What We’re Reading: CA Vaccine Program Misused; Biden to Ship 25 Million Masks; Pfizer Vaccine 94% Effective in Real World

Outsiders take advantage of a Los Angeles program aimed to aid communities hit hard by COVID-19; Biden plans to send 25 million masks out to Americans; real-world data highlight the efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Los Angeles Vaccine Distribution Program Misused

A program intended to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines among hard-hit communities of color in California is being misused by outsiders, The Los Angeles Times reported. The program relies on special access codes that enable people to make appointments on a vaccine scheduling website. However, the codes that were provided to community organizations to distribute to people in largely Black and Latino communities are now being circulated among wealthier Los Angeles residents working from home who are not yet eligible for vaccines. Codes were intended for use by people in communities of color who are healthcare workers and those older than 65 who may struggle to get an appointment.

Biden Administration to Send 25 Million Masks to Americans

In a push for equity, the Biden administration announced it plans to distribute more than 25 million American-made cloth masks to communities hit hard by COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. The effort will begin next month and will distribute masks through Federally Qualified Health Centers and the nation’s food bank supply and food pantry system. The masks, made in both adult and kid sizes, are estimated to reach 12 million to 15 million Americans. The administration noted it will not be distributing N95 masks, but the ones it will send adhere to CDC guidelines. In the early days of his presidency, President Biden urged all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term and required masking in all federal buildings and on public transportation.

Real-World Data Underscore Efficacy of Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

Data from an independently reviewed real-world study show that 2 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, while a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after 2 weeks, Reuters reported. Evidence was reported from Israel, which is 2 months into one of the world’s fastest vaccine rollouts, and is based on data from 1.2 million vaccinated individuals. Results also show the vaccine is effective against a highly transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom, which was the dominant version of the virus in Israel at the time of the study. Findings were published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine.