The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be authorized in the U.S. as soon as this weekend
A Food and Drug Administration review released Wednesday of the single-shot coronavirus vaccine made by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson found it was safe and effective and completely prevented hospitalizations and deaths in a large clinical trial.
… The review, though positive, was more nuanced than regulators’ assessments of the first two coronavirus vaccines, reflecting a pandemic that has entered a more complicated phase as variants capable of slipping by some aspects of immunity have emerged. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was more than 85 percent effective at preventing severe illness, including in a region dominated by a concerning variant, but only 66 percent protective overall when moderate cases were included.
The FDA scientists found that the “known benefits” of the vaccine included reducing the risk of symptomatic and severe cases of covid-19 at least two weeks after vaccination. The review found vaccine efficacy against severe covid-19 “was similarly high across the United States, South Africa, and Brazil.”
“We know this vaccine prevents 85 percent of the severe disease. … It was 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and deaths, and that’s really what’s important,” said Nancy M. Bennett, a professor of medicine and public health sciences at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Those facts are the most important thing to recognize.”
Imagine a future in which we don’t run out of masks (or toilet paper)
President Biden on Wednesday will formally order a 100-day government review of potential vulnerabilities in U.S. supply chains for critical items, including computer chips, medical gear, electric-vehicle batteries and specialized minerals.
The directive comes as U.S. automakers are grappling with a severe shortage of semiconductors, essential ingredients in the high-tech entertainment and navigation systems that fill modern passenger vehicles.
Biden’s executive order, which he is scheduled to sign this afternoon, also is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the shortages of personal protective gear such as masks and gloves experienced last year during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re going to get out of the business of reacting to supply chain crises as they arise,” said one administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to brief reporters.
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Congress is so unpopular that hitting a 35 percent approval rating is good news
Thirty-five percent of Americans currently approve of the way Congress is handling its job, a 10-percentage-point increase since January and the highest Gallup has measured in nearly 12 years.
The current results are from a Feb. 3-18 Gallup poll. Americans have generally given Congress relatively low ratings historically, with an average 30% job approval rating since Gallup first measured it in 1974. Since 2005, Congress’ ratings have rarely met the historical norm, averaging 21%.
Congress did register ratings of 30% or higher twice last spring, after passage of the $2 trillion CARES Act addressed the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Congress’ approval rating also rose significantly after lawmakers passed a second major COVID-19 relief bill in late December, improving from 15% approval earlier that month to 25% in January. The Biden administration and Congress have made additional COVID relief a top priority.
The latest survey was conducted as the Senate tried former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge.