IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.
If your company is helping respond to COVID-19, IowaBio wants to know about it. Please, send any information about what your biotechnology company or organization is doing to help, to Jessica Hyland at Jessica@iowabio.org.
If IowaBio can assist you in getting information out, connecting with public officials, or support your company in another way, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Past IowaBio COVID-19 Update newsletters are now available at www.iowabio.org/COVID19 and can be found under the Industry News tab on the IowaBio website.
The overall number of vaccines administered is 289,737 an increase of 14,031 since yesterday, with 141,541 receiving their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and 74,098 receiving their second dose. To find vaccine providers in your county, click here or scroll to the bottom of the vaccine dashboard.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 323,301 Iowans have tested positive, up 789 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,489,079 tested. 58 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 5,033 deaths. Now 291,531 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 9.1% the past 7-day average is 7.1%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 348 hospitalized patients.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
Currently 3 (of 99) counties are at or above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
Governor’s Press Conference
Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds said nearly 276,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered since December 14. With 137,000 receiving their first dose and nearly 70,000 receiving their second dose. We’re making progress but I recognize that the vaccine process isn’t as fast or as easy as we hope it will be, she said. In some counties our vaccine administration rate is very high. In fact, in Polk county they are turning over 100 percent of their weekly vaccine allocation before the next shipment arrives, she said. There are also counties with administration rates much lower than we would anticipate. They are working to identify barriers and develop plans to resolve issues in counties lagging behind, she said.
The Governor fielded a question about why Iowa is third lowest in the nation for vaccine administration. Iowa is 47th in per capita vaccine allocation. Plus, she said we’re averaging 60 percent at getting vaccines administered, so they have reached out to providers and counties to attempt to eliminate barriers to do better. Part of the issue is uncertainty about supply. The more certainty that they can provide, then vaccination rates will go up, she said. They want to provide more certainty to local providers. She questioned Iowa’s allocation again last week to federal officials. She is asking them to take another look at it, since Iowa is 47th per capita in vaccine allocation.
The Governor said she’s aware many are struggling to make an appointment to get the vaccine. Keep in mind that while vaccine supply is limited appointments will also be limited, she said. The best way to understand how or when to schedule is to check their website first, and those links can be checked at coronavirus.iowa.gov. For those who can’t access computers, they are assisting Iowans 65 and older by partnering with the Area Agency on Aging to provide assistance. More information will be released on how to access this help tomorrow, she said.
The state is issuing an RFP to quickly stand up a centralized vaccine registration and referral system. There is still a lot to be done, but they are taking the first step to identify a partner, the Governor said. They are trying to manage the amount and put strategies in place for when vaccine supply increases.
The Governor and board members announced the final recommendations of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which was formed in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. The Governor said the work of the board helped inform her legislative agenda for this session. Top themes include:
Make Iowa a global leader in broadband
Empower workforce by caring for our youngest Iowans (childcare and preschool)
Create an environment to attract and retain (including investing in affordable housing)
Modernize health care in Iowa
Boost k-12 student achievement and career readiness
Invest in manufacturing innovation
Elevate government efficiency efforts
The Biden Administration released a Fact Sheet on the additional steps announced on Tuesday to implement the President's National Strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps include increasing the vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories to 10.5 million doses nationwide and securing the equipment to extract a 6th dose from Pfizer’s vials, and increasing funding to jurisdictions to get vaccines into arms. President Biden also announced that starting on Feb. 11, the first phase of the federal pharmacy program will launch and select pharmacies nationwide will start offering vaccinations for their communities.
HHS and the White House COVID-19 response team have released the weekly state profile snapshot. The purpose of this report is to develop a shared understanding of the current status of the pandemic at the national, regional, state, and local levels.
First Lady Jill Biden and the President's chief medical advisor Dr. Tony Fauci joined top military officials today for a virtual town hall to urge serving military, veterans, and their families to get vaccinated. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his nurse wife, Hollyanne Milley, also joined the town hall, which was co-organized by the Red Cross and Blue Star Families.
The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Feb. 26 to discuss the request for EUA for a COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson. The FDA intends to make background materials available to the public, including the meeting agenda and committee roster, no later than two business days prior to the meeting.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Republicans sent a letter to OMB requesting details on unspent funds from the last three COVID-19 supplementals. Specifically, they are requesting details on the $10.25 billion for testing and contact tracing and the recent $22 billion for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution, and how much of both pots remain unspent by states.
To help explain the new Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC created a helpful new webpage.
The CDC has published and updated a number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard, and you can keep track of vaccinations here. Please continue to check these for information on things like recommended quarantine periods and return-to-work guidance. To highlight a few of the recent updates:
To stay up-to-date on your state’s vaccination plan and learn when the COVID-19 vaccine is available, select your state here: https://go.usa.gov/xASrP.
The FDA is revising the Letter of Authorization for COVID-19 convalescent plasma to limit the authorization to the use of high titer COVID-19 convalescent plasma only for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 early in the disease course and to those hospitalized patients who have impaired humoral immunity and cannot produce an adequate antibody response. Plasma with low levels of antibodies has not been shown to be helpful in COVID-19.
The Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers has been updated to note, among other things, that transfusion of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in hospitalized patients late in the course of illness (e.g. following respiratory failure requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation) has not been associated with clinical benefit.
Yesterday, Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin signed a memo that directs all individuals on military installations and all individuals performing official duties on behalf of the Department from any location other than the individual’s home, including outdoor shared spaces, to wear masks in accordance with the most current CDC guidelines.
The DoD has posted a new COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Installation Status Update.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held two relevant subcommittee hearings this week. Memos are available upon request.
Earlier this week, a group of Republican Senators released a framework for a $618 billion relief bill. An article comparing the GOP framework to President Biden's plan is here. For a more in-depth overview of the legislative landscape, please refer to Sierra Fuller's COVID-19 Legislative Update.
No new members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. It is still important to remember a couple of things when examining cases of COVID-19 in partially or fully vaccinated individuals:
Vaccines do not work instantly. The body still needs a few weeks to build up immunity after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
It's possible to be exposed to COVID-19 before receiving your vaccine, test negative, and then continue to develop the infection after the shot and show a positive result.
Vaccines for COVID-19 are being authorized by the FDA based on how well they keep you from getting severely ill or dying. This does not mean you cannot still become infected or infect others after being vaccinated.
Updates from the States
Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 26,398,337 total cases and 449,020 deaths.The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
Reports of new cases have fallen by 30 percent in the last two weeks.
The country continues to average about 3,000 deaths a day, near peak levels. Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia have reached seven-day death records this week.
Four of the five metro areas with the highest rates of recent cases are in Texas. Infections have been emerging at alarming levels around Eagle Pass, Laredo, Rio Grande City, and Midland.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that the state has added a map on its Open Data portal indicating the COVID-19 vaccine distribution by town and city statewide.
Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced an expansion of Delaware’s COVID-19 vaccination program with a statewide focus on vaccinating Delawareans in underserved, minority communities.
Illinois has added a total of 41 new vaccination locations since Jan. 26 for a current total of 310 locations open to the public. The Illinois Department of Public Health is also now reporting county-level vaccine inventory data on its website. The data include the number of doses allocated by county, doses administered, and the number of people who are fully vaccinated.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced the launch of the “Find My Vaccine” mapping tool, designed to help Kansans locate sites that are administering vaccines in their communities.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the federal COVID-19 team will increase Kentucky’s vaccine supply by an additional 5 percent. In total, the state’s supply will increase by 22 percent the week of Feb. 8 compared with the week of Jan. 25. Additionally, Gov. Beshear and Kroger Health opened the state’s regional vaccination site at Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Fayette County.
Minnesota has ramped up its COVID-19 vaccination efforts and is now administering two times the number of shots given per day on average compared to last week.
Nevada’s Health Response Center issued new guidance permitting Emergency Medical Services personnel to administer the COVID-19 vaccine without having a vaccine endorsement. This guidance aligns with an emergency directive that is intended to broadly allow and encourage as many qualified medical services providers to administer COVID-19.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that, because the federal government is increasing the state's vaccine supply, localities can have the flexibility to add restaurant workers, taxi drivers, and developmentally disabled facilities to the 1B vaccine prioritization group.
New York corrections officials announced that people in prisons age 65 and older will be vaccinated after a coalition of advocacy groups sued Gov. Cuomo and the state’s top health official demanding that all of the roughly 50,000 incarcerated people in the state be immediately offered a vaccine.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) called on K-12 school districts across the state to allow in-person instruction for all students.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced that he will not extend the state's 11 PM curfew for bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) moved the state into Stage 3 of his COVID-19 reopening plan. Under the new stage, gathering size caps will rise from 10 to 50 people. Sporting events, religious and political expression, education, and health care activities are exempt from the group size limits as long as organizers follow the Idaho State Board of Education COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced school quarantine changes for students who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The following changes go into effect Monday, Feb. 8: rules no longer require quarantine or contact tracing if students and teachers remain at least 3 feet apart and are wearing a mask at all times in the classroom, but quarantine rules still apply to exposures that occur at lunch, athletics, band, or choir or any other school setting, or if teachers and students have removed their masks.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced that he received federal approval to give 19,500 unused COVID-19 vaccine doses that were originally provided to CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care facilities to vulnerable Montanans. The redirection of the unused doses will allow nearly 10,000 more Montanans in Phase 1B to be fully vaccinated.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said the state will stop using the federal vaccination scheduling system in the next few weeks, before the next phase begins.
The Ohio Department of Health released the latest list of states on its COVID-19 travel advisory. Those entering Ohio after going to states reporting positivity rates of 15 percent or higher are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that starting Monday, Feb. 8, any state resident 65 or older can get a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of health status or preconditions. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) also expanded vaccine eligibility to resident 65 or order beginning March 1.
Useful state data:
Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers, and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country. NPR's map can also be used to monitor your state's heatwave.
NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. Governing is also keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities.
This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
More than 57.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., and more than 27.9 million people have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
Moderna is hoping to raise the number of doses in its vials to as many as 15 from the current 10 doses, a potential 50 percent increase.
Despite residents and workers in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) being at increased risk for COVID-19, a recent MMWR article shows that, among 11,460 SNFs with at least one vaccination clinic conducted during the first month of the CDC Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, only 37.5 percent of staff members received at least one vaccine dose through the program.
Another MMWR study this week found American adults reported more problems with depression, new or increased substance use and suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even higher levels of Hispanic people reported these mental health issues.
In a recent study published in PNAS, participants who exhibited greater social distancing on a virtual behavior measure—simulations presenting graphical depictions of specific real-world scenarios, asking them to position themselves relative to others in the scene—were less likely to contract COVID-19 subsequently.
A single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provides sustained protection against COVID-19 for at least three months and cuts transmission of the virus by two-thirds, according to a new study.
Mexico on Tuesday approved Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country, one of the worst hit by the pandemic, following the release of positive trial results.
IowaBio member GlaxoSmithKline and CureVac sign a $180 million deal to develop a next generation of COVID-19 vaccines targeting new emerging variants in the pandemic.
AstraZeneca and Oxford University are aiming to develop a next-generation vaccine to tackle new variants as early as by the autumn, a senior executive said.
IowaBio member Pfizer plans to deliver 200 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. by May, earlier than its initial forecast of July, according to slides published Tuesday by the company ahead of its fourth-quarter earnings call.
IowaBio member Pfizer expects to sell about $15 billion in coronavirus vaccine doses this year, the company announced in releasing its fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday.
To help combat vaccine misinformation and address lingering concerns that people have, corporate, nonprofit, and media leaders, including WebMD and Medscape, are joining a public service campaign called VaxFacts. Led by HealthGuard, the goal of the campaign is to provide facts and tools to help consumers make informed decisions about vaccines.
