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France Imposes 3rd National Lockdown As COVID-19 Again Surges

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Young people gathered Wednesday by the Seine River in Paris, largely without masks and without social distancing. French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered the country into a third lockdown because of the continued spread of COVID-19. Eleanor Beardsley/NPR hide caption

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Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

PARIS – Calling the new, faster-spreading variants of the coronavirus “an epidemic within the epidemic,” French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday extended a lockdown to the entire country and closed schools through the end of April.

In a televised address to the nation, Macron said a “more dangerous, contagious and deadly” virus surging in France left him no choice.

“If we are choosing to close down the whole country it’s because no area of the country is spared,” Macron said. “Everywhere the virus is spreading faster and faster and everywhere, hospitalizations are rising.”

Gatherings inside and outside are also banned and people will not be allowed to travel more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from their homes. Macron said unlike the first confinement last spring, people who leave their homes will not have to fill out a form with the time, date and purpose of their outing. “We are choosing to have confidence in people’s sense of responsibility,” he said.

“Everyone has to make sure not that they close themselves in, but that they limit, to the maximum, their contacts, meetings and time spent with others,” said Macron.

The president’s announcement was entirely anticipated. France’s intensive care units are at capacity with more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients health officials say, and hospitalizations have already surpassed the second wave of this past winter. They are on track to surpass even the first deadly wave of last spring.

Over the weekend, several dozen emergency room doctors signed an open letter in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, warning that if something is not done, hospitals would soon have to begin choosing which patients receive treatment. “We cannot remain silent without betraying our Hippocratic oath,” they said.

Jacob Kirkegaard, who studies health care systems as a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund, says the new strains of the virus are forcing countries to step up their public health measures. Britain, Germany and Italy are also in various forms of lockdown.

“When COVID cases in a country are suddenly much more contagious, the lockdowns need to be adjusted and made much tougher,” he said.

Kirkegaard said vaccinations in France have not yet increased to a level which would make a difference in transmission. Thirteen percent of the French have received one dose of a vaccine. Only 4% have been fully vaccinated. But Macron said the pace of vaccination would go faster very soon.

“We are putting all our means behind vaccinating, vaccinating, vaccinating,” he said, “on Saturday and Sunday just like during the week.” Macron said some 250,000 health professionals – doctors, pharmacists, veterinarians and fire fighters – will be involved in the massive vaccination effort across the country.

Over the last few warm, spring days, the banks of the Seine River in Paris have looked a lot like Venice Beach, Calif., with young people working-out and sunbathing, their masks under their chins. Macron said there will be patrols enforcing restrictions on alcohol consumption in public and plenty of fines given. Bars and restaurants have been closed since last fall.

Doctors say COVID-19 patients in France’s ICUs are younger and younger, often without any underlying health problems. Macron said 44% of patients in intensive care are younger than 65.

The country’s Scientific Council, which advises the government on measures to combat the virus, called for a strict lockdown in January. Macron defended his decision not to lock the country down then, saying people had benefitted from “precious weeks of liberty.”

But he said the accelerating pandemic propelled by new variants meant France had to set a new course for the coming months.

Writing of the gravity of the situation this week in the newspaper Libération, Patrick Bouet, president of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, called on Macron to institute stricter measures. “The virus is winning and we have lost control of the pandemic,” Bouet said.

France is now approaching 100,000 coronavirus deaths. “That’s the equivalent of wiping the city of Nancy from the map,” wrote Bouet.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/31/983157525/france-imposes-3rd-national-lockdown-as-covid-19-again-surges

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COVID-19 vaccines protect against variants, study suggests

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COVID-19 vaccine variants

A research group from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has published a new study that suggests certain COVID-19 vaccines may protect against variant coronavirus strains.1 These include the variants first identified in the U.K. and South Africa.

The study analyzed the response of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and three other common cold coronaviruses after administration of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. Blood samples from 30 healthcare workers who had not tested positive for COVID-19 were analyzed before and after they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The study model focused on the coronavirus surface proteins – spike proteins – which help viruses gain access to host cells and infect them. A type of immune cell called helper T cells or CD4+ T cells recognize these viral proteins on the coronavirus-infected cells and encourage cell destruction. The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines contain a code that allows healthy cells to produce these spike proteins. This promotes the build-up of a CD4+ T cell response specific to coronavirus spike proteins. The CD4+ T cell response was analyzed using blood samples before and after vaccination to indicate the effectiveness of the vaccine.

As the research group expected, the vaccinated participants showed a greater CD4+ T cell response to SARS-CoV-2 after vaccination. But other coronavirus variants were tested too with the hopes of understanding the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine against variants.

Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 differ in some of the building blocks of their spike proteins. In testing the common cold coronaviruses HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, and HCoV-OC43, researchers measured the degree of immunity provided when exposed to the variants.

The research group observed that there was a broad T cell response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and they were able to identify 23 distinct viral proteins targeted by coronavirus-specific T cells.

Of these 23 peptides, four may be altered in the UK B.1.1.7 and South African B.1.351 variants. This suggests that the 19 other peptides (building blocks) are constant among coronaviruses and would be targeted by vaccine-induced CD4+ T cells when exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other emerging variants.

Results from another study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine reiterated the significance of the CD4+ T cell response to SARS-Cov-2 and common cold coronaviruses. They tested the T cell response to spike proteins in patients who had recovered from COVID-19 as well as unexposed individuals. In 65% of participants, memory CD4+ T cells recognized spike proteins from SARS-CoV-2 and at least one other common cold coronavirus.2

The cross-recognition observed by CD4+ T cells have led researchers to conclude that mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines may protect against SARS-CoV-2 variants. The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine against variants needs to be studied further to fully understand the level of protection.

References

  1. Woldemeskel, B. A. et al. (2021). SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines induce broad CD4+ T cell responses that recognize SARS-CoV-2 variants and HCoV-NL63. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, In-Press Preview. Doi: 10.1172/JCI149335.
  2. Dykema, A. G. et al. (2021). Functional characterization of CD4+ T-cell receptors cross-reactive for SARS-CoV-2 and endemic coronaviruses. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, In-Press Preview. Doi: 10.1172/JCI146922.
  3. Image by mattthewafflecat from Pixabay 

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Source: https://medicalnewsbulletin.com/covid-19-vaccines-protect-against-variants-study-suggests/

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Vaccine Monitor: Eagerness to Get Vaccinated Begins to Level Off as Most People Who Want a Vaccine Have Gotten One; But Republicans Show Biggest Shift Toward Vaccination

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Most adults (56%) nationally say they have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and few (9%) say they haven’t but want to do so right away, posing a new challenge for the nation’s vaccination efforts, the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor shows.

With all adults now eligible to get a vaccine nationwide, the share who say they have been vaccinated rose sharply over the past month (from 32% to 56%), while the share who hope to do so as soon as possible fell by a similar margin (30% to 9%).

Combined, this most enthusiastic group increased only slightly from 61% in March to 64% now, suggesting that increasing vaccination rates beyond that point will require converting other people who are less enthusiastic and that vaccination rates may only inch forward from this point on.

Movement was seen for one of the groups with a large share of individuals still reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Republicans. A majority (55%) now say they have already gotten a shot or intend to do so as soon as possible, compared to 46% in March, and another 14% want to “wait and see.” One in five (20%) still say they definitely will not get vaccinated. That is down from 29% in March, though it is still higher than the share among Democrats (4%) or independents (13%).

The Monitor now shows 15% of adults say they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works for others before getting one, little changed from March (17%), and another 6% who say they would get vaccinated only if required for work, school or other purposes. An additional 13% who say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated, also largely unchanged since March.

“The fact that a majority of Republicans are or want to get vaccinated, and fewer of them are a definite no, shows that progress is possible among the most reluctant groups, even if the process of moving from no to yes is a slow one,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said.

Lack of information remains a barrier for many unvaccinated people, particularly Hispanic adults. About 3 in 10 (29%) overall, and 42% of Hispanic adults, say they are not sure whether they are eligible to get a vaccine in their state even though all adults are now eligible.

Most (88%) of those who have not yet been vaccinated say they have not made an appointment to do so. When asked why not, those in the “wait and see” category most often cite the desire to see more people get the vaccine (23%) and concerns about safety and side effects (14%). In contrast, those who want to get it “as soon as possible” but haven’t yet made an appointment most often cite logistical concerns and information needs.

When those who say they will “definitely not” get a COVID-19 vaccine are asked if there is anything that might convince them to change their mind, 72% say “no.” The others give a variety of responses, with the most common response being if more research were done on the vaccines.

“People who have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine at this point give a variety of reasons ranging from safety concerns to lack of information to problems with vaccine access,” KFF Executive Vice President Mollyann Brodie said. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to reaching these different groups, and a variety of strategies will be needed.”

Confidence in the Safety of the J&J Vaccine Lags Other Vaccines After 10-Day Pause Over Blood Clots

After federal authorities paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for 10 days in April over concerns about rare blood clots, the public is significantly less confident in its safety than in the two other COVID-19 vaccines also available now in the U.S.

While most people have at least some confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccines overall (71%), and in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (69% each), less than half (46%) say they have confidence in the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Among those who say they want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated, 28% say they are confident in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s safety. Those who have not yet gotten a COVID-19 vaccine are less likely than those that have to express confidence in the safety of the vaccines across the board.

About 1 in 5 unvaccinated adults say the news caused them to change their mind about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, including 9% who say it made them less likely to want the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 7% who say it made them less likely to want any COVID-19 vaccine, and 4% who say it changed their thoughts about the vaccines in some other way.

Among Hispanic women, 39% say it changed their minds, including 15% who say it made them less likely to want the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 18% who say it made them less likely to want any COVID-19 vaccine.

