The White House reported Friday that the United States has now officially fully vaccinated half of its population, thanks to surge in vaccinations during the past week.
White House COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar tweeted Friday:
He also said the seven-day average of newly vaccinated Americans was up 11% from last week and 44% over the past two weeks.
Earlier Friday, a European Union medical regulatory body, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), recommended updating medical warning labels for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to indicate additional possible reactions to the drug.
Following a meeting of the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee, the EMA issued a statement saying the vaccine should carry warnings of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), an “important identified risk.”
ITP is a rare disorder that causes the immune system to attack blood platelet cells that allow blood to clot, and it can lead to excessive bruising and bleeding.
The EMA also recommended adding dizziness and tinnitus — ringing in the ears — to the vaccine’s side effects. The agency made the recommendations after analyzing more than 1,180 cases of people who reported the conditions after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and it concluded the symptoms were linked to treatment.
That news came just hours after Johnson & Johnson reported the positive results of a South African research trial showing the vaccine to provide 91% to 96.2% protection against death, 67% efficacy against hospitalization with the beta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, and 71% against the delta variant.
The co-leader of the study, Glenda Gray, told reporters the trial involved was conducted between February and May 2021 and included about 477,000 health workers. South Africa’s health regulator approved the Johnson & Johnson shot in April, and it is being used in the national vaccine program, along with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
As of Thursday, more than 8.3 million people had been vaccinated in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center data released Friday showed that despite the introduction of new COVID-19 vaccines in recent months, the virus continued to spread across all parts of the world, driven by the highly contagious delta variant.
Johns Hopkins said the variant was infecting a growing number of people and triggering a new round of strict social restrictions and lockdowns.
More than 20 months after the first cases were detected in Wuhan, China, the COVID-19 global pandemic has far surpassed 200 million total confirmed infections, including 4.2 million fatalities. The United States tops the list with more than 35 million cases, including at least 600,000 deaths, followed by India, Brazil, France and Russia.
Source: Voice of America