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US to share 80 million vaccine doses with the world; Biden says infections down in all 50 states: Latest COVID-19 updates

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5/17/2021 John Bacon and Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY

The United States will send at least 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to other countries by the end of June, President Joe Biden said Monday.

Twenty million doses are from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, Biden said. He previously agreed to share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, which has not been authorized for emergency use in the U.S by the Food and Drug Administration.

"We're taking another step to help the world," Biden said. "It's the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do."

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The announcements come as the U.S. and other developed nations face increasing criticism for monopolizing vaccines while the developing world struggles. Demand in the U.S. has stalled in recent weeks, and vaccine "hesitancy" is blamed for a steady decline in jabs.

Biden said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, will lead the global vaccination effort. The U.S. will work with COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.

Also in the news:

►Statistics released Tuesday will show that new infections are down in all 50 states, Biden said.

►Overnight service on New York City’s subways returned Monday for the first time in more than a year. The system was shut down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. starting April 30, 2020. The closure was scaled back to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in February.

►The first foreign visitors have started arriving in Italy after the government lifted a coronavirus quarantine requirement for travelers from the European Union, Britain and Israel. Italy was one of the world's most hardest hit nations and withstood long lockdowns after the pandemic began in early 2020.

►Pubs and restaurants across much of the U.K. opened for indoor service for the first time since early January on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, seen breaking masking rules multiple times in recent weeks, urged people to be cautious.

📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 586,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 163 million cases and 3.38 million deaths. More than 344.5 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 272.9 million have been administered, according to the CDC. Nearly 123 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 37% of the population.

a man standing next to a road: Wilmer Moro, 13, poses for a photo with his vaccination sticker after being inoculated with the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday in Freeport, N.Y. © Mary Altaffer, AP Wilmer Moro, 13, poses for a photo with his vaccination sticker after being inoculated with the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday in Freeport, N.Y.

📘 What we're reading: Honor system, paper cards won't cut it for COVID-19 vaccine verification, experts say. Vaccine passports are coming.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Start spreading the news: Vaccinated New Yorkers can drop their masks

Vaccinated New Yorkers no longer need to wear masks, indoors or outdoors, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. After a delay of several days, Cuomo said the state is adopting new guidance on masks that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week. Radio City Music Hall will reopen to vaccinated audiences and the New York Marathon to 33,000 runners who prove vaccination or test negative, Cuomo added.

“Let’s get back to life,” Cuomo said at Radio City Music Hall’s grand auditorium. “If you are vaccinated, you are safe. No masks. No social distancing.”

California won't adopt CDC's latest mask guidance until June 15

Fully vaccinated Californians will have to wear face coverings in most indoor settings for another month. The state announced Monday that it will wait until June 15 to adopt the latest guidance by the CDC.  Both vaccinated and unvaccinated Californians are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings, except in their homes. The CDC has said fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks outdoors or in most indoor settings.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state is on track to fully reopen its economy next month.

– Ema Sasic, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Child Tax Credit payments to begin rolling out July 15

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will begin sending monthly advance payments of $250 or $300 to low- and moderate-income families under the newly expanded Child Tax Credit starting July 15. The payments will continue on a monthly basis through December, and most eligible families will receive them via direct deposit, senior administration officials said Sunday. Families that don’t have direct deposit will receive the payment either as a paper check or a debit card.

Monthly advance payments under the Child Tax Credit are the result of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief package that Congress passed in March.

Michael Collins

Video: Biden Plans to Share 20 Million More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses With Rest of World (Time)


WHO chief seeks faster vaccine access for developing countries

World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is appealing to some of the world’s top COVID-19 vaccine makers to accelerate their timeframe for providing doses to countries in need. In particular, Tedros called on Massachusetts-based Moderna to supply the shots sooner to COVAX, the U.N.-backed program that aims to get vaccines to low- and middle-income nations.

COVAX has an agreement to get 500 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, but only 34 million are due this year, with the rest being delivered in 2022. “We need Moderna to bring hundreds of millions of this forward into 2021 due to the acute moment of this pandemic,” Tedros said.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have committed to provide COVAX 40 million doses in the second half of this year, and Tedros said a deal to get Johnson & Johnson vaccines is also in the works.

Citing figures from UNICEF, Tedros said COVAX is facing a shortfall of 190 million doses in its planned rollout because of tight supplies and a surge in cases.

