COVID-19 Weekly Newsletter: 200M U.S. Vaccines by May — Biden’s New Goal

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

With his initial goal of 100 million vaccine doses behind us, President Biden announces plans to double that number by his 100th day in office. As a new study brings promising results for vaccinated mothers, U.S. and international research finds vaccinated individuals have a stronger defense against reinfection than COVID-19 survivors without a vaccine.

200M Vaccines by 100th Day in Office

When President Biden took office two months ago, he set a goal of having 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered within his first 100 days. Last week, America surpassed that number, and during his first press conference on March 25, 2021, President Biden announced a new goal — 200 million administered doses of COVID-19 vaccines — by his 100th day in office, which is five weeks away.

COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Pregnant and Lactating Mothers

A recently published research study in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found pregnant and lactating women who received either of the two RNA-based vaccines passed on antibodies to their children through breast milk and placenta. Though both vaccines were found to be highly effective, higher levels of a specific antibody — IgA, which is the body’s first line of defense against infection — was seen in women who received one version of the vaccine over the other. These promising results are encouraging as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness when infected with COVID-19 and may be at increased risk for adverse outcomes, like preterm birth.

95% Of Medical Gowns in the U.S. Stockpile to be Evaluated

Last year, the federal government bought personal protective equipment (PPE) from many start-up or repurposed companies who had begun manufacturing such products during the pandemic to fill the shortfall of supply. Last November, ECRI, a health care safety nonprofit, tested gowns made by these non-traditional medical suppliers and found 50% of the disposable gowns failed to meet the Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) liquid barrier level standards. As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has removed 95% of the isolation gowns from the U.S. medical stockpile to be evaluated for the level of protection they provide. Once validated, HHS confirmed the gowns will be “rotated back into deployable inventory.”

Natural SARS-CoV-2 Infection Only Partially Protective Against Reinfection

A large-scale study involving four million individuals and over ten million PCR tests in Denmark found that a natural SARS-CoV-2 infection is just 80% protective against subsequent reinfection in individuals younger than 65 years, and less than 50% protective in those over 65 years old. The study evaluated the rate of SARS-CoV-2 reinfections by comparing the PCR test results during the period of September-December 2020 with those from March-May 2020.

In a separate U.S.-based study of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 variants, individuals at two weeks after full vaccination showed a stronger and more consistent response than those who had been naturally infected with SARS-CoV-2. In addition, another U.S. study found that the neutralizing antibodies’ response in individuals with a history of natural SARS-CoV-2 infection — which was widely varied at baseline — became strong and consistent three weeks post-first dose of an mRNA vaccine.

A recent Nature article reviewed the evidence accumulated to date and concluded that a spontaneous “herd immunity” might be an illusory goal. At the same time, real-world evidence from Texas and California does indicate that vaccination significantly reduces the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections.

These findings reinforce the importance of every individual’s diligent observation of the “mask-distance-wash your hands” measures and the need for vaccination — even for individuals who have had a previous natural infection with SARS-CoV-2.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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