Coronavirus update: Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets approval, many Americans are skipping the second dose

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Consumers are more confident about the post-pandemic economy

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,080,017 (32,063,938)

Total U.S. deaths: 572,226 (572,109)

Total global cases: 147,312,053 (146,707,516)

Total global deaths: 3,112,019 (3,103,553)

Johnson & Johnson vaccinations resume

Government health experts have cleared the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus (COVID-19) for use in the U.S., with distribution resuming over the weekend. 

An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed safety data before making the decision. In particular, they looked closely at the cases of six women who formed dangerous blood clots within weeks of being vaccinated. One woman died.

Within hours of the advisory committee vote, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted the pause after determining the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.

Many Americans skipping second dose

The U.S. has made great strides in getting the COVID-19 vaccine into people’s arms, but the CDC has issued a sobering statistic. Millions of Americans are getting the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine but are skipping the second.

Health officials say that puts recipients at greater risk. While one shot of either mRNA vaccine provides some level of protection, scientists say the second dose is needed to achieve an acceptable level of immunity.

The New York Times reports that people skipping the second dose have offered a variety of reasons. Among them, some say they don’t want to suffer the mild side effects often associated with the second dose.

As the pandemic fades, confidence grows

The Gallup organization reports that Americans are showing confidence in the economy for the first time since early March 2020. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index showed a score of +2 in April, the first time it has been net positive since just before the economic shutdown.

Even though Americans’ economic outlook brightened somewhat in previous months, especially after the stock market hit record highs, it remained in negative territory.

In the new survey, 28% of respondents said current economic conditions are either excellent or good, while 26% said they are poor. Last month, 23% rated current conditions as excellent or good and 31% said they were poor.

Study finds pregnancy increases risk of dying from COVID-19

Researchers say being pregnant is a significant risk factor for dying from COVID-19. Scientists at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine studied 2,100 pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy and found they were 20 times more likely to die than those who did not contract the virus.

UW Medicine and University of Oxford doctors led this first-of-its-kind study, published in JAMA Pediatrics. The investigation involved more than 100 researchers and was conducted in the early months of the pandemic before vaccines were developed.

“The No. 1 takeaway from the research is that pregnant women are no more likely to get COVID-19, but if they get it, they are more likely to become very ill and more likely to require ICU care, ventilation, or experience preterm birth and preeclampsia," said Dr. Michael Gravett, one of the study's lead authors.

India struggles to contain surge in cases

While the U.S. has been able to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, other countries that are behind the U.S. in terms of vaccination rates are seeing a sharp increase. India is a case in point.

The country’s health ministry reported 352,991 new cases and 2,812 virus-related deaths today. It is setting records no country wants to set -- recording the world's highest daily caseload for the fifth straight day.

As hospitals in India fill to capacity, the country is running out of oxygen to treat the most seriously ill. India’s vaccination rate is about 10% of the population.

Around the nation

  • Connecticut: Education officials say the state’s schoolchildren already lagged behind national literacy standards before the pandemic. They now worry about how much kids have lost by not being in the classroom. “We know we have a reading achievement gap in this country, and I do believe that the pandemic has heightened it,” said Cassie Budman, a reading specialist at Highland Park Elementary School in Manchester.

  • Texas: Texas was one of the first states to fully reopen and has not suffered from a surge in new COVID-19 cases that many predicted. The state has reported 165 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over the past two weeks, keeping it in 40th place among all U.S. states and territories, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

  • Michigan: A surge in new cases continues, with state health officials reporting 4,698 new cases and 121 additional deaths over the weekend. They say hospitalizations include many younger patients who have not yet been vaccinated. 

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