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COVID-19

CDC asks states to be ready for initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution by November

Nova Safo Sep 3, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

CDC asks states to be ready for initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution by November

Nova Safo Sep 3, 2020
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control asks states to be prepared for initial doses of a coronavirus vaccine within a couple of months. That suggests November — just in time for the election. That timing is raising eyebrows among some health experts.

There are dozens of coronavirus vaccines in development, and several in final, large-scale tests. The CDC is telling states to be prepared to distribute limited supplies of one or two of those vaccines to frontline health workers and other priority populations.

Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who sits on the Federal Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, said it will take time to evaluate the candidates.

“These are two-dose vaccines,” Offit said. “So you have to give dose one, wait a month, give dose two, wait another couple weeks, till you’re fully immune. Then you have to start to accrue cases in the placebo group and the vaccine group.”

Offit said he’d be surprised if a proven-effective vaccine is ready by late October or early November, as suggested by the CDC.

Other health experts are also raising questions, including about whether the timing is politically motivated. Even if an effective vaccine arrives soon, producing and distributing hundreds of millions of doses is likely to take well into 2021.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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