US surpasses 100M vaccinations; about 1 in 4 adults have received at least one shot: COVID-19 updates

The U.S. on Friday reported administering its 100 millionth COVID-19 vaccine as the World Health Organization reported 300 million global shots have been given.

About 1 in 4 U.S. adults have received at least one shot, and about 1 in 10 is fully vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An average of 2.2 million doses are being administered per day, up from about 1 million doses a day in mid-January.

Ramping up vaccinations is key to President Joe Biden’s goal of friends and families being able to join together in small groups for Fourth of July celebrations. “July 4th with your loved ones is the goal,” Biden said Thursday, stressing that “a lot can happen. Conditions can change.”

White House officials said Friday the federal government will focus on ramping up the number of vaccinators and the number of locations where vaccines are available after Biden’s announcement this week that all Americans will be eligible for a vaccine by May 1.

Over the coming weeks, the federal government will increase the number of community health centers in the federal vaccine program, double the number of pharmacies and double the number of federal mass vaccination sites, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday.

Also in the news:

► Residents in more than a dozen California counties will wake up Sunday morning with lifted business restrictions. State officials loosened the requirements necessary to move out of the most restrictive tiers in California’s reopening system due to increased vaccinations hard-hit communities up and down the state.

► The number of people seeking help to quit smoking plummeted 27% last year as the public grappled with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report says.

►The World Health Organization says it’s assessing reports of rare blood coagulation problems faced by some people in the European Union who received doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It noted that the European Medicines Agency has determined that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks, and said that no cases of death have been found to be caused by any COVID-19 vaccines so far.

►During his primetime address, President Joe Biden denounced violent attacks against Asian Americans, which have risen markedly during the pandemic. “It’s wrong, it’s un-American and it must stop,” Biden said.

►Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say they lost a relative or close friend to COVID-19, a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows. The numbers were considerably higher for Black (30%) and Hispanic (29%) respondents, yet another example of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on minority groups.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 29.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 532,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 119.1 million cases and 2.64 million deaths. More than 133.3 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 101.1 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: USA TODAY’s panel of experts have different definitions of what the end of the pandemic means. But they agree it’s getting closer.

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.

Pfizer vaccine appears effective against asymptomatic cases

New real-world data suggests that COVID-19 vaccines can prevent transmission of the coronavirus, in addition to protecting against symptomatic disease.

The preliminary information from Israel — where more than half the adults have been vaccinated, most with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — showed those who received the vaccine did not develop symptoms or transmit the disease.

An absence of clear data on transmission has led health authorities to recommend vaccinated people be careful around unvaccinated people, particularly those at risk for severe COVID-19 infections.

“It looks like 90% reduction in asymptomatic transmission. So that’s really good,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The promising news comes after President Joe Biden announced he was ordering all states, territories and tribes to make all adults eligible to “get in line” for their vaccines by May 1. If Americans “do our part” in the coming weeks, he said, friends and families will be able to join together in small groups in time for the Fourth of July.

Biden’s primetime address came hours after signing a massive coronavirus relief bill into law, and the president commemorated the anniversary of the nation’s shutdown over the pandemic Thursday night.

Vaccine eligibility brings ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’ to some who meet BMI requirement

When states began to announce body mass index, known as BMI, would be a factor in determining early eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, some who meet the requirement has expressed feelings of guilt.

“As someone who does have a high BMI and is considered by the medical field as obese, I felt a lot of complicated feelings about being a part of this group and once again being told that because of my weight, I’m unhealthy,” Sydney Greene, a 24-year-old living in Austin, Texas, said.

Nirit Pisano, a licensed clinical psychologist and chief psychology officer at Cognovi Labs, said she is seeing an increase in “fat talk” that is wreaking havoc on self-esteem.

Still, Pisano advises people who are eligible but feeling apprehensive to “keep in mind the big picture” and “go out and get vaccinated.”

“Realize (BMI) is just one piece … that gives you access to this vaccine, which is an important part of protecting yourself,” she said. “This is just one small item that happens to give you access here, but doesn’t define the full picture of who you are.”

– Sara M. Moniuszko

Spring break crowds a concern during critical moment in COVID-19 fight

Florida is already seeing the first throngs of college students on spring break, crowding beaches and bars. That’s worrying public health experts around the country who see the weeks of partying as a potential for another spike in COVID-19 cases.

The primary concern, experts say, is that partying is occurring at a crucial moment in the fight against the coronavirus: More and more vaccines are being administered each day, yet more and more cases of variants – which are highly transmissible – are being reported. Making matters worse, they say, is that students will be enjoying their break as more states continue to relax restrictions they had in place, such as mask mandates.

“I knew the spring breakers would show up,” said Lauren Tedeschi, 53, who was visiting Fort Lauderdale with her niece. “Just look at the beach. They’re out in full force. And this is the start of spring break. It’s only going to get more crazy.”

– Christal Hayes

Novavax vaccine 96.4% effective against original strain, company says

Another COVID-19 candidate vaccine appears to be 96.4% effective against mild, moderate and severe disease caused by the original COVID-19 strain in a United Kingdom trial.

On Thursday, Novavax, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology firm, reported in a final analysis of more than 15,000 patients in the U.K. that the overall vaccine efficacy was 89.7%, lowered slightly because of the B.1.1.7. strain first discovered in the country. The company also released results from the smaller South African trial, which exposed participants to the variant discovered and circulating there, that showed roughly 55.4% efficacy among 2,665 participants.

But in both trials, the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing serious illness and death.

A third trial, in the United States, announced it had recruited its 30,000 planned participants in late February, but won’t release results for several more months.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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