COVID Live Updates: Moderna may double supply with half doses of vaccine

COVID Live Updates: Moderna may double supply with half doses of vaccine

NEW YORK (WABC) — Coronavirus vaccinations are expected to ramp up this week in the United States after a slower than expected start.

“There have been a couple of glitches, that’s understandable,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Some of the first public vaccine events were held in cities like Houston where 250,000 people called the health department trying to secure one of only 750 appointments.

Operation Warp Speed officials are now considering possibly giving out half doses of the Moderna vaccine to double the supply of the shot.

“We know it induces identical immune response,” said Dr. Moncef Sloui, Operation Warp Speed. The results were found to be the same for younger populations of people from ages 18-55.

“We don’t know whether or not that’s going to be good enough,” Dr. Fauci said.

The FDA would need to approve the plan.

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Here are more of today’s headlines:

More groups approved for COVID vaccine in NY
Mayor de Blasio said the state has approved new groups of New Yorkers who can receive the coronavirus vaccine, starting today. The groups include testing site workers, contact tracers, outpatient and ambulatory care providers, dentists, physical therapists, workers at specialized health clinics and NYPD medical staff. More groups eligible starting January 11 include home care workers, hospice workers and nursing home staff not covered in the first wave of vaccinations.

NY Health Care Workers Get Vaccinated
Health care workers who are not hospital workers – who are in private practice or work in clinics – will begin getting their vaccines in New York City and New York State.

Northwell Health, which operates North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical, is among the health systems bringing the vaccine to those workers.

NJ 2nd Dose
Some health care workers in New Jersey will receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday. The positivity rate in the state is above 13%.

Last month, these workers at University Hospital in Newark were some of the first to receive the COVID vaccine in New Jersey. Monday, they complete their vaccination with their second shot. Governor Phil Murphy will attend the vaccination event.

UK rolls out Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
Britain on Monday took another giant step in the fight against COVID-19, ramping up its immunization program by giving the first shots in the world from the vaccine created by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, was the first to get the new vaccine shot, administered by the chief nurse at Oxford University Hospital. Pinker said he was so pleased and that he can “now really look forward to celebrating my 48th wedding anniversary with my wife Shirley later this year.”

New York indicators
New York reported a statewide positivity rate of 7.98% on Sunday, as well as 11,368 positive cases and 138 deaths. Hospitalizations also increased to 7,963, marking an increase of 149.

Busiest travel day of pandemic as COVID cases rise
The TSA screened 1,327,289 people at airport checkpoints nationwide yesterday, Sunday, Jan. 3. It was the highest checkpoint volume since the pandemic hit. It was also the 8th of the last 12 days and 11th of the last 16 days that throughput topped 1 million.

New Jersey indicators

On Sunday, New Jersey reported an additional 3,676 COVID-19 cases and 21 additional deaths across the state.

Cuomo: Won’t take vaccine until available for NY’s minority groups
In a pre-recorded video at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Manhattan, Cuomo said “I will not take the vaccine until the vaccine is available for my group in Black, Hispanic and poor communities around the state.” During the remarks, the governor also said that it’s a community obligation to take the vaccine, citing that 70-90% of New Yorkers have to be vaccinated in order for it to be effective.

US virus death toll hits 350,000; surge feared
The COVID-19 death toll in the United States has surpassed 350,000 as experts anticipate another surge in coronavirus cases and deaths stemming from holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Year’s.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. passed the threshold early Sunday morning. More than 20 million people in the country have been infected. The U.S. has begun using two coronavirus vaccines to protect health care workers and nursing home residents and staff but the rollout of the inoculation program has been criticized as being slow and chaotic.

More restrictions loom in UK
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Sunday that more onerous lockdown restrictions in England are likely as the country reels from a new coronavirus variant that has pushed infection rates to their highest recorded levels.

Johnson, though, insisted he has “no doubt” that schools are safe and urged parents to send their children back into the classroom in areas of England where they can. Unions representing teachers have called for schools to turn to remote learning for at least a couple of weeks more due to the new variant, which scientists have said is up to 70% more contagious.
The U.K. is in the midst of an acute outbreak, recording more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections a day over the past five days. On Saturday, it notched a daily record of 57,725 new cases. The country has seen nearly 75,000 virus-related deaths.

India authorizes vaccines
India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second-most populous country.

India’s drugs regulator gave an emergency authorization for the vaccines developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

Drugs Controller General Dr. Venugopal G Somani said both would require two doses and the decision was made after “careful examination” by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, India’s pharmaceutical regulator. Both vaccines are cheaper and easier to use than ones by Pfizer and Moderna since they do not require ultra-cold storage facilities.

Zimbabwe returns to restrictions amid rise in virus cases
In response to rising COVID-19 numbers, Zimbabwe has reintroduced a night curfew, banned public gatherings, and indefinitely suspended the opening of schools.

“We are being overwhelmed and overrun,” Information Minister Nick Mangwana warned, saying the country’s hospitals are rapidly reaching capacity with COVID-19 patients.

Zimbabwe recorded 1,342 cases and 29 deaths in the past week, “the highest number recorded so far,” Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said, announcing the strict measures.

4 million+ people receive 1st dose of vaccine
In their first update of the New Year, the CDC now says over four million people have received a first dose of COVID vaccine. The total number of people initiating vaccination is 4,225,756. The total number doses distributed is 13,071,925.

New York tops 1 million positive COVID-19 tests
New York state has recorded more than 1 million positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to figures released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday. New York is the fourth state to report more than 1 million positive COVID-19 tests after California, Texas and Florida. New York reported 128 COVID-19 deaths on Friday.
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