Coronavirus update: Retail pharmacies cited for wasted vaccine, new vaccines under development

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Another vote of confidence for Johnson & Johnson

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,423,048 (32,296,353)

Total U.S. deaths: 577,054 (576,770)

Total global cases: 152,974,685 (151,673,998)

Total global deaths: 3,204,478 (3,189,619)

Retail pharmacy chains allegedly wasted vaccine

A report by Kaiser Health News (KHN), part of the Kaiser Family Foundation, claims two retail pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, have accounted for a significant portion of wasted coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The report is based on a study of government data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 182,874 doses of the various vaccines were wasted as of late March. Of those, KHS says CVS was responsible for nearly half, and Walgreens wasted 21% of the total. Altogether, it says the retailers wasted 128,500 shots.

CVS told KHN that most of its waste occurred early in the vaccination rollout when it was tasked with vaccinating residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Records show the Pfizer vaccine, which requires extreme temperature storage, accounted for 60% of the waste.

Next vaccines could be in pill or spray form

The international effort to vaccinate people against COVID-19 is still in its early stages, but the pharmaceutical industry is already thinking about the next generation of vaccines.

The research is being carried out at both U.S. government labs and at private biopharma firms. The companies have told The Wall Street Journal that the next generation of vaccines could be in pill or nasal spray form and be even more effective than the four approved vaccines currently in use around the world.

They say the next vaccines against COVID-19 will have the advantage of not having challenging storage requirements and would likely eliminate the need for two doses.

CDC says 97% of Johnson & Johnson vaccine reactions aren’t serious

After studying the data, the CDC has found there is little risk to getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The agency said its analysis shows 97% of the reactions to the vaccine are “non-serious.”

While most of the reactions to the shots are nothing more than mild flu symptoms, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine came under close scrutiny after a small number of recipients later suffered from the formation of dangerous blood clots.

Distribution of the vaccine was “paused” for more than a week while health experts looked at the risks. They ultimately determined that risks from adverse reactions were far outweighed by the benefit of being vaccinated. They said there were 17 serious reactions out of more than 7 million vaccinations.

Dr. Gottleib explains why you need the second shot

Surveys have shown that a number of Americans who have received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine haven’t returned for the second dose. Some have said they don’t plan to.

Appearing on CNBC today, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the first shot may provide initial protection but the second shot is needed to provide lasting immunity. Even so, he expects many people to eventually get the second dose.

“My advice to anyone would be that, even if you’re young and there’s evidence that you derive a robust immune response just from that first dose, we don’t know the durability of that response,” said Gottlieb.  “If you really want to get a durable effect from the vaccine, you really should get the second dose.”

Brothels reopen in Nevada

Nevada is getting back to business. Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip were busy over the weekend as were the state’s legal brothels, which reopened for the first time in more than a year.

USA Today reported that some brothels, which are legal in only a handful of Nevada counties, tried to encourage return business by offering discounts.

In Las Vegas, casinos operated at 80% under eased virus-mitigation rules. Gov. Steve Sisolak has said he expects all businesses to be reopened at 100% capacity by June 1.

Around the nation

New York: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to return New York City’s mass transit service to a 24-hour operation after shutting down each night for over a year. “The City That Never Sleeps has a name that we have to live up to everywhere, including within our subway service,” Schumer said at a weekend event in Manhattan.

Kansas: State health officials say there are health consequences to declining a COVID-19 vaccination. They note that as the rate of vaccinations slowed last month there was an increase in cases of the COVID-19 variant and a rise in hospitalizations, especially in the Wichita area. 

Utah: After an upsurge in cases last week, health officials started breathing a little easier over the weekend. They reported one death in the state on Saturday, and one more on Sunday. After reporting 410 cases of the virus on Saturday, health officials reported 279 on Sunday, starting what they hope is a downward trend.

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