The White House on Friday announced plans to invest $ 1.7 billion in genomic sequencing – the process of mapping the genetic code of a virus – to help states detect and curb the spread of COVID variants. 19.
The funding comes from President Joe Biden’s nearly $ 2 trillion relief program and will be used to collect COVID samples, sequence the virus and share data, according to a White House backgrounder. The first part of the funding will be allocated in early May through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The money will be used for COVID sample collection, virus sequencing and subsequent data sharing, according to a backgrounder provided by the White House.
Until recently, only a fraction of samples in the United States were sequenced, but the Biden administration has invested $ 200 million in sequencing, quadrupling the testing rate from mid-February.
The investment also includes $ 400 million for the creation of six “centers of excellence in genomic epidemiology,” a partnership between state health departments and academic institutions for research and development, and $ 300 million. dollars to create a national bioinformatics system to share and analyze sequencing data. The administration will allocate the first part of the funding in early May, with a second tranche to be invested over the next few years.
– Courtney Subramanian
Also in the news:
►Michigan extended a pandemic order for five weeks on Friday that requires masks in public, limits business capacity and caps sizes, as the state continues to face the highest daily rate of coronavirus infection in the world. country.
►West Virginia’s coronavirus vaccination campaign is slowing as fewer and fewer people show up for vaccination, the governor said on Friday. The rate of administration of the vaccine supply in the state is around 85%, down from higher figures at the start of the year, when the state momentarily led the country to most vaccinated people.
►Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Pfizer would double the quantity of vaccines in Canada over the next month and he announced that the Red Cross was ready to be deployed to Ontario to help with vaccination amid a record wave of variant-fueled coronavirus infections.
►A growing number of unfilled appointments and low utilization among nursing home workers are the first signs that vaccine reluctance is becoming a problem in Pennsylvania, prompting state officials to ring the bell. alarm Friday and urging residents to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
►American Indian tribes and native Alaskan communities are receiving more than $ 4 billion from Biden’s coronavirus relief legislation, the White House said on Friday. The money will help solve a range of problems, including vaccinating more people, improving testing and contact tracing, and reimbursing tribal health systems for lost income during the process. stopping the coronavirus.
►There are now 77 UK cases of the new variant coronavirus detected in India, the first of which was in February, the Guardian reported. It comes as India registered 217,353 new cases on Friday, its highest number of cases in a single day, according to the Hindustan Times.
►The White House announced on Friday a new mass vaccination site in Bessemer, Alabama, which has the capacity to administer 7,000 injections per week. By next week, there will be a total of 37 such sites in 26 states.
►Johnson & Johnson asked Moderna and Pfizer to join a study on the risk of blood clots, but rival companies refused, the Wall Street Journal reported. J&J also asked AstraZeneca, which was interested in a joint study, the Wall Street Journal reported.
► Travelers visiting Maui, Hawaii’s second most popular vacation destination after Oahu, will soon be required to take a second COVID-19 test to bypass the state’s mandatory quarantine.
📈 The numbers of the day: The United States has more than 31.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 564,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: over 139 million cases and 2.98 million deaths. More than 255.4 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States and 198.3 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we read: Siblings fighting. The spouses disagree. How to Fix Relationships Damaged by COVID.
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US reports 30% of fully vaccinated adults
The United States has reported that 30% of fully vaccinated adults and nearly 50% of the US adult population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But we are still a long way from collective immunity. Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, said that number could reach 85%.
Meanwhile, people will likely need a third injection of Pfizer / BioNTech within 12 months of their full vaccination, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC on Thursday. Annual injections may also be needed, Bourla said.
In addition, Fauci said this week that people might need to receive booster shots for COVID vaccines within a year, in an interview with Medhi Hasan of MSNBC. Recent data suggests that the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna provide protection for at least six months, Fauci said.
Florida mayors say governor’s orders deepened COVID wave during spring break
Mayors at some of Florida’s most popular spring break destinations say they had little power to stop revelers from congregating in their towns last month, spreading the coronavirus.
In the four weeks between March 13 and Tuesday, infections increased more in spring break hot spots in Florida than elsewhere in the state, according to an analysis by the Palm Beach Post, which is part of the USA Network. TODAY.
DeSantis shares the blame for this because it has suppressed the ability of cities and counties to enforce their anti-coronavirus rules, local officials said. On March 10, he ordered local governments to cancel fines on companies that violated anti-disease measures, and he called on state lawmakers to pass legislation allowing him to cancel mask warrants. local.
– Chris Persaud, Palm Beach Post
COVID infection after vaccination is rare, but breakthroughs can occur.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that of more than 75 million fully vaccinated Americans, only 5,800 have had post-vaccine COVID-19 infections – or so-called rupture infections.
Just over 40% of breakthrough infections so far have been in people 60 or older and 65% have been women, said Kristen Nordlund of CDC Public Affairs.
Almost 30% of people with such infections had no symptoms. But 7% were hospitalized, she said, and only 1% died.
– Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
$ 1,400 stimulus checks helped March retail sales climb 9.8%
Freshly vaccinated and armed with $ 1,400 in stimulus checks, Americans embarked on a spending spree last month. Retail sales jumped 9.8% seasonally adjusted in March after falling about 3% the month before, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
The increase was the largest than the 5.5% increase expected by Wall Street analysts, and the largest since May of last year, when stores reopened after closing at the start of the pandemic.
This is the latest sign that the economy is improving. Last month, 916,000 jobs were added, the most since August.
– Associated press
Some health experts fear Johnson & Johnson’s hiatus will cause ‘serious damage’ to public perception of COVID-19 vaccines
The U.S. government-recommended break on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare side effect will remain for at least another week, after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel ruled on Wednesday that it was necessary time to evaluate more data.
With more than 3.7 million injections of J&J given in the two and a half weeks leading up to the April 13 shutdown, more information about the rare blood clotting disease is awaited. But some health experts fear that prolonging the break will do more harm than good.
“When you have a long break that is not resolved quickly, it causes worry and fear in people who are already hesitant to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at the NYU School of Medicine of New York.
Health experts are not only concerned that people are more reluctant to get vaccinated against J&J, but fear that people will avoid COVID-19 vaccines altogether. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines licensed in the US are a different technology from J&J and AstraZeneca, which has also been linked to similar blood clots in Europe.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Florida Education Commissioner urges schools to make masks optional for the 2021-2022 school year
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran released a letter on Wednesday asking school districts to change their mask policies for the 2021-2022 school year to make masks optional.
The Education Department looked at statewide data and found no correlation between mask warrants and the presence of COVID-19 in schools, Corcoran said.
“The data shows us that district face coverage policies are not impacting the spread of the virus,” Corcoran wrote, calling for more “surgical – no sweep” policies.
Families should be given the opportunity to determine whether their child is wearing a face mask, Corcoran said. He added that students with disabilities and those learning English are particularly hampered by “one-size-fits-all” mask policies and that some families may have chosen to remove their child from school because of the warrant.
His letter ends with the request from “districts that are currently implementing a face coverage policy mandated (to) revise their policy to be voluntary for the 2021-2022 school year”.
– Ryan McKinnon, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Contribute: The Associated Press