There is exciting news this morning in the journey to develop and manufacture a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Responding to President Trump’s call to develop 300 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine by January under Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and AstraZeneca are collaborating to make available at least 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine called AZD1222, with the first doses delivered as early as October 2020. The agreement between AstraZeneca and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, will accelerate the development and manufacturing of the company’s investigational vaccine to begin Phase 3 clinical studies this summer with approximately 30,000 volunteers in the United States.

Under this public-private partnership, BARDA can provide up to $1.2 billion to support, in parallel, advanced clinical studies, vaccine manufacturing technology transfer, process development, scaled-up manufacturing, and other development activities. Emergency use authorization or licensure of this vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be required to make the vaccine available. Early milestones enable BARDA and AstraZeneca to determine how the program progresses forward.

“This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed’s work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Getting a vaccine to the American public as soon as possible is one part of President Trump’s multi-faceted strategy for safely reopening our country and bringing life back to normal, which is essential to Americans’ physical and mental well-being in so many ways. The Trump Administration is making multiple major investments in developing and manufacturing promising vaccines long before they’re approved so that a successful vaccine will reach the American people without a day wasted.”

See press release- https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/05/21/trump-administration-accelerates-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-to-be-available-beginning-in-october.html

Other COVID-19 News

USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

As part of the CARES act, USDA will purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat.

Non-profit and faith-based organizations may apply to be distributors – or may consider partnering with contracted entities which participate.  Helpful information includes the Farmers to Families Food Box Program FAQs and How to Become a USDA Vendor.  Also informational webinars are posted here.

FDA Coronavirus Testing Basics

The FDA has created a fact sheet describing the different types of tests for the Coronavirus, outlines what each test does, how long it may take to get results, and the limitations of each test.

Considerations for Reopening Places of Faith and Community

To support your leadership and your efforts, the Partnership Center created the Considering Faith, Community, and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis, and COVID-19 State-by-State Reopening Guidance – PDF.*  These documents are available on our website www.hhs.gov/partnerships.

New COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care Programs, Schools and Day Camps

CDC’s Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic guidance now includes health considerations and tools for making (re)opening decisions and operating child care programs, schools, youth programs, and day camps. Information is also available in CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again.

Reopening considerations must include the most current recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including their guidance for Faith and Community Organizations, and work in coordination with your state and local public health authorities.

Around the country, denominational and community leaders are offering guidance to their members as they consider reopening their facilities, meeting, and worshipping in person.  Below are several examples that may offer helpful ideas and resources.

Archdioceses of Baltimore, Maryland released a 36-page document on May 12 outlining, in phases, safety protocols for the resumption of sacraments, including public Masses, plus private prayer, and other parish activities. They also released a video explaining the new policies.

Guidance to Shuls and Communities on Reopening is presented by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America and offers guidance including the recognition that every community is unique and that reopening will be a gradual rather than a one- time event.

High Holiday Guidance for Communities Affected by COVID-19 is offered by The Rabbinical Assembly as a webpage regularly updated by the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards (CJLS).

Reopening our Doors is a resource offered by The Humanitarian Disaster Institute and National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) providing a “step-by-step, biblically-based and research-based approach to resuming in-person ministries.”

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) of Virginia has posted the reopening plans of several Virginia churches as a way of sharing ideas with other churches across the state as they develop their own reopening strategies.

National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19 guidance on matters including prayer and gatherings, as well as resources and guidelines that help to protect communities and keep them safe.

Unitarian Universalist Association Guidance on Gathering In-Person When COVID-19 Subsides includes a series of questions that congregations might ask as they think about online or in-person gatherings.

YMCA of Greater Augusta, Georgia, announced their reopening guidelines that adhere to all CDC, as well as state and local guidelines, in order to provide a clean and safe environment for members, staff, and program participants.