Concerns about side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are on the rise more broadly. Among those not eager to get vaccinated, this month 81% say they are concerned they might experience serious side effects from the vaccine, up from 70% last month. Among women, 92% now say they are concerned about side effects, up from 77% last month.

Even with these increased concerns, the trajectory of vaccine enthusiasm does not appear to have slowed disproportionately among women over the past month. Two-thirds (66%) of women say they’ve been vaccinated or will do so as soon as possible, compared to 63% of men.

Most Parents Eager to Get a Vaccine Themselves are also Eager to Vaccinate Their Children When Able

The Pfizer vaccine is now available to 16- and 17-year-olds and could be approved for use in children ages 12-15 as early as next week, while studies are underway to assess all the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness in younger children. When it becomes available, the latest Monitor report suggests that parents’ eagerness to get their own children vaccinated largely mirrors their views about the vaccine for themselves.

Three in 10 parents of children between the ages of 12-15 say they’ll get their child vaccinated right away once a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and available for their child’s age group. One quarter (26%) say they’ll wait a while to see how the vaccine is working before getting their child vaccinated, 18% will only get their child vaccinated if the school requires it and 23% say they definitely won’t get their child vaccinated.

Among parents of children under age 18 who are already vaccinated or hoping to get a vaccine as soon as possible, most say either that they will get their children vaccinated right away (48%) or wait a while to see how it’s working (29%). Among parents in “wait and see” themselves, 63% say they will also wait and see before getting their child vaccinated. And most (58%) parents who say they will definitely not get vaccinated or will only do so if required say they will definitely not vaccinate their children.

Other key results include:

• Among those not eager to get a vaccine, 30% say they would be more likely to get one if it were offered to them where they normally go for healthcare, and a similar share (29%) say they would be more likely if they only needed a single dose of a vaccine.

• Similarly, 30% of those not eager to get vaccinated as soon as possible say they would be more likely to do so if airlines required vaccinations to fly, and nearly as many (26%) would be more likely if it were required to attend large gatherings such as sporting events and concerts. Young adults are more likely than older ones to say such requirements would encourage them to get vaccinated.

In addition, KFF will release a companion Vaccine Monitor report next week focusing on Hispanic adults.

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the KFF Vaccine Monitor survey was conducted from April 15-29 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 2,097 adults, including oversamples of adults who are Black (507) or Hispanic (778). Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (298) and cell phone (1,799). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfolds, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

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Source: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/press-release/vaccine-monitor-eagerness-to-get-vaccinated-begins-to-level-off-as-most-people-who-want-a-vaccine-have-gotten-one-but-republicans-show-biggest-shift-toward-vaccination/

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KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor – April 2021

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The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfold, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, information needs, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

Key Findings

  • With eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination now open to all adults in the U.S., the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor shows that while the pace of vaccine uptake has continued rapidly over the past month, enthusiasm may be reaching a plateau. The share of adults who say they’ve gotten at least one dose of a vaccine or intend to do so as soon as possible inched up from 61% in March to 64% in April, while the share who want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated – a group that had been steadily decreasing in size since over several months – remained about the same in April (15%) compared to March (17%). Among Republicans, a group that has been slower to embrace the vaccine, over half now say they’ve gotten at least one dose or will do so as soon as they can. The share of Republicans who say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated decreased from 29% in March to 20% in April but remains substantially larger than the share among Democrats or independents.
  • In the wake of news about blood clots possibly linked to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and the subsequent pause in the use of this vaccine, less than half the public expresses confidence in the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and concerns about potential side effects have increased among those not yet vaccinated, especially women. Hispanic women are particularly likely to say that the news of these blood clots caused them to rethink their vaccination decision. Despite this, the trajectory of vaccine uptake and enthusiasm does not appear to have slowed disproportionately among women over the past month. Two-thirds (66%) of women say they’ve been vaccinated or will do so as soon as possible, compared to 63% of men.
  • Among those who are open to getting vaccinated but have not yet tried to get an appointment, reasons range from safety concerns to logistical barriers to questions about eligibility, and vary widely by vaccination intention. Those who say they want the vaccine as soon as possible mainly cite logistical concerns and information needs; those in the wait and see group mainly express safety concerns or a lack of research, and those who say they’ll get the vaccine only if required mainly say they don’t feel they want or need the vaccine. By contrast, when those who say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated are asked if there is anything that might change their mind, the answer is a resounding “no.”
  • While side effects and safety top the list of concerns for those who haven’t gotten vaccinated for COVID-19, we continue to find that lack of information and access are barriers for some individuals, particularly people of color. For example, Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than White adults to be concerned about having to miss work due to side effects, having to pay out-of-pocket for the COVID-19 vaccine (even though it is free), or not being able to get the vaccine from a place they trust. In addition, 45% of Hispanic adults say they don’t have enough information about when they can get vaccinated and a similar share are not sure whether they are currently eligible to receive the vaccine in their state (even though eligibility is now open to all U.S. residents).
  • About half of young adults ages 18-29 say they’ve already gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or will do so as soon as possible, but about a quarter say they still want to “wait and see” how the vaccine is working, higher than any other age group. Peer networks may play a role in encouraging vaccine uptake among young adults; those who say at least half of their close friends are vaccinated are much more enthusiastic about getting vaccinated themselves compared to those who say just a few or none of their friends have gotten a shot. In addition, young adults may be more receptive than older adults to vaccination requirements in order to travel or attend large gatherings.
  • As the U.S. awaits authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for use in children under age 16, three in ten parents of children ages 12-15 say they will get their child vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is available, one quarter say they will wait a while to see how the vaccine is working, 18% plan to get their child vaccinated if their school requires it, and nearly a quarter say they will definitely not get their child vaccinated. Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents’ intentions for vaccinating their kids largely line up with their own intentions for getting the COVID-19 vaccine themselves.

