Coronavirus Updates: Trump officials gleefully altered CDC reports
The Washington Post
2 hours ago
|Important developments in the pandemic. By Ben Guarino|
EmailThe Post’s coronavirus coverage linked in this newsletter is free to access from this email.
The latestVaccine maker Johnson & Johnson will not be able to deliver 24 million doses by the end of April as the company had previously promised.
Next week, the government will supply only 700,000, rather than 5 million, doses of its single-shot vaccine. To date, the J&J vaccine has contributed far less to the climbing U.S. vaccination rate than have the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Trump-appointed officials in the Department of Health and Human Services celebrated when they changed or blocked reports authored by federal scientists, as seen in emails released from a congressional investigation. Those officials pushed language that downplayed certain scientific findings they considered unfavorable to the president, such as adding a caveat to viral spread observed among people under 21. They also planned op-eds timed to blunt reports on deaths and transmission.A variant first identified in Brazil, known as P.1, accounts for at least 434 infections in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on the rising variants in the country on Thursday.
Among the variants of concern, the B.1.1.7 variant first found in Britain is dominant, but P.1 has risen to the second most-identified by genomic surveillance and tracked by Almost 1 in 5 people in the United States are fully vaccinated — a far larger proportion than the global average. Few other countries are on track to have 20 percent of their population vaccinated by the end of 2021. Covax, the World Health Organization’s vaccine distribution program, has divided 38 million doses among 100 economies to date. The disparity between vaccines in the U.S. and doses available to poorer nations is “unconscionable,” one member of a medical watchdog group told The Post.AstraZeneca’s vaccine makes up a significant portion of the Covax supply. But renewed scrutiny of the AstraZeneca vaccine has placed some countries in a difficult position — between lacking doses and having a vaccine clouded by possible safety concerns. The European Medicines Agency said this week the vaccine is plausibly linked to extremely rare, though serious, blood clots, but the agency stressed getting the vaccine still outweighs the risks of being unvaccinated in a pandemic. Meanwhile, fraud is on the rise, as thieves prey on a population made more vulnerable by the virus. U.S. consumers reported losing $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, almost double the losses in 2019. Fraudsters are targeting stimulus payments, and they have hatched schemes involving the Paycheck Protection Program. To stop this, the Federal Trade Commission received $30.4 million in the latest pandemic aid package. Here’s a look at that effort.Other important newsThe CDC is ramping up scrutiny of rare post-vaccination “breakthrough infections.” Experts stress the infections are not unexpected.ADVERTISEMENT About 200,000 merchant sailors are stuck at sea as a consequence of the pandemic. India faces record infection levels at the same time as a dwindling vaccine supply.Australia’s plan to protect its Indigenous population from the coronavirus has completely prevented deaths among Aboriginal elders.The state of Florida filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration and federal health agencies to allow cruise ships to set sail from American ports. Guide to the pandemicTrack confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.and the spreadaround the world.U.S. vaccine distribution and delivery, tracked by state.Guides: Finding vaccine appointments | Vaccines | Variants | MasksFollow updates about the pandemic from Post reporters across the globe.Submit a question and we may answer it in a future story or newsletter. Your questions, answered“Can a fully vaccinated person safely have sexual intercourse with an unvaccinated person?” — Karen in MarylandSpring is in the air. Vaccination rates are climbing. But we’re still in a pandemic. If one person is vaccinated, and the other is not, how should that pair balance friskiness with riskiness?It’s not quite so simple as labeling sex either safe or dangerous, said Dharushana Muthulingam, an infectious-disease physician at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of a recent Vogue article on sex and dating after vaccination.“Risk is not binary,” Muthulingam told The Post. “It’s a gradient.” Variables such as vaccination status, exposure time and proximity as well as ventilation all play a role in how well the coronavirus spreads. “Breathing near each other, unmasked, in poorly ventilated space is high risk,” she said. Kissing would pose “the highest risk of transmission,” because the virus can travel through the air and can be expelled as saliva and droplets.The pathogen has been detected in other bodily fluids, such as urine, semen or blood, Muthulingam pointed out, but it’s unknown whether these fluids are routes of transmission. The clearest path is shared breath and air.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in guidance published last month, said it is appropriate for a fully vaccinated person to visit a low-risk, unvaccinated person. Those recommendations didn’t specifically address activities like hugging or sex. But the agency advised that, in a private setting, such a pair could shed their masks and ignore social distancing precautions. That intimate environment is key: Risk of contagion from a vaccinated person is unlikely to be nil, which is why the CDC said visits should be limited to unvaccinated members of a single household. But, for many seeking the closest of contact, that’s promising. “Most types of sex are not necessarily more risky than other in-person behaviors,” Muthulingam said, comparing sex to dining together, wrestling or talking. “The kind of contact that is risky for coronavirus — breathing near each other — overlaps with a great many other types of social interactions.”What’s more, when it comes to sex, there are ways for partners to “creatively minimize respiratory exchange,” through masking or other physical barriers, she said.Anne Liu, a Stanford Health Care infectious-disease doctor, put it like this to Vice in March: “It’s probably a pretty low-risk situation” for a vaccinated person to have sex with a person who hasn’t been vaccinated, as long as the unvaccinated partner “is at low risk for severe disease and is also at low risk for exposure” to the virus in other settings.Any discussion of safe sex would be remiss without a note that bodily fluids still transmit other infections. And, in recent years, before the pandemic, cases of syphilis and gonorrhea had spiked. “Continue minimizing risk for those, too,” Muthulingam said. Today’s top readsFind more stories, analysis and op-eds about the pandemic on our coronavirus page.For the first wave of vaccinated vacationers, venturing into the not-quite-open-world was quiet, cheaper — and a reliefBy Ashley Fetters ● Read more » What should a coronavirus memorial look like? This powerful statement on gun violence offers a model.Perspective ● By Philip Kennicott ● Read more » I’m vaccinated and want to travel. Where can I go in Mexico?By Natalie B. Compton ● Read more » A new key to covid success: Not states but societiesOpinion ● By Fareed Zakaria ● Read more » We think you’ll like this newsletterCheck out Book Club for our weekly selection of book reviews and recommendations from Book World editor Ron Charles. Sign up »