Coronavirus update: CDC director in the dark on vaccine supply, cases and hospitalizations drop

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Researchers say severe allergic reactions are rare

Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 25,144,973 (25,111,828)

Total U.S. deaths: 419,341 (419,043)

Total global cases: 99,346,343 (99,105,389)

Total global deaths: 2,132,491 (2,127,884)

In the dark about vaccine supply

The newly appointed head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the government has no idea how much coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is currently available. A number of states have complained of supply shortages in recent weeks.

“I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have, and if I can’t tell it to you then I can’t tell it to the governors and I can’t tell it to the state health officials,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told “Fox News Sunday.”

Walensky laid much of the blame for the distribution bottlenecks at the feet of the Trump administration. She said the gap in knowledge about vaccine supplies is indicative of “the challenges we’ve been left with.”

Hospitalizations decline

There’s finally some good news about the coronavirus. New cases that surged following holiday gatherings have started to decline, and so has the number of patients who require hospitalization.

"I think the next four weeks will be very telling, if that dip is temporary after the high of the holidays, or if we're heading in the right direction to improve our nation," said Dr. Shashank Ravi, assistant director at the Stanford, Conn., Emergency Department.

In Tennessee, a state described as the “epicenter” of a national outbreak a month ago, hospitalizations have declined by nearly a third.

CDC: Severe allergic reaction to vaccine is rare

While there have been isolated reports of people suffering severe anaphylaxis, or allergic reactions, to the coronavirus vaccines, a new government report calls those reactions “rare.”

In its report, the CDC followed vaccinations using the drug developed by Moderna and found that it caused few life-threatening reactions during the first three weeks of its availability.

CDC researchers were able to confirm 10 such reactions out of more than four million vaccinations. The report says people with an immediate allergic reaction to the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should not receive additional doses of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

More pandemic-related economic pain

As the labor market eroded in late 2020, coinciding with a big surge in virus cases, homeowners increasingly had a harder time keeping up with mortgage payments. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that the number of homeowners exiting forbearance programs has flatlined in recent weeks.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA's senior vice president and chief economist, says he’s concerned that the recent rise in new unemployment claims could be a troubling sign for the future. 

"Job market data continue to indicate weakness, and that means many homeowners who remain unemployed will need ongoing relief in the form of forbearance. While new forbearance requests remain relatively low, the availability of relief remains a necessary support for many homeowners."

Merck ends its vaccine effort

Citing disappointing clinical trial results, Merck said it will not continue its efforts to produce a vaccine against the virus. The company had been working on two potential vaccines.

The early tests showed both vaccines were able to generate an immune response in subjects, but not to the extent of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna products, both of which achieved 95 percent effectiveness.

Johnson & Johnson is in the final stages of its clinical trial on a one-dose vaccine. Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), predicted that the company would apply for emergency use authorization in two weeks.

Around the nation

  • Virginia: Data analyzed by the New York Times suggests that Virginia is the only state where there are significant increases in new cases of COVID-19. Virginia also reportedly ranks last among states in vaccine doses administered of those distributed.

  • Iowa: Iowa is among the states now seeing new cases of the virus taper off, especially severe cases. State health officials report that the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital treatment has now fallen below 400.

  • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom may lift regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders across California today, according to published reports. Such a change could allow restaurants and gyms in many counties to reopen outdoor dining and services.

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