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No, the vaccines don’t cause infertility
Dr. Fauci has new receipts to disprove the popular conspiracy theory. Plus: The Biden administration’s plans for Black History Month and an update on the HBCU bomb threats investigation.
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When it was revealed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers misled reporters last November about his vaccination status, he said one of the reasons he opposes the vaccine was due to concerns that it would make him infertile.
The origins of these concerns are rooted in conspiracy theories that have taken on a life of their own and complicated the Biden administration’s efforts to inspire the few millions of unvaccinated Americans to get the shot.
But during a press briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor walked us through two studies that disprove the misperception of whether vaccination negatively impacts people trying to conceive.
“Data are clear,” Fauci said. “COVID-19 vaccination in male or female partners did not affect the likelihood of conception.”
Fauci presented one study of couples who are trying to conceive through intercourse. It enrolled participants before pregnancy and collected data on vaccination and other variables during the pre-conception period and then collected data on subsequent fertility.
There were over 2,000 females between ages 21 and 45 in the US or Canada who were enrolled between December 2020 and September 2021. They were followed through November.
The study found that couples were 18 percent less likely to conceive if the male partner had been infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 within 60 days before a menstrual cycle.
“That is ‘infected,’ not ‘vaccinated,’” Fauci emphasized.
But the disease only temporarily reduced male fertility.
The second study focused on in vitro fertilization. And Fauci said reproductive potential doesn’t appear to be affected by vaccination in people who undergo IVF.
Fauci closed his presentation by recommending vaccination for people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future — and their partners.
“And anyone who’s vaccinated and pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future should also get a booster shot when eligible.”
In related news, the Food and Drug Administration has received Pfizer’s application for a vaccine for children aged six months through four years.
The White House is optimistic about the prospect of a vaccine for children under five because it would mean we would have vaccines available for essentially all age groups. And if the FDA authorizes and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this vaccine, 18 million children would become eligible for the shots.
“Now there are a number of steps ahead to determine if the vaccine is both safe and effective for our kids under five,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during the briefing. “And please know that the FDA will not cut any corners in their review process. They know that they are the gold standard that all of us rely on.”
The administration said the vaccine is specifically formulated for kids under the age of five. It has secured enough doses and the necessary needles and supplies specifically for kids in the age group. And it’s working now to make sure the vaccine is available at thousands of locations nationwide.
Based on the experience from the FDA authorization for five- to 11-year-olds, the White House predicts the first doses will be administered in a matter of several days to a week or so.
But we’ll move as fast as possible, pending the decision of CDC and FDA,” the White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said. “And I think the preparation we’re doing now will enable us to do so.”
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President Biden reignited the Cancer Moonshot during an event on Wednesday at the White House, as he looks to accelerate the rate of progress against cancer — a cause he’s led since he was vice president in 2016.
As with so many of us, cancer is personal for the president and First Lady Jill Biden, who lost their son Beau to brain cancer in 2015.
“We will build a future where the word ‘cancer’ forever loses its power,” the first lady said.
Vice President Kamala Harris’s mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008 after a lifetime of researching breast cancer. She died the following year.
“Since the turn of the century we have learned so much,” Harris said. “More people are surviving cancer, more people are enduring cancer since being diagnosed than ever before.”
In a touching moment before the president began his prepared remarks, he acknowledged the doctor who spent 18 months treating their son.
“Doctor, I love you,” he said.
Biden said his ultimate goal is to end cancer as we know it today. He called the disease one of the reasons he ran for president.
He also said that curing cancer is a cause that galvanizes Americans no matter their political party.
“It's a mission that can truly unify the nation,” Biden says several times, in different ways.
He wants to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years. The president will also mobilize efforts to substantially improve the experience for people and their families living and surviving with cancer.
A White House senior administration official said that the scientific advances that the government saw from the response to the pandemic point to breakthroughs that are possible today.
The official added that America can achieve the president’s ambition through a combination of science and policy. “And some of them are just about being absolutely determined to work some of these problems until they get solved,” they said.
In line with this administration’s approach to the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 response and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Cancer Moonshot will have a dedicated coordinator in the office of the president. And the White House will regularly convene a “Cancer Cabinet” comprised of departments and agencies across government to address cancer on multiple fronts.
Around 100 members of the cancer community attended the event, including patients and survivors, their caregivers and families, advocacy organizations, research organizations and individual researchers, people from the health care community and members of Congress and the president’s cabinet.
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The White House announced President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Jill, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, cabinet officials and administration staff would participate in its Black History Month programming during February.
In addition to meetings and activities centered around the 2022 theme “Black Health and Wellness,” the White House says events will focus on physical wellness, mental health, environmental justice, economic growth and spiritual wellness.
White House senior staff will also host important stakeholder discussions on diversity in media, veteran wellness and increased support for HBCU students. The administration is also expected to celebrate and acknowledge the role Black faith leaders have played across the nation, particularly during the pandemic.
“Each February, National Black History Month serves as both a celebration and a powerful reminder that Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture,” President Biden said in a proclamation he signed on Monday. “And Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America — our faults, our struggles, our progress, and our aspirations.”
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took a moment during her daily press briefing on Wednesday to clap back at Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who urged the Biden administration to no longer support Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO, the alliance of European and North American countries formed for the defense against Soviet aggression.
“Well, if you are just digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with longstanding, bipartisan American values,” Psaki said. “That applies to Sen. Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.
Psaki also walked back the administration’s assessment that a Russian invasion is “imminent” after Linda Thomas-Greenfield, ambassador to the United Nations, stopped short of characterizing the situation with the term.
“I used that [word] once. I think others have used that once. And then we stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew that [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin had made a decision,” Psaki said. “I would say that the vast majority of times I’ve talked about, we said, ‘He could invade at any time.’ That’s true — we still don’t know that he’s made a decision.”
Biden approved the deployment of 3,000 US troops to Poland, Germany and Romania in a move he said was consistent with what he’s told Putin since the beginning.
“As long as he’s acting aggressively, we are going to make sure we reassure our NATO allies in Eastern Europe that we’re there and Article 5 is a sacred obligation.” (Article 5 is a section of the treaty that commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state in Europe or North America to be an armed attack against them all.)
In addition to the troop deployment, Congress is working on a sanctions package to deter Russia from invading.
But Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota believes the legislation escalates the conflict without effectively deterring it.
“With a very soft trigger, it vaults Ukraine overnight into the third highest recipient of U.S. security assistance and weapons sales in the world,” Omar said in a statement on Wednesday. “The foreign policy establishment has been drawing on the same tired playbook for generations, with very little success. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results.”
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Six juvenile persons of interest around the country have been identified as suspects for making the bomb threats to more than a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities on Tuesday, Antonio Planas and Ron Allen reported for NBC News.
They reportedly appear to be “tech savvy” individuals who used sophisticated methods to try to disguise the source of the threats, which are believed to have a racist motivation.
The FBI said in a statement that Joint Terrorism Task Forces are leading the investigation into the three waves of threats to the HBCUs and houses of worship, despite no explosive devices having been found at any of the locations.
“We are committed to thoroughly and aggressively investigating these threats,” the statement continued.
It said the investigation is of the highest priority and involves more than 20 FBI field offices across the country and that the threats are being investigated as racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and hate crimes.
Spokespeople for the FBI and White House did not respond to a request for further comment.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden will attend the National Prayer Breakfast this morning with Vice President Harris at the United States Capitol Visitor Center. He will then travel to New York City with Attorney General Merrick Garland to join Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul at NYPD headquarters for a gun violence strategies partnership meeting. Biden, Garland, Adams and Hochul will also visit a local public school, where the president will discuss community violence intervention programs with local leaders. The president will return to the White House this evening.
Vice President Harris will also swear in members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders this afternoon.
The House is in and will continue consideration of legislation to strengthen the nation’s supply chains, invest in US research and development and out-compete China.
The Senate is in and will continue consideration of President Biden’s executive and judicial nominations.
IN THE KNOW
— The White House announced three additions to the team of advisors who will work with President Biden on the selection of the nation’s first Black woman to the Supreme Court. Former Sen. Doug Jones, strategist Minyon Moore and former Obama assistant press secretary Ben LaBolt join Vice President Harris and several other administration officials currently advising the president on his selection.
— The NFL team formerly known as the Washington Football Team unveiled its new nickname: The Commanders. The White House posted a photo of the Biden family dog, who shares his name with the team with the following sentence: “I suppose there’s room for two Commanders in this town.” [@POTUS / Twitter]
— Census Bureau data reports frontline workers working outside the home are more likely to be experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder than all other workers. The data shows that the overall share of adults reporting these symptoms is lower now than it was a year ago.
— House Democrats held 1,271 events as of Tuesday to promote the bipartisan infrastructure deal President Biden signed into law last November. The number fulfills a commitment made by party leadership that members would speak directly to their constituents about how the legislation would meaningfully improve their lives. The events were also an opportunity to attack the 200-plus Republicans who voted against the legislation.
— Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York and Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz introduced a bipartisan bill that would protect the right to repair your own electronic devices. The lawmakers say it will increase competition, lower repair costs, empower small business owners, and reduce waste and carbon emissions.
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will testify at a hearing today before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China to give a platform to voices working on behalf of the abused and repressed in China. The CECC is an independent agency of the US government which monitors human rights and rule of law developments in China.
— Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff of Georgia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah introduced legislation that would make the Bureau of Prisons Director a Senate-confirmed position. The position is currently appointed by the Attorney General and exempt from Senate confirmation despite having what the bill’s sponsors say is a significant authority over taxpayer dollars and federal personnel.
— The federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights was postponed after one of the former officers tested positive for the coronavirus. The trial is expected to resume on Monday at the earliest. [Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs / NYT]
— Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, has raised $9.2 million from more than 100,000 donors since entering the race in December to unseat Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. She’ll report about $7.2 million in cash on hand at the end of the financial quarter, compared to Kemp’s $12.7 million in the bank. [Greg Bluestein / AJC]
— Americans are least satisfied with the country’s moral and ethical climate, the nation’s efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness, crime, abortion, the size and influence of major corporations, and energy policies. Satisfaction with the state of race relations, the quality of public education and government regulation of businesses and industries received low marks in Gallup’s latest Mood of the Nation poll. [Jeffrey M. Jones / Gallup]
— Jeff Zucker resigned as president of CNN after a relationship with a top executive came up during the network’s investigation into former anchor Chris Cuomo. “I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t,” Zucker wrote in a memo to colleagues. [Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin / NYT]
— Related: WarnerMedia named three executives as co-heads of CNN following Zucker’s departure. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar indicated that the trio would lead the network on an interim basis through the close of the company’s merger with Discovery, which is expected in the spring or sooner. [Ted Johnson / Deadline]
— The New York Times Company announced it reached its 10 million subscriber goal three years ahead of sked, aided by the 1.2 million it gained when it acquired sports website The Athletic. The Times reported 375,000 new subscribers in the final quarter of 2021 and set a new target of 15 million subscribers by 2027. [Marc Tracey / NYT]
— New York City detectives charged four men in the overdose death of Michael K. Williams for selling a fentanyl-laced dose of heroin to the beloved actor. The authorities pieced together the sale using surveillance video and license plates readers, according to court records. [Benjamin Weiser and Troy Closson / NYT]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Flores’s lawsuit is jolting, and not just because of the events it describes. Flores is publicly undressing a problem that has festered in the league for years, and his decision to do so will likely end his coaching career. Nearly five years ago, Colin Kaepernick took the NFL to court and never played another down. Flores seems to accept that he could suffer a similar fate.
Sarah Jones on burdened teachers:
Diggs and other teachers across the country said during interviews this month that the grueling demands of pandemic teaching have left them exhausted. Some are even thinking about leaving the profession. A RAND Corporation report from March 2021 found that nearly one in four teachers said they were “likely” to leave their jobs at the end of the 2020-21 school year, especially Black teachers, compared with one in six teachers who said the same before the pandemic. If they do leave the profession, their decisions could worsen an existing national shortage of educators.
Shira Ovide on why Americans can’t quit SMS:
I want to stick up, a little, for the simple beauty of SMS. You can’t use WhatsApp to text your friend who uses iMessage, but SMS is universal. And it makes me feel uneasy to suggest that everyone should use WhatsApp and make one Big Tech company the gateway to all of our digital communications.
Stephanie McNeal on why influencers are breaking up with Instagram:
These influencers are making changes amid an interesting time for Instagram. For years, Instagram had a rather laissez-faire approach to the creators who drive revenue to the platform, offering them little in the way of bonuses or support. There was also no way to make money directly through the app, because revenue from ads and affiliate links were third-party. So hosting your business exclusively on Instagram had some major downsides. Not only was your revenue completely at the mercy of how Instagram chose to share your content with your followers, but you were also at risk of losing it entirely if the app disabled or suspended your account.
Jamal Michel on the lack of diversity in gaming:
Since then, conversations about greater accountability in games haven’t stopped despite waning public attention. Developers and creators of color are still seeking support on a level commensurate with the gestures of solidarity expressed over a year ago. Gamers, industry veterans and indie developers of color have continually called for sustainable solutions to address disparities in the field, this push cresting whenever the exhausting cycle renews: Tragedy strikes, a sudden surge of promises and commitments follow, little to no progress ensues, then silence falls once more.
Molly Wilcox on the chronic problems New York’s women chefs still confront every day:
It has been just over four years since the New York restaurant industry began to seriously examine its culture of hard-partying, ruthless bullying and rampant abuse. Women who run New York City’s kitchens say they still struggle to command the same degree of authority as their male counterparts, but they are also working together and sharing information to stamp out lingering sexism in their kitchens.
Kim Velsey on shared bathrooms:
I’ve never really understood the obsession with having a bathroom of one’s own. Not so long ago, many homes, including the one I grew up in, had just one bathroom. Only in the past few decades has it become common in new construction to have a 1:1 bed-to-bath ratio, often with a spare half-bathroom on top of that. I spent more than a decade living in house shares, including a townhouse in San Francisco with nine roommates and two bathrooms — one of those was split, with a toilet on one side of the hall and the sink and bathtub on the other — and I can’t recall any real issues coming up. I had my own sink once, set into the dormer of a pretty old house in Connecticut, which was nice. But I’ve never had a bathroom all to myself, and I’ve never found it to be a problem. Granted, sharing with neighbors is different from sharing with roommates or family members, but it’s hardly unworkable unless someone is truly disgusting (or a real bathroom hog).
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