2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

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Power outages amid ongoing winter storms have affected more than 2,000 COVID-19 vaccination sites, slowing the pace of administering doses, U.S. health officials said Friday.

More than a third of U.S. states have reported shipment delays. Government vaccine distribution partners “have all faced challenges as workers have been snowed in and unable to get to work to package and ship the vaccines,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response.

Some vaccines were sitting “safe and sound” in factories and hubs, and approximately 1.4 million doses were being transported Friday, Slavitt said. UPS and FedEx will be making Saturday deliveries, and all backlogged doses would be delivered “within the next week,” he said.

“We will be able to catch up, but we understand this will mean asking more of people,” Slavitt said. “If we all work together, from the factory all the way to vaccinators, we will make up for it in the coming week.”

Meanwhile, Slavitt announced the U.S. plans to open five more community vaccinations centers, including one in Philadelphia, and four in Florida, in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa.

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In the headlines:

►The FDA is reviewing data from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial and plans to consult with the agency’s independent advisory committee Feb. 26. “We should be hearing from them soon,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday.

►Pfizer on Friday said it was seeking authorization to store its vaccine in normal pharmaceutical freezers, instead of the ultra-cold temperatures doses currently require.

►After weeks of tense negotiations, California legislators agreed Thursday on a $6.5 billion proposal aimed at getting students back in classrooms this spring following months of closures because of the pandemic.

►President Joe Biden on Friday is set to visit Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing facility near Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he’ll continue to make the case for his nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package as Democrats prepare to push it through Congress.

►In a seven-day period ending Thursday the United States reported fewer than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths a day on average, the first time that’s happened since the beginning of December, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The 13,841 deaths reported in the latest week is down 41%, almost 10,000 deaths, seen in the peak week last month.

►Two women in Florida who posed as older adults were turned away from getting their second vaccine dose and issued trespass warnings in Orlando, officials said. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michelle Guido told the Orlando Sentinel that the women altered their birth years on their vaccination registrations to bypass the state system, which prioritizes people age 65 and older. One official said the women also attempted to disguise themselves.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 27.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 493,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 110.2 million cases and 2.44 million deaths. More than 73.3 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and about 57.7 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Do you know what happened this week? Test how well you paid attention to the news with this weekly quiz.

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study

A new study out of Israel reignited the public debate Friday about the spacing between the two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, but the U.S. government isn’t budging in its commitment to the original schedule.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine might be just as effective if the gap between doses is wider than the recommended 21 days, according to the new study from Israel. If the doses could be given further apart, more people could be protected faster. Vaccine supplies, which remain limited now, are expected to ramp up in late spring.

But government officials want to stick with the dosing schedule that has been scientifically proven to be effective, warning that altering it might weaken the vaccine’s effectiveness against variants, or even drive the creation of new variants that escape that protection. 

The current schedule provides “an optimal response when you’re dealing with variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, said Friday in a news conference.

– Karen Weintraub

Africa reaches 100,000 known COVID-19 deaths

Africa has surpassed 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 as the continent praised for its early response to the pandemic now struggles with a dangerous resurgence and medical oxygen often runs desperately short.

The 54-nation continent of some 1.3 billion people has barely seen the arrival of large-scale supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, but a variant of the virus dominant in South Africa is already posing a challenge to vaccination efforts. Still, if doses are available, the continent should be able to vaccinate 35% to 40% of its population before the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022, said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, an African Union-created task force said Russia has offered 300 million doses of the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, to be available in May. The AU previously secured 270 million doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Health officials who breathed a sigh of relief last year when African countries did not see a huge number of COVID-19 deaths are now reporting a jump in fatalities. The Africa CDC on Friday said overall deaths are at 100,294.

– The Associated Press

FDA: Pulse oximeters may be less accurate for people of color

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday warned pulse oximeters, which are placed on a person’s finger to measure oxygen levels in blood, may be less accurate when used on people of color.

The FDA cited a recent New England Journal of Medicine study that found Black patients were three times more likely than white patients to get inaccurate results when using the devices. Other factors that can make pulse oximeters less accurate include poor circulation, skin thickness, skin temperature, tobacco use and fingernail polish, the FDA said.

Pulse oximeters have become popular during the pandemic because they are used to gauge whether a person needs supplemental oxygen.

