Johnson & Johnson will allocate 86 percent fewer doses across the United States next week than are currently being allocated, according to C.D.C. data. Around 15 million doses at a Baltimore factory had been contaminated, delaying the plant’s authorization.

A White House official warned that Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccines will be scarce until a troubled plant gains regulatory approval.

Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given at a community college in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given at a community college in Los Angeles on Wednesday.Credit…Richard Vogel/Associated Press

Supplies of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine will be extremely limited until federal regulators approve production at a Baltimore manufacturing plant with a pattern of quality-control lapses, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator said on Friday.

With allocations of the company’s vaccine set to plunge by 86 percent next week, governors across the country warned that the loss of supplies they had been counting on would set back their vaccination drives.

Federal officials said Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the other two federally authorized vaccine manufacturers, could make up some of the shortfall. They also pointed out that some states were not currently using all the vaccine allocated to them.

But increases from Moderna and Pfizer will not make up for the plunge in Johnson & Johnson supply. California will receive 400,000 fewer overall doses next week than this week, a drop of 15 percent, even with slight increases from Pfizer and Moderna. That will be followed by another 5 percent decrease the next week, state officials said on Friday. Officials in a broad band of states said the sudden drop in Johnson & Johnson supply would significantly slow inoculation efforts.

“The last thing we wanted to hear about was we’re getting less vaccines,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, told reporters Friday. “We were hoping to ramp up as they’ve been promising.”

In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, said, “We will not be able to get as many shots into New Yorkers’ arms as we would like.” He added, “As has been the case since the beginning of our vaccination effort, the X factor is supply, supply, supply.”

Some state health officials had hoped to use Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot, easily stored vaccine to target college students and other transient groups. Others were offering it at mass vaccination sites or directing it to rural areas.

Instead, shipment of doses of Johnson & Johnson next week will drop severely in states: California will fall from 572,700 to 67,600 doses, Texas from 392,100 to 46,300, Florida from 313,200 to 37,000 and Virginia from 253,400 to 27,900.

In Virginia, which will broaden vaccine eligibility to its entire adult population in nine days, the effect will be “huge,” Dr. Danny Avula, the state vaccine coordinator, said. He said that officials would have to warn people that even though they would be eligible to sign up for shots, appointments could be hard to come by.

Johnson & Johnson was a latecomer to winning federal authorization for emergency use, after Pfizer and Moderna. But as recently as late February, federal officials were projecting weekly deliveries of more than four million doses of the company’s vaccine in April, a significant increase to the nation’s vaccine stock. Only a quarter of those doses, at best, are now expected this month — all from the Netherlands — while federal regulators comb through the Baltimore factory that was supposed to take over for the Dutch plants.

The falloff comes as new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus are sending infection rates soaring in some parts of the country. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said on Friday that she had urged Mr. Biden to surge vaccines into her state, where an outbreak, the worst in the nation, has filled hospitals and forced some schools to close.

But the White House is reluctant to change the allocation formula for states, which doles out doses equally based on population. Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said on Friday that the administration did not plan to shift additional vaccine doses to hard-hit states like Michigan.

“At this point that’s not being deployed, but I am not giving up,” Ms. Whitmer said, describing a call Thursday evening with the president. “Today it’s Michigan and the Midwest. Tomorrow it could be another section of our country.”

The drop-off in Johnson & Johnson doses is directly tied to quality-control issues at the 112,000-square foot plant in southeast Baltimore, run by Emergent BioSolutions, a subcontractor to Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson discovered last month that Emergent workers had contaminated a batch of vaccine and was forced to discard the equivalent of 13 million to 15 million doses.



According to new CDC cleaning guidelines, soap—not disinfectant—is just fine in most situations.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, people scrambled to grab any kind of disinfectant they could get their hands on. Lysol and Clorox wipes became such a hot commodity that they started selling on Amazon for grossly inflated prices. Plenty of stores also started touting their cleanliness in ads, including Target, which has a sweet one about an ever-smiling manager mopping the outside entryway to her building at sunrise.

Now, it seems, all of that may have been for nothing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a science brief earlier this week that states that the average person’s risk of contracting COVID-19 from a surface is one in 10,000, or 0.01%. While the brief says that “it’s possible” for people to be infected with COVID-19 from touching an infected surface and then touching their nose, mouth, or eyes, the organization also says that the “risk is generally considered to be low.”

The CDC followed that up with new guidelines about cleaning your home, pointing out that regular household cleaners that contain soap and detergent are just fine for most people. (If you have someone in your home with a known COVID-19 infection, though, the CDC recommends using disinfectants.)

The takeaway? All of those intense cleanings amounted to what’s being called “hygiene theater.” This term is coming up a lot lately. Here’s a breakdown of what it means, and why it can even be harmful.Be honest: Did you load up on disinfectant products at the beginning of the pandemic?

What is hygiene theater, exactly?

Hygiene theater is a term used to describe the practice of taking hygiene measures to give off the feeling of improved safety without actually lowering risk of catching an illness—in this case, COVID-19. It refers to all of the stadiums, grocery stores, businesses, and even people in individual homes that have been doing intense cleaning since the pandemic began, even though there’s been little proven benefit from those sometimes extreme measures.

