The mayor of Detroit has turned down an allocation of the J&J vaccine.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan declined an initial allocation of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine….”So, Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the city of Detroit get the best,” Duggan said during a news conference Thursday.
Sigh. What an error. Note, however, that the Detroit Mayor rejecting the J&J vaccine is exactly what the FDA has done with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Moreover none other than Anthony Fauci made exactly the same argument about AstraZeneca (an argument I criticized at the time):
But even if the vaccine ends up being approved, it will probably only have an efficacy of 60 to 70 percent. “What are you going to do with the 70 percent when you’ve got two (vaccines) that are 95 percent? Who are you going to give a vaccine like that to?” Anthony Fauci, the leading American expert on vaccines, recently wondered.
To be clear, I don’t blame Fauci for the actions of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Duggan would probably have said the same had Fauci never made his error. Indeed, perhaps you might even read this as excusing Duggan (if even Fauci, “the leading American expert on vaccines”, could make this error then…).
Still, Fauci’s error has been much more costly for the United States.
Hat tip: JF.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a scientific advisory group to the government, has made a forceful and dramatic statement strongly favoring First Doses First (delay the second dose.) This is a very big deal for the entire world. Basically NACI have endorsed everything that Tyler and I have said on First Doses First since my first post tentatively raised the issue on December 8. I am going to quote this statement extensively since it’s an excellent summary. No indentation.
Based on emerging evidence of the protection provided by the first dose of a two dose series for COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in Canada, NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first. NACI will continue to monitor the evidence on effectiveness of an extended dose interval and will adjust recommendations as needed. (Strong NACI Recommendation)
- In addition to emerging population-based data, this recommendation is based on expert opinion and the public health principles of equity, ethics, accessibility, feasibility, immunological vaccine principles, and the perspective that, within a global pandemic setting, reducing the risk of severe disease outcomes at the population-level will have the greatest impact. Current evidence suggests high vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease and hospitalization for several weeks after the first dose, including among older populations.
- By implementing an extended four month interval strategy, Canada will be able to provide access to first doses of highly efficacious vaccines to more individuals earlier which is expected to increase health equity faster. Canada has secured enough vaccines to ensure that a second dose will be available to every adult.
- As a general vaccination principle, interruption of a vaccine series resulting in an extended interval between doses does not require restarting the vaccine series. Principles of immunology, vaccine science, and historical examples demonstrate that delays between doses do not result in a reduction in final antibody concentrations nor a reduction in durability of memory response for most multi-dose products.
- Assessment of available data on efficacy and effectiveness of a single dose of mRNA vaccine was a critical factor in assessing the impact of a delayed second dose at this time. The two available clinical trials for mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) provide evidence that indicates that efficacy against symptomatic disease begins as early as 12 to 14 days after the first dose of the mRNA vaccine. Excluding the first 14 days before vaccines are expected to offer protection, both vaccines showed an efficacy of 92% up until the second dose (most second doses were administered at 19-42 days in the trials). Recently, real world vaccine effectiveness data presented to or reviewed by NACI assessing PCR-positive COVID-19 disease and/or infection from Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States support good effectiveness (generally 70-80%, depending on the methodology used and outcomes assessed) from a single dose of mRNA vaccines (for up to two months in some studies). While studies have not yet collected four months of data on effectiveness of the first dose, the first two months of population-based effectiveness data are showing sustained and high levels of protection. These data include studies in health care workers, long term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well.
- Published data from the AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose to ≥ 12 weeks resulted in a better efficacy against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses.
- The duration of protection from one or two doses of COVID-19 vaccines is currently unknown. Experience with other multi-dose vaccines after a single dose suggests persistent protection could last for six months or longer in adolescents and adults. Longer-term follow-up of clinical trial participants and those receiving vaccination in public programs will assist in determining the duration of protection following both one and two doses of vaccination. NACI will continue to monitor the evidence on effectiveness of an extended interval, which is currently being collected weekly in some Canadian jurisdictions, and will adjust recommendations as needed if concerns emerge about waning protection.
- Although effectiveness after two-doses will be somewhat higher than with one dose, many more people will benefit from immunization when extending the interval between doses in times of vaccine shortage; offering more individuals direct benefit and also the possibility of indirect benefit from increasing population immunity to COVID-19 disease. Everyone is expected to obtain the full benefit of two doses when the second dose is offered after 4 months.
- Internal PHAC modelling reviewed by NACI based on Canadian supply projections suggested that accelerating vaccine coverage by extending dose intervals of mRNA vaccines could have short-term public health benefits in preventing symptomatic disease, hospitalizations, and deaths while vaccine supply is constrained. Even a theoretical scenario analysis in which intervals were extended up to six months and protection was lost at a rate of 4% per week after the first dose also showed that extending the mRNA vaccine dose intervals would still have public health benefits. External modelling results have also suggested that extending dose intervals can avert infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
- The impact on variants of concern by extending the interval between doses is unknown, but there is currently no evidence that an extended interval between doses will either increase or decrease the emergence of variants of concern. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and AstraZeneca vaccine have shown promising early results against variant B.1.1.7. As effectiveness of the first dose against other variants of concern is emerging, ongoing monitoring will be required.
- Vaccine distribution will be optimized through this strategy, and current vaccine supply projections will work well with an extended dose strategy that aims to immunize as many Canadians as efficiently as possible. Extending the dose intervals for mRNA vaccines up to four months has the potential to result in rapid immunization and protection of a large proportion of the Canadian population….
As the pace of recovery quickens, and most balance sheets continue to look decent, it seems increasingly obvious that $1.9 trillion is too much to spend. We are spending at least $1 trillion too much, with very little investment to show for it, and $1 trillion is a lot of money. Heaven forbid they should make part of the stimulus dependent on future macroeconomic variables, which is what science would suggest.
New CDC school opening guidelines fail to “follow the science.” School reopening is a big, big issue. Overall the blue states are not doing well on it, and the Biden administration is hurting rather than helping.
Vaccine distribution is doing better, with 2.4 million doses distributed per day by the end of this last week. I am less sure how much that is above the previous trajectory. At least originally, Biden was boasting of aspiring to doing one million doses a day, so the presidential grasp of detail is not what pushed us over the edge here.
Those are arguably the three most important issues at the moment, and the overall performance level is not great.
The AstraZeneca vaccine still is not approved, with no sign of an FDA budge in sight. Canada approved it last week, so now there are more than fifteen nations on board. The new data on its performance are quite strong, even for a single dose.
Biden will be appointing an FDA head, but I haven’t heard talk of reform in spite of major and ongoing failures, and some in process reforms in the UK. Is it even permissible to raise the topic of “the deregulations we need”?
The $15 minimum wage idea seems doomed to fail, in any case it was obviously worse than an “indexed by state” approach, even if you hold the Dube-ous view of minimum wage economics.
The emergency facility — a vestige of the Trump administration that was open for only a month in summer 2019 — is being reactivated to hold up to 700 children ages 13 to 17.
By the way, arrests of unaccompanied children at the border are up 50% this month (WSJ). So this problem isn’t going away. Is science being used to structure the incentives properly for these migrants?
That issue aside, immigration is the one policy area where there has been major sustained improvement, and where those improvements are likely to continue.
As far as I know, there is no immediate plan to eliminate or lower the Trump tariffs on Chinese goods.
The (non-scientific) belief in a new era of cooperation with Europe, including in opposition to China, already lies in tatters.
I don’t know if the American military should have bombed Syria, but I do know that it did and I suspect our government also does not know if it should have, not really know in the scientific sense.
I do get that the Biden administration “feels more scientific” to you, and it has the demeanor of a proper establishment, and it offers experts much higher status, and it does not encourage yahoos to storm the Capitol, for which I am very grateful.
But the rather obvious evidence here is that the scientific record is already quite poor.
Drugmakers will be offered fast-tracked approvals for innovative medicines in the UK as ministers seek to build on the country’s world-leading approval of a Covid vaccine and attract life sciences companies to invest post-Brexit.
The UK’s medicines regulator will become independent of EU pharmaceutical rulemaking when Britain quits the European Medicines Agency at the end of the year, which means companies will need to apply separately to register drugs.
With ministers eager to try to refashion the UK as a post-Brexit hub for global life sciences, companies with drugs that promise to treat unmet medical needs will be offered help through the development process, including manufacturing, according to three people familiar with the situation.
Under the so-called Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway, companies are set to be offered the same rolling review of data that speeded approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the rest of the world.
Here is more from Sarah Neville at the FT, via J.
