President Joe Biden visited a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Michigan on Friday and stressed vaccine safety, saying Americans should get the vaccine “when it’s your turn and available.”
He pleaded with Americans to get vaccinated as he sought to underscore his administration’s broad commitment to speeding up the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The president’s message came amid reported delays in shipping vaccines due to winter storms across the country. Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser on COVID-19 response, said federal partners were planning to make deliveries on Saturday and late doses should be delivered “in the next week. ”
“I cannot give you a date when this crisis will end. But I can tell you that we are doing everything possible to make that day as soon as possible,” Biden said after touring the Pfizer facility.
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In the headlines:
►After early confusion, most hospitals, clinics and vaccination centers now have protocols and systems in place to ensure that every last dose of vaccine is used.
►The United States plans to open five more community vaccination centers, including one in Philadelphia and four in Florida, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, Salvitt said Friday.
►The FDA is reviewing data from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial and plans to consult with the agency’s independent advisory committee on February 26. “We should hear from them soon,” Dr Anthony Fauci said on Friday.
►Pfizer said on Friday he was seeking permission to store his vaccine in normal pharmaceutical freezers, instead of the ultra-cold temperatures that doses currently demand.
►California plans to reserve 10% of the first doses of the vaccine for educators, school staff and child care providers starting in March to help get children back to classrooms, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday.
► Experts say the United States could quickly expand the country’s limited testing supply and improve speed by allowing rapid antigen testing on paper. The downside: Rapid tests are less accurate than lab tests, which take longer to complete and cost $ 100 or more.
📈 Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 28.0 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 495,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 110.8 million cases and 2.45 million deaths. More than 78.1 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States and about 59.5 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we read: “He shouldn’t be dead”: A year after their father died from COVID-19, the family is facing their loss.
Entire school board quits after mocking parents in live meeting at reopening
The president and three other members of a California school board resigned after mocking the parents during a live meeting about the reopening of the school they appeared to think was private.
Greg Hetrick, superintendent of the Oakley Union Elementary School District in Costa County, announced that council members tendered their resignations in a letter to the school community on Friday, calling it an “unfortunate situation.”
Video of Wednesday night’s meeting has circulated on social media and appears to capture board members mocking parents who wrote letters asking the board to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. “They want to come after us because they want their babysitters to come back,” said board chair Lisa Brizendine.
Board members also use profanity and laugh at parents who use medical marijuana. Towards the end of the recording, council members seem shocked to receive a message alerting them that the livestream is public. In a statement, the council members expressed their “sincere apologies” and said they “deeply regret the comments that were made at the meeting.”
Growing evidence suggests that a smartwatch or wearable device like a Fitbit could help warn carriers of a potential COVID-19 infection before a positive test result.
Wearable devices like the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, Fitbit, and other devices can collect heart and oxygen data, as well as sleep and activity levels. Researchers are investigating whether a body’s health data could signal an impending COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 infection may not be imminent for a person whose heart or activity data suggests a potential infection. But the increased likelihood – and the ability to alert the patient to be tested and possibly quarantined – could provide a vital tool in preventing the spread of the disease and tracking it, the researchers say.
Such findings, if proven, could lead to remote medical alerts for other viruses, flu, and excessive stress.
– Mike Snider
Argentina’s health minister resigns following vaccine scandal
President Alberto Fernández fired Argentina’s health minister on Friday after a well-known local journalist said he had received a coronavirus vaccination preferably after asking the minister for one.
The president “instructed his chief of staff to request the resignation of the Minister of Health” Ginés González García, responsible for the government’s COVID-19 strategy, said a government official, who was not authorized to release the information and spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The shootings follow reports in recent days that mayors, lawmakers, activists and people close to political power have received vaccines when they were not among the priority group of doctors, health workers and others. elderly people authorized to receive them.
Two-dose Pfizer vaccine is here to stay, despite new study
A new study from Israel reignited public debate on Friday over the spacing between the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the US government is not moving on its commitment to the original schedule.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could be just as effective if the dose gap is wider than the recommended 21 days, according to the new Israeli study. If the doses could be administered more separately, more people could be protected more quickly. Vaccine stocks, which are currently quite limited, are expected to increase in late spring.
But government officials want to stick to the dosing schedule that has been shown to be scientifically effective, warning that changing it could weaken the vaccine’s effectiveness against the variants, or even lead to the creation of new variants that escape that protection.
The current schedule provides “an optimal response when dealing with variants,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease physician, told a press conference on Friday.
– Karen Weintraub
Africa reaches 100,000 known deaths from COVID-19
Africa has passed 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 as the continent hailed for its early response to the pandemic now struggles with a dangerous resurgence and medical oxygen is often desperately short.
The continent of 54 countries of some 1.3 billion people has barely seen the arrival of large-scale supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, but a variant of the dominant virus in South Africa is already posing a challenge to vaccination efforts . Still, if doses are available, the continent should be able to immunize 35% to 40% of its population by the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022, said John Nkengasong, director of the African Centers for disease control and prevention. .
Health officials who breathed a sigh of relief last year as African countries failed to see large numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are now reporting an increase in the number of deaths. The African CDC said the total death toll was 100,294 on Friday.
– The Associated Press
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY; The Associated Press