Key Takeaways From Jan. 6, 2021
- The Covid-19 positivity rate has significantly increased in a number of states.
- Hospitalizations hit another record in the U.S., at 131,215.
- The U.S. reported nearly 230,000 new cases, helping push total confirmed infections above 21 million.
- Europe’s main drug regulator cleared Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, the region's second shot to fight the coronavirus.
- A U.K. plan to expand vaccine supplies by delaying the second dose has been followed by other countries.
- At least 29 people in the U.S. developed severe allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines in the first nine days, out of the 1.9 million people inoculated.
- The vaccine rollout at U.S. nursing homes has encountered fewer residents and reluctant staff.
The percentage of Covid-19 tests returning positive results has surged in a number of states in recent days, raising concerns among health officials who see it as a sign that the virus is spreading more broadly.
While holiday lags in data reporting continue to affect case counts and deaths, the U.S. reported 229,055 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country’s daily death toll rose to 3,775.
The number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 across the U.S. is also accelerating, with a record 131,215 reported Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, putting a strain on health systems across the country.
The rising metrics come as states push to speed up the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines after a slow start to the most ambitious vaccination campaign in modern U.S. history. More than 4.8 million Americans had received their first dose as of Tuesday morning, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- far short of the 20 million people the federal government had promised would be vaccinated by the end of 2020. The shortfall is due in part to a lag in reporting data using new tools, government officials and health experts said.
Florida Medical Authorities Probing Death of Man Who Got Covid-19 Vaccine
香蕉视频苹果下载Florida medical authorities said they are investigating the death of a 56-year-old physician two weeks after he received a Covid-19 vaccine.
The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner is investigating the death late Jan. 3 or early Jan. 4 of Gregory Michael, who was given a Covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 19, according to Darren Caprara, the medical examiner’s director of operations.
The medical examiner is looking into the cause of Dr. Michael’s death and whether it was caused by or related to the vaccine, Mr. Caprara said.
香蕉视频苹果下载The medical examiner’s office and Florida Department of Health said they were working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC is aware of a reported death in Florida of an individual who received Pfizer's vaccine about two weeks before dying, an agency spokeswoman said. An FDA spokeswoman said the agency had no immediate comment.
Dr. Michael was an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. Three days after getting vaccinated, he was admitted to the hospital, Mr. Caprara said.
His wife wrote on Facebook that he died after getting a vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and due to a condition known as thrombocytopenia. The condition is marked by a shortage of the blood platelets that help stop bleeding.
Dr. Michael’s wife didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
香蕉视频苹果下载Pfizer and BioNTech said they are investigating the death but don’t believe there is a direct connection to the vaccine.
“It is a highly unusual clinical case of severe thrombocytopenia, a condition that decreases the body’s ability to clot blood and stop internal bleeding,” a Pfizer spokeswoman said in a statement.
香蕉视频苹果下载Thrombocytopenia wasn’t identified as a potential side effect in the clinical trials testing the Covid-19 vaccine, and it hadn’t surfaced as an issue since health regulators permitted widespread use last month, the Pfizer spokeswoman said.
The Florida Department of Health was made aware that a health care worker in Miami-Dade County, who received the Covid-19 vaccine has died, and immediately referred this information to the CDC for investigation, a spokesman said.
香蕉视频苹果下载A Mount Sinai spokeswoman said the hospital couldn’t confirm or deny any information about any patient, citing patient privacy laws and guidelines.
The FDA authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 11, after it was found to be 95% effective and generally well-tolerated in a 44,000-subject clinical trial.
Canadian Province Imposes Curfew to Fight Exponential Covid-19 Surge
香蕉视频苹果下载The Canadian province of Quebec said Wednesday it would institute a curfew on residents, with officials calling the order a form of “shock therapy” to curb exponential growth in Covid-19 infections.
Quebec’s curfew is the latest measure Canadian authorities have rolled out to contain the spread of the virus—so far with limited success—during a hard-hitting second wave of infections.
Seven- and 14-day averages of new cases in Canada have hit records on a near-daily basis recently. New infections are nearly four times higher than levels from three months ago, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal. Cumulative cases, currently at over 620,000, doubled over roughly 50 days.
Quebec has re-emerged as Canada's hot spot for Covid-19 transmission, with adjusted growth in average new daily cases over the past week outpacing some of Europe’s biggest economies, such as Spain, Italy and France, according to data compiled by National Bank Financial. That is despite moves by the province—which accounts for about a third of Canada’s Covid-19 cases—to implement a series of economic restrictions dating back to early October.
香蕉视频苹果下载The curfew for Canada’s second most populous province begins Saturday and will remain in place until Feb. 8. The order bans the province’s 8.6 million residents from being outside their home from 8 p.m. ET to 5 a.m. ET, and police have the power to issue fines equivalent to roughly $5,000 for violations.
Quebec Premier François Legault said the curfew was akin to “shock therapy” for the province, saying gatherings in people's homes likely contributed to an exponential growth in Covid-19 infections. “The situation has worsened. The death toll is increasing. We have seen our hospitals get overloaded, so the situation is really critical,” Mr. Legault said.
On Oct. 1, Quebec ordered bars, restaurants, libraries, museums and movie theaters to close in Montreal and Quebec City. All nonessential businesses in Quebec were ordered closed after Christmas until Jan. 11. They will now remain shut until Feb. 8.
Covid-19 Vaccines Expected to Work on South Africa Coronavirus Strain
JOHANNESBURG—A new variant of the coronavirus that is surging across South Africa香蕉视频苹果下载 may make the existing Covid-19 vaccines less effective, but is unlikely to be totally resistant to the shots, according to leading researchers who have studied the mutations and the vaccines.
The variant, which has already shown up in patients in Europe and other African countries, has quickly become the predominant one in South Africa, exacerbating a second wave of infections that is overwhelming hospitals and has driven daily deaths to record highs.
South African researchers are racing to determine whether it makes patients more seriously ill than other variants of the virus. They are also testing how it responds to antibodies from people who have recovered from Covid-19 and those who have received coronavirus vaccines.
Their official conclusions are eagerly awaited by researchers around the globe, since one of the variant’s mutations has in earlier laboratory experiments shown increased resistance to some of the antibodies the body uses to fight off Covid-19. U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that he was “incredibly worried about the South African variant.”
香蕉视频苹果下载But scientists who worked on the antibody experiments and the lead investigators of several vaccine trials being conducted in South Africa say that—based on their understanding of the virus and the immune response triggered by the shots—the immunizations should still work against the new variant, although perhaps not as effectively.
Nations Stretch Scarce Covid-19 Vaccines by Delaying a Second Shot
Governments engaged in a desperate race to roll out vaccines to beat back a winter surge of the coronavirus have turned to a new tactic: freeing up scarce vaccine supplies so they can inoculate more vulnerable people faster with a single shot by delaying the second dose.
The first to act was the U.K., which is dealing with new Covid-19 infections propelled by a fast-spreading variant of the virus香蕉视频苹果下载. Its plan to expand vaccine supplies by delaying the second dose has been followed elsewhere in Europe and part of Canada. The U.K.’s state-run National Health Service will wait up to three months to deliver the second shot instead of the three to four weeks recommended based on drug-company trials.
The moves come as many countries are struggling to ramp up vaccination programs. France has inoculated only a few thousand people, while Belgium began its mass-vaccination program on Tuesday and the Netherlands on Wednesday. Even in places like the U.K., Germany and the U.S. where more people have been vaccinated, vaccination efforts are falling behind a winter wave of infections that threatens to overwhelm some hospitals.
The approach has prompted pushback by some medical authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which this week called delaying the second dose potentially detrimental to public health. However, other U.S. health officials have said they are looking into options such as tinkering with dosage sizes and other ways to stretch the reach of available vaccines. Elsewhere in Europe, some authorities are leaning toward the British approach.
Severe Allergic Reactions to Covid-19 Vaccines Have Been Rare, CDC Says
香蕉视频苹果下载At least 29 people in the U.S. have developed severe allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, federal health authorities said Wednesday.
香蕉视频苹果下载The rate is far higher than for the seasonal flu vaccine, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said. But the severe reactions were rare and didn’t result in any deaths, and the officials encouraged use of the shots.
The 29 cases are as of Jan. 5 and are out of more than 5.3 million doses that have been administered to date, the CDC said.
The rate of 5.5 cases of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, for every one million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered to date compares with the rate of 1.3 cases for every one million doses of flu vaccine, according to the CDC.
香蕉视频苹果下载Still, the cases of anaphylaxis are “exceedingly rare,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, who is leading the agency’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts.
香蕉视频苹果下载In a conference call Wednesday, Dr. Messonnier said the benefits of a vaccine far outweigh the potential risks.
“It’s a very safe vaccine, and we’re in the setting of 2,000 Covid deaths per day,” she said. “I continue to believe that the risk of Covid and the risk of poor outcomes, especially in senior citizens, makes it imperative that people go ahead and get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to them.”
The 29 people received vaccines made by Pfizer and partner BioNTech, which were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration香蕉视频苹果下载 on Dec. 11, as well as Moderna, whose vaccine was authorized Dec. 18.
The CDC said it is working with the FDA to review all reports of serious adverse reactions that may be associated with the vaccines.