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Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe, effective in FDA analysis | 3-4 million doses coming next week | White House to send out 25 million masks

Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe, effective in FDA analysis | 3-4 million doses coming next week | White House to send out 25 million masks
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Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care. The US could soon have a third vaccine, a bright spot as we look towards more widespread vaccinations. 

Follow us at @NateWeixel, @jessiehellmann and @PeterSullivan4

A COVID vaccine from Johnson & Johnson was endorsed as safe and effective by the FDA, the White House is going to start shipping masks to health centers and food pantries, and Biden's health secretary nominee faced a second day of Senate grilling.

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We'll start with J&J:

The hopeful vaccine news keeps coming: Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine effective and safe, per FDA analysis

Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine is effective at preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19, according to an analysis of the trial data published by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday.

The company's single dose vaccine is 66 percent effective, well within the agency's standards. The vaccine is also safe to use, according to the analysis.

What might be even more important: The vaccine is more than 85 percent effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19 and completely prevents hospitalizations and deaths.

Looking ahead, the US could have a third vaccine by this weekend: The information was published ahead of an FDA advisory committee meeting Friday, which will debate whether to grant the vaccine emergency authorization. The promising data gives hope that a third coronavirus vaccine could be authorized as soon as this weekend.

Read more here.

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3 to 4 million doses are coming next week, assuming it’s authorized

The Biden administration is planning to send states, pharmacies and community health centers 3 million to 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine as early as next week, a White House official said Wednesday.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsSunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Biden resists calls to give hard-hit states more vaccines than others Overnight Health Care: White House rebuffs call to send more vaccine doses to certain states | White House warns states to expect low weekly J&J vaccine shipments MORE told reporters that if the vaccine is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this weekend, "we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay."

That 3 million to 4 million number is an increase over what officials told governors on Tuesday, and likely reflects the fact that Johnson & Johnson told Congress it will have 4 million doses ready to ship immediately upon authorization.

Johnson & Johnson said it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March, and 100 million doses by the end of June. Zients said the administration is working with the company to "accelerate the pace and time frame" for the full 100 million doses.

Read more here

 

While we wait for widespread vaccination, masking is still important. The White House will send 25 million masks to health centers and food pantries. 

The White House announced Wednesday that it will send more than 25 million masks to community health centers and food pantries across the country in an effort to increase access for low-income people.

"Many low-income Americans still lack affordable access to this basic protection," White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

The shipments of washable cloth masks, beginning in March, will go to approximately 1,300 community health centers, as well as 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.

Why not send masks to all Americans? Asked why the Biden administration is taking a more targeted approach, Zients said wider distribution would have been a good idea last year, but that is no longer necessary.

"Months ago, sending a mask to every American would have been a good idea," he said. "Today, masks are widely available in many different shapes and sizes."

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He said the effort to make them more available to low-income people is "an effort that focuses on people who may be particularly in need of the extra support."

Read more here

 

Becerra faces his second test before the Senate 

President BidenJoe BidenFederal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Biden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Jill Biden gives shout out to Champ, Major on National Pet Day MORE’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOver 500,000 people sign up for ObamaCare in special sign-up period Harris in difficult starring role on border Biden's HHS commits another M to ad campaign touting expanded health care coverage MORE faced a relatively low-key confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. 

Becerra, California’s attorney general and a former member of the House, faced tough questions from Republicans on the panel about abortion and religious rights, but he steered away from any controversy by vowing to follow existing laws. 

Some Senate Republicans and conservative groups have painted Becerra as too inexperienced and “radical” to lead one of the government’s largest federal agencies, but it seems unlikely that their efforts to sink the nomination will work. 

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“If I had to guess, if I were a betting man, I’d say you have the votes to be approved,” Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyCalls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general MORE (R-La.) 

If Becerra gets no Republican support, then he needs the votes of all 50 Senate Democrats to get confirmed, with Vice President Harris breaking a tie. It’s still not clear how swing vote Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Biden is thinking about building that wall — and that's a good thing Buttigieg on exaggerated infrastructure jobs estimate: 'I should have been more precise' MORE (D-W.V.) will vote and moderate Senate Republicans like Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump looms large over GOP donor retreat in Florida Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start MORE (R-Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate MORE (R-Maine) have appeared to leave the door open to voting for him. 

 

Children's hospitals, pediatricians urge Biden to prioritize youth mental health

Children’s hospitals and pediatricians are calling on the Biden administration to prioritize children’s mental, emotional and behavioral health in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched an awareness campaign on Wednesday to ask the administration and lawmakers to provide more funds to programs to address the escalating crisis among children and youth. 

The group is seeking increased funding for existing mental and behavioral health programs, through the Department of Health and Human Services’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Health Resources and Services Administration.

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They also think Congress should provide new funding for activities at the state and local level to support children, like telehealth, training for crisis response and school-based services. 

The digital advertising campaign is expected to run for several weeks with an estimated six-figure budget. 

Read more here

 

What we’re reading

Chinese Pharmaceutical Makers Seek Approval For New Coronavirus Vaccines (NPR)

Ghana Becomes First Country To Get COVAX Vaccine Doses (NPR

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine performs as well in the real world as in clinical trials, new study concludes (Stat News

 

State by state

New coronavirus testing lab will produce faster, cheaper results for D.C.-area universities (Washington Post)

Ohio State testing more people for COVID-19 than some U.S. states (Columbus Dispatch

 

The Hill op-eds

COVID variant could mean a brutal March for the US

The economic trends that will create post-pandemic policy challenges