The FDA said patients with COVID-19 who use the devices should be aware of potential inaccurate results and monitor signs of low oxygen levels. Symptoms can include blue face or lips, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, worsening cough, chest pain, a fast pulse or discomfort. People who are concerned about a pulse oximeter reading or have serious symptoms should contact a health provider, the FDA said.

– Ken Alltucker

Fauci: We’ll have data on vaccines in teens by fall

It is “highly likely” the U.S. will have early data of the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in teens by early fall, but possibly not in time for the start of school, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday.

“We anticipate data on high-school age individuals, namely individuals 12 to 17 years old, by the beginning of the fall,” he said.

Moderna is currently enrolling people 12 to 17 year-olds in trials, he said. Starting in April, Pfizer will begin studying vaccine in children ages 12 down to 5, with full data expected in the first quarter of 2022, Fauci said

Biden to pledge $4B to global vaccine alliance

President Joe Biden is set to announce a $4 billion U.S. commitment to the global vaccine alliance known as COVAX, aimed at helping poor countries inoculate their populations, according to a senior administration official. 

Biden will outline the pledge during Friday’s virtual meeting with G7 members. The White House plans to release $2 billion immediately and use the additional $2 billion as leverage to get other wealthy nations to contribute to the global vaccination effort, according to the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity. 

The European Union’s executive commission also plans to double its contribution to the program, with a commitment of about $1.2 billion.

‘Unethical and unconscionable’: Richer nations getting more COVID-19 vaccines than poorer

In December, COVAX officials said they had a shortfall of more than $4 billion in pledges that, if not filled, would result in a “a protracted pandemic, with severe economic consequences” for rich and poor countries alike.

Scientists and advocates fear that if wealthy nations hoard vaccines, the novel coronavirus will continue to mutate and could return to threaten the U.S. and others.

More contagious variants are already circulating in the U.S. and across the globe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that at least 1,549 cases of the coronavirus variants first spotted in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil in the U.S.

Pfizer says vaccine can be stored in normal freezer temperatures

Pfizer and its collaborator BioNTech on Friday said they were seeking an update to their emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration that would allow their COVID-19 vaccine to be stored at normal freezer temperatures.

Currently, the vaccine is required to be stored between -112°F to -76°F and is shipped in a special thermal container full of dry ice to keep it at its ultra-cold temperatures. 

Pfizer and BioNTech said new data show that doses remains stable when stored for up to two weeks between -13°F to 5°F, which are more common temperatures for pharmaceutical freezers. 

The companies said the new temperatures can be an alternative or complement to the existing ultra-cold storage, which keeps doses viable for up to six months. Doses can also be stored for five days at standard refrigeration temperatures, between 36°F and 46°F, before they must be administered.

Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is highly effective in preventing COVID-19, but public health and logistics experts have said its ultra-cold storage requirements are one of its limiting factors in making the vaccine widely available around the world.

Cheap, quick COVID-19 tests are still slow to gain FDA approval

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COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.

USA TODAY

Every day, a Pasadena, California-based company ships eight cargo jets loaded with COVID-19 tests to the United Kingdom.

Innova Medical Group’s top executive would like to use the rapid tests to slow infections closer to home, but Innova has not yet secured Food and Drug Administration authorization to sell the tests in the United States.

Experts say the United States could quickly expand the nation’s limited testing supply and improve speed by authorizing rapid, paper-based antigen tests such as Innova’s diagnostic. Advocates say these tests are cheaper, easier to make and can be used two to three times each week to detect when someone is infectious and likely to pass the virus to others.

The drawback: Rapid tests are less precise when compared to lab tests, which take longer to complete and cost $100 or more.

More studies are underway to demonstrate the accuracy of Innova’s test, which costs less than $5 and can deliver results within 30 minutes. Researchers at Harvard, the University of California, San Francisco and Colby College have evaluated the test and other private research groups are conducting trials on people with or without coronavirus symptoms, said Daniel Elliott, president and CEO of Innova Medical Group.

CVS to help underserved Americans schedule vaccine appointments

CVS Health plans to contact Americans living in underserved communities to help them schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments amid signs that white people are getting the free vaccine at higher rates than Black Americans.

