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COVID-19 Update
January 8, 2021
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.

Iowa Update
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 293,448 Iowans have tested positive, up 2,078 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,386,169 tested. 5 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 4,065 deaths. Now 253,489 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 14.7% the past 7-day average is 12.1%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 579 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 55 (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.

Yesterday, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new Public Health Disaster proclamation that modifies existing public health measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
 
The proclamation continues to require that when people are in an indoor public space, and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer, masks are required to be worn.  
 
Spectator limits for sporting and recreational gatherings, including for high school-sponsored events, will be lifted Friday, January 8th, 2021.  
 
Other public health measures have been extended until Saturday, February 6th, 2021.  
 
The proclamation can found online here.  

Washington, D.C.
  • HHS testing czar Brett Giroir said HHS is working to provide alternative COVID-19 testing for Congress after the FDA warned the test lawmakers have relied on is prone to false results. 
  • HHS announced two upcoming actions by the CDC to provide more than $22 billion in funding to states, localities, and territories in support of the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as directed by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The announcement stated that funding will provide critical support for testing and vaccination-related activities to jurisdictions before Jan. 19, 2021. Award recipients will include 64 jurisdictions including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five major cities, and U.S. territories/islands.
    • $19 billion will be allocated to jurisdictions through the existing CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) cooperative agreement. These awards will support testing, contract tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation to monitor and suppress the spread of COVID-19.
    • Over $3 billion will be made available in an initial award to jurisdictions through the existing CDC Immunization and Vaccines for Children cooperative agreement. These awards will support a range of COVID-19 vaccination activities across jurisdictions.
  • The FDA posted a new webpage on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) highlighting authorities that are intended to enhance the FDA’s ability to identify, prevent, and mitigate possible drug shortages by, among other things, enhancing the FDA’s visibility into drug supply chains.
  • The FDA released a new episode of its podcast, FDA Insight. In this episode, Gail Bormel from the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research joins Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs Anand Shah, M.D. for a discussion on drug compounding and its contribution to fighting COVID-19.
  • 310 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by the FDA under EUA. These include 235 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 64 antibody tests, and 11 antigen tests. There are 32 molecular authorizations that can be used with home-collected samples. There is one molecular prescription at-home test, one antigen prescription at-home test, and one over-the-counter (OTC) at-home antigen test.
  • The NIH announced that a phase 2/3 clinical trial has begun to evaluate a combination investigational monoclonal antibody therapy for its safety and efficacy in people who have mild or moderate COVID-19. The two experimental antibodies, BRII-196 and BRII-198, target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • The CDC has published and updated a significant number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard, and you can now also 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:
  • HHS Sec. Alex Azar said how vaccines are delivered to Americans is entirely up to the states — not the federal government. Bearing that in mind, he said, it's more important now to get the vaccine into arms quickly, to save lives, than it is to keep it locked up until Americans in the right candidate pools step up to get their shot. "States can...accelerate vaccine administration by moving on to providing vaccinations to broader populations right now...There is no reason that states need to complete, say, vaccinating all health care providers before opening up vaccinations to older Americans or other especially vulnerable populations."
  • U.S. Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany conducted its first inoculations of first responders and health care workers with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week.
  • Reps. Kevin Brady (R-TX.), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Michelle Steel (R-CA), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) are the most recent Members of Congress to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 21,259,997 total cases and 359,849 deaths. The CDC data closes out the day before reporting.
  • Wednesday marked the deadliest day on record for the U.S., with 3,865 COVID-19 deaths reported – a record death toll for the second consecutive day. On Tuesday, the U.S. tallied 3,775 deaths. The daily death tolls in California, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania also set records.
  • Twelve states hit a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday: Arizona, California, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
  • The average number of daily cases in the U.S. is now the highest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, up by 21 percent in the last week after it surpassed 216,000 for the first time on Wednesday.
  • Illinois became the fifth state to record its millionth COVID-19 case since the start of the pandemic.
  • California officials are urging residents to limit all non-essential travel to within 120 miles from one’s home and avoid traveling to neighboring states or other countries.
  • Hard Rock Stadium in Miami is opening as Florida’s first state-operated drive-thru vaccination site for frontline health care workers and people ages 65 and older. The first few doses were administered during the site’s “soft launch” on Wednesday, and the location will become fully operational on Friday, offering 1,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine daily, free of charge.
