Overnight Health Care: Biden takes steps to boost number of vaccine doses sent to states | CDC researchers find 'little evidence' of major school outbreaks, with precautions | Eli Lilly says antibody combo significantly cuts COVID-19 death risk

Overnight Health Care: Biden takes steps to boost number of vaccine doses sent to states | CDC researchers find 'little evidence' of major school outbreaks, with precautions | Eli Lilly says antibody combo significantly cuts COVID-19 death risk
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

The Biden administration announced plans to boost the vaccine supply to states and make it easier for states to plan. Meanwhile, the White House tried to clarify the president's comments about the number of inoculations. The CDC found rare instances of COVID-19 spread in schools, and there's good news about antibody therapies.

We'll start with vaccine news:

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Biden takes steps to boost number of vaccine doses sent to states

President Biden is taking a range of steps to try to smooth the bumpy vaccine rollout. 

  • The supply of vaccines going to states will increase from 8.6 million to 10 million doses per week for at least the next three weeks, due to releasing more doses of the Moderna vaccine. 
  • The White House will inform states of their coming vaccine allocation three weeks instead of one week ahead of time to allow more time to plan. States have long complained that the Trump administration did not give them enough notice, and allocations were unpredictable 
  • The administration will purchase an additional 100 million doses each of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, bringing the total amount on order to 600 million doses, from 400 million doses, enough for 300 million Americans to each get two doses. The additional doses are expected to be ready “over the course of the summer,” a senior Biden administration official said.

Caveat: Even with these steps aimed at improving the vaccine rollout, it will be several months before the vaccine is available on a widespread basis. There simply are not enough doses for everyone at the moment, and getting shots in arms has also proven to be a daunting logistical challenge. 

Read more here.

While Biden said he is hoping for 1.5 million vaccinations a day, the White House says he was just being optimistic 

White House says Biden didn't set new goal on vaccines

The White House on Tuesday clarified that President Biden was being optimistic when he said a day earlier that he hoped the country could vaccinate 1.5 million people per day in the coming weeks, and that he was not setting a concrete goal.

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"The president didn't actually say 'the new goal is,' the president said I hope we can do even more than that. And that is certainly of course his hope," White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiWhite House on Cleveland Indians' name change: 'We certainly support their change of name' US delegation departs Haiti after reports of gunshots at ex-president's funeral White House on unvaccinated Americans: Our role is not to 'place blame' MORE said at a daily briefing.

"He is continuing to push our team to get as many Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible. That's why we set the bold goal of 100 million shots in the arms of Americans in 100 days to begin with."

Where we are: The Biden administration's stated goal is to vaccinate 100 million Americans in its first 100 days in office. That timetable has drawn scrutiny from reporters and experts who question if it's ambitious enough, given the country was already nearly hitting that mark when Biden took office.

Read more here.

CDC researchers find 'little evidence' of major school outbreaks, with precautions

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers on Tuesday said that there is "reassuring" evidence about a lack of widespread coronavirus transmission in schools, amid sometimes-intense debate over reopening.

The researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that there have been some reported cases of the virus in schools, but they have not been major drivers of transmission.  

The article points to data from 90,000 students and staff in 11 North Carolina school districts open for in-person learning for nine weeks. There were just 32 infections acquired in school during that time, with no cases of students transmitting the virus to staff, the researchers noted. 

The key words: "With precautions." It is still important for schools to take precautions, such as everyone wearing masks, distancing, improving ventilation in the room, and testing, the article states. When some of those precautions were not followed, there was a significant school outbreak reported in Israel. 

Read more here.

Eli Lilly says antibody combo significantly cuts COVID-19 death risk

Some good news about monoclonal antibody treatments: there's increasing evidence they can prevent COVID-19 infections, and reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

A combination treatment of two monoclonal antibodies developed by Eli Lilly can significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, the company announced Tuesday.

The results from a final-stage clinical trial of more than 1,000 patients testing the combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab found just 11 hospitalizations in patients taking the therapy, compared to 36 events in patients taking a placebo, a 70 percent reduction compared to a placebo.

There were 10 deaths total, all of which occurred in patients taking placebo, and no deaths in patients taking bamlanivimab and etesevimab together.

Regeneron news: Preliminary results of a small trial run jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases showed its antibody treatment reduced COVID-19 by half in people at high risk of infection-- i.e. people living with someone who is infected.  

Read more here.

Johnson & Johnson on track for 100 million vaccine doses by end of June, bolstering US supply

Johnson & Johnson is not associated with the plan Bidena announced Tuesday, but the company said it is on track to meet its target of 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses for the United States by the end of June. 

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine trial is being closely watched as it has the potential to produce a third vaccine for the U.S., helping further an increase in available doses. The company said Tuesday that it expects results from its Phase 3 trial “by early next week.”

Vaccine manufacturing is difficult and unpredictable, but the 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go even further because each person only requires one shot, in contrast to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that require two shots.

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Read more here.

The Hill event

Wednesday 1/27 beginning at 1:15 PM ET | Challenge of our Time: The COVID-19 Vaccine

While grim milestones are still being hit, there is light at the end of the COVID tunnel. That we find ourselves here in less than a year is perhaps nothing short of a medical miracle. But the hard work is just beginning. How do you manufacture and distribute a vaccine to nearly 7.8 billion people? On Wednesday, Jan. 27, The Hill hosts a two-part discussion on both the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.  Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciGOP Rep. Cawthorn says he wants to 'prosecute' Fauci The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel McConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message MORE, Dr. Francis Collins, Pfizer's Mikeal Dolsten, AMA's Susan Bailey, Reps. Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonHouse passes bills to boost science competitiveness with China The Chinese-Russian Lunar Axis adopts a plan from the late Paul Spudis Congress and DOT should ensure a data-driven transportation infrastructure MORE and Brad WenstrupBrad Robert WenstrupHouse approves select panel to probe Jan. 6 attack Overnight Defense: Biden, Putin agree to launch arms control talks at summit | 2002 war authorization repeal will get Senate vote | GOP rep warns Biden 'blood with be on his hands' without Afghan interpreter evacuation GOP rep: If Biden doesn't evacuate Afghan interpreters, 'blood will be on his hands' MORE and many more join The Hill's Steve Clemons to discuss the challenge of our time. We will highlight the state of play -- not only in the US, but globally -- in producing workable vaccine candidates, evaluating strategies to manufacture vaccines, therapeutics, and the downstream infrastructure of those at global scale, and then look at distribution complexities that must be overcome. RSVP today for one session or both.

 

What we’re reading

Biden plans to reopen Obamacare enrollment (CNN)

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New coronavirus cases rise in France, third national lockdown feared (Reuters

‘We’re not controlling it in our schools’: Covid safety lapses abound across US (Kaiser Health News) 

State by state

Why California is moving to an age-based system for coronavirus vaccine priority (San Francisco Chronicle

‘Continue wearing masks’: DeWine says as numbers improve, Ohioans must remain vigilant (Fox 8)

Maryland to open mass coronavirus vaccination sites at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore Convention Center (Baltimore Sun