The US on Friday reported at least 80,157 new cases, the third day in a row and the fourth day in the last week with at least 75,000 or more cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 561,000 people have died from coronavirus to date, according to the tally.
Vaccines are an effective tool against virus spread, but they are not perfect and should be supplemented by precautions like wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings, said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Pfizer looking to expand vaccinations to Americans as young as 12
To date, the youngest Americans eligible for the vaccines are 16.
Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the System-wide Special Pathogens Program at New York City Health + Hospitals, told CNN Saturday that making the vaccine available to the 12 to 15 age group excited her as a parent.
“We should all be very hopeful,” said Madad, a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. “This is very welcome news. We know that children are vulnerable to infection and hospitalizations… They certainly are rising in cases.”
The pharmaceutical company said it will seek similar rulings by other authorities around the world in coming days.
“These requests are based on data from the pivotal Phase 3 trial in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age with or without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which demonstrated 100 percent efficacy and robust antibody response after vaccination with the COVID-19 Vaccine,” Pfizer said in a statement.
Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are up, CDC director says
Meanwhile, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing — particularly for younger people — while deaths are going down, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a White House briefing Friday.
Increases in cases and emergency room visits are being seen in younger adults, many of whom have not been vaccinated, she said.
Those ages 18 to 25, 26 to 54, and 55 to 64 have increasing numbers of emergency department visits, she said, while people aged 65 and older have decreasing visits, “likely demonstrating the important impact of vaccination in protecting against disease requiring hospitalization.”
Walensky said that while those are national statistics, the trends are magnified in some areas of the country.
With the spread of the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant as well as the lower proportion of younger people who have been vaccinated, the surge that experts fear could greatly impact younger Americans.
“We have to think about the B.1.1.7 variant as almost a brand-new virus,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said earlier this week. “It’s acting differently from anything we’ve seen before, in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously.”
Concerns of adverse reactions
In Colorado, following reports of adverse reactions, three drive-up vaccination sites will stop offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Saturday.
The sites are Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, and Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, according to a press release from Centura Health.
The health care network reiterated CDC guidance that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, but said the decision was made due to the nationwide shortage of the vaccine and instances of adverse reactions that occurred at a vaccination event at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park earlier this week.
However, officials in Wake County, North Carolina, plan to resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as soon as Monday, after pausing Thursday when 18 people at the PNC Arena experienced “mild to severe reactions immediately” following their vaccinations.
The decision comes “following a thorough internal review that further supports the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services. The findings align with those from other similar events across the country, which indicate no issues of concern,” it said in a statement.
The CDC, in a statement to CNN, said it’s aware of the various incidents related to the J&J vaccines reported in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina.
At this time, the CDC and FDA “are not recommending health departments stop administering any lots of COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement said. “CDC has performed vaccine lot analyses and has not found any reason for concern.”
Madad told CNN Saturday that the adverse reactions are “consistent with side effects that we normally see after vaccination.”
“Right now the benefits certainly outweigh the risks, but more information hopefully will come out to the general public,” she said.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Lauren Mascarenhas, Dave Alsup, Betsy Klein, Ben Tinker, Theresa Waldrop, Naomi Thomas, Alta Spells, Jeremy Harlan, Amanda Sealy and Amanda Watts contributed to this report.