In The News: FDA Warns Possible Link Of Neurological Disorder To Johnson And Johnson Vaccine

FeaturedIn The News: FDA Warns Possible Link Of Neurological Disorder To Johnson And Johnson Vaccine

The FDA announced Monday that there could be a possible link between the J&J vaccine and the neuro-disorder known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

So far, prelim reports would seem to indicate that the autoimmune disease GBS, have been detected in at least one hundred recipients of the vaccine. According to the ANA – the American Neurological Association – almost a dozen cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome had been discovered several weeks after recipients had received the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. The cases were from India and England, which involved a variant of the syndrome which involved facial weakness.

People over the age of 50 are alleged to be at a greater risk, with at least two-thirds experiencing symptoms several days to weeks after developing diarreah, sinus or lung illnesses.

The FDA is urging recipients of the vaccine to get immediate medical attention if they have difficulty walking, difficulty with facial movements involving speaking, chewing, swallowing, and or tingling and weakness in the arms and legs, that may worsen and spread to other areas of the body.

According to Jeanne Marrazzo, who is the director of infectious diseases at Alabama University at Birmingham, said the risk of Guillain-Barre is so rare that it should not prevent people from getting vaccinated. She said people can still get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine with virtually no risk, but this news should not be an excuse not to get vaccinated.

With certain voices in media sowing doubt and disinformation rather than information on the effectiveness of the vaccines, it will be difficult for healthcare providers to persuade some of their patients to get vaccinated.

Sources: Washington Post, myana.org, Politico, The Week.

In The News: President Biden Continues Vaccination Effort

FeaturedIn The News: President Biden Continues Vaccination Effort

After falling short on his administration’s efforts to have at least more than half of the adult population of the U.S. partially-vaccinated by July 04, president Biden has continued the effort to reach millions who have yet to be vaccinated.

In remarks from the White House Tuesday, president Biden said, “COVID-19 cases and deaths are down by 90% since January. Millions of fully-vaccinated Americans are getting back to living their lives as they did before. Businesses are reopening and hiring and rehiring. And predicted economic growth is the highest it’s been, projected growth is the highest it’s been in four decades…

But our fight against the virus is not over. Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected, and because of that, their communities are at risk. Their friends are at risk. The people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant.”

Despite any and all efforts to convince Americans to get vaccinated, conservative media has been effective in pushing misinformation to convince their viewers that vaccines are dangerous, and any safety precautions pertaining to the spread of the virus, are nothing short of authoritarian.

The reasons behind vaccination hesitancy, according to Amanda Marcotte, are conspiracy theories, and right-wing trolling. In her Salon article Biden Didn’t Fall Short Of July 04 Vaccination Goal, He Was Sabotaged By Republican Trolls – she makes a case why Republicans are partially responsible for many Americans who have refused to be vaccinated.

“Trump supporters are so angry and bitter at Biden that they have weaponized their own bodies to to sabotage his efforts to end the pandemic,” she writes. “Maybe it feels to them as if refusing the vaccination is a good way to stick it to the liberals – who are admittedly exasperated by this behavior – the main result is that the pandemic is raging out of control in “red” areas of the country, while blue states and regions are getting back to normal...

“To put it even more bluntly, Republicanism is killing people. On the Democratic side of the aisle, polarization is not a problem. If anything, it probably saved lives, because many Democratic voters made it a point of pride to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All of the 18 states that have surpassed Biden’s 70% goal, voted for him in the 2020 election...

To make things worse, Fox News, eager to find a way to sabotage Biden’s pandemic efforts ( and his entire presidency ), has convinced its viewers that only hated liberals get the shot. So, the vaccines have become aligned with vegan cookery, “Critical Race Theory,” or driving a Prius: Something conservatives are convinced is sinister and will somehow infect them with socialism…

“As long as vaccination rates are tied up with media assessments of Biden’s success as president, Republican voters – and the propaganda of right-wing media – will have an incentive to keep refusing the vaccine. They weren’t quite able to steal the election for Donald Trump, but they can offer their own bodies up as sacrifices to keep the virus circulating in an effort to make Joe Biden look bad…

This problem falls outside Biden’s power to fix. If anything, the harder he pushes people to get vaccinated, the more Republicans will dig in their heels and refuse. It’s time for the media to stop blaming Biden and put the blame where it squarely belongs: On Trump, on spiteful, embittered Republicans and on right-wing media, which would rather kill off its own viewers than give a Democratic president a legitimate win.”

