases in some states, we’re intensifying those efforts even further. We will be offering to states with significant increases in cases a set of additional tools to help them to stem the spread, including, first: working with states to ensure they are using all of the doses that they have received. Today, millions of doses have been distributed, but have not yet been administered as shots in arms.”

“Second, we’re offering to surge federal personnel, including CDC response teams, FEMA, DoD and other federal personnel to support vaccinations and get more shots in arms. Third, providing additional testing capacity, including increasing the availability of diagnostic testing, as well as screening in schools and other settings. And fourth, offering more therapeutics and treatments. All of this is on top of the more than three-fold in vaccines that have gone to all states and jurisdictions since the President came into office. For a medium sized state, this translates into hundreds of thousands of additional vaccines each and every week.”

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Fauci Says New Cases at a Disturbing Level and US May Be on Verge of a Spike

Dr. Anthony Fauci Says that US COVID-19 Cases Have Plateaued at a “Disturbingly High Level” and the US is at risk of suffering a new surge. Johns Hopkins reported 61,000 new cases on Wednesday. “It’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this surge that seems to want to increase,” Fauci said, noting Europe is experiencing a spike much like the one experts worry about for the US.

 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Biden Moves Up Deadline for COVID Vaccine Eligibility

President Joe Biden has announced the deadline for every adult American to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination is being up from May 1 to April 19. The president warned that even as millions of Americans have been vaccinated against the virus thus far, the nation is not even half through protecting the entire population. “Let me explain it in a single word: Time. Time. Even moving at the record speed we’re moving at, we’re not even half way through vaccinating over 300 million Americans. This is going to take time,” President Biden said.

UK Variant Now the Dominant Strain in US

The COVID-19 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom is now the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States, US CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday. “Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” Walensky said at the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing.

CDC Forecasts Slight Decline in COVID-19 Death Rate in Coming Weeks

A CDC ensemble forecast is projecting that there will be 568,000 to 588,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by May 1. The prediction represents a slight slowing of the death rate over the next three and a half weeks.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

More than Half of US Parents Plan to Get Their Children Vaccinated Against COVID

A new Axios-Ipsos poll found that just over half of parents (52%) said they are likely to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 when a vaccine becomes available. This comes as nearly half – 47% – of respondents reported having gotten at least one vaccine dose, with 64% of respondents saying they were fully vaccinated and 36% saying they were partially vaccinated, per a CNN report.

55% of Americans Reported Seeing Family and Friends Last Week

An Axios poll revealed that 55% of Americans – a pandemic high – reported seeing family or friends last week. The poll found that 45% of respondents reported going out to eat last week and 37% visited a park, beach, or outdoor space. The poll, which was conducted April 2 through April, also found that 64% of respondents reported social distancing in the last week.

Monday, April 5, 2021

COVID Vaccinations Hit Above 3 Million Daily

Over the weekend the US reported another daily record of new COVID-19 vaccines administered – the weekly average is now above 3 million, according to data from the US CDC. As it stands right now, about 31% of the US population have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the agency.

Almost 40,000 US Kids Have Lost Parent in COVID-19

A new model estimates that almost 40,000 children in the United States have lost a parent to COVID-19, and Black children have been disproportionately affected, according to new research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics. “The number of children experiencing a parent dying of Covid-19 is staggering, with an estimated 37,300 to 43,000 already affected,” said the research letter, led by Rachel Kidman of the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University. “Black children are disproportionately affected, comprising only 14% of children in the US but 20% of those losing a parent to Covid-19.”

Fauci Doubts US will Back Vaccine Passports

Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t believe the US government will be the main driver of the vaccine passport concept.  “I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci said. “They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that.”

Friday, April 2, 2021

Fully Vaccinated People Can Resume Travel at Low Risk, Says CDC

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention released an update to travel guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves. “With millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, it is important to update the public on the latest science about what fully vaccinated people can do safely, now including guidance on safe travel,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “We continue to encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn, so we can begin to safely take steps back to our everyday lives. Vaccines can help us return to the things we love about life, so we encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity.”

Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine 100% Effective in Adolescents

Clinical trial results show that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective and well tolerated in adolescents ages 12-15, the company said today, as they prepare to issue said data to the US FDA to gain expanded emergency use authorization.

COVID-19 was Third Leading Cause of Death Last Year, Confirms CDC

The US CDC confirmed that COVID-19 was third leading cause of death in the United States last year, trailing on heart disease and cancer.

The early data, as reported by CNN, showed that the top 10 leading causes of death in 2020 were:
  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Covid-19
  4. Unintentional injury
  5. Stroke
  6. Chronic lower respiratory disease
  7. Alzheimer’s disease
  8. Diabetes
  9. Influenza and pneumonia
  10. Kidney disease

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

CDC Chief is Scared About Where US is Headed as Numbers Rise

New cases of COVID-19 have spiked in the US in the past days, according to new data, resulting in the White House and health officials pleading to the country to take more precautions until more people get vaccinated. The US has averaged 65,700 new cases a day over the last week — a 22% jump from the week prior.

Monday, March 29, 2021

CDC Extends Moratorium Into Summer Amid Pandemic

On Monday, the US CDC signed an extension to the eviction moratorium through June, a huge weight off the shoulders of millions of Americans facing financial hardships due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Former CDC Head Has a Controversial Theory on COVID Origin

Dr. Robert Redfield, former Director of the US CDC, told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he believes the origin of the pandemic started in a Chinese lab. “Now, I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely aetiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped. The other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker,” Redfield told Gupta.

Redfield’s view contradicts that of the World Health Organization, which after exploring the virus’ origins has already said a lab-related incident is “extremely unlikely.”

A Timeline of When States Plan to Begin Vaccinating Everyone 16 and Older

Per a CNN report, here’s a timeline on when US states plan to open up vaccinations to everyone eligible for COVID-19 vaccination under the US FDA’s emergency use authorization.

  • March 29: Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, North Dakota, Louisiana
  • March 30: Minnesota
  • March 31: Indiana
  • April 1: Montana, Connecticut
  • April 2: New Hampshire
  • April 5: Michigan, Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey
  • April 7: North Carolina
  • April 9: Missouri
  • April 12: Illinois, Kentucky
  • April 15: California
  • April 19: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
  • April 27: Maryland
  • April, no set date: New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming
  • May 1: Wisconsin, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Nebraska, Kansas, Hawaii, Delaware, Alabama, Pennsylvania
  • May 3: South Carolina

The only four remaining states who have yet to announce such plans are:

  • Arkansas
  • New York
  • Wyoming
  • South Carolina

Thursday, March 25, 2021

President Biden to Announce New US Vaccination Goal

President Joe Biden is expected to announce his new vaccination goal today. Biden will hold a news conference today at 1:15 pm ET. Last week, President Biden hinted he could double his original goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days.

Counties with Large Minority Populations Harder Hit by COVID

US counties with a high Black, Asian and Hispanic populations were hit harder by Covid-19 in the early months of the pandemic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by CNN. The study found that early in the pandemic, about 11.4% of all counties had a high Covid-19 incidence rate, compared with nearly 29% of counties with an above-average share of Asian residents and nearly 28% of counties with an above-average share of Black residents.

Pfizer Begins Vaccine Child for Young Children

Duke University researchers have started testing Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12. Pfizer told company told CNN at least two children have already gotten their first shot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

CDC Investigating Cases of Vaccinated People Getting Infected

Cases of people getting infected following getting fully vaccinated are “expected”, according to the US CDC, who is tracking that data as more people get vaccinated, according to a CNN report.

