In The News This Week: Pfizer Hoping To Seek COVID Vaccine Approval For Children

FeaturedIn The News This Week: Pfizer Hoping To Seek COVID Vaccine Approval For Children

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla told George Stephanopoulos  that booster shots can be provided to older Americans, as well as shots for those who have yet to be vaccinated.

“I think it is also not the right thing to try to resolve it with an ‘or’ when you can resolve it with an ‘and,” he said. “It’s not shall we give boosters or give primary doses to other people. I think the answer is let’s give both boosters and doses to other people.”

CDC director Rochelle Walensky agrees with the agency’s advisory panel that medically vulnerable seniors should receive a booster shot of the vaccine, but the panel has rejected the recommendation that frontline workers receive a booster.

“We are looking forward to being able to vaccinate all these vulnerable people so that we can put an end to this pandemic,” Bourla said.

The debate over the need for a booster may seem unimportant, since some countries – poorer countries – have no vaccines at all. Former CDC director, Tom Frieden, criticized Pfizer and Moderna of not doing enough to supply vaccines to poorer nations.

“While focusing on selling expensive vaccines to rich countries, Moderna and Pfizer are doing next to nothing to close the global gap in vaccine supply. Shameful,” Frieden recently tweeted.

Recently, Pfizer released safety date regarding vaccines for children 05 to 11years of age. “I think we are going to submit this data very soon,” Bourla said. “A matter of days, not weeks.”

When the data has been reviewed and the FDA gives it’s approval, Bourla said Pfizer will begin inoculating children in that age group.

Sources: The Week, ABC News, NY Times.

In The News: No Masks Required For Fully-Vaccinated Students Over Twelve, Says New CDC Guidance

FeaturedIn The News: No Masks Required For Fully-Vaccinated Students Over Twelve, Says New CDC Guidance

According to updated CDC guidelines, students above the age of twelve will not be required to wear masks during the new school year this fall if they are fully-vaccinated.

However, as vaccines are not available for children below the age of twelve, those students are encouraged to continue safety measures such as wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing, and regular COVID testing.

The updated guideline says students benefit from in-person learning and getting them safely back into the classroom should be a priority.

Masks should also continue to worn indoors by children two years and above, as the correct utilization of masks by those individuals who are not fully-vaccinated is “especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

The updated guidelines are not mandatory. Some states have their own mandates that require every student , whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks while at school. Other states, such as Texas, Iowa, and Arizona, have barred school officials from wearing masks.

The American Federation of Teachers president, Randi Weingarten released a statement praising the updated guidelines as “grounded in both science and common sense.”

“It takes what we’ve learned about COVID transmission in the last few months – from in-school learning, camps and the efficacy of vaccines – and charts a course for schools to fully reopen this fall.

“The guidance confirms two truths: that students learn better in the classroom, and that vaccines remain our best bet to stop the spread of this virus, and get our kids and educators fully back to those classrooms for in-person learning. It also makes clear that masking is important in the absence of vaccination.”

Sources: CDC.gov, AP News, Aft.org.

In The News: CDC Director Says Delta Variant May Soon Become Dominant Strain In The States

FeaturedIn The News: CDC Director Says Delta Variant May Soon Become Dominant Strain In The States

According to CDC director Rochelle Walenksy, a highly-contagious variant of the coronavirus known as the delta Variant, could very well become a dominant strain in the United States.

The variant, according to the World Health Organization, was identified last October in India, and is reported to be present in approximately eighty countries world-wide. It’s alleged to have now been discovered in forty-one states in the U.S..

The variant has been classified as a “variant of concern,” by WHO. This week the CDC upgraded its classification from “variant of interest,” to “variant of concern.”

“When these viruses mutate,” Walensky told ABC News, “they do so with some advantage to the virus. In this case, it’s more transmissible. It’s more transmissible than the alpha variant, or the U.K. variant, that we have here. We saw that quickly become the dominant strain in a period of one or two months, and I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the delta strain here.”

CDC health officials say they are concerned that the delta strain may mutate to a point where it can evade the existing COVID vaccines.

“That’s what we’re actively trying to prevent,” Walensky said. “Which is why we’re really encouraging people to get vaccinated. I will say, as worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper-transmissibility, our vaccines work. Right now, they are working, and they require actually two doses or to be fully-vaccinated to work. So I would encourage all Americans to get your first shot, and when you get your second shot, you’ll be protected against this delta variant.”

According to Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, the delta variant is “far more contagious than any variant we have seen throughout this entire pandemic.”

As more Americans continue to get vaccinated, and cases decline, close to 600,OOO have perished from COVID-19.

Source: ABC News.

In The News: Coronavirus Deaths Near 600,000 In U.S.

FeaturedIn The News: Coronavirus Deaths Near 600,000 In U.S.

