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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 rates are once again surging across the country. Infection rates and hospitalizations are rising. The US has surpassed 11 million cases and has reached nearly 250,000 deaths. Cases and deaths in congregate settings are, once again, rising disproportionately, with a recent report finding COVID-19 cases in nursing facilities have risen fourfold in many states in this latest surge; and we know people in other congregate settings are facing the same dire situation.

Congress is still stalled on their COVID-19 relief efforts. While both the House and the Senate listed passing another COVID-19 relief bill as a post-election priority, major disagreements on how to move forward remain. With the election behind us, we will need to ramp up our advocacy efforts once again to get Congress to pass the pandemic relief we so desperately need. 

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, however, have gotten to work. Last week they named the members of their coronavirus task force, who will work to develop a plan for fighting COVID-19 under the new Administration. See the list of members and brief descriptions. They also launched their transition website, buildbackbetter.com, which includes an outline of their plan to beat COVID

Another announcement that came out last week is Pfizer and BioNTech’s news that their vaccine candidate is showing 90% effectiveness after an initial analysis. Then, this week, Moderna also announced their vaccine is over 90% effective. Both companies expect to be ready to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization by the end of the month. Per their announcements, Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses available globally by the end of the year (each regimen requires two doses) and up to 1.3 billion doses available during 2021; Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready to ship in the US by the end of 2020 and estimates it can make 500 million to 1 billion doses next year. While this is great news, experts are cautioning that it will still take many months before the vaccine is widely available, and there are still some questions remaining, including how long immune protection lasts, how effective it will be for different groups of people (including immunocompromised people), and how distribution will play out. That said, this is incredibly promising, and there are currently two other vaccine candidates still in trials that expect to have results as early as next month.

We will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available or as advocacy is needed.

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