What We’re Reading: Backlash Over Booster Plan; 1 Million More Americans Vaccinated; J&J CEO to Step Down

Medical experts express concern over the Biden administration's plan to administer boosters to the general public; US sees increases in vaccination rates and COVID-19 deaths; the CEO of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will step down in January 2022.

Biden's Booster Plan Faces Backlash

Several scientists and experts are protesting the Biden administration’s plan to start distributing booster shots to the US public, Kaiser Health News reports. Some feel the decision was based on weak evidence and expressed concern the move may undercut trust in available vaccines. They also noted more information is needed to understand potential adverse events associated with the booster shot. According to Paul Offit, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an adviser to the National Institutes of Health and the FDA, the announcement could stoke more confusion in Americans about how best to protect themselves against COVID-19.

US Sees Rise in Vaccination Rates and COVID-19 Deaths

Amid the Delta variant surge of COVID-19, the United States saw a 31% week-over-week increase in the daily average of individuals becoming fully vaccinated, Politico reports. On Thursday, the country administered 1 million vaccines, marking the first time this benchmark was met in 7 weeks. Of the doses administered, 562,000 were among people receivng their first dose. However, deaths from COVID-19 are also rising in 42 states, marking the worst numbers seen since December, while nearly 11,000 Americans died of the disease in the first 18 days of August alone. This total is more than fatalities seen in June or July, according to USA Today.

J&J CEO to Step Down, Serve as Executive Chairman

The CEO of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Alex Gorsky, will step down from his role in January and will be replaced by Joaquin Duato, The Hill reports. Beginning January 3, Gorsky will serve as the executive chairman for the company. He has served as CEO since 2012, overseeing several vaccine programs and initiatives for HIV, Ebola, and COVID-19 during his tenure. The company also dealt with lawsuits relating to its talcum-based baby powder and the opioid epidemic throughout this time. In recent months, J&J has also suffered several blunders relating to its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including a pause in distribution due to the potential of a rare but serious adverse effect and concerns regarding contamination at one of the company’s Baltimore plants.