Biden says US ‘determined to help India in its time of need’; some states turn down vaccine shipments: Live COVID-19 updates

The U.S. drop in demand is leading some states to turn down vaccine shipments. 

Louisiana has stopped asking the federal government for its full allotment of COVID-19 vaccine. In Mississippi, officials asked the federal government to ship vials in smaller packages so they don’t go to waste. About half of Iowa’s counties have stopped asking for new doses from the state.

And even as Kansas remains far from reaching the coveted public health standard of herd immunity against COVID-19 — essentially starving off the virus because it runs out of vulnerable bodies — more than 60 counties turned down their weekly allotment of vaccine doses.

“Herd immunity is great and 80% sounds wonderful,” said Karen Winkelman, a nurse and the Barton County health director in Kansas. Barton County has given at least one dose of the vaccine to about 30% of its adults compared to 36.4% across the state.

“But I don’t think we would ever reach that,” she added.

Some are urging federal officials to send more vaccines to places where there is demand — rather than allocate them based on population — including in Massachusetts where Republican Gov. Charlie Baker  said on Thursday that the state could administer two to three times more doses per day if they had more supply.

– Abigail Censky, Topeka Capital-Journal 

Also in the news:

►Wisconsin counties that shifted more Republican, or “red,” since 2012 are seeing lower vaccination rates than counties that shifted blue during the same time period, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found. 

►Three out of every five Coloradans hospitalized for COVID-19 since mid-March were younger than 60, indicating to some a flipping of the virus surge as the vaccine protects seniors, reported the Denver Post.

►Alaska Airlines has banned an Alaska state senator from its flights, saying she refused to follow mask requirements. State Sen. Lora Reinbold of Eagle River was recorded last week at Juneau International Airport apparently arguing with airport and Alaska Airlines staff about mask policies. 

►At least 16 states have begun administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine after their governors signed off on resuming the use of the one-dose shot. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 572,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 146.8 million cases and 3.1 million deaths. More than 290.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 228.6 million have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: Have a loved one who doesn’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Here’s how to talk to them.

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More than 5 million Americans have skipped second vaccine dose

The latest data from the CDC highlights the importance of getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine back in circulation despite the tiny chance it could lead to blood clots in some women.

More than 5 million Americans who were inoculated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, both of which require two shots weeks apart, have failed to get the second one within the recommended interval. That’s almost 8% of the first-dose recipients, and the numbers are growing.

The New York Times reports that the reasons for skipping the second shot include fear of side effects, lack of supply and feeling that one dose provides enough protection.

Although the U.S. ranks among the leading countries in the world with 42% of the population receiving at least one dose, only 28.5% of the country’s 330 million people are fully vaccinated.

US could send millions of vaccines to India

The U.S. will send desperately needed vaccine supplies and experts to India, overwhelmed by one of the worst coronavirus surges the world has seen, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told his counterpart in India on Sunday.

The U.S. will also consider sending millions of surplus AstraZeneca vaccines to India, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.” AstraZeneca’s vaccine has not yet won emergency use authorization in the U.S.

The offers come as the U.S. and other developed nations draw complaints for stockpiling vaccine doses while poorer nations struggle to obtain them. Britain has agreed to ship ventilators to India; the European Union is offering oxygen and other supplies.

Sullivan told Ajit Doval the U.S will make available raw materials to help India manufacture Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made in India, along with therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” a statement from National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said.

“The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis,” the statement added. To help speed India’s vaccine manufacturing, Sullivan said the U.S. Development Finance Corp. will back a “substantial expansion” for BioE, which makes the vaccine, to allow it to reach 1 billion doses by the end of 2022.

And a team of experts from the CDC and USAID is being deployed to India to assist.

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