COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
J&J Vaccine Pause Will Have Limited Impact, White House Says

Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said Tuesday that pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine would not impact the administration’s vaccination goals.

“Let me start by saying that this announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination program. The J&J vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the more than 190 million recorded shots in arms in the United States to date. So we have more than enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue the current pace of about three million shots per day. And that puts us well on pace to meet the president’s goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.” “Questions that comes up already, rather frequently. Does this have anything to do with the efficacy of the vaccine? So someone who maybe had it a month or two ago would say, ‘What does this mean for me?’” It really doesn’t mean anything. You’re OK, because if you look at the frame, the time frame, when this occurs, it’s pretty tight — from a few days, six to 13 days from the time of the vaccination. We are totally aware that this is a very rare event. We want to get this worked out as quickly as we possibly can. And that’s why you see the word pause. In other words, you want to hold off for a bit, and very well may go back to that, maybe with some conditions or maybe not. But we want to leave that up to the F.D.A. and the C.D.C. to investigate this carefully.”
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Moderna Says Vaccine Protects Against Covid After Six Months
The Moderna coronavirus vaccine continues to provide strong protection in the United States against Covid-19 six months after vaccination, the company announced Tuesday.

The vaccine, after both doses are given, has been more than 90 percent effective at protecting against Covid-19 and 95 percent effective at protecting against severe disease, the company said in a statement. The results are based on more than 900 total cases of Covid-19, including 100 severe cases, that have been identified in participants of Moderna’s phase three vaccine trial as of April 9.

Pfizer recently announced that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective against Covid-19 after six months and 95 to 100 percent effective against severe disease. Both companies are now testing their vaccines in children.

It is not yet clear whether the overall effectiveness of the vaccines will drop as dangerous new variants, some of which may evade vaccine-induced antibodies, spread more widely throughout the United States.
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N.F.L. to Bar Unvaccinated Coaches From Working With Players
The N.F.L. on Tuesday sent a memo to all 32 teams effectively mandating that support personnel including coaches and trainers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with an exception made for staff who have a “bona fide medical or religious ground” for not doing so.

According to the statement, the unvaccinated will not be allowed to work in proximity to players, who are strongly encouraged, but not yet required, to take the vaccine.

In the most direct address of vaccination protocols so far, the league said it expected employees classified as Tier 1 and Tier 2 — including coaches, trainers, front office personnel, videographers and others — to receive the vaccine. Those tiers were created last summer to stratify and limit access to team facilities as the N.F.L. prepared to open training camps in preparation for the 2020 season, and have been used continually since.

“N.F.L. team facilities proved to be among the safest places in the world in 2020 thanks to N.F.L.-N.F.L.P.A. comprehensive protocols that were developed in conjunction with public health officials,” an N.F.L. spokesman said in a statement emailed to The New York Times. “Having team personnel vaccinated will benefit these individuals and their families, will make the facilities even safer and also provide another step toward returning to normalcy.”
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Biden and Obama to appear in TV special to promote Covid-19 vaccinations
The special will also feature former first lady Michelle Obama and a whole slate of celebrities, including Sterling K. Brown, Lana Condor, Billy Crystal, Eric Dane, Ryan Eggold, Dr. Vin Gupta, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Dale Jarrett, Ken Jeong, Joe Jonas, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Joel McHale, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kumail Nanjiani, Ellen Pompeo, Amanda Seyfried, Jane Seymour and Wanda Sykes.

The husband and wife duo of NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and artist Ciara are set to host the special.

The Obamas previously appeared in an ad campaign to combat vaccine skepticism alongside former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and their respective former first ladies.

The ad campaign included a minute-long, personal video that shows the four former presidents and former first ladies receiving their vaccines, and another that featured Clinton, Bush and Obama standing together to urge Americans to step up and get vaccinated.

The Biden administration has launched TV ads to encourage vaccinations and increase public confidence in the vaccines as it ramps up distribution across the country.

The administration has announced nearly $10 billion will be allocated toward increasing vaccine access and confidence in hard-hit communities across the country, which includes $3 billion of CDC funding to support outreach efforts in the states through community-based organizations and trusted community leaders.
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WHO calls for 'reality check' as global Covid-19 cases surge for seventh week
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that countries need a "reality check" on the state of the pandemic, as many nations abandon restrictions despite four weeks of rising deaths and seven weeks of rising cases globally.

Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that "confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures" were primary drivers.

Those spikes are occurring despite more than 780 million vaccine doses being administered globally, he said, adding that while vaccines were a vital and powerful tool, they were not the only ones available.

Ghebreyesus emphasized that public health measures -- mask wearing, physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene, surveillance, testing, tracing and isolation -- work to stop infections and save lives. "It takes a consistent, coordinated and comprehensive approach," he said.
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Vaccines won’t save Michigan from its covid-19 surge
The best strategy for Michigan at this point is to implement the same public health measures that we’ve been using for more than a year.

This is an important lesson not only for Michigan, but also in other places experiencing a surge. The B.1.1.7 variant, now the dominant strain of covid-19 in the United States, is wreaking havoc in Michigan and Minnesota. It’s driving an increase in cases in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Florida and parts of Texas. B.1.1.7 is landing even younger adults in the hospital with severe covid-19. The Michigan Health and Hospital Association found that hospitalizations increased by 633 percent among adults in their 30s and by 800 percent for adults in their 40s over the course of March.

So why not just send more vaccines to Michigan? Well, first, because the state already has enough vaccine supply. Michigan is one of several states with rural populations that has vaccination appointment slots going unfilled.

Plus, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed staff in February to assist Michigan with vaccine distribution and administration logistics. And now, the Biden administration is sending 160 more federal staff to supplement 230 already supporting covid-19 operations in the state. More testing capacity and therapeutics are also on the way.

There’s another, more important reason for why more vaccines won’t stop the surge: the coronavirus’s incubation period. Some have suggested we adopt “ring vaccination,” a strategy used to eradicate smallpox in which everyone who has been exposed in an outbreak is vaccinated. But covid-19 isn’t smallpox. Covid-19 has a median incubation period of four to five days; smallpox, 10 to 14 days. It takes about 14 days after one dose of smallpox vaccine for someone to develop an immune response. This means that smallpox vaccination can prevent illness even after someone’s been exposed. Covid math isn’t smallpox math.

It’s important to remember that it takes time for your immune system to recognize a vaccine and mount an immune response to it. You aren’t immune the second the needle hits your arm. It takes 14 days after two doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and 14 to 28 days after a dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be “fully immunized.” So even if a large proportion of Michigan residents were to be vaccinated today in the middle of the state’s surge, the impact of vaccine-induced immunity wouldn’t be seen until at least a month from now. Vaccinating today won’t help the people being infected right now.

The hard truth is that the measures that will help curb Michigan’s surge are those that take effect instantly: masking, sticking to household bubbles, socializing outdoors, not gathering indoors and maximizing indoor ventilation. These are the same mitigation measures that we’ve been recommending for months, the same measures we’re all tired of following and the same measures that so many are discarding now that we have vaccines (even if they haven’t yet been vaccinated).

This is likely to be unwelcome news for Whitmer, who has been resisting imposing unpopular pandemic restrictions once again in her state. But it’s important to understand that while vaccines are great at preventing outbreaks from taking off, they are not so great at slowing a surge once it’s happening. I liken the pandemic to a car. Lifting mitigation measures too soon is like taking your foot off the brake before putting the car into park. Meanwhile, more infectious variants such as B.1.1.7 are hitting the gas. And vaccination is like a parking brake: It works well once a car is stopped, but not nearly as well when you’re racing down a highway.

Eventually, as more and more of the population is vaccinated, there will be protection against transmission and a future surge. Until then, governors must act to keep variants from spreading out of control.
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Three virus patients die at a hospital in Romania after its oxygen supply malfunctions.
Three people infected with the coronavirus died at a hospital in Bucharest on Monday evening after the oxygen supply stopped functioning, according to the authorities, the latest incident involving oxygen failure, which in many countries has driven up the virus death toll.

It was also another fatal setback for Romania’s ageing and overwhelmed health care system, which has suffered two fires in Covid-19 wards in recent months, killing at least 15 people.

Ventilators shut down at a mobile intensive care unit set up at the Victor Babes hospital in Bucharest after oxygen pressure reached too high a level, the country’s health authorities said in a statement, depriving patients of a vital supply. In addition to the three patients who died, five others were evacuated and moved to other facilities in the city.

Romania has recorded its highest rate of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units since the pandemic began, and on Sunday Prime Minister Florin Citu said that there were just six intensive care beds available across Romania, out of nearly 1,600.

Intensive care units in Hungary and Poland have also been at risk of being overwhelmed, as much of Eastern Europe has struggled to cope with a third wave of infections across the continent. Some Hungarian hospitals have sought medical students and volunteers to assist in Covid-19 wards, giving training to those without previous medical experience.
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Reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals of mammalian species in traditional food markets
The World Health Organization called on governments to suspend the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to help prevent the emergence of new diseases.

To reduce the public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals for food in traditional food markets, WHO, OIE and UNEP have issued guidance on actions that national governments should consider adopting urgently with the aim of making traditional markets safer and recognizing their central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations.

In particular, WHO, OIE and UNEP call on national competent authorities to suspend the trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding purposes and close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure.

Although this document focuses on the risk of disease emergence in traditional food markets where live animals are sold for food, it is also relevant for other utilizations of wild animals. All these uses of wild animals require an approach that is characterized by conservation of biodiversity, animal welfare and national and international regulations regarding threatened and endangered species.
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia