A vial of the Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. George's University hospital in London in October 2020.

A vial of the Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. George's University hospital in London in October 2020. Alastair Grant / AP

Coronavirus Roundup: Another Possible Vaccine in the U.S.; AAPI Liaison Finding Her Footing

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

Novavax, a biotechnology company, announced on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 90.4% effective in its phase three clinical trials in Mexico and the United States. It is planning on filing for emergency use authorization in the third quarter of this year and, if approved, is on track to be able to produce 100 million doses per month by the end of the third quarter and 150 million per month by the end of the fourth quarter. “Novavax continues to work with a sense of urgency to complete our regulatory submissions and deliver this vaccine, built on a well understood and proven platform, to a world that is still in great need of vaccines,” said Stanley Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax. 

The company received $1.6 billion from the Trump administration's “Operation Warp Speed” last year to expedite its vaccine development and manufacturing, despite never bringing a vaccine to market in its 33-year history. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

Erika Moritsugu, appointed in April to be a deputy assistant to the president and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders senior liaison, said “the playbook is still being written, largely on the fly,” The Washington Post reported. While White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed (to whom she reports) wrote a memo about how she could approach the position––which includes addressing the rise in hate crimes during the pandemic–– “she has quickly discovered how unpredictable life in the West Wing can be.” Biden appointed Moritsugu after two Democratic senators threatened to hold up votes on his nominees because they said there wasn’t enough AAPI representation in the Cabinet. 

The Food and Drug Administration said on Friday two batches of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine doses produced at the embattled Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore can be used. However, “the FDA has determined several other batches are not suitable for use, but additional batches are still under review and the agency will keep the public informed as those reviews are completed.” According to The New York Times, about 10 million doses are suitable and 60 million are not. 

The agency said it’s still not ready to give the facility authorization to produce vaccines in the United States, but it “continues to work through issues there with Janssen and Emergent BioSolutions management.” The Times reported on a memo the FDA posted on Saturday that details the failures at the plant, which led to it contaminating 15 million Johnson & Johnson shots with the active ingredient for AstraZeneca’s vaccine. It was unclear until Friday which of millions of other doses could be used. 

During the pandemic-induced recessions, the social security system “appear(s) to have weathered the storm better than many policy analysts had predicted,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. However, there are still long-term challenges as “the programs are being squeezed by rising costs and declining revenues as the population ages and [people] are on track to deplete their trust fund reserves in the coming years.” 

The National Defense Industrial Association released the results of a survey on Monday about what’s next for the defense industry after the pandemic. Among the more than 200 NDIA members who were surveyed, 18.5% said their businesses have returned to normal operations, while 31.5% said they don’t expect to get back to normal for more than six months. Another finding was that almost 85% said their businesses aren’t requiring proof of vaccinations before coming back to work in person and a little over 11% said proof is required or will be. 

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