Coronavirus update: CDC updates Johnson & Johnson vaccine safety, U.S. vaccination rate continues to fall

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Results from a clinical trial involving kids are expected soon

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,296,353 (32,235,827)

Total U.S. deaths: 575,270 (574,383)

Total global cases: 150,673,998 (149,766,134)

Total global deaths: 3,169,019 (3,153,812)

CDC issues Johnson & Johnson safety report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a report on a safety review of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine made by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The study was undertaken after a few people who received the vaccine suffered a serious blood clot condition known as thrombocytopenia.

The report notes that nearly 8 million doses of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine had been administered by April 21. A review of safety monitoring data found that “97% of reported reactions after vaccine receipt were nonserious, consistent with preauthorization clinical trials data.”

The CDC counted 17 thrombotic events resulting in at least two deaths. The report concludes that “ongoing monitoring for rare and common adverse events after vaccination is important for evaluating the balance between risks and benefits for each authorized COVID-19 vaccine, including the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.”

Pace of vaccinations continues to slow

Even with all adults over the age of 16 now eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, the U.S. vaccination rate continues to fall. A month ago, the U.S. averaged 3 million shots a day. This week, the CDC said the rate fell to 2.6 million.

Even at a slower rate, the country is making progress. The CDC numbers show that 30% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated against the virus.

Vaccination levels vary widely by state. Maine appears to be doing the best job, with more than 38% of adults being fully vaccinated. Alabama is lagging in that area, with nearly 23% of adults being vaccinated.

With vaccinations slowing, children are next

Vaccinations have been open to all adults for only a couple of weeks, but health officials are already looking ahead to inoculating children against the coronavirus. Clinical trial data on the administration of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to children could be available soon, paving the way for a new vaccination effort.

“We expect the data at the end of the summer or autumn of this year,” Dr. Ozlem Tureci, the co-founder and chief medical officer of BioNTech, told CNBC.

Once the data has been gathered, Tureci says it will then be filed with regulators. Depending on how fast these officials act, it’s possible that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine might win approval to also immunize younger children.

WSJ: App usage shows that the pandemic is beginning to fade

You see it all around and may have experienced it yourself. As vaccinations increase, people are leaving their homes, movie theaters are reopening, and restaurants are beginning to be filled to their limited capacity.

The Wall Street Journal has analyzed a wide range of apps and social media platforms and determined that the pandemic is indeed beginning to recede from daily life. Here are some clues:

  • Use of the restaurant reservation app Open Table is up from average 2019 usage. 

  • Ticketmaster usage is up, though it hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels. 

  • Use of travel booking app Kayak is now slightly higher than at the start of the pandemic.

Flu has been missing in 2020-21

Do you know anyone who has had the flu this year? Researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO) are betting you don’t.

According to Scientific American, cases of the flu reported to the WHO have dropped to “minuscule levels.” Scientists credit the public health measures instituted around the world that are designed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

But we could pay a price for that later on. Scientists note that today’s toddlers have missed a chance to have their immune systems exposed to influenza viruses, perhaps making them more vulnerable later in life.

Around the nation

  • North Carolina: The state’s requirement that people wear masks while outdoors in public places expires this weekend. Gov. Roy Cooper's latest executive order still requires masks to be worn indoors, but it drops the statewide outdoor mask mandate effective today at 5 p.m.

  • Idaho: Vaccination eligibility requirements are no longer limited by age anywhere. In Idaho, the state’s requirement that people live or work in the state has also been dropped. State health officials say supplies of the vaccine now exceed demand.

  • Massachusetts: New cases continue to trend in the right direction, but at least five communities continue to see rising caseloads. Health officials have identified Chicopee, Hampden, Palmer, Southwick, and Springfield in the western part of the state as “high risk” communities.

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