Military personnel to assist with coronavirus vaccination effort
The White House COVID-19 response Team provides an update on vaccine distribution.
state vaccination sites. Part of this group will start to arrive in California within the next 10 days to begin operations there around February 15th, with additional vaccination missions soon to follow. The military is critical. Role in supporting sites will help vaccinate thousands of people per day and ensure that every American who wants a vaccine will receive one. I know D. O. D will be providing a briefing this afternoon with more details, but I want to make sure you were aware of this important development in our whole of government response. With that, I will turn it over to Dr Wolinski, Thank you very much. I'm glad to be back with you today. Let's start with a snapshot of the pandemic theme. United States continues to see a decrease in Cove in 19 cases since its peak on January 8th. The number of new cases on February 3rd approximately 121,000, represents a 61% decrease since the peak on January 8. Similarly, the number of new hospital admissions reported on February 2nd approximately 10,500 was down nearly 42% since the hospitalization peak of 18,000 reported on January 5th. On Wednesday, I noted the peak, the pace of deaths appears to be slowing and that we anticipated deaths would start to decrease in the coming weeks, early data suggests. Now we're starting to see this decrease, with a seven day average number of deaths declining 6.7% to slightly more than 3000 deaths per day from January 28th through February 3rd. While we watch these data closely to see if these will be a confirmed trend, prior data do suggest that peaks in deaths usually trail the peaks in cases by somewhere between nine and 20 days. However, we also may see variation in the daily numbers for different reasons, including reporting delays. As such, we will know better if this trend becomes a stable downward slope over the next week. While the data are moving in the right direction, context is important because cases, hospital admissions and deaths all remain high and well above the levels that we saw in the summer and early fall. In order to keep these trends moving in the right trajectory, meat must continue to wear masks, continue to social distance, avoid travel and crowds and get vaccinated when it is your turn and I want to underscore the importance of mask wearing. Today, CDC will be releasing two reports in the MMWR that described the case. The decline in Cova 19 hospitalization growth rates when statewide mask mandates are in place, as well as a study detailing facemask use among college students on college campuses with mask mandates. Finally, I want to highlight another dimension of the Koven 19 pandemic on society, specifically the impact on mental health and substance abuse. Yesterday, CDC reported a study in the MMWR among US adults and found that 28% reported symptoms of depression, 8% reported suicidal thoughts and 18% reported they had started or increased substance use to cope with emotions during the pandemic. The study also found that these outcomes were higher for some racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanic belts. This study underscores the need to ensure that the response to the Cove in 19 pandemic includes attention to behavioral health needs of communities, and it reminds us that the longstanding systemic health and social inequities have put many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk for poor health outcomes, including Cove in 19. And it underscores the need for health equity to underpin everything we are doing in response to this pandemic. Thank you. I'll now turn it over to Dr Fauci. Dr Fauci. Thank you very much, Doctor. Will Inskeep. Uh, what I'd like to do in the next couple of minutes is just to bring you up to date on one of the issues that we discussed at our last briefing. And that is the progress along the way of the J and J on the basis of the data from their ensemble trial in getting the information to the FDA, examining it in preparation for the possibility of an emergency use authorization, the data And now with the F B A. They are examining it. They have scheduled the advisory committee. They're ver pack the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which will meet in three weeks. So let me just very briefly review for you where we are and where we hope to go. As you know, the data on efficacy of this ensemble trial, which involved three countries the United States, Brazil and the Republic of South Africa, showed a overall efficacy of 66%. But when you unpacked from the different countries, you had a 72% efficacy for mild to moderate disease in the U. S. A. In the Republic of South Africa, which is, you know, is of concern to us because of the mutant and the lineage that is now dominant in the Republic of South Africa, namely the B 1351 in that the protection against moderate disease was 57%. But the good news is that when you look across all of the countries, the protection against truly severe disease was well over 80%. In fact, about 88.8%. Also of interest is that in the South African study, as well as all of the others, there were essentially no hospitalizations or deaths. So the sobering news is that we're dealing with variants anti genic variation, which does have clinical consequences, as they mentioned on the last press briefing of escaped from some of the monoclonal antibody protection and a diminution in some of the protection that we have from the current vaccines. But the somewhat encouraging news is the rather complete protection against very severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths. Now when you look at what's going on in our own country, clearly as the days and the weeks go by, you see as predicted, a new increase in the prevalence of the UK variant to be 117 in the United States, which, as you well know, has been shown by the Brits toe have an increase in efficiency of transmissibility as well as a recent paper showing that there was some increase in pathogenesis leading to severe disease. So this is something that we will have to deal with because this is something that's expanding and it's prevalence in the United States. The point that I want to make an end with is something that I said last time, that I really think it's important for us here in the United States to realize that the evolution of variance occurs on Lee when you have a certain degree of replication of the virus in the community and that means spread from person to person. Viruses will not evolve and mutate if you do not give them an open playing field to replicate and replicate and essentially an unbridled fashion. For that reason, the message that we keep giving that Dr Wolinsky and I and others on the team keep giving is that. Now is the time to do a couple of things. One double down on the adherence to the public health measures that we talk about all the time. The uniforms masking that the president has spoken about the D physical distancing, the avoiding congregate settings, particularly indoors, and the washing of hands at the same time as another very important mechanism of dampening down the replication in a given community. Is the distribution efficiently and effectively of vaccines you'll be hearing about that in a moment. But the message that we have when the vaccine becomes available to you get vaccinated, you will not only be protecting yourself, your family, but you will be making a major step in a positive way to protecting the community. I'll stop there and back to you and it. Thank you, Tim. Thank you, honey. Thank you. Dr Fauci. Doctor Belinsky. So first, since I may not be as well known as doctors Fauci Molinski, please allow me to introduce myself. My name's Tim Manning. I'm the national supply chain coordinator for the covert response. I'm an emergency manager, having done disaster and emergency response for the past 25 years, and I've worked at the local and state level and served as a deputy administrator of FEMA for eight years, have also been a firefighter and e m t. And I know firsthand the importance of having the equipment supplies you need when you need it on the front lines of a crisis. Right now, I work with teams across the government, from Department of Defense to the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure our country has the supplies we need not just now, but into the future. That's why, on Day one, president Biden signed an executive order directing us to use all necessary powers, including the Defense Production Act, to get this pandemic under control. In fact, the administration identified shortfalls in 12 critical categories of supplies. Today I'm announcing three ways in which the administration is using the Defense Production Act authorities to fight this pandemic. One has an immediate impact, one will be felt over the next few months, and one will help diminish our reliance on foreign manufacturing for PPE over the long term. Our first action gets fighter mawr equipment and supplies that is that enabling them to ramp up production and deliver more vaccine faster. Our second action will deliver more than 60 million point of care tests or at home tests by this summer. And that's in addition to the news and he announced on Monday about the Loom test. Our third action will help Americans help America produce more surgical gloves their frontline workers desperately need. So let me start with increasing vaccine production. Since January 20th, we've increased the vaccine supply. We're providing the states by over 20% right now, one of the limiting constraining one of the factors constraining increased manufacturing. The vaccines is limited equipment and ingredients. That's why we're leveraging an important power of the Defense Production Act, the ability to ensure that supplies and material critical to our national defense are going to areas of greatest need. This is called a priority rating. If the federal government puts a priority rating on a contract, it means that company can say a vaccine manufacturer gets first access to the product they need before anyone else. Today, we're announcing we're expanding the priority ratings for Pfizer to include filling pumps and tangential flow filtration skid units. Critical components. Pfizer needs to manufacture the cove it vaccine its actions like these that will allow Pfizer to ramp up production and hit their targets of delivering hundreds of millions of doses over the coming months. We told you that when we heard of a bottleneck on need equipment, supplies or technology related to vaccine supply that we would step in and help. And we're doing just that. Second, we're using the d. P A. To increase our supply of at home covert tests. The country is well behind where we need to be in testing, particularly the rapid at home tests that will allow us all to get back to normal activities like work in school. Earlier this week, we announced investments to bring the first non prescription at Home Cove attest to Americans. And I'm pleased today that to announce that over the coming weeks, the U. S government has plans to invest in another six suppliers to rapidly surge domestic testing capability. And thanks to this action, 61 million point of care are at home. Tests will be available by the end of this summer. To do this will help industry partners, construct new plants and build new production lines here in the United States, bringing critical capacity to the fight and reducing our vulnerabilities to disruptions in the supply chain. And third, we're very focused on procuring the personal protective equipment. PPE to keep America's front line health care workers safe. There's a grave need for masks, shields and gloves, and we currently aren't producing these at the rate we need in order to keep up with demand. We're already working to increase the availability of N 95 masks to frontline workers. But another critical area of concern we hear over and over is surgical gloves. Right now, we just don't have enough gloves were nearly 100% reliant on overseas manufacturers to export to us, our country surgical gloves that protect healthcare workers. And that's an A next. That's unacceptable, and we're using all of our authorities to fix it. Over the past two weeks, we've pushed forward and effort to expand domestic manufacturing of surgical gloves, and I'm pleased to announce that we will build plants to make the raw materials the nitro beautiful rubber for surgical gloves here in the United States and will help build factories to make those gloves right here in the U. S. Is well, and by the end of the year will produce more than a billion nitro gloves a month. Right here in America will now make enough to satisfy half of all the U. S. Health care community demands right here on U. S shores. These are just three examples of how we're using the deep A strategically and effectively in our national response, and there's more to come. I know there's a great deal of interest in exactly where and with whom we're contracting. For reasons of procurement law, I'm not able to disclose the ongoing contract negotiations until they finalize fishing contracts. Take 4 to 5 weeks to finalize and we're about halfway through. So over the next few weeks, expect we'll have more announcements about the ways we're using the EPA and other tools to combat the virus. Now I wanna and by encouraging Congress to act because some of our additional plans to use the EPA, including adding more domestic genomic sequencing, allowing us to track variance and see new ones or rampant molecular tests require funding. Congress could help this effort, greatly bypassing the American rescue plan. And with that, I'll turn it back over to Andy. Thank you, Tim. So why don't we go to some questions? All right. Thank you, everybody. First, we're gonna go to Peter Sullivan at the hill. Hey. Thanks. Um, I wanted to ask on rapid testing. Um, I hear the announcements you're you're making, Um, some people have pointed to the FDA as sort of a bottleneck on the rapid testing and say, you know, they're not authorizing. Uh, there, too. There may be taking too conservative a view of accuracy, comparing it to PCR and not kind of authorizing simple, rapid tests. That could be, you know, millions per day. Maybe even more plentiful than what you're talking about. So I wonder. I mean, is there any consideration of either creating a new approval pathway at the FDA or or taking MAWR steps to kind of authorized mawr even more plentiful? Rapid tests. Yeah. Thank you, Peter. Look, we understand that everybody who has something submitted to the FDA wants their product approved. And, you know, I would only observe having been around the FDA for quite some time, that when they go fast, people criticize them. They go slow, people criticize them. And I think we should be delighted with the announcement today, which I think is a counterfactual to the question. Having 60 million mawr at home tests available over the course of the summer is exactly what the country needs. I think it will change things pretty significantly. So, um, I'm very excited about this announcement, and I think many Americans hopefully will be a swell great. Next, we'll go to Michael Wilner at McClatchy. Thanks for doing this to questions for me. First, the Pentagon just announced it approved 1110 active duty service members to support five FEMA vaccination centers. Can you tell us where those vaccine centers will be? And secondly, the national strategy says that the administration plans to accelerate the pace of vaccinations by encouraging states to move through priority groups more quickly. So what is more quickly mean? Can you be specific what your guidance has been to states thus far? And if you're leaving it to states to manage, what about your guidance is different from the prior administration, which also endorsed the ace of guidelines? Yeah, thanks for the question Michael, Um, I believe Department of Defense is gonna hold the briefing this afternoon. Toe answer questions specifically about their announcement. All I can tell you is that it is such a critical part of our olive government response and the teamwork that I've observed, Uh, since I've been here, um, you know, I think with regard to, uh, increasing the pace of vaccinations and moving through priority groups, let me just first start by saying all of us and starting from the president recognized that Americans are eager to get vaccinated and that we should have, um we want to get that done is hastily and as safely and as equitably is possible. Um, I would love to tell you that we're sitting on stockpiles of vaccines that we found when we came here, but unfortunately, that's not the case. What we've done is we have been distributing vaccines as quickly as possible, and we have increased now to periods in a row, the amount of vaccines that states are getting I can assure you we're in constant conversation about an end to end last mile approach to getting vaccines in people's arms. Um, and that that is I think taking in improving the state's ability to get those vaccines and arms more quickly. As one data point. As I pointed out earlier in the week, when we got here in January 20th, about 46% of the of the supply delivered. The states had been administered, and that number is now over 60%. I'm not going to speak to Thea administration, uh, before ours that we weren't here. I mean, we're looking forward. We see lots of improvement opportunities. I think we've taken some and we're gonna work with states to find additional ones. Next question. Great. Thanks. Next, we will go to Sarah Murray at CNN. Hi. Thank you guys, for doing this. I appreciate it. Um, my first question is for Dr Wolinski. Um, I just want to follow up on some of her comments about teachers were wondering why it would be safe for teachers to return to the classroom if they have not been vaccinated. And whether that is considered the C. D. C. S official guidance at this point that teachers can go back into the classroom even if they have not been vaccinated on DSO. Secondly, I'm just wondering what steps the administration is considering to try to ramp up production of the J and J Vaccine, assuming it does get in the way, since our understanding is the supply will be relatively limited in the beginning, Dr Wolinski. Sure happy to answer that. I want to just emphasize that our goal is to get Children back to school. Schools should be the last place is closed and the first places opened. Our goal is to make sure and getting Children back to school, that we do so both with the safety of the Children and the safety of the teachers as utmost in critical in making sure that that happens. Among the things that we need to do to make sure that schools air safe is to make sure that the community spread of this disease is down. And that means is all of our responsibility toe work to get our Children back to school safely and our teachers back to school safely. We are actively working on the guidance Theophile Shal guidance, which will be released in the week ahead with regard to your second question of Johnson and Johnson. Um, you're correct that, as is the case with other vaccines. We have not found, um, that the level of manufacturing allows us to have a much vaccine as we think we need coming out of the gate and without giving you a direct answer to your question. For reasons that I hope are obvious, every option is on the table to figure out how to accelerate manufacturing in the event that the FDA does approve the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Next question. Next, we'll go to Christmas Jerian at Los Angeles Times. Hello. I wanted to see if this is the first official use of the Defense Production Act, uh, to speed the production of the vaccines and wanted to see if this use of the d. P. A. Is going to increase the pace of vaccine production ahead of what was previously announced, or just ensure that production meets the targets that were previously announced. Tim, do you want to take the first and you're welcome to take the second? Or I could take the second if you'd like Carrie. Thanks, Andy. Um, this is this amounts to the first sequence of actions on the Defense Production Act that we've taken under the by administration over the last couple of weeks, there have been, uh, d p A ratings think people probably familiar with In the last days of the Trump administration, there was some some limited use of the Defense Production Act on the fighter vaccine. But there have been, uh, D p A ratings placed previously over the course of the last year in the manufacturing of the vaccines by the previous team as well. And as far as the the second question, I'll defer back over Danny. Yep. So I think that the use of the Defense Production Act that Tim outlined, um, is what is allowing, uh, one of the things I should say that's allowing Pfizer to meet the targets And on, I think you may be aware that last week they announced an acceleration of their targets of when they'll be able to deliver vaccines. And I think our partnership with them eyes one of those reasons. I'm not going to say it's the entire reason, but it's certainly a critical factor. Next question. All right. In last question will go to Tommy Christopher of Media I. Can you hear me? Yes. All right. Thank you. My question is for Dr Fauci. Principally. But really, for any of you, um, first out loud to questions my first was Can you tell me how frequently you on the team are in contact with President Biden and Vice President Harris? And how responsible do you think they've been to your policy recommendations? On my second question was, Are you looking for or have you seen any evidence of the impact of President Biden's mask orders? So, Dr Fauci, this I would never dream of taking a question that was intended for you. Thank you, Andy. Yes, the interaction with the president is frequent. I mean, we've only been at this now, you know, for just a couple of weeks, and I've already had two, I think, three interactions with the president in a direct briefing situation, either virtually or twice at the White House, once in the state dining room and once in the Oval Office. Just last week. So he is very, very much involved, literally on a daily basis, obviously, because you have Jeff Zients briefing him continually but personally, as a member of the team, together with Dr Wilensky and others on the team, we have seen him at least once a week and maybe a little bit more. Yeah, And I think that's, um that was this week I think you're referring to as well, Not last week. Still Friday, believe it or not, Andi and, uh and And on that note, I think Was there another? I'm sorry. Is there another part of your question that we didn't answer? Yes, I was asking Can you hear me? Still? Yes. Alright. Sorry. Yeah, I was asking if you have are looking for and or have you seen any evidence of the effects of President Biden's mask orders? So I'm gonna ask Michelle if you Doctor Wollensky, if you've seen any data that's emerged on, uh, increases in mask use, Um, recently, Um, thank you for that question. I think, um, it's probably too early to reflect on what is happening with the mask order now, because it will be, You know, we have a lot of things that have happened sort of at the same time. First is the case that cases air coming down, and I do think the mask orders helping and protect people in having those cases coming down. But all of what is also happening is that, you know, we were coming off of the case, bumped from the holidays, and so a lot of things were happening at once. We're going to be watching the mass data very carefully. As I mentioned earlier, the mmwr that will be coming out today did demonstrate in 10 states that when mask orders were in place, that after three weeks, hospital growth rates went down. So I think it's probably still a bit too early to tell. But I'm encouraged with a decrease in case rates right now. Thank you, Dr Lansky. Okay, well, thank you all for attending this briefing and other briefings this week. Um, we think it was a productive week here. The team is working incredibly hard. Um, and we are very cognizant of the fact that the public is eager to get their vaccinations and eager to move beyond this pandemic. And I want to thank everybody in the government side and the private sector who has been demonstrating all the teamwork. We need, um, to get this done and move past it. So thank you. We'll talk to you again next week.