A Fourth of July with family and friends. That's what President Joe Biden said was possible last night during his first televised address to the nation on his 50th day in office, on the 1-year anniversary of the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pushing a message of brighter days ahead, Biden announced he was ordering all governors to make all US adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1 and once again maintained that all adults should be able to be vaccinated by the end of May.
To that end, Jeff Zients, coordinator of the White House's COVID-19 response, said today during a White House briefing that 20,000 US pharmacies will now be able to distribute the vaccine by May, and 700 community health centers will join the COVID-19 vaccine program, bringing the total number of participating health centers to 950.
Zients also said the United States was now averaging 2.2 million shots in arms each day and that 65% of adults older than 65 have had at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna, the makers of the two mRNA vaccines with emergency use authorizations, both appear on track to meet their goal of supplying the country with 100 million doses of their vaccines by the end of March, NPR reports.
"We are making progress, but there's still a lot of work to do," Zients said. He said the Biden administration authorized another FEMA vaccine site in Detroit at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. The site will be able to administer 6,000 shots per day.
Vaccine coverage reaches 64 million
Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that vaccines are the way out of the pandemic. "Now is the time to buckle down and see this through," she said, urging all Americans to remain vigilant with mask wearing, distancing, and hand hygiene as they await their vaccines.
Walensky said 64 million Americans have had at least one dose of vaccine, and according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, 35,000,159 Americans are fully vaccinated.
Average new daily COVID-19 cases still are fluctuating between 50,000 and 60,000, Walensky said, with new daily death tolls hovering around 1,500.
The US reported 48,223 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 1,463 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the country has 29,326,182 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 531,912 deaths.
Novavax vaccine prevented COVID hospitalizations
Novavax, a Maryland company, announced yesterday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed 96.4% efficacy against mild, moderate, and severe disease caused by the original SARS-CoV-2 strain in a phase 3 trial conducted in the United Kingdom.
Efficacy was 86.3% against the B117 variant. Results of a phase 2b trial in South Africa showed an efficacy of 48.6% against the B1351 strain. But, similar to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Novavax vaccine demonstrated 100% protection against hospitalization in both trials, regardless of variant.
"We are very encouraged by the data showing that NVX-CoV2373 not only provided complete protection against the most severe forms of disease, but also dramatically reduced mild and moderate disease across both trials. Importantly, both studies confirmed efficacy against the variant strains," said Stanley Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax.
Poll: Unvaccinated people should have limits
A new poll from Reuters/Ipsos shows 62% of Americans believe that those who choose to not get vaccinated against COVID-19 should be restricted from traveling on airplanes, 55% said they should not visit gyms or movie theaters, and 56% said unvaccinated workers should stay home.
The poll reflects Americans' increasing desire to get vaccines: 54% of respondents said they were "very interested" in getting vaccinated, up from 41% in January and 38% in May 2020.
The opinion comes as more American cities and states announce a loosening and relaxation of restrictions in light of decreasing cases and increasing vaccination.
Los Angeles County could reopen restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters as soon as Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The county will be eligible for the reopenings as soon as the state reaches its goal of administering 2 million vaccine doses to residents in its most disadvantaged areas.