The term first became popular in a July 2020 article published in The Atlantic“What if this is all just a huge waste of time?” writer Derek Thompson mused. He later followed that up with a February 2021 article, stating that hygiene theater is “still a huge waste of time.”

Doctors agree that deep cleanings are largely useless in combatting the pandemic.

“It’s a waste of time,” Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease specialist and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Health. “People should focus their efforts on more productive endeavors.

Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, agrees. “It’s stupid,” he says. “People have been doing this from the very beginning and it’s just theater.”

The CDC says that it’s “possible” to contract COVID-19 from touching an infected surface and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, but far from the main way people contract the virus—by breathing in infected droplets. Dr. Adalja stresses that the risk of getting from surfaces is very low. “I’ve never cleaned my mail or groceries,” he says. “This doesn’t do very much. People transmit COVID-19 through close contact.”

This doesn’t mean you should take a vacation from cleaning regularly, though. “Obviously, if someone sneezes on a table and they have COVID, you want to clean it,” Dr. Adalja says. “But when someone goes to a podium after another person, and they’ve got people up there cleaning in between…that’s just foolish.”

What is the harm in hygiene theater?

While spending a lot of time cleaning on its own isn’t necessarily harmful—and it can be necessary for those who have underlying health issues like a lowered immune system—Dr. Adalja is concerned about the message it sends. “It gives people the wrong impression about what is and isn’t risky,” he says.

It also gives people a “false sense of security, because people don’t realize that’s not the main way they could get infected,” says Dr. Adalja. Take the example of wiping down groceries and mail with disinfecting wipes versus wearing a securely-fitted mask—the CDC clearly states that mask use is far more protective than cleaning those surfaces. But “if someone doesn’t know better, they think it’s what they should be doing instead,” says Dr. Adalja.

OK, so how should you be cleaning?

The CDC has incredibly detailed information on this, both for when everyone in your home is healthy and for when someone with a known COVID-19 infection is in your house.

At baseline, the CDC recommends that you clean your home “regularly” with standard household cleaners, and specifically suggests the following:

  • Clean high-touch surfaces regularly and after you have visitors in your home.
  • Focus on high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and countertops.
  • Clean other surfaces in your home when they are visibly dirty or as needed.
  • Clean surfaces using a product suitable for each surface, following instructions on the product label.

If someone in your home is sick, the CDC suggests taking these steps to clean your place:

  • Always follow the directions on the label of your disinfectants. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet with a disinfectant for a certain period of time.
  • Clean visibly dirty surfaces with household cleaners containing soap or detergent before disinfecting if your disinfectant product does not have a cleaning agent.
  • Use a disinfectant product from the Environmental Protection Agency’s List N of products that are effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Wear gloves for all tasks in the cleaning process.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds after you remove your gloves.

If you’ve been a fiend about cleaning during the pandemic, doctors say you can relax a bit. “I wouldn’t stress it,” Dr. Adalja says.


Image by Isabel Alcaine / Stocksy

If you’ve ever been stuck in your head spinning in overwhelm, feeling yourself starting to spiral downward into negativity, then learning how to breathe to calm your mind and shift anxious thoughts is a skill that will be a game-changer for you. 

The role of the breath in the nervous system.

Your breath is the link between your body and your mind because your breath is connected to your nervous system.

When the body is threatened, the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight acute stress response, is activated. This prepares the body to move into quick action to defend and protect itself: Pupils dilate, the heart pumps faster, blood pressure increases, and the breath becomes shallow and rapid.

When the threat is gone, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and creates the rest-and-digest or relaxation response. The heart rate and breath slow down, and the body begins to repair and rejuvenate itself.⁣ 

The fascinating thing is that the nervous system activates the body the same way, regardless of where the threat is coming from. The threat could be physically present (a lion chasing you) or one that your mind perceives to be threatening (a deadline at work, a conversation with a loved one, or a social event with friends). In any of these instances, the nervous system will activate the body through a cascade of hormones that then activates the physical body.

In other words, the mind has a direct effect on the breath via the nervous system. And the reverse is also true. By changing the pattern of your breath, you can also affect your nervous system, which, in turn, changes the physiology of your body and the state of your mind.⁣⁣

The most important thing to do when you have spinning, anxious thoughts racing through your mind is to find a way to get out of your head and down into your body. And your breath is the fastest way to do this. 

A 3-step practice to stop spinning in overwhelm.

When engaging in breathwork, these three tricks can make your practice more calming and effective:

1. Shift your awareness to your body.

Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and your hands placed gently in your lap. Soften your gaze and breathe with your natural rhythm. Begin to observe the movement of your breath in and out of your body.

2. Ground into the earth.

Feel the chair beneath you. Imagine roots growing down through the bottoms of your feet, deep into the earth.

3. Lengthen your exhale.

Now begin to extend your exhale by one or two counts. Continue breathing with an extended exhale for one to three minutes to shift into the parasympathetic state. By extending the exhale, you’re tapping into the power of the calming effect of the breath.

Bottom line.

Remember, breath is really powerful medicine. Plus, it’s free and you can use it anytime, anywhere. The next time you find that you’re spinning in overwhelm and need to calm your mind and shift your anxious thoughts, use your breath to help you get out of your head, down into your body, and into a more grounded state of being.


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