As he highlighted the progress of his administration in a massive coronavirus vaccination campaign on Thursday, President Joe Biden appealed to Americans not to let down their guard despite declining infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks.
“This is not the time to relax,” Biden said, warning of the possible impact of virus versions. “We have to keep washing our hands, stay socially distant and for God’s sake – for God’s sake – wear a mask.”
Biden gave it as part of a ceremony marking 50 million doses of vaccines since he took office on January 20. He promised 100 million injections in the first 100 days – a goal that critics later declared insufficiently ambitious – and halfway through the point was scored on his 37th day.
The president said vaccine distribution to states had increased by 70% since his inauguration – from 8.6 million doses a week when President Donald Trump went to 14.5 million now – and that nearly 60% of people over the age of 75 received at least one bullets. The same is true for close to 50% of those over 65, he said.
In addition, Biden said that 75% of long-term residents – vulnerable populations who make up 30% of the 507,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, a major factor in drastically reducing their mortality rates in the last two months.
The vaccination program will receive a major boost if the Food and Drug Administration approves emergency use of the new, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as expected in the coming days.
The FDA advisory board will decide on Friday whether to recommend the approval, and Biden sought to reassure the public that there would be no external interference.
“We’re going to do this the right way,” he said. “The FDA will make a decision on the urgent approval of a science-based vaccine, not because of any political pressure from me or anyone else.”
Also in the news:
►Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday extended Oregon’s state of emergency until May 2, as it was confirmed that COVID-19 cases continue to decline across the state, but still number in the hundreds every day.
►The Food and Drug Administration will allow Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be shipped and stored in freezers commonly found in pharmacies, rather than in ultra-cold ones, which were originally needed after company data showed the vaccine remained stable for up to two weeks. in standard condition. freezer temperature. Thursday’s decision will facilitate the distribution and administration of the vaccine.
►Three days after the United States became the first country to lose 500,000 lives from coronavirus, the total death toll from COVID-19 in the world reached 2.5 million Thursday. The United States accounts for more than 20% of all deaths, and more than 150,000 Americans have already been killed by the disease this year.
►State of the country music Trisha Yearwood is “under the greatest care” at home after being infected with the virus, her husband Garth Brooks said. The statement said Yearwood was dealing with unspecified symptoms, but that “it is doing well so far.” Brooks said he was negative.
📈 Today’s issues: The United States has more than 28.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 508,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, there are more than 112.9 million cases and 2.5 million deaths. More than 91.6 million doses of vaccine have been distributed in the United States, and about 68.2 million have been administered, According to the CDC.
📘 What we read: Child surgery, loan payments, electricity bills: We asked Americans how they would spend 1,400 incentive checks. That’s what they said.
USA TODAY follows news about COVID-19. Please refresh this page for the latest updates. Are you in the Clubhouse? If so, join our lively discussion on COVID-19 at 7:00 PM EST on Thursday.
South Korea on Friday administered its first available injections of coronavirus vaccine to people in long-term care facilities, launching a massive immunization campaign that health authorities hope will establish a certain level of normalcy by the end of the year.
Health authorities plan to inject the first of two doses by the end of March for some 344,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities and 55,000 first-line medical workers.
Also Friday, Hong Kong began giving its first vaccines against COVID-19 to the public, launching its program offering free vaccines to all 7.5 million residents.
Americans should not try to choose which vaccine to get, but should take the first one available, Dr. said on Thursday. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci, a top U.S. infectious disease specialist, has warned people not to stop getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if it becomes available soon while waiting for slightly more effective Pfizer or Modern injections. Fauci also told NBC News that the third vaccine to become available “is nothing but good news.”
The Johnson & Johnson disposable vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19. It is expected to be approved by the FDA soon.
Fauci said it was a race “between the virus and the introduction of vaccines into humans” – and the longer people wait, “the more likely the virus is to get a variant or mutation.”
Pfizer-BioNTech will begin testing an enhanced shot to combat COVID-19 variants, the companies announced on Thursday. The announcement came a day after a new study published in New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech reduced symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in all age groups by 94%.
Now the collaboration between the two companies has asked 144 volunteers who took part in the earliest phase of its vaccine clinical trials last year to volunteer and get an booster, a third shot of the same vaccine designed to see if it will help them fight the new, more contagious variants circulating last. months. It is not yet clear whether a new vaccine or an auxiliary supplement will be needed to address the known variants, but companies want to be prepared if studies show that a new vaccine is needed.
“While we have seen no evidence that circulating variants result in a loss of protection provided by our vaccine, we are taking more steps to act decisively and be prepared in case the strain becomes resistant to the protection provided by the vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, president and CEO of Pfizer. is in the statement.
– Karen Weintraub
As a $ 1.9 billion aid package for President Joe Biden goes to the polls Friday at the House controlled by Democrats, city councils burdened with money are some of the biggest incentives for the law. Although the law could pass with zero support from members of the GOP House Republican mayors are among those seeking federal help to make up for the lack of tax revenue. Thirty-two Republicans are among 425 mayors nationwide who, in a letter through the U.S. Mayors Congress, called on Congress to pass the Biden aid package for COVID-19.
“The need is real and it’s not just in communities with a Democratic core,” said Bryan Barnett, Republican mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan.
– Joey Garrison
When the world of education for K-12 was confused last spring, many teachers and students quietly rejoiced at the disappearance of high-stakes tests. The Department of Education has rejected a requirement that states must hold annual exams in reading and math, which usually happens in the spring. Schools are geared towards digital connectivity with students.
But now those tests are coming back. President Joe Biden’s administration decided this week not to give up a joint waiver of federally prescribed achievement exams, saying states could postpone or shorten tests or give them virtually – or skip distance student testing.
“We know that schools and counties have approached (schooling in a pandemic) with different levels of competencies and technology,” said Ethan Hutt, a professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “If we want to focus policy and resources on schools that are particularly affected, we need more precise information about what’s going on.”
– Erin Richards and Alia Wong
Less than 14% of the U.S. population has received the vaccine, and preliminary data suggest that people of color are vaccinated at lower rates than white Americans.
Chelsea White, executive director of the Dallas Bethlehem Center, said historically the community did not trust the government or outside the group, especially when it comes to health care.
“COVID is bad enough for everyone, but when you have a crisis like this in this neighborhood, it’s just catastrophic and it’s going to affect this neighborhood for years,” White said. “They’ll promise too much, deliver too little and then leave.” Read more here.
Contribution: Associated Press