If you had trouble finding a vaccine appointment before, try again: Vaccines continue to become easier and easier to come by in Washington, as supply loosens up and the most eager residents have already been vaccinated.
In one example, through Saturday, 1,000 vaccine shots will be available on a walk-in, no-appointment-needed basis daily at two of King County’s largest vaccination sites, the ShoWare Center in Kent and the mall in Auburn. Meanwhile, the state will now distribute vaccines based on providers’ requests rather than by county, hoping to get doses more efficiently to the places where people continue to seek them.
Shake-up at COVID vaccine manufacturer that tossed millions of doses
Executives of Emergent BioSolutions, the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer that was forced to discard up to 15 million doses because of possible contamination, reported a shake-up in leadership Thursday and offered the most fulsome defense yet of the company’s performance.
While announcing the high-level personnel changes and taking responsibility for the ruined doses, executives nonetheless forecast record revenues this year of nearly $2 billion.
Robert Kramer, the CEO, speaking on a call with investors, said one senior vice president overseeing manufacturing would depart the company while another executive would go on leave. A third official, Mary Oates, who recently joined Emergent after a long tenure at Pfizer, is now leading the company’s response to a recent federal inspection that found serious flaws at the Baltimore facility that produced the vaccines.
—The New York Times
AstraZeneca delivers 68 million COVID shots in 1st quarter
AstraZeneca says it delivered about 68 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine during the first three months of 2021 after the shot became one of the first approved for widespread use.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker on Friday reported $275 million in revenue from sales of the vaccine, or the equivalent of $4.04 per dose. AstraZeneca has pledged that it will deliver the vaccine on a non-profit basis as long as the pandemic lasts.
The company said 30 million doses of the vaccine went to the European Union, 26 million to the U.K., 7 million to Gavi, an alliance that secures vaccines for low-income countries, and 5 million to other nations.
—The Associated Press
Affluent Americans rush to retire in new ‘life-is-short’ mindset
After a year of early morning Zoom calls, the specter of a deadly virus and soaring stock and real estate values, working American baby boomers who can afford it plan to get out while the getting’s good.
About 2.7 million Americans age 55 or older are contemplating retirement years earlier than they’d imagined because of the pandemic, government data show. They’re more likely to be white, a group that typically has a larger amount of accumulated wealth, and many cite robust retirement accounts and COVID-19 fatigue for their early exit, according to interviews with wealth managers and federal surveys.
Much like the U.S. economy’s so-called K-shaped recovery, the pandemic is treating the affluent differently, empowering them to leave corporate life early. Others who lost jobs had to delay retirement, or grew discouraged and retired before they were ready.
—Michael Sasso and Alexandre Tanzi, Bloomberg
Belgium cultural venues to defy indoor ban, reopen illegally
Dozens of cinemas, theaters and other venues in Belgium are defying government orders and reopening their doors Friday to protest the country’s ongoing shutdown of cultural activities.
After more than six months without revenue, venue owners say Belgium’s ongoing ban on indoor cultural events is proof of “an unacceptable inequality of treatment” their industry has experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no evidence that culture should take second place to supermarkets, zoos or any other activity that generates social contact,” owners participating in Still Standing For Culture, an activism collective, said. “The cultural spring has finally arrived."
—Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
Pfizer, BioNTech seek EU’s OK to use COVID vaccine on kids
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech have submitted a request to the European drug regulator for the approval of their coronavirus vaccine to be extended to include children 12 to 15 years old, in a move that could offer younger and less at-risk populations in Europe access to the shot for the first time.
In a statement Friday, the two pharmaceuticals said their submission to the European Medicines Agency is based on an advanced study in more than 2,000 adolescents that showed their vaccine to be safe and effective. The children will continue to be monitored for longer-term protection and safety for another two years.
BioNTech and Pfizer have previously requested their emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also be extended to children 12 to 15 years old.
—The Associated Press
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Only 42% of fully vaccinated Washingtonians are men, and the gender divide is clearest in parts of Western Washington, a county-by-county look shows. Several forces are probably at work here, according to public health experts who are scrambling to find a message that resonates with the fence-sitters. And nationwide, researchers are realizing that it often won't help to pelt people with more facts. Instead, a clear set of psychological traits offers a new lens through which to understand the skepticism.
The new federal guidance on masks comes as COVID-19 infections rise in Washington, which might lead you to wonder whether it's wise to ease up. Our state’s health officials break this down in today's FAQ Friday.
One key to preventing the virus' spread: the air students breathe. Are Washington schools doing enough with classroom ventilation?
Is it safe to return to something resembling pre-COVID life after vaccination? Several public health experts are describing the changes they're making in their own lives, and the precautions they're not letting go of yet.
Emergency U.S. aid began arriving in India today, as burial grounds ran out of space and officials told residents to stay away from depleted vaccination centers. The Seattle area's Indian community is mobilizing to help.
Seattle Times staff & news services