The upswing in vaccinations comes amid concerns about the spread of more-transmissible coronavirus variants. One key question is whether the vaccines will work on these mutated strains.
Dr. Barney Graham, Deputy Director of the Vaccine Research Center at National Institutes of Health, told President Joe Biden on Thursday that the antibodies that vaccines make against the virus can still attack the known variants.
“Antibodies have a lot of places to bind. It may eventually lose efficacy, but I think we are OK for now until additional mutations are accumulated,” Graham said.
Vaccinations picking up the pace
The pace of vaccinations should ramp up further in March and April, allowing a broader segment of the population to become eligible, Fauci said.
Biden said Thursday the US is on track to have vaccine supply for 300 million Americans “by the end of July.”
Fauci: Reopening K-8 schools is ‘doable’ in Biden’s first 100 days
On Friday, Fauci said reopening essentially all K-8 schools in the Biden administration’s first 100 days is “doable.”
When asked what parents should know about whether it’s safe to open schools, Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he didn’t want to get ahead of the guidelines coming from the CDC.
“What you want to do is make sure it’s safe for the students, and safe for the teachers and other personnel associated with the educational system,” Fauci added. Ways to make it safe include masking and good ventilation, and by vaccinating teachers as quickly as possible.
States loosen their coronavirus restrictions
The rates of new Covid-19 cases and deaths, and the numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospitals, are dropping after surges around the holidays. As they do, some states are dropping social restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus.
Nevada said it will aim to end state-mandated business capacity restrictions by May 1 in phases, though local governments can still issue their own restrictions.
Starting Monday, Nevada state rules will allow most businesses and houses of worship to have up to 100 people, or 35% of normal capacity. If coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease, capacity would go up to 50% on March 15.
“If we all want to see this transition to local control, let’s work together to continue decreasing our community transmission,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday.
Indoor gathering limitations in Wyoming will be increased to 25% of capacity or 500 people Monday, and limits on sporting events, artistic performances, restaurants and gyms will be eased, Gov. Mark Gordon said.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill on Wednesday shielding businesses and houses of worship from legal liability for Covid-19 transmission as long as they take measures to follow public health guidelines and announced he would not extend the statewide mask mandate.
“The mask mandate will expire on Friday,” the governor said, adding, “Since we’re not out of the woods yet, I will continue to wear a mask, and I will encourage all Montanans to do the same.”
Though numbers have improved, health experts have warned that precautions are still important to keep the spread of more transmissible variants limited.
CNN’s Samira Said, Naomi Thomas, Deidre McPhillips, Maggie Fox, Andy Rose, Konstantin Toropin and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.
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