Opening up vaccinations to those 65 and older, as well the most vulnerable people under 65, could help in areas where there have been more doses than people eligible or willing to receive them — in some cases leading to extra doses expiring and being tossed away. And releasing reserved second doses could benefit areas where there has not been enough vaccine for everyone eligible and willing.
Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines require two rounds of injection, and while releasing nearly all vaccine doses on hand could quickly ratchet up availability, it also runs the risk of depleting resources that are necessary to make sure people are fully vaccinated.
During Tuesday’s news briefing, Azar said that second doses would still be available to those who need them. But the announcement came with a warning: States will lose allocations if they don’t use them. In two weeks, states’ vaccine allocations will be based on the pace of administration and the size of the 65 and over population.
“The release of all of the second doses and removing that hold back is not necessarily seen as a solution to getting the vaccine out faster. We have existing issues still — logistical issues — with how to plan and staff this mass vaccination effort,” Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN.
More than 9 million Americans have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and more than 27 million doses have been distributed, the CDC said Tuesday.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: Why has the US vaccine rollout been so slow?
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
All air travelers to US will have to show a negative test
Air passengers will be required to get a viral test within three days before their flight to the US departs, and to provide written documentation of their lab results, or documentation of having recovered from Covid-19, the agency said in a statement to CNN.
“Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants,” the CDC said in a statement. “With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.”
China’s CoronaVac vaccine only 50.4% effective, new data shows
The efficacy rate of Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine in Brazil — the lowest among its global competitors — is a big blow for China. Analysts said it could affect international confidence in Chinese-made vaccines and hamper Beijing’s effort to repair its image from its early mishandling of the initial outbreak by providing Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries. It’s also a blow for nations who secured doses of the shot.
While the results meet the World Health Organization’s 50% threshold for approval, they fall far short of the partial data released by Butantan biomedical center last week, which suggested that the vaccine might have much higher efficacy: 78% to 100%. Confusion over the results has raised questions about the veracity of the data and fueled skepticism about the Chinese vaccine in Brazil, which President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized.
UK may send Covid patients to hotels as hospital beds run low
ON OUR RADAR
- Scientists fear an “escape mutant” identified in the coronavirus variant first spotted in South Africa might decrease vaccine efficacy. Meanwhile, the variant first discovered in the UK has now been found in at least 50 countries.
- AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be authorized in the US “towards the latter part” of March; it has already been authorized in Britain.
- Europe is continuing to ramp up coronavirus restrictions. Italy will extend its Covid-19 state of emergency until the end of April. In Germany, high-protection “FFP2” masks have been made mandatory for public transport and shopping by the Bavarian state government.
- Armenia’s president is in hospital with severe Covid-19 after visiting his family in London over the Christmas holiday, his assistant tells CNN.
- China recorded its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases in more than five months on Tuesday, following a recent cluster of infections in the northern Hebei province.
- The tourists who say travel restrictions don’t apply to them are facing punishment.
On December 18, a San Diego emergency room nurse was given a shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. A week later, he tested positive for the virus, CNN affiliate KGTV reported.
Stories like this will become more common as millions of Americans are administered the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines over the coming months. The efficacy of both vaccines is around 95% — not 100% — meaning some people will still get infected with the coronavirus.
“We are being put in these untenable situations where we have so many more patients than we can take care of, where we have so many fewer resources than we need to take care of them.” — Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician