The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday authorized Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose adenovirus vector COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged 18 and older following Friday’s unanimous endorsement by the agency’s panel of outside experts.
In J&J’s 44,000-person global trial, the vaccine was found to be 66 percent effective at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 four weeks after inoculation, and 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death due to the virus.
There were very few serious side effects reported in the trial, which also offered preliminary evidence that the vaccine reduced asymptomatic infections. If that proves to be the case, it would mean COVID-19 vaccines may indeed reduce virus transmission as well as illness.
Michigan Republicans Call for Investigation Into Whitmer’s Nursing Home Policy
Republican state legislators in Michigan are calling for an investigation over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s role in CCP virus-related deaths among nursing home residents.
Whitmer, a Democrat, issued an executive order (pdf) in April 2020 to designate 21 nursing homes as “regional hubs,” which were expected to provide care for both seniors recovering from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and those who didn’t have the virus. According to the order, the hubs were chosen based on their capability to house patients who had tested both positive and negative for the virus in properly separated units or buildings.
Reconsidering US-Canada Border Limits
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) wants the Biden administration to reconsider U.S.-Canada border restrictions that were imposed a year ago because of the CCP virus pandemic.
Her letter came less than a week after the Department of Homeland Security announced the U.S., Mexico, and Canada had jointly agreed to maintain land border restrictions until March 21.
Italy Reports 280 Deaths, 18,916 New Cases
Italy reported 280 CCP virus-related deaths on Saturday against 253 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections declined to 18,916 from Friday’s 20,499.
Some 323,047 tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus were carried out in the past day, compared with 325,404 previously, the ministry said.
People Who Get Vaccines Can Go Back to Life as Normal: Rep. Issa
People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 shouldn’t be told to continue wearing masks and social distance, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Friday.
“For 100 years almost, since we’ve been developing immunity capability, people have always known if you survive smallpox, you don’t get it again. You get chickenpox, you don’t get it again. You get a vaccine; you stop worrying about polio, etc. For the first time ever, here is a series of vaccines, safe and effective, 95 plus percent effective, and what’s happening? They’re telling us to leave our masks on, to continue social distancing. That’s absurd,” Issa told The Epoch Times “American Thought Leaders” at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.
Plunging Demand for Tests May Leave US Exposed
Just five weeks ago, Los Angeles County was conducting more than 350,000 weekly CCP virus tests, including at a massive drive-thru site at Dodger Stadium, as health workers raced to contain the worst hotspot in the United States.
County officials are now saying testing has nearly collapsed. More than 180 government-supported sites are operating at only a third of their capacity. After a year of struggling to boost testing, communities across the country are seeing plummeting demand, shuttering testing sites, or even trying to return supplies.
New Mexico Sees Spike in Daily Case Count
New Mexico health officials on Friday confirmed an additional 659 COVID-19 infections, the disease caused by the CCP virus, the highest daily case count in more than three weeks.
Nearly 30 percent of the new cases involved state inmates. New Mexico has reported nearly 185,000 cases in total since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 3,685, with more than a dozen deaths reported Friday.
Iran Expects 250,000 Doses of Vaccine From China
Iran’s Health Ministry said the country expects to receive 250,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on Saturday.
Alireza Raisi, deputy health minister, said the country will receive doses of other vaccines, including from India, in the “near future” as the country struggles to fight the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East.
UK Public Finances Under ‘Enormous Strains’: Chancellor
The UK’s public finances are under “enormous strains” as a result of huge government borrowing during the pandemic, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has said.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Friday, Sunak said he will “level with people” about the challenge when he delivers the budget on Wednesday.
Largest City in New Zealand Back in Lockdown
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will go into a seven-day lockdown from early morning on Sunday after a new local case of the CCP virus of unknown origin emerged.
It comes two weeks after Auckland’s nearly 2 million residents were plunged into a snap three-day lockdown when a family of three was diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of the virus.
New Cases in Nevada Lowest Since September
The average number of new daily cases reported in Nevada over the past two weeks has fallen to its lowest level since mid-September, and dropped by nearly 90 percent since a peak of more than 2,700 a day in mid-December.
The 314 new daily cases reported on average over the previous 14 days is the lowest since an average of 312 were reported on Sept. 16, state health officials said Friday.
House Passes $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill
The House of Representatives in the early hours of Saturday passed a $1.9 trillion relief package that closely resembles President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. It now moves to the Senate for another vote.
The package includes $1,400 direct payments to most Americans and a $20 billion national plan to vaccinate against the CCP virus.
GQ Pan, Mimi Nguyen Ly, Alexander Zhang, Zachary Stieber, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.