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January 29 coronavirus news

Doctors say an approved single-dose vaccine would be welcomed help

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Italy to ease virus restrictions in many regions from Sunday

Piazza Venezia Square is reflected in the window of a closed coffee bar following Covid-19 restriction measures in Rome, Italy on January 22.

Coronavirus restrictions in many parts of Italy will be eased from Sunday, the country’s Health Ministry has announced.

All but five of Italy’s regions will be considered “yellow” under its color-coded system, the ministry said on Friday. 

Veneto, the region around Venice, is to go from an orange to a yellow zone, which allows the daytime reopening of bars and restaurants and greater freedom to travel.

Calabria in the south and Emilia-Romagna in the north were also downgraded from orange to yellow.

From Sunday, the regions of Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Umbria and the autonomous province of Bolzano will be in the orange zone.

All the other regions and autonomous provinces are in the yellow zone.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy had experienced a significant drop in its coronavirus transmission rate.

“The transmission rate of the infection fell to 0.84. It is an encouraging result of the correct behavior of the people and the Christmas measures that have worked. Numerous regions will return to the yellow zone. This is good news, but keeping your full attention is essential. The challenge to the virus is still very complex,” Speranza added. 

Don't wait for teachers to be vaccinated before reopening schools, former US CDC director says

Dr. Tom Frieden testifies during a subcommittee hearing on May 6, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden says schools can safely reopen as long as the right precautions are taken. 

“Classrooms should stay open as long as possible, and reopen as soon as possible – in-person learning is enormously important,” Frieden said during an Axios podcast interview on Friday.

“It isn’t the academic setting where the virus is spreading overwhelmingly, so we need our kids back in schools. Getting teachers vaccinated soon will help do that, but I wouldn’t wait for teacher vaccination. Our kids need learning today.”

Frieden says effective safety precautions include masks, proper ventilation in school buildings and social distancing to “the extent you can.” He also recommends schools eliminate teacher break rooms and regulate extracurricular activities.

Biden seeks to intensify public lobbying for Covid-19 relief bill amid the pandemic

When US President Joe Biden intensifies his attention next week to selling Republicans and Democrats on his coronavirus relief bill, he won’t be relying on some of the presidency’s most symbolic powers.

Out, for now, are arm-twisting sessions in the Oval Office or rides into a lawmaker’s district aboard Air Force One. Instead, administration aides are planning remote television hits from the White House, out-of-the-blue phone calls to skeptical Republicans and maybe a stop somewhere within driving distance, according to officials.

Hamstrung by the very pandemic he is working to contain, Biden and his advisers have sharply limited the ways in which he can promote the $1.9 trillion relief bill he has proposed in the opening days of his presidency. Flying around the country to sell the plan is off the table for now, aides said, as Biden works to promote responsible pandemic behavior. Even the idea of visiting the weekly Democratic and Republican Senate luncheons on Capitol Hill is a non-starter, aides said, though – like Biden – many members of Congress have been vaccinated.

It’s not necessarily how Biden would like to be ushering his debut legislative attempt through Congress, particularly since he built an entire career as a senator around attempts to foster bipartisanship through camaraderie on Capitol Hill. So, too, will his famous personal touch with middle-class Americans be sidelined as Air Force One remains in the hangar at Joint Base Andrews. He and his then-boss President Barack Obama used both while mustering support for the 2009 stimulus plan in the earliest days of that administration.

“The irony is that the virus is the core challenge he is trying to address,” David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the Obama administration during its economic stimulus push, said Friday. “It also limits his ability to travel and sell it.”

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Biden seeks to intensify public lobbying for Covid-19 relief bill amid the pandemic

EU will not trigger Brexit protocol amid vaccine export dispute, European Commission says

In an apparent rethink late Friday, the European Commission issued a statement saying it will not trigger a Brexit clause to introduce emergency export controls on vaccines to Northern Ireland from the bloc. 

“In the process of finalisation of this measure, the Commission will ensure that the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol is unaffected. The Commission is not triggering the safeguard clause,” the statement said. 

However, the statement warned that “should transits of vaccines and active substances toward third countries be abused to circumvent the effects of the authorisation system, the EU will consider using all the instruments at its disposal.”

