Brazil tops 15 million Covid-19 cases as country announces plan for a major Pfizer vaccine purchase
From Fernanda Wenzel and Taylor Barnes
Brazil’s health ministry reported over 73,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total number of cases to more than 15 million since the start of the pandemic.
The ministry also reported at least 2,550 new Covid-19 fatalities, raising the country’s death toll to at least 416,949.
While Brazil’s outbreak continues to be severe and its vaccine rollout slow, the country saw some hope on the horizon with the announcement that the government will purchase an extra 100 million Pfizer vaccine doses. The money for the acquisition was released this Thursday and the new contract should be signed soon.
These doses are in addition to Brazil’s current contract to purchase 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one of four approved for use in the country.
The first Pfizer doses arrived in Brazil last week.
7:21 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
Incentives, conveniences and requirements could encourage more people to get vaccinated, survey finds
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
Incentives, conveniences and requirements — such as cash, workplace clinics and mandatory shots before travel or large events — could be effective ways to encourage more people to get Covid-19 vaccines, according to data published Thursday by Kaiser Family Foundation.
Three in 10 adults who don’t want to get vaccinated immediately — including nearly half of those who want to “wait and see” — said that they would be more likely to get vaccinated if it was offered to them somewhere they normally go for health care or if they only needed one dose, according to the poll, which was conducted April 15 to 29 and made up of 2,097 US adults.
Other reasons that made people more likely to get vaccinated were if it was required to fly on a plane, to travel internationally or to attend large gatherings like sports events. At least a quarter of people who aren’t ready to get the vaccine straight away said that these reasons would make it more likely that they got vaccinated.
Workplaces could also play a part.
In adults who were not ready to get vaccinated right away, 28% said that paid time off to get the vaccine and recover from side effects would make them more likely to get vaccinated. About a quarter said that being offered a financial incentive of $200 would make them more likely to get vaccinated. And 2 in 10 said that having their employer arrange for them to get the vaccine at work would make them more likely.
For the “wait and see” group, 47% said paid time off would make them more likely to get the vaccine, 39% said the financial incentive would work and 32% said being able to get their vaccine at their workplace would make them more likely to get the vaccine.
6:54 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
Kentucky will ease capacity restrictions for businesses starting May 28
From CNN's Kelsie Smith
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that venues and businesses serving 1,000 people or less can operate at 75% capacity starting May 28.
"Businesses and venues that cater to fewer than 1,000 people, again, will be open to 75% capacity," he said. "That includes retail, hair salons, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms. It also includes weddings, memorial services, all of those activities that will be under 1,000."
Additionally, the governor said beginning May 28, indoor and outdoor events with more than 1,000 attendees will be increased to 60% capacity. During the news conference, he also clarified that small groups of fully vaccinated people, for both private and business gatherings, are no longer mandated to wear masks indoors.
Beshear said he expects to end all state capacity restrictions by July.
"This is good news and again it shows we don’t have to be patient for that much longer, but we do have to finish our work and protect the people around us,” he said.
5:58 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
Nearly 150 million people in the US have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine
From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips
About 252 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reported that 251,973,752 total doses have been administered, about 78% of the 324,610,185 doses delivered.
That’s about 2.4 million more doses reported administered since Wednesday, for a seven-day average of about 2.1 million doses per day.
About 149.5 million people – about 45% of the US population – have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 109 million people – about 33% of the US population – is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
Note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.
5:19 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause made some adults less likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine, survey says
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
The 11-day pause on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine last month caused 9% of unvaccinated adults to say they’re less likely to want that vaccine, and 7% to say they’re less likely to want any Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken during and after the pause.
Among people who had not yet been vaccinated, 56% said the news didn’t have an impact on their decision about getting vaccinated and 21% said they hadn’t heard or read about the pause. But about 1 in 5 unvaccinated adults changed their mind about getting a Covid-19 vaccine due to the pause, according to the survey.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended pausing use of the J&J vaccine on April 13 due to six reported US cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot. The pause was lifted on April 23 and a warning about the rare events was added.
The KFF poll, released Thursday, was conducted April 15 to April 29 and consisted of a nationally representative sample of 2,097 US adults. It began after the pause was put in place and continued until after it was lifted.
But confidence in the safety of the vaccine is low among key unvaccinated groups, the poll said. Fewer Americans, 46%, are at least somewhat confident the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe; for Pfizer and Moderna, 69% said the same.
Among people who say they are waiting to get a Covid-19 vaccine, 55% said the Pfizer vaccine is safe, 53% said Moderna is safe and only 28% said the J&J vaccine is safe.
KFF found 39% of unvaccinated Hispanic women said they heard about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and changed their mind about the vaccine — 15% said it made them less likely to want J&J’s vaccine and 18% saying they were less likely to want any Covid-19 vaccine.
A majority of respondents, 78%, said that they had heard or read at least a little about the pause. Unvaccinated women, 83%, were more likely to have heard or read about the pause than unvaccinated men, 73%. Unvaccinated women were also less confident in the safety of the vaccine. KFF notes that there was no gender difference in overall vaccine confidence.
Concerns about Covid-19 vaccine side effects overall increased, particularly among women. In all adults who weren’t planning to get vaccinated right away, 81% were concerned they might experience serious side effects, compared with 70% last month. For women, 92% were concerned about serious side effects compared with 77% in March.