“The bottom line is, my administration is doing everything it can to lead a government response at the federal, state and local levels to defeat the pandemic,” Biden said. “We need everyone to do their part.”

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress, and media will do their part to convince the rubes that Biden’s efforts to vaccinate the population, are nothing more than communism, and are to be resisted.

Sources: NY Times, The Week, Salon, therev.com/Biden Transcripts.

In The News: Biden Administration Buying Millions Of Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine To Distribute To The World

FeaturedIn The News: Biden Administration Buying Millions Of Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine To Distribute To The World

According to White House sources, The Biden Administration is purchasing up to 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for distribution to other nations that need it. 200 million of those doses will be donated sometime this year, and the remaining 300 million in the first half of 2022.

The doses of the vaccine will be shared by COVAX, a W.H.O backed initiative to share and distribute to third-world countries in need of the vaccines. Pfizer is providing the vaccine doses to the U.S. at an alleged “not for profit” price.

The president is expected to announce the plan during the annual Group of Seven meeting – AKA the G7 summit – in Britain this week, which would likely include Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla.

Some public health officials have praised the decision. “It’s an extraordinary development,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, who is an epidemiologist and senior scholar at John Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It sends a profound signal in terms of U.S. commitment to global health security and willingness to help end this pandemic for the world and the United States.”

According to Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who is also the director of its global health program, the decision “is meaningful, but not sufficient on its own.”

These Pfizer doses will go to many countries,” he said. “The big question is, in what order and what amount? That will have a significant bearing on what the public health impact of the commitment will be.”

We won’t end this global pandemic anywhere unless we beat it everywhere,'” says Tom Hart, who is acting CEO of the One Campaign, an org to bring an end to global poverty and disease. “Donating doses to COVAX will save lives, reduce the spread of variants, and help reopen global economy. We urge other G-7 countries to follow the U.S. and donate more doses to COVAX. If there was ever a time for global ambition and action to end the pandemic, it’s now.”

Sources: The Week, Washington Post.

In The News: President Biden Pushes Renewed Effort To Vaccinate 70% Of Americans

FeaturedIn The News: President Biden Pushes Renewed Effort To Vaccinate 70% Of Americans

Not too long ago, president Biden pushed his goal to vaccinate at least 70% of the adult population by the July 04th holiday. Previously he had offered incentives to get more people to vaccinate.

Participating businesses are apparently offering all sorts of freebies to get more people who are hesitant about getting vaccinated, to get the vaccine. In some cases, the newly-vaccinated can receive anything from beer to Krispy Kreme Donuts. And according to ABC News, dozens of lucky individuals will become new lottery winners. One young woman from Cincinnati recently became a million dollar winner.

As of now, according to CDC data, at least 51% of the U.S. population has received one shot of the vaccine. 41% of the population are fully-vaccinated.

In just four months , thanks to the American people, we’ve made incredible progress in getting people vaccinated quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” Biden said Wednesday from the White House…

52% of adults are are now fully-vaccinated, including 75% of all seniors. Twenty-eight states and D.C. have achieved 50% of adults being fully-vaccinated in their jurisdictions. And it’s clear the more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in fighting this virus…

I promise you, we can do this.”

Will the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population be met in time by July 04? That remains to be seen. But it seems unlikely.

Sources: The Week, Yahoo News, the rev.com

In The News: Moderna Vaccine Safe And Effective In Children Ages Twelve To Seventeen

FeaturedIn The News: Moderna Vaccine Safe And Effective In Children Ages Twelve To Seventeen

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/embed/video/7426792002?placement=snow-embed

According to a Moderna study, following a first dose of it’s vaccine, protection against the coronavirus had a 93% effectiveness, compared to a 100% effectiveness fourteen days after a second dose.

