COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Emergent BioSolutions: A vaccine maker ruined 15 million doses. Its CEO sold $11 million of stock before that was public
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced on March 31 that problems at the Emergent (EBS) plant had made the potential doses of vaccine unusable. Emergent had contracted to make the covid vaccine for the drugmaker. The plant also ran into problems with Covid-19 vaccines it is making for AstraZeneca (AZN) -- a vaccine in use in Europe and elsewhere in the world, but not yet approved for US use.

Following an inspection by the Food & Drug Administration, Emergent agreed on April 16 to halt production of the vaccine and to quarantine existing material manufactured. That production has yet to resume. The stock tumbled as news of those problems were disclosed.

But Emergent CEO Robert Kramer avoided much of those declines. He sold 97,849 shares of the company's stock between January 15 and February 26, for a total of $11.1 million, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He sold the stock for prices ranging from $93.49 to $123.45 per share, for an average price of $113.73. But shares have lost nearly half their value since Kramer's most lucrative sale on February 9: It closed Friday at $61.94.

If he had held onto those nearly 100,000 shares he has sold so far this year, they would be worth about $5 million less than the price for which he sold them.

... Kramer has sold a significant portion of his stake in the company since he started selling shares in January. He has only 163,147 shares left. His holdings have been reduced by roughly a third.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/26/investing/emergent-ceo-stock-sale-robert-kramer/index.html

A Texas hospital system will require employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine and could fire them if they don't comply
Houston Methodist, a network of eight hospitals that has 26,000 employees, said it will require every employee to provide proof of vaccination by June 7.

If employees aren't vaccinated before the June deadline, they'll be suspended, without pay, for two weeks. If they're not vaccinated within that suspension period, the company will "initiate the employee termination process," according to the company's new HR policy, implemented this month.

"As health care workers we must do everything possible to keep our patients safe and at the center of everything we do," Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Bloom told employees in an email obtained by CNN. "By choosing to be vaccinated, you are leaders -- showing our colleagues in health care what must be done to protect our patients, ourselves, our families and our communities."
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/26/us/houston-methodist-covid-vaccine-mandate-trnd/index.html

CDC says fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks outdoors, except in crowded settings

Fully vaccinated people generally do not need to wear masks when they are outside unless the space is crowded, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance released today. Those recommendations reflect the very low odds of outdoor spread. “Less than 10 percent of documented transmission in many studies have occurred outdoors,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing Monday.

And if you're unvaccinated, it's generally okay to ditch the mask when biking, jogging or walking, as long as you're alone or only with members of your household, the agency said.

Officials still caution that crowded outdoor settings pose risks and urge everyone — both the vaccinated and unvaccinated — to wear masks when attending sporting events, live performances and parades.
Updated CDC Mask Guidelines
Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04/27/cdc-guidance-masks-outdoors/

Biden Speaks Following C.D.C. Easing Mask Guidelines

President Biden spoke on Tuesday about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance about when masks should be worn outdoors.

Cases and deaths are down, down dramatically from where they were when I took office on Jan. 20, and continuing to fall. This is particularly true for a group of Americans that we were most worried about when it came to the virus, senior citizens. When I took office in January, we were losing literally tens of thousands of our seniors each week, grandparents who were loved so dearly, moms and dads, pillars of every community. We have given 215 million shots. And that — anyone 16 years of age or older is now eligible to get the vaccine now, today, immediately. And because of the extraordinary progress we made in fighting this virus and the progress our scientists have made in learning about how it gets transmitted, earlier today, the C.D.C. made an important announcement: Starting today, if you’re fully vaccinated and you’re outdoors, you need — and not in a big crowd — you no longer need to wear a mask.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000007733061/biden-masks-cdc-rule.html

Canada military will help out in the province of Ontario as the Covid-19 positivity rate hits an all-time high
The government approved Ontario's request for medical and other support as ICU admissions hit new highs Monday.

"We have approved a request for assistance from Ontario to provide support to their provincial healthcare system against COVID19," Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said on Twitter. "@CanadianForces will provide medical + civilian human health resources within medical care facilities in ON, as well as logistical and admin. support."

Earlier this month the province issued new stay-at-home orders that were met with some protests. The government doubled down on April 16 when it said it would strengthen enforcement and penalties for those not complying with orders. Canada said it would deploy federal health human resources, provide support from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and pay for the redeployment of the Canadian Red Cross to support and relieve staff in medical care facilities, a statement released late Monday said.

"The CAF is preparing to deploy up to three multi-purpose medical assistance teams (MMATs), which are scalable healthcare provider teams primarily composed of Nursing Officers and Medical Technicians as well as additional CAF members for general duty support as applicable," the statement said. "The MMATs will be rotated in and out of the province rather than deployed simultaneously to ensure that CAF support is sustainable."

Ontario is already using surge capacity in dozens of hospitals, including a few field hospitals that are admitting patients with Covid-19 who do not need intensive treatment or those who have recovered enough to be transferred into the field facilities.

Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/27/americas/canada-military-deployed-ontario-covid/index.html

Pharmacies Told to Offer Second Vaccine Doses, No Matter Where First Was Given
Federal health officials said on Tuesday that they were directing nearly all drugstores and grocery-store pharmacies to offer second doses of Covid-19 vaccines to people who received their first shot from a different provider.

Growing numbers of Americans who received a first shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine are not getting their second shots, in part because of challenges with access. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 5 million people, or nearly 8 percent of those who were partially vaccinated, have missed getting their second dose.

Though that is not a high rate compared with those seen for multidose vaccines against other conditions, some states have been taking steps to prevent it from rising.

The directive is aimed especially at encouraging college students who got their first shots on or near campus to get their second doses at home, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior adviser for Covid-19 response. To accomplish that, he said, pharmacies participating in a federal vaccine distribution program will set aside any residency requirements for vaccine recipients.

College students are a challenging group to get fully vaccinated. Many who became eligible recently got their first shot while still on campus, but will have left for the summer by the time they are due for their second shot.

Other recipients may have been unable to get a second appointment at their original provider or had an appointment that was canceled.

Many pharmacies were already giving out second vaccine doses to people who got first shots elsewhere. CVS stores, in particular, have become a destination for people scrambling to find a second shot, and a spokeswoman for Walgreens said her company was offering second doses without regard to where the first was administered.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/us/vaccine-drugstore-second-dose.html

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