The drugstore chain said Friday that it will call, email and text-message people living in what the federal government has deemed socially vulnerable areas to provide assistance and education in the vaccine process. 

The move also comes as reports circulate widely that Americans are struggling to navigate various scheduling systems, website crashes and a sluggish rollout of the two vaccines approved so far.

CVS also said it will hold vaccine clinics in the most vulnerable communities it serves and send vaccination caravans into neighborhoods to make it easier for people to get their shots.

Research published in 2020 concluded that about 34% of COVID-19 deaths in the period studied were Black people, though they make up only 12% of the American population. CVS said its internal data indicates that 35% of Black Americans do not plan to get vaccinated when they’re first able to do so.

– Nathan Bomey

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2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

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2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Traffic cones line around the empty parking lot of Dodger Stadium, a mass COVID-19 vaccination in Los Angeles, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. California has closed some vaccination centers and delayed appointments following winter storms elsewhere in the country that hampered the shipment of doses. Damian Dovarganes, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Patients are checked in before getting vaccinated, Feb. 10, 2021, at NOAH’s Venado Valley Health Center, 20440 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix, Ariz.

Mark Henle, The Arizona Republic/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Frieda Allweiss, a Holocaust survivor, rolls up her sleeve for her shot by Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, on Feb. 12, 2021, at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium vaccination site. Drake Presto, Arizona RepublicFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

People wait in line to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site set up in a park in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Jae C. Hong, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Susan Geubtner, a nurse with Montana Veterans Affairs, gives a COVID-19 vaccination to Robert Harris a veteran of the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 9, 2021during a vaccination clinic for veterans in Great Falls, Mont. RION SANDERS,GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Several hundred people wait through a snow storm for COVID-19 vaccines at the Westchester County Center in White Plains Feb. 7, 2021. The line stretched around the building and at times took people 2 1/2 hours to receive their vaccine. Seth Harrison, The Journal News via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Kaleigh Abrams of Bridges Learning Center, right, receives the Pfizer vaccination from nurse Susan Baldwin during a vaccination clinic at the Akron Public Schools Administration building, Feb. 6, 2021, in Akron, Ohio. Jeff Lange, Beacon Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Members of the National Guard wait to check in people at a mass coronavirus vaccination site in the parking lot of Six Flags on February 6, 2021 in Bowie, Maryland. Sarah Silbiger, Getty ImagesFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Maximo Michua, 74, holds his sleeve as Kathryne Acuna (R), Director of Ambulatory Clinical Services at Kaiser Permanente, administers his Covid-19 vaccine on the opening day of a large-scale Covid-19 vaccination site at a parking structure at Cal Poly Pomona University in Pomona, California on February 5, 2021. Frederic J. Brown, AFP via Getty ImagesFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Kansas Air National Guard Maj. Cortney Neblett, left, gives a COVID-19 vaccine shot to Master Sgt. Thomas Lafountain, right, during a clinic for Kansas National Guard personnel, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, at Air National Guard’s base south of Topeka, Kan. The Kansas National Guard received 1,100 doses from the U.S. Department of Defense. John Hanna, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Jim Dixon pulls out his COVID-19 vaccination record card at Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn., on Feb. 4, 2021. Ariel Cobbert, The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Michigan National Guard Sgt. Terence Warner checks a dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to a person in their vehicle at the Michigan State University Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education building in East Lansing on Thursday, February 4, 2021 during a drive-up COVID-19 vaccination distribution site. Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press/ USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Doryl Wolfe, 76, of Cortlandt Manor receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Christina Gilkes at Save Mor Drugs in Croton-on-Hudson Feb. 4, 2021. Tania Savayan, The Journal NewsFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

People with appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine wait on line at the Westchester County Center in White Plains on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Appointments scheduled for the past two-days were rescheduled for today due to the inclement weather. John Meore, The Journal NewsFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

A senior receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker after arriving on a bus to a vaccination site at Anquan Boldin Stadium in Pahokee, Fla., on Feb. 3. Greg Lovett, The Palm Beach Post/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Benefits nurse Marissa Lencioni administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Great Falls resident Mick Cabbage during the vaccination clinic on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in the Family Living Center building at Montana ExpoPark. The three day clinic, which is by appointment only, will inoculate 1500 people with their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The next round of vaccination appointments will be opened to people 70 years and older on January 28th via the www.benefis.org/COVIDvaccine portal. RION SANDERS, GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

People arrive for COVID-19 vaccination at a drive through setup at Coors Field baseball stadium on January 30, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. Chet Strange, AFP via Getty ImagesFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

UT Medical Assistant Laila Green administers COVID-19 vaccines, volunteering for Shelby County Health Department at the site of the former Appling Emissions Station on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 in Memphis.

Joe Rondone, The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Drivers line up recently to enter the COVID-19 vaccination site at 301 George Perry Blvd in ElPaso. The wait was over 3.5 hours long and the line of vehicles stretched out for more than 2 miles.

Samuel Gaytan, El Paso Times/ USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Those waiting to be vaccinated line up at an empty store next to Shoprite in Byram, N.J. Shoprite has taken appointments from members of the community and is administering the vaccine. Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Security guard Andrea Rapini sits at a COVID-19 vaccination site that closed after running out of the vaccine in John Prince Park in Lake Worth Beach, Fla., on Jan. 27. Gov. Ron DeSantis turned vaccine distribution over to Publix pharmacies in the area. GREG LOVETT, The Palm Beach Post via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

John Bernard receives his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Adrienne Bond during a vaccine clinic at the Vanderburgh County Health Department in Evansville, Ind., Jan. 26, 2021. He brought his 101-year-old mother, Evelyn Bernard, to the clinic too so they could both get vaccinated. Sam Owens, Evansville Courier and Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

The line of those with appointments for the Kitsap Public Health District and the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management’s first community COVID-19 vaccine clinic stretches down the sidewalk at the former St. Michael Medical Center in East Bremerton, Wash. on Jan. 26, 2021. Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Palm Desert resident Luther Wood, 82, celebrates his Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at Eisenhower Health’s clinic for patients age 75 and older on Jan. 26 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Vickie Connor, The Desert Sun via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Corpus Christi firefighter cadet Marcus Maldonado gives Samuel Sanchez a COVID-19 vaccine outside this home during the first day of the Senior Vaccination Program in Corpus Christi, Texas on Jan. 26, 2021.

Fd Home Vaccinations 3 Courtney Sacco, The Corpus Christi Caller Times via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Hundreds of people who made an appointment to be vaccinated against COVID-19 stand in a line that wraps around a building at the Delco Activity Center in northeast Austin, Texas, on Jan. 23. Ricardo B. Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Dr. Thomas Ballard, 82, of San Francisco, receives the Moderna COVID vaccine at a mass vaccination site at City College of San Francisco on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. San Francisco launched its first mass vaccination facility at City College of San Francisco to administer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The effort comes as American healthcare workers and organizations push for a faster distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Martin Klimek, USA TODAYFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Workers from Sparrow Healthcare talk to a woman Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, as she approaches a checkpoint at the Sparrow Laboratories Drive-Thru Services site at Frandor Shopping Center in Lansing. It is Sparrow’s first day of public vaccinations for those 70 and older, and for frontline essential workers. Matthew Dae Smith, Lansing State Journal/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Clay County residents wait in line for the start of Monday morning’s vaccination effort at the Clay County Fairgrounds. The early appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations begin to line up at the Clay County Fairgrounds west of Green Cove Springs early Monday morning, Jan. 18, 2021. Ascension St. Vincent’s is holding the event for Clay County Residents 65 and older from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and plan to provide approximately 2,500 vaccinations.

Bob Self, Florida Times-Union/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Jack Horneman of Townville gets his COVID-19 vaccine from Missy Cooley, LPN, during the AnMed Health Covid-19 Vaccine clinic at the Anderson Civic Center Saturday, January 16, 2021. Ken Ruinard, USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Revonda Wood, RN, pulls a dose from a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vial at the AnMed Health Covid-19 Vaccine clinic at the Anderson Civic Center Saturday, January 16, 2021. Ken Ruinard, USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Systems analyst Michelle Amos rolls a cart from patient to patient doing registration as Ohio State University medical employees receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

Adam Cairns, Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Century Village residents wait before appointments are handed out for the COVID-19 vaccine in West Palm Beach, Florida on Jan. 11, 2021. The community will receive 3,000 doses to use starting on Wednesday. Greg Lovett, The Palm Beach Post-USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Karen MacDonald, a nurse at Gates Middle School in Scituate, Mass. lays out her syringes while getting ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to first responders on Jan. 11, 2021. Robin Chan, Wicked Local via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

