ScotSkim: COVID-19 Relief, Vaccines, and Variants

March 4, 2021


CC BY 2.0 (Creative Commons)

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the first single-shot COVID vaccine available in the U.S.

What Happened? 

The House, led by Democrats, narrowly passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill that did not raise the minimum wage. A margin of 219-212 passed it, with two Democrats joining Republicans in opposing the bill. 

What is in the bill?

  • $1,400 payments to most people plus $1,400 for every dependant a person has. 
  • The payments do not cover people who make over or $100,000 a year and start lessening at the $75,000 mark.
  • $20 billion will be for vaccine distribution with $50 billion for testing and tracking COVID-19
  • A minimum wage of $15 an hour, which got shut down

What’s Next?

The most pressing issue for Democrats is the $15 minimum wage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that Democrats will use another plan to pass it if necessary.

Johnson & Johnson vaccines

What Happened?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine. Johnson & Johnson will be providing 100 million doses by the end of June if all goes as planned. 

How Effective Is This Vaccine?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a reported 72% effectiveness in the U.S. clinical trial site. Compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, it falls short, with the former two having 95% efficacy. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does have a 100% efficacy rate against hospitalizations and death and 85% against “severe” forms of COVID-19. 

When Will It Be Available?

The vaccine’s shipments started to go out on Mar. 1, and Mar. 2 is when deliveries are arriving. Johnson & Johnson aims to ship out 4 million doses by the end of this week and 16 more million by the end of March.

COVID-19 variants

What’s Happening?

COVID-19 cases and deaths have been declining since January. However, new data suggest a slow decline and a possible stoppage in the decline altogether due to mutant strains.

Mutant Strains?

As a virus reproduces, mutations occur and produce more or less dangerous forms of itself. These mutations have the possibility of being highly resistant or even immune to vaccines. 

The Main Players

  1. The first variation is called B.1.1.7. It comes from the United Kingdom and is more transmittable than the regular virus. It has merged with another variant to create B.1.429 in California. 
  2. A South African variation called B.1.351 or 20c/501Y.V2 is resistant to vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine proved ineffective at protecting volunteers from this strain. However, there is no indication that all vaccines are useless against B.1.351.


Although it may seem like everything is about to be back to normal, we all need to stay safe and be cautious. New mutations of COVID-19 are already shaking things up, and the last thing we need is more chaos. 

About the Contributor
Photo of Maya Campbell
Maya Campbell, Podcast Producer
Maya Campbell is a senior at Carlmont High School, and this is her third year in the journalism program. She is interested in sports and politics and hopes to become a biotech lawyer one day. She likes playing the drums, running, and cooking. She is also a member of the Carlmont Cross Country and Track teams.

Twitter: @ _mayacampbell

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