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January 22: Biden Covid plan pledges 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days

President Joe Biden will sign two more executive orders Friday, designed to alleviate economic pressures across the U.S.
Image: A member of medical staff reacts as a health worker inoculates her with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a government hospital in Hyderabad
A member of medical staff reacts as a health worker inoculates her with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a government hospital in Hyderabad, India on Friday.Noah Seelam / AFP - Getty Images

Live coverage on this blog has ended, click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19.

President Joe Biden will again step up his response to the pandemic with two more executive orders Friday morning, both designed to alleviate economic pressures across the nation.

Elsewhere, countries across the world have welcomed the United States' intention to rejoin global efforts to support vaccine rollouts, as plans to supercharge vaccine delivery nationally get underway.

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L.A. County cases, hospitalizations finally dropping

Los Angeles County had some good news Friday after more than two months of a deadly Covid-19 surge that has killed 4,000 residents since New Year's Day. 

New coronavirus cases decreased this week by 30 percent and the test positivity rate dropped to 12.7 percent from nearly 21 percent earlier in the month, public health officials said. 

Since last Friday, the daily number of people hospitalized has decreased by 8 percent.

“It is clear that careful actions many have been taking this month are making a difference. It is also apparent that the road ahead remains difficult," the county's public health director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, said in a statement. "Knowing that it will take months to complete vaccinations, and that there is a more infectious variant, means we need everyone to adhere to the rules that allow us to protect each other.”

Amazon plans pop-up clinic to vaccinate 2,000 in Seattle

Amazon on Thursday said it will open a pop-up clinic at its downtown Seattle campus Sunday to vaccinate about 2,000 eligible state residents.

"We're eager to help save lives here in our home state," Jay Carney, Amazon senior vice president for global corporate affairs, said at a news conference with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The clinic, operated with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, will operate for only a day, but Amazon said in a statement the two could pair up again for "future pop up clinic opportunities."

On Wednesday, Washington marked one year since federal health officials announced the first known U.S. coronavirus patient, a man who had traveled home to the Seattle area from the origin of the pandemic, Wuhan, China.

Shortly after Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday, Amazon, which says it has inoculated 1 million employees, offered to help the president accelerate the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

Inslee, meanwhile, announced the state was moving to its next phase of vaccination, which lowers the age limit from 70 to 65. 

California technologists create website to track vaccinations

For weeks, Patrick McKenzie had been reading and hearing about the frustrations of people in California trying to make appointments to get coronavirus vaccination for themselves or loved ones.

“The frustration and the fear involved in calling 20 hospitals and hearing no, no, no, no, no. I thought, there has to be a better way to do this,” McKenzie, a software developer at the online payment processing company Stripe, said.

So on the evening of Jan. 13, he tweeted a call to fellow techies to solve the problem. Less than four hours later, he and a team of 70 other technologists wrapped up with a six bullet-point plan.

By noon the next day, the team had launched, a website meant to be a one-stop destination for people looking for information on where and when vaccinations are available across the state. Users can search by region or county, or within a set radius of their ZIP code to find active vaccine distribution sites, eligibility and how to make an appointment.

Read the full story here.

CDC: Allergic reactions to Moderna vaccine appear to be extremely rare

Of the first 4 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to be administered in the U.S., 10 people experienced a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Early reports anaphylaxis in people who received the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the U.K. prompted U.S. health officials to pay particular attention to the potential for allergic reactions. Patients without allergies are observed for 15 minutes after getting the shot, and patients with allergies are observed for 30 minutes. Sites administering the vaccines are also expected to be able to treat anaphylaxis.

Of the 10 who experienced anaphylaxis from the Moderna vaccine, nine had other allergies, the CDC reported. Six had to be hospitalized, and four required intubation to help with breathing. All were women.

One person, who had previous allergic reactions to drugs, developed anaphylaxis a full 45 minutes after the initial shot. 

Earlier this month, the CDC released a similar report on the first 1.9 million people who received the Covid-19 vaccines, mostly those made by Pfizer. The rate of anaphylaxis among those recipients was 11.1 cases per million doses given. 

Based on the 4 million Moderna vaccines administered thus far, the CDC said the rate of anaphylaxis is 2.5 cases per million doses given. 

Covid-19 vaccines currently available require two doses for maximum protection, about a month apart. The CDC recommends that anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, with the first dose should skip the second.

Boris Johnson warns U.K. variant may be deadlier, but experts say it’s too soon to tell

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested Friday that the coronavirus variant discovered in the U.K. may be deadlier than other versions of the virus, though public health officials stressed that there is much uncertainty around this conclusion.

"In addition to spreading more quickly," Johnson said during a news conference, "it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant that was first identified in London … may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."

Click here to read the full story.

CDC says getting different vaccine for 2nd dose possible if there are shortages

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an update to its Covid-19 vaccine guidance that in "exceptional situations" people may receive a different vaccine for the second dose than they received for the first shot. 

In other words, if an individual got the Moderna vaccine as the first dose, the person could, if absolutely necessary, get the Pfizer vaccine as the second dose, and vice versa. 

The CDC stresses, however, that "every effort should be made to determine which vaccine product was received as the first dose, in order to ensure completion of the vaccine series with the same product." The agency notes that there is no data looking at using two different vaccines.

The "exceptional situations" described by the CDC are if the first-dose product that a person received cannot be determined, or if the first-dose product is no longer available. In these situations, the second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first. 

The interchangeability only applies to mRNA vaccines, which includes both Pfizer and Moderna. Future vaccines, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, do not use mRNA. 

The update was posted Thursday. 

Netherlands bans all flights from the U.K., South Africa, South America

The Netherlands is banning flights from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and some countries in South America, government officials announced Friday.

"The purpose of the flight ban is to prevent the further spread of new variants of coronavirus in the Netherlands and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba," the government said in a statement.

The ban extends to 15 countries in South America, including Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, according to the statement. Healthcare workers and patients are exempt from the bans.