There’s good news and bad news on covid-19 this week. On the one hand, several million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine authorized by the FDA for emergency use are already going into the arms of people around the nation. And the Biden administration has brokered a deal with rival manufacturer Merck to produce even more doses of the J&J vaccine, which can be transported and administered more easily than the covid vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
But at the same time, the covid-19 caseload is starting to rise again, and public health experts worry that boost could be accelerated by the spread of more transmissible virus variants that might not be covered by the available vaccines. Nevertheless, Republican governors in several states, including Texas, are rolling back some public health precautions, including mask mandates, over the objections of federal health officials.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet.