Cases fall 30% since January peak; most pregnant women shouldn't get Moderna vaccine, WHO says — 8 COVID-19 updates

The nation's seven-day COVID-19 case average has dropped by more than 30 percent since peaking Jan. 12, with the lowest weekly case average recorded since Nov. 30, reports The COVID Tracking Project. 

Virus-related hospitalizations are also decreasing in every major U.S. region. However, seven-day COVID-19 death averages are rising, with 21 states reporting at least a 10 percent increase compared to last week.  

Seven more updates:

1. January has surpassed December as the nation's deadliest pandemic month, according to data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University. More than 79,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19 this month, compared to an estimated 77,000 deaths last month.

2. A new study provides more evidence that the South Africa variant evades antibody treatment, reports The New York Times. The study, published Jan. 26 on the pre-print server bioRxiv, has yet to be peer-reviewed. Researchers at New York City-based Columbia University found activity of Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody, along with one of the two made by Regeneron, was "completely or markedly abolished" when tested against the variant known as B.1.351. Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks had previously said he was unsure if the drugmaker's antibody drug would be effective against the variant identified in South Africa. 

3. An additional 90,000 deaths could occur by Feb. 20 if the pandemic's current trajectory continues, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said during a Jan. 27 COVID-19 media briefing. The prediction is based on forecasts of national COVID-19 deaths over the next four weeks from 38 modeling groups.

4.The White House is considering tapping other drugmakers to produce COVID-19 vaccines by use of the Defense Production Act, acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said during the same media briefing. "I don't want to talk about specific names per se, but I will say that we are exploring every possible option," Mr. Slavitt said.

5. HHS misused millions of dollars intended for vaccine research and public health emergencies for at least a decade, according to a report from HHS's Office of Inspector General. The funds were allegedly spent on administrative expenses, legal services, unrelated salaries and, in one instance, the removal of office furniture, the report found.

6. Most pregnant women should not receive Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the World Health Organization said in a Jan. 25 guidance. The recommendations say only pregnant women at high risk of exposure or of developing a severe case should get vaccinated, according to The Wall Street Journal. The WHO issued a similar guidance for Pfizer's vaccine earlier this month.

7. The CDC has confirmed 315 cases of the U.K. coronavirus variant, known as B.1.1.7, in 28 states as of Jan. 27.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 25,600,243

Deaths: 429,230

Counts reflect data available as of 9 a.m. CST Jan. 28.

More articles on public health:
Millions allocated to vaccine research fund misused for years, US special counsel says
16 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Jan. 28
COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Jan. 28


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