CDC Director Worried About Latest COVID-19 Data

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that the latest Covid-19 data in the United States has her worried. “Cases continue to increase slightly. The most recent seven-day average is nearly 55,000 per day, up about 3% from the prior seven-day average. The most recent seven-day average of new hospitalizations is about 4,600 per day and is similar to the data on Monday. And the latest seven-day average of deaths — approximately 968 per day — has also remained flat this week,” Walensky said during a White House virtual briefing on Wednesday. “I continue to be worried about the latest data, and the apparent stall we are seeing in the trajectory of the pandemic,” Walensky said. “CDC is watching these numbers very closely.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Independent Safety Board “Concerned” by AstraZeneca Vaccine Data

An independent safety board has expressed concern over AstraZeneca’s announcements of its latest safety data. “Late Monday, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) notified NIAID, BARDA, and AstraZeneca that it was concerned by information released by AstraZeneca on initial data from its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial,” the statement says.
“The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.
“We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

More CDC Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People

The US CDC says that fully vaccinated people can visit unvaccinated family members and friends without restrictions – but visits should be limited to only one unvaccinated household at a time.

Monday, March 22, 2021 

  • US Cases: Over 30.5 million.
  • US Deaths: 555,339 deaths.
  • California: 3,642,806 confirmed cases; 57,186 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,758,468 confirmed cases; 47,595 deaths.
  • Florida: 2,008,349 confirmed cases; 32,757 deaths.
  • New York: 1,835,861 confirmed cases; 49,699 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,221,863 confirmed cases; 23,357 deaths.

AstraZeneca Vaccine is 79% Effective, According to US Data

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is 79% effective Against symptomatic disease and 100% effective against severe disease, according to new, US-based clinical trial data. Importantly, the trial, which enrolled more than 32,000 participants, showed that the vaccine was well-tolerated and identified no safety concerns, the company said. An independent committee “found no increased risk of thrombosis or events characterized by thrombosis among the 21,583 participants receiving at least one dose of the vaccine,” according to AstraZeneca.

CDC Director Warns Variants Could Spark a Surge

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she’s worried the United States could see “another avoidable surge” of COVID-19 cases if people stop following safety protocols such as mask wearing, and social distancing. “As I’ve stated before, the continued relaxation of prevention measures while cases are still high and while concerning variants are spreading rapidly throughout the United States is a serious threat to the progress we have made as a nation,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Monday.

Biden Administration Announces Another Federal Community Center

The Biden administration announced the development of another federally-run community vaccination center, another step toward of an administration goal of providing vaccine equity. “Today we’re taking another step in building an equitable and efficient response. The state of Washington will receive its first federal community vaccination site,” said White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt.

Friday, March 19, 2021

CDC Updates School Distancing Guidelines

The US CCDC is updating its physical distancing guidelines for children in schools from six feet to three feet.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Biden Administration Considering Sending AstraZeneca Doses to Mexico/Canada

The Biden administration may send some AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that are currently stockpiled to Mexico and Canada. “I’d say we’ve made good progress, but the details, figures, provisions, won’t be known until Friday,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters on Tuesday morning, according to Reuters. “We requested as many (AstraZeneca doses) as possible.”

COVID Reinfections More Common in Elderly

COVID-19 reinfections are relatively rare, but when they do occur, it’s more common in people 65 years and older, according to a new study published in The Lancet. “Given what is at stake, the results emphasize how important it is that people adhere to measures implemented to keep themselves and others safe, even if they have already had Covid-19,” study co-author Dr. Steen Ethelberg of the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark said in a statement.

CDC Expected to Release Physical Distancing Guidelines for Schools

The US CDC is expected to update its physical distancing guidelines for schools from six feet down to three feet on Friday, an administration official confirmed to CNN. “Indeed, because six feet has been such a challenge there, science has leaned in and there are now emerging studies on the question between three feet and six feet,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

“Variants of Concern”

Two COVID-19 strains first detected in California are officially “variants of concern,” according to the CDC and reported by CNN. These variants are up to 20% more transmissible, and may be more resistant to treatments. The CDC did not state whether the vaccines will protect against these variants.

NIH Director Says its Unlikely AstraZeneca Vaccine Causes Clots

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said on Wednesday that is seems “fairly unlikely” that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is causes blood clots, per a CNN report. “Everything that I have heard so far – but we’re waiting for the European Medicines Agency report tomorrow – would indicate that this is one of those things where clotting is a fairly common medical problem and you have 17 million people getting a vaccine, some of them are going to have various medical problems just because that was going to happen to them anyway,” Collins told CNN on Wednesday.

Health Department Expands COVID-19 School Testing

The US Department of Health and Human Services will send $10 billion to states to help implement COVID-19 surveillance testing in K-12 schools across the country. The initiative is part of the Biden administration’s plan to optimize school safety amid the pandemic.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Asymptomatic Cases in US May Be Far Higher than Official Count, Study Finds

A JAMA study suggests that the number of US adults who have contracted COVID-19 could be twice the number reflected in the official case count. In a large-scale study comprised of 61,910 people, researchers assessed the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in otherwise healthy US adults. According to the results, 4,094 – or 6.6% – of them were positive, despite never reporting that they experienced symptoms.

More People Flying

The Transportation Security Administration screened 6.5 million people at airports across the US between Thursday and Monday – the biggest five-day period of air travel since the start of the pandemic.

White House Trying to Avoid Case Surge

The White House is trying to prevent a potential fourth surge of COVID-19 cases as more transmissible variants are spreading nationwide. The White House is drawing up plans to surge vaccines to hotspots to mitigate the virus’ spread and protect vulnerable populations. “Everything we do is with the thought in mind that there might be another surge,” a senior administration official said to CNN.

Monday, March 15, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 30 million.
  • US Deaths: 547,301 deaths.
  • California: 3,623,603 confirmed cases; 55,813 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,730,374 confirmed cases; 46,697 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,967,808 confirmed cases; 32,283 deaths.
  • New York: 1,781,536 confirmed cases; 49,203 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,204,409 confirmed cases; 23,122 deaths.

Fauci on CDC Guidelines

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN anchor Jake Tapper that federal COVID-19 guidelines “will be much more liberal” by the Fourth of July if US cases drop as more Americans are vaccinated.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Biden Directs States to Open Vaccinations to All Adults by May

President Joe Biden will order all states to allow all adults to receive vaccines by May 1. He provided the date of July 4 where all Americans can again celebrate Independence Day in person. “After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said.

CDC Releases Guidance for Childcare Programs

The CDC updated its guidance for childcare programs during the pandemic. The guidance includes mask wearing for children 2 years and older, and air ventilation. “Today, CDC is again releasing updated guidance based on the most recent science,” Walensky said. “That science includes additional evidence showing that, when used consistently and correctly, prevention strategies such as mask-wearing, staying home when sick, and good hand hygiene can allow childcare programs to operate safely and reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021

President Biden to Deliver Prime-Time Address to Commemorate Shut Down

President Joe Biden is expected to deliver his first prime-time address from the White House to commemorate one year of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic and the nation’s shut down. President Biden will discuss the next steps in fighting the pandemic. “Tomorrow night, I’m going to (deliver a) prime-time address to the American people and talk about what we’ve been through as a nation this past year, but more importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next,” Biden said on Wednesday. “I’m going to launch the next phase of the Covid response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people.”

Biden to Sign COVID-19 Relief Bill Today

President Joe Biden will be signing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package at 1:30 pm ET today, according to the White House. The bill arrived at the White House last night, and the president decided he wanted to sign it as soon as possible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

US House to Vote on COVID Relief Bill

The 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is expected to pass Congress on Wednesday. The bill will send direct payments of $1,400 to millions of Americans financially impacted by the pandemic. It will also extend health insurance subsidies and nutrition and rental assistance, and provide billions of dollars for K-12 schools to ensure a smooth transition back into physical classrooms. “Leadership matters. Vaccinations are up, infections are down, $1,400 survival checks are on the way, and that is only the beginning,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, said on Tuesday.

CDC Monitoring Vaccinated Pregnant Women

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is aggregating data to ensure the safety of pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19 through its registry called V-safe, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Several thousands of pregnant individuals have actually gotten vaccinated, and the CDC has established a V-safe pregnancy registry to follow the outcomes among vaccinated pregnant individuals,” Fauci said.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 29.7 million.
  • US Deaths: 540,843 deaths.
  • California: 3,608,376 confirmed cases; 54,621 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,704,672 confirmed cases; 45,571 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,944,995 confirmed cases; 31,683 deaths.
  • New York: 1,732,927 confirmed cases; 48,579 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,198,335 confirmed cases; 23,014 deaths.

