Weekly Roundup
COVID-19 Vaccine Development, Policy, and Public Perception in the United States
CommuniVax Corner

The CommuniVax coalition is hosting a webinar this coming Thursday, May 20, at 2 PM ET. The webinar, titled, "How Faith-based and Community-based Organizations are Making COVID-19 Vaccination More Equitable and Strengthening their Communities," will feature five speakers who have been working on achieving a more equitable vaccination program in their local communities. You can register for the webinar here.

Our local teams across the country continue their community outreach efforts.

In Alabama, Dr. Stephanie McClure has participated in an interview with the Alabama state news service (AL.com) and MIT Technology Review. Keep an eye out for both articles, which are currently still in production.

In Idaho, Idaho State University President Dr. Saterlee requested a copy of the team’s local intervention description following their TED-style Public Health talk about capacity-building efforts in local Hispanic communities. The team-completed focus group also served to solidify concrete steps between the Idaho Public Health system and local Hispanic communities.

In Prince George's County, the team is contributing to a vaccine clinic at a local barbershop early next week – this is a partnership with a local hospital system and multiple other partners. Further details will be provided as they are available. The team will also pilot a workshop co-designed with a human-centered design firm, Bridgeable, next week.

In San Diego, the team's work was recently featured in a piece published by the Sand Diego Union-Tribune. You can read the article that discusses some of their ongoing community efforts here.
People, Perceptions, and Polls
They Haven’t Gotten a Covid Vaccine Yet. But They Aren’t ‘Hesitant’ Either. Article Blurb Much has been said about people opposed to or skeptical of coronavirus vaccines. But there’s another group that has yet to get shots, and their reasons are more complex. (New York Times, 5/12/2021)

Coronavirus Vaccines Protect Pregnant Women, Another Study Suggests When the coronavirus vaccines were first authorized in December, scientists knew little about how well they might work in pregnant women, who had been excluded from the clinical trials. Since then, scientists have accumulated a small but steadily growing body of evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy. Preliminary results from two continuing studies provide additional encouraging news. (New York Times, 5/13/21)
In Covid Vaccine Data L.G.B.T.Q. People Fear Invisibility. Advocates and health experts are concerned that Ms. Nixon, like millions more in this population, will be unseen in a vaccine rollout for which data has revealed searing inequities across racial and socioeconomic lines. Communities of color and other marginalized groups have faced some of the most severe coronavirus outcomes, yet have received a smaller share of vaccines. L.G.B.T.Q. people could face similar problems but may be overlooked because they aren’t counted(New York Times, 5/7/2021)
Why Men Are Falling Behind in COVID-19 Vaccination. In the United States, COVID-19 has been more likely to kill men than women: about 13 men have died of the disease for every 10 women, according to data collected by The Sex, Gender and Covid-19 Project at University College London. Fortunately, there’s one clear way to reduce the disparity: the three vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. have all been shown to reduce patients’ risk of dying of or being hospitalized with COVID-19 to nearly zero. (Time, 5/4/2021)

Vaccine equity remains elusive as vaccination rates for people of color still lag. Despite working in health care, Vince Ford was wary of the COVID-19 shot. Months of following the research and development of the vaccine – and realizing without it, holidays with his out-of-state kids wouldn’t happen – moved the needle. (Yahoo News, 5/8/2021)

Poll Finds Public Health Has A Trust Problem. Wallace was one of the respondents in a poll published Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The survey of 1,305 people was conducted from mid-February to mid-March of this year. The foundation funds coverage of health and health care on NPR. (NPR, 5/13/2021)
Public Health Practice
From Concern to Confidence: How Physicians Can Build Trust in COVID-19 Vaccines. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to vaccinate as many Americans as possible. The new vaccines offer our best path toward saving lives, opening schools and businesses, and rebuilding our economy. The decision to get vaccinated is a personal one that is influenced by many factors. Research shows that Americans most trust their own doctor for information about COVID-19 and vaccines. People want unbiased facts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines – and information about whether vaccination is the right choice for them – from their doctor. (ASTHO, 5/1/2021)

