How long do vaccines last?
That's now a critical question as the Biden administration prepares to send tens of millions of unused COVID-19 doses abroad to help curb the pandemic.
Some state officials have said in recent days that some unused doses may expire by the end of the month, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that looming expiration dates were a factor as the administration works to get the doses sent out as quickly as possible.
Many drugs and vaccines can last for years if stored properly, but all can eventually start losing effectiveness much like how food can degrade in a pantry. Vaccine providers keep an eye on the expiration dates that come with each batch, to ensure they're using up their supplies in time.
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In other developments:
- President Joe Biden announced the U.S. will swiftly donate a first tranche of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine overseas through the U.N.-backed COVAX program, promising infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others at a time of glaring shortages abroad and more than ample supplies at home.
- White House officials say U.S. producers of vaccine materials and ingredients will no longer have to prioritize orders from three companies — AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi — working on COVID-19 shots. The change is expected to ease global shortages of key vaccine materials for overseas companies and governments.
- California is set to fully reopen in less than two weeks and do away with virtually all mask and social distancing requirements for vaccinated people. But officials who regulate workplaces in the state aren't ready to go that far and that's angering business groups.
- The World Health Organization’s top vaccines expert said that immunizing children against COVID-19 is not a high priority from a WHO perspective, given the extremely limited global supply of doses.
- COVID-19 vaccine shipments have ground to “a near halt” in Africa while virus cases have spiked 20% over the last two weeks, the World Health Organization said, a bleak scenario for the continent on both those critical fronts.
- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week for a fifth straight week to a new pandemic low, the latest evidence that the U.S. job market is regaining its health as the economy further reopens.
- The European Union unveiled plans for a digital ID wallet that residents could use to access services across the 27-nation bloc, part of a post-pandemic recovery strategy that involves accelerating the shift to an online world.