Democrats Embrace Manchin’s Voting Rights Proposal


Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Democrats and progressive activists who have been working for months on a sweeping voting rights bill quickly embraced on Thursday a new, far narrower plan suddenly put forward by Senator Joe Manchin III, their party’s sole holdout on the issue.

Their decision to do so did nothing to improve the chances that the legislation could get through the Senate, but it reflected another significant goal for Democrats: uniting the party around what it has billed as its highest priority and showing that, were it not for Republican opposition and the filibuster, the elections overhaul would become law.

Much to the growing consternation of Senate Republicans, the alternative ideas put forward by Mr. Manchin — a centrist from West Virginia and the only Democrat who has refused to support what is known as S. 1 — quickly gained traction with progressive Democrats and activists, most notably Stacey Abrams, the voting rights champion in Georgia.

On Thursday, she praised his plan, even though it is more limited in scope than the original Democratic measure. The proposal would make Election Day a holiday, require 15 days of early voting and ban partisan gerrymandering, among other steps.

“What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible, no matter your geography,” Ms. Abrams, a former candidate for Georgia governor, said on CNN.

Given her national standing on the issue, her endorsement was a huge boost for Mr. Manchin’s approach — though it only hardened Republican opposition to a measure they have made clear that they intend to block at all costs.

But as far as Senate Democrats are concerned, it is Mr. Manchin whose support is most important. The reason is the magic number of 50.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has hesitated to bring top Democratic priorities to the floor this year without the backing of all 50 senators. Given the Senate’s even partisan split, it takes every Democrat and Democratic-leaning independent, plus the tiebreaking power of Vice President Kamala Harris, to guarantee a majority. Then, if Republicans mount a filibuster, Democrats can point out that they had the votes to approve legislation, bolstering their argument that the Senate rules are being abused by Republicans and unfairly impeding highly popular policy changes.

With a test vote on the measure looming next week, Mr. Manchin’s opposition to the voting rights measure threatened to be a major embarrassment for Democrats.

So if Mr. Manchin could be brought on board, Democrats appeared more than ready to agree. As Mr. Schumer took procedural steps to set up a vote on the elections bill as early as Tuesday, a spokesman was quick to note that the measure being put on the floor could “act as the vehicle for the voting rights legislation being discussed with Senator Manchin.”

With Mr. Manchin’s support, Democrats could then claim at least a symbolic victory, if not a legislative one, when Republicans block the bill through a filibuster.

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Biden Pleads With Americans: ‘Get Vaccinated Now’

With the nation unlikely to reach President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults partly vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 4, he trumpeted a different milestone: 300 million shots given in his first 150 days.

I’m pleased to announce that today we will have reached the mark of 300 million shots in arms in just 150 days. Folks, we’re heading into a very different summer compared to last year, a bright summer, preferably a summer of joy. And the truth is that deaths and hospitalizations are drastically down in places where people are getting vaccinated, but unfortunately, cases and hospitalizations are not going down in many places in the lower vaccination rate states. But the good news is we have the solution. The science and the data are clear: The best way to protect yourself against these variants are to get fully vaccinated. So please, please, if you have one shot, get the second shot as soon as you can. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated get vaccinated now.

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With the nation unlikely to reach President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults partly vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 4, he trumpeted a different milestone: 300 million shots given in his first 150 days.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

With the United States unlikely to reach President Biden’s self-imposed deadline of having 70 percent of American adults partly vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 4, he trumpeted a different milestone: 300 million shots administered in his first 150 days in office.

Mr. Biden spoke about the vaccination drive from the White House as his administration makes a last push to reach the July 4 goal. Vice President Kamala Harris and the health and human services secretary Xavier Becerra were both on the road Friday, trying to drum up enthusiasm about the vaccine. Ms. Harris was in Atlanta and Mr. Becerra was headed to Colorado.

“It’s an important milestone,” the president said, touting his administration’s work. “It just didn’t happen on its own or by chance.” He described the federal effort as the one of “biggest, most complicated logistical challenges in American history.”

Mr. Biden took office warning of a “dark winter” ahead, as deaths were near peak levels and vaccinations were barely underway, and he is clearly trying to portray the virus as in retreat as he nears six months in office. A fact sheet distributed by the White House in advance of Friday’s remarks noted that 15 states and Washington, D.C., have gotten at least 70 percent of adults one shot.

“The results are clear: America is starting to look like America again, and entering a summer of joy and freedom,” the document proclaimed.

When Mr. Biden set the July 4 goal in early May, he said meeting it would demonstrate that the United States had taken “a serious step toward a return to normal,” and for many people that already seems to be the case. This week, California and New York lifted virtually all of their pandemic restrictions on business and social distancing.

But the time frame is tight. An analysis by The New York Times shows that, if the rate of adult vaccinations continues on the seven-day average, the country will fall just short of Mr. Biden’s 70 percent goal, with 67.6 percent of American adults having had their first shot by July 4.

As of Friday, 65 percent of adults have had at least one shot, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the number of Americans getting their first shot has been dropping steadily, from about 500,000 a day to about 200,000 a day since Mr. Biden announced that June would be a “month of action” to reach his goal.

“I don’t see an intervention that could really bring back an exponential increase in demand to get the kind of numbers that we probably need to get to 70 percent,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health officials. “Every day it seems like it’s starting to trickle along. So I think realistically, probably the best thing we could do is to try to get to steady state at this lower level.”

Experts say that from a disease control perspective, the difference between 67 percent and 70 percent is insignificant. But from a political perspective, it would be the first time Mr. Biden has set a pandemic-related goal that he has not met. Mr. Biden has continually set relatively modest targets for himself and exceeded them, including his pledge to get 100 million shots in the arms of Americans by his first 100 days in office.

Annie Karni contributed reporting.

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Catholic Church Advances Ruling to Deny Biden Communion

The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, which would not allow President Biden to take communion because of his views on abortion.

“Yesterday afternoon we got the opportunity to vote via electronic ballot on seven action items presented to us by the various committees. I asked Monsignor Burrill to present the results for each of the actions.” “Next is action number 7 from the Committee on Doctrine. Does the body of bishops approve the request of the Committee on Doctrine to proceed with the drafting of a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the church. Majority of members present and voting is needed. The action passed with a vote of 168 in favor, 55 opposed, six abstentions.”

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The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, which would not allow President Biden to take communion because of his views on abortion.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, flouting a warning from the Vatican, have overwhelmingly voted to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, advancing a political push by conservative bishops to deny President Biden communion because of his support of abortion rights.

The decision, made public on Friday afternoon, is a rebuke of the nation’s second Catholic president, the most religiously observant commander in chief since Jimmy Carter, and exposes bitter divisions in American Catholicism. It capped three days of contentious debate at a virtual June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The measure was approved by a vote of 73 percent in favor and 24 percent opposed.

The Eucharist, also called holy communion, is one of the most sacred rituals in Christianity, and bishops have grown worried in recent years about declining Mass attendance and misunderstanding of importance of the sacrament to Catholic life.

But the move to target a president, who has regularly attended Mass throughout his life, is striking coming from leaders of the president’s own faith, particularly after many conservative Catholics turned a blind eye to the sexual improprieties of former President Donald J. Trump because they supported his political agenda. It reveals a uniquely American Catholicism increasingly at odds with Rome.

Mr. Biden, like Pope Francis, embodies an ascendant liberal Christianity focused less on sexual politics and more on racial inequality, climate change, and poverty. His administration is a reversal of the power abortion opponents, including bishops who advanced the measure, enjoyed under Mr. Trump.

The text of the proposal itself has not been written, and would ultimately require approval by a two-thirds majority vote. The proposed outline, earlier reported by America Magazine, said it would “include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”

But the fact that Mr. Biden’s views on abortion are even a matter of public discussion is already a victory for conservative Catholics.

The fight comes as anti-abortion activists across the U.S. are emboldened and as reproductive rights activists want Mr. Biden to speak more forcefully in their defense. State legislatures have introduced more than 500 abortion restrictions over the past five months, and the Supreme Court, with its newly expanded conservative majority, agreed to take up a case on a Mississippi law that bans most abortions at 15 weeks, which could challenge the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. Five of the court’s six Catholic justices were appointed by Republicans.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an assembly of the country’s 433 active and retired bishops, can issues guideline statements, but it does not have the authority to decide who can or cannot receive the sacrament of communion. That power is reserved for the local bishop, who has autonomy in his diocese, or the Pope.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, has made it abundantly clear that he does not support denying communion to Mr. Biden. Bishop-elect William Koenig of Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden’s hometown, has remained largely quiet on the issue ahead of his installation next month.

Kelly Tshibaka, then the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration, in Anchorage in 2019.
Credit…Mark Thiessen/Associated Press

Former President Donald J. Trump endorsed Kelly Tshibaka on Friday in her race against Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, giving his support to an outsider candidate who promoted false claims of election fraud last year and has written articles in support of gay conversion therapy.

“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, criticizing her vote to confirm Deb Haaland as secretary of the Interior Department. “Murkowski has got to go!”

Ms. Murkowski was censured by the Alaska Republican Party in March for her vote to convict Mr. Trump during his second impeachment trial. The state party said it did not want her, a moderate Republican who has represented the state since 2002, to identify as a Republican in the 2022 election.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, has endorsed Ms. Murkowski, noting that its position is to defend Republican incumbents.

Despite her political vulnerabilities, Ms. Murkowski has overcome challenges from the right before. In 2010, she became the first sitting senator in half a century to win an election as a write-in candidate, defeating a popular Republican nominee aligned with the Tea Party.

Ms. Tshibaka, who is little known in the national political arena, served most recently as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration before resigning to run for Senate.

Hoping to seize on the popularity of Mr. Trump, who twice won Alaska by wide margins, Ms. Tshibaka has positioned herself as a “MAGA”-loving outsider, promoting false theories of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

As a student at Harvard Law School, she endorsed “coming out of homosexuality,” writing approvingly of a day “dedicated to helping homosexuals overcome their sexual tendencies and move towards a healthy lifestyle,” according to archives of her work unearthed by CNN’s KFile. She also urged gay people to participate in “pastoral counseling” and “accountability groups.”

More recently, she has hired Mr. Trump’s current advisers and former campaign managers, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, as well as his former campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, as advisers.

Mr. Trump has been following the race closely, his advisers said, hoping to unseat Ms. Murkowski. He met with Ms. Tshibaka two weeks ago at Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

The top four candidates from Alaska’s all-party primary will advance to a general election, which will be ranked choice.

Former Afghan interpreters during a protest against the U.S. government and NATO in Kabul in April.
Credit…Mariam Zuhaib/Associated Press

As President Biden’s September deadline for ending the war in Afghanistan approaches, a bipartisan coalition in Congress is trying to ensure that Afghans who face retribution for working alongside American troops and personnel can immigrate to the United States.

The coalition — called the Honoring Our Promises Working Group that consists of 10 Democrats and six Republicans — introduced legislation on Thursday that would make it easier for Afghan allies to qualify for special visas, expedite the process of obtaining one, and get them out of Afghanistan as soon as possible while they await authorization to live legally in the United States.

More than 18,000 Afghans who have worked as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards and embassy clerks during the war are stuck in a bureaucratic morass after applying for Special Immigrant Visas, which are available to people who face threats because of work for the United States government. Some have waited as long as six or seven years for their applications to be processed.

The legislation would expedite Special Immigrant Visas from Afghanistan, increase the number available to 19,000 from 11,000, and remove what its proponents call “burdensome” requirements, including a “credible sworn statement” of a specific threat and proof of a “sensitive and trusted” job. Instead, the measure would in effect stipulate that any Afghan who helped the U.S. government by definition faced retribution, and should be able to apply for a visa.

Last week, The New York Times published interviews with Afghan interpreters who said they were afraid of revenge attacks by the Taliban and feared for their lives as they waited for their applications to be processed.

The working group is also lobbying the Biden administration in an improbable bid to arrange for a mass evacuation of Afghan applicants, perhaps to the U.S. territory Guam, while their visas are processed.

U.S. Army soldiers working in the motor pool in Fort Hood in Kileen, Texas, in August. Fort Hood has the highest rate of sexual harassment within the Army.
Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

As Congress and the Department of Defense debate how to address the ongoing scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the military, a study on the Army released Friday found that age, experience and where soldiers are based strongly correlate to both offenses.

Women at Fort Hood in particular — where an Army specialist was killed by another soldier last year — have a far higher risk of sexual assault at that base in Texas than the average woman in the Army according to the new study, conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center, a federally funded research group.

Using gender and workplace data, researchers found that the total sexual assault risk to Army women at Fort Hood during 2018 was 8.4 percent, compared with a 5.8 percent risk for all women in the Army.

The researchers also found that for both men and women, younger age was associated with increased risk for sexual assault, as were low education levels and junior rank. Fort Hood and Fort Bliss — another installation in Texas with above-average rates of assault — have large numbers of junior ranking, young soldiers. Further, for both men and women, longer deployments on antiterrorism missions also led to higher risk for sexual assault and harassment.