Earlier Friday, the EU startled Belfast, London and Dublin when it said it was willing to use Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol – an emergency measure that could be used by either the UK or the EU to retain stability on the island of Ireland.  

If the EU had invoked Article 16, any effort to use Northern Ireland as a back door to the rest of the UK to circumvent export controls would be restricted.

Following discussions with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen late Friday, the Irish leader, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, said he “welcomed the decision by the EC not to invoke the safeguard clause of the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol.”

Coachella and Stagecoach have been canceled

People attend the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in Indio, California.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival scheduled for April have been canceled under a new health officer order issued by Riverside County on Friday.

The order was issued by Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser “based on concerns of a fall resurgence of Covid-19 both within the county of Riverside and worldwide.”

According to the order, both music festivals attract “hundreds of thousands of attendees from many countries,” which could increase the risk of spread of the coronavirus. 

“If Covid-19 were detected at these festivals, the scope and number of attendees and the nature of the venue would make it infeasible, if not impossible, to track those who may be placed at risk,” Dr. Kaiser said.

Both events, which are two of the largest music events held in Southern California, were also canceled last year due to the pandemic.

CNN has reached out to Coachella and Stagecoach for a comment.

CDC director extends pandemic order halting some evictions

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extended an order Friday halting evictions for some people through March 31.

The CDC said that the pandemic has worsened housing insecurity for many Americans, and evictions of tenants who cannot make rent or housing payments could hinder efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.

“Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings — like shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC stated.

More context: The order, originally issued in September, was previously set to expire on Jan. 31.

It covers people who earn $99,000 or less a year and cannot make payment because of a loss of income or extraordinary medical costs. Tenants must prove they have exhausted efforts to get government assistance to pay rent, are making some effort to provide payment, and will be forced to move to congregate living settings or left homeless by eviction.

Some states could vaccinate their seniors twice as fast as others, CNN analysis finds

Some states could fully vaccinate their 65-and-older population within two months, but it could take more than twice as long for others, a CNN analysis found.

If individuals age 65 and older were the only people being vaccinated, Alaska could fully vaccinate its seniors – with both shots of the two-dose regimen – within 43 days. In Iowa, Hawaii, Idaho and Florida, it could take more than 130 days, or more than four months.

The analysis considered the total senior population in each state, along with the average pace of vaccine administration over the past seven days, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In four states, more than one in five people are 65 or older, according to data from the US Census Bureau: Maine, Florida, West Virginia and Vermont.

At the current pace of vaccinations, it would take Florida 131 days to fully vaccinate its senior population if they were the only group being vaccinated. However, West Virginia is administering vaccines at a per capita rate that’s about 32% faster than Florida, and could fully vaccinate its senior population in 87 days.

About two weeks ago, the federal government – under the Trump administration – issued new guidance to states to expand vaccine eligibility to adults 65 years old and older, along with health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. But both Florida and West Virginia had adapted their plans to focus on senior populations sooner.

Florida’s vaccination plan has left many frustrated by apparent lack of coordination, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the state’s plan and its emphasis on protecting older people. 

“We put seniors first and other states soon followed,” he said at a press conference.

About a quarter of Florida’s senior population – more than 1.1 million people 65 years or older – had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the state’s latest vaccine report.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said in a news conference Monday that nearly 74,000 seniors had received at least one dose of vaccine – about 20% of the state’s 65 and older population.

While vaccine administration may be moving faster in some states, the focus on the senior population may not be as high.

In Michigan, for example, vaccine administration is 17% faster than Florida. But only 17% of seniors in the state have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard. 

For some volunteers helping with the Covid-19 vaccination effort, early vaccination is a bonus

For the many volunteers helping with the nation’s Covid-19 vaccination effort, whether they can get vaccinated themselves depends on the jurisdiction they are in and how many doses happen to be available on any given day.

The US Department of Health and Human Services amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act on Thursday, in a move to broaden the pool of eligible vaccinators across the US.

St. Joseph County in South Bend, Indiana, received more than 1,500 responses to their call for volunteers to help with its vaccination effort.

Dr. Robert Riley, a retired family physician, joined the volunteer effort and received a shot of the Moderna vaccine during his first shift. Riley is 63 and was not providing direct patient care before volunteering, so he would not have otherwise received a vaccine.

Sometimes volunteers are offered doses that remain at the end of the day, but because of supply constraints, the county can only commit to vaccinating those who can volunteer 60 hours over the course of three months, said Robin Vida, the health department’s volunteer coordinator.

Many health systems and providers have had to come up with their own criteria for whether and when volunteers can get vaccinated.

LaKieva Williams helps run Georgia Responds, Georgia’s Covid-19 volunteer response effort. Since March, Williams says more than 7,000 Georgians have signed up to perform both medical and administrative tasks.

The Georgia Department of Health said that as a statewide agency, it cannot guarantee all volunteers priority access to vaccines.

“While I think ideally, you want all of your volunteers to be vaccinated we still have to adhere to the phases in the rollout,” Williams said. “The intent is there, but it’s a matter of supply.”

Nearly 28 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US, according to new CDC data

A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the Park County Health Department on January 28, in Livingston, Montana.

Nearly 28 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 27,884,661 total doses have been administered – about 57% of the 49,216,500 doses distributed.

Nearly 22.9 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 4.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. 

Remember: States have 72 hours to report vaccine data, so data published by the CDC may be delayed, and may not necessarily mean all doses were given on the day reported. 

CDC is currently conducting research to determine if two masks are better than one

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki removes two masks as she arrives for a press briefing at the White House on January 22.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently experimenting to find out about the effectiveness of wearing two masks. However, what is most critical is that as many people as possible wear one, Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC Covid-19 Response, said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing Friday.

“Experts have proposed using two masks, or double-masking, where you put a cloth mask with a very high thread count over a medical mask,” Brooks said. “When used this way, the medical mask acts as a filter and then the cloth mask over it adds filtration but also helps provide a better fit to the contours of your face and prevents leaking around the edges.”

Brooks said that there is thinking that this specific combination could block over 90% of more of the respiratory droplets, which is near the level of an N95 respirator. 

“Although this strategy may be an excellent solution, we haven’t seen data from experiments yet testing two masks together,” he said. “But CDC scientists today are conducting experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of wearing two masks in this fashion and will share that information as soon as it’s available.”

Brooks shared advice for people who opt to double mask, as well as advice for general mask-wearing, before stressing the importance of as many people as possible wearing them.

“In public health, it is all about choice. The more choices we can offer people, the more likely they are to find something that suits them, and that they’ll adopt,” he said. “Any mask is better than no mask. And regardless of what we use, it’s critical that as many of us as possible mask up.”

Novavax working on booster shot in response to coronavirus variants

Biotechnology company Novavax is developing booster shots to help its Covid-19 vaccine protect against newly emerging variants of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the company announced its vaccine, known as NVX-CoV2373, was found to have an efficacy of 89.3% in a Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the UK and the vaccine appeared to demonstrate clinical efficacy against some variants of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the announcement also noted:

“Novavax initiated development of new constructs against the emerging strains in early January and expects to select ideal candidates for a booster and/or combination bivalent vaccine for the new strains in the coming days. The company plans to initiate clinical testing of these new vaccines in the second quarter of this year.”

The National Guard is supporting US vaccination efforts in 38 states

Washington National Guard personnel prepare to administer Covid-19 vaccinations in Wenatchee, Washington, on January 26.

National Guard troops are supporting vaccination efforts in 38 states across the country, giving over 51,000 shots a day.

At least 22,900 members of the National Guard are supporting Covid-19 response efforts at over 260 sites nationwide, Major Gen. Jerry L. Fenwick, director of the Office of the Joint Surgeon and National Guard Bureau, said in a briefing with reporters on Friday.

An additional 44,000 troops are serving in “other domestic operations,” he added.

When asked about how many troops who were sent to Washington, DC, tested positive for Covid-19, DC National Guard Deputy Surgeon General Lt. Col. Paul Tumminello said that it’s “about 2%” of the deployment “at any given time.”

“We’re running folks in and out all the time,” he told reporters on a call, “because of this constant ebb and flow of folks and people… that number is a constant number to kind of chase.”

National Guard Adjutant Generals of Washington, California and Michigan also provided an update on Friday about how they are supporting the Covid-19 response in their respective states, including administering Covid-19 tests in each state, assisting with vaccinating populations in each state and providing additional food for each state.

Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, the adjutant general of California, said that 1,484 National Guard members are on duty in the state of California supporting Covid-19 testing sites.

In Michigan, Major Gen. Paul D. Rogers, the state’s adjutant general, said National Guard troops in his state have administered over 215,000 Covid-19 tests and 40,000 vaccinations since Dec. 16. They have also distributed 27 million pounds of food.

Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty, the adjutant general of Washington, said there are between 800 and 1,000 National Guard members deployed in the state right now supporting the Covid-19 response. Their team is “capable of administering about 1,000 shots per day per team,” Daugherty said. He added that they have administered 9,000 shots in the past four days.

New York will receive 16% more vaccine doses starting next week, governor says

Health workers prepare to administer Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Harlem, New York, on January 15.

New York State will receive 16% more vaccine doses for the next three weeks starting next week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference today.

Cuomo said New York has used all of the allocation that the state has received from weeks 1 through 6 and is now starting to use the 250,400 doses that have been arriving this week.

The governor has asked local governments not to schedule vaccine appointments until they have the allocations in hand.

A mass vaccination site will be opening at Yankee Stadium, but Cuomo did not confirm a date when it will come online.

If the positivity rate continues to hold, New York City can resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Feb.14, Valentine’s Day, Cuomo said.

Cuomo announced “safe marriage receptions” can resume March 15, following certain guidelines. All patrons that attend an event will have to be tested, venues cannot exceed 50% capacity up to 150 people, and the event must be approved by local health department, Cuomo said.

“We are developing guidance much like marriage receptions where you can do testing and monitoring, and the local health department can monitor it,” Cuomo said 

Cuomo said the numbers are going down: “The post-holiday surge reduction continues,” he said.

The New York State positivity rate is 4.65%, the lowest since December 11th, Cuomo said. At least 12,579 positive cases have been reported, there have been 151 deaths, according to the governor, and 73% of all hospital workers have been vaccinated to date.

Coronavirus variants projected to be more dominant in US by the end of March, Fauci says

The coronavirus variants circulating globally are projected to become more dominant in the United States by the spring, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House news briefing.

“The fact is, when you have a virus that has ability to transmit more efficiently than the wild type in the community — sooner or later, by pure viral dynamics itself — it will become more dominant than the wild type,” Fauci said.

“We have a situation where there have now been reported in very specific places, in South Carolina for example, the isolate or the mutant that is the 351 [B.1.351, the Covid-19 variant first spotted in South Africa],” Fauci said. “That seems to have a very good fitness for spread, so whether or not that’s going to ultimately take over in the sense of being dominant is unclear by now. The projection that is made with regard to the UK [variant] is that probably by the end of March, the beginning of April, it actually will become more dominant in this country.”

"We should be treating every case as if it's a variant," CDC director says

Every Covid-19 case in the United States now should be treated as if it is caused by one of the newly identified coronavirus variants, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House news briefing on Friday.

“By the time someone has symptoms, gets a test, has a positive result and we get the sequence, our opportunity for doing real case control and contact tracing is largely gone,” Walensky said. “So I think and I believe that we should be treating every case as if it’s a variant during this pandemic right now.” 

Fauci calls coronavirus variants "a wake-up call" for all of us

The emergence of coronavirus variants is a “wake-up call,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House news briefing on Friday.

Multiple variants of the virus that causes Covid-19 are circulating around the world, including the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, B.1.351 first identified in South Africa and P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil.

“When these variants were first recognized, it became clear that we had to look at, in vitro in the test tube, whether the antibodies that were induced by the vaccines that we had available would actually neutralize these new mutants,” Fauci said.

Recent studies from vaccine makers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have shown some protection against variants.

“What we know now from this study —namely the J&J and the Novavax study — that antigenic variation, i.e. mutations lead to different lineage, do have clinical consequences,” Fauci said. 

“This is a wake-up call to all of us,” Fauci said. “We will continue to see the evolution of mutants. … We have to be nimble in order to adjust readily to make versions of the vaccine that are actually specifically directed to whatever mutation is actually present at any given time.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the first two cases of the of the B.1.351 variant, which was officially first detected in South Africa, were identified in South Carolina and announced yesterday – and the cases were identified in different parts of the state and are not believed to be linked.

Walensky added that earlier this week, Minnesota identified the first US case of the P. 1 variant, which recently emerged in Brazil.

White House Covid-19 adviser praises 7 states on vaccine administration

White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt praised a select group of states on their vaccination deployment efforts.

“I want to call out seven states that have already provide first vaccinations to more than 10% of their populations: Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Connecticut, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Well done,” Slavitt said during Friday’s virtual Covid-19 briefing.

Five of those states — Alaska, West Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota  — are led by Republican governors.

Slavitt said the administration is accelerating the process of vaccinating the country “as quickly and as safely as possible,” noting that the seven-day average of 1.2 million vaccines administered per day is “a base to build from in the coming days, weeks, and months.”

The challenges the administration faces, he said, are “increasing the supply of vaccines safely and more rapidly and speeding up the time it takes to administer them efficiently, and more importantly, equitably.”

CDC director says US is ramping up surveillance and sequencing of Covid-19 variants

US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that officials continue to remain concerned about Covid-19 variants.

The US is “rapidly ramping up surveillance and sequencing activities as we work to closely monitor and identify variants as they emerge,” she said during a White House coronavirus briefing.

“We also know viruses mutate, and they tend to mutate in ways that are advantageous to the virus. We expected this. And this is why I feel compelled to underscore for you the need for each of us to remain steadfast in our commitment to taking all of the appropriate steps to protected ourselves and our communities,” she said. 

Walensky said that now is not the time to travel, and she encouraged all Americans to wear masks, practice social distancing and get vaccinated when it is available. 

More on the variants: At least four coronavirus variants have been identified. Scientists are not surprised to see the coronavirus changing and evolving — it’s what viruses do, after all. And with so much unchecked spread across the US and other parts of the world, the virus is getting plenty of opportunity to do just that.

What scientists most fear is that one will mutate to the point that it causes more severe disease, bypasses the ability of tests to detect it or evades the protection provided by vaccination. While some of the new variants appear to have changes that look like they could affect immune response, it’s only by a matter of degree.

Young widows who lost their husbands to Covid-19 are separated by the pandemic but connected in grief

Pamela Addison’s husband Martin was going to take her to a lighthouse for their sixth anniversary. It was a surprise. But she only found out about it after he had died of Covid-19.

“I felt so alone after Martin died. So I thought I was the only young widow,” she said.

She wrote about her story in her local paper. When Kristina Scorpo read it, she decided to reach out.

“She knows exactly how I feel, and I know exactly how she feels,” Scorpio said.

Scorpo’s husband Frank died on Easter Sunday. Their baby boy was just six months old. Her older son was not even five.

That’s what gave her the inspiration to start an online group called “Young widows and widowers.” Soon, the group became the place to go for Whitney Parker and Diana Ordonez to go. 

Ordonez’s husband Juan was taken to the hospital in the middle of the night as he battled Covid-19. He never came home. For their five-year-old daughter Mia, it changed everything. 

“She tells me, ‘I’m afraid something is going to happen to you. I’m afraid you’re going to die.’ And so she, you know, she just can’t go to sleep,” Ordonez said.

“For weeks after he passed, I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night and I would reach for my phone thinking I missed the call from the hospital. And then you realize, no, you know, he already passed. You have to like tell yourself the story again,” she added.

Parker’s husband Leslie called her from the hospital crying and said he was scared. Two days later, she heard he had died. When she told her daughter, she said:

“She’s so much like her dad. So logical. Like, ‘well, you know, daddy’s not here, but I don’t think he wants us to be sad all the time.’ And I am like, ‘yeah, that’s true. How are you teaching me about grief?’”

The women have never met but even in isolation, group members talk together to grieve their losses and support each other in healing, a reminder that Covid-19 claims lives but also devastates the lives of many loved ones in its wake.

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European Union adopts measures regulating vaccine exports

The European Commission has adopted new measures making export of Covid-19 vaccines subject to export authorization, European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in Brussels Friday.

“The commission has adopted a strictly targeted measure that will allow us to gather accurate information about the production of vaccines and where manufacturers intend to ship them,” he said.

“The measure is time limited and specifically applies to those Covid-19 vaccines that were agreed by advance purchase agreements. The measure is intended to run until the end of March,” he added. 

“The protection and safety of our citizens is a priority and the challenges we now face left us with now other choice but to act.”

Dombrovskis said during a press briefing that new measures regulating the export of coronavirus vaccines from the bloc are “not targeting any specific country,” stressing that the measure has been introduced to enhance transparency.  

Some of the countries the commission has outlined which are to be exempt from export measures include European Free Trade Association members Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein and six western Balkan nations and any of the 92 low- and middle-income countries in the COVAX recipient list. 

The United Kingdom is not on its list of exemptions.

Speaking alongside Dombrovskis, European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that the EU is not implementing the new measures to protect itself against any specific country, but rather to “ensure access to vaccines for European citizens and, of course, beyond.”

“We are not in competition or in a race against any country,” Kyriakides said. 

“The only race we are in is against this virus, and this is what has been at the center of every single piece of work that we have been doing for almost a year,” she added. 

This post was updated with new details about the countries that will be exempt from export measures.

CDC director hopeful US schools can reopen soon as a result of teacher vaccinations and mitigation efforts

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday that she is hopeful that schools can reopen safely by relying on a combination of teacher vaccination and mitigation measures. 

“In most states, if not all states, teachers should be eligible for vaccination now,” Walensky said on NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Today.

Even if they can’t get vaccinated yet, Walensky said “they should be early in queue, and so they should be getting it soon.”  

Walensky also referenced data released by CDC earlier this week and looked at how K-12 schools in Wisconsin prevented spread of Covid-19.

“We need to have the mitigation efforts that have been, you know, demonstrated to work - masking, distancing, low density classrooms – that has demonstrated that we can open schools safely,” she said. 

 “Coupled with teacher vaccination, I hope, in the weeks ahead, would suggest that we can open schools safely,” she said. 

But, she noted, schools need funding and the resources to make sure that they can get there. 

EU regulator recommends approval for AstraZeneca vaccine

Europe’s medicines regulator on Friday recommended that the European Union’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EMA has said they have assessed the data on “data, quality and efficacy” of the vaccine, which will assure EU citizens that the vaccine would meet the required standards and safeguards.

This is the third Covid-19 vaccine that EMA has recommended for authorization.

The long-awaited decision from the EMA came after several EU countries warned they were running out of vaccine doses, and as coronavirus deaths pile up across the continent.

Some background: For the past week, the EU and AstraZeneca have been locked in an acrimonious dispute over vaccine supplies. A week ago, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant said it would not be able to deliver as many doses as the European Union expected – upending the bloc’s vaccination plans.

The EMA’s authorization came a day after the German vaccine commission said it would not recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 65 or over, citing insufficient data.

Read more on the EU regulator’s authorization of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine here:

A laboratory technician supervises capped vials during filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxfords COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, conducted on a high-performance aseptic vial filling line on September 11, 2020 at the Italian biologics manufacturing facility of multinational corporation Catalent in Anagni, southeast of Rome, during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. - Catalent Biologics manufacturing facility in Anagni, Italy will serve as the launch facility for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxfords Covid-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, providing large-scale vial filling and packaging to British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

EU regulators recommend authorization of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine

Biden "encouraged" by Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine news, White House says

President Joe Biden is “encouraged” about Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine news.

“The President is encouraged by positive data on a potential new vaccine. He also knows that this is must new data and now is the time for the FDA to do its job of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said as she began Friday’s press briefing.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease. The company plans to submit an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for the vaccine next week.

In the meantime, Psaki said, Biden continues to urge Americans to mask up and follow public health guidelines “until it’s their turn to get vaccinated.”

She declined to “get ahead of the experts” who will brief virtually at 11:00 am and will discuss the new vaccine ne