Trends In COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions

With eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination now open to all adults in the U.S., the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor reports that a majority of adults now say they have already gotten at least one dose of the vaccine (56%), up from 32% in March. At the same time, the share of ready and willing adults who have not yet gotten vaccinated but say they intend to do so as soon as they can has fallen to 9% from 30% in March when many adults were still not eligible for vaccination. Overall, the total enthusiastic group (those who say they’ve already been vaccinated or will get it as soon as possible) inched up only slightly from 61% in March to 64% in April, while the share of adults who say they want to “wait and see” appears to have plateaued at 15%, similar to the 17% who said the same in March. The shares of the public who say they will get the vaccine only if they are required to do so for work, school, or other activities (6%) or say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine (13%) have stayed about the same since January.

Enthusiasm for getting the COVID-19 vaccine has continued to inch upward across racial and ethnic groups, but at a slower pace than in previous months. About six in ten Black (59%) adults and two-thirds of Hispanic (64%) and White (66%) adults now say they’ve either gotten at least one dose of the vaccine or will get it as soon as they can. At the same time, Black and Hispanic adults remain somewhat more likely than White adults to say they want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated (19%, 18%, and 13%, respectively).

Among older adults, similar shares across racial and ethnic groups say that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (roughly eight in ten among ages 65 and over and roughly six in ten among ages 50-64). However, among younger adults (those under age 50), a larger share of White adults (50%) compared to Black and Hispanic adults (36% each) say they’ve already gotten vaccinated. Fewer White adults under the age of 50 say they will “wait and see” (16% compared to 24% of both Black and Hispanic adults in this age range).

Among partisans, enthusiasm for getting the COVID-19 vaccine remains highest among Democrats but may have reached a plateau among this group. Eight in ten Democrats say they’ve already gotten at least one dose of the vaccine or will get it as soon as possible, virtually unchanged from the share who said so last month (79%). Increasing enthusiasm among independents may also be slowing down, with six in ten (59%) now saying they’ve gotten at least one dose or will do so as soon as they can, similar to the 57% who said so in March.

While the growth in vaccine enthusiasm appears to have slowed among independents and Democrats, it has continued to increase among Republicans, with a majority (55%) now saying they have either received at least one dose of the vaccine or intend to do so as soon as possible. One in five Republicans (20%) say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated, down from 29% last month but still substantially larger than the share among independents (13% and Democrats (4%).

Across key demographic groups, at least half of adults say they have already gotten at least one dose of the vaccine or will get it as soon as it is available to them. Older adults, Democrats, and college graduates remain the most enthusiastic about getting the vaccine, with at least seven in ten indicating they’ve gotten at least one shot. Roughly one-quarter (24%) of young adults ages 18-29 say they still want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated, as do about one in five Black adults (19%), adults without a college degree (19%), political independents (19%), urban residents (19%), and Hispanic adults (18%).

Among older adults, similar shares across racial and ethnic groups say that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (roughly eight in ten among ages 65 and over and roughly six in ten among ages 50-64). However, among younger adults (those under age 50), a larger share of White adults (50%) compared to Black and Hispanic adults (36% each) say they’ve already gotten vaccinated. Fewer White adults under the age of 50 say they will “wait and see” (16% compared to 24% of both Black and Hispanic adults in this age range).

Notably, about one in five Hispanic adults ages 18-49 (18%) and ages 50-64 (20%) say they have not yet been vaccinated but intend to do so as soon as possible, suggesting a possible barrier to access for these groups.

Confidence and Concerns Following Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Safety Review

On April 13th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended a temporary pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine following reports of rare blood clots. Ten days later, after both agencies conducted a safety review, the FDA and CDC recommended that the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should resume. The latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor (which was fielded just after the pause began and remained in the field after the pause was lifted) finds that while overall confidence in safety of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. is high, less than half say they are at least somewhat confident the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe (46%), compared to nearly seven in ten who say the same about the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines (69% each). Fifteen percent say they are “very confident” that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe, less than half the share who say the same about the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, or the COVID-19 vaccines overall.

Confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines overall – and in each of the specific vaccines – is lower among those who have not yet been vaccinated than it is among those who have already received the vaccine and varies by vaccination intention. Among those who want to “wait and see” before getting the vaccine, slight majorities say they are confident that the Pfizer vaccine (55%) and Moderna vaccine (53%) are safe, compared to 28% who say the same of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There is less variation in confidence levels across the different vaccines among those in the “only if required” group, while those who say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated express very little confidence in the safety of any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Most adults (78%) say they have heard or read at least a little about some rare cases in which a small number of individuals developed blood clots within two weeks of getting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Among those who have not yet been vaccinated, the large majority either say the news “has not changed their mind about getting vaccinated” (56%) or say they have “not heard or read anything at all” about these cases (21%). However, about one in five unvaccinated adults say the news caused them to change their mind about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, including 9% who say it made them less likely to want the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but didn’t change their minds about the other vaccines, 7% who say it made them less likely to want any COVID-19 vaccine, and 4% who say it changed their thoughts about the vaccines in some other way.

Most of the blood clot cases reported occurred among women, and we find a larger share of unvaccinated women (83%) than unvaccinated men (73%) say they have heard or read at least a little about this news. In addition, unvaccinated women are less likely than unvaccinated men to say they are confident in the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (21% vs. 32%), though there is no significant gender difference in confidence of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines overall.

Notably, 39% of unvaccinated Hispanic women say they heard the news and it caused them to change their mind about the vaccine, including 15% who say it made them less likely to want the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 18% who say it made them less likely to want any COVID-19 vaccine.

The Monitor also finds indications that concerns about side effects from the vaccines overall have increased in the wake of the Johnson & Johnson pause, particularly among women. Among those who are not yet convinced to get the vaccine right away (those who want to wait and see, will get vaccinated only if required, or will definitely not get vaccinated), 81% say they are concerned they might experience serious side effects from the vaccine, up from 70% last month. Among women within this group, concern increased by 15 percentage points, from 77% in March to 92% in April.

Despite what appear to be heightened concerns about safety and side effects among women, the trajectory of vaccine uptake and enthusiasm does not appear to have slowed significantly among women over the past month. Two-thirds (66%) of women say they’ve been vaccinated or will do so as soon as possible, compared to 61% in March. Among men, 63% now say they’ve gotten vaccinated or are eager to do so, compared to 62% in March.

In addition, despite these concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a one-dose vaccine still has an appeal for many people. Three in ten unvaccinated adults (29%), including 45% of those in the “wait and see” category say they would be more likely to get the vaccine if they only needed one dose.

What Is Keeping People From Getting Vaccinated?

Most unvaccinated adults, including a majority of those who say they will get the vaccine as soon as they can, have not yet attempted to make an appointment for a vaccine, despite all adults in the U.S. now being eligible. Twelve percent of those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine say they have tried to make an appointment to get vaccinated, including 38% of those who say they want the vaccine as soon as possible, 8% of those in the “wait and see” group, and 6% of those who say they’ll get the vaccine only if required. Majorities across all these groups say they have not yet tried to make an appointment.

When those who indicate some willingness to get vaccinated (saying they’ll get the vaccine as soon as they can, will wait and see, or will get it if required) are asked to say in their own words the main reason why they have not tried to get an appointment, reasons range from safety concerns to logistical barriers to questions about eligibility, and vary widely by vaccination intention.

Among the group that says they want the vaccine as soon as possible, logistical concerns and information needs top the list of reasons for not making an appointment, including being too busy or not having time to try to get an appointment (14%) and not being able to take the time off work (12%). Another 9% of this group say they just haven’t gotten around to it, 8% say they are not sure about their eligibility or whether they have the right documentation, and 7% express a general lack of information about how to get vaccinated.

Among those who want to wait and see before getting vaccinated, one-fourth (23%) say they haven’t tried to get an appointment yet because they are waiting until more people have gotten the vaccine. Others in this group say they are concerned about the safety or side effects of the vaccine (14%) or that the vaccine is too new or there is not enough research available (9%), while about one in six (8%) say they just generally don’t want or need the vaccine.

Among those who say they’ll get the vaccine only if required, the largest share says they haven’t made an appointment because they don’t want or need the vaccine (26%), while one in ten cite concerns about safety or side effects and 6% feel the vaccine is too new or hasn’t been researched enough.

