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tv   White House Holds COVID-19 Briefing  CSPAN  February 25, 2021 3:20am-3:58am EST

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this runs 35 minutes. >> by acknowledging that we have passed a grim milestone in this pandemic, half a million people debt from covid-19. this pandemic has touched each of us. so many have lost loved ones. we have been separated from our friends and families. too many of our businesses and schools have been closed for way too long. president biden is clear, we are at war with this virus, and we are using every resource at our disposal to defeat it. we are keeping equity at the front and center of our response , partnering with states, tribes, and territories to increase vaccinations in the hardest hit and hardest to reach communities. increasing supply to convenient and trusted locations like community health centers,
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deploying mobile units to meet people where they are, and improving data collection so that we have a better understanding of the inequities currently experienced. today, we are announcing another action we are taking to ensure an equitable response. in the month of march, we will begin to deliver millions of masks to food banks and community health centers around the country. these are nationwide networks that serve populations hit hard by the pandemic. while masks are widely available in many different shapes and sizes, many low income americans still lack affordable access to this basic protection. that's why we are taking the support and action to keep americans safe. we will deliver more than 25 million masks across the country. these masks will be available at more than 1300 community health centers and at 60,000 food
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pantries nationwide. any american who needs a mask will be able to walk into these health centers or food pantries and pick up high-quality, american-made masks. these masks will be available at no cost. they will be well fitting, kluth masks -- cloth masks available in children's and adult sizes and they can be washed for reuse, all consistent with cdc guidance and all made in the usa. once again, our decisions here have been made with equity at the center. not all americans are wearing masks regularly. not all americans have access, and not all masks are equal. with this action, we are helping to level the playing field, giving vulnerable populations quality, well fitting masks. when president biden delivered his inaugural address, he made a
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very clear request to the country, mask up. he has taken action to require masks in federal buildings, on federal lands, and on public transportation like planes, trains and buses. the action we are announcing today is a targeted step to help americans respond to the president's challenge to mask up to protect themselves and their fellow americans. as we encourage people to continue to mask up, we are focused on vaccinating people quickly and equitably. today, i will give you the latest update on our execution on vaccinations and the three key areas that we are focused on , more vaccine supply, more vaccinators, and more places to get vaccinated. first on vaccine supply, yesterday we announced the fifth consecutive week of supply increases to states, tribes, and
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territories, from 8.6 million doses when we took office to 14.5 million doses this week. that's an increase in vaccine allocation to states of nearly 70% during the biden-harris administration. the retail pharmacy program we launched a few weeks ago has performed well so far. in this week, we will increase the allocation to pharmacies to 2.1 million doses. so with 14.5 million doses allocated to states, tribes, and territories, and 2.1 million through the federal retail pharmacy program, we have nearly doubled weekly supply of doses in just five weeks. second, we are mobilizing teams to get shots in arms. we have deployed over a hundred federal personnel as vaccinators, and the federal
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government is now funding 1200 national guard members to serve as vaccinators. we have also deployed 1000 federal personnel to support community vaccination sites in operational and support roles. third, we continue creating more places where americans can get vaccinated. we have now expanded financial support to bolster community vaccination centers nationwide, with over 3.6 billion in fema funding to 44 states, tribes, and territories for vaccination efforts. we are bringing vaccinations to places communities know and trust. community centers, high school gyms, churches, and stadiums nationwide. and we continue to work with states to set up innovative, high-volume, federally run sites that can each give over 30,000 shots a week. these sites are up and running in california, and are ramping
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up in texas, florida, and pennsylvania. we have also launched federal programs to get vaccines to pharmacies and local community health centers. as we have always said, we are committed to providing clarity on our progress and that includes when we hit the road -- when we had bumps in the road. last week, we got hit with very severe weather which impacted the vaccination supply chain, from manufacturing to shipping to the ability to get shots in arms. the manufacturers, the shipping firms, the states, the tribes, the territories and pharmacies worked to overcome these challenges. and despite all the temporary weather-related delays, our seven day average daily doses administered is at 1.4 million, and we have already caught up on the weather-related shipping backlogs.
