The average number of vaccine doses being administered across the United States per day topped two million for the first time on Wednesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A month ago, the average was about 1.3 million.
President Biden set a goal for the country shortly after taking office to administer more than 1.5 million doses a day, which the nation has now comfortably exceeded.
Mr. Biden has also promised to administer 100 million vaccines by his 100th day in office, which is April 30. As of Thursday, 54 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine was authorized for emergency use on Saturday, but those doses do not appear yet in the C.D.C. data.
The milestone was yet another sign of momentum in the nation’s effort to vaccinate every willing adult, even as state and city governments face several challenges, from current supply to logistics to hesitancy, of getting all of those doses into people’s arms.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Monday he sees promising signs that suggest Covid vaccines are effective in reducing person-to-person spread of the virus in addition to their well-documented ability to protect against severe disease.
In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner cautioned that while the early data appears positive, some uncertainty remains. “I think there’s a reduction in transmission. The question is: What’s the magnitude of that?” said Gottlieb, a member of Pfizer’s board of directors.
The company’s vaccine, developed alongside German drugmaker BioNTech, is one of three to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA. The other two are made by Moderna and, most recently, Johnson & Johnson, which received limited clearance from the U.S. regulator on Saturday.
Gottlieb said there’s reason to be optimistic that the vaccines do just that, even if “the definitive study” proving it has yet to emerge. “The accumulating evidence is very convincing that there’s a reduction in transmission,” said Gottlieb, who led the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
He pointed to two studies conducted in Israel, one of the world’s leading countries in vaccinating its population, that suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cut down on virus transmission. Gottlieb also said J&J found in its trial a 74% reduction in participants developing asymptomatic infection. That finding from J&J, Gottlieb said, “is a pretty good indication that there’s a reduction in transmission.”
A single shot of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab reduces the chance of needing hospital treatment by more than 80%, an analysis in England shows.
The Public Health England data – based on people over 80 – follows similarly ‘spectacular’ results in Scotland.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the findings were “very strong”.
More than 20 million people have received their first dose of Covid vaccine in the UK.
That’s more than a third of the adult population.
Mr Hancock said the vaccine results “may also help to explain why the number of Covid admissions to intensive care units among people over 80 in the UK have dropped to single figures in the last couple of weeks”.
Moderna said Wednesday it has shipped to the National Institutes of Health doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine designed to provide better protection against the highly contagious coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa.
The vaccine – which Moderna is calling mRNA-1273.351 – is ready to be tested in an early stage clinical trial to determine if it can be used as a booster shot against the South African strain, also known as B.1.351, the company said. Moderna has found its current two-dose regimen generates a weaker immune response against the strain from South Africa, though the company said antibodies in patients remain above levels that are expected to be protective against the virus.
“Moderna is committed to making as many updates to our vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control,” the company’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, said in a press release. “We hope to demonstrate that booster doses, if necessary, can be done at lower dose levels, which will allow us to provide many more doses to the global community in late 2021 and 2022 if necessary.”
The company said Wednesday that it plans to evaluate three approaches to increasing immunity. The first approach would use variant-specific booster shots, such as mRNA-1273.351, but at a lower dose than the original vaccine. The second one would combine the original vaccine with a variant-specific vaccine into a single shot at 50 micrograms or lower, Moderna said. The third would test a third shot of the original vaccine at a lower dosage.