As soon as possible Wait and see Only if required
Busy/didn’t have time/schedule conflict 14% Want to wait until more people have gotten it 23% Don’t want it/need it (general) 26%
Can’t take time off work/conflicts with work hours 12% Concerned about safety and/or side effects 14% Concerned about safety and/or side effects 10%
Just haven’t gotten around to it 9% Vaccine is too new/not enough research 9% Vaccine is too new/not enough research 6%
Don’t have proper documentation/not sure if eligible 8% Don’t want it/need it (general) 8% Already had COVID 5%
Lack of information about how to get the vaccine 7% Waiting for medical reason 6% Don’t have proper documentation/not sure if eligible 4%

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: What is the main reason you have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? (among those who have not tried to get a vaccine appointment and say they will get the vaccine as soon as possible, will wait and see, or will get it if required)

Among those who say they want to get the vaccine as soon as possible:

“Because I have not tried to see if there is a site located near me and was told that a social security number or immigration status was needed.” – 30-49 year old Hispanic woman, Georgia

“I don’t know if the vaccine is being given at my clinic, they’re supposed to let me know and they haven’t reached out to me.” – 65+ year old Hispanic man, North Carolina

“[It is] hard for me to get around since I don’t drive.” – 65+ year old White woman, West Virginia

“I don’t know where to go in my state to get it.” – 30-49 year old White man, Connecticut

Among those who say they want to “wait and see” before getting the vaccine:

“Because I think we need more time to see the health effects on people.” – 30-49 year old Black woman, Texas

“Not really sure, don’t really know to sign up for it either. I guess mostly I don’t know how to obtain this vaccine.” – 18-29 year old Hispanic man, California

“[I] want to see how it effects other people, and other people might need it bad[ly]. I work from home.” – 30-49 year old White man, North Carolina

“I want to see how it is affecting other people. I do not want to be a guinea pig. If it had more data research given to it or if we knew how it would affect people long term, then maybe I would consider it more than I am. I am not against it—my daughter has all of her [vaccinations]—there isn’t enough research for it.” – 30-49 year old White woman, Michigan

Among those who say they will only get the vaccine if required to do so:

“I don’t believe there is a need for it.” – 50-64 year old White woman, Georgia

“Generally, because in my own experience I have not known any one who died from it. Generally, not worried. On a scale of 1-10 my worry is at a 3.” – 30-49 year old White man, Louisiana

“The side effects, blood clots, Johnson and Johnson.  There are two vaccines that have a recall because of a blood clot.” – 30-49 year old Hispanic man, California

“Because I had COVID, Better wait to see what happened.” – 30-49 year old Hispanic man, California

In contrast to the range of barriers and concerns cited by those who are at least somewhat open to getting vaccinated, when those who say they will “definitely not” get a COVID-19 vaccine are asked if there is anything that might convince them to change their mind, the answer is overwhelmingly “no,” with 72% providing this response. Seven percent of this group say that more research on the vaccines might convince them to change their minds, while the remainder gave a range of other response.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Is there anything that might convince you to change your mind about getting vaccinated? (among those who say they will “definitely not” get the COVID-19 vaccine)

“No, unless something comes up I might change, I’m sticking with religion.” – 65 year-old Black man, South Carolina

“Only when it has been approved by the FDA.” – 49 year-old White woman, Alabama

“No. It sure won’t help if they start forcing it on people.” 40 year-old White man, Nevada

“No nothing will. If I can’t work, they can’t force you to take a vaccine. You’ll have to kill me.” – 29 year-old Black woman, Georgia

“No absolutely not, I don’t trust the gov’t and I don’t even take the flu vaccine and I’ve never gotten the flu.” – 24 year-old man Black man, Arizona

“No, I don’t trust it so I’m not going to get it.” – 77 year-old White man, California

“Only if they come out with proper data, and not just guessing.” – 35 year-old Black woman, Virginia

Other Concerns And Barriers To Vaccination

While vaccine side effects and safety continue to be the top concerns among those who have not yet been vaccinated (cited as concerns by 76% and 70%, respectively), there are a range of other concerns that vary by vaccination intention. For example, six in ten (59%) of those not yet vaccinated (rising to 72% of the “definitely not” group) are concerned that they might be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if they don’t want to. About half (48%) of those ages 18-49 (rising to 66% among the “definitely nots”) are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine might negatively impact their fertility in the future. Many express work-related concerns, including half (48%)  who say they are concerned they might miss work if the vaccine side effects make them feel sick and one in five who say they are concerned they may need to time off work to go and get the vaccine. One-third (32%) are concerned that they might have to pay an out-of-pocket cost to get vaccinated, even though the vaccine is available for free to all U.S. adults. Other concerns include being required to provide a social security number or government-issued identification to get vaccinated (34%), not being able to get the vaccine from a trusted place (32%), or that it will be difficult to  travel to a vaccination site (15%).

Many concerns about COVID-19 vaccination are expressed at higher rates by people of color compared to White adults. For example, nearly six in ten Hispanic adults (58%) under age 50 say they are concerned that the vaccine may negatively impact their future fertility, compared to 42% of White adults in this age range. In addition, potential access-related barriers to vaccination are more commonly expressed as concerns by Black and Hispanic adults compared to White adults. More than half (55%) of unvaccinated Black adults and almost three-quarters (64%) of Hispanic adults are concerned about having to miss work due to vaccine side effects compared to four in ten White adults (41%). Larger shares of Black and Hispanic adults compared to White adults also express concern about not being able to get the vaccine from a place they trust, having to pay an out-of-pocket cost to get vaccinated, and having difficulty traveling to a vaccination site.