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teams worked throughout last weekend to pack and ship doses. on monday, yesterday, 7 million doses -- two days ago. 7 million doses were delivered. that coupled with the doses allocated this week results and record supply going to the states. we have encouraged states to get needles into arms by extending vaccine clinic hours, offering services 24 hours a day where possible, having weekend appointments, and having more staff on hand. on this point, i want to stress that the states do not have the staff to work around the clock and on the weekends, the federal government stands ready to help. i also want to spend a couple of minutes on our plans for the johnson & johnson vaccine, which is currently pending approval for emergency use authorization by the fda. yesterday, i again updated and reviewed with our nation's
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governors are plans to distribute the johnson & johnson vaccine, if the eua is granted. the governors are carefully planning their efforts and getting ready for the possible new vaccine. if authorized, we are ready to rollout this vaccine without delay. our distribution approach will mirror the current allocations process across jurisdictions, pharmacies, and community health centers. if an eua is issued, we anticipate allocating 3 million to 4 million doses of johnson & johnson vaccine next trick. johnson & johnson aims to deliver more than 20 million doses by the end of march. we are working with the company to accelerate the pace and timeframe by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract or the end of june. while we await the fda's decision, we want the american people to know that we are doing
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the work so that if the eua is granted, we will waste no time getting this life-saving vaccine into the arms of americans. with that, let me turn it over to dr. wolinsky to talk about the state of the pandemic. >> thank you. we continue to see trends heading in the right direction. in the past week, average daily cases declined 25% to approximately 64,000 cases per day. this is slightly less than the former peak of 67,000 daily cases reported last july. while this is good news, cases still remain high and we continue to watch this data closely. we also continue -- see continue to climb the hospital admissions for the most recent week. an average of 6500 patients with covid-19 work admitted everyday, a decrease of 16% from the week prior. the number of reported deaths is also dropping, with a seven day average of slightly less than 2000 per day.
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this represents a 35% decline compared to the prior week. on monday, i announced that we were kicking off our three-day national covid-19 vaccine forum, and since that time, we have had an extraordinary few days. our final our final tally, we've virtually assembled over 12,000 participants from across the united states representing state, tribe, local, and territorial governments, private sector partners, medical, and public health institutions. community-based organizations, faith-based groups, and educators, among others. the discussions and presentations from over a hundred speakers showcased promising practices and critical scientific information for those involved in vaccination efforts in communities across the nation. i'd like to share a few examples of what we've learned over the last three days. first, trust and community confidence are cornerstones of our national vaccine efforts. trusted voices are critical to building confidence in vaccines and addressing misinformation.
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our community leaders are often those trusted voices. we heard from national, state, and local health leaders about communication and public education campaigns they are deploying to combat myths and disinformation and instill confidence and interest in covid-19 vaccines. as well as tools and strategies health care providers can use when talking with their patients about covid-19 vaccination. for example, we learned about a new communications campaign in new orleans that is grounded in local flavor and culture as a way to resonate with the city's residents. second, one of the most powerful benefits of the forum was learning about on-the-ground experiences and new innovations to expand vaccination efforts. we heard about creative ways providers and volunteers have been getting vaccinations into communities. using boats, ferries, and snowmobiles in alaska. leveraging emergency medical services to provide vaccinations to homebound individuals in indiana, and using awareness campaigns
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featuring trusted elders and health care workers in the cherokee nation of oklahoma. finally, forum sessions taught us that every person, community, faith-based organization governmental, and non-governmental partner and business, has a role to stop to play in supporting our nation's covid-19 vaccination strategy. we learned about faith-based efforts like the outreach to people of color being led by the metropolitan international church in nashville tennessee. where faith ambassadors engage with local clergy to help spread accurate information on covid-19 vaccines to these high-risk communities. we also heard about successful public-private partnerships. like in san diego where vaccination super sites like the one in petco park stadium are vaccinating thousands of people a day. and in colorado where there is a government private partnership. the champions for vaccine equity task force where the health department and 10
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medical champions of color are working with and through community-based organizations to create opportunities for listening and sharing information about covid19 vaccines. these are just a few of many practical innovations. innovations and solutions shared during the forum. and i want to let you know that all of these sessions as well as resources and materials will be posted on the cdc website following the forum . i encourage you to check it out when you are able. next i would like to take a moment to highlight the progress made so far in our efforts to rapidly expand genomic sequencing nationally, including through our 200 million dollar investment announced last week this work is more important than ever given the continued spread of covid-19 variants in the united states. as of february 23 we now have identified nearly 1900 cases of b117 variant in 45 states. 46 cases of the b1351 variant in 14 states.
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and five cases of the p1 variant in four states. the pace of our genomic sequencing has scaled up from about 400 samples a week. now, more than 9000 samples as of the week of february 20th. we are continuing to increase this pace with our state public health and private lab partners. with a goal of 25 000 samples per week in the coming weeks. the increased volume of sequence information is helping us to better understand the diversity of variants circulating in the united states . where they are located and how they are spread. with the samples in hand, we can scientifically examine how variants impact vaccines. and therapeutics moving forward . finally, i want to say we are proud to be partners in the announcement made about sending masks to underserved and vulnerable populations. one of the most impactful things we can do is wear a mask. this is important during this critical period, where cases are declining, but variants are
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increasing through our country. the cdc continues to recommend everyone to wear a mask when in public and with others at home not living with you. they should have two or more lawyers, completed covering of the mouth, and against your nose and your face. it is essential you wear your mask correctly, and it fits well to get the most protection. by wearing masks in combination with social distancing, washing hands, avoiding crowds and travel, and getting vaccinated, we can bring an end to this pandemic. thank you. i will turn it over to dr. fauci. >> thank you very much. what i would like to do over the next couple of minutes is update you on an important component of the spectrum of covid-19 disease. if i can have the first slide.
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many of you are aware of what has been called long covid. but that really is the sars covid to infection, which we are now referring to as pasc or pasc. the reason i'm bringing it up with you today will become apparent in just a minute or two. just to refresh your memory the symptoms of this include fatigue , shortness of breath, sleep disorders, fever, g.i. symptoms, anxiety, depression, and what some have been referring to as brain fog or an inability or a difficulty in concentrating or focusing. these are posterior sequelae after the virus essentially has been cleared from the body. new symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection or they evolve over time and they may persist. i will get to that in a moment. it can be for months. it can range from mild,
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annoying, to actually quite incapacitating. the magnitude of the problem is not yet fully known. there have been a number of papers that have described in some detail large cohorts here is one from china which was published online on january 8th in more than 1700 patients who actually had been hospitalized. i point out that you can get this post-acute syndrome even in individuals who did not require hospitalization. the six-month follow-up showed a variety of signs and symptoms shown here with many having fatigue and weakness. as i mentioned on the prior slide, sleep difficulties, anxiety, or depression, and the greater proportion of patients with more severe illness had impaired lung diffusion capacity. most recently, in a study from the university of washington that appeared a few days ago, it
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was found really now something alarming, that approximately 30 percent of the patients who were enrolled at the university of washington reported persistent symptoms for as long as nine months after illness. fatigue was the most common reported symptom. persistent symptoms were reported by one third of our patients with mild disease. what we did, we being an interagency group, the nih, cdc, and others put together a workshop in rockville just a little bit north of washington d.c. on december the third and the fourth of last year, in which we looked at various organ systems and brought in experts in all of these areas. cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, neurologic, immunologic, and pediatrics to scope out the kinds of things that we would need to be looking at with this
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puzzling syndrome. the reason i'm bringing it up at this press conference is that just yesterday, on february 23, the nih launched a new initiative to study this past or postacute sequelae. looking back a bit, in december of last year, the congress provided a 1.1 5 billion dollars in funding over four years for the nih to support research looking into this. i'm happy to say that yesterday there was the first in what will be a series of research opportunity announcements released for nih initiative on this puzzling syndrome. the research studies will be looking at sars cov 2 recovery cohorts, some that are already established, and some that will be established. they'll be looking at large data banks from resources such as
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electronic health records and health symptoms. and they'll be studying a number of biological specimens. on the last slide, there are selective questions that this initiative hopes to answer. and they are important. what does the spectrum of recovery from this infection look like across all the entire population? young individuals, middle-age, elderly. how many people continue to have symptoms of covid-19, or even as we have seen, develop new symptoms they did not have, even as part of their acute infection? importantly, what is the underlying biological cause of these prolonged symptoms? we refer to that as pathogenesis. what makes certain people vulnerable while others recover fully and quickly and have no