Studies Show Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccines Protects Against Brazil Variant

A new study indicates that the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine can protect people against the concerning coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil. The study, conducted by researchers at Pfizer, BioNTech and the University of Texas Medical Branch, showed that the vaccine is able to neutralize the Brazil variant “roughly” as well as it could neutralize an earlier strain of the virus from January 2020, per a CNN report.

Airline Industry Pushing Back Against CDC Guidelines

The United States Airline Industry is pushing back against the CDC guidelines that fully vaccinated people should still not travel. “Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during Monday’s White House coronavirus response briefing.

Research Needed on the Mental Health Toll of the Pandemic?

After a year of turmoil – not only physically, but mentally and emotionally – US lawmakers are now calling for research into the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on mental health. Democratic senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tim Kaine of Virginia exclusively told CNN that they plan to introduce the Covid-19 Mental Health Research Act on Tuesday afternoon. The legislation, per the report, would direct $100 million annually for five years to the National Institute of Mental Health to fund research on the mental health impactof the pandemic.

First Case of South African Variant Found in Michigan

The first US case of the South African variant B.1.351 has been detected in the state of Michigan in a male child, according to Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories. The case marks the only known case in Michigan at this time, though it’s possible additional cases have yet to be detected.

Monday, March 8, 2021

CDC Releases Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely visit with other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances. However, safety precautions are still needed. “Covid-19 continues to exert a tremendous toll on our nation. Like you, I want to be able to return to everyday activities and engage with our friends, families, and communities,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the White House briefing Monday. “Science, and the protection of public health must guide us as we begin to resume these activities. Today’s action represents an important first step. It is not our final destination.”

The guidelines add that fully vaccinated people must:

  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk
  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.

COVID-19 Relief Package on Cusp of Passing

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue bill has passed the Senate and now heads back to the House for a final vote. Per a CNN report, the bill includes: extended help for the unemployed, money to reopen schools, aid for stricken small businesses, child tax credits and health insurance subsidies.

A Promising Statistic

The CDC says there are now more people in the US fully vaccinated against COVID-19 than the total number of confirmed infections in the US. As of Monday, 30,686,881 people have received two doses, according to the CDC.

Friday, March 5, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 29.4 million.
  • US Deaths: 531,713 deaths.
  • California: 3,582,677 confirmed cases; 53,041 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,679,886 confirmed cases; 44,708 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,924,144 confirmed cases; 31,273 deaths.
  • New York: 1,701,431 confirmed cases; 48,184 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,191,114 confirmed cases; 22,853 deaths.

Economy Added 379,000 New Jobs Last Month

The US is showing signs of improvement. A report shows that 379,000 jobs last month, exceeding the expectations of economists. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.2% – down from 6.3% in January. Economists had predicted it would stay flat.

Miami Beach Mayor Concerned About Spring Break Surge

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber is concerned about a possible coronavirus spike centered around spring breakers visiting the area.“We’re very concerned. You know, a lot of things are happening simultaneously. You have the variant down here, and we still are having sometimes dozens of deaths a day in our county,” Gelber said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Fauci Says Relaxing Restrictions Now is “Inexplicable”

The decision to rollback safety measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is “inexplicable,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you’re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines — particularly when we’re dealing with anywhere from 55 to 70,000 infections per day in the United States,” Fauci told CNN.

Epidemiologist Concerned About Relaxing Guidelines Given Variants

One epidemiologist is concerned about states easing COVID-19 safety guidelines given the rise of coronavirus variants. “Expect in the next two to three weeks we’re going to see a number of areas in this country, I think, that will follow exactly what we’ve seen in Europe and the Middle East. We’re going to see a surge in cases. And everything that the governors are doing right now to relax all the public health recommendations that we’ve made are only going to be a major invitation of this virus to spread faster and farther,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

EU Regulators Begin Review of Russian Vaccine

The European Union’s vaccine regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is reviewing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. “The decision to start the rolling review is based on results from laboratory studies and clinical studies in adults” the EMA said in a statement on Thursday. “These studies indicate that Sputnik V triggers the production of antibodies and immune cells that target the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and may help protect against Covid-19.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Texas Lifts Mask Mandate

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate in Texas, despite warnings from health officials not to ease COVID-19 safety protocols. Gov. Abbott also announced that businesses of any type will be allowed to open at 100% capacity starting March 10. “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.”