The study involved approximately 3,700 adolescent participants. Two-thirds received the vaccine, and one-third received a placebo. Participants who had received the vaccine showed no signs of COVID, while among those who had been given a placebo, were four cases of illness.

The common adverse side-effects reported by those vaccinated are the usual complaints of pain at injection site, fatigue, headache, and muscle soreness. These side-effects were a common complaint after each of the injections during the Phase 2/3 clinical study.

As of now, Moderna’s vaccine is available only to adults eighteen years of age and over, as it’s initial testing was done in adults. They hope to be able to use their vaccine in children as young as twelve after authorization from the FDA.

“We will submit these results to the U.S. FDA and regulators globally in June and request authorization,” says Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna.

Sources: The Week, USA Today.

In The News: CDC Says Half Of U.S. Adults Are Fully-Vaccinated

FeaturedIn The News: CDC Says Half Of U.S. Adults Are Fully-Vaccinated

According to CDC data, fifty-percent of American adults have been fully-vaccinated, a total of 131,078,608. The same data shows that over 164 million have received one dose of a vaccine.

The U.S. previously approved immunization for the virus to everyone over the age of sixteen this past April, while children below the age of twelve have yet to be approved for coronavirus vaccines.

At a White House briefing Andy Slavitt, the COVID-19 advisor, said, “This is a major milestone in our countries vaccination efforts. The progress that we’ve made is due to all of you who have gotten vaccinated. Who have contributed not only to your health but to mine and my family’s and my friends’ and yours, and the health of people who can’t get vaccinated because of their medical condition. You’ve contributed to your country.”

Many Americans have resisted getting vaccinated either due to misinformation about the vaccines and their safety, or a personal belief that vaccines simply don’t work. Slavitt had this to say to those who are hesitant.

“”Find whatever reason you want to get vaccinated. For those not sure yet, do your homework, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. All concerns are reasonable. But do yourself a favor. Don’t let some guy on Facebook answer your question when good answers are available.”

Sources: The Week, ABC News, CNN.

In The News: CDC Looking Into Possible Heart Problem In Some Vaccine Recipients

FeaturedIn The News: CDC Looking Into Possible Heart Problem In Some Vaccine Recipients

The New York Times has reported that the CDC is looking into a possible heart problem in a few teenage recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices the Vaccine Safety Technical Work Group ( VaST ) has reviewed post-authorization vaccine safety data on a regular basis since the vaccines were developed. VaST assessments of safety data have been presented at ACIP public meetings.

During the previous ACIP meeting were presentations of reports of alleged cases of myocarditis following mRNA vaccine administration in some teens and young adults, which seem to occur more often in males rather than females, more often following two doses, and within four days of full immunization.

It’s not been determined if the “relatively few” cases are even related to the vaccines. “It may simply be a coincidence that some people are developing myocarditis after vaccination,” says Dr. Celine Gounder who is an infectious disease specialist at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. “It’s more likely for something like that to happen by chance, because so many people are getting vaccinated right now.”

“We look forward to seeing more data about these cases,” says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, “so we can better understand if they are related to the vaccine or if they are coincidental. Meanwhile it’s important for pediatricians and other clinicians to report any health concerns that might arise after vaccination.”

Sources: The Week, NY Times, CDC.gov.

In The News: Pfizer And Astra-Zeneca Vaccines Found To Be ‘Highly-Effective’ Against New COVID Strains

FeaturedIn The News: Pfizer And Astra-Zeneca Vaccines Found To Be ‘Highly-Effective’ Against New COVID Strains

According to a new study by Public Health England, the Astra-Zeneca, and Pfizer vaccines are very effective against new strains from India and the U.K..

Testing done between April 05 and May 16 discovered that Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against a coronavirus variant ( B.1617.2 ) from India, two weeks after a second dose is administered. Its effectiveness is 93% against the B.1.1.7 strain from the U.K..

The Astra-Zeneca vaccine was found to be 60% effective against the B.1.617 compared to that of a 66% against the B.1.1.7 strain.

Public Health officials in England expect to see “even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalizations and death” as a result of these vaccines.

