How the new RNA technology is used to create the COVID-19 vaccines
The COVID-19 vaccine is using new technology that has never been used before in traditional vaccines. Here’s how an mRNA vaccine works.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
USA TODAY is keeping track of the news surrounding COVID-19 as vaccines begin to roll out nationwide. Just this week, the U.S. marked the stark milestone of more than 300,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on vaccine distribution, including who is getting the shots and where, as well as other COVID-19 news from across the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates directly to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions for everything you need to know about the coronavirus.
In the headlines:
► The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine likely will receive a thumbs up Thursday from an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the second vaccine to be authorized in about a week. The vaccine uses a similar technology as Pfizer and BioNTech’s. It could clear another hurdle Friday.
► California legislators will consider a newly introduced bill that would give farmworkers, grocery store employees and other food sector workers priority for getting the COVID-19 vaccine and rapid testing.
► French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19. He joins President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson among world leaders who have been infected.
► Rep. Joe Wilson, the Republican from South Carolina who earned notoriety when he yelled “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s address to Congress in 2009, said he has tested positive for the coronavirus and doesn’t have symptoms.
► New York City-run hospitals canceled elective surgeries as of Tuesday in anticipation of increased hospitalizations due to COVID-19, Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, said Thursday. There were almost 11,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday across New York, with hospitalizations reaching over 6,100, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
► California on Wednesday reported more than 53,000 new coronavirus cases and 293 deaths. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said two people are dying every hour in the county. “We’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge,” she said.
► The NFL plans to honor health care workers by inviting workers who have been vaccinated to attend the Super Bowl in Tampa as a thank-you for being on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 17.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 309,000 deaths. The global totals: More than 74.4 million cases and 1.65 million deaths.
Here’s a closer look at today’s top stories:
COVID-19 has surpassed heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to an editorial published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University make the point that the surge in COVID-19 fatalities, from a weekly average of 826 daily deaths in November to more than 2,400 now, has turned the illness caused by the coronavirus into the nation’s No.1 killer. Heart disease and cancer averaged about 1,700 and 1,600 daily deaths, respectively.
Wednesday’s 3,656 COVID-19 deaths were the most recorded in any day of the pandemic.
“It’s been a long time since an infectious disease was the leading cause of death for the whole country,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, lead author of the editorial and director emeritus of VCU’s Center on Society and Health. “And it’s a tragic milestone we could’ve prevented.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. set several records for new cases and deaths, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data:
- Single-day record for deaths and cases: With 247,403 new cases and 3,656 deaths reported Wednesday, the U.S. surpassed its single-day records by 14,000 cases and 350 deaths, set Dec. 11.
- Worst week of cases: 1,510,106 were recorded as of Wednesday. At that rate, 150 Americans test positive every minute.
- Worst week for deaths: 17,988 people died during the 7-day period ending Wednesday, surpassing the record set just the day before. At that pace an American is reported dead about every 34 seconds.
– Mike Stucka
Vaccine hesitancy may be down, but vaccine delay remains firmly in place.
Polls show Americans are warming up to the notion of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, with the number in favor rising from about 50% a few months ago to more than 80% in an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Monday. However, that same survey found 44% would wait before getting the new shot.
Experts say that even though the vaccine was developed in record time — less than a year — Americans can feel confident that it’s safe and effective.
“Your chances of getting sick or dying is much greater going to the grocery store than going to get a vaccine,” said Barry Bloom, research professor of public health and former dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
— Adrianna Rodriguez
The U.S. might have more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine than it thought. While each Pfizer vial is supposed to hold five doses of the first vaccine authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, Politico was first to report on Wednesday that pharmacists have discovered some vials may have extra doses, potentially adding to the country’s supply.
“The amount of vaccine remaining in the multidose vial after removal of 5 doses can vary, depending on the type of needles and syringes used,” a Pfizer spokesperson told USA TODAY in a statement. “At this time, we cannot provide a recommendation on the use of the remaining amount of vaccine from each vial. Vaccinators need to consult their institution’s policies for the use of multidose vials.”
The FDA has authorized hospital pharmacists to use the extra doses while the agency works with Pfizer officials to “determine the best path forward.”
With coronavirus vaccine misinformation spreading via social media at an alarming rate, Twitter said it would remove claims that vaccines intentionally cause harm or are unnecessary, as well as debunked conspiracy theories about the adverse effects of vaccines. The policy shift, slated to begin next week, comes as COVID-19 immunizations begin in the United States.
Researchers warn that opposition to the vaccines is resonating, not just with fringe anti-vaccine communities but with swaths of mainstream America, whose faith in science and government has been badly shaken by the pandemic.
“In the context of a global pandemic, vaccine misinformation presents a significant and growing public health challenge,” Twitter said in a blog post. “Starting next week, we will prioritize the removal of the most harmful misleading information, and during the coming weeks, begin to label Tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines.”
– Jessica Guynn
Contributing: The Associated Press