A line of Duval County residents snakes around the campus of the Mandarin Senior Center on Hartley Road on Jan. 11, 2021, as people wait for COVID-19 vaccine injections at one of the two City of Jacksonville vaccine sites which opened Monday. Bob Self, Florida Times-Union via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Century Village resident Maria Cole shows identification to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine in West Palm Beach, Florida on Jan. 11, 2021. The community will receive 3,000 doses to use starting on Jan. 13, 2021. Greg Lovett, PALM BEACH POST via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Medical professionals from Oregon Health & Science University load syringes with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru vaccination clinic in Portland, Ore., Jan. 10, 2021. The clinic is a partnership between the Service Employees International Union and Oregon Health & Science University, aiming to vaccinate Oregon’s 32,000 home health care workers and their patients. Pool photo by Kristyna Wentz-GraffFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

James Hill, 69, who served separate stints in both the Army and Navy, left, holds his sleeve as Brent Myers, a CVS pharmacist, readies to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination, at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Jackson, Miss., Jan. 9, 2021. Hill was among the first residents to receive the Pfizer covid vaccination. Residents and staff at two of the four veterans homes were inoculated on Saturday with the vaccinations planned for the two other homes next week. The veterans homes were among the hardest hit senior living facilities by the virus. Rogelio V. Solis, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Certified medical assistant Maria Lawlor administers the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to Michael Burns, 62, at Rosewood Zaragosa Health Center in East Austin on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Currently, vaccines generally are restricted to¤first responders, health care personnel, people 65 and older, and those 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition. Bronte Wittpenn, Austin American-Statesman/ USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Nurses have COVID-19 vaccines drawn and ready to administer as people pull into a bay at the former State Farm building in Murfreesboro, Tenn. to receive their first dose on Jan. 4, 2021. Helen Comer, The Daily News Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

A woman takes a selfie with the medical worker who administered her COVID-19 vaccination at a drive-thru at Broadbent Arena in Louisville, Ky. on Jan. 4, 2021. Pat McDonogh, The Courier Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

April Smith, RN, puts a bandage on Jeanne Biada, 66, after vaccinating her and her husband, Gregory Biada, 68, during a COVID-19 vaccine distribution run by the Collier Department of Health at North Collier Regional Park in Naples. Fla. on Jan. 4, 2021. Alex Driehaus, Naples Daily News via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Paulette Brown gets the Moderna vaccine, Jan. 3, 2021 during the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s vaccination point distribution at Brownsville Community Center in Pensacola, Fla. John Blackie, Pensacola News-Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Kellie Grover, left, receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine through the Knox County Health Department at the Knoxville Expo Center on Monday, January 4, 2021.
Brianna Paciorka, News Sentinel / USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

A health-care worker reacts as she receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, Fla., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Long lines of cars were at the site as the Lake County vaccines are currently being given to people who are 65 years and older and front line workers. Stephen M. Dowell /Orlando Sentinel via APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Nurse Shanteria Johnson, who is with the Medical Reserve Core at the Alachua County Health Department, draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination session for local firefighters at the Gainesville Professional Firefighters Union Hall in Gainesville Fla., Dec. 31, 2020. Brad McClenny, The Gainesville Sun via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Seniors stand in line to make an appointment to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine outside the King’s Point clubhouse in Delray Beach, Fla. on Dec. 30, 2020. GREG LOVETT, Palm Beach Post via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Cape Coral residents wait in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 30, 2020 during first day of vaccinations in the city at Cultural Park Theater. The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is offering COVID-19 vaccine to high-risk frontline health care workers and those 65 and older. Ricardo Rolon, The News-Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Friends Terri Kado,66, right and Patty Tubbs,68, from Fort Myers Beach wait in line for the the COVID-19 vaccine in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 2020 at Lakes Park Regional Library in Fort Myers, Fla. The two were having a pleasant experience and were watching the moon as it moved through the sky. To them the vaccine brings a peace of mind and a positive start to the New Year. They got in line at 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Andrew West/The News-Press, The News-PressFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Jessica Miles, left, of CVS, gives resident Wanda Kilgore a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Linley Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Anderson, S.C., Dec. 29, 2020. The first dose of the vaccine was administered to 51 residents and 32 staff, with the second dose planned for Jan. 26, 2021. Ken Ruinard, Anderson Independent Mail via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Winona McCain, 71, a resident at Patewood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Greenville, S.C., raises her fist after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Jamie, a pharmacist with CVS on Dec. 28, 2020. MATT BURKHARTT, The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Pharmacists prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Life Care Center of Kirkland on Dec. 28, 2020 in Kirkland, Wash. The Life Care Center of Kirkland, a nursing home, was an early epicenter for coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. Karen Ducey, Getty ImagesFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Dr. Cletus Oppong, who specializes in occupational medicine, is the first to receive the first round of the Moderna vaccine by Clinical Pharmacist Erin Conkright on Dec. 24, 2020, at the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital in Owensboro, Ky. “It’s an exciting day,” said Oppong. Alan Warren, The Messenger-Inquirer via APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

VA pharmacist Wes Romanello carefully fills syringes of the COVID-19 vaccine to give to Chillicothe VA staff in Chillicothe, Ohio on Dec. 23, 2020. Robert McGraw, Chillicothe Gazette via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District personnel administer COVID-19 vaccinations to colleagues during a test drive-thru event at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Corpus Christi, Texas on Dec. 23, 2020. Courtney Sacco, The Corpus Christi Caller Times via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Command Sgt. Maj. John Raines of the Mississippi National Guard, looks away as he receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in his arm, by a fellow guard member, Dec. 23, 2020, in Flowood, Miss. One hundred doses of the vaccine were administered to both Mississippi Air and Army National Guard service members who serve as first responders and currently assist with the administering of the COVID-19 test at Mississippi Department of Health drive through community testing sites across the state. Rogelio V. Solis, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Lerma Ballesteros, left, a technical laboratory assistant with Diagnostic Laboratory Services, remains rock steady even as she is administered a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination during a temporary clinic conducted by Department of Public Health and Social Services workers and other support staff at the Okkodo High School cafeteria in Dededo on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Rick Cruz/PDNFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

The CVS Health team arrives with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Sivercrest Health and Rehabilitation Center in Crestview, Fla. on Dec. 21, 2020. This was one of the first administrations of the vaccine in the state. Michael Snyder, The Northwest Florida Daily News via USA Today NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Dr. Theresa Maresca from the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB), lets a collegue write on her arm For the Love of Native People over the spot where she received a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at the SIHB, on Dec. 21, 2020 in Seattle, Wash. The Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) received 500 doses of the FDA-approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today. Karen Ducey, Getty ImagesFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Long-term care patient Carlos Alegre receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from licensed vocational nurse Virgie Vivar at Birch Patrick Skilled Nursing Facility at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center on Dec. 21, 2020 in Chula Vista, Calif. 72-year-old Alegre is the first patient to receive the vaccine in San Diego County. Long-term care patients and frontline workers are among those in the CDCÕs highest priority group for vaccination. Mario Tama, Getty ImagesFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Hartford HealthCare employee Wilfredo Rivera reacts after receiving the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 as Hartford HealthCare Nurse Laura Bailey, right, looks on at Hartford Hospital, Dec. 21, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. Hartford HealthCare was the first in the state to administer the Moderna vaccine. Jessica Hill, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Marie Branham, right, resident services director at Atria Springdale assisted living community, receives the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from CVS pharmacist Shereen Keshta at the facility in Louisville, Ky. on Dec. 21, 2020. Sam Upshaw Jr., Courier Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss. on Dec. 20, 2020. While shipments of the vaccine are rolling out to many health care workers and nursing homes across the country, it could be months before itÕs available for the general public. Paul Sancya, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Chief Nursing Officer Robin L. Steaban, left, who administered the vaccine, stands with nurse practitioner Lisa Flemmons, Dr. Todd Rice, nurse Cody Hamilton and respiratory therapist Sophie Whitaker after they received a COVID-19 vaccine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 17, 2020. George Walker IV, THE TENNESSEAN via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Nurse practitioner Franklin Grauzer receives a high-five from his daughter, Emerson, 5, after he received a COVID-19 vaccine at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 17, 2020. Andrew Nelles, The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Tim King, a citizen of the Cherokee nation and a Cherokee language speaker, receives ther COVID-19 vaccine at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center Dec. 17, 2020, in Tahlequah, Okla. On his left arm is a tattoo of a dreamcatcher with the word Cherokee. Mike Simons, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Dr. Julie Kennerly-Shah draws out a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as its distributed to healthcare workers on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center East in Columbus, Ohio. Vaccine shipments began arriving in Ohio on Monday and frontline health care workers have been the first to receive the vaccine. Joshua A. Bickel, Columbus DispatchFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Nursing student Abriana Martinez administers the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to Dr. Erik Pronske at the University of Texas Health Austin Dell Medical School on Tuesday December 15, 2020. Jay Janner, Austin American-StatesmanFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Allison Wynes, a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) nurse practitioner, records a video for her friends announcing she had received one of first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, on the 12th floor of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa. Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-CitizenFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in New York. Mark Lennihan, APFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Courtney Schneider, 40, of Grand Rapids and her son, Elliot Schneider, 8, of Grand Rapids wave flags at the FedEx plane carrying the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Dec. 13, 2020. Rodney Coleman-Robinson, Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Dec. 13, 2020. Morry Gash, PoolFullscreen

