Overnight health care: AstraZeneca says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is up to 90 percent effective

Overnight health care: AstraZeneca says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is up to 90 percent effective

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden adviser delivers more pessimistic prediction on vaccine rollout | CDC says coronavirus could kill up to 514K by Feb. 20 | Vaccine research funds have been misused for decades, watchdog says Fauci confident vaccine companies ready for 'mutant' coronavirus strains Fauci defends Birx: 'She had to live in the White House' MORE, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says the U.S. could see over 300,000 COVID-19 deaths if the trajectory of the pandemic doesn’t change. But there is some encouraging news from AstraZeneca, and HHS also announced plans to allocate Regeneron after the therapeutic received FDA authorization. 

Let’s start with vaccine news: 


AstraZeneca says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is up to 90 percent effective

Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced Monday morning that its vaccine candidate, developed by Oxford University, is 70 percent effective, on average, in preventing COVID-19.  

The company said an interim analysis of U.K. trials found an average efficacy rate of 70 percent, but could be as high as 90 percent, seemingly less effective than two other vaccines from Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech group.

The company said two full doses of the vaccine given at least a month apart appeared to be only 62 percent effective at preventing disease, while a half dose followed by a full dose was about 90 percent effective. 

“We’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 percent effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply,” Andrew Pollard, CEO of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers  in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers based around the world.”

Read more here.

Trump administration to begin delivering Regeneron COVID treatment on Tuesday


The federal government will begin distributing doses of Regeneron's antibody drug treatment for COVID-19 on Tuesday, top health officials said. 

During a call with reporters, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said the administration will distribute 30,000 doses of the drug, with more coming in the weeks ahead.  

The company expects to produce 300,000 doses by early January.

In July, the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed gave Regeneron $450 million to support manufacturing of the drug.

The limited allocations to state and territorial health departments will be proportionally based on confirmed COVID-19 cases over the previous seven day period. The information is based on data that hospitals and state health departments submit to the HHS COVID-19 response data hub. 

Read more here.

Fauci: US could see 'well over 300,000' COVID-19 deaths

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, warned Monday that COVID-19 deaths could easily top 300,000 if the trajectory of the pandemic does not change.

The number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been rising for weeks with no signs of slowing as the U.S. deals with another wave of the pandemic. 

“We're now at over 250,000 deaths, a quarter of a million deaths. You could get well over 300,000 and close to even more than that if we don't turn things around,” Fauci said during a livestreamed Washington Post event. 

He stressed that reaching that number is not inevitable if people practice public health measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

“I don't want this to be a doomsday statement. It is within our power to not let those numbers happen,” he said.

Why it matters: Fauci’s comments come ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, when millions of people are expected to travel and gather with friends and family outside of their households, despite advice from public health experts.

The U.S. is averaging about 170,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, a 54 percent increase from the average two weeks ago. 


Read more here. 

Peak of third COVID-19 wave still weeks away

The skyrocketing number of new coronavirus infections in the United States is likely to climb further over the next several weeks, even in the hardest-hit areas where soaring case loads are starting to overwhelm hospitals and medical facilities.

New cases appear to be reaching a peak in the Dakotas and Iowa, where infections are at their highest levels since the pandemic began. But most states experiencing a COVID-19 surge are weeks behind those epicenters as tens of thousands of people test positive every week.

“It’s starting to plateau in relatively few locations, but it’s giving us a sense that many areas could continue to experience this into January,” said David Rubin, a physician who runs the PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This is a hard period.”

A January peak would put the height of the coronavirus pandemic around the time of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Science denialism in the new administration Jill Biden to offer input on helping reunite separated immigrant families: report MORE’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia recorded more cases last week than the week prior. More than 1 percent of North Dakota’s population tested positive for the coronavirus this week, as did nearly one in 100 residents in Wyoming.


Read more here.

Surgeon general warns against indoor holiday celebrations, even at White House 

Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Biden to name nurse as acting surgeon general: report Judge drops case against former surgeon general over alleged virus restrictions violation MORE on Monday warned Americans to avoid indoor holiday celebrations with people they don't live with, including parties being planned by the White House.

During an appearance on ABC's “Good Morning America,” Adams said events like the planned White House holiday parties are a cause for concern.

"We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be super-spreader events,” Adams said. “So we want them to be smart, and we want them to be as small as possible. But again, go to CDC.gov, look at those tips for everyone. These apply to the White House; they apply to the American people.”

The Trump administration plans to hold an indoor holiday reception next week, despite a surge in coronavirus cases across the country and multiple outbreaks within the White House itself.

During the interview, Adams, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, did not condemn the White House events specifically when pressed but instead commented more generally about holiday gatherings.


Read more here.

What we’re reading: 

Small social gatherings aren’t driving the virus surge (so far) (The New York Times

Biden to spotlight CDC officials shunned by Trump (Politico

Data show hospitalized COVID-19 patients are surviving at higher rates (STAT)

State by state: 

In Texas, these health workers will be first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (Texas Tribune

LA County suspends outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surges (Los Angeles Times

Over 18,000 Floridians now dead from coronavirus; state adds 6,331 new cases (Orlando Sentinel)

Op-eds in The Hill 

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