The U.S. 7-day daily average coronavirus death toll is now at 691, indicating a slight decrease from the previous week and signifying a “number that’s going in the right direction,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director said Friday. The country also saw about a 10% drop in the average number of daily coronavirus cases reported, with the country adding just under 63,000 new illnesses Thursday.
Walensky, who was speaking during the White House’s COVID-19 briefing, also noted that about 66% of the U.S. population ages 65 and older are now fully vaccinated. It marks significant progress for the group that has “borne the brunt of the pandemic and without a vaccine are at high risk of hospitalization and death,” she said.
“Vaccination is about protecting ourselves from COVID-19, it’s also about protecting those in your community, your family, your friends and your neighbors,” she said. “The healthiest our families are the healthier we will be as a nation.”
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Walensky also touched on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting currently underway in which the panel will discuss the risks benefits of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and potentially issue new guidance. While stopping short of whether the committee will act to resume the rollout of the one-shot jab, she said that she, along with the FDA and CDC “feel strongly we need to act swiftly.”
When asked about whether the pause and updated guidance may potentially add to vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., Walensky said she believes there are “plenty of people” interested in Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine versus Pfizer and Moderna for the convenience of a one-shot jab versus two.
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The rollout had been paused after six instances of a rare, severe blood clot along with low platelets were reported among the over 7 million vaccine recipients. The pause was in part so that others had a chance to come forward with their potential adverse reactions. Walensky said the CDC had received a “handful” of new potential cases and was working to verify them before presenting the data to the ACIP.
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The ACIP is expected to vote on updated guidance or recommendations at the conclusion of Friday’s meeting.