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sequela? does sars cov 2 infection trigger changes in the body that actually increase the risk later on of such abnormalities, such as chronic heart or brain disorders? a lot of important questions that are now unanswered that we hope with this series of initiatives, we will ultimately answer. so i'll stop there and hand it back to jeff. >> thank you. let's open it up for questions. we'll go to meg tyrell at cnbc. >> thanks so much. just a follow-up for dr. fauci, and i've got another couple of questions. i wonder if you could tell us more about -- and it is early -- but what the epidemic of past,
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or long covid might look like beyond the pandemic, and how worried you are about that, and if you see any work going on in trying to develop therapeutics or other ways of addressing it. i wondered for dr bolenski on the masks, a lot of people are excited. i wondered how you decided on cloth masks, if you considered or are considering n95s at all, even though we know there is a constrained supply. finally, just a question on the vaccines in general, on the plan going forward. with johnson & johnson potentially coming out next week, we know astrazeneca will have us phase three data in a few weeks, and novavax has said q2 it'll plan to file and could have 110 million doses in the third quarter. it seems like we're going to have a glut of vaccines potentially later this year which is a great situation but what is the plan for all of these different vaccines if they succeed? >> thank you. i will take the first question related to this syndrome.
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very important question about what we can do about it and that's the reason why we are creating these cohorts and we're looking at what might possibly be hints at pathogenesis. it's very difficult to treat something when you don't know what the target of the treatment is. that's the reason why it's extremely important to take a look at these individuals. not only the scope of this, and not only the depth and breadth of this -- the symptoms, but also to try and have some correlate that actually is a pathophysiological cartilage. once we get that an important part of this as i mentioned would be to design therapeutic approaches hopefully by medications that we already have , we just need to know how to use them. >> i'll chime in and just discuss the cdc guidance now to wear cloth masks. the distribution of these masks which we also super enthusiastic
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about, is intended to ensure that both the source and the receiver are wearing a mask that's compliant with the cdc guidance, that is comfortable, easy to wear, and when worn, will prevent infection. we believe these masks will do this. >> i want to handle the question on vaccines. we do not wanna get ahead of of fda decision-making here on any of the vaccines that have not been yet approved, but on johnson & johnson, obviously the prospect of a potential third approved vaccine is very encouraging and will help to increase the overall vaccine supply, which will allow more americans to get access to getting vaccinated sooner. keep in mind, the johnson & johnson contract is to deliver 100 million doses by the end of june. we are working to accelerate that schedule. the thing you will hear from our doctors, and from president
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biden, is as soon as it is your turn to get a vaccine, get vaccinated. next question. >> we'll go to ricardo at the associated press. >> thank you for taking my question. science mentioned that you are caught up from related delays on shipping, however, if we look at the cdc information on vaccinations, vaccinations are still down markedly from before the weather. my question to you is what is your timetable for getting caught up on actual shots in arms? where do you think the level has to be? finally, even before the weather hit, we were seeing a leveling
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off in first doses. what explains that and does it concern you? >> i showed the data that we averaged 1.4 million per day last week, which was down from 1.7 million. prior to that, each week it was going up. i think in the most recent day-to-day information there's a little bit of a lag effect so you're seeing the lag of the weekend weather and the weekend overall. we anticipate that the rate of vaccinations will increase markedly this week, given that all that supply did arrive over the weekend and monday, and we have increased the weekly allocation to the states, tribes, and territories, up to 14.5 million, which is up 70% from the 8.6 million we started
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five weeks ago. the pharmacy program is now being allocated to 2.1 million. i think and hope that you will see a market increase in the vaccination rate uh given that the weather issues are largely behind us and absent any other type of weather event. >> we will go to jeremy. >> thanks for doing this. a couple of questions. first on the issue of vaccines. you said about 3 million to 4 million doses will be available to be shipped out if and when an eua is granted. i believe you told governors yesterday it would be 2 million doses. could you explain that discrepancy? and also, how do you believe the arrival of this vaccine, if fact it is approved, will affect the president's goal of 100 million shots in 100 days?
