COVID-19 Updates: Study Finds Fault with 6-Feet Distancing, J&J Vaccine Given Green Light Again, New Jersey Company Awarded for COVID-19 Testing

Sign telling people where to stand to honor 6-feet social distancing with a person's running shoes at bottom

At least 147 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, April 26, 2021, including at least 3.11 million deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported at least 32.1 million positive COVID-19 cases and at least 572,000 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

At least 1.03 billion individual doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide as of Monday evening, including at least 229 million in the United States. Source: GitHub

MIT study finds fault with 6-feet distancing

The standard 6 feet of social distancing that have been promoted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic may offer little to no affect on reducing risk of exposure indoors, according to a new study by researchers at MIT.

The 6-feet rule is reportedly based on an outdated understanding of how the coronavirus moves in closed spaces, according to the study. Other variables, such as the number of people in a space, the use of masks, the types of activities, and the level of ventilation within the space are much more important factors, researchers say.

In some cases, exposure level could be the same at 6 feet as at 60 feet, and a better way of controlling indoor exposure is to conduct individual calculations based on variables for that space, the study found.

MIT professors developed a formula to estimate how long it would take for someone to hit dangerous levels of exposure from one infected person entering a room. The calculation is a more sophisticated version of the traffic-light system previously proposed by MIT.

J&J vaccine given green light again

Johnson & Johnson officials have announced that the company’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has been resumed for all adults aged 18 years and older in the United States under the Emergency Use Authorization following a decision from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The decision was based on a recommendation from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which followed a rigorous evaluation of data relating to a very rare adverse event involving blood clots in combination with low platelet counts (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia) observed within approximately 1-2 weeks following vaccination.

“As the global pandemic continues to devastate communities around the world, we believe a single-shot, easily transportable COVID-19 vaccine with demonstrated protection against multiple variants can help protect the health and safety of people everywhere,” said Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson. “We will collaborate with health authorities around the world to educate healthcare professionals and the public to ensure this very rare event can be identified early and treated effectively.”

Johnson & Johnson has updated its fact sheets for healthcare providers, recipients, and caregivers to include information about the diagnosis and treatment of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.

The CDC, FDA and American Society of Hematology have also made information available about the proper recognition and management of this medical condition and the unique treatment required for this type of blood clot. Health authorities advise that people who have received the vaccine and develop severe headache, chest pain, swelling in the leg, abdominal pain, tiny blood spots under the skin, or excessive bruising within two weeks after vaccination should immediately be evaluated.

Company officials said they also continue to work with other healthcare authorities and regulators to ensure appropriate information is included in product labels for the vaccine. The European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee has also issued a recommendation, confirming the overall benefit-risk profile of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine remains positive.

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New Jersey company awarded for COVID-19 testing

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, an in vitro diagnostics company based in Raritan, NJ, has been recognized with a silver 2021 Edison Award for its VITROS® COVID-19 test, a mass-scale testing option.

The Edison Awards is an annual competition honoring excellence in new product and service development, marketing, design, and innovation. The awards committee recognized Ortho’s antibody and antigen test in the “Innovation” subcategory for Accelerated Testing Solutions after reviewing more than 7,000 products and services and more than 400 nominations for new products and services development, according to Ortho officials. This is the company’s fourth Edison Award.

“When the world needed highly accurate COVID-19 diagnostic solutions, Ortho leveraged over 80 years of experience in infectious disease and quickly launched three high-quality COVID-19 tests, enabling fast, accurate results healthcare teams, researchers, and government officials could trust,” said Chockalingam Palaniappan, PhD, chief innovation officer at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, in a prepared statement. “We are honored to be recognized for our contribution to the pandemic and will continue to deliver solutions to help our customers and their patients understand this virus, immunity, and help aid reopening measures in the wake of vaccines.”

Ortho was the first company to launch high-volume COVID-19 antibody and antigen tests with U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization.

Stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news developments. Visit our Resource Center each week for new COVID-19 updates—plus a variety of other resources for healthcare professionals.

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