Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. First, New Yorkers could get vaccinated under a blue whale at the Natural History Museum. Now, this weekend only, a new site has opened at the Empire State Building’s 86th floor observatory.
Today: The World Health Organization warns Africa is falling behind on vaccinations, Vice President Harris is kicking off a tour to boost U.S. numbers and emergency rooms saw a jump in suspected suicide attempts from adolescent girls.
We’ll start with news on a troubled Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufacturing facility:
FDA says 60M J&J vaccine doses from troubled plant must be thrown out: report
The Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) is forcing Johnson & Johnson to throw out millions of doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine produced at a troubled plant in Baltimore due to contamination concerns.
According to The New York Times, 60 million doses were unusable.
Another 10 million doses from the plant will be allowed to be distributed but with a warning that the FDA cannot guarantee they were produced using good manufacturing practices, according to the Times.
In a statement, the FDA confirmed that it has now authorized two batches of the vaccine.
Federal officials “determined several other batches are not suitable for use, but additional batches are still under review and the agency will keep the public informed as those reviews are completed,” the agency said.
The agency referred questions about specific numbers to Johnson & Johnson, which did not respond.
The FDA said it has not yet determined whether the plant, operated by Emergent BioSolutions, can reopen.
The impact: Given there is plentiful supply in the US of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the main impact is on global vaccine supply, given that many other countries are still facing shortages.
Speaking of vaccine shortages: WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations
The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that African countries are falling behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates and that many are set to miss their targets unless they receive millions more doses.
The WHO warned on Thursday that 47 of Africa’s 54 countries, almost 90 percent, are on track to miss the goal of having vaccinated 10 percent of the population by September unless they receive 225 million more doses.
The numbers highlight the disparities between countries on vaccinations. Africa’s 32 million doses administered so far are under 1 percent of the 2.1 billion given worldwide, the WHO said. Just 2 percent of people in Africa have received at least one dose, compared to about 52 percent in the United States.
Cases are now rising again on the continent.
“As we close in on 5 million cases and a third wave in Africa looms, many of our most vulnerable people remain dangerously exposed to COVID-19,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa. “Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines. It’s do or die on dose sharing for Africa.”
In the US vaccination push: Harris to start vaccination tour with stops in South Carolina, Georgia
Vice President Harris will travel to South Carolina and Georgia next week, her first stops on a national vaccination tour as the Biden administration makes a final push to meet its coronavirus vaccine goal for the Fourth of July.
Harris will visit Greenville, S.C., on Monday and Atlanta on June 18. The vaccination tour, led by the vice president, is part of the White House’s National Month of Action on vaccines as it seeks to reach its goal of 70 percent of adults having at least one shot by July 4.
South Carolina and Georgia each have roughly 40 percent of their respective state populations vaccinated, according to Mayo Clinic data. Harris is expected to make additional stops in the southern U.S. as part of the vaccination tour, and other administration officials, such as first lady Jill BidenJill BidenJill Biden, Kate Middleton to meet this week The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Social media flooded with ‘ring of fire’ eclipse photos Jill Biden wears ‘LOVE’ jacket ‘to bring unity’ to meeting with Boris Johnson MORE and Cabinet officials, are also expected to get involved with the push in other parts of the country.
President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden, Kate Middleton to meet this week Al Gore lobbied Biden to not scale back climate plans in infrastructure deal White House briefed on bipartisan infrastructure deal but says questions remain MORE at the start of June announced the national month of action, which includes the We Can Do This national tour. Harris has been tasked with reaching Americans in key communities who have yet to get the shot and to “mobilize grassroots vaccine education and outreach efforts.”
Top CDC official warns US not ready for next pandemic
The No. 2 official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that without consistent, long-term funding for public health, the U.S. won’t be any better prepared for the next pandemic.
In an interview with The Hill, Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, said the U.S. was not prepared for COVID-19 due to years of inadequate investment in public health infrastructure.
“I think the critical learning about how to do better next time is the need to greatly invest in public health, and not just respond to emergencies,” Schuchat said. “This is a big job, and it can’t be like Ebola or H1N1 where there’s emergency funding and then everything goes away. This needs to be sustained, or we will be exactly where we were last year.”
Schuchat is set to retire this month after 33 years at the agency. She doesn’t have the same public profile as Anthony FauciAnthony FauciWHO official: Delta variant ‘poised to take hold’ in Europe Lindsey Graham: Dismissal of Wuhan lab leak theory cost Trump 2020 election Overnight Health Care: US to donate 500 million Pfizer doses to other countries: reports | GOP’s attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message | Federal appeals court blocks Missouri abortion ban MORE, but she has spent her career in the upper echelons of America’s public health agency, including six years as principal deputy director.
Trump years: During her tenure at the CDC, Schuchat also served two short stints as acting director during the Trump administration; once at the start, and then again after Trump nominee Brenda FitzgeraldBrenda FitzgeraldThe hollowing out of the CDC Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage CDC director to take pay cut of more than 5k MORE resigned after seven months due to a scandal about purchasing tobacco stocks.
Even when a permanent CDC director was confirmed, Schuchat faced criticism from the former president and his allies over her warnings about the potential for a global pandemic as the coronavirus began spreading last year. She described it as “a whole other level” of pressure, without elaborating on specifics.
Emergency departments see surge in suspected suicide attempts among adolescent girls
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that emergency departments documented a surge in visits for suspected suicide attempts among 12- to 17-year-old girls in early 2021, compared to before the pandemic.
The research determined that emergency departments reported a mean of 50.6 percent more suspected suicide attempt visits between Feb. 21 and March 20, 2021 among adolescent girls, compared to the same period in 2019.
Overall, adolescents had 39 percent more suspected suicide attempt visits in the winter 2021 period compared to 2019, but that increase was largely driven by girls. There was a 3.7 percent rise in these visits for adolescent boys in that period.
Why it matters: The study outlines the trends for suspected suicide attempt visits throughout the pandemic, after experts had warned about the mental health effects of the pandemic, including the stay-at-home orders in the spring of 2020.
The CDC through the data determined that suspected suicide attempt visits among adolescents “increased as the pandemic progressed,” with girls mostly contributing to the boosts.
The agency called for more attention to be brought to the issue, especially among adolescent girls, to reduce the risk of suicide. The CDC emphasized that a rise in visits for suspected suicide attempts does not mean there was a surge of suicides in the time period.
What we’re reading
600,000 dead: With normal life in reach, covid’s late-stage victims lament what could have been (The Washington Post)
Rural communities fall further behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates (NPR)
What we learned about genetic sequencing during COVID-19 could revolutionize public health (Time)
State by state
Local health officers cannot close school buildings, Wisconsin Supreme Court rules (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Alaska used to lead the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations. Six months in, the state has fallen behind. (Anchorage Daily News)
California debates public health spending as virus recedes (The Associated Press)