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Tuesday announced he is deploying the state’s National Guard to provide support to local health providers and increase the pace of vaccinations in the state.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said the state is escalating all hospitals to Tier 4 status, the highest level of concern.
  • Gov. Baker also announced the extension of the restrictions on social gatherings and businesses through Jan. 24. Gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and most businesses, including restaurants, are limited to 25 percent capacity.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced "Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery," a new COVID-19 phased recovery plan. Beginning Monday, each of the state’s eight regions will enter Phase 1, in which indoor social gatherings are prohibited, most businesses are restricted to 25 percent capacity, and restaurants may offer outdoor dining only, with a maximum of six people from two households per table. To move to Phase 2 of the plan, which eases some restrictions, regions must meet four criteria: decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases, decreasing trend in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions, a total ICU occupancy of less than 90 percent, and a COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10 percent.
  • Newly elected Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) said Tuesday that he plans to rescind the statewide mask mandate put in place by his predecessor once more vulnerable people have been vaccinated and liability protections exist for businesses that make a “good-faith effort” to shield people from the virus.
  • Officials at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said they plan to launch a new COVID-19 vaccine registration website in about two weeks and a telephone hotline in roughly 10 days. The system will allow people to register for a vaccine even if they aren’t eligible right away.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended three EO’s related to COVID-19: one related to learning pods, one that temporarily expands health care workforces at hospitals and other inpatient treatment facilities, and one that permits the operation of alternative care sites in response to the pandemic.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D), the Delaware Division of Public Health, and the Delaware Department of Education sent a letter urging Delaware schools to return to hybrid instruction on Monday.
  • The superintendents of seven of California’s largest school districts on Wednesday blasted Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) new school reopening plan, saying that it fails to address key factors keeping schools closed and does nothing to end the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic is inflicting on low-income communities of color.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) renewed his call on the federal government to test all travelers from outside the U.S.
  • Kentucky's five former governors and their spouses, spanning five decades of service to the commonwealth, received COVID-19 vaccinations in the Capitol Rotunda to emphasize the bipartisan support for safe and effective vaccines and urge fellow Kentuckians to take the vaccine.
  • 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 you state's heat wave. 
    • 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.
    • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19.
Science, Lifestyle, and Economy
  • More than 21 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., and 5.9 million people have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
  • Nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 spread may come from people with no symptoms, according to a new MMWR report from the CDC.
  • The spread of the coronavirus accelerated sharply in counties where large universities held classes in person last fall, according to another MMWR study by the CDC.
  • The CDC released an MMWR report with data estimates that life-threatening allergic reactions could occur in about 11 out of every 1 million COVID-19 vaccine shots given. The CDC’s estimate is based on 21 cases of anaphylaxis following a 10-day period after the administration of 1.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The vast majority of these reactions – 71 percent –occurred within 15 minutes of the vaccination.
  • As of January 4, national forecasts predict that 12,900 to 24,900 new COVID-19 deaths will be reported during the week ending Jan. 30. These forecasts predict 405,000 to 438,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by Jan. 30. In an interview with NPR, Dr. Fauci said the continued high toll would probably be a reflection of increased travel and gatherings over the holidays.
  • Blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can help older adults avoid getting seriously sick with the coronavirus if the therapy is administered within days of the onset of the illness, a clinical trial in Argentina found.
  • New data suggest that nearly all COVID-19 survivors have the immune cells necessary to fight re-infection. The findings, published in the Jan. 6, 2021, online edition of Science, could mean that COVID-19 survivors have protective immunity against serious disease from the SARS-CoV-2 virus for months, perhaps years after infection.
  • The Grammy Awards, originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 31, have been postponed to March 14 due to the crisis-level COVID-19 situation in Los Angeles.
  • Saudi Arabia is urging Muslims to receive a coronavirus vaccine before performing Hajj or Umrah, religious pilgrimages to the country’s holy city of Mecca.
  • A pilot program will provide vaccines to some people imprisoned in federal prisons in Ottawa, Canada starting Friday. Six hundred inmates will each get two doses of vaccine in the first round, with prioritization of the sick and elderly.
  • So many dogs have been adopted during the pandemic that animal shelters in the DMV area are running out of pets.
  • Most nursing-home employees in North Carolina are refusing coronavirus vaccines, the state’s top public health official said Tuesday. And a third of health workers in the New York City public hospital system declined COVID-19 vaccines, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
  • Native American tribes are prioritizing vaccinations for speakers of endangered languages.
  • Holy Cross beat Boston University 68-66 on Tuesday, during the first men’s college basketball game this season in which players wore masks on the court.