Ohio Wants To Make 5 People Millionaires — If They're Vaccinated Amid dropping vaccine demand in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced five, weekly drawings of $1 million open to residents who've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A similar lottery for teenagers will provide the lucky names with a full, four-year scholarship to a public university in Ohio - room and board included. "The number of Ohioans who get the vaccine will determine what our future looks like, particularly this coming winter," DeWine said in a statewide address Wednesday. "Everyone has a stake in more Ohioans getting vaccinated." (NPR, 5/13/2021)
CDC lifts indoor mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people. What does it actually mean? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new masking guidelines Thursday that carry welcome words: Fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors. The agency also said fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces. (USA Today, 5/13/2021)

Ethical and policy considerations for COVID-19 vaccination modalities: delayed second dose, fractional dose, mixed vaccines. This paper considers the factors that we believe governments have an ethical duty to take into account in considering the vaccination modality they adopt. In developing their policies, governments must take seriously the evolving scientific evidence base, as well as potential effects on public trust, the legitimate expectations and rights of those who have been begun the vaccination process, responsibility to the global community and equity, among other considerations, and to communicate their reasons for their decisions appropriately to the affected populations. (BMJ Global health, 5/6/2021)

CDC says it's OK to get a Covid-19 vaccine alongside other vaccines A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert said Wednesday that it's OK to give the coronavirus vaccine alongside other vaccinations, a major boon for children and teenagers behind on their regular inoculations. Doctors and other clinicians were previously advised to avoid giving coronavirus vaccines within two weeks of any other vaccine. But Dr. Kate Woodworth of the CDC's birth defects division said Wednesday that advice has now changed, saying there is substantial data on the safety of the vaccines. (CNN, 5/13/2021)

Equity in Public Health Vaccination Efforts during COVID-19 During this session, hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), our panel of speakers will share insights and lessons learned from their activities to address COVID-19 vaccine planning and distribution in an equitable manner within their communities. Panelists will touch upon topics including how to leverage COVID data to inform equitable vaccine distribution, effectively reach minority populations in rural settings, and utilize Chief Equity Officers to effectively respond to a community’s vaccination needs. (NACCHO, Scheduled 5/17/2021)

Law, Policy, and Politics
No Clear Plan For How To Vaccinate ICE Detainees Immigration detention centers have been a hotbed of COVID-19 during the pandemic. But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement still has no clear plan for how to vaccinate everyone in its care. (NPR, 5/7/2021)

Biden Announces $7.4 Billion to Hire More Public Health Workers Amid Pandemic The White House announced Thursday that it is investing $7.4 billion to hire more public health workers to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and future health crises. The money will come from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which Congress passed in March. The funds could give a much-needed boost to America’s crumbling public health infrastructure. After decades of chronic underfunding, U.S. public health departments last year showed how ill-equipped they are to carry out basic functions, let alone serve as the last line of defense against the most acute threat to the nation’s health in generations. (The Washington Post, 5/13/2021)

President Biden to Announce Additional Efforts to Get America Vaccinated, Including Free Rides to Vaccination Sites from Lyft and Uber, Vaccination Clinics at Community Colleges, and Additional Resources for States’ Community Outreach Efforts Today, President Biden will announce additional efforts to get America vaccinated and meet his goal for 70% of the U.S. adult population to have one vaccine shot by July 4th so that life can start to look closer to normal. The President will join a bipartisan group of the nation’s governors to discuss creative and innovative ways they are working to get people in their states vaccinated and announce additional private and federal resources to help their efforts. (The White House, 5/11/2021)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Adolescents in Another Important Action in Fight Against Pandemic Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age. The FDA amended the EUA originally issued on Dec. 11, 2020 for administration in individuals 16 years of age and older. “The FDA’s expansion of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. (FDA, 5/10/2021)
To Bridge The Digital Divide, Biden Administration Launches Vaccine Hotline In the early months of the vaccination campaign, Internet access was essential to the search for a vaccination appointment. But given that more than 14 million people in the U.S. lack reliable access to high speed Internet, technology has been a barrier for some Americans. To help overcome this digital divide, the Biden administration has launched a new vaccination assistance hotline for people who would prefer to get information via telephone. It's part of the administration's push to get 70% of adults in the U.S. vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4. (NPR, 5/9/2021)

