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Doctor Giving Coronavirus Vaccine

Half Of US Adults Could Be Vaccinated By This Weekend 

According to an adviser from the White House, the United States is currently on track to have half of all adults vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 shot by this weekend, however, the adviser also emphasized that this doesn’t mean America is done with the pandemic. 

“We do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven’t been vaccinated. They’re not there yet, and you don’t win the war until you bring everybody over with you.”

President Joe Biden recently announced the goal of getting vaccinations open for all adults in all 50 states by April 19th, a task that is becoming more and more likely to occur as vaccine supplies increase, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser who recently spoke to the press regarding the pandemic. 

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has claimed that around 70-85% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach a proper herd immunity, and many states have a large population of people who don’t want to be vaccinated. Current data projects that certain states will likely be done vaccinating all willing adults by mid-June, while others could take until the end of 2021. 

Some states have been criticized for prematurely lifting mask mandates and other procedures meant to curb the spread of the virus due to the fact that they feel the vaccine’s release is enough to re-open the world. Fauci claims this couldn’t be more false: 

“It’s too premature to declare victory, we’ve got to continue to hang in there a bit longer by continuing with the public health measures.”

Slavitt claims that the US is more than equipped to stay on course with vaccination efforts, which is a great sign for the future of the nation in regards to this pandemic’s end. This is great news considering more and more health experts are growing concerned with the number of variants of the virus appearing throughout all 50 states. 

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who recently discussed how “the daily rate of new cases has been on the rise over the last four weeks due to highly transmissible variants like B117 spreading.” According to Walensky within the past week alone five states have accounted for 44% of new Covid-19 cases. 

Within the past week there have been around 453,000 new cases in the US; New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey accounting for 198,000 of those cases. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, “Michigan had the highest rate per capita and is leading the country in terms of new cases. Along with Michigan, Minnesota is also reporting some of the highest new cases in the country, however both states have high levels of vaccination.”

Many health experts are also discussing how to monitor which US citizens have been vaccinated and which haven’t in a post-pandemic world. Many believe that vaccine passports, or some form of official written proof of vaccination, should be required to enter into certain highly populated spaces. New York, for example, is currently testing out “Excelsior passes” to grant vaccinated citizens access to sports events and concerts at limited capacity. 

Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Michael Osterholm, recently claimed that “in addition to vaccination documentation debates, the US will also have to contend with ‘long Covid,’ a condition in which even patients with relatively mild illnesses could suffer symptoms long after their infection.”

One in three people who have been infected with Covid-19 have reported longer mental health and neurological symptoms, according to a recent study, so the US will have to continue to fund research that can help those individuals in their continued Covid journey after the pandemic comes to its eventual end.

US Covid-19 Update: All 50 States To Make Vaccine’s Eligible For All By May 1st

All 50 states have announced plans to open up Covid-19 vaccinations for all adults by May 1st.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

AstraZeneca Vaccine 79% Effective Against Symptomatic Covid-19, According To New US Study

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has proven to have a 79% efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19, and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalizations, according to a new US study.

The findings from a new Phase 3 trial included more than 32,000 participants and came after many European nations began delaying the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. Many doctors and healthcare experts were quick to warn against delaying the distribution of these vaccines, because the blood clot risks were just as high as any other vaccine, and the delays are preventing vulnerable parties from being protected against the virus.

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“The trial showed that the vaccine was well-tolerated and identified no safety concerns. An independent committee found no increased risk of thrombosis (blood clots) or events characterized by thrombosis among the 21,583 participants receiving at least one dose of the vaccine,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.

Ruud Dobber is the president of AstraZeneca’s biophermaceutical’s business unit who recently spoke with the media about the company’s future plans for rolling out their vaccine in the US.

“We plan to apply for emergency use authorization from the US FDA in April. If approved we’ll be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the US.”

The University of Oxford, which helped develop the vaccine, claims that the “new findings add to previous trial data from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, as well as real-world impact data from the United Kingdom.” 79% of trial participants were White, 22% were Hispanic, 8% were Black, 4% were Native American and 4% were Asian.

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“About 20% of participants were 65 years and over and approximately 60% had conditions linked with higher risk of severe Covid-19, such as diabetes, severe obesity or heart disease. In patients 65 years and older, vaccine efficacy was 80%, — echoing the overall trial results — which is notable as some countries initially did not authorize the vaccine for use in this older age group, citing a lack of data from earlier trials,” AstraZeneca said.

“It is clear this vaccine has very good efficacy, remember that 60% was, prior to any trials being started, regarded as a good target, and that this efficacy does not show a notable decline at older ages. Previous assertions that the vaccine may be ineffective in older ages are totally unjustifiable,” according to Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School for Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, spoke with the press about how this new data was great news for Americans and the rest of the world: “I’m pretty confident now AstraZeneca will apply for, request emergency use authorization, so we’ll have that vaccine released to the American public. Despite recent pauses in the vaccine’s rollout, this is one of our workhorse vaccines that we’re expecting for Africa and Latin America. So this is good news also because it’s reaffirming for the vaccines used for global health as well.”

Why The Travel Industry Is Ready To Embrace Covid-19 Vaccination Passports

Many airlines are already looking into implementing a vaccine passport requirement to motivate safe travel as more individuals receive their doses around the world.

Alaska Becomes First State To Allow Everyone Over 16 To Be Vaccinated 

Alaska has become the first state in the US to allow Covid-19 vaccines to any adult who wants one, as well as individuals over the age of 16, according to Governor Mike Dunleavy, who took to Twitter this week to make the announcement. 

“Effective immediately, Alaska will become the first state in the nation to allow anyone over the age of 16 to get the Covid-19 vaccine. This marks a significant step forward in our efforts to put this virus behind us.” 

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In order to be eligible you must be living or working in Alaska. 16 is also  the lowest age authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use of the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine are currently approved for individuals 18 and older. With any vaccine further research always needs to be done in order for it to be approved for teenagers and children because their bodies are constantly developing and changing, so scientists need to ensure that the doses will be just as effective. 

Most states are still only vaccinating specific higher risk groups first, such as senior citizens, essential workers, and individuals with underlying medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of contracting the virus. 

“Nearly one year ago the first positive Covid-19 case arrived in Alaska. Today, our state – because of the undaunted efforts of Alaskans – is leading the nation in vaccination efforts.” 

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Governor Dunleavy initially opened up vaccines to anyone 55 and older in the beginning of March. That policy also included essential workers, such as teachers, agriculture workers, first responders, other healthcare workers, and the media. Individuals with underlying medical conditions have always been a priority as with the rest of the nation. 

Alaska was initially allocated with 288,000 vaccine doses and now about 170,993 people have received at least one of their two shots, and about 119,631 people are fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the state has given the most total doses per 100,000 people in the country. With 41,376 doles out, it is one of just two states over 40,000 doses given per 100,000 people – along with New Mexico.” The state of Louisiana has also approved of the vaccine to be given to individuals 16 and older, however, the state is only allowing individuals that young to be vaccinated if they have underlying health conditions that put them at a greater risk. 

Alaska has been one of the luckiest states in the US throughout this pandemic with a total of around 60,000 confirmed cases and 291 deaths; the state is ranked number 46 in terms of states with the most cases. Vermont is the only other state that’s recorded fewer deaths as well. The increase in distribution of these vaccines is a great sign for Americans who are ready and hopeful that the world will start to return to a sense of normalcy within the next few months.

CDC Expected To Release New Guidelines For Vaccinated Americans 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced plans to release new guidelines this week specifically for how vaccinated Americans can safely alter their behaviors and live their lives safely without endangering themselves or other individuals who are still waiting to be vaccinated. 

The recommendations are expected to tell vaccinated individuals that they can host small, at-home gatherings with other fully vaccinated individuals. Two senior White House officials involved in drafting these guidelines spoke with the press about these projected guidelines. 

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Fully vaccinated people will still be asked to wear masks and social distance in public until a greater herd immunity is met. It’s expected that these new guidelines will officially be released this Thursday. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently hinted at the possibility of new CDC rules during a press conference this week. 

“I use the example of a daughter coming in from out of town who is doubly vaccinated, and a husband and wife doubly vaccinated, and maybe a next-door neighbor who you know are doubly vaccinated. Small gatherings in the home of people, I think you can clearly feel that the risk — the relative risk — is so low that you would not have to wear a mask, that you could have a good social gathering within the home,” Fauci explained. 

Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the CDC who spoke at the same conference as Fauci and warned that vaccinated Americans still need to be vigilant when it comes to abiding by health and safety procedures in public. 

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“While we may have guidance at the individual level, as Dr. Fauci has suggested, I think we all need to keep our eye on the fact that we’re not out of the woods yet.” 

Average daily coronavirus cases have fallen by roughly 65% since the start of January, however, new cases are still steadily appearing at an average rate of about 70,000 per day. “If Americans suddenly decided that because cases are going down, they felt more comfortable eating inside at a restaurant or socializing outside their pods, we could potentially erase the reductions that have been made over the past few weeks,” Dr. Kate Langwig, an infectious-disease ecologist, said. 

For now, Walensky wants Americans to know that “the goal is not to sort of open up travel just because vaccinations are scaling up. Instead, the Biden administration has set its sights on making sure that we are in a place to be out of this pandemic within President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office — roughly by the end of April. However, at 70,000 cases per day, we’re not in that place right now.”

“The setting in a home of a small group of people having dinner together, all of whom are vaccinated, is very different when you step out the door and go into a society that has 70,000 new infections per day,” Fauci said.

Americans Covid-19 Vaccine

Greece And United Kingdom In Talks To Begin Implementing Vaccine Passports For Travel 

Greece is currently in technical talks with the United Kingdom over allowing Britons carrying a vaccine passport entry into the nation. Concerns from the rest of the European Union over new strains and a slowing of vaccine rollouts, however, may delay those discussions. 

Haris Theoharis is Greece’s tourism minister who recently spoke with the media about how he hopes to work with Boris Johnson’s current roadmap for allowing UK residents to travel, however, it’s unclear whether or not Greece and Brussels will break from their current restrictions that would prevent this sort of travel from occurring. 

Non-essential travel into most European countries has been widely prohibited to curb the spread of Covid-19. Of the European Union’s 27-member states, all leaders agreed that these restrictions must remain in place for the time being. 

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Theoharis, however, recently confirmed that Anglo-Greek technical teams were working on how to create a system in which mass travel could resume properly if facilitated correctly. 

“We’ll try to dovetail with the plan that has been announced in the UK. May 17th has been a set date and we certainly want to be ready by then. The roadmap was a very, very good move by the UK government … planning is a prerequisite for the travel industry.”

The EU’s head of state and government are projected to discuss vaccination rollouts this week, however, they don’t believe that these discussions mean travel should resume anytime soon. The number one priority is getting all citizens vaccinated and bringing this pandemic to a hopeful end. Greece and a few other member states have been in talks to separate themselves from the EU’s current travel restrictions in order to stimulate their economies more. 

Theoharis claims that his government would be pushing for a more organized agreement regarding vaccine passports at the EU level to allow travel to resume. France and Germany have been very vocal over their hesitation to implement vaccination passports for travel mainly because not everyone is vaccinated, and there’s not enough information about how the virus can be transmitted among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups of people. 

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“All we are saying is that with this system we’d be instituting two lanes in airports as it were. The vaccination lane and the non-vaccination lane which would facilitate travel quite a bit. We have to move fast. It’s already been decided that this certificate will be created on a Pan-European basis even if it is just for health reasons,” he explained. 