US infections drop to pre-surge levels for first time in 8 months

The U,S, pace of new coronavirus infections fell last weekend below the low of Sept. 12, the day before the fall surge got underway and turned into a disastrous winter. The country reported 241,099 cases in the week ending Sept. 12, a few thousand above the reported 232,489 in the week ending Sunday.

Daily infections now total less than half what they were a month ago and a small fraction of January's raging numbers. The U.S. continues to report about 600 deaths a day, roughly one-fifth the pace seen in January.

Mike Stucka

Actor Ricky Schroder confronts Costco worker over mask rule

Ricky Schroder, a former "Silver Spoons" and "NYPD Blue" star, can be seen confronting a Costco employee about mask mandates in a video shared on social media. Schroder's video comes days after the CDC announced that people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 do not need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor spaces. In the video, which was posted to Schroder's Facebook page, the 51-year-old asked a Costco employee why he wasn't allowed inside the store unmasked.

"Because in the state of California and the county of Los Angeles, and Costco, there has been no change to our mask policy," the employee, whose first name is Jason, responded.

On Monday, Schroder posted a video apologizing to Jason.

Jordan Mendoza

World weekly infections down sharply – but India is the wild card

The world is reporting 1 million fewer coronavirus cases each week than it had been  during the peak just three weeks ago, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the week ending Sunday, the world reported 4.74 million new cases, compared with 5.78 million cases in the week ending April 28. Contributing the most to the decline are the United States, Turkey and France.

India, however, reported 2.3 million cases in the last week, accounting for 49% of the world's cases. And indications that India is massively underreporting cases and deaths make that nation's total suspect, and would also impact world totals. More than 20% of India's tests come back positive, according to Our World In Data, a pace experts say is far too high to accurately capture the scale of the epidemic.

Mike Stucka

Fauci speaks to graduates at Vanderbilt, Emory

Vanderbilt University's commencement speaker Sunday was the immunologist who leads the U.S. COVID-19 response, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He spoke virtually, laying out the difficult times that graduates will head into after their commencement services

"No students dating back 100 years ... have had this level of disruption to their student years," Fauci said. "The world has changed dramatically ... The adjustments you will have to make in the world are profound."

Also speaking at Emory University in Georgia this weekend, Fauci said the coronavirus crisis has "shone a bright light on our own society’s failings.”

“Societal divisiveness is counterproductive in a pandemic,” Fauci added. “We must not be at odds with each other since the virus is the enemy, not each other.”

Target joins Walmart, others in dropping mask mandate

Target dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, joining Walmart, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, Costco, CVS and other businesses. Target's updated mask policy starts Monday for customers and employees, but the retailer still strongly recommends unvaccinated customers and employees wear masks.

"Given the CDC’s updated guidance last week, Target will no longer require fully vaccinated guests and team members to wear face coverings in our stores, except where it’s required by local ordinances," the retailer said in a statement Monday.

Kelly Tyko

Variant first detected in India now seen in US

The B.1.167 coronavirus variant devastating India has arrived in the United States. Experts say it's not likely to cause much harm here because of high vaccination rates and because the health care system is not under stress. But with a virus that has defied expectations and the variant infecting hundreds of thousands of Indians every day, researchers are keeping an eye on it.

"We have no reason to believe the vaccine response to this strain will be a problem," said Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. "This has already been assessed in Israel and other places and the mutations don't seem to be able to evade the vaccines."

Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub

Sanofi and GSK rejoin COVID-19 vaccine effort

After deciding last fall that their COVID-19 candidate vaccine wasn’t working well enough, pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GSK improved the formulation and the pair are now back in the vaccine game. Early Monday, they released results from a mid-stage clinical trial of their new vaccine and announced plans to begin a definitive trial with 35,000 participants within a few weeks. The companies reported that in their Phase 2 trial nearly all the 722 participants mounted an immune response after the second of two shots, without any significant safety concerns.

The vaccine was tested in adults 18-95; those under 60 showed a stronger immune response. After a single shot, participants who had previously been infected with COVID-19 generated a substantial amount of so-called neutralizing antibodies, suggesting the vaccine could work well as a booster, the companies said.

The companies delayed a previous version of their vaccine last December, deciding it wasn’t performing well enough, particularly in older adults. While the United States now has all the vaccine supply it needs for the moment, most other countries do not, and more shots will likely be needed in the next year or two as new variants and time weaken protection from the first doses.

– Karen Weintraub

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US to share 80 million vaccine doses with the world; Biden says infections down in all 50 states: Latest COVID-19 updates



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