According to CDC data, nearly 600,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. That includes mother’s, father’s, children, sons, daughters, grandparents, cousins, teachers and friends. Millions of Americans have been affected by the pandemic, whether directly, or indirectly.

During yesterday’s press conference at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, president Biden said:

“We’ve made enormous progress in the United States. Much of the country is returning to normal. And our economic growth is leading the world, and the number of cases and deaths are dropping dramatically, but there’s still too many lives being lost. We’re still averaging in the last even days the loss of 370 deaths per day. That’s significantly lower than at the peak of this crises. But it’s still a tragedy. We’re approaching a sad milestone, almost 600,000 lost lives because of COVID-19 in America. My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one.

That’s why I continue to say, America, if you have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated. Get vaccinated as soon as possible, We have plenty of vaccines. Plenty of sites. We have more work to do to beat this virus, and now’s not the time to let our guard down. Please get vaccinated. There’s been enough pain.

Sources: The Week, Reuters, CDC.gov.

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

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

In 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

In 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: 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.”

In The News This Week: New CDC Guidelines For Fully-Vaccinated

In The News This Week: New CDC Guidelines For Fully-Vaccinated

According to updated CDC guidelines fully-vaccinated Americans can now participate in activities that have been denied them due to a year-long mask mandate, lockdown, and social distancing measures designed to cut down on the spread of the virus. Millions of people can now jog, walk, bike, and dine with friends in outdoor restaurants without wearing masks.

According to the CDC’s virus tracker, as of today, 570, 420 Americans have died from COVID-19. Also, according to CDC statistical data – last updated April 28 – at least 142, 692, 987 of the adult population have received one dose of the vaccine, while well over 98, OOO, OOO have been fully immunized.

Tuesday, the president spoke to reporters on the White House lawn about the CDC’s new recommendations.

“Because of the extraordinary progress we’ve made in fighting this virus, and the progress our scientists have made in learning how it’s transmitted, earlier today, the CDC made an important announcement. Starting today, if you’re fully-vaccinated and you’re outdoors, and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask…

“Yes, the vaccines are about saving your life, but also the lives of people around you. But they’re also about helping us get back to normal in our living, more normal living, getting together with friends, going to the park for a picnic without needing to mask up. We’re back to that place now, as long as you get vaccinated, so get the shot…”

“Today, I hope is a day when we can make another step back to normalcy,” said the CDC’s director, Rochelle Walensky, during a White House briefing. “Over the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do. Today I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully-vaccinated.”

“The examples today,” she said, “show that when you are fully-vaccinated, you can return to many activities safely and get back to normal. And the more people who are vaccinated, the more steps we can take toward spending time with people we love, doing things we enjoy. I hope this message is encouraging for you. It just shows how powerful these vaccines are.”

“The bottom line is clear,” Biden said. “If you’re fully-vaccinated you can do more things more safely both outdoors as well as indoors. For those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet, especially if you’re younger or thinking you don’t need it, this is another great reason to go and get vaccinated now.”

July 04 is the deadline that the Biden administration has set as its goal when Americans can look forward to a sense of normalcy. Whether it can or will be done, remains to be seen.

Sources: USA Today, Washington Post, Star Tribune.

In The News: Health Officials Continue Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Distribution

In The News: Health Officials Continue Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Distribution

Several states have lifted the pause on the COVID-19 vaccine. Indiana, Virginia, Missouri, Michigan and New York , have resumed distributing doses of the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine on Saturday.

Health officials recommended redistribution of the controversial vaccine, which has been reported as being linked to blood clots. Fifteen cases out of approximately 8 million have been identified to have come down with blood clots after receiving the vaccine, and three are reported to have died.

According to health officials, the condition involves several forms of clots in various locations, including the brain, abdomen, and legs, and low levels of platelets that aid healing in wounds. The condition is known as thrombocytopenia syndrome.

The FDA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that the benefits of the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine outweigh its risks.

“Both agencies have full confidence that this vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh it’s known and potential risks in individuals 18 and older,” says the FDA’s acting commissioner, Janet Woodcock.

“We are no longer recommending a pause to the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine,” said the CDCP’s director Rochelle Walenksy during Friday’s virtual panel. “I support the ACIP’s recommendation that the Johnson and Johnson COVID -19 vaccine be used for persons 18 years of age or older in the United States population under the FDA emergency use authorization, and I have signed this recommendation.”

According to Dr. Henry Bernstein, a panel member and a pediatrician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, the pause was justified because of the safety concern, but it’s time to continue distribution of the vaccine.

“I hope the pause draws the public’s attention to the fact that the vaccine safety surveillance system works, that the vaccine’s incredibly safe and effective, and it’s immensely important for everyone to be vaccinated so we can put this pandemic behind us,” said Dr. Bernstein.

Sources: CNN, USA Today.