In This Episode
- The CDC and the FDA have lifted their recommended pause on the Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine, and added a warning label about the very, very rare reported cases of blood clots. But overall vaccination rates in the US are slowing down, indicating that while supply is increasing, demand is decreasing.
- President Biden lifted the partial ban against the export of the supplies necessary to make vaccines in India, as well as rapid tests, ventilators, and more. The state of the virus there is dire: on Saturday, India reported almost 350,000 new cases, which is a tragic world record. Plus, we talk through the Oscars.
- And in headlines: Biden formally recognizes the Armenian Genocide, Disneyland to re-open on Friday, and Elon Musk will host SNL.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, April 26th. I’m Akilah Hughes
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where we are sad that none of our big Oscar reactions got turned into GIFs last night.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it sucks for us because they’re introducing a GIFS category next year at the Oscars, and we’re not going to qualify.
Gideon Resnick: This is what you’ve done, to us.
Akilah Hughes: On today’s show, America finally lends a hand to India on COVID relief. But first, the latest, where officials say the J&J is OK
[clip of NIH Dir. Dr. Francis Collins] The risk of aspirin inducing a significant intestinal bleed is much higher than what we’re talking about here. Something in the neighborhood of one in 500, one in a 1,000 for people who regularly take aspirin. We’re talking about something here about a 1000x less likely to happen.
Akilah Hughes: Damn. Put me off of aspirin. [laughs] All right, well that was Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, putting into context the relative risks associated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. The news is that last Friday, the CDC and FDA lifted their recommended pause on those shots so they can go in arms again. But Gideon, tell us about the caveats.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that’s right. So the caveats are they decided to add a warning label about these very, very rare reported cases of blood clots that can develop. Out of nearly eight million J&J shots given out, health officials found a total of 15 confirmed cases of this happening, all of them in women. Very tragically, three of those women did pass away. The FDA noted in its updated warning that most of the cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 49 and that the, quote “chance of having this occur is remote.” During Friday’s review meeting, a CDC scientist said allowing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was basically a matter of numbers. There could be as many as 45 clotting cases over the next six months, but at least 600 fewer deaths from COVID during that time. So with that update, some states started to administer the J&J this past weekend, and the country has more than nine million doses ready to go right now.
Akilah Hughes: Well, that seems promising. And with that speed bump cleared, where do things stand overall with vaccinations in the U.S.?
Gideon Resnick: Well, if the good news was that J&J got restarted, the slightly less good news is that overall vaccinations are starting to slow down. As of yesterday, overall, more than half of people in America 18 and older have gotten at least one dose. But the average number being given every day has now dipped below three million, which is the lowest level since the end of March. That is also in spite of most people over 16 years old becoming eligible to get one a few weeks ago. So right now, supply is increasing and demand has gone down in certain places. And that’s led to reports of some mass vaccination sites planning to close in the coming days, places in Mercer County, Ohio, Palm Beach County, Florida, and Galveston County, Texas, to name a few. And we’re starting to hear now even more direct pleas from some governors for people to get in line. Here’s Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine on CBS This Morning:
[clip of Gov. Mike DeWine] We’ve seen our vaccination rate go down about half of what it was three weeks ago. So that’s a concern. But we vaccinated about 40% of, at least for the first shot, 40% of our total population. We just need to continue to move forward.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I definitely feel that. So, Giddy, vaccines have been open to everyone now for a little bit of time, which would make you think that the numbers would only go up. So what have people said is behind the decline so far?
Gideon Resnick: The kind of frustrating thing is that people don’t seem to know the clear answer just yet. There is, of course, the overall vaccine hesitancy, which has been an issue since the start of all of this, and can be attributed to a lot of different reasons depending on who you talk to. There was the J&J pause, of course, which was meant to instill confidence in the safety of it. But TBD on that. And there are still some partisan lines that are coming up in polling again and again. A recent Monmouth poll found that over 40% of Republicans said they wouldn’t be likely to get the vaccine, versus just 5% of Democrats. Meanwhile, there’s also polling data that suggests some vaccine resistance in rural areas, where because of logistics, it might have been more challenging to vaccinate in the first place. Then for the Moderna mafia and the Pfizer fam—I promise to never say that again—there is some limited evidence—
Akilah Hughes: l say it every day. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t promise. I rescind that. There’s some limited evidence of people just kind of outright missing their second shot. The CDC said that more than five million people—that is a small percentage to be clear—in fact, had missed it. And that the number is higher recently compared with the start of the vaccination campaign.
Akilah Hughes: Come on ya’ll, everybody has a calendar on their phone and computer. There’s no excuse. Please go get that second shot. Quit playing.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. You have the card also. That would help. We can link to the story in our show notes as to why this is happening, but the reasons are kind of all over the map. Some people cited fears about the side effects. Others said that they thought they were protected enough by one.
Akilah Hughes: They’re not.
Gideon Resnick: And then some places like—right—some places like Walgreens ran out of supplies or didn’t have the right second dose in stock.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, I do not like any of those reasons. And so how our public health officials proceeding from here?
Gideon Resnick: Well, I mean, for now, White House and public health officials have been talking about the next phase of the overall vaccination campaign, and what that actually looks like. We mentioned earlier about mass vaccination sites closing, but this next stage may end up involving more distribution at smaller sites. You know, possibly, for instance, lumped in with a doctor’s visit. Instead of what we’ve seen so far, you know, standing in line at those kind of post-apocalyptic places others might have gone to. It might also be without trying to schedule it. New York City recently announced that city-run sites are going to allow these walk-in vaccinations, which is really great. So in many cases, people won’t actually need an appointment. That’s kind of seen as a way to combat inequities now that there is more supply. So that’s the long and short on vaccines in America, Akilah, but last week we talked about calls for President Biden to help the rest of the world with vaccines and supplies. And there is now some news on that.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so we’ve been talking about how America has a little hoarding problem, especially in relation to sharing our COVID-19 resources. But yesterday, President Biden lifted the partial ban against the export of the supplies necessary to make the vaccines to India, as well as rapid tests, ventilators, PPE and more. Other countries will be sending help, too. But there was a lot of intense international pressure on the U.S. to step it up if we want to be a world leader. And the help can’t come soon enough. On Saturday, India reported almost 350,000 new cases, which is a world record and also probably an undercount, sadly.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it is a very, very horrifying situation. And there have been some just absolutely terrible images shared online of mass cremations in India amid these reports that some crematoriums have run out of space for the dead. It is shocking. So once those supplies are actually delivered, what happens next?
Akilah Hughes: Well, there’s still the major problems of patents, and Biden hasn’t let on about ending the U.S. companies’ patent rights on vaccines at the moment. So even if India is the largest vaccine-making nation on Earth, without a highly effective vaccine that’s mass produced on a scale for all countries, it may not make as much of a difference as is needed in the crisis. The world passed a record one billion doses given out just last week, just three countries. It’s a pretty glaring disparity. So something to watch this week. On Thursday, the World Trade Organization will meet in Switzerland to hold informal talks on whether to waive the intellectual property and patent rights on COVID vaccines so that more companies or countries can start making all the doses the world needs. Some things are more important than making money, so hopefully someone make sure to mention that at the meeting. We’ll keep you posted on the latest there. But that’s the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about last night’s big event, the first-ever Pand-Oscars. Despite the less than ideal circumstances, the show went pretty smoothly. It was nice to see famous people in the same room again, even better that they had their own separate little tables for safety. And looking at some of the highlights, Chloe Zhao won best director for “Nomadland,” making her the first woman of color to ever win the award. Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for “Judas in the Black Messiah.” And as we go to record now, we’re actually just about to hear best picture be announced . . .
[clip of the Oscars] And the Oscar goes to . . . Nomadland! [cheers]
Akilah Hughes: Wow. Yeah, OK. Nomadland it is. There we go. Frances McDormand, just like stays winning forever. Wow. Wow. Wow.
