One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

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The Biden administration will begin distributing COVID-19 vaccine doses directly to retail pharmacies in an effort to expedite vaccinations across the nation.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said the program will start with about 1 million doses sent to 6,500 pharmacies beginning next week. The number of pharmacies could ultimately each 40,000.

“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinations in their communities,” Zients said. “And it’s an important component to delivering vaccines equitably.”

Zients said 10.5 million doses will be distributed to states this week, up 5% from last week and a 22% increase in weekly doses since President Joe Biden took office Jan. 20.

COVID-19 has killed more than 445,000 Americans, and infections have continued to mount despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020. USA TODAY is tracking the news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletterfor updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.

In the headlines: 

►The CDC reported Tuesday that the nation’s second case of the coronavirus’ Brazilian variant has been identified in Minnesota. Three cases of the South African variant, two in South Carolina and one in Maryland, have also been detected recently in the U.S.

►The National Park Service will now require all visitors and employees to wear masks inside buildings and facilities and on lands “when physical distancing cannot be maintained.” That includes busy and narrow trails.

►Miguel Romero, mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, said on Twitter a fast antigen test he took for the coronavirus came back positive and he’s awaiting the results of a molecular test. Romero is in isolation, as is Gov. Pedro Pierluisi after coming in recent contact with the mayor.

►Capt. Tom Moore, the British World War II veteran who shuffled into the hearts of his locked-down nation while raising money for health care workers, has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 100. The White House paid tribute to him in a tweet.

►Giving people who have had COVID only one dose of vaccine wouldn’t negatively impact their antibody levels but would free up many urgently needed doses, a new study suggests. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 26.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 445,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 103.6 million cases and 2.24 million deaths. More than 52.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 32.7 million have been administered, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Studies suggest up to 80% of people who have COVID-19 symptoms experience a reduced or complete loss of smell or taste. Most survivors regain their senses in a few weeks. But some don’t, and researchers say they may go without them for the rest of their lives. Read the full story. 

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One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Gabriel Fernandez, a registered nurse from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, injects a COVID-19 vaccine into the arm of an Emergence Health Network client with developmental disabilities at the EHN DayHab center in East El Paso on Jan. 7, 2021. Aaron E. Martinez, El Paso Times via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Patient care technician Carolyn Nesby, 62, holds still as medical assistance care coordinator Beatriz Pantoja administers the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Rosewood Zaragosa Health Center in East Austin on Jan. 8, 2021. Bronte Wittpenn, Austin American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Herbert Bello, 88, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the King’s Point clubhouse in Delray Beach, Fla. on Dec. 30, 2020. GREG LOVETT, Palm Beach Post via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

CHEMED nurse and vaccine coordinator Tzipporah Zar shows a sticker patients get after they get their first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Center for Health Education, Medicine and Dentistry in Lakewood, N.J., on Dec. 28, 2020. Gustavo Martinez Contreras, Asbury Park Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Serena Russo, RN, holds a sign before her vaccination in Fitchburg, Mass. The Highlands Skilled nursing and Rehabilitation offered vaccines to their staff, Dec. 29, 2020. Christine Peterson, Worcester Telegram via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Henry Jackson, an employee of Lee Health in the transportation services department is one of the first front-line workers for Lee Health to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was administered at Lee Health Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, Fla. on Dec. 22, 2020. Andrew West, The News-Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

VA nurse Sarah Hembre, left, gives Ed Tassy, a veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq and now works at the VA as a physician assistant, the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine delivered to the VA on Dec. 23, 2020. The VA received 1,000 doses to give to VA personnel and patients. Robert McGraw, Chillicothe Gazette via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

A member of FDNY EMS gives a thumbs up while receiving the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on Dec. 23, 2020 in New York City. Members of FDNY EMS were given doses of the Moderna coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine allotted for the department. Michael M. Santiago, Getty ImagesFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Pharmacy manager John Wininger prepares the COVID-19 vaccine at McLaren Greater Lansing hospital on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. Nick King, Lansing State Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Rochester General Hospital received the new Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and started vaccinating some of their high-risk healthcare workers on December 15, 2020. Nancy Nicoletta, assistant director of pharmacy, brings up a bag of the vaccine. The vaccine has to be kept at a very cold temperature. Tina MacIntyre-Yee/ Rochester Democrat and ChronicleFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

RN Gisela Bunch administers the vaccine for COVID-19 to CVI outreach coordinator Lynde Sain at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital in Germantown, Tenn., on Dec. 17, 2020. Ariel Cobbert, The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live COVID-19 updates

Susan Deur of Plainwell, center, and Nancy Galloway of Plainwell, applaud and cheer as they watch the trucks carrying COVID-19 vaccine leave at Pfizer Global Supply in Portage, Mich., Dec. 13, 2020. Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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 Dece. 13, 2020. POOL PHOTO BY MORRY GASHFullscreen

One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine cuts down transmission; US to send some vaccines straight to pharmacies: Live 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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One dose of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine reduces transmission, symptoms 

A single shot of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine reduced transmission of the coronavirus by 67% and provided substantial protection against COVID-19 for at least three months, according to preliminary data from three trials unveiled Tuesday.

If confirmed, the findings could provide at least a partial answer to one of the critical lingering questions about coronavirus vaccines — whether they help prevent spread of the virus, not only symptoms. The high level of protection against symptoms from just one dose, 76%, is also an encouraging sign for nations scrambling for the limited vaccine supply. 

A second dose is still required for the full effect of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which was authorized for all adults by European Union regulators Friday but has not received clearance in the U.S. Results of the trials indicated the vaccine is actually more effective when the booster shot is delayed by three months, rather than administered within three or four weeks. 

Quick dispensing of vaccines could curb spread of variants

Speeding up the rate of vaccinations across the nation could help curb the spread of newer, highly infectious forms of COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. Fauci said that while current vaccines may not offer the same level of protection against the variants that they provide against the original virus, they can ease the impact of the disease, including hospitalizations and deaths. People need to get vaccinated “as quickly and as expeditiously as possible,” Fauci said at a virtual news briefing with the White House COVID-19 response team.

“Viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate. And if you stop their replication by vaccinating widely and not giving the virus an open playing field to continue to respond to the pressures that you put on it, you will not get mutations.”

Andrew Yang, now a NYC mayoral candidate, tests positive for COVID-19

Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur turned presidential candidate who is now running for New York City mayor, has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Tuesday. Yang said he had tested negative as recently as this weekend but then received a rapid test that had a positive result, he tweeted on Tuesday.

“I’m experiencing mild symptoms, but am otherwise feeling well & in good spirits,” Yang tweeted.

Yang said he was quarantining. Among New York City mayoral candidates, he has been among the most prolific in-person campaigners in a race that has been otherwise forced online because of the pandemic. A staff member of his campaign had previously tested positive shortly after Yang announced his run. Yang said his campaign has begun contact tracing efforts to determine who he has been in contact with.

Ryan Miller

Tanzania government opposed to vaccines

Days after President John Magufuli of Tanzania cast doubts without evidence on COVID-19 vaccines, health minister Dorothy Gwajima said the country doesn’t plan to receive them.

Magufuli maintains that God has eliminated COVID-19 in Tanzania, an East African nation of 60 million that has not updated its number of coronavirus infections since April. Insisting that Tanzania is safe, Gwajima has merely encouraged people to improve hygiene practices, including the use of sanitizers

In its latest travel warning on Tanzania, the CDC says the country’s level of COVID-19 is “very high” and urges against all travel there.

Russia’s vaccine appears effective in Phase III trial

Russia’s entry into the global vaccine sweepstakes appears to be a winner, at least in early returns. The Sputnik V vaccine drew an effectiveness rating of 91.6% in a Phase III trial, according to a study published Tuesday in the British medical journal Lancet. The trial last fall involved about 20,000 Russians. The most commonly reported side effects were flu-like symptoms, pain at the injection site and fatigue; serious side effects were rare. 

The vaccine was approved by the Russian government in August despite minimal testing. President Vladimir Putin at the time hawked the vaccine on national TV, boasting that one of his daughters had already been vaccinated. But a large-scale vaccination campaign didn’t start until December; doctors and teachers were first in line. Outside Russia, Sputnik V has received authorization in over a dozen nations.

Rich, influential should not get first crack at vaccines

Vaccine rollouts in California, Washington state and elsewhere are sparking worry among health leaders, who warn that doses unfairly given to rich or influential people could cause critical supplies in the COVID-19 battle to be cut. The Washington state Health Department said in a statement Monday that “VIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access and similar practices are banned and will not be tolerated.” The Seattle Times reported that three medical systems in the region gave special vaccine access to big donors or foundation members. Two of the hospital organizations acknowledged they made a mistake in prioritizing influential people.

In California, some essential workers – teachers, first responders and food and farm workers – remain next in line for the shots. But after that, the state will primarily expand eligibility by age, likely people 50 and up. The goal: to speed up a chaotic vaccine rollout that consistently has California lagging behind many other states in distribution rates even as it had given roughly 3.3 million immunizations as of Monday.

Chicago, DC teachers balk at return to in-class learning

District of Columbia Public Schools went to court Monday for a temporary restraining order against the Washington Teachers’ Union to avoid a work stoppage that could delay reopening of some schools for in-person learning. In-person learning across the city was scheduled to start Monday, but winter weather delayed the opening. Schools were opening two hours late for in-person students on Tuesday. The union scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning to discuss its position.

In Chicago, school district officials extended remote learning Monday for two more days and called for a “cooling-off period” in negotiations with the teachers’ union, citing progress but not a full agreement on COVID-19 safety plans for returning to schools. More than 60,000 students and about 10,000 teachers and staff in K-8 had been scheduled to return to school Monday for the first time since March, part of the district’s gradual reopening plans during the pandemic.

U.S.: No immigration enforcement arrests at vaccination sites

The U.S. government says it won’t conduct immigration enforcement arrests at vaccination sites around the country except in “extraordinary circumstances.” In a statement Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said vaccine sites will be considered “sensitive locations” and will not be targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. DHS says it encourages everyone “regardless of immigration status” to get vaccinated when they are eligible under local rules.

ICE has previously included health care facilities as well as churches among the sensitive locations where arrests would generally not be carried out.

‘No red flags’ in vaccine safety data for pregnant  women so far

Some pregnant women remain unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine as safety data is scarce and health agency guidelines are vague and in some cases contradictory. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Monday that about 10,000 pregnant women in the U.S. have been vaccinated since the Food and Drug Administration authorized two vaccines and so far there have been “no red flags.”

“We had a lot of pregnant women vaccinated, the FDA followed them and will continue to follow them,” he said during a media roundtable at the IAS COVID-19 Conference: Prevention. “Even though we don’t have good data on it, the data that we’re collecting on it so far has no red flags.” 

The CDC guidelines say the decision is up to the mother in consultation with her health care provider. Fauci said Monday that the agency is sticking with that recommendation.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

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