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do you expect to increase that goal? and lastly on the question of mask shipments, i'm wondering how much it is costing the administration to ship these masks. at this point, given americans who want to wear the masks aren't having trouble finding the masks, what is the rationale behind this? how does it help solve the problem of -- not hesitancy, which seems to be one of the bigger issues here? >> that was a lot, so you have to help me as we go along. i think yesterday it was around 2 million to the governors, it might end up being more. but we also allocate the pharmacies and community health centers. that is the primary difference between around 2 million and 4 million. your next question was around the 100 million goal. that goal when we said it was ambitious, many people talked about one that we would have
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real trouble reaching. so far, we are pacing ahead of that goal. the president pushes us every day to figure out everything we can do as a whole of government effort, partnering with governors, local health officials, and others to do all we can to vaccinate as many americans as fast, efficiently, and as importantly, equitably as possible. so we view the 100 million shots in 100 days as a floor and we intend to exceed that goal on -- exceed that goal. on masks, the cost will be $86 million. we really believe that this policy makes a lot of sense, in that it allows people who are not able to, in some situations, find or afford a mask, to get a mask. and it's part of our equity strategy and central to that.
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>> we'll go to sharon from new york times. >> thanks for taking that question. johnson & johnson was supposed to have 12 million doses by the end of the month, and 37 million by the end of march. instead it is going to be under 4 million and 20 million can you tell us what exactly happened to cause these delays? secondly, how confident are you pfizer and moderna will be able to deliver the full 220 million doses they have promised by the end of next month? finally, if you could address to what degree is the vaccination program really hobbled by lack of sites and vaccinators? isn't lack of supply the principal obstacle? >> just to start with the beginning, to date, we have been, as we have ramped up the
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number of places, vaccinators, and primary constraint, on johnson and johnson, when we got here, we learned johnson & johnson was behind our manufacturing, and our team has been working with them since. i think they are in a better place now. we have helped them with equipment and raw material, which i think is healthy to increase greater capacity and accelerate. the contract is to deliver 100 million by the end of june. the initial production ramp, it was slower than we like. and i will refer you to johnson & johnson for any more specifics. and i think it was disappointing when we arrived, the progress is
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real, and we look forward to working with the company to accelerate their delivery and capacity. on moderna and pfizer, we have done a lot to help both companies with their manufacturing processes. we are in touch with them all the time, daily, hourly, making sure we do everything to help monitor their production. just yesterday, they articulated that they are on schedule to deliver 100 million doses by the end of march. the president visited pfizer last friday, and we assured the president they are doing everything they can to accelerate production and deliver 120 million doses by the end of march, and 200 million doses by the end of may. next question. >> last question. we will make it really quick.
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josh wingrove with bloomberg. >> thank you for taking the time. talk about the mask decision. it was deliberated whether to send them to all americans. talk about that decision. was it sort of too big of an undertaking? do you think the allocations are going to change if you do get the third approval? in other words, will governors get a similar share of the stream, or will expanded vaccinations help you change the math a little bit and open up other streams? >> let me do the second question about allocation. we talked to the governors yesterday as part of their preparation. we are talking to the pharmacies and community health centers, federal partners about the allocation being mirroring this current allocation. so the same percentage is going
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through each channel. across time, we will monitor channels, make sure they are performing in two ways, efficiency, and fairness and equity. so future allocations across channels could be changed based on performance. but we are starting, if the fda does approve johnson & johnson as our third effective vaccine, it'll be distributed along the same lines as our current percentages. months ago, sending a mask to every american would have been a good idea. today, masks are widely available in many different shapes and sizes, yet not all americans are wearing masks regularly, and not all masks are equal. many americans need access to a mask that provides effective protection in line with the cdc guidance rochelle articulated. this plan of sending masks to community health centers, food
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pantries, is an effort that focuses on people who may be particularly in need of the extra support to stay safe and meet the president's mass challenge of masking up for the first 100 days. with that, i just want to thank everyb
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