Friday's health stories

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 22, 2021 - Podcasts

Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck

President Biden has said that getting Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 is his administration’s top priority given an initial rollout plagued by organizational, logistical and technical glitches.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the bottlenecks and how to unclog them with Carbon Health chief executive Eren Bali, whose company recently began helping to manage vaccinations in Los Angeles.

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Stabenow: U.S. must put pandemic relief before EV manufacturing

Photo: Axios screenshot

The U.S. needs to focus on helping people get through the coronavirus pandemic before turning to manufacturing, including electric vehicles, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said on Friday at an Axios virtual event.

What she's saying: "We've got to deal with getting our arms around the vaccine, around the pandemic with the vaccines, helping people survive. And ... then robustly reopen the economy. And certainly, clean energy, jobs, is a big part of that."

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives

President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged on CNN's "New Day" Friday that the Trump administration's resistance to following the science on coronavirus policy "very likely" cost lives.

Why it matters: Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, clashed on numerous occasions with former President Trump after contradicting him on scientific issues like the efficacy of masks and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in combating COVID-19.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jan 22, 2021 - Sports

2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

10 months ago, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Now, less than six months ahead of their new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured: "canceled."

Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 22, 2021 - Health

The most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information

Data: KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Hispanic, Black and lower-income Americans are more likely than white and higher-income Americans to say they don't have enough information about when or where they'll be able to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to new KFF polling.

Why it matters: This further suggests that vaccinating the most vulnerable Americans will be an uphill battle.

People of color disadvantaged in coronavirus vaccine effort

Expand chart
Data: GoodRx, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Communities of color tend to have fewer pharmacies per capita, putting them at a disadvantage in the coronavirus vaccination effort.

Why it matters: If racial disparities aren't addressed in the vaccination effort, including by setting up alternative vaccine sites, communities of color will fall even further behind in a pandemic that has already highlighted deep structural racism within the health care system.

Florida requiring proof of residency to get coronavirus vaccine

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker at a drive-thru site at Tropical Park on Jan. 13 in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida's surgeon general issued new guidelines on Thursday requiring people seeking COVID-19 vaccines to provide proof of permanent or seasonal residency.

Driving the news: Of the more than 1 million people who have received the first dose of the vaccine in Florida as of Wednesday, over 39,000 reside out of state, per data from the Florida Department of Health. The number and reports of out-of-state recipients have caused concern over what many have described as "vaccine tourism."

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

"It's gonna get worse before it gets better": President Biden expects 100,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 during his first six weeks in office.

The big picture: Biden said he's putting America on a wartime footing against the virus, signing 10 executive orders today alone.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Fighting COVID-19's effects on gender equality

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Women around the world have borne a disproportionate brunt of the social and economic effects of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Women in the U.S. and around the world already faced an unequal playing field before the pandemic. As countries prepare for the post-COVID-19 world, they need to take special care to ensure the virus doesn't permanently set back the cause of gender equality.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Tackling mental health via app

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A tech startup is helping providers monitor their patients' moods and mental health status through a remote app.

Why it matters: Mental health is an unaddressed crisis in the U.S., and it's only gotten worse during COVID-19. NeuroFlow can help users track their own mental health while making it easier for health care professionals to identify when their patients are in crisis.

Jan 21, 2021 - Health

New York City postpones vaccine appointments following shipment delays

Photo: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

First dose appointments in 15 New York City sites have been postponed after a shipment of Moderna vaccines was delayed, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.

The big picture: New York City was already feeling the pressure of vaccine shortages. de Blasio said that the city was on track to run out of vaccine doses as soon as Thursday.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

COVID-19 vaccine: Private companies step in to fill logistics vacuum

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Last year we wrote several times about how VC-backed companies were helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine development and innovative testing solutions. Now the same thing is happening when it comes to vaccinations, a process beset by logistics and planning problems since the jump.

Driving the news: Carbon Health, a tech-enabled healthcare startup that recently raised $100 million in Series C funding, is now the primary back-end for vaccinations in the City of Los Angeles, including a massive drive-up program that just launched in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium.

Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Racial disparities in mortality aren't improving

Racial disparities in mortality haven't budged, despite an increasing awareness of the problem and a focus on social determinants of health, according to a new report published in JAMA.

The big picture: Black mortality remains far higher than white mortality in America's 30 largest cities, according to the study.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Biden set to immediately ramp up federal pandemic response

President Biden signs executive hours just hours after being inaugurated. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On his first full day on the job, President Biden will move quickly to translate his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into policy — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives.

Why it matters: The hands-on federal effort marks a significant change from the Trump administration, which put states in charge of many of the logistical details of their pandemic responses.

New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The pace of new coronavirus infections fell significantly over the past week, but the virus is still out of control, and a more contagious variant is gaining ground.

By the numbers: The U.S. averaged roughly 198,000 new cases per day in the final week of the Trump administration — a 19% drop from the week before, but still a ton of cases.