States plan for vaccines as daily US virus deaths top 3,100

States drafted plans Thursday for who will go to the front of the line when the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine become available later this month, as U.S. deaths from the outbreak eclipsed 3,100 in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring.

With initial supplies of the vaccine certain to be limited, governors and other state officials are weighing both health and economic concerns in deciding the order in which the shots will be dispensed.

States face a Friday deadline to submit requests for doses of the Pfizer vaccine and specify where they should be shipped, and many appear to be heeding nonbinding guidelines adopted this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put health care workers and nursing home patients first.

But they’re also facing a multitude of decisions about other categories of residents — some specific to their states; some vital to their

Read More

Utah health department orders 1st round of COVID-19 vaccines

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s health department on Thursday placed the state’s first order for coronavirus vaccines that could arrive as early as mid-December.

Doses will be shipped directly to hospitals in Utah as soon as the Food and Drug Administration issues its final approvals, the agency posted on Twitter. Health officials did not provide any additional information.

The first doses in Utah will go to front-line workers such as doctors and nurses in emergency departments, urgent care facilities and COVID-19 units, as well as housekeeping workers, said Dr. Jeanmarie Mayer, chief of infection prevention at the University of Utah Health hospital.

“It’s just so incredibly important to make sure that we keep our health care systems intact and able to care for the most vulnerable in our populations,” Mayer told reporters.

Public health experts have warned that if people do not follow masking and social distancing guidance, COVID-19

Read More

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser pushes Trump administration for more coronavirus vaccines

By comparison, Maryland expects 300,000 vaccine doses by January, enough to cover about half of its population of health-care workers, officials there said Thursday. Virginia expects about 140,000 doses for its first cohort of recipients, a group that comprises about 500,000 health-care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are closest to receiving federal approval, both require two doses per patient within a short period.

Bowser, whose administration has been pushing for more vaccine doses for several weeks, said during a news conference Thursday that about 75 percent of the city’s health-care workers live in Maryland or Virginia.

“We allow Maryland and Virginia residents to use our testing sites because we know they work here and their being able to isolate if they have an infection makes us safer,” she said. “We think a vaccination strategy along those lines makes us safer.”

Vaccine distribution plans

Read More

Fact check: Payments for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines are to ensure general practices can afford to offer the service

A meme shared on social media suggests that the proposed payments to general practitioners for delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine is evidence immunisation schemes are “all about the money”. This is misleading: general practices operate as small businesses and the funding is available to ensure they can afford to offer the vaccination service to their patients.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The image was posted on Nov. 26 and includes a screenshot of a British Medical Journal (BMJ) article with the headline: “Covid-19: GPs to get £12.58 per dose to deliver vaccine from December”. Above this image are the words: “YOUR DOCTOR GETS £12.58 A SHOT! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!” (here). The meme was shared hundreds of times and sparked comments such as: “Your doctors are in on the agenda”.

The BMJ article screenshotted in the meme was a real article published on Nov. 10 (here). The story reported on

Read More

Vaccines offer hope for end to pandemic, but brutal months lie ahead

“The vaccine has not come in time to do much about the winter wave,” said Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “Vaccination is coming too late even if we do a really great job of scale-up. It’s coming too late to do much by March 1, or really by April 1.” Only at that point, he added, will the widespread distribution of vaccines begin to crush the virus.

In the meantime, the country faces what could turn out to be the most challenging few months in the public health history of the nation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield warned in a speech Wednesday. That kind of dire language is increasingly coming from the top experts in the field and from the highest levels of the federal medical establishment. “We are in a very dangerous place,” declared a White

Read More

States need to distribute coronavirus vaccines. But they struggled with past immunization efforts.

with Alexandra Ellerbeck

The United States — poised to embark upon its largest-ever vaccination effort — has a mediocre track record on previous vaccine campaigns.

Roughly 4 in 10 Americans were inoculated against the seasonal flu last year. The vaccination rate for the H1N1 outbreak a decade ago was half that.

Those rates, presented in a new report from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit foundation supporting research on health care issues, are well below the 60 percent to 70 percent threshold needed for “herd immunity” — the point at which enough of the population is immune from a virus to stop it from spreading widely. 

Experts say achieving herd immunity with the coronavirus is crucial for life in the United States to return to normal next year.

States will face big hurdles to vaccinating large swaths of residents against the coronavirus, if history is any guide.

a close up of a bottle with a blue toothbrush: (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

© Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Read More

Covid-19 Vaccines Are ‘Liquid Gold’ to Organized Crime, Interpol Says

Criminal gangs will likely attempt to get their hands on supplies of new Covid-19 vaccines, international police organization Interpol warned, potentially disrupting supplies of the crucial shots as they become available.

The agency issued a global orange notice—which it describes as a serious and imminent threat to public safety—to its 194 members, calling the vaccines “liquid gold,” and warned counterfeit vaccines or coronavirus tests could become a growing problem as international travel gradually resumes in the months to come.

“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains,” Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock said late Wednesday. “It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the Covid-19 vaccine.”

Interpol issued the warning after the U.K. became the first country to grant emergency-use authorization for a vaccine.

Read More

Who Will Get COVID Vaccines First and Who Will Have to Wait

Vaccines against COVID-19 have arrived with unprecedented speed. At least three candidates appear to be extremely effective and are likely to be approved in the U.S. in coming weeks. By the end of December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the U.S. will have enough vaccines to treat 20 million people. Britain this week approved the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech.

But for the first time in modern U.S. history, not everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one immediately. Figuring out who gets the first shots in that country and who has to wait is the job of an obscure CDC panel known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This week they announced their first official COVID vaccine distribution guidelines.

The committee makes such plans for all newly approved vaccines, but never before has ACIP had to work so

Read More

Many Trial Volunteers Got Placebo Vaccines. Do They Now Deserve the Real Ones?

In October, Judith Munz and her husband, Scott Petersen, volunteered for a coronavirus vaccine trial. At a clinic near their home in Phoenix, each got a jab in the arm.

Dr. Petersen, a retired physician, became a little fatigued after his shot, and developed redness and swelling on his arm. But Ms. Munz, a social worker, didn’t notice any change. “As much as I wanted it, I couldn’t find a darned thing,” she said. “It was a nothing burger.”

She knew there was a 50-50 chance that she would get the vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson. Judging from her lack of symptoms, she guessed she had received the placebo.

At the time, Ms. Munz thought that anyone who had received the placebo would get the real vaccine as soon as the trial showed it was safe and effective. She looked forward to the peace of mind it would bring.

Read More

The Health 202: Operation Warp Speed chief predicts coronavirus vaccines for all Americans by June

But experts warn that’s a best-case scenario — and could easily be derailed by any number of blunders along the way. 

It requires not only manufacturing of more than 600 million doses of the two-shot vaccine, but also transporting it to all corners of the country, making it accessible to Americans of all stripes, and persuading them it’s safe.

“I think that is very optimistic of Moncef,” said Norman Baylor, who formerly directed the Office of Vaccines Research and Review at the Food and Drug Administration. “It’s possible if everything worked out perfectly.” 

Slaoui is nonetheless laying out an ambitious timeline for vaccine approval, manufacturing and distribution. 

Back in August, he projected having just 300 million doses ready by the middle of next year, in a piece published by the New England Journal of Medicine. 

But since then, preliminary analysis has found vaccine candidates developed by Pfizer and Moderna to

Read More