Theoharis went on to explain that Greece “wants to finish what we started and finish it quickly and briskly and at the same time aim high for the travel and tourism industry. There are a number of misconceptions around the certificate, the first being that it would be discriminatory. It’s not, because it’s just an alternative to negative testing.”

“The idea that it breaches privacy laws is also wrong because, if you prefer, you can travel as if you are not vaccinated and always get tested. A certificate simply allows somebody to travel without needing to test all the time. In that sense it’s hassle- free and cost-efficient. And on the health front there is greater probability a vaccinated person has fewer chances of spreading the disease than someone who is negative at some point in time.”

It’s unclear when Greece would begin implementing these new travel policies, if at all, because as mentioned before, the number one priority among all EU government bodies is getting everyone vaccinated and ending the pandemic once and for all. 

Doctor Holding Coronavirus Vaccine Syringe

Vaccine Providers Pledge 240 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses By The End Of March 

Johnson & Johnson has joined Pfizer and Moderna in their commitment to the US to provide a total of 240 million vaccine doses by the end of March. The drug companies told a House subcommittee this week that they expect to deliver this amount of doses after Johnson & Johnson pledged to add 20 million additional doses to Pfizer and Moderna’s 220 million dose pledge should the company receive emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration this week. 

Dr. Richard Nettles is J&J’s vice president of medical affairs who spoke with the lawmakers regarding the company’s pledge should they receive the EUA as expected. 

“If the emergency use authorization is received as expected this week, we hope to contribute to ending this pandemic as soon as possible.”

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Nettles claims that the company is prepared to ship out 4 million doses immediately upon authorization of the vaccine. Executives from each of the vaccine makers testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations this past Tuesday. 

If AstraZeneca secures an FDA authorization as well it will become the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the US. Dr. Ruud Dobber, the executive vice president and president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, said the company “will immediately release 30 million doses upon authorization of the vaccine and up to 50 million doses by the end of April.”

Pfizer initially planned to deliver up to 40 million doses of their vaccine by the end of 2020, however, they just reached that milestone last week. Moderna was close to reaching their goal of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 but fell short by just a week. Executives for the companies claimed that a lack of access to raw materials and manufacturing a product that has never been made before were the main issues in production. John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, recently spoke about this issue to the media. 

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“We did initially experience some problems with the initial ramp up of our vaccine. We particularly saw some rate-limiting steps for raw materials.” 

“We ultimately had never–when we were trying to make those estimates — manufactured at this scale, and so we had a lot to learn along the way. As we look back, could we have maybe started earlier in that process and lining up all of the critical raw materials sooner, would we have been able to get there a little bit faster instead of the first week of January, last week of December? It’s possible. Certainly hindsight, and that is 20-20 for us,” said Moderna’s president Dr. Stephen Hoge.

Moderna is currently seeking FDA approval for increasing the number of doses in each Covid-19 vaccine vial from 10 to 15. Hodge claims this would “accelerate delivery substantially and decrease the demand for some critical, high-demand raw materials. Obviously, any gains — for instance, filling more doses in a vial — we will take. We need to get more doses more quickly into peoples’ arms.”

Johnson & Johnson will be finding out if they receive an emergency use authorization this Friday.

Coronavirus Vaccine in Bottles

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Proven To Reduce Symptomatic Covid-19 In Real World

Researchers in Israel this week announced that Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine has appeared to reduce symptomatic coronavirus infections by more than 90% in the real world now that more and more populations are receiving their doses. 

The preliminary findings suggest that the vaccine itself has remained as successful as researchers initially proved in their vaccine trials. Within a clinical vaccine trial the conditions are greatly controlled to monitor the actual effectiveness of the shot, however, that monitoring already eliminates a slew of other risks that exist within the real world that could impact the vaccine’s efficacy. 

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Luckily, nothing of the sort has occurred, and the vaccine is still wildly successful. The Clalit Research Institute is a major part of Israel’s healthcare system, and they’re the ones who analyzed data on 1.2 million individuals; half of which received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The researchers wanted to compare patients who had received the vaccine and individuals with similar immune systems who hadn’t.

The researchers wanted to analyze the rate in which symptomatic Covid-19 was spreading with the release of this vaccine; meaning they looked at individuals who contracted the virus and actually felt sick. Symptomatic Covid-19 was proven to decrease by 94% among individuals who have received their two doses of the vaccine, according to a press release from Clalit. The rate of serious illness caused by the virus decreased by 92%. 

The research has yet to be published by the Institute because they’re still waiting for it to be peer-reviewed so that the results are as accurate as possible. However, the results are already consistent with the data that Pfizer initially released to prove their vaccine would be effective. 

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Pfizer’s initial data from their vaccine trial showed that their Covid-19 vaccine was 95% effective against symptomatic coronavirus. In the trial itself, participants were either given the actual vaccine or a placebo. They then observed how many people from each group got infected after the fact. 

Pfizer’s clinical study was considered to be the “golden standard in clinical research” according to the Institute due to the fact that it was a randomized and controlled trial. The studies from Israel are now observational, meaning researchers aren’t randomly picking individuals who got the vaccine or not already.

Observational studies can skew the data in this case, however, due to the fact that different individuals who choose to be vaccinated are likely going to take less or more steps towards protecting themselves from potential infection. 

While the observational aspect of this study may not be as effective as a controlled trial, the combination of these new results with the results that came from Pfizer and BioNTech themselves shows the world that the vaccine is just as effective as anticipated, and we should all continue to do our parts to protect each other and bring this pandemic to an end.

Moderna Covid Vaccine

US Just Officially Purchased 200 Million More Covid-19 Vaccines 

When President Joe Biden took office a few weeks ago he promised Americans that his administration would be purchasing another 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses; 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna. The purchase officially went through this week, marking a 50% increase in the nation’s total vaccine supply. 

The US has now ordered a total of 600 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from the two companies; which is enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans or nearly the whole adult population. The new supply is projected to be delivered by the end of July, so the current rate in which vaccines are being distributed will likely not change, however, the increase in supply will prevent the US from experiencing a shortage. 

Biden spoke at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland this week in which he claimed that the vaccination program he inherited from the previous Trump administration was “in much worse shape” than his team had predicted, basically forcing them to start from square one. 

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“My predecessor, to be very blunt about it, did not do his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating Americans. He didn’t order enough vaccines, and he didn’t mobilize enough people to administer the shots.” 

Within his first three weeks in office, Biden and his administration managed to increase the weekly vaccine supply for states by 30%. Around 34.7 million American citizens have now received at least one of the two Covid-19 vaccine doses. “Millions more Americans will get vaccinated in February than the previous administration was on track to do,” Biden explained. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently spoke with the media and claimed that he expects the US to hit “open season” for vaccinations by April; meaning a majority of Americans will be able to receive their shots by that point regardless of age, occupation or preexisting medical conditions. 

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Both Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines that are more than 90% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19. Both companies currently have the highest efficacy rates of any coronavirus shot being distributed around the world currently. Both of the shots rely on messenger RNA that sends coded messages to the body’s immune system to trigger a response that will rid the body of the virus should an individual become exposed. 

Dr. Johan Bester is the director of bioethics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Medicine, who recently spoke with Business Insider about the amazing medical advancement that is a mRNA vaccine. 

“The new mRNA technology is the Rolls Royce of vaccines. These are the top of the line for all vaccines that we’ve seen come out within the last year.”

Public health experts are also optimistic that the rate in which Americans are being vaccinated will increase if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine as well. The company asked US regulators to give its vaccine an emergency use authorization just last week, and the FDA is projected to discuss this request on February 26th. If approved, the vaccine could begin distribution a few days later.