An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration is holding a full-day meeting Friday to review the data on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidates and is likely to give the vaccine a thumbs up, leading to an expected FDA approval for the adult shot within the vaccine runs the next couple of days. An FDA report released early Wednesday found this to be safe and effective.
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to make 100 million doses of its vaccine available in the US by June, including 20 million by the end of March. These doses will be added to the 300 million doses Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna each promised to deliver by the end of July.
In a U.S. study that benefited all ethnic, racial, and age groups roughly equally, the vaccine was shown to be 72% effective and was shown to be 85% effective at preventing the most serious disease .
In the meantime, Pfizer-BioNTech will begin testing a booster shot to combat COVID-19 variants, the companies said Thursday. The announcement came a day after new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that two doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine reduced symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% in all age groups.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, warned people not to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if it should be available soon while waiting for the slightly more effective Pfizer or Moderna shots. Fauci also told NBC News that a third vaccine was “nothing but good news”.
Also in the news:
►The Food and Drug Administration enables Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be shipped and stored in freezers commonly found in pharmacies, rather than in the freezers originally required after data from the company showed that the Vaccine in the standard remains stable freezing temperatures for up to two weeks. Thursday’s decision will make it easier to distribute and administer the vaccine.
► A Senate official ruled Thursday that a $ 15 minimum wage regulation cannot be included in the COVID-19 relief package. Senate Democrats use reconciliation to pass the bill, bypassing filibuster rules that require 60 votes, but reconciliation also triggers rules that require provisions of the bill to be tied directly to the budget. The house is ready to adopt the aid package on Friday.
►Two U.S. Navy warships in the Middle East returned to the port of Bahrain after being hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, officials said Friday. A dozen people aboard the USS San Diego, which carries Sailors and Marines, tested positive for COVID-19 while “several” tested positive on the USS Philippine Sea, Cmdr said. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the 5th Fleet.
►Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday extended Oregon’s declaration of emergency through May 2 as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to occur across the state but still hundreds a day.
►After six straight weeks of declining new COVID-19 infections in the US, daily cases have plateaued in many states, but hospital admissions and deaths continue to decline, according to Johns Hopkins University.
►The World Health Organization reported Thursday that case rates across Europe had halved from their winter peak.
📈 Today’s numbers: There are more than 28.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 508,100 deaths in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: more than 112.9 million cases and 2.5 million deaths. According to the CDC, more than 91.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed and about 68.2 million administered.
📘 What we read: Surgery for a child, payment of a loan, utility bills: we asked Americans how they would spend $ 1,400 on stimulus checks. That’s what they said.
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NYC School Chancellor, who lost 11 family members to COVID-19, resigns
New York Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said Friday he had stepped down from his role, citing the need to grieve his 11 family members and close friends who had died of COVID-19.
“I feel like I can take that time now because of the place we are and the work we have done together,” he said.
Most of the city’s schools were heralded for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Carranza said the system had reopened safely to children of key workers, distributed over half a million electronic devices for distance learning and 80 million meals to his Student delivered.
“We have stabilized the system in a way that nobody thought possible,” he added. “The light, my New Yorkers, really is at the end of the tunnel.”
Carranza will be succeeded by Meisha Ross Porter, Executive Superintendent of the Bronx, who will become the first black woman to lead the country’s largest school district.
Mass shootings reached a record high in the pandemic year. Can vaccines bring peace in 2021?
The mass shootings rose nearly 50% in 2020, in large part due to a pandemic year of crippling unemployment, violent protests and idle youth. With COVID-19 cases falling and the introduction of vaccines, some criminologists are hoping the economy will recover and schools that have reopened will bring those numbers down in 2021.
Initial results are promising, says Mark Bryant, founder of the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks trends in gun incidents. In the first seven weeks of this year there were 63 mass shootings – defined as four or more people injured or killed in an incident – which, if continued, would show a decline from 2020, he said.
“I hope last year turns out to be an anomaly,” said Bryant. “The stresses from work to illness over the past year were not just an urban or a rural issue. We saw bumps in cities in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as Chicago and Philadelphia. “
– Marco della Cava and Mike Stucka
Queen Elizabeth is pushing vaccines as the UK to prioritize people 40+
People aged 40 and over will next line up for the vaccine in the UK, the country’s health authorities said. The BBC reported that the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee had opted for an age-based rollout to prevent a slowdown from a “more complex” job-related rollout.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth urged the public to get vaccinated, saying the process was quick and painless. “Well, when you have the vaccine that you think you are protected from, which I think is very important,” the Queen said on Friday.
The 94-year-old monarch said she understood that some might hesitate, but that “they should think of other people rather than themselves”.
“We have to fight this together,” says Joe Biden to the governors
When Washington State Governor Jay Inslee spoke to Donald Trump last year about the previous administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, then-President Inslee called a snake.
“I can still be one,” said the governor with a chuckle on Thursday when asked how things changed under President Joe Biden. “But I’m a well-groomed snake.”
During the National Governors Association’s winter meeting, practically held on Thursday, Biden called states the “laboratories of democracy” to indicate their independence. However, he stressed the need for a national approach to the pandemic and other issues because “so many of our challenges do not stop at our border with our states”.
“We have to fight this together,” Biden told the governors.
– Maureen Groppe and Courtney Subramanian
“Massive pandemic of mentally ill young people” is attributed to COVID-19
Dr. Brian Alverson, director of the pediatric hospital medicine department at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, said he saw what he described as a “massive pandemic of mentally ill adolescents” in the Providence Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. Many of them were admitted to Hasbro Children’s.
The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has published articles on the nationwide phenomenon, partly due to social isolation and loneliness.
“And when I say massive, I don’t mean to underestimate that,” said Alverson. One Friday, “when I was looking at the hospital census, three-quarters of the hospital were teenagers trying to injure themselves with a mental illness.”
– G. Wayne Miller, the Providence Journal
Dr. Anthony Fauci would like to answer questions about “COVID long-distance drivers”.
The US government is launching a nationwide initiative to screen COVID-19 patients who have residual symptoms commonly known as “long-distance COVID drivers” months after recovery, said Dr. Anthony Fauci in a briefing at the White House on Wednesday.
The nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases also revealed a scientific name for the new syndrome – Post Acute Sequelae from SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) – that further legitimizes the suffering population.
“(There are) many important questions that now remain unanswered, which we hope that this series of initiatives will ultimately answer,” said Fauci.
The announcement comes after a study published on JAMA Network Open last week that found that around 30% of COVID-19 patients reported persistent symptoms for up to 9 months after the illness.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Featuring: Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY; The Associated Press