The new findings suggest that “there are location-specific concerns that require targeted interventions into climate and culture and will require additional research to understand,” Dr. Jenna Newman, Dr. Jenna Newman, a social science adviser and the Army’s project lead for the study, said in a news release.

Sexual harassment is more common than sexual assault in the Army, the authors found, but the risk of sexual harassment is highly correlated with the risk of sexual assault, something other research has also suggested.

A bill sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, would remove military commanders from a role in prosecuting service members for sexual assault, which she and her supporters in the Senate argue would lead to increased prosecutions and deterrence. At the same time, a panel appointed by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III made a similar recommendation and was expected to release its final findings in the coming weeks.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge testified before a Senate panel last week.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

During the 2020 campaign, President Biden pledged to transform the Department of Housing and Urban Development into a frontline weapon in the fight against racial and economic inequality.

But when his transition team took over last fall, it found a department in crisis.

The agency’s community planning and development division, the unit responsible for a wide array of federal disaster relief and homelessness programs, had been so weakened by an exodus of career officials that it was faltering under the responsibility of managing tens of billions of dollars in pandemic aid, according to members of the team.

And it was not just the planning unit. In some divisions, as many as 25 to 30 percent of jobs were unfilled or occupied by interim employees. The losses were concentrated among the ranks of managers and policy experts, many of whom had been overruled, sidelined, exiled and eventually driven away under President Donald J. Trump and his appointees.

Roughly 10 percent of the agency’s work force left during Mr. Trump’s first years in office, according to agency estimates. But that came on top of a decade-long decline resulting from attrition, poor recruitment and budget deals cut by the Obama administration with a Republican-led Congress at the time that prevented the agency from replacing departing employees.

As a result, the agency’s total head count fell by 20 percent, to 6,837 from 8,576, from 2012 to 2019.

Other cabinet departments, like the Education Department and Environmental Protection Agency, face similar problems. But the staffing shortfall at the housing department is a case study in the personnel issues generated in part by Mr. Trump’s conflicts with experienced career government employees who carry out programs and policies. And it is especially worrisome to Biden administration officials because it threatens to undermine their hope of transforming the agency into a central player in the president’s efforts to put more focus on social justice issues.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Marcia L. Fudge, Mr. Biden’s new housing secretary, told a Senate committee last week during budget hearings. “Until we can start to build up our staff, and build up our capacity, we are at risk of not doing the things we should do.”

People signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act at a mall in Miami, Fla., in 2016.
Credit…Angel Valentin for The New York Times

After the Supreme Court ruled this week to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Republicans met the decision with a surprising message: Get over it.

“I think three times the Supreme Court’s upheld the Affordable Care Act, and I think we need to move on,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Republican whose home state, Texas, led the lawsuit.

For six election cycles, Republicans and Democrats have wielded the health care law as a political cudgel, battering their opponents over an issue that consistently topped the list of concerns for American voters. But now, after more than 70 efforts to repeal or modify the law in Congress, three Supreme Court rulings and nearly a dozen years, Republicans may have finally run out of firepower.

The closest Republicans came to dismantling major parts of the law was in 2017, when legislation passed the House but crashed in the Senate after Senator John McCain flashed a famous thumb-down during the vote on the floor.

That failure to overturn the law after Republicans had gained control of Washington altered the political dynamics of the issue, reflecting growing support for the health care law that had become deeply embedded in American life.

As of this month, a record 31 million people receive insurance through its plans. Last year, the law became more popular than ever, with 55 percent of people expressing a positive view of it — the highest rating since the Kaiser Family Foundation began tracking opinions of the act in 2010. More than 70 percent of Americans and 67 percent of Republicans believe it is important that popular provisions protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions remain in place.

“Hopefully, this will be the end of the line,” said Brad Woodhouse, the executive director of the liberal group Protect Our Care and one of many Democrats who took a victory lap after the Supreme Court’s ruling. “If Republicans continue to do this, they are likely to continue to lose elections on this issue.”

Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state and a defender of the state’s election results, in Phoenix on Friday. 
Credit…Cassidy Araiza for The New York Times

PHOENIX — The political fortunes of Katie Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, have risen unlike any other Democrat in the country in the tumultuous aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Now running for governor, she has emerged as a high-profile defender of the state’s election results and critic of Republican attempts to overturn the outcome.

Her path stands in stark contrast to that of another prominent Arizona Democrat: Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a professed maverick who seems to relish thumbing her nose at liberals and has angered many Democrats in recent weeks.

Insisting on bipartisanship, Ms. Sinema has become, along with Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a key intraparty roadblock to President Biden’s agenda. This week, all eyes in Washington have been on Ms. Sinema and other moderate senators as they pursue a bipartisan infrastructure bill. But by refusing to eliminate the filibuster, she and other Democratic senators have left in doubt the passage of sweeping voting rights legislation that many on the left view as an existential necessity in the face of a nationwide Republican crackdown.

Ms. Hobbs, by contrast, has gained newfound fame in her party for facing down withering attacks from Republicans — including death threats against her and her family that prompted round-the-clock security from state troopers — and for denouncing a widely criticized G.O.P. audit of votes in the state’s largest county as a sham and a threat to democracy. Now she is the most popular statewide elected official, according to some polls, and is starting a bid for governor with more than $1 million in her campaign’s coffers.

Ms. Hobbs’s position is unique in part because so many other elected officials defending results in contested states like Georgia and Michigan were Republican — but in Arizona, the secretary of state was an ambitious Democrat enthusiastic about making headlines.

“If things had gone differently with the election, or the amount of exposure that I got after the election, I don’t feel like I would be in such a strong position,” Ms. Hobbs said in an interview in a Phoenix coffee shop. “I certainly don’t think that things would be going as well as they are so far.”

Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, and Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, at the Capitol last week in Washington before a hearing on student athlete compensation.
Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Congress is not expected to move this month to override a crush of state laws that, as soon as July 1, will challenge the N.C.A.A. rules that have kept college athletes from making money off their fame.

The absence of an accord, or even a clear timeline for one, by the start of July would be a blow to the N.C.A.A. and its most influential and wealthy conferences, which have spent many months and millions of dollars seeking intervention from Washington. Although an agreement could still emerge this year, the prospects for a federal measure to advance before the state laws have gone from a long shot toward essentially nonexistent.

In 2019, a law to let college athletes hire agents, cut endorsement deals and monetize their social media platforms cleared the California Legislature and the governor’s desk with ease. That measure is not currently scheduled to take effect until 2023.

But Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas have laws that are scheduled to take effect on July 1.

Any coast-to-coast baseline standard that might be in effect early next month, though, will almost certainly have to come from the N.C.A.A. itself. With more state laws scheduled to come into force in the months ahead, public officials and college sports executives alike believe that changes or waivers to N.C.A.A. rules would amount to a stopgap.

On Capitol Hill on Thursday, when the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation met for the second time in eight days to hear testimony about college sports, the divide between congressional negotiators was clear with a glance at the dais: Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the panel’s ranking Republican, was absent. On Wednesday, Wicker announced a survey of college athletes “to solicit their views on what they would like to see” in a federal measure. Responses are due on June 25, around the time senators are expected to leave Washington for a recess that is tentatively scheduled to last until July 12.

Asked in an interview outside the Senate chamber on Thursday afternoon whether he saw a path to a deal by the end of this month, Wicker replied, “It would be a surprise to me at this point.”

Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri signed a bill at a gun store over the weekend that he said was about protecting residents from government overreach.
Credit…Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Missouri has become the latest state to throw down a broad challenge to the enforcement of federal firearms laws, as Republican-controlled state legislatures intensify their fierce political counterattack against President Biden’s gun control proposals.

A bill signed by Gov. Mike Parson over the weekend — at a gun store called Frontier Justice — threatens a penalty of $50,000 against any local police agency that enforces certain federal gun laws and regulations that constitute “infringements” of Second Amendment gun rights.

At least eight other states — Arkansas, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Idaho and Texas — have taken similar action this year, passing laws of varying strength that discourage or prohibit the enforcement of federal gun statutes by state and local agents and officers.

The new law “is about protecting law-abiding Missourians against government overreach and unconstitutional federal mandates,” Mr. Parson and the attorney general, Eric Schmitt, said in a letter defending the law on Thursday to the U.S. Justice Department. They said the state would “reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”

In interviews, the sponsors of the bill in the Missouri House and Senate acknowledged that the law would most likely have little immediate effect on the current operations of local and state police agencies, since there is presently little difference between state and federal gun laws in Missouri.

The Republican lawmakers said their main intent was to guard against the potential of more wide-ranging legislation from Washington, where Democratic lawmakers have proposed a major expansion of federal background checks, an extension of the time period in which federal officials can review purchases and bills to restrict the sale of popular semiautomatic weapons like AR-15s.

A growing number of Republican-sponsored gun bills are making their way through state legislatures, all with the purpose of easing restrictions and oversight in anticipation of Mr. Biden’s next moves.

Among the most significant are new laws in Tennessee, Iowa and Texas that now allow most adults to carry firearms without a permit.

A pop-up inoculation site offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in New York in May. Health experts said that the shots should have been ideal for reaching vulnerable populations.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

When Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine was authorized for emergency use in the United States in late February, ​it was seen as a breakthrough for reaching vulnerable and isolated Americans, a crucial alternative to vaccines that require two shots weeks apart and fussier storage. It was soon popular on college campuses, in door-to-door campaigns and with harder-to-reach communities that often struggle with access to health care.

But with only 11.8 million doses administered in the United States so far — less than 4 percent of the total — the “one and done” vaccine has fallen flat.

States have warned that they may not find recipients for millions of doses that will soon expire, partly because the vaccine’s appeal dropped after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder and injections were paused for 10 days in April.

The vaccine took another hit last week, when regulators told Johnson & Johnson that it should throw out tens of millions of additional doses produced at a plant in Baltimore because they might be contaminated.

Although millions of Americans have yet to be inoculated, the vaccine’s role in the United States is fading fast. Experts lament a missed opportunity to address health disparities with a shot that should have been ideal for reaching vulnerable populations.

“It’s just not what I think anybody would have hoped it would be when it came out,” said Dave Baden, the chief financial officer of the Oregon Health Authority.

Troubles at an Emergent BioSolutions plant have thrown a wrench into the Biden administration’s plans to share doses abroad.
Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

With less than two weeks remaining to fulfill President Biden’s pledge to share 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccine with countries in need, production problems at an Emergent BioSolutions manufacturing plant are forcing the administration to revise its plan to send AstraZeneca doses overseas.

Officials are now working to replace tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that it had initially planned to include in the donation with others made by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, according to people familiar with the discussions. Those three vaccines are authorized for emergency use in the United States; AstraZeneca’s is not.

A pattern of serious lapses at the plant, in Baltimore, has thrown into question the fate of more than 100 million doses of both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines made there. The Food and Drug Administration is poring over records of virtually every batch that Emergent produced to determine if the doses are safe. The F.D.A. has so far ruled that about 25 million Johnson & Johnson doses made at the factory can be released but has made no decision on the AstraZeneca doses.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is significantly cheaper than the other three vaccines: The federal government paid less than $4 per dose, compared to as much as $19.50 for Pfizer. An administration official said that if the AstraZeneca doses made by Emergent are declared safe, the supply will ultimately be shared with other nations.

The doses the administration is now working to send overseas this month will be a part of existing orders from the other manufacturers that have not been delivered to states, one person familiar with the planning said. Tens of millions of doses of the three U.S.-authorized vaccines that have already been delivered to states are sitting unused. Over 175 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose — more than 62 percent of the total population over 12 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 148 million, or 52 percent, are fully vaccinated.

Until the White House announced last week that it would share 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine with the rest of the world, the AstraZeneca doses made up the bulk of the administration’s vaccine diplomacy commitments.

Mr. Biden committed in late April to sharing as many as 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine with other nations, pending the F.D.A.’s ongoing review of Emergent. In May the White House said it would send at least another 20 million doses of other vaccines overseas, bringing the total to 80 million by the end of June.

Earlier this month, the White House explained how it would distribute an initial 25 million doses out of the 80 million across a “wide range of countries.” Millions of those have already been sent and more will be sent imminently, a White House spokesman said.

Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said on Thursday that 80 million doses would be allocated by the end of the month, but did not specify what kind. He said the administration was working with other countries on complicated logistical issues, including securing needles, syringes and alcohol pads that would go with the doses.

“We’ll allocate all the initial 80 million doses in the coming days, with shipments going out as soon as countries are ready to receive the doses,” Mr. Zients said at a news conference. “There’ll be an increasing number of shipments each and every week as we ramp up these efforts.”

In order to share vaccines other than AstraZeneca’s, one person familiar with the plan said, the administration will likely need permission from the manufacturers. Those discussions are still ongoing, the person said.


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