Johnson & Johnson vaccine deliveries delayed; black fungus appearing more frequently in India: Latest COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

A federal advisory committee meeting today is expected to sign off on allowing one vaccine to go into adolescent arms – but states might not receive any doses of another vaccine next week.

White House officials told governors on a private call Tuesday that new supply of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose shot wasn’t immediately available for ordering, Politico reported, citing four sources it did not name. J&J’s vaccine output has been limited since its authorization in late February – and in April, federal health officials paused its use for 11 days after a rare blood-clotting disorder was associated with the shot.

But the Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12-15. Assuming the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the shots, they could be available as soon as Thursday, FDA officials said.

Also in the news:

►COVID is exploding across much of Asia, overwhelming hospitals and healthcare, warned Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. More people have been diagnosed in Asia over the past two weeks than in the Americas, Europe, and Africa combined. 

►Mexico’s popular tourist city of Cancun is battling a “highly concerning” surge in infections despite improvements across most of Mexico, Gov. Carlos Joaquín said.

►The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported zero new deaths in the entire state Tuesday as 3 million residents are now fully vaccinated.

►Just 11% of American adults who remain unvaccinated for COVID-19 say they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won’t, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Another 27% say they probably will and 27% say they probably won’t.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 582,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 159.7 million cases and 3.31 million deaths. More than 334 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 263.1 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 116.5 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 35.1% of the population.

📘 What we’re reading: Here are answers to some of your top questions on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in younger teens.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

CDC panel to decide if Pfizer vaccine is safe for kids

A federal advisory committee meets today to decide whether to recommend Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12-15. The Food and Drug Administration signed off Monday on the shots, saying that the vaccine was safe and effective for adolescents. 

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review data from a trial run by the companies. They tested the vaccine in more than 1,000 adolescents, giving an equal number a placebo. Among the 2,260 participants, only 16 developed COVID-19, all of whom received the placebo. None of the adolescents suffered a severe reaction to the vaccine and side effects were in line with those seen in younger adults, largely short-lived pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle aches and headache. 

The same committee signed off in December on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adults and teens ages 16-17.

Elizabeth Weise

Deadly ‘black fungus’ is appearing more frequently in India

A rare but life-threatening fungal infection is appearing more frequently in India’s COVID patients while coronavirus cases soar to more than 350,000 per day, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Mucormycosis, also known as “black fungus,” is caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes, which tend to live in soil and decaying organic matter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past decade, doctors have seen only a handful of cases in India. But in the past month, they’re reporting tens of thousands of cases, said Dr. Bhakti Hansoti, associate professor in the department of emergency medicine and international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“It consumes a lot of resources especially during this pandemic right now in India where health care resources are stretched at the limit,” she said.

Adrianna Rodriguez

US COVID deaths reach lowest level in 14 months

After weeks of the United States reporting around 700 COVID-19 deaths per day, the country is now averaging about 600 deaths a day. It’s been 10 months since the death toll was that low. In January, 3,100 Americans died per day.

May is on track to be the least-deadly month of the pandemic since March 2020.

Death trends typically follow case trends a few weeks later, and the country’s cases hit a recent peak several weeks ago. Since then, the pace of cases has plunged: The country is now averaging about 38,000 cases a day, little more than half of the 71,000 cases a day that were being reported less than a month ago. 

Mike Stucka

WHO warns ‘variant of concern’ from India may be more contagious

Though the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths globally slightly decreased this week, the World Health Organization is warning there may be trouble on the horizon. In a weekly report published Tuesday, the WHO warned that a variant first discovered in India may be more contagious than most versions of the coronavirus. Though impacts from vaccines on the triple-mutant virus are unclear, there is some evidence it may able to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines. 

The report also said the variant was probably one of several contributing factors contributing to the crushing surge sweeping over India in recent weeks. Indian health care and funeral facilities have been overwhelmed, with hospitals routinely running out of oxygen and crematoriums operating 24 hours a day.

These 9 states will end participation in unemployment assistance programs

At least nine states have announced that they will be ending participation in federal unemployment assistance programs directed at alleviating problems produced by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee informed the U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and South Carolina. Many state governors echoed the importance of small businesses in their statements. But others pointed to worker shortages and labor issues threaten to restrain the pace of economic growth. Many Republican experts blame it on the extra unemployment benefits.

“Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes,” Lee said in a statement.

Taking vaccines to people: Governors share success stories with Biden

As the federal government reaches out to the tens of millions of Americans who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine, even offering free transportation to get the shots, President Joe Biden listened to a handful of governors Tuesday about what has worked in their states.

One common theme: Convenience matters. 

To that effect, Biden announced a deal with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft to take people to and from vaccination sites for free from May 24-July 4. Biden, who suggested the CDC would soon issue new guidance on what vaccinated people can do, is aiming for 70% of the nation’s adults to have gotten at least one dose by Independence Day.

During Biden’s call with the Republican governors of Ohio, Utah and Massachusetts, along with the Democratic governors of Maine, Minnesota and New Mexico, a recurring theme was the importance of mobile units, pop-ups, and walk-ins to make the jabs more easily available.

“It’s going out, it’s trying to be innovative, trying to figure out how do we take it directly to people,’’ said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, adding that there’s been a lot of interest in the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “They want that one shot and to be done.”

Jorge L. Ortiz

Contributing: The Associated Press.