coronavirus

Mass. Reports 5,632 New COVID-19 Cases, Bringing Total Above 300K

There have now been 11,358 confirmed deaths and 302,933 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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Massachusetts reported 5,632 new confirmed coronavirus cases and an additional 53 deaths on Friday.

There have now been 11,358 confirmed deaths and 302,933 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 252 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, ticked up to 6.13%, according to the report.

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has increased to 1,874. Of that number, 370 were listed as being in intensive care units and 204 are intubated, according to DPH.

Friday's numbers were announced just hours before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve the second coronavirus vaccine.

With the Moderna vaccine poised for approval, as many as six million doses could start going out on Monday. While similar to Pfizer's vaccine, Moderna's does not have to be stored at super-cold temperatures, which will expand distribution options.

An FDA panel had endorsed Cambridge-based Moderna's vaccine on Thursday.

Dr. Eric Rubin, the Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, was on the FDA panel that voted to approve the vaccine for emergency use. While similar to Pfizer's vaccine, Moderna's does not have to be stored at super-cold temperatures which will expand distribution options.

"Large hospitals have those freezers, for example. But your pharmacy, your doctor's office, they don't have ultra-low temperature storage," Dr. Rubin said. "Everyone has a freezer. A regular freezer so the Moderna vaccine might be a lot more accessible." 

Both vaccines have side effects like headaches and sore arms that are uncomfortable but not dangerous. Both require two doses, though there is some question about that.

Dr. Michael Mina is an epidemiologist at Harvard who says the Pfizer vaccine has shown robust protection 12 to14 days after the first shot. 

“It really warrants an immediate investigation and beginning of new trials to see can we vaccinate twice as many people by using only a single dose," he said.

Dr. Mina says if we can do that, we would reach herd immunity much quicker, but there's one hang-up.

"Vaccine manufacturers have a lot riding on keeping a two-dose regimen. It's just the fact," he said. "There is a lot of money on the table and there's no reason why a vaccine manufacturer wants a single dose over a two-dose regimen." 

Just days into the historic rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, Massachusetts officials were informed by the feds that the state's next shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine won't include as many doses as promised -- reduced from 60,000 to only 42,000.
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