Dr. Fauci Tries To Dispel Vaccine Hesitancy After U.S. Officials Question AstraZeneca Trials
- Dr. Anthony Fauci reaffirmed the safety of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday after U.S. health officials accused the company of providing “outdated and potentially misleading” data to make the shot appear more effective.
- On Monday, AstraZeneca said clinical trials found its vaccine to be 79% effective, but the group of independent experts overseeing the trial said that data did not include an additional month of testing that actually placed the efficacy rate at between 69% to 75%.
- The drugmaker issued another statement Tuesday claiming the 79% rate came from a partial report that was consistent with the full analysis and promised to publish that information within 48 hours.
- While Fauci criticized AstraZeneca for publishing a statement that “wasn’t completely accurate” and could contribute to vaccine hesitancy, he argued the data was still sound and the shot will prove very effective.
AstraZeneca Accused of Misrepresenting Data
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, continued his efforts to dispel vaccine hesitancy and restore confidence in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot on Wednesday after U.S. health officials cast doubt on its most recent clinical trials.
In a press release Monday, AstraZeneca announced that the large U.S. clinical for its COVID vaccine found the shots to be 79% effective. However, just hours later, a group of medical experts overseeing the trial wrote a letter essentially accusing the company of cherry-picking its data.
According to outlets that saw the letter, the experts said they were concerned that the drugmaker had provided “outdated and potentially misleading” data on its inoculation to make it seem more effective than the full data showed.
Reportedly, the independent monitors pushed back on AstraZeneca’s claim that the jab was 79% effective because that figure did not include an additional month of testing, which, when taken into account, made the effectiveness range from 69% to 75%.
AstraZeneca responded in another statement Tuesday, claiming that the numbers published the day prior were indeed based on “an interim analysis with a data cut-off” of Feb. 17. That data, the company claimed, was still consistent with the full analysis of their vaccine trials. They promised to release the complete trial within 48 hours.
Public health experts reiterated their apprehension, with many also expressing concern that the situation will cause more scrutiny from regulators and erode public trust in the inoculation at a time when there is already doubt.
Last week, a European regulator reaffirmed the vaccine’s safety after over a dozen countries paused their rollout of the shot citing concerns it caused blood clots. The U.S. clinical trial, which is the largest trial to date, did not turn up any signs of this problem.
Experts Work to Instill Public Confidence
While speaking on Good Morning America Tuesday, Dr. Fauci criticized the drugmaker for issuing a press release that “wasn’t completely accurate,” but emphasized the solidity of the data and the need for experts to reify public trust in the jab.
“This is really what you call an unforced error because the fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine,” he said. “This kind of thing does really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy. It was not necessary.”
“If you look at it, the data really are quite good,” he added. “We have to keep essentially trying as hard as we can to get people to understand there are safeguards in place.”
As Dr. Fauci and other public health officials have also noted, the 69% to 75% efficacy rate widely believed to represent the actual effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine is still quite good and similar to others on the market, like the one-shot Johnson & Johnson product.
Some experts have also said the AstraZeneca jab is arguably the world’s most important vaccine right now. The low cost and relatively easy storage compared to other COVID inoculations have made the AstraZeneca version especially accessible and thus absolutely critical in the global fight against the coronavirus. Currently, the COVID-19 shot is the most widely used globally, having been authorized in more than 70 countries.
While it has not yet been approved in the U.S., during a press conference Wednesday, Dr. Fauci assured Americans that the Food and Drug Administration’s review of the jab will be transparent.
“Hopefully, that will dispel any hesitancy associated with this little bump in the road we happened to have most recently with AstraZeneca,” he said.
“At the end of the day,” he added, the data shows that the AstraZeneca shot, “is going to turn out to be a good vaccine.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
White Supremacist Propaganda Reached Record High in 2022, ADL Finds
“We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
White supremacist propaganda in the U.S. reached record levels in 2022, according to a report published Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center of Extremism.
The ADL found over 6,700 cases of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, which marks a 38% jump from the nearly 4,900 cases the group found in 2021. It also represents the highest number of incidents ever recorded by the ADL.
The propaganda tallied by the anti-hate organization includes the distribution of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic flyers, banners, graffiti, and more. This propaganda has spread substantially since 2018, when the ADL found just over 1,200 incidents.
“There’s no question that white supremacists and antisemites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans with their propaganda,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash.”
The report found that there were at least 50 white supremacist groups behind the spread of propaganda in 2022, but 93% of it came from just three groups. One of those groups was also responsible for 43% of the white supremacist events that took place last year.
White supremacist events saw a startling uptick of their own, with the ADL documenting at least 167, a 55% jump from 2021.
Propaganda was found in every U.S. state except for Hawaii, and events were documented in 33 states, most heavily in Massachusetts, California, Ohio, and Florida.
“The sheer volume of white supremacist propaganda distributions we are documenting around the country is alarming and dangerous,” Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL’s Center on Extremism said in a statement. “Hardly a day goes by without communities being targeted by these coordinated, hateful actions, which are designed to sow anxiety and create fear.”
“We need a whole-of-society approach to combat this activity, including elected officials, community leaders, and people of good faith coming together and condemning this activity forcefully,” Segal continued.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (The New York Times)
Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years.
Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.
According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes.
On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.
“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press.
However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.
Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million.
If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.
Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.
As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval.
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Immigration Could Be A Solution to Nursing Home Labor Shortages
98% of nursing homes in the United States are experiencing difficulty hiring staff.
The Labor Crisis
A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper has offered up a solution to the nursing home labor shortage: immigration.
According to a 2022 American Health Care Association survey, six in ten nursing homes are limiting new patients due to staffing issues. The survey also says that 87% of nursing homes have staffing shortages and 98% are experiencing difficulty hiring.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) outlined in their paper that increased immigration could help solve the labor shortage in nursing homes. Immigrants make up 19% of nursing home workers.
With every 10% increase in female immigration, nursing assistant hours go up by 0.7% and registered nursing hours go up by 1.1% And with that same immigration increase, short-term hospitalizations of nursing home residents go down by 0.6%.
Additionally, the State Department issued 145% more EB-3 documents, which are employment-based visas, for healthcare workers in the 2022 fiscal year than in 2019, suggesting that more people are coming to the U.S. to work in health care.
However, according to Skilled Nursing News, in August of 2022, the approval process from beginning to end for an RN can take between seven to nine months.
Displeasure about immigration has exploded since Pres. Joe Biden took office in 2021. According to a Gallup study published in February, around 40% of American adults want to see immigration decrease. That is a steep jump from 19% in 2021, and it is the highest the figure has been since 2016.
However, more than half of Democrats still are satisfied with immigration and want to see it increased. But with a divided Congress, the likelihood of any substantial immigration change happening is pretty slim.