“It’s now clear how important the second dose is to secure the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 and its variants – and I urge everyone to book in their jab when offered,” Health and Social Care secretary, Matt Hancock said via public statement.

“This study provides reassurance that two doses of either vaccine offer high levels of protection against symptomatic disease  from the B.1.617.2 variant,” Head of Immunization, Mary Ramsay said in the same statement. “We expect the vaccines to be even more effective at preventing hospitalizations and death, so it’s vital to get both doses to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.”

“We now have early evidence that the vaccine protects against the India variant,” said Susan Hopkins, the COVID-19 strategic response director for PHE. “That’s really good news. What we are saying now is push the second dose and get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Sources: The Guardian, The Week, Axios, UK.gov.

In The News: Pfizer Receives Authorization To Begin Administering It’s Vaccine To Adolescents

In The News: Pfizer Receives Authorization To Begin Administering It’s Vaccine To Adolescents

Pending CDC approval, the FDA has authorized the use of Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine for distribution among twelve to fifteen year-olds. The vaccine had previously been approved for use in children sixteen and older.

The approval should come soon – possibly as soon as Wednesday – and after CDC go-ahead, immunization can begin as early as Thursday, as millions of children can now to return to school for the new year fully-immunized without fear of possibly transmitting the coronavirus.

“This is a watershed moment in our ability to fight back the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Bill Gruber, who is both a senior vice president of Pfizer, and a pediatrician.

“This is great news,” said Dr. Kristin Oliver, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “It’s as if we’ve been waiting forever to start protecting children in this age group.

Pfizer isn’t the only company reported attempting to get their vaccine used in lower age groups. Moderna has previously indicated that results from a pre-lim study of twelve to seventeen year-olds have demonstrated promising results without any serious side effects. And it is reported that Novavax has developed a vaccine and have begun their own clinical study on the effects of the vaccine on twelve to seventeen year-olds.

Children younger than twelve would be the next target for a vaccine approval. Moderna and Pfizer have been studying the effects of the vaccine in children from the ages between six months to eleven, and to determine the amount of dosing needed. Results are not expected until the coming weeks, probably some time this fall.

Sources: The Week, The NY Times.

In The News: Moderna Reports Positive Results Against Variants With It’s Vaccine Booster

In The News: Moderna Reports Positive Results Against Variants With It’s Vaccine Booster

According to data from Moderna’s Phase 02 clinical trials, their variant-targeting booster shot, appears to offer protection against variants of the virus initially found in Brazil and South Africa, such as the so-called B.1.354, and P.1.

In-trial testing of a 50-microgram dose of it’s vaccine is currently being administered to previously-vaccinated individuals. According to data, the dose increased anti-body immune responses against the original COVID-19 as well as other variants.

A booster shot of its other vaccine, mRNA-1273.351 has shown even better results than it’s current vaccine against B.1.351. This new vaccine is a variant-specific booster designed to target B.1.351.

The preliminary results are expected to be published online after peer review.

Via a Moderna press release, CEO Stephane Bancel said, “As we seek to defeat the on-going pandemic, we remain committed to being proactive as the virus evolves. We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforces our confidence that our booster strategy should be protective against these newly-detected variants. The strong and rapid boost in titers to levels above primary vaccination also clearly demonstrates the ability of mRNA-1273 to induce immune memory. Our mRNA platform allows for rapid design of vaccine candidates that incorporate key virus mutations, potentially allowing for faster developing of future variant-matched vaccines should they be needed. We look forward to sharing data on our multivalent booster candidate, mRNA-1273.211, which combines mRNA-1273 and mRNA.351 in a single vaccine, when available. We will continue to make as many updates to our COVID-19 vaccine as necessary to control the pandemic.”

Side effects are reported to be similar to those seen in the previous studies, which include injection-sight pain, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint pain and discomfort.

The CDC reported Wednesday that there could be a surge in cases through May due to variants of the virus, and dropping sharply by July as vaccinations drive down infections.

Via a White House news briefing, CDC director Rochelle Walenksy said, “We are seeing that our current vaccines are protecting against the contaminant variants circulating in the country. Simply put, the sooner we get more and more people vaccinated, the sooner we will all get back to normal.”