Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine will probably return to use, Fauci says; Pope Francis back in St. Peter’s Square: Live COVID-19 updates

The pause in using the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine will probably be lifted eventually, but it would come with some warnings or restrictions, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he doubts the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will “just cancel it” and continue allowing only the Pfizer and Moderna, two-dose vaccines.

“Everything is on the table,” Fauci said. “My estimate is that we will continue to use it in some form. … I don’t think it’s just going to go back and say, ‘OK, everything’s fine. Go right back.’ I think it’ll likely say, ‘OK, we’re going to use it but be careful under these certain circumstances.’”

States began halting use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine last week after federal health officials recommended a pause “out of an abundance of caution” because of rare but dangerous blood clots.

Also in the news:

►Pope Francis says he is happy to be back in St. Peter’s Square for his traditional Sunday blessing after weeks of lockdown measures. Hundreds of people standing a safe distance apart turned out to see the pope speak from a window of the Apostolic Palace. “Thank God, we can gather in this square again,” Francis said.

►As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction – and many residents are fuming about it. A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state.

►More than 5,500 new COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths from the coronavirus have been reported in Michigan. Michigan’s daily case rate has led the U.S. for weeks.

►Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy says COVID-19 vaccines would be made available at key airports in the state starting June 1. The plan is aimed at bolstering Alaska’s pandemic-battered tourist industry.

►What do I do if I’ve gotten the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot? Your questions, answered.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 31 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 566,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 140 million cases and 3 million deaths. Nearly 265 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 205 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Monoclonal antibodies are helping the Americans most at risk for COVID-19: “Like somebody gave me a happy pill,” one patient said.

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Moderna, Pfizer CEOs say two-shot vaccines may require boosters

The CEOs of Moderna and Pfizer are now acknowledging that their two-dose vaccines likely will require a third shot. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Saturday that the company’s two-shot vaccine will probably require a third “booster shot,” but that it’s not clear how long after the first two shots that will be. Bancel told Fox Business News that ‘”the variant is going to be the big question in terms of boosting.”

Bancel’s statement came days after Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will probably need a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech within 12 months of being fully vaccinated. Annual shots also may be needed, Bourla said.

Pandemic good Samaritan faces hefty tax bill for his efforts

A Connecticut middle school teacher who raised $41,000 to help hundreds of his struggling neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic got an unwelcome surprise for his charitable efforts: a form stating he could owe $16,031 in income taxes.

Louis Goffinet, 27, of Mansfield, began picking up groceries for elderly neighbors afraid to go to the store during the early days of the pandemic, often spending his own money. Given the great need, he later organized two fundraisers on Facebook over a year and helped hundreds of families with groceries, rent money and holiday gifts, the Hartford Courant reported, setting a $200 limit.

Goffinet said both financial support for his efforts and demand for assistance ended up becoming higher than he first expected. He tracked 140 grocery trips on a spreadsheet, noting he also provided Friday night dinners to 125 families, holiday gift cards for 20 families so they could buy gifts for their children, 31 Thanksgiving dinners and rental assistance to five families. Some local businesses donated food.

In January, Facebook sent Goffinet a 1099 form that stated he owed taxes on the money he had raised. Facebook warns users that money generated from a fundraiser on the social media platform may be taxable if more than $20,000 is raised and that a 1099 tax form will be issued.

How will US pause of J&J’s COVID-19 shot impact vaccine equity?

Public health experts worry that the pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will hinder efforts to reach marginalized, vulnerable populations including communities of color.

The one-and-done nature of the J&J COVID-19 shot, and less stringent storage requirements, made it ideal for homebound people, those in underserved neighborhoods and rural, remote areas with limited health care access. The other two authorized COVID-19 vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require a second dose and more complicated cold storage.

– Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY

Ontario retracts new restrictions that drew the ire of many

Ontario’s premier retracted restrictions that banned playgrounds and allowed police to require anyone not at home to explain why they’re out and provide their address. The restrictions had drawn a backlash from police forces, health officials and the public.

The pandemic restrictions imposed by Canada’s most populous province immediately ran into opposition as police departments insisted they wouldn’t use new powers to randomly stop pedestrians or motorists and health experts complained the rules focus on outdoor activities rather than more dangerous indoor settings.

“Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen,” Premier Doug Ford said on Twitter. “Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced. Play outside safely. Parents keep your distance & wear masks if you can’t.”

Coronavirus death toll tops 3 million people globally

The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday. The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is more than the population of Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined. And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

The world passed 2 million deaths in January, when immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

Esselen Reza (right) is pictured Tuesday receiving a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Banning Recreation Center in Wilmington, California. The site switched from its original plan to use the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine after federal drug safety regulators recommended that the U.S. pause use of the vaccine.

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