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CVS Expands Vaccine Distribution As State Contends With Spread of West Coast Variants

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Just about one week after regional stay-at-home orders were lifted in California, all but four counties remain in the state-designated purple tier, indicating pervasive community spread of COVID-19.

While most of the state is still weighed down by the pandemic, there has been some optimism over a decline in new case numbers in the past few weeks. However, the good news is offset by a growing concern over spread of two new variants identified on the West Coast. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that more than 1,000 cases of the West Coast variants, B.1.427 and B.1.429, have been identified in 12 California counties, including San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Each carries three mutations, with one in particular that impacts the spike protein that allows the virus to attach to and enter cells. The spike protein mutation has potential to lessen the effects of current vaccine formulations, though additional studies are needed before making that determination. 

A virus by nature will mutate over time if it is provided ample human hosts. The best way to starve the virus’ need to evolve is to reduce spread by holding the line on mask usage and distancing, and, yes, by quickly vaccinating as many people as possible, even if efficacy is somewhat diminished.

It was announced Tuesday that the federal government will increase vaccine distribution to CVS pharmacies, expanding on the already existent federal pharmacy partnership program that has until now been focused on administering vaccines to long-term care facilities. According to a CVS Health statement, just short of 82,000 doses will be distributed initially among roughly 100 of its pharmacies statewide, which will be available to the eligible public by appointment beginning on Feb. 11. 

San Francisco, Sunnyvale and Sonoma are among the various cities included in the initial distribution list. 


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.