USA vaccination rate slips further, as more data show vaccines protect against variants

New hospitalizations increase in Southeast USA; molecular evidence of COVID-19 spreading in NYC a month sooner than thought; J&J shots' shelf life extended.

A question for my readers: How frequently would you like to get newsletters like this? Most weeks I have published 4 or 5 editions. Would a single weekly update be better? Or just 2 or 3 times a week? What’s more important: timeliness based on important news or a fixed publication schedule? Please let me know. Thank you for your support.

Leave a comment

Today’s news:

Testing pooled samples taken from people in early 2020 show COVID-19 was spreading in New York in January 2020 and community clusters occurred in late February and early March — a month before the first officially documented case, according to a new study by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The USA’s rapid vaccination rate has stalled. Fewer than 500,000 doses were administered on June 9. The rate was averaging over 1 million per day from January to May.

New COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by more than 10% for the second day in a row in Arkansas, possibly reflecting Memorial Day weekend activity.

Routine vaccinations against childhood diseases dropped about 60% in 2020, raising alarm among pediatricians and epidemiologists about the potential re-emergence of diseases such as measles. Although rates picked up since September, the rate remains far below where it should be, according to the CDC.

The FDA says that Johnson &Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are good for at least six weeks past previous expiration dates, reducing the possibility of vaccines being wasted due to lagging demand. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government has stopped distributing the J&J vaccine to states, possibly because about 10 million doses have been delivered to states but are as yet unused.

A study in the journal Nature reports on how the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against COVID-19 variants.

A Wisconsin hospital pharmacist who tampered with COVID-19 vaccine doses was sentenced to three years in prison. According to the Justice Department, he was “skeptical” about the vaccines.

New federal rules to protect workers from airborne hazards will be limited to healthcare businesses, according to Politico and the Washington Post.

The White House announced plans to purchase an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and donate them to poorer nations around the world over the next 12 months. “This is the moment for the world’s greatest and most technologically advanced democracies to shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected,” said President Biden. Pfizer is selling the doses for $3 each, a big discount from the $20/dose paid for shots used in the USA, according to the New York Times.