FDA panel reviews vaccines for children under 5 and WHO warns of pandemic complacency

A day after an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration approved a second brand of COVID-19 vaccines for school-age children and adolescents, the same panel will meet again to discuss vaccines for children under 5, the latest group to give the U.S. program to be added.

The group unanimously agreed that Moderna’s MRNA,
The vaccine is safe and effective enough to help children ages 6 to 17, the Associated Press reported. If the FDA agrees, the second option for these children would be to join Pfizer’s PFE,

Later Wednesday, the panel will review both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children under 5 years old. The FDA last Friday presented an analysis of Moderna’s two-shot regimen for children under the age of 5 and said it appears to be safe and effective for children as young as 6 months.

The federal government has committed to making vaccines available immediately upon approval by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination could start as early as next week.

Do not miss: It’s time to let pharmacists prescribe COVID-fighting pills like Paxlovid

The meeting comes as the US is averaging 105,605 cases per day, up 7% from two weeks ago. according to a New York Times tracker. But with many people now testing at home and data not being collected, there are concerns that case numbers will be undercounted.

There are also regional differences in the number of cases. The Northeast, a new hotspot, is showing declining numbers while cases are rising again in the South and West.

The same trend is playing out in hospitalizations. The US is recording an average of 29,728 hospital admissions per day, up 8% from two weeks ago, but they are rising faster in California and Florida.

The daily death toll is averaging 322, up 8% from two weeks ago.

The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that while cases and deaths are declining around the world, it is still too early to settle for the virus.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a press conference that more than 3 million new cases were still reported in the last week and that 8,737 people died.

“We can’t afford to go deaf to those numbers,” he said. “There is no acceptable level of death from COVID-19 when we have the tools to prevent, detect and treat this disease.”

Tedros said he hoped a discussion at this week’s World Trade Organization ministerial conference on a temporary intellectual property waiver for vaccines would produce results.

“As I have said many times, the TRIPS waiver was created for use in emergencies. So if not now, then when? I hope that countries will agree on an exemption not only for vaccines but also for diagnostics and therapeutics,” he said.

North Korea is facing a spike in fever cases after reporting its first local Covid-19 infection in mid-May. The WSJ examines Kim Jong Un’s strategy for fighting the pandemic in the impoverished country, which has low testing capacity and an unvaccinated population. Photos: KCTV; STR/AFP

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting on the latest developments every weekday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• A Study published in the journal Science found that people who contracted COVID during the first wave of the pandemic do not boost their immune responses when later infected with the Omicron variant. The study included people who had received three vaccinations and also found that Omicron infection offered little additional protection against reinfection with this variant. as the Guardian reports. The results may help explain why Omicron reinfections were so common over a short period of time, the newspaper reported.

• A famous Hong Kong floating restaurant that provided Cantonese cuisine and seafood to Queen Elizabeth II, Tom Cruise and millions of other diners was towed from Hong Kong’s harbor front on Tuesday after being closed due to the pandemic. reported the AP. The Jumbo Floating Restaurant’s parent company was unable to find a new owner and had no funds to maintain it after months of COVID-19 restrictions.

• Officials in China’s Henan province are said to use a COVID app to restrict the movement of some residents after a rare protest. BBC News reports. People say they are being forced into quarantine, blocked from using public transport or entering buildings. Most appear to be customers of four rural banks, which local media said had encountered problems with cash withdrawals. Banks froze deposits, prompting angry demonstrations last month. China’s banking and insurance regulator has now ordered an investigation into the banks. More than 39 billion yuan ($6 billion) is believed to have been frozen, affecting hundreds of thousands of customers.

• As the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants continue to spread more rapidly across Europe, the EU’s Center for Disease Prevention and Control warns that they could lead to increases in hospital admissions and deaths. Reuters reported. In countries where the proportion has increased – like Portugal, where BA.5 accounted for 87% of cases as of May 30 – there has been an overall increase in cases. “The growth advantage reported for BA.4 and BA.5 suggests that these variants are becoming dominant,” ECDC said in a statement on its website.

Also read: COVID patients with weakened immune systems should be treated as a matter of priority to avoid emergence of new variants, experts say

Here’s what the numbers say

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 536.8 million on Wednesday, while the death toll rose to over 6.31 million. based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 85.8 million cases and 1,012,013 deaths.

That Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 221.7 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, which is 66.8% of the total population. But only 104.5 million received an initial booster, which is 47.1% of the vaccinated population.

Only 15.8 million of those aged 50 and over who were eligible for a second booster shot received one, which is 25% of those who received a first booster shot. FDA panel reviews vaccines for children under 5 and WHO warns of pandemic complacency

Brian Lowry

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