Biden visits the Pfizer manufacturing unit; The California college board declares

As federal partners rush to distribute late COVID-19 vaccine shipments and millions of Americans struggle with access to clean water on Saturday, epidemiologists warn that record-breaking winter weather is causing coronavirus waves in some parts of the country and others Sharing can suppress outbreaks.

“To the extent that winter weather increases the likelihood that people currently shedding infectious viruses will remain isolated and not mingle with other people, it will suppress virus transmission in the community,” said David Sweat, chief epidemiologist for Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee, earlier this week.

However, in more affected areas of the country like Texas, the weather can have the opposite effect, said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and an infectious disease doctor. “In Texas, where people come together to get food and water and to go to communal shelters, we might actually see a surge,” Schaffner said.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said an increase was “possible” if large numbers of people huddled in shelters.

In some Texas prisons, in particular, conditions remain “dire,” according to the Texas Jail Project, an organization that works to empower incarcerated people. “We are angry and increasingly concerned about the impact poor sanitation and water shortages will have on the spread of COVID-19 in overcrowded prisons,” the group wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden toured a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Michigan on Friday, emphasizing the safety of vaccines. Americans should get vaccinated “when it is your turn and available”. Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser on the COVID-19 response, said doses left behind due to the weather are expected to be dispensed “within the next week”.

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In the headlines:

►Following the earliest confusion, most hospitals, clinics, and vaccination centers have protocols and systems in place to ensure that every final dose of vaccine is used.

►The US plans to open five more community vaccination centers, including one in Philadelphia and four in Florida, in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, Salvitt said on Friday.

► The FDA is reviewing data from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine study and plans to consult with the agency’s independent advisory committee on February 26. “We should hear from you soon,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday.

►Pfizer announced on Friday that it would apply for approval to store its vaccine in regular pharmaceutical freezers rather than the extremely cold temperatures currently required.

►California plans to provide 10% of first vaccine doses to educators, school staff and childcare workers starting March to help get children back into the classrooms, Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday.

► Experts say the United States could quickly expand and speed up the country’s limited testing offering by approving rapid paper-based antigen testing. The downside: Rapid tests are less accurate when compared to lab tests, which take longer to complete and cost $ 100 or more.

📈 Today’s numbers: There are more than 28.0 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 496,000 deaths in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global total: more than 110.9 million cases and 2.45 million deaths. According to the CDC, more than 78.1 million vaccine doses have been distributed and about 59.5 million administered in the United States.

📘 What we read: “He shouldn’t be dead”: A year after her father died from COVID-19, the family is facing loss.

The entire school board resigns after mocking parents in a livestream meeting at the reopening

The president and all three other members of a California school board resigned after mocking parents in a livestream meeting about reopening the school they believed was private.

Greg Hetrick, superintendent of Oakley Union Elementary School District in Costa County, announced that board members had submitted their resignation in a letter to the school community on Friday, calling it an “unfortunate situation.”

The video of Wednesday night’s meeting was shared on social media and appears to capture board members mocking parents who wrote letters to petition the board to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. “They want to choose us because they want their babysitters back,” said CEO Lisa Brizendine.

The board members also use explosives and laugh at parents who use medical marijuana. Towards the end of the recording, the board members seem shocked to receive a message indicating that the livestream is public. In a statement, the board members expressed their “sincere apologies” and said they “deeply regret the comments made at the meeting”.

Could Your Apple Watch, Fitbit Help Slow Down The Pandemic?

Growing evidence suggests that a smartwatch or wearable like a Fitbit could warn the wearer of a possible COVID-19 infection if the test result is positive.

Wearables like the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch, Fitbit and other devices can record heart and oxygen data as well as sleep and activity values. Researchers are investigating whether a body’s health data could point to an impending COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 infection may not be imminent for a person whose heart or activity data suggests a possible infection. However, the increased likelihood – and the ability to alert the patient to testing and possibly quarantine – could be an important tool in preventing and tracking the spread of the disease, researchers say.

If demonstrated, such results can lead to remote medical alerts for other possible viruses, flu, and undue stress.

– Mike Snider

The Argentine health minister resigns in the vaccination scandal

President Alberto Fernández ousted Argentina’s health minister on Friday after a well-known local journalist said he had preferred to get a coronavirus vaccination after requesting one from the minister.

The president “instructed his chief of staff to request the health minister’s resignation,” said Ginés González García, who is in charge of the government’s COVID-19 strategy, a government official who was not empowered to post the information, and spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The sacking follows reports in recent days that mayors, lawmakers, activists and people close to political power have received vaccination shots despite not being a priority group of doctors, health workers and the authorized elderly.

Two-dose Pfizer vaccine stays here despite new study

A new study from Israel restarted public debate on Friday over the gap between the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the U.S. government is not sticking to its original schedule.

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine could be just as effective if the interval between doses is greater than the recommended 21 days, according to the new study from Israel. If the doses could be given further apart, more people could be protected faster. Vaccine supplies, which are currently quite limited, are expected to increase in late spring.

However, government officials want to stick to the dosage schedule, which has been scientifically proven to be effective, and warn that a change could weaken the vaccine’s effectiveness against variants or even spur the creation of new variants that evade this protection.

The current schedule provides “an optimal response when dealing with variations,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor, in a news conference on Friday.

– Karen Weintraub

Africa Reaches 100,000 Known COVID-19 Deaths

Africa has exceeded 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 as the continent has been praised for its early response to the pandemic and is now facing a dangerous resurgence and medical oxygen is often very scarce.

There are hardly any large-scale COVID-19 vaccines available on the 54-nation continent with around 1.3 billion inhabitants, but a variant of the virus that dominates South Africa already poses a challenge to vaccination efforts. However, if doses are available, the continent should be able to vaccinate 35% to 40% of its population by the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022, said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials who breathed a sigh of relief last year when African countries did not see many deaths from COVID-19 are now reporting an increase in deaths. The Africa CDC said Friday that the total death toll stands at 100,294.

– The Associated Press

Featuring: Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY; Corinne S. Kennedy, Memphis Commercial Complaint; The Associated Press

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