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Well being Care — FDA panel to weigh extra vaccine boosters


Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here.

The National Park Service says it’s official: DC’s cherry blossoms are at peak bloom.

An FDA advisory panel will meet in April to discuss additional COVID-19 booster shots, though members won’t vote on any specific applications.

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com), and Joseph Choi (jchoi@thehill.com). Write to us with tips and feedback.

Let’s get started.

 

FDA panel to discuss additional booster shots in April

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel will meet April 6 to discuss COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, the agency announced Monday.

The meeting comes amid a renewed debate about who might need booster shots and the broader goals of the U.S. vaccination campaign.

The meeting will not address the pending applications from Pfizer and Moderna. Instead, it is aimed broadly at addressing the possibility of variant-specific vaccines, as well as the timing and populations for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses in the coming months.

Both companies have filed applications for emergency use authorization of a second booster dose of their vaccines; Pfizer’s request is for older adults ages 65 and older, while Moderna requested authorization for all adults.

There’s clear evidence that the vaccines’ protection against infection wanes after several months across all age groups. Still, many health experts have questioned the effectiveness of repeat booster shots in younger healthy people.

About 48 percent of eligible American adults, or 93 million people, have gotten booster shots so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more here.

 

AstraZeneca: Antiviral drug neutralizes omicron variants 

AstraZeneca said Monday that its antiviral drug was shown to be effective at neutralizing the COVID-19 omicron variant, including the newer BA.2 variant that is causing cases to rise in Europe and Asia. 

Data from the Washington University School of Medicine showed that AstraZeneca’s Evusheld was effective at reducing the viral burden and inflammation in the lungs caused by the BA.1, BA.1.1 and the BA.2 variants, the company said. The study was conducted with mice infected with the virus. 

The Washington University researchers noted that there were a few limitations to the study. Only female mice were used in the study and the omicron strains are believed to be less pathogenic in mice when compared to previous strains. 

Corresponding research: Research led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Tokyo, indicated that other antivirals such as Paxlovid, remdesivir and molnupiravir were effective against the BA.2 variant. 

Kawaoka’s research team found that AstraZeneca’s Evusheld was the most effective against the BA.2 variant out of the antibody treatments that were tested. 

Read more here

 

FAUCI SAYS US UNLIKELY TO SEE SURGE FROM NEW COVID-19 VARIANT

Chief White House medical adviser Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSome states pull back on daily COVID reporting Hvistendahl: Reports that U.S.-funded lab leaked COVID-19 are ‘dangerous’ Fauci says US unlikely to see surge from new COVID-19 variant MORE said on Sunday that he does not think the U.S. will see another surge in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of a new omicron variant, even though cases are rising in Europe and Asia due to the strain.

Fauci said while appearing on ABC’s “This Week” that the new omicron strain is about 50 to 60 percent more transmissible than the first omicron strain, adding that it could take over as the dominant strain in the U.S.

However, he noted that the strain does not appear to cause more severe illness or evade immune responses from vaccination or prior infection.

“Hopefully, we won’t see a surge. I don’t think we will. The easiest way to prevent that is to continue to get people vaccinated. And for those who have been vaccinated, to continue to get them boosted, so that’s really where we stand right now,” said Fauci, though he acknowledged the U.S. will likely see an “uptick” in cases. 

Read more here

 

1 IN 4 PARENTS SAY CHILD HAS SEEN MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST AMID PANDEMIC

More than a quarter of U.S. parents said their child has seen a mental health specialist over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 60 percent of visits taking place in the past year, according to a recent survey.   

The findings are based on a on a nationally representative report from the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health alongside the Children’s Hospital Association, derived from survey responses of 1,201 parents of children ages 11-18 surveyed in October 2021.

The group drew their conclusion from data collected between March and October 2020 which showed emergency room visits for mental health emergencies among children ages 5-11 increased by 24 percent and by 31 percent for children ages 12-17. 

Read more here.

 

JUDGE BLOCKS LAW ALLOWING VAX WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT

A federal judge temporarily blocked the District of Columbia from enforcing a law that would have allowed children to get vaccinated without the knowledge of their parents, ruling that the law violated parents’ religious liberties.

The law in question, the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act of 2020, allows children as young as 11 years old to be vaccinated so long as a provider deems them capable of informed consent. 

Two separate lawsuits were brought in July by parents that challenged the law.

On Friday, Judge Trevor McFadden, appointed by former President TrumpDonald TrumpNow is the time to rebuild America’s refugee resettlement program Is a post-Trump media world beginning to take shape? Major government surveillance revelations fail to make a big splash MORE, ruled that the parents in both cases have standing and showed a likelihood of success on the merits for those claims, because the law requires providers to hide children’s vaccination status from parents who invoke their religious exemption rights but not from other parents. 

Read more here.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Official U.S. long Covid-19 data two years away, hurts research (Bloomberg Law)
  • Biden’s plan for new normal spurs worries about next covid surge — and who is being left behind (Washington Post)
  • The Covid-19 vaccine market is getting crowded — as demand begins to wane (STAT)

 

STATE BY STATE

  • At least 537 COVID-19 deaths missing from state nursing home data (Oklahoma Watch)
  • Immunocompromised patients worry vaccine exemptions put them in peril (Montana Public Radio)

 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Tuesday.



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