AstraZeneca Weighs Seeking Full, Not Emergency, U.S. Approval for COVID-19 Shot - WSJ AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) may skip asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine and instead pursue the more time-intensive application for a full-fledged license to sell the shot, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Such a step would further delay any rollout of the British drugmaker's shots in the United States, according to the report, which cited people familiar with the matter. (Reuters, 5/7/2021)
Research, Development, and Clinical Practice
The J&J Rescue Mission Starts With a Choice Had Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine been the first to get the FDA’s green light, it might have been hailed from the get-go for what it actually is: a scientific and technological marvel. It requires just one injection to confer full immunity—a boon for needlephobes and tough-to-reach populations who can’t easily access a second dose. It’s relatively cheap and has forgiving refrigeration requirements, making it a breeze to ship and store. And clinical trials showed that it’s a knockout at guarding against hospitalization and death, and 66 percent effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, even amid the rise of antibody-dodging coronavirus variants. Johnson & Johnson accomplished all this in less than a year, granting the world a safe and effective vaccine crucial to hastening the pandemic’s eventual end. That’s not how the J&J story played out. (The Atlantic, 5/7/2021)

Vaccines Seem to Work Well Against Coronavirus Variants. It’s Also Complicated. The real question isn’t whether the vaccines work, but how well they do. Even the best vaccines allow some “breakthrough infections” — infections in people who’ve been immunized. And there are outstanding questions about how the continued emergence of variants — such as the one that’s popped up in India and appears to be helping fuel the explosion in cases there — will shape the Covid-19 pandemic into the future and potentially affect vaccine strategies. (STAT News, 5/13/2021)

BNT162b2-Elicited Neutralization against New SARS-CoV-2 Spike Variants Because these data show that the newly emerged B.1.526, B.1.429, and B.1.1.7+E484K variants remain susceptible to an important vaccine-elicited immune effector (neutralizing antibody), they confirm the importance of mass immunization with current, highly effective, authorized vaccines as a central strategy to end the Covid-19 pandemic. (NEJM, 5/12/2021)

Novavax Reports More Delays for Its Covid-19 Vaccine Novavax, one of the first players in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid, delivered disheartening news on Monday, saying that its highly protective vaccine would not be authorized in the United States or Britain until at least July, and that it would not reach peak production until the end of the year. (New York Times, 5/11/2021)
WHO Lists Additional COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use and Issues Interim Policy Recommendations WHO listed the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for this vaccine to be rolled out globally. The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG). WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines. (WHO, 5/7/2021)

Delaying a COVID vaccine’s second dose boosts immune response Facing a limited vaccine supply, the United Kingdom embarked on a bold public-health experiment at the end of 2020: delaying second doses of COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to maximize the number of people who would be at least partially protected from hospitalization and death. Now, a study suggests that delaying the second dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech mRNA vaccine could boost antibody responses after the second inoculation by more than threefold in those older than 80. (Nature, 5/13/2021)

More side effects noted after using 2 different COVID vaccines Adults 50 and older who received doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines reported more mild and moderate side effects than those given only one type of two-dose vaccine, according to a study yesterday in The Lancet. (CIDRAP, 5/13/2021)

This newsletter supports CommuniVax, a research coalition convened by the
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Texas State University Department of Anthropology,
with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and The Rockefeller Foundation.