The Philippines will let thousands of its health care workers, mostly nurses, take up jobs in Britain and Germany if the two countries agree to donate coronavirus vaccines, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Britain’s health ministry said it was not interested in such a deal and its priority was to use shots domestically, but added it would share surplus vaccine internationally in the future.
The Philippines, which has among Asia’s highest number of coronavirus cases, has relaxed a ban on deploying its health care workers overseas, but still limits the number of medical professionals leaving the country to 5,000 a year.
Alice Visperas, director of the labor ministry’s international affairs bureau, said the Philippines was open to lifting the cap in exchange for vaccines from Britain and Germany, which it would use to inoculate outbound workers and hundreds of thousands of Filipino repatriates.
As of Feb. 18 (last day of full data) we gave out 817,708 second doses and just 702,426 first doses. In other words, a majority of doses are now second doses. As Daniel Bier writes this means that we are boosting some people from ~85% to ~95% protected when we could be vaccinating more first timers and getting them from 0% protected to ~85% protected.
If we followed the British rule and delayed the booster to 12 weeks, we could immediately more than *double* the number of people going from 0% protected to to ~85% protected. More first-doses would be great for the newly protected and more people at ~85% protection would also reduce transmission so there would be fewer new infections and less threat to the non-vaccinated.
The opportunity cost of not delaying the booster is measured in lives lost.
Duke University has gone to incredibly and absurd lengths to contest other people’s trademark applications. For example, Duke opposed the following marks by filing with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board :
- “The Dude Diet” for a diet-related website
- “Kuke” for electronic products
- “Goluke” for clothing
- “Le Duc” for food and drink services
they have even tried to claim they own “devil” and filed oppositions against:
- “Werdo” with this scribbled image of a devil for shirts and hats
- “Devils Nightmare” for beer
- “Devil’s Garden” for alcoholic beverages
- “Pretty Devil” for slot machines
It gets worse, Duke claims the letter D and the word blue with filed oppositions against:
- “Beach’d” for beach bags and cosmetic bags
- “D’Grill” for barbecue smokers and grills
- “DLove” for advertising and other services
- “True Blue” for auto parts
- “Stay Blue” for denim clothing
- “Blue Ball Chiller” for alcoholic beverages
- “Blue Solutions” for various goods and services related to car rentals and car sharing.
None of this is remotely consistent with trademark law which doesn’t convey an ownership right but is merely meant to help consumers purchase the products they intend to purchase. Yet, many of Duke’s oppositions have been successful since it’s often easier for the group asking for a trademark to simply give up and change their mark. Duke bullies far more than do other similar universities.
All of this is from an excellent paper, Mark of the Devil: The University as Brand Bully by James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins both of whom are professors at the Duke University of Law! Bully for them!
A new study looking at essentially the entirety of the Scottish population finds that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine work very well at preventing hospitalizations from the first dose.
UK policy for use of vaccines against COVID-19 involves an offer of a first dose followed by a second dose 12 weeks later. To our knowledge, this is the first study of COVID-19 vaccine effect against hospitalisation for an entire nation after a single dose of vaccine. We found that a single dose of BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine was associated with a vaccine effect (VE) of 85% (95% CI 76 to 91) for COVID-19 hospitalisation 28-34 days post-vaccination. A single dose of ChAdOx1 vaccine was associated with a vaccine effect 94% (95% CI 73 to 99) at 28-34 days post-vaccination. VEs increased over time with a peak at 28-34 days post-vaccination for both vaccines. Comparable VEs were seen in those aged ≥80 years for prevention of COVID-19 hospitalisation with a high combined VE of 81% (95% CI 65 to 90) at 28-34 days post-vaccination.
Arne Akbar, president of the British Society for Immunology, noted “…overall these new findings should provide reassurance around the UK’s decision to offer the two doses of the vaccine 12 weeks apart.”
Another important point is that the AstraZeneca vaccine actually shows a higher effectiveness than the Pfizer vaccine. The study wasn’t designed to compare the vaccines and the populations getting the vaccines aren’t random samples. Nevertheless, the AstraZeneca vaccine appears to work well and it was actually given to a greater proportion of elderly patients.
The new results from Scotland support the UK, EU, and WHO decisions to authorize the AstraZeneca vaccine. If the US had authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine in late December at the same time as did the UK, millions more Americans could have been vaccinated saving many lives.
Where is the FDA’s cost-benefit calculation?
More than 2 million people are imprisoned in the U.S., among them hundreds of thousands who experts say don’t pose a public-safety threat and could be released. One problem: the data that could trigger those releases get backlogged, because they’re often spread out among different departments. That’s why in 2019, Clementine Jacoby, a software engineer, launched Recidiviz, a nonprofit that has worked with more than 30 states to log into one system key data points—such as whether an incarcerated person has served most of their sentence or has shown progress by completing a treatment program, or more recently, how well equipped a correction facility is to handle a COVID-19 outbreak. It then uses an algorithm to recommend certain prisoners for release. “Our hope is that the people who are succeeding get off early,” Jacoby says, “and that frees up attention for officers to spend time with the people who actually need it.” Of course, no algorithm is perfect, and algorithms alone won’t solve the issues of the criminal-justice system. But so far, Recidiviz has seen early signs of success. To date, the nonprofit has helped identify as appropriate for release nearly 44,000 inmates in 34 states, including North Dakota, which last spring saw its prison population drop by 20%.
That is from the Time100 Next. The initial grant helped Clementine quit her job to do Recidivez full-time.
AP: Hungarian health authorities were the first in the EU to approve the Sinopharm jab for emergency use on Jan. 29. That came after a government decree streamlined Hungary’s vaccine approval process by allowing any vaccine administered to at least 1 million people worldwide to be used without undergoing review by the country’s medicines regulator.
The country expects to receive 5 million total doses of the Sinopharm vaccine over the next four months, enough to treat 2.5 million people in the country of nearly 10 million.
Authorize any vaccine already used by at least 1 million people is a type of reciprocity or peer-review rule in which you speed up approval in your country based on data from another country. As with all such rules, it’s imperfect–new and extensive use will reveal common, serious side effects and many uncommon ones as well but extensive use is not a guarantee of safety or efficacy. Nevertheless, when time is of the essence the 1 million+ rule is a smart rule.
Hat tip: Bart Madden.
A number of people on Twitter were mocking this earlier idea of Martin Feldstein’s, now a policy since 1986. But of course unemployment benefits should be taxed at the federal level. If your income that year was low, you won’t pay any tax anyway. As of 2018, about 44 percent of American households paid no federal income tax in any case, so that is covering quite a few of the lower earners.
if you are in the taxable range, in your choices you should be comparing taxable income to taxable unemployment benefits, otherwise there is a distortion in your labor supply decision. If need be, raise the level of unemployment benefits. No, that isn’t a wash, because different individuals and households face different possible rates of marginal taxation. The higher earners (at least potentially the higher earners) should face a higher tax on their unemployment benefits than the lower earners will. So it is in fact a “progressive” policy.
Marty was right, as indeed he was about many things. Here is a good CRS overview of the issue. Here is Marty’s (partially gated) 1974 piece on the issue. This is exactly the kind of issue Twitter is ill-suited to considering.
I’ve long argued that if a drug or medical device is approved in another country with a Stringent Regulatory Authority it ought to be approved in the United States. But, of course, the argument is even stronger in the other direction. Drugs and devices approved in the United States ought to be approved elsewhere. Indeed, this is how much of the world actually works because most countries do not have capability to evaluate drugs and devices the way the FDA or say the EMA does. Although it’s the way the world works, few will admit it because that would violate pretensions of regulatory nationalism. Moreover, keeping up with pretenses means transaction costs and unnecessary delays.
The price of such regulatory nationalism can be very high as indicated in this interview with Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest producer of vaccines.
Some people think the reason that rollout has been slow in many countries is because the developers who hold the patents on the vaccines have licensed too few manufacturers to make them. Do you agree?
No. There are enough manufacturers, it just takes time to scale up. And by the way, I have been blown away by the cooperation between the public and private sectors in the last year, in developing these vaccines. What I find really disappointing, what has added a few months to vaccine delivery – not just ours – is the lack of global regulatory harmonisation. Over the last seven months, while I’ve been busy making vaccines, what have the US, UK and European regulators been doing? How hard would it have been to get together with the World Health Organization and agree that if a vaccine is approved in the half-dozen or so major manufacturing countries, it is approved to send anywhere on the planet?
Instead we have a patchwork of approvals and I have 70m doses that I can’t ship because they have been purchased but not approved. They have a shelf life of six months; these expire in April.
Did you get that? Regulatory nationalism has added months to vaccine delivery and now threatens to put to waste millions of stockpiled doses.
Addendum: See also Scott Sumner on the costs of regulatory nationalism.
In the wake of high-profile police shootings of Black Americans, it is important to know whether the race and gender of officers and civilians affect their interactions. Ba et al. overcame previous data constraints and found that Hispanic and Black officers make far fewer stops and arrests and use force less than white officers, especially against Black civilians. These differences are largest in majority-Black neighborhoods in the city of Chicago (see the Perspective by Goff). Female officers also use less force than male officers. These effects are supportive of the efficacy of increasing diversity in police forces.
A new phase II study from Moderna shows that half-doses (50 μg) appear to be as good as full doses (100 ug) at generating correlates of protection such as neutralizing antibodies.
In this randomized, controlled phase 2 trial, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273, administered as a two-dose vaccination regimen at 50 and 100 μg, exhibited robust immune responses and an acceptable safety profile in healthy adults aged 18 years and older. Local and systemic adverse reactions were mostly mild-to-moderate in severity, were ≤4 days of median duration and were less commonly reported in older compared with younger adults. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike binding and neutralizing antibodies were induced by both doses of mRNA-1273 within 28 days after the first vaccination, and rose substantially to peak titers by 14 days after the second vaccination, exceeding levels of convalescent sera from COVID-19 patients. The antibodies remained elevated through the last time point assessed at 57 days. Neutralizing responses met criteria for seroconversion within 28 days after the first vaccination in the majority of participants, with rates of 100% observed at 14 and 28 days after the second vaccination. While no formal statistical testing was done, binding and neutralizing antibody responses were generally comparable in participants who received the 100 μg mRNA-1273 and the 50 μg dose at all time points and across both age groups. Overall, the results of this randomized, placebo-controlled trial extend previous immunogenicity and safety results for mRNA-1273 in the phase 1 study in an expanded cohort including participants older than 55 years of age [16, 19].
[These data] confirm that a robust immune response is generated at both 50 and 100 ug dose levels.
As I wrote earlier, halving the dose is equivalent to instantly doubling the output of every Moderna factory.
See my piece in the Washington Post on getting to V-day sooner for an overview of dose stretching strategies.
Addendum: France says one dose is sufficient for previously COVID infected.
In the Washington Post I have an extensive piece on accelerating progress to V-day, Vaccine or Victory day, the day everyone who wants a vaccine has gotten one. I cover themes that will be familiar to MR readers, including First Doses First, Fractional Dosing, Approving More Vaccines and DePrioritization to Expand Delivery. I won’t belabor these points here but the piece is useful at collecting all the arguments in one place and there are lots of authoritative links.
One point I do want to make is that all the pieces of the “Tabarrok plan,” if you will, fit together. Namely, use First Doses First to make a big push to get as many people vaccinated with first doses as possible in the next 90 days. Approve more vaccines including Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and others and make them available to anyone, anywhere–that is possible because these vaccines don’t require significant cold storage, J&J is a single shot and AZ is better with a second shot at 12 weeks or later all of which eases distribution.
…some people argue that adding a third (or fourth) vaccine might not help because of persistent delivery logjams at the state and local levels. But we know there is unused distributional capacity, even for the supply we do have. The United States is currently administering about 1.5 million coronavirus vaccine shots per day. While that sounds like a lot, for comparison consider that in September — during the pandemic, when social distancing measures were in full effect — we vaccinated for the seasonal flu in some weeks at the rate of 3 million people a day.
There are two main reasons the rollout has been so slow. First, the Moderna and especially the Pfizer vaccines require ultracold storage. (The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca doses can be stored at ordinary refrigerator temperatures.) Second, we have tried to prioritize vaccinations using a confusing mishmash of age, health conditions and essential-worker status that differs by state and sometimes even by county. “Confirming such criteria is complicated at best, and it’s probably not even feasible to try under conditions of duress,” as Baylor’s Hotez puts it.
Arguments continue about prioritization lists, and the idea of tossing them entirely would cause a political fight. But there is a compromise at hand: Quickly approve the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines and make them — and only them — available to anyone, anywhere. Keeping things simple is a sure way to increase total vaccinations. With no cold-storage requirement, the new vaccines could be administered by any of the 300,000 pharmacists and more than 1 million physicians in the United States authorized to deliver vaccines, most of whom are not now giving Pfizer or Moderna shots.