Gideon Resnick: Knew it. Knew it!
Akilah Hughes: All right, Gideon, so [laughs] what was your reaction to the very lackluster finale of the Oscars yesterday? I mean, you said yourself that, Nomadland was favored to win, so there’s no real surprise there. But yeah.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I mean, I thought it was going to win for sure. I mean, the, so that, like, I’ve almost like totally memory erased at this point now and just like moved on to the acting part.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. That was wild
Gideon Resnick: Which like 1) Francis doing a wolf howl. Um.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. That was wild. I thought it was Fauci! [laughs] I’m not even kidding. I had my headphones on, and I was like: oh my gosh, like he’s outside, something’s wrong. And then I came back in and I heard her speech—which was pretty short, but, you know, good for Francis. She’s a great actress. And I think that, like, she takes good projects and she will always win best actress. So, again, no surprise there. But like—
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. This is her third I think.
Akilah Hughes: Best act—
Gideon Resnick: And two at least are good movies. I think the third is very not good movie.
Akilah Hughes: Oh. Three billboards? Yeah, maybe two billboards worth a good films. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yep. The actor thing.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Can we talk about the actor thing? Because like yeah. I mean, I co-sign most of what you just said. I feel like that’s, that’s pretty clear. But like so, Tony Hopkins who couldn’t be asked to come to the Oscars. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Why was he not in the British room?
Akilah Hughes: Why was it the last category if they weren’t going to give it the Chadwick?
Gideon Resnick: OK, I feel like an idiot because I was very confidently saying in Slack to everybody—
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, who else could it be? It’s not even going to be interesting.
Gideon Resnick: They’re going to do this last because it’s going to be Chadwick. They have like an In Memoriam thing that is set up.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: That’s crazy. I have not seen The Father.
Akilah Hughes: Maybe that’s why he didn’t show up. It’s like, what you’re really going to do an acceptance speech after you beat Chadwick Boseman.
Gideon Resnick: That was a truly great performance. Right? That Chadwick did. A truly great performance.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. It wasn’t just an award because he died. He absolutely had the chops.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. He was really, really good at it. And to like end the show on that sort of note, was really, like a straight—I don’t even know how I feel about it right now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s super entertaining to me to watch you like be reeling because I’m like I mean, the rest of the night was so like diverse after the year we just had, that I honestly was like, they got to give it to some white people now or like they’re going to riot. [laughs] They’re just going to be at the Capitol again. So I’m like, you know what? It’s fine. And I don’t think that these are like, all right films to be clear. I just read that, like, you know, there was a little bit of an overrepresentation of people of color compared to past years. And so I was like, I kind of wasn’t that surprised. I was like surprised that they had moved the categories around. It doesn’t make sense to me, like. Weird way to go out, but um, yeah.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Very deflating If you know that that is what’s going to happen, which I guess they don’t until they, I mean, that’s the whole La La Land – Moonlight scenario.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, totally.
Gideon Resnick: But yeah. I would have—
Akilah Hughes: They really bet on the wrong horse.
Gideon Resnick: I know. I would have, I would have shuffled the deck a little bit.
Akilah Hughes: I mean the thing is too, we’re in a pandemic. How good was it going to be overall? You know? [laughs] Like everything, they’re doing this in a train station in a city that doesn’t really have great trains. So, like, I just feel like we got the show that we could have expected for a pandemic. You know, I’m still happy for Daniel Kaluuya. Very happy for Jon Batiste. Happy for Chloe Zhao. I’ll be happy for a—happy for everybody! Honestly, you know. None of these people, none of these movies are so bad that I’m upset. That’s, that’s a new refreshing feeling.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Right.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. And I guess maybe watch Anthony Hopkins if you want. I mean he’s good in everything. But just like that, we’ve checked our temps. Stay safe. We’re going to give Chadwick Boseman our honorary Oscar because he deserves it. And we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: A tragic update to the story of an Indonesian Navy submarine that has been missing since last week. The wreckage was found on the sea floor over the weekend, and all 53 of its crew members are confirmed dead. The crew on board was known as the Golden Shark Unit. The KRI Nanggala 402 was found on the ocean floor, broken into three parts at a depth of over 2,000 feet, which is much deeper than the 600 foot depth the sub was equipped to handle. Last Wednesday, the submarine lost contact after it was given clearance to dive into a narrow strip of ocean near Bali during a military exercise. The official cause of the sinking is unknown, but the Navy said it could have been an electrical failure that left the sub unable to activate emergency procedures. The Navy plans to eventually retrieve the wreckage and recover the dead.
