COVID-19 has killed more than 430,000 Americans, and infections have continued to mount despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020. USA TODAY is tracking the news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine protects against COVID-19 but not as strong as others already being used in the U.S., data released Friday from the company shows.
Johnson & Johnson said its trials in the U.S. and seven other countries showed 66% effectiveness in its vaccine in preventing moderate to severe illness. It was 85% protective against the most serious symptoms.
Its vaccine also worked better in the U.S., with it being 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19, while it showed only 57% effectiveness in South Africa, where a more rapidly spreading variant of the virus is more prevalent.
The two-shot vaccines, Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, are more than 94% effective, but the company’s global research chief, Dr. Mathai Mammen, said, ““Gambling on one dose was certainly worthwhile.”
The news comes after interim results study released Thursday from Novavax, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology firm, showed its COVID-19 candidate vaccine to be safe and roughly 90% effective against the virus.
Novavax, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology firm, released the interim results from two clinical trials of its two dose candidate vaccine, one in the United Kingdom and another in South Africa.
The South African variant Thursday reached the U.S., identified in South Carolina. There is no evidence infections from the variant cause more severe disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement, adding that “preliminary data suggests this variant may spread more easily and quickly than other variants.” There’s also concern vaccines might be less effective against this variant.
But, there’s still good news: early safety data from the first month of COVID-19 vaccination finds the shots are as safe as the studies suggested they’d be.
In the headlines:
►New U.S cases of the coronavirus have fallen 35% from their Jan. 11 peak, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The average number of daily cases has fallen to about 162,000, from 249,000. And there are positive signs for hospitalization: The COVID Tracking Project said Wednesday that about 107,000 Americans were hospitalized because of the virus Tuesday, down from a peak of more than 130,000 three weeks ago.
►The Pentagon says it is reviewing a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for military troops to help set up 100 vaccination sites across the country.
►New York may have undercounted COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents by thousands, according to a new report from the state attorney general.
►Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who made clear in December that he would wait his turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, was quietly vaccinated last week at the recommendation of medical personnel, his office said.
►The Georgia Department of Public Health imposed a six month vaccine supply suspension Wednesday on a main rural county provider that’s been vaccinating educators, against current state guidelines, WSB-TV reported.
►A Florida fire captain turned himself in to face charges in connection with the alleged theft of COVID-19 vaccines, asking a local paramedic to obtain the vaccine for his elderly mother.
►German health minister Jens Spahn said he expects the European Union’s drug regulator to authorize a coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca on Friday, but it may not be recommended for people over 65 because of insufficient data.
►United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling attention to the wide disparity in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, referring to it as a “global emergency” and saying less than 20,000 of the 70 million doses so far administered have gone to people in African countries. Guterres warned against “vaccine nationalism,” pointing out the coronavirus will inevitably mutate if it continues circulating in parts of the globe.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 25.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 433,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 101.4 million cases and 2.19 million deaths. About 48.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 26.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: With the Biden administration seeking to vaccine 1.5 million people each day, mass vaccination clinics are popping up in California and New York, among other places. They’ll soon become common across the U.S. Read the full story.
An NFL season like no other will conclude Feb. 7 with Super Bowl 55, which will be unprecedented in many ways itself.
A few ways Super Bowl week and Super Sunday will be far different during a pandemic:
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team to host a Super Bowl in their own stadium, but only 22,000 fans will be allowed to attend.
- The traditional Super Bowl week kickoff event, known originally as “Media Day” but lately as “Opening Night,” will be drastically altered Monday. To begin with, there will be no media. All interviews will be done via Zoom with just nine players from each team instead of full rosters.
- The Chiefs are not expected to be on site until next Friday or Saturday. Super Bowl teams usually spend a week at the host city – practicing, conducting interviews at media events and dispersing into the community.
– Nate Davis
The World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus visited a Wuhan hospital Friday where Chinese officials say the first COVID-19 patients were treated more than a year ago.
The long-awaited WHO mission has become politically charged, and it may take years determine the origins of the virus, requiring extensive testing and analysis.
Team members from the WHO and Chinese officials met earlier at a hotel as they prepared for a series of field visits in and around Wuhan in the coming days.
“First face to face meeting with our colleagues. Correction: facemask to facemask given the medical restrictions,” Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans tweeted in the morning.
Avoid pain relief medications before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but they are “perfectly fine” to take after, experts say.
Normal side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include headache, fever, body aches and chills, and to minimize the discomfort, some Americans may turn to pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Studies on how the medications could have impact on the effectiveness of the vaccine are sparse and inconsistent, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both recommend against the preventive use of pain relievers, though allow them if symptoms develop after.
In a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Virology, researchers found nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can reduce the production of antibodies and impact other aspects of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Everyone who experienced an allergic response after the COVID-19 vaccination has been treated successfully, and no other serious problems have turned up among the first 22 million people vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The data on the 22M Americans vaccinated was collected from several tracking systems, including a voluntary one in which people who are vaccinated report their symptoms via text. Another allows people who believe they have been harmed by a vaccine to contribute their information, and athird collects reports from medical records.
Although it’s never possible to prove something is completely safe, data from these tracking systems suggests the vaccines are not causing large numbers of unusual or dangerous results. Read the full story.
– Karen Weintraub
The Biden administration vowed drug companies would make enough vaccine to immunize 300 million Americans by the end of the summer.
But getting the vaccine from the factory to the arms of people has been anything but smooth. Of 47.2 million doses shipped to states and nursing homes, 24.6 million have been administered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
The nation’s slow rollout boiled over from California, which tapped Blue Shield to allocate vaccines, to Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan implored the federal government to send more doses of potentially lifesaving vaccine.
– Ken Alltucker
Andrew Brooks, the former Chief Operating Officer and Director of Technology Development of RUCDR Infinite Biologics, helping usher medical breakthroughs to the market, including the first saliva test for COVID-19, died unexpectedly on Jan. 23 at the age of 51. A cause of death was not provided.
The COVID-19 test that Brooks’ team created received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration last spring and has been used approximately four million times, according to Rutgers.
“It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections,” Brooks said in April 2020 when it was first approved. “We can preserve precious personal protective equipment for use in patient care instead of testing.”
– Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Contributing: The Associated Press
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