While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for January 18

Coronavirus

COVID-19 variant to become predominant strain in the US by March. The more contagious COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K. will likely become the predominant strain in the U.S. by March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC warned that the strain, called B.1.1.7, could lead to a spike in cases across the U.S. It has already been detected in ten states.

The strain has been circulating in the U.K. since September and has quickly become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the region.

“Taking measures to reduce transmission now can lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7 and allow critical time to increase vaccination coverage,” the CDC said.

West Virginia becomes the leading state in administering coronavirus vaccines. Griffith & Feil Drug has been in business since 1892, a family-owned, small-town pharmacy. This isn’t their first pandemic.

More than a century after helping West Virginians confront the Spanish flu in 1918, the drugstore in Kenova, a community of about 3,000 people, is helping the state lead the nation in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation’s otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout, largely because of the state’s decision to reject a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens and instead enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents against the virus that has killed over 395,000 Americans.

More shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state, with at least 7.5% of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data.

Israel trades medical data for Pfizer vaccine. After sprinting ahead in the race to inoculate its population against the coronavirus, Israel has struck a deal with Pfizer, promising to share vast troves of medical data with the international drug giant in exchange for the continued flow of its hard-to-get vaccine.

Proponents say the deal could allow Israel to become the first country to vaccinate most of its population, while providing valuable research that could help the rest of the world. But critics say the deal raises major ethical concerns, including possible privacy violations and a deepening of the global divide that enables wealthy countries to stockpile vaccines as poorer populations, including Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, have to wait longer to be inoculated.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who is stumping ahead of the country’s March elections as Israel’s vaccinator-in-chief — said earlier this month that he reached the deal with Pfizer’s chief executive to speed up vaccine deliveries to Israel.

“Israel will be a global model state,” he said. “Israel will share with Pfizer and with the entire world the statistical data that will help develop strategies for defeating the coronavirus.”

Chinese city reports coronavirus found on ice cream. The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch, according to the government.

The Daqiaodao Food Co., Ltd. in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for the coronavirus, a city government statement said. There was no indication anyone had contracted the virus from the ice cream. 

Most of the 29,000 cartons in the batch had yet to be sold, the government said. It said 390 sold in Tianjin were being tracked down and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas.

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