Weekly hospitalizations dip after 16-week increase; vaccines appear less effective against South Africa strain — 6 COVID-19 updates

Average weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped 4 percent this week after increasing for 16 consecutive weeks, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

Five more updates: 

1. President Joe Biden signed an executive order Jan. 21 requiring masks in airports and on most public transportation, reports The Washington Post. The president also signed nine other executive orders and shared a 198-page pandemic response plan. Read more here

2. Eli Lilly's antibody treatment reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection for nursing home residents by up to 80 percent, according to research released Jan. 21. The neutralizing antibody bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) was given to half of about 1,000 study participants, while the other half were given a placebo. The study found a significantly lower frequency of symptomatic COVID-19 in the treatment group versus placebo.

3. COVID-19 vaccines appear to be less effective against the coronavirus strain initially identified in South Africa, also known as 501Y.V2, according to three new studies cited by The Wall Street Journal. "501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma," researchers at South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases wrote, according to CNBC. Even if the vaccines are less effective, they will still likely provide some protection, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the president, said during a Jan. 21 White House news briefing.

4. Florida officials on Jan. 21 limited COVID-19 vaccines to state residents in response to growing reports of "vaccine tourism," reports the Tallahassee Democrat. The state will require people to show proof of residency before they get vaccinated. Florida was previously giving the vaccine to anyone 65 and older, and some anecdotal reports claim people were flying to the state to get vaccinated.

5. This was COVID-19's deadliest week yet in Alabama, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. The state reported its highest number of weekly deaths during the pandemic and also had the second-highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita last week, the Tracking Project said.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 24,633,805

Deaths: 410,383

Counts reflect data available as of 9:15 a.m. CST Jan. 22.

More articles on public health:
Biden to sign 10 exec orders on pandemic response; variants may drive high infection rate through spring — 6 COVID-19 updates
States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered 
23 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Jan. 22


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