COVID-19 has killed more than 430,000 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 newsletter for updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.
In a study released Thursday, another COVID-19 candidate vaccine was shown to be safe and roughly 90% effective against the virus that causes the disease.
Novavax, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology firm, released the interim results from two clinical trials of its two dose candidate vaccine, one in the United Kingdom and another in South Africa.
The South African variant Thursday reached the U.S., identified in South Carolina. There is no evidence infections from the variant cause more severe disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement, adding that “preliminary data suggests this variant may spread more easily and quickly than other variants.” There’s also concern vaccines might be less effective against this variant.
But, there’s still good news: early safety data from the first month of COVID-19 vaccination finds the shots are as safe as the studies suggested they’d be.
In the headlines:
►New U.S cases of the coronavirus have fallen 35% from their Jan. 11 peak, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The average number of daily cases has fallen to about 162,000, from 249,000. And there are positive signs for hospitalization: The COVID Tracking Project said Wednesday that about 107,000 Americans were hospitalized because of the virus Tuesday, down from a peak of more than 130,000 three weeks ago.
►New York may have undercounted COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents by thousands, according to a new report from the state attorney general.
►Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who made clear in December that he would wait his turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, was quietly vaccinated last week at the recommendation of medical personnel, his office said.
►The Georgia Department of Public Health imposed a six month vaccine supply suspension Wednesday on a main rural county provider that’s been vaccinating educators, against current state guidelines, WSB-TV reported.
►United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling attention to the wide disparity in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, referring to it as a “global emergency” and saying less than 20,000 of the 70 million doses so far administered have gone to people in African countries. Guterres warned against “vaccine nationalism,” pointing out the coronavirus will inevitably mutate if it continues circulating in parts of the globe.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 25.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 433,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 101.4 million cases and 2.19 million deaths. About 48.4 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 26.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: With the Biden administration seeking to vaccine 1.5 million people each day, mass vaccination clinics are popping up in California and New York, among other places. They’ll soon become common across the U.S. Read the full story.
Everyone who experienced an allergic response after the COVID-19 vaccination has been treated successfully, and no other serious problems have turned up among the first 22 million people vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The data on the 22M Americans vaccinated was collected from several tracking systems, including a voluntary one in which people who are vaccinated report their symptoms via text. Another allows people who believe they have been harmed by a vaccine to contribute their information, and athird collects reports from medical records.
Although it’s never possible to prove something is completely safe, data from these tracking systems suggests the vaccines are not causing large numbers of unusual or dangerous results. Read the full story.
– Karen Weintraub
The Biden administration vowed drug companies would make enough vaccine to immunize 300 million Americans by the end of the summer.
But getting the vaccine from the factory to the arms of people has been anything but smooth. Of 47.2 million doses shipped to states and nursing homes, 24.6 million have been administered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
The nation’s slow rollout boiled over from California, which tapped Blue Shield to allocate vaccines, to Maryland, where Gov. Larry Hogan implored the federal government to send more doses of potentially lifesaving vaccine.
– Ken Alltucker
Andrew Brooks, the former Chief Operating Officer and Director of Technology Development of RUCDR Infinite Biologics, helping usher medical breakthroughs to the market, including the first saliva test for COVID-19, died unexpectedly on Jan. 23 at the age of 51. A cause of death was not provided.
The COVID-19 test that Brooks’ team created received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration last spring and has been used approximately four million times, according to Rutgers.
“It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections,” Brooks said in April 2020 when it was first approved. “We can preserve precious personal protective equipment for use in patient care instead of testing.”
– Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Contributing: The Associated Press