The Latest: 2 million daily doses in the U.S.
This week, over 2 million doses were delivered each day in the United States — a record high. President Joe Biden said that there would be enough doses for all American adults by May, moving up his timeline from July. Johnson & Johnson teamed up with its longtime rival, Merck, to make more doses of its vaccine. From where we stand, the U.S. vaccine rollout looks promising.
It isn’t great yet, though: The vaccination rate disparity between people of color and white people in the United States is unacceptably wide. Vaccine eligibility criteria are being called into question by people with medical conditions who have been forced to wait, leading to “vaccine FOMO.” On the international scale, tensions are rising between countries competing for a limited vaccine supply.
The end is in sight, but we won’t get there without everyone’s cooperation. Hang tight, and get vaccinated with any of the available vaccines when it’s your turn (Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, experts remind us, offers complete protection against Covid-19-related hospitalization and death). And keep your mask on, even if your state says you don’t have to.
Stay safe and stay hopeful,
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog
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A quick Q&A: What is the ‘California variant’?
While variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil have made their way around the globe, the United States has introduced its own: the so-called California variant. This variant of SARS-CoV-2 is in the news because of two recent studies, but the original version of the variant was actually first detected in California last July, as Emily Willingham writes for the Coronavirus Blog. Now, the variant carries one mutation that’s particularly worrisome.
What we’re talking about on the Blog
Global tensions are rising over vaccine supply. This week, Italy said it blocked a shipment of doses from being delivered to Australia, arguing that the latter was not a “vulnerable” country. Italy’s move was sanctioned by a controversial European Union rule allowing a member nation to limit vaccine exports if a vaccine manufacturer hasn’t fulfilled its obligations to that country. Public health experts are concerned the rule will lead to vaccine nationalism, which would hinder the end of the pandemic. Read more.
What’s going on in Texas? Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ended the state’s mask mandate and opened up all businesses “100%” this week, eliciting vehement pushback from health experts. Though U.S. case counts and deaths are declining, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Rochelle Walensky, MD has said that the numbers aren’t low enough to start opening up states. Mississippi, however, said it would follow Texas’s suit. Connecticut has relaxed its restrictions on businesses but kept its mask mandate. Read more.
Nations are debating “vaccine passports.” Israel, which is leading the global vaccine rollout with nearly 40% of its population fully vaccinated, has started giving out two types of immunity documents, writes Elad Simchayoff in the Coronavirus Blog. One, an “immunity certificate,” lets vaccinated citizens resume most parts of normal life. The other is a “green passport,” issued in hope that it will allow citizens to travel to other countries that adopt such passports for vaccinated people. The idea is fraught with ethical, scientific, and technological issues, but the European Union has already said it would propose its own vaccine passport plan. Read more.