Akilah Hughes: President Biden formally recognized the Armenian Genocide over the weekend, making him the first president in U.S. history to do so. His statement came on the 106th anniversary of the start of a brutal campaign by the Ottoman Empire that killed over 1.5 million people. Previous administrations have been reluctant to take this action because it could sour relations with Turkey’s government, which has notably denied the genocide. Turkish president, an avid genocide-denier, Recep Erdogan, reportedly lobbied hard to prevent the weekend’s announcement and his administration even summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest it. America joins other countries, including Germany, France and Russia, that had already acknowledged the state-sponsored genocide.
Gideon Resnick: Mickey Mouse is all vaxxed up and he wants to hang: Disneyland opens back up this Friday with a 25% capacity cap on emissions and only California residents allowed in. Other pandemic-era rules include a mass requirement, no fireworks, no parades, and notably no hugs. Honestly, props to the 6-foot tall plush Woody for finally getting people to respect his personal space. It is about time. Disneyland workers were not prioritized in vaccine distribution, meaning that many employees won’t be fully-immunized when the doors open, which underscores the importance of these rules for their safety and the safety of visitors. Since the park’s been closed, hundreds of thousands have visited its adjacent outdoor mall, Downtown Disney, to get their Magic Kingdom fix. One vendor reported that this month, families had to wait as long as three hours just to enter the mall. I am saying this now to all my unborn children, they can hear it clearly: I will never, ever do that for you. Never.
Akilah Hughes: Wow. Yeah, me neither. I already pay for Disney+, that’s enough. So Saturday Night Live is taking a chance on a rising talent: Elon Musk. The Tesla CEO and second richest man in the world is set to host the show on May 8th. Honestly, that trip to Mars sounds pretty good right now. Or I guess I could just get into a self-driving car and say, take me to a place where there’s no TVs. But based on some recent headlines, it might just be enough to get into one of those self-driving cars and go anywhere. To some, the booking recalled Trump’s appearance as an SNL host in November of 2015. Musk has a history of busting unions, downplaying COVID and calling a rescue diver “pedo-guy.” Plus his comedic POV can roughly be represented by a 2013 meme about bacon only more South African. After the news was announced this Saturday, Musk tweeted, quote “Let’s find out how live Saturday Night Live really is,” hinting that he might stage one of his famous impromptu moments, like when he smashed a very expensive car window and looked small at a Tesla Keynote. Miley Cyrus is set to appear on the show as the musical guest. No disrespect to her, I just RSVP’d busy to this party in the USA.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I, my invitation got lost in the mail. I’m sorry.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I’m all set. I actually don’t care to see him do it. And those are the headlines.
Akilah Hughes: One more thing before we go, we have been nominated for a Webby for Best News and Politics podcast.
Gideon Resnick: A Webby is the only prize more important than an Oscar. So it is super important that we lock it up. If you want to help us out, you can vote for us until May 6th, or you can spend your life wallowing in regret. Your choice.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, we’ll put a link in our show notes. Feel free to send it to all your relatives, and say it qualifies them for a free iPod Nano.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, preloaded with a special U2 album that is special for how bad it is. Enjoy.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today, if you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review win a free iPod Nano, and tell your friends to listen
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just directions for how to get to Mars like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon, Resnick
[together] And happy Pand-Oscars!
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Hope you enjoyed being at a distance. Really cool masks on the carpet.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. May they be the last. I think I can say that with some hope.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah please.
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.