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Tells Catholics to Avoid J&J Vaccine

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops – which is the official group representing the Catholic Church in the US – is urging Catholics to avoid taking Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, saying the vaccine “raises questions about the moral permissibility”, per a Forbes report. The group says the J&J vaccine should be avoided since it was “developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines.”

In response, J&J issued a statement to Forbes saying “there is no fetal tissue” in its vaccine, adding the company used an “engineered cell-line system that enables the rapid production of new viral vaccines to combat many of the most dangerous infectious diseases,” though it did not offer further specifics on its process.

CDC Director Warns Americans About Pandemic “Fatigue”

With the distribution of now three approved vaccines for COVID-19, and the development of others, the US is about to benefit from “historic scientific success”, but Americans must not give into pandemic “fatigue,” warnes Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC. “We are just on the verge of capitalizing on the culmination of a historic scientific success, the ability to vaccinate the country in just a matter of three or four more months. How this plays out is up to us,” Dr. Walensky said.

J&J Vaccine for Children Under 18 May Be Available by September

Johnson & Johnson is likely to produce a COVID-19 for children under the age of 18 by September, said its CEO Alex Gorsky. “I think it’s likely to occur right in that timeline. The good news is, is that the FDA is already working with companies to establish the clear regulatory guidelines, so that the appropriate data can be collected,” Gorsky told David Ignatius during a Washington Post Live event on Wednesday. Gorsky added that that this particular vaccine has been used in lower age groups previously. “The AdVac 26 was used extensively among broad age groups, young and old in Africa when we were developing this for other conditions such as Ebola and HIV. So it gives us reasons to be optimistic regarding the safety profile in that in that patient population, but we still have to do the clinical work.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 29.2 million.
  • US Deaths: 525,799 deaths.
  • California: 3,555,010 confirmed cases; 52,213 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,657,614 confirmed cases; 44,072 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,909,221 confirmed cases; 30,583 deaths.
  • New York: 1,680,688 confirmed cases; 47,827 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,186,696 confirmed cases; 22,735 deaths.

Merck to Work with J&J to Manufacturer Vaccine

President Joe Biden is expected to announce that competitors Merck and Johnson & Johnson will help manufacturer Merck’s COVID-19, according to administration officials who reported the news to CNN.

Almost 70% of Americans Want to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

An Axios-Ipsos poll shows that nearly 70% of Americans want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once its availability to them.

NYC Mayor Pushes to Expand Vaccine Eligibility

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for New York state to expand vaccination eligibility to include sanitation workers, lifeguards, district attorneys, courtroom staff, board of elections staff, building inspectors and New York City Housing Authority frontline staff among others, according to a CNN report.

More Americans Feel Hopeful About the Pandemic

More Americans feel better about the pandemic now compared to last year, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos. The poll found that 48% of Americans said that hopeful best describes their mood – which more than doubles the 20% who felt that way over the past year.

Monday, March 1, 2021

J&J Vaccine Approved

On Saturday, the US FDA officially issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the third vaccine to be approved for the prevention of COVID-19. “The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for COVID-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic, which has claimed over half a million lives in the United States,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “The FDA, through our open and transparent scientific review process, has now authorized three COVID-19 vaccines with the urgency called for during this pandemic, using the agency’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.”

CDC Director Concerned About Virus’ Trajectory Shift

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said she is “deeply concerned” about the potential shift in COVID-19 cases. “Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response team briefing on Monday. “Please stay strong in your conviction,” Walensky said. “Continue wearing your well-fitting mask and taking the other public health prevention actions that we know work.”

COVID-19: January/February 2021 Round-up