  • Jury trials in states across the U.S. – including California, Florida, Arkansas, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Idaho – have shut down as a result of the pandemic. The inability to conduct jury trials has wreaked havoc with the dockets of many courts.
  • Two-time World Cup winner Alex Morgan announced she and her family have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • North Carolina prison officials are considering offering rewards, such as increased guest visitation privileges, to inmates who accept a coronavirus vaccine that will soon become available to them.
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here. This AVAC pipeline tracker is great, too. 
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests. 
  • Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio 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.
International Affairs
  • 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 WHO is reviewing vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Chinese developers for possible EUA.
  • The European Medicines Agency on Wednesday approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for use within the E.U., weeks after the shot began to be administered in the U.S., Britain, and elsewhere.
  • Health officials in Brazil said a COVID-19 vaccine made by the Beijing-based Sinovac is 78 percent effective after a prominent medical research institute carried out a large study of the candidate.
  • The U.A.E. will soon start manufacturing China’s Sinopharm vaccine in the country according to a new agreement. The Chinese state-owned drug maker announced last month that the shot was 79.3 percent effective against COVID-19.
  • The U.A.E. has also started Phase III clinical trials of Russia’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V.
  • The Netherlands is the last country in the E.U. to begin distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was cleared by regulators in late December and has already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people in Germany. While most E.U. nations began immunizing vulnerable groups on Dec. 27, thousands of vaccine doses that were delivered to the Netherlands were placed in cold storage while the government finalized a distribution plan.
  • The WHO has called on European countries to intensify coronavirus mitigation measures as the region deals with a new variant that was first detected in the U.K.
  • Ireland has ordered the closure of most schools and construction sites for at least three weeks in an effort to curb a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections, tightening a lockdown that has already closed most hospitality and retail outlets.
  • French prime minister Jean Castex on Thursday extended several restrictions already in place across that country that were set to expire on Jan. 20. Movie theaters, museums, and music halls will remain closed until at least the end of January, and bars and restaurants will remain shut until mid-February at the earliest. An 8 PM to 6 AM curfew will also remain in place for the time being.
  • Portugal has extended a state of emergency due to the pandemic through Jan. 15.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring regions on Thursday. Under the declaration, which takes immediate effect and will last for one month, governors ask that residents refrain from dining out or leaving home after 8 PM unless for essential reasons; companies will be asked to decrease the number of employees commuting to work by 70 percent; and bars and restaurants will be asked to stop serving alcohol by 7 PM and to close by 8 PM. Schools, museums, movie theaters, gyms, and shops will stay open.
  • Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to win approval in Japan until May due to requirements for local clinical trials, which are set to begin this month.
  • Israel will impose a full national lockdown, shuttering most schools and all nonessential workplaces for at least two weeks, beginning on Thursday. Gatherings will be restricted to five persons indoors and 10 outdoors, and movement and travel abroad restricted.
  • Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said vaccine supply agreements with Pfizer meant that all Israelis over the age of 16 would be able to be vaccinated by the end of March.
  • China is imposing a strict lockdown on Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million in the northern province of Hebei, after a small flare-up of COVID-19 cases prompted city officials to begin a mass testing drive that uncovered nearly 130 new cases in two days. Officials said all residents in the city will be tested. Flights, trains, and cars have been barred from leaving or entering the city.
  • Senegalese President Macky Sall declared a new state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew from 9 PM to 5 AM on Wednesday as coronavirus cases reach aggressive new highs in parts of the West African nation. Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Namibia have also announced new COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The critical care wards of major hospitals in Peru and Bolivia stand at or near collapse after end-of-year holidays, reflecting wider regional public health capacity concerns as much of Latin America struggles to secure adequate COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
  • South Korea plans to test 70,000 inmates and staff at the nation’s prisons in the coming days, an effort aimed identify COVID-19 clusters at 52 correctional facilities, which have been a major hotspot of infection.
  • South Korea also said it will extend its ban on incoming flights from Britain until Jan. 21. All foreigners entering South Korea will be required to submit negative COVID-19 test results starting Friday.
  • The U.K. said it will extend a ban on travelers entering England from southern African countries, including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Angola, in a measure to prevent the spread of a new COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa.
  • France’s borders with the U.K. will remain closed for the foreseeable future and any French residents returning must have a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Global Cases: 88,162,703               Total Deaths: 1,900,807
Helpful Articles/Media
Sincerely,
Jessica

Jessica Hyland, J.D.
Executive Director
Iowa Biotechnology Association
Cell: (515) 822-1315
Office: (515) 327-9156
Fax: (515) 327-1407
jessica@iowabio.org
www.iowabio.org
Copyright © 2021 Iowa Biotech Association, All rights reserved.


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