In addition to these concerns, lack of information is still a barrier to getting a COVID-19 vaccine for many adults, particularly people of color. Three in ten unvaccinated adults overall, rising to 42% of Hispanic adults, say they are not sure whether they’re currently eligible to get a vaccine in their state, even though eligibility is now open to all U.S. adults. In addition, one in five unvaccinated adults overall (29% of Hispanic adults) say they don’t have enough information about where to get a COVID-19 vaccine and 26% (45% of Hispanic adults) say they don’t have enough information about when they can get one.

Incentives And Requirements That Might Increase Vaccination Uptake

In addition to understanding and addressing people’s concerns about the vaccines, there are various incentives, conveniences, and requirements that may be effective at encouraging some people to get vaccinated. Three in ten unvaccinated adults who are not yet ready to get the vaccine right away, including nearly half of those who want to “wait and see,” say they would be more likely to get the vaccine if it was offered to them at a place they normally go for health care or if they only needed to get one dose. At least a quarter of those who are not yet ready to get the vaccine right away, including substantial shares of those in both the “wait and see” and “only if required” groups say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if it was required to fly on an airplane, to attend large gatherings such as sporting events or concerns, or for international travel.

Employer policies and incentives could also play a role in increasing COVID-19 vaccination uptake. About three in ten (28%) of employed adults who are not yet ready to get vaccinated, including nearly half (47%) in the “wait and see” group, say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if their employer gave them paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects. About a quarter overall and four in ten (39%) in the “wait and see” group say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if their employer offered a financial incentive of $200, while two in ten overall and about a third (32%) of those who want to “wait and see” say they would be more likely to get the vaccine if their employer arranged for a  medical provider to administer it at their workplace.

Vaccine Misinformation

The latest KFF Vaccine Monitor also finds that a majority of adults (54%) either believe some common misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines or are unsure whether these things are true or false. About one in four believe or are unsure whether you can get COVID-19 from the vaccine and one in five believe or are unsure whether those who have already had COVID-19 should not get vaccinated, whether the vaccines contain fetal cells, have been shown to cause infertility, or that the vaccine can change your DNA. Among younger adults ages 18 to 29, four in ten (42%) say they have heard that the COVID-19 has been shown to cause infertility, and about one in four either are unsure if that is true (22%) or believe that is true (5%).

Belief in or uncertainty towards vaccine misinformation is highest among those most reluctant to get the vaccine. Eight in ten (81%) of adults who say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine believe or are unsure about at least one common COVID-19 vaccine myth, as do 75% of those who say they will only get the vaccine if required. In addition, vaccine misinformation appears to be wide-reaching, as even among those who have already been vaccinated 43% believe or are uncertain about at least one common vaccine myth, as do half of those who say they want the vaccine as soon as possible.

A larger share of women (58%) than men (50%) believe or be unsure about at least one common myth surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. Likewise, younger adults are more likely than those 65 and older to believe or be unsure about a vaccine myth. Across partisans, majorities of Republicans (58%) and independents (56%) believe or are unsure about at least one vaccine myth, compared to a smaller share of Democrats (43%).

Young Adults and Vaccine Uptake

Though they are at lower risk of complications from COVID-19, many experts believe vaccine uptake among young adults will be needed in order to achieve herd immunity. Young adults ages 18 to 29 are the least likely to say they’ve already been vaccinated or intend to do so as soon as possible, and about one-quarter (24%) say they want to “wait and see” before they get the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, half of younger adults say “just a few” or “none” of their close friends have been vaccinated, including one in five 18-29 year-olds who say none of their close friends are vaccinated and a further 31% say only a few of their friends have gotten the vaccine.

For young adults, peer influences may have a big effect on vaccination decisions. Among young adults ages 18-29, a large majority (77%) of those who say at least half of their close friends have been vaccinated report having already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine themselves (68%) or say they want to as soon as they can (9%). Among those who say just a few or none of their friends have been vaccinated, a much smaller share say they’ve already been vaccinated or intend to do so as soon as possible (32%), while three in ten (29%) say they will “wait and see,” one in five (19%) say they will get vaccinated only if required, and 17% say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine.

Compared to those in other age groups, young adults may be particularly motivated by requirements and conveniences to encourage COVID-19 vaccine uptake. About four in ten young adults ages 18 to 29 who are not yet ready to get the vaccine right away say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if it was offered at a place they normally go for health care (43%) or if they only needed to get one dose of the vaccine (37%). Among requirements, about four in ten young adults in this group say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if it was required to fly on an airplane (40%), to attend large gatherings (39%), or for international travel (38%).

COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children

While the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is already authorized for use in children ages 16-17, there is currently no vaccine available in the U.S. for children ages 15 and under. Earlier this month, Pfizer requested that the FDA extend their emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between the ages of 12 and 15 following promising clinical trials, and FDA authorization is expected as soon as next week. Over the last month, Pfizer and Moderna have started testing their COVID-19 vaccines in children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years old.

Around three in 10 (29%) parents of children under age 18 say they’ll get their child vaccinated “right away” once a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and available for their child’s age group. An additional one third (32%) say they’ll wait awhile to see how the vaccine is working before getting their child vaccinated. One-third say they will only get their child vaccinated if their school requires it (15%) or they definitely won’t get their child vaccinated (19%).

Among parents who have at least one child between the ages of 12-15, responses are similar: 30% say they’ll get their child vaccinated right away, 26% will wait to see how it’s working, 18% will vaccinate only if their child’s school requires it, and 23% say they will definitely not get their child vaccinated. Among parents who have at least one child ages 16-17 (for whom the Pfizer vaccine is already approved), thirty-one percent report wanting to get them vaccinated right away and another 8 percent say their child is already vaccinated, while almost quarter say they will definitely not get them vaccinated.

Across racial and ethnic groups, at least half of parents say they will get their child vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine is authorized for children (25% of Black parents, 31% of Hispanic parents, 30% of White parents) or that they will wait a while to see how it is working (25% of Black parents, 36% of Hispanic parents, 31% of White parents). A smaller share of Hispanic parents (10%) compared to Black parents (29%) and White parents (22%) say they will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated.

Parents’ intentions for vaccinating their children against COVID-19 largely line up with their own vaccination experiences and intentions. Among parents who have already received at least one dose of the vaccine or want it as soon as possible, three-fourths say they will either get their children vaccinated right away (48%) or will wait a while to see how it’s working (29%). Among parents who are still in “wait and see” mode when it comes to their own vaccination, 63% say they will also wait and see before getting their child vaccinated. Similarly, about six in ten (58%) of parents who say they will definitely not get vaccinated for COVID-19 themselves or will do so only if required say they will definitely not vaccinate their children.

Methodology

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Source: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/poll-finding/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-april-2021/

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Covid19

Biden Backs Waiving International Patent Protections For COVID-19 Vaccines

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President Biden on Wednesday came out in favor of the World Trade Organization’s proposed waiver of patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

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Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden threw his support behind a World Trade Organization proposal on Wednesday to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, clearing a hurdle for other vaccine-strapped countries to manufacture their own vaccines even though the patents are privately held.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” United States trade representative Katherine Tai said in a statement. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”

The pace of vaccinating against the coronavirus in the U.S. is slowing down. In some places, there are more vaccine doses than people who want them.

Meanwhile, India is now the epicenter of the pandemic, and just 2% of its population is fully vaccinated.

The World Trade Organization is considering a proposal to address that inequity as India, South Africa and more than 100 other nations advocate to waive IP rights for coronavirus vaccines and medications, which might let manufacturers in other poorer countries make their own.

The consequences of not passing the waiver are “staggering,” Mustaqeem de Gama, South Africa’s World Trade Organization counselor, told NPR — “not only on the level of the loss of human lives, but also on the economic level.”

“We believe that intellectual property rights constitute a very substantial barrier to ensure equitable access,” he said. “We believe that if we could have a limited, targeted waiver to ensure that we can ramp up production in various parts of the world, we would go a long way to ensure that we address not only the prevention, but also the treatment of COVID-19.”

Previous to today’s announcement, the U.S. was among several other wealthy nations — including the U.K., Canada and Japan — who resisted WTO negotiations about the proposal.

In response to the administration’s support, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a drug industry trade group, expressed strong opposition and argued that the move represents a break in longstanding U.S. policy over medical patents amid global inequities.

“In the midst of a deadly pandemic, the Biden Administration has taken an unprecedented step that will undermine our global response to the pandemic and compromise safety,” a statement from PhRMA read. “This decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines.”

The trade group added that the decision will compromise U.S. job creation and the country’s place as a leader in biomedical innovation.

The battle mirrors another during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990s, when drug companies warred with global health officials who sought to produce generic treatments. Drugmakers eventually retreated after former South African president Nelson Mandela accused the companies of using patents to profit from his country’s health crisis.

The HIV crisis gave way to a precedent in relaxing patent restrictions: In 2001, WTO added the Doha Declaration to its Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to allow low-income nations to import and develop generic versions of patented medicines.

The head of the World Health Organization praised the Biden administration’s intent to lift the proprietary limits on coronavirus vaccines.

“This is a monumental moment in the fight against #COVID19,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter. “The commitment by @POTUS Joe Biden & @USTradeRep @AmbassadorTai to support the waiver of IP protections on vaccines is a powerful example of leadership to address global health challenges.”

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Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/05/05/993998745/biden-backs-waiving-international-patent-protections-for-covid-19-vaccines

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