Covid News Watch
Pfizer Boss Refuses to Testify to EU Parliament COVID Panel — Again
Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla has once again declined to testify before the European Parliament’s special COVID committee. That’s strike two. “Since the October COVID hearing, we have no further information to share with the Committee, so respectfully decline the invitation to again revisit these issues,” states the letter from Bourla dated December 2 and seen by POLITICO.
Bourla previously pulled out of an appointment to testify before the committee in October, at which he was expected to face tough questions on how secretive vaccine deals were struck. That decision followed an audit report into the EU’s vaccine procurement strategy that raised new questions about contact between the pharma CEO and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that preceded a multibillion-euro vaccine contract.
So, on October 28, the COVID committee extended a second invitation to the CEO.
“Our committee felt that during the previous hearing with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, where Pfizer was represented by Mrs. Janine Small, important questions regarding the advanced purchase agreements between the European Union and Pfizer, which fall under the responsibility of the CEO and of which only he has the authority to respond to them, remained unanswered,” COVID committee chair Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D group) said in a statement today.
But for Pfizer, it seems there’s just nothing new to say.
Pfizer Applies for FDA Authorization for Omicron-Retooled Vaccine Booster in Kids Under 5
Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N) and its German partner BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) said on Monday they have submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization of their Omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccine booster for children aged 6 months through 4 years.
If authorized, children would receive the primary series consisting of two doses of the original Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine and one shot of the Omicron-adapted bivalent vaccine, the company said.
The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the original strain and the BA.4/BA.5 Omicron subvariants, is currently authorized as a booster dose for ages 5 years and older in the United States and the European Union (EU).
U.S. Sent Billions in COVID Aid to Hospitals That Didn’t Need It: Report
The U.S. government sent billions of dollars in COVID-19 aid to lucrative hospitals with no need for the funds, even as other hospitals failed to meet their needs.
The U.S. chose to distribute funds by using average revenue as a proxy for size and therefore need and did not rely on COVID-19 caseloads, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. As a result, many wealthy care centers received vast amounts of cash they didn’t need, while hospitals that were overrun received the same amount of cash but needed even more.
President Biden‘s Department of Homeland Security says roughly 90% of the funds were handed out under former President Donald Trump’s administration. The hospital mix-up is only one of many examples of misallocation of COVID-19 relief funds, and Biden’s administration cannot entirely escape blame.
Biden’s flagship American Rescue Plan also allocated billions in COVID-19 funds to state governments that were already rebounding with tax revenue, according to a September report. Instead of using the funds to support COVID-19 responses, the funds went toward new building projects, roads and even seawalls.
Suppressing Repurposed Drugs ‘Cost Millions of Lives’: Founder of COVID Treatment Fund
The executive director of the Vaccine Safety Research Foundation, Steve Kirsch, has been working to make early COVID drug treatments available to the public, despite being assailed by the medical establishment for speaking out about the dangers of the COVID vaccines.
During the pandemic, he founded the COVID-19 Treatment Fund to raise money to test repurposed drugs for use in treating COVID, while health agencies were dismissing their effectiveness and urging the public to get vaccinated as the only way to prevent severe illness and hospitalization.
“This has cost millions of lives,” and the problem was compounded by a hospital COVID treatment protocol “that was almost certain to kill you,” Kirsch said during a recent interview on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program. He said the COVID protocols hospitals have followed, although sanctioned by the federal health agencies, added to the death toll.
At the start of the pandemic, Kirsch donated a million dollars and raised five million to fund clinical trials and recruited a 14-person scientific advisory board all to test repurposed drugs for COVID treatment. “What we discovered was that many of these drugs were remarkably effective,” said Kirsch. One of the repurposed drugs, fluvoxamine, was successful in treating COVID and featured on 60 Minutes, but was not mentioned that it was highly effective in treating COVID.
Demand for Hospital-Grade Cribs on the Rise as Viral Illnesses Continue to Surge
As a trio of respiratory viruses spreads across the country and pediatric hospitalizations remain high, some hospitals are running into a new problem: a shortage of medical-grade cribs.
Pediatric hospital beds have been more full than usual for months. Last month, children’s health leaders called for a formal emergency declaration from the U.S. government to support hospitals and communities amid an “alarming surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, along with the continuing children’s mental health emergency.”
