Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, January 19.
New virus strain pops up
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine pictured at Fire Station 36 in Pasadena on Dec. 28, 2020. Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNGThe problems keep racking up for California’s vaccine rollout.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan on Sunday recommended providers stop administering doses from a specific batch of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine following “a higher-than-usual number” of possibly severe allergic reactions at a mass vaccination site in San Diego. Although fewer than 10 people appeared to experience anaphylaxis, Pan issued the recommendation “out of an extreme abundance of caution.” More than 330,000 doses from the batch have been distributed to 287 providers across the state, representing about 10% of all doses in California’s possession.
With the batch off-limits until federal, state and company investigations are complete — and the federal government walking back its promise of giving the states additional doses — California’s sluggish vaccine rollout seems poised to hit another speed bump.
It’s another setback for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who appears to have fallen short of his goal of vaccinating 1 million additional Californians by Friday. Around 500,000 doses had already been administered when he announced the goal, and the state had administered only 1.3 million doses as of Saturday. Only five states have administered fewer doses per capita than California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, UC Hastings College of Law professor and vaccine expert: “Any rollout like this is bound to run into snags, but this level of problems is concerning. Every day we wait, thousands of people are at risk of dying.”
Another potential hitch emerged Sunday, when the state Department of Public Health announced that a new coronavirus strain — distinct from the possibly more infectious United Kingdom variant — had emerged in at least 12 California counties. The new strain is linked to several large outbreaks, including one at a Kaiser emergency room in San Jose that has infected more than 90 people and left at least one dead.
Experts said the new strain could potentially be more infectious and its mutations could possibly reduce the effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines.
- Dr. Charles Chiu, virologist UCSF professor of laboratory medicine: “The data so far is very preliminary, but it basically does raise the concern that there may be some impact on the vaccine.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 2,973,174 confirmed cases (+1% from previous day) and 33,593 deaths (+0.6% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.
Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.