40 million vaccine doses thus fare unused; 35% of American adults have had a shot: live COVID-19 updates

More than 50 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, nearly 20% of the adult population, and more than 35% of adults have received at least one dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

But while 140 million doses have been administered across the nation, another 40 million doses delivered to state health agencies and private pharmacies have thus far gone unused or just been wasted. The U.S. is now averaging about 2.5 million jabs per day, so 40 million doses equals more than two weeks of jabs.

The pace is picking up. The U.S. had 3.5 million vaccine doses administered on Saturday and 3.4 million on Friday. U.S. is now administering about 18.8 million doses per week, up from 11.5 million just a month ago and 8.1 million two months ago.

To get more vaccine into arms faster, about half of U.S. states will open up their vaccination efforts to all adults by mid-April, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients says. In all, 46 states and the District of Columbia have already pledged to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of having all Americans eligible for a vaccine by May 1.

Also in the news:

► Spanish indie band Love of Lesbian played a show in Barcelona, Spain, before 5,000 fans who all passed a same-day coronavirus screening, to test its effectiveness in preventing outbreaks of the virus at large cultural events. The only rule inside the show was the strict use of the high-quality face masks provided by the concert organizers.

► New York has launched the nation’s first “vaccine passports” system. The certification, called the Excelsior Pass, will be useful at large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden and will be accepted at dozens of event, arts and entertainment venues statewide.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 30.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 548,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 126.8 million cases and 2.7 million deaths. More than 180.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 140.1 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN he believes the virus that causes COVID-19 was accidentally released from a lab in Wuhan, China. Several scientists said Redfield’s theory did not pass the scientific smell test.

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

Vaccines slowly bringing families back together

For a year, the coronavirus preyed on the vulnerable and spread uncontrollably throughout the U.S., upending daily life. But now, nearly half of Americans over the age of 65 are fully vaccinated, and heartfelt reunions are happening across the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance says those who have received a full course of vaccine may get together with other fully vaccinated individuals in small groups inside their homes without masks or physical distancing. They can visit with unvaccinated people from one other household who are at low risk for severe disease.

“You can visit your grandparents if you’ve been vaccinated and they have been, too,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “If grandparents have been vaccinated, they can visit their daughter and her family even if they have not been vaccinated, so long as the daughter and her family are not at risk for severe disease.” Read more here.

Study: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even for babies

COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at protecting pregnant women and likely provide protection for their babies as well, according to a new study. The research, published last week in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, examined 131 vaccine recipients, including 84 who were pregnant, 31 who were breastfeeding, and 16 who weren’t pregnant as a control group.

Earlier studies suggested the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna would be safe and effective. But this is the largest study to date looking at the immune responses of pregnant and lactating women to vaccination. Read more.

– Karen Weintraub

Californians age 50-64 rush to get vaccine before expansion

Before California throws open its coronavirus vaccine program to all adults on April 15, there will be a two-week window when millions of people between the ages of 50 and 64 can get their shot. The rollout for this age group, who become eligible on Thursday, has prompted an uptick in appointment requests and has raised concerns about whether two weeks is enough to get to everybody when there is uncertainty about supply levels as well as lingering questions about accessibility.

The California Department of Finance, which monitors population data, projects that there are 7.2 million people in the state 50 to 64. Currently, only about 23% of Californians in that age group have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the state, compared with 37% of people 18 to 49, likely because of their occupation or because they have qualifying health conditions.

Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

An Iraqi nurse holds a vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine before starting the vaccination at a clinic in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

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