Michigan’s largest health system, Corewell Health, ordered more than 50 additional cribs “to accommodate the surge in pediatric upper respiratory infections,” Tim Essenmacher of Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital and Corewell Health East’s Melanie Fisher told CNN in an email.
‘COVID-somnia’ May Be Easing as Americans Report Better Sleep
Finally, more than two years into the pandemic, Americans are sleeping better.
A new survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that 31% of people have had insomnia since the pandemic began. That was much lower — a 25% decrease — compared to the 2021 survey that found 56% of people were experiencing pandemic-linked insomnia.
Among those surveyed who were still having sleep disturbances, 61% were having trouble falling asleep. About 47% were experiencing worse quality sleep, 39% were sleeping less and 33% were having more disturbing dreams.
Omicron Strain Likely Developed in West Africa, Study Shows
Omicron, the current dominant coronavirus strain, likely originated in West Africa even though it was first identified in the south of the continent, according to a study led by South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and Charite -Universitatsmedizin Berlin.
The study, based on 13,097 samples of COVID-19 infections from 22 African countries, showed that the Omicron BA.1 lineage first emerged in the west of the continent where little testing and even less gene sequencing takes place. BA.1 was the first Omicron strain. It has since further mutated.
Immune System T-Cells Can Still Fight COVID Variants, But for How Long?
While people’s immune system T-cells can still target the spike proteins of the COVID coronavirus, their power to do so is waning over time, researchers report.
As the virus continues to mutate, T-cell recognition of newer variants may be lost, the researchers cautioned. That could lead to decreasing overall protection by the immune system.
Despite the fact that T-cells were still able to recognize parts of the spike protein, called epitopes, including those in the Omicron variant, recognition was worse in seven of 10 epitopes that were mutated in different variants, the study found. As part of the study, researchers tested CD4+ T-cells collected early in the pandemic from healthcare workers who were infected with COVID-19.
The findings were published Dec. 1 in Nature Immunology. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, the research partner of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
Domestically Developed Nasal Spray COVID Vaccine Granted Emergency Use Authorization in Chinese Mainland
VectorFlu ONE, a nasal spray COVID-19 vaccine, has been granted emergency use authorization in the Chinese mainland, its developer announced on Monday. Analysis of interim primary data from its Phase III clinical trial showed that the vaccine provided good protection against Omicron variant strains BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5.
The vaccine has been co-developed by Hong Kong University, Xiamen University and Wantai Biopharmaceutical Company.
On Monday, Wantai announced that China’s National Medical Products Administration agreed to its emergency use in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Vaccine Administration Law.
A statement from the University of Hong Kong said that Wantai plans to produce 200 million doses of the nasal spray vaccine in the next six months.
Fauci Says China Has Done a Bad Job of Vaccinating the Elderly and Their Shots Are Not Very Effective Against COVID
“The vaccination of the elderly has not been well performed and the vaccine they have has been not a particularly effective vaccine,” Fauci told The Washington Post in an interview on Thursday, as he prepares to step down as director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases later this month.
“If there was any advice, it’s pretty simple and it’s not just coming from me — it’s coming from any number of people involved in this outbreak: Do whatever you can to get your people vaccinated and boosted with a highly effective vaccine,” said Fauci, who has decades of experience in responding to infectious diseases, from the HIV pandemic to the emergence of Ebola.
China uses a domestically developed vaccine called CoronaVac manufactured by Sinovac. The shots contain a killed virus that induces an immune response. Beijing has not approved Pfizer’s and Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccines.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in a September report, said vaccination rates for older adults are lower in China than in other nations because the elderly are skeptical of the country’s domestically developed vaccine.
The Business of Clinical Trials Is Booming. Private Equity Has Taken Notice.
After finding success investing in the more obviously lucrative corners of American medicine — like surgery centers and dermatology practices — private equity firms have moved aggressively into the industry’s more hidden niches: They are pouring billions into the business of clinical drug trials.
To bring a new drug to market, the FDA requires pharmaceutical firms to perform extensive studies to demonstrate safety and efficacy, which are often expensive and time-consuming to conduct to the agency’s specifications. Getting a drug to market a few months sooner and for less expense than usual can translate into millions in profit for the manufacturer.
That is why a private equity-backed startup like Headlands Research saw an opportunity in creating a network of clinical sites and wringing greater efficiency out of businesses, to perform this critical scientific work faster. And why Moderna, Pfizer, Biogen and other drug industry bigwigs have been willing to hire it — even though it’s a relatively new player in the field, formed in 