Despite the rise in COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, warned during a news conference Monday that she remains “deeply concerned about a possible change in the trajectory of the pandemic “.
Walensky, citing the latest data from the agency, said that recent declines in COVID-19 cases have leveled off at about 70,000 cases per day.
“You know, the goal is not to open the trips, open all, you know, things because people, you know, we are increasing vaccination. The goal in those first 100 days has always been kind of to make sure that we are in a place to be out of this pandemic, “Walensky said. “With 70,000 cases per day, we are not in that place right now. So while we can have, you know, individual level counseling, as Dr. Fauci has suggested, I think we all need to be vigilant about the fact that we’re not out of the woods yet. “
CDC SHUTDOWN JOHNSON & JOHNSON ONE-DOSE COVID-19 VACCINE
According to the CDC, the most recent seven-day average of cases, approximately 67,200, represents an increase of just over 2% compared to the previous seven days. Similarly, the most recent seven-day death average increased more than 2% from the previous seven days to nearly 2,000 deaths per day.
“With these new statistics, I am truly concerned by reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures that we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” he added. “I understand the temptation to do this. Seventy thousand cases a day seemed fine to me compared to what we were a few months ago. But we cannot resign ourselves to 70,000 daily cases, 2,000 daily deaths.”
While Walensky noted that the CDC is “actively working” on guidance on when it will be safe for Americans to begin activities such as travel again, he stressed that between the current level of cases and the risk of spreading variants, the United States could “completely lose hard-won ground “if it reopens too quickly.
“These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are that close,” he said. “We have the ability to stop a possible fourth increase in cases in this country. Please stand firm in your belief. Please continue to wear your well-fitting mask and take the other public health prevention actions that we know work.”
Walensky said vaccination is the key to getting the US out of the pandemic and that to get there, many more Americans must be vaccinated.
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On Sunday, Walensky approved a recommendation from the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that the COVID-19 vaccine from drug maker Johnson & Johnson should be used for emergency use for people 18 years of age and older.
“The Janssen vaccine is a much-needed addition to our toolbox and increases the number of vaccine doses available, and enables more people to get vaccinated and protect themselves from COVID-19,” Walensky said Monday.
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Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is the third for the United States, following previous emergency use approvals for vaccines made by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna. Unlike the other two vaccines available, Johnson & Johnson’s requires a single dose and does not need to be stored in a freezer.
According to an FDA analysis, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approximately 67% effective in preventing moderate to severe cases within 14 days of dosing and 66% effective against severe to critical cases after 28 days. Furthermore, the vaccine was approximately 77% effective in preventing the occurrence of severe or critical COVID-19 at least 14 days after vaccination and 85% effective in preventing the occurrence of severe or critical COVID-19 at least 28 days after vaccination.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 95% and 94.1% effective, respectively.
The ACIP does not establish a preference for a particular COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, the group of independent health experts encourages people to get any of the available vaccines as soon as possible.
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According to the latest CDC data, more than 76 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States, and nearly 50 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Deliveries of Johnson & Johnson’s initial supply of 3.9 million doses of vaccines to state health departments, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers and community vaccination centers across the country are expected Tuesday.
Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels told FOX Business on Monday that the company expects to deliver enough single-shot vaccines by the end of March to vaccinate more than 20 million Americans and 100 million by the end of June. The company is also on track to produce 1 billion doses for global distribution by the end of 2021.