Friday, May 14, 2021

White House optimistic on J&J vaccine as mutations spread | News on the coronavirus pandemic

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White House officials announced continued plans to increase COVID-19 vaccinations during a Friday briefing as the United States continues to struggle to contain the new Corona virus as disturbing mutations spread.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), began the White House briefing by listing the news of the variants found in the United States.

The coronavirus is responsible for more than 433,000 deaths in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. There are over 25.7 million confirmed cases in the United States.

Walensky noted that there were 379 cases of the British variant in 29 states as of January 27, and one case of the Brazilian variant has been confirmed in Minnesota.

CDC chief Dr Rochelle Walensky speaks after then-president-elect Joe Biden announced the nominees for his coronavirus task force on December 8, 2020 [ File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

The South African variant, which some fear is vaccine resistant, has been confirmed in two North Carolina cases in “different parts of the state,” Walensky continued. We didn’t think these cases were epidemiologically linked ”.

This suggests that community spread of the variant has arrived.

New vaccinations

News from two vaccines seems to show that the mutations are more resistant.

The vaccine developed by Novavax was 89% effective in a trial in the UK, the company said Thursday, although data suggests less effectiveness with the South African variant.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine study of its vaccine, conducted in the United States, Brazil and South Africa, had an overall efficacy of 66 percent, compared with 72 percent in the United States alone, where mutations are less frequent.

However, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said the data released by Johnson & Johnson on Friday was positive.

“The results are really encouraging,” Fauci said at the briefing. “There were virtually no hospitalizations or deaths in the vaccinated group.”

The overall effectiveness for serious illness was “85 percent,” Fauci said, and Johnson & Johnson will be able to produce “billions” of vaccine inexpensively, requiring just one injection.

Vials with a sticker saying ‘COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / injection only’ and a medical syringe are visible in front of a Johnson & Johnson logo displayed in this illustration [File: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters]

“This is a single shot vaccine where you start to see effectiveness 7-10 days after the first shot,” Fauci said.

When asked about the reports, the variants will start to have an effect on cases in March and what the administration is doing to prevent that, Fauci said the UK variant is likely to become the dominant variant virus in March or April.

“The basic principle of getting vaccinated as quickly as possible” will always be the best way to avoid further variations.

The vaccine rollout in the United States, which began under former President Donald Trump, has been criticized for its pace. The United States has currently delivered about 48 million doses of the vaccine and administered about 26 million, according to the CDC tracking.

The benchmark average is around 1.2 million doses per day, although the government hopes to increase that number, as well as the number of vaccines.

CDC chief Walensky said “the prevention measures are the same regardless of which variant you have” and that the government is increasing surveillance for variants in order to respond.

School closures

Walensky addressed the reopening of schools during the briefing, saying the CDC “continues to recommend that K-12 schools be the last to close and the first to reopen.”

A cyclist walks past a closed vaccination center at George Westinghouse High School in New York City. Growing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites in the United States are canceling appointments due to vaccine shortages in a deployment marked by confusion and unexplained bottlenecks [File: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo]

As the CDC encourages schools to be the first to reopen, it recognizes that “many communities do not have sufficient capacity to do whatever is necessary,” Walensky said.

Data shows that schools are not responsible for the rapid spread of the virus when the proper protocol is followed, including “downsizing” inside institutions and wearing masks, she said.

Schools have been closed at various times since April in the United States. Parents and educators are concerned about the lasting effects these closures will have on education.



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