The Latest: 100 Million Doses in Biden’s First 58 Days
When President Joe Biden declared on his campaign trail that he would administer 100 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in his first 100 days, I admit that I was highly skeptical. At the time, optimism seemed out of reach. But right now is a very different time: Today, on Biden’s 58th day in office, his administration reached its goal. With over 118 million doses administered, 12.6% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated.
In the meantime, pressure for the United States to share its stockpile of doses has mounted. Which is fair! About 7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are sitting around unused because the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t allowed them to be administered yet while other countries that have authorized the vaccine don’t have enough of it.
This week, the Biden administration announced plans to loan 1.5 million doses to Canada and 2.5 million to Mexico, where the vaccine is authorized, but these countries will have to return the favor with future doses. Fortunately, the United States will still be on track to have enough doses for all Americans by the end of May even if it loans these doses.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, by the way, has been cleared by the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency as safe to use in the wake of concerns that it caused blood clots. The company is expected to file for U.S. authorization in the coming weeks, which could soon bring the number of vaccines available to Americans up to four.
Stay safe and stay hopeful,
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog
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A quick Q&A: How would a nasal spray vaccine work?
Most vaccines involve jabs in arms, but a different format — one that’s sprayed in the nose — could be even more effective in stopping the spread of Covid-19. As staff writer Emily Mullin writes in the Coronavirus Blog, nasal spray vaccines can offer protection at the site where the virus typically enters the body in the first place. These vaccines elicit a type of antibody that gets secreted by the wet parts of the nose, conferring what’s known as “mucosal immunity.” Two companies have already launched early-stage trials of these vaccines.
What we’re talking about on the Blog
How to differentiate between variants and “scariants.” By now, variants like B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 — identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, respectively — have become household names. Yet, because mutation is a normal part of a virus’s life cycle, thousands of other variants exist. Why do some make headlines while others don’t? Science journalist Tara Haelle, writing in Elemental, explains why only a handful are considered “variants of concern” while many others are “scariants” — those with no data to suggest that they’re worth worrying about. Read more.
The effects of Covid-19 on kids can reach the kidneys. Some children who get Covid-19 develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C for short. As the name suggests, this syndrome causes inflammation in many tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs, digestive system, and brain. At first, it appeared that this syndrome spared the kidneys, but as science journalist Emily Willingham writes on the Coronavirus Blog, new research suggests that may not be the case. Read more.
Indoor dining is still risky. In his weekly public health update on the Coronavirus Blog, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the United States is making “encouraging progress,” but the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are still very high. In particular, he notes that restaurants allowing on-premises dining have higher case and death rates. “No worker should be avoidably exposed to Covid, or have to plead with a customer to mask up,” he writes. “OSHA should act.” Read more.