France, Once a Vaccine Pioneer, Is Top Skeptic in Covid-19 Pandemic
- Audrey Courreges’s mistrust of new coronavirus vaccines runs so deep that she’s told the nursing home where she works, in the southern French town of Beziers, that she won’t take the vaccinations or administer them.
- A big reason: French officials are running up against deeply ingrained opposition that has made France among the world’s top vaccine skeptics.
- An Ipsos poll conducted in December found that France ranked at the bottom of 15 countries on willingness to take a Covid-19 vaccine, with only 40% of the public saying they wanted the shot.
- Polls show that more than three-quarters of nursing home workers—who are among the government’s first target groups for the vaccine—don’t want to take it.
- The resistance has historical roots in the 19th century, when antivaccination groups campaigned against modern inoculation techniques discovered by Frenchman Louis Pasteur.
Argentina Is a Testing Ground for Moscow’s Global Vaccine Drive
- Russia is selling millions of doses of its homegrown Sputnik V vaccine abroad, making it a major supplier of a shot that could give Moscow a valuable slice of the global Covid-19 vaccine market and potentially earn Russia geopolitical clout in the developing world.
- Moscow approved Sputnik V for domestic use in August before finishing trials.
- Sputnik V, named for the Soviet satellite launched into orbit during the Cold War, ranks third in the world by doses ordered by middle- and low-income countries, according to Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center, ahead of U.S. drugmakers Pfizer Inc.
- Eight countries outside Russia have authorized the shot for emergency use.
- Still, Sputnik V hasn’t been approved by Western health authorities or received authorization from the WHO, which many developing countries rely on for vetting vaccines.
Companies Race to Develop Drugs That Stay Ahead of Coronavirus Mutations
- Drugmakers are racing to develop a new generation of Covid-19 medicines to make them easier to give to patients and to stay ahead of virus mutations that could make some current drugs less effective.
- After catching Covid-19, President Trump was treated with one of the drugs and credited it with his speedy recovery.
- But those concerns have given way to frustration that the medicines are going unused because of challenges in administering the drugs, which can require about an hour of preparation time before the patient arrives, an hour-long infusion and one hour of monitoring to ensure patients don’t suffer allergic reactions.
- To reduce the logistical burden and help get patients treated sooner, researchers are working on new antibody drugs that can be given with quick jabs in the arm, similar to flu shots.
Covid-19 Vaccines Are Getting Stuck at the Last Step
- In South Texas, a man slept in his car for two nights straight so he wouldn’t lose his place in a line of hundreds of people at a mass-vaccination event.
- The biggest challenges in America’s Covid-19 vaccination effort have turned out to be getting shots into the arms of the right people.
- As of Friday morning, some 31 million vaccine doses had been distributed nationwide, but only about 12 million had been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The federal government shipped those doses to states around the country, with states establishing their own criteria for who should get the vaccine first.
- Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, Wash., said the federal government succeeded in helping fund and purchase vaccines that were developed in record-breaking time, but said it didn’t do nearly enough to ensure that the “last-mile” distribution efforts would be successful.
Biden to Outline Plans for Bigger Federal Role in Covid-19 Vaccinations
- WILMINGTON, Del.—President-elect Joe Biden outlined his proposal to give the federal government a bigger role in getting Americans vaccinated against Covid-19, including setting up federally supported community centers and mobile clinics for delivering shots.
- The plan, which Mr. Biden described in a speech Friday, marks a shift in the coronavirus response that has so far involved the federal government purchasing and distributing vaccines, while relying heavily on states to administer the shots.
- Mr. Biden said he would expand the use of a Korean War-era national security mobilization law, known as the Defense Production Act, in an effort to increase manufacturing of vaccines and vaccination supplies.
- He also called for a “federally led, locally focused public education campaign” to encourage Americans to get the vaccine.
Biden to Propose $1.9 Trillion Covid-19 Package
- President-elect Joe Biden plans to call for a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan to help Americans weather the economic shock of the pandemic and pump more money into testing and vaccine distribution, according to senior incoming Biden administration officials.
- The budget package would include $50 billion to increase coronavirus testing, including at schools, as well as federal funds for states, a national vaccination program, disaster relief, expansion of the public-health workforce, and other efforts to support Mr. Biden’s push to deliver 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his presidency.
- Mr. Biden will urge Congress to provide $160 billion in funding as part of launching the national vaccination program, expanding testing, mobilizing a public-health jobs program, and other steps to build capacity to fight the virus.
Florida’s Covid-19 Vaccines Draw Foreigners, Snowbirds
- MIAMI—Visitors from Toronto to New York to Buenos Aires have long flocked to Florida for sun, surf and shopping.
- Now they are coming for the Covid-19 vaccine.
- Some of the arrivals are Americans or foreigners who own second homes in the state and reside here part-time.
- Others are making short-term visits, seizing the opportunity provided by Florida’s decision to make the vaccine available to people age 65 and older, including nonresidents.
- The practice, which some are calling vaccine tourism, has drawn fire from some officials and residents.
- Interest is up sharply from Canadians who are looking to travel to the U.S. for vaccinations, according to Momentum Jets, a private jet service provider in Toronto.
- Martin Firestone, an insurance broker and president of Travel Secure Inc. in Toronto, said about 30% of his clientele of so-called snowbirds decided to travel to the southern U.S. in November despite the pandemic.
Extra Covid-19 Shots Pose Quandary for Vaccination Sites
- David MacMillan lucked into a dose of Moderna Inc.’s Covid vaccine late on New Year’s Day. While grocery shopping at Giant Food in Washington, D.C., the 31-year-old paralegal passed by the in-store pharmacist who was scrambling to find takers for two doses after a pair of health-care workers missed their appointments.
- Some people miss appointments and their shots have to be given away so vaccine doesn’t go to waste.
- Some vaccination sites are ready to give shots to new groups of people or want to move vaccine across county or state lines to where people are waiting for it, only to be held up by local authorities.
- The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday that all people over 65 and anyone with pre-existing conditions should be eligible for the shot, releasing millions of doses that it has held back for second doses for health-care workers.