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Overnight Health Care: Biden visits Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant in Michigan | Snow delays 6 million doses | Israeli study provides new evidence in one-dose debate

Overnight Health Care: Biden visits Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant in Michigan | Snow delays 6 million doses | Israeli study provides new evidence in one-dose debate
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Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. At the end of a long week, it was nice to have an (at least somewhat) hopeful take on what this summer might look like from The Atlantic. 

Follow us on Twitter: @NateWeixel, @jessiehellmann and @PeterSullivan4

Today we have President BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE visiting a Pfizer factory, snow storms delaying a lot of vaccine doses, and new evidence that maybe just one shot is needed (though Dr. FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE pushed back). 

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Let’s start with Biden: 

Biden visits Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant in Michigan

President Biden made a rare trip out of the DC area to visit a plant making COVID-19 vaccines and tout efforts to boost supply. 

Biden visited a factory in Kalamazoo, where he met with lab workers and learned about the process behind creating one of the two COVID-19 vaccines that is being widely used across the country to inoculate Americans. It marked just the second time Biden had traveled outside the Washington, D.C., area since taking office.

“I came here because I want the American people to understand the extraordinary, extraordinary work that’s being done to undertake the most difficult operational challenges this nation has ever faced,” Biden said in prepared remarks.

The numbers: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the company is currently delivering 5 million vaccine doses per week to the U.S., but is working to expand that capacity and expects to “more than double” it in the next “couple of weeks.”

The company is on track to deliver 120 million doses by the end of March, and 200 million doses by the end of May, Bourla said, two months faster than the original timeline. 

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Read more here.

 

One obstacle in the vaccine push: Snow storms. Six million vaccine doses are delayed. 

The White House said Friday that winter storms have caused a backlog of 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, about three days worth of shipments, but they expect to clear the backlog within a week.

Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the coronavirus response, said the weather had caused delays affecting all 50 states at multiple points along the supply chain. Workers for distributors, FedEx, UPS and McKesson, have been snowed in and unable to get to work, he said, and road closures have also hindered distribution at multiple points along the chain.

In addition: More than 2,000 vaccination sites are in areas without power and unable to accept doses.

Still, Slavitt said, "We anticipate that all the backlogged doses will be delivered within the next week."

That will require working overtime and extending hours in some places.

"We will be able to catch up but we understand this will mean asking more of people," Slavitt said. "If we all work together, from the factory all the way to the vaccinators, we will make up for it in the coming week."

Read more here.

 

New fodder for the debate over one-dose versus two: Pfizer vaccine 85 percent effective after first dose, Israeli study finds

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 85 percent effective 15-28 days after just one dose, according to a new Israeli study, helping bolster the case for possibly delaying the second dose of vaccine to cover more people.

The study of health care workers at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, published in the journal The Lancet, found the vaccine was 85 percent effective in preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19. When asymptomatic cases were included too, the figure was 75 percent.

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Those are promising results for just one dose of the vaccine. The Pfizer clinical trials were conducted with a two-dose regimen, which found 95 percent effectiveness.

Some experts have been pushing for delaying the second dose in an effort to vaccinate more people faster. The United Kingdom has adopted such this controversial strategy.

Fauci pushes back: Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE, the government's top infectious disease expert, responded to the study at a White House press briefing Friday, saying he still thinks the U.S. should stick with a two-dose approach.

Fauci raised the concerns that it is unclear from the study how long the one-dose protection will last, and noted that the immune response is much stronger after the second dose, which also provides more cushion if the new variants of the virus erode the vaccine's protection somewhat.

Read more here.

 

CDC reports serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccination are rare

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Serious reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations are rare, but side effects like headache and fatigue are not uncommon, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Between Dec. 14 and Jan. 13, nearly 14 million people were vaccinated, according to the CDC, and in that time period, the agency received 6,354 reports of adverse events, 90 percent of which were deemed non-serious.  

The CDC received 62 reports of patients experiencing anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, after being vaccinated. That amounts to 4.5 cases per million doses administered, which is similar to the range reported after people get the flu vaccine, according to the CDC. The report found that 113 people died after getting vaccinated, but death certificates, autopsy reports and medical records did not suggest any relationship between vaccination and death, the CDC said. 

Separate data showed side effects after being vaccinated are relatively common but not serious. Of 1.6 million people who received vaccinations between Dec. 14 and Jan. 13 and signed up for a voluntary survey, 70 percent reported injection site pain, 33 percent reported fatigue, 29 percent said they had headaches, and 23 percent reported muscle pain. Nearly 12 percent of people said they experienced chills or fever.

 

In (mostly) non-COVID news: Biden picks Obama health veteran Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to run Medicare, Medicaid agency 

President Biden announced Friday that he has selected Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, an experienced health policy staffer, as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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The sprawling agency oversees three key health care programs for millions of Americans: Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

Brooks-LaSure previously served at the agency during the Obama administration, where she worked on the implementation of the ACA.

Some big issues on her plate:

Read more here.

 

Coming soon from our colleague: "Lucky," by No. 1 New York Times bestselling authors Jonathan Allen and The Hill's Amie Parnes, explores Joe Biden's road to the presidency, including the pandemic lockdown that kept him off the campaign trail. Pre-order here for the March release: prh.com/lucky

 

What we’re reading

Short of Vaccine, States Find Hidden Stashes in Their Own Backyards (New York Times)

To get ahead of variants, Covid-19 drug makers use evolutionary biology as a guide (Stat)

How Biden’s Coronavirus Plan Will Fill the Holes in Obamacare (New York Magazine

State by state

Vaccine Equity a Focus as Black Doctors Hold 24-Hour ‘Vaxathon' (NBC 10

Women in Florida dressed as elderly to try to get coronavirus vaccinations (Associated Press

‘Such Dire Straits’: Chaos Unfolds in Texas Hospitals (New York Times)