The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths fell for the first time in four days, but vaccine hesitancy, amid reports of a heart inflammation side effect in teens and some supply concerns, is increasing the risk that President Biden’s vaccination goal may not be reached.
There were at least 11,841 new cases of the coronavirus-borne illness on Thursday, down from 20,153 new cases on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, to snap a three-day streak of increases.
Deaths fell to 412 on Thursday from 449 the day before, to also snap a 3-day rising streak.
The seven-day average of cases declined to 13,409 from 14,505, down 42% from two weeks ago and the lowest count since March 2020. For deaths, the seven-day average dropped to 387, the lowest since June 1, from 417 on Wednesday, and was 22% below where it was two weeks ago.
There are 12 states showing an increase in the weekly trend in cases on Friday, JHU data show, down from 15 on Thursday.
On the vaccination front, 305.69 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, and 165.12 million people aged at least 18 years old, or 64.0% of the U.S.’s adult population, have received at least one shot, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show. That’s up from 164.83 million adults receiving at least one dose as of Thursday afternoon.
At that daily pace of vaccinations, the U.S. will fall well short of Biden’s goal of 70% of adult Americans receiving at least one shot by the Fourth of July. About 15.48 million more adults need to get one vaccine dose to reach Biden’s goal, which translates to roughly 700,000 a day.
The number of fully vaccinated Americans increased to 141.58 million, or 42.6% of the total population.
Within age groups, 50.5% of Americans who are at least 12 years old are fully vaccinated, as are 53.4% of the U.S. adult population and 75.8% of Americans at least 65 years old.
In the U.S., fully vaccinated means it has been two weeks since the second of the two-dose vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc.
and partner BioNTech SE
or Moderna Inc.
have been administered, or it’s been two weeks since receiving the lone dose of Johnson & Johnson’s
Regarding the J&J vaccine, the CDC temporarily halted shipments in an effort to clear a backlog of unused doses, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. That comes after reports that millions of vaccine doses were set to expire this month.
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it extended the expiration dating for J&J’s vaccine to 4 1/2 months from 3 months when refrigerated at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees-46.4 degrees Fahrenheit).
Separately, the FDA said it has authorized for use, under the emergency use authorization (EUA) for J&J’s vaccine, two batches of the vaccine made at Emergent BioSolutions Inc.’s
Baltimore facility, even though it is “not yet ready” to include the plant in the EUA as an authorized facility.
“Following careful review and deliberation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking important steps that will allow a critically needed supply of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine to be made available,” the FDA said in a statement.
The statement comes as the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the situation, that the FDA told J&J to discard 60 million doses of its vaccine made at the Baltimore plant because of possible contamination.
Separately, vaccine hesitancy has been fueled as reports circulated that mRNA vaccines, the kind made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have led to a small number of reports of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, in teens.
Dr. Ashish Jha, a dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on NBC’s “Today” that it increasingly looks like the vaccine is leading to some “rare” cases in teens.
He tried to dispel concerns, however, saying that almost all of the cases of myocarditis are “incredibly mild” and people recover “very, very quickly,” but acknowledged that “it’s not irrelevant” and can occasionally be more severe.
When asked about how that might fuel vaccine hesitancy, Jha noted that “every vaccine, every medicine” can have side effects.
“You can get myocarditis, you can get many other things, with COVID infection itself, “Jha said. “And your risk of having complications from infection remain way higher than your risk from vaccines.”
In the U.S., there are now four states with more than half of their population fully vaccinated — Vermont (54.3%), Massachusetts (53.5%), Connecticut (51.4%) and Maine (50.22%) — and 16 states and the District of Columbia have fully vaccinated more than the U.S. average, according to JHU data.
The states with the lowest percentage of their populations fully vaccinated are Mississippi (26.2%), Alabama (27.8%) and Louisiana (29.8%)
The global case tally for the coronavirus-borne illness rose to 174.95 million on Thursday, while the death toll rose to 3,775,330, according to JHU data. The numbers of more than doubled year to date, as there were just under 83 million total cases at the end of 2020 and about 1.8 million deaths.
There have been 2.28 million vaccine doses administered worldwide as of Thursday, the data show.
The U.S. leads the world in total cases with 33.43 million and deaths with 598,797.
India continues to move closer to the U.S., with cases rising to 29.27 million, but is third in the world in deaths with 363,079.
Brazil is second in deaths at 482,019 and third in cases with 17.21 million.
The U.K. is fourth in deaths worldwide, and it leads Europe, at 28,131, while France is fourth globally in cases and leads Europe with 5.79 million.
China, where the virus was first discovered late in 2019, has had 103,285 cases and has held steady at 4,846 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.