2-dose Pfizer vaccine here to stay, despite new study; storms slow vaccine rollout; California to reopen schools: Latest COVID-19 updates

Nurse Chris Nelson gets the COVID-19 vaccine at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Andrew Craft, USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

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Biden’s COVID-19 goals and timelines have shifted higher and lower

When can most people get a COVID-19 vaccine? Do teachers need to be vaccinated before schools can reopen? When will life go back to normal?

Those are some of the basic questions that the White House has sometimes struggled to answer as President Joe Biden tackles the biggest issue of his presidency: ending the pandemic and getting the economy and daily life back on track. 

Biden has pledged not only to address the challenges more intelligently and capably than his predecessor, but also to admit when things go wrong.

Still, both communication missteps and the difficulty of making predictions for an evolving situation have led to confusion on some goals and timelines.

Biden has also been accused of setting the bar too low in some areas to make it easier to claim victory. Some heath experts questioned whether his pledge of 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days was too slow after pace of vaccinations during January increased. Biden is set to blow past the goal, and Andy Slavitt, Biden’s senior adviser for COVID-19 response, called the 100 million goal “a floor, not a ceiling.”

– Maureen Groppe and Courtney Subramanian

Pregnant women are more susceptible to COVID-19, study shows

A recent study found pregnant women in Washington state were infected with COVID-19 at a 70% higher rate than others at similar ages. 

Additionally, rates of infection among pregnant women of color were far higher than researchers expected, according to the study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The study provides further evidence that pregnancy should be considered a high-risk health condition for COVID-19 vaccine priority, said senior author Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, an OB-GYN at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“Our data indicates that pregnant people did not avoid the pandemic as we hoped that they would, and communities of color bore the greatest burden,” Waldorf said.

While there’s little safety data on the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women, Pfizer-BioNTech announced Thursday the start of its highly anticipated clinical trial to evaluate the vaccine in pregnant women.

Participants received their first doses in the U.S. The trial will enroll about 4,000 healthy pregnant women over 18 years old from countries in North America, South America, Europe and Africa.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Does COVID survivors’ blood plasma prevent severe illness, combat variants?

Survivors of COVID-19 who produce lots of disease-fighting antibodies carry within them a weapon in the fight to prevent severe complications from the coronavirus. Their antibody-rich blood plasma helps block the virus, when transfused early into newly diagnosed patients – and may even be helpful against infections with new variants of the coronavirus.

If an outbreak caused by a variant of the coronavirus occurs in a community, its survivors could become the medicine chest for others who fall sick, a New Jersey researcher said.

“They essentially have the treatment for the variants in their body,” said Dr. Michele Donato, lead researcher at Hackensack University Medical Center for a group of studies about COVID-19 survivors’ blood plasma. “The plasma contains the antibodies of the virus that’s in the community at that time.”

Recovered patients would be able to donate plasma after they have been symptom-free for two weeks, and the plasma would be ready to deploy in three days, she said. “Collection of plasma is a very low-tech, easy process.”

– Lindy Washburn, NorthJersey.com

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