Australia’s economy is expected to recover to its pre-pandemic size by the middle of this year – six to 12 months early – the Reserve Bank governor has revealed.
American Airlines is telling about 13,000 employees that they are at risk of furlough when a U.S. aid package for airline workers expires on Apr. 1, the company said on Wednesday.
The Netherlands has limited AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people aged under 65, despite the E.U. approving it for all ages.
Capt. Sir Tom Moore, 100, a World War 2 veteran who raised $45 million for the U.K.’s National Health Service, has died after being hospitalized for COVID-19.
A hotel in South Africa has introduced robots into its lobby to help reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.
Germany will not allow the Liverpool Football Club into the country to play a Champions League game at Leipzig on Feb. 16 because of border restrictions imposed over new COVID-19 variants.
Athletes will be tested at least once every four days as part of the International Olympic Committee’s quest to hold the Tokyo Games.
Spain’s bull-running festival held in the northern city of Pamplona has been cancelled for the second year in a row because of COVID-19.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests.
The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
Here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update and here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Operational Update.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the WHO, as co-leads of the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF, published COVAX’s first interim distribution forecast.
Colombia’s capital, Bogota, lifted tough restrictions and a city-wide red alert against COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in France is at its highest since November.
French president Emmanuel Macron said all French people who are willing to be vaccinated will be offered a vaccine by the end of summer.
Scotland’s youngest children, including all nursery and primary school students, will be allowed to go back to school starting Feb. 22.
Saudi Arabia suspended entry from 20 countries effective from 9 PM on Feb. 3.
Lockdown measures in the Netherlands, many of which have been in place since October, will remain in place until at least Mar. 2.
The German military has sent more than 20 doctors and nurses along with ventilators and hospital beds to Portugal, where a severe rise in cases has prompted several European nations to offer help.
The Palestinian Authority began vaccinating its health workers in the occupied West Bank against COVID-19 after receiving doses from Israel.
WHO inspectors visited a laboratory in China’s Wuhan city on Wednesday. The inspection of the Wuhan virology institute, which conducts research on the world’s most dangerous diseases, will be one of the most-watched stops on the team’s probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Danish government has announced plans to introduce a digital document with which people will be able to prove they have an up-to-date COVID-19 vaccine.
The Ukrainian government is preparing to end a nationwide lockdown and allow health authorities to relax restrictions in areas where COVID-19 infection levels are lower.
Spain has detected its second case of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa.
Denmark has seen an increase in the proportion of COVID-19 cases of the more transmissible variant, health authorities said, despite overall infection numbers falling in the country.
Ontario, Canada will resume in-person classes for primary and secondary students across all regions by Feb. 16, with most areas reopening on Feb. 8.
Kuwait will suspend entry for non-citizens for two weeks as of Feb. 7.
The Brazilian government announced Wednesday it was negotiating the purchase of 30 million coronavirus vaccine doses from Russia and India, after regulators made it easier for the treatments to win emergency use authorizations.
North Korea has requested COVID-19 vaccines and is expected to receive nearly 2 million doses, according to the Gavi vaccine alliance, part of the WHO-backed Covax program, although the isolated country has insisted it is virus-free.
Taiwan will get a share of 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine shots produced by AstraZeneca from the Covax global vaccine program.
Qatar has reimposed restrictions on education, leisure, and business activities, including closing indoor swimming pools and theme parks and restricting restaurant capacities.
India has said it will continue to provide COVID-19 related humanitarian assistance to Myanmar despite a military coup which overthrew elected civilian leaders on Monday.
China is set to send 150,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Syria as aid.
Paraguay signed a contract with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to purchase the Sputnik V vaccine.
The WTO said on Thursday its COVAX initiative aims to start shipping nearly 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa this month.
China will donate 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Congo Republic and forgive $13 million in public debt, its ambassador to the country said on Thursday.
The Cuban capital of Havana will implement a curfew of 9 PM on Friday evening.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved for use in New Zealand, where the government will begin vaccinating frontline healthcare and border workers in the coming months.