Johnson & Johnson vaccine anticipated to be licensed

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The US is expected to approve a third COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday.

An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously voted Friday to recommend approval of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate for use in adults, paving the way for anticipated approval.

President Joe Biden called the single-dose shot a “third, safe, and effective vaccine” in a Friday address. But as the US continues to ramp up vaccinations, Biden urged Americans not to abandon their guards and continue to take harm control measures.

“It’s not the time to relax,” said Biden. He added, “And for God’s sake, wear your mask.”

Meanwhile, House approved Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package early Saturday, a key step in a move that will provide millions of Americans with $ 1,400 in stimulus payments, increase vaccine distribution, and unemployment benefits are to be extended until summer. The measure now goes to the Senate, where it faces a rocky path in the evenly divided chamber.

Also in the news:

►The federal government agreed to buy 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 treatment from Eli Lilly, the company said on Friday. The drug bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody, which means that it mimics one of the natural antibodies the immune system uses to fight the virus. The FDA approved the drug late last year.

►The federal government has supported 441 community vaccination centers in the U.S., including 171 that were manned by federal staff, said Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior advisor on the COVID-19 response. Two new federal vaccination sites in Chicago and Greensboro, North Carolina, were also announced on Friday.

► Ivory Coast is the second country in the world to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the global COVAX initiative. The first shipment was sent to Ghana on Wednesday.

📈 Today’s numbers: There are more than 28.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 511,000 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: more than 113.6 million cases and 2.5 million deaths. According to the CDC, more than 96.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed and about 72.8 million administered.

📘 What we read: They met on Bumble. She claims he molested her and killed her dogs. Now she is speaking out to help other domestic violence survivors who feel isolated amid COVID-19.

USA TODAY is tracking COVID-19 news. Please keep updating this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter to get updates for your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Falling demand for COVID-19 testing could put the US at risk

After a year of struggling to increase testing, communities across the country are seeing a drop in demand, testing sites closings, or even attempts to return supplies.

US testing peaked on Jan. 15 when the country was running an average of more than 2 million tests a day. Since then, the average number of daily tests has decreased by more than 28%. Drop mirrors have been in decline for all major virus actions since January, including new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Officials say these encouraging trends, along with harsh winter weather, the end of the vacation travel season, pandemic fatigue, and a growing focus on vaccinations, are diminishing interest in testing. However, testing remains important in tracking and containing the outbreak.

“We need to use tests to continue the downward trend,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Rockefeller Foundation, who advised Biden officials. “We have to have it there to catch the waves of variation.”

– The Associated Press

Studies: People with COVID-19 may only need to be vaccinated once

Six recent studies suggest that people who already have COVID-19 may not need a second dose of vaccine.

The federal government hasn’t changed its recommendation for a second dose, but studies looking at immune response show that a first shot gives people who have recovered from COVID-19 a huge boost, while the second shot hardly gives one Makes a difference.

“I think that makes perfect sense,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. For someone who’s had COVID-19, the first shot is like a COVID-19 naïve person getting a booster – they even have the side effects of someone getting a second dose of vaccine, he said. Continue reading.

– Karen Weintraub

Vaccine Waste Allegations, Theft Investigated in Tennessee

Further investigation from the state of Tennessee on Friday revealed that the COVID-19 vaccine may have been stolen in Shelby County, that children were inappropriately vaccinated and that more COVID-19 doses were wasted than previously thought.

The state found out about the child vaccinations and the alleged theft weeks after the incidents, said Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey in a full Friday afternoon news conference presenting numerous cases of poor vaccine management to reporters and calling the Shelby County Health department an “organization with low accountability “.

Piercey also described Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and county health officials as slow in reporting problems to authorities and not open enough in talking to state officials.

The revelations were the latest in a series of vaccine management questions in Shelby County released last week.

– Corinne S. Kennedy and Samuel Hardiman, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Cases in nursing homes down 89%

New federal data offers a glimmer of hope in the darkest and deadliest corner of the pandemic. The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in American nursing homes has fallen significantly since December as millions of vaccine doses were shot into the arms of residents and staff.

The weekly rate of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes decreased 89% from early December through the second week of February. By comparison, the nationwide case rate fell 58% and remains above the numbers reported before the end of October.

The dramatic decline in nursing home cases, where nearly 130,000 residents and employees have died since the virus emerged in the U.S., is fueling optimism for better days in nursing homes and communities as a whole as more Americans are being vaccinated, experts say.

– Ken Alltucker and Jayme Fraser

CDC director warns of “worrying” case increase

After several weeks of decline in COVID-19 cases and hospital stays, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky, on Friday facing a “worrying” surge in cases in recent days.

The most recent 7-day average of daily new cases was over 66,000 and above the average on Wednesday, Walensky said, citing CDC data.

The peak in early January was the highest in the pandemic, and while current averages are lower, they’re still high, Walensky said. “Things are difficult. Now is not the time to relax restrictions,” she said, pointing to the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

“We may now see the first effects of these variations in the latest data,” she added.

– Ryan Miller

NYC School Chancellor, who lost 11 family members to COVID-19, resigns

New York Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said Friday he had stepped down from his role, citing the need to grieve his 11 family members and close friends who had died of COVID-19.

“I feel like I can take this time now because of the place we are and the work we have done together,” he said.

Most of the city’s schools were heralded for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Carranza said the system had reopened safely to children of key workers, distributed over half a million electronic devices for distance learning and 80 million meals to his Student delivered.

“We have stabilized the system in a way that nobody thought possible,” he added. “The light, my New Yorkers, really is at the end of the tunnel.”

Carranza will be succeeded by Meisha Ross Porter, Executive Superintendent of the Bronx, who will become the first black woman to lead the country’s largest school district.

– Ryan Miller