Despite this, KFF says “the trajectory of vaccine uptake and enthusiasm does not appear to have slowed significantly among women over the past month.”
Sixty-six percent of women have been vaccinated or will be as soon as possible, compared to 61% in March. For men, 63% have been or will be as soon as possible compared to 62% in March.
And J&J being a single-dose vaccine still appeals to people. Three in 10 unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get a vaccine if they needed only one dose.
5:22 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
A New Jersey university is offering $1,000 tuition credits as incentive for Covid-19 vaccination
From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart and Deborah Doft
A New Jersey university is requiring all students living on-campus or attending classes in-person in the fall to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 — but they are also offering a hefty financial incentive in exchange.
Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, says full-time students who show proof that they have been fully vaccinated by Aug. 7 will receive a $500 credit towards their course registration and another $500 towards their housing costs.
The university says the incentive is proof of its commitment to helping New Jersey reach its goal of fully vaccinating 70% of all adults.
"Residential students who are not vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Other students, such as athletes and those who are in majors where there is close contact with others, still may be required to test, even if vaccinated," according to a statement from University President Ali Houshmand released on Thursday.
The statement also said it plans to create incentives for employees to get vaccinated too.
"Our students should not bear the burden of ensuring our community health on campus," Houshmand said. "Employee incentives are being developed in compliance with union regulations."
Rowan University has approximately 20,000 students enrolled.
3:05 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
France will broaden access to Covid-19 vaccination bookings
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad
France will broaden access to its coronavirus vaccine program by allowing "all adults" to book a shot if there are vacant slots available the next day, French President Emmanuel Macron announced in a tweet on Thursday.
Currently, only people aged 55 or older and those with comorbidities are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. Starting May 12, all adults – without exception – will be eligible to book a vaccine for any slots that are still free 24 hours before the appointment.
“Not a single slot must be lost. Starting May 12, appointments that are still vacant 24 hours before, will be open to all adults without conditions,” Macron tweeted.
In another tweet on Thursday, Macron added, “Vaccinating during the day. Vaccinating at night. Vaccinating on weekends. Vaccinating on public holidays. Thanks to all those who don’t count the hours worked to save lives. This is what this is all about.”
France is set to open Covid-19 vaccination to all adults over 50 years old on Monday, the next target group in their vaccination campaign.
According to the latest data from French authorities, nearly 17 million people have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Tuesday, with 7.5 million fully vaccinated.
France has authorized four vaccines so far: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
2:36 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
CDC advisers schedule meeting next week to discuss Covid-19 vaccines
From CNN's Maggie Fox and Jamie Gumbrecht
Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday, according to a new schedule posted on the CDC website.
A draft agenda posted on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices website for Wednesday includes discussion on the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds, and an update on rare blood clotting events following the Johnson & Johnson vaccination.
The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a request to extend its emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds. A federal official has told CNN that authorization should be straightforward and could be expected by next week.
If and when the FDA grants EUA, then the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices would have to meet to vote on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine in the new age group, and the CDC director would then have to sign off on it.
ACIP will not meet about the use of the Pfizer vaccine in adolescents until after the FDA expands the vaccine’s EUA to that age group.
1:20 p.m. ET, May 6, 2021
Pfizer CEO expects results of variant-specific vaccines and boosters in the coming months
From CNN's Nadia Kounang
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says he expects results from tests of booster vaccines and newly formulated vaccines in the coming months.
“We are trying the efficacy of a booster, sort of the same vaccine against the wild type and all the variants, and also the efficacy of a new vaccine which is tailor made for the South African variant,” said Bourla. “And this data will come in one month or two.”
Bourla spoke as part of a panel discussion with CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. The discussion was pre-recorded on April 30 and was streamed on Thursday as part of the Fifth International Vatican Conference.
Pfizer rival Moderna reported data Wednesday from its trial of booster doses and its reformulated vaccine made to match the B.1.351 variant first seen in South Africa.
The Pfizer CEO says the company can produce a booster or variant-specific vaccine in 90 days. “From the day we make the decision that this is a variant, that we need to do something about it, within 90 something days to be able to have a product ready,” Bourla said.
When asked by Gupta if the boosters or new vaccines will have to be reauthorized, Bourla likened the process to the reauthorization of new flu vaccines every year, which are targeted to different strains circulating each year. The US Food and Drug Administration and other regulators around the world approve the new formulations without requiring a lengthy new clinical trial process.
Gottlieb noted that when assessing flu vaccine effectiveness, instead of doing large trials to determine efficacy, researchers can run lab tests to see if the vaccines elicit an immune response.
“I think what you're going to see emerge is the ability to authorize new vaccines on the basis of immunogenicity data, the ability to demonstrate that you can develop antibodies that bind to the new epitopes or the particular spike protein that's in (B.1. 351) or B.117,” he said, referring to the variants first identified in South Africa (B.1.351) and in the UK (B.1.1.7). Gottlieb added that regulators will ”probably still require some clinical data to look at antibody responses and people but they won't be looking for long term outcomes in those studies.”
The Cura Foundation’s Fifth International Vatican Conference is a partnership among the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, the Cura Foundation, and the Science and Faith Foundation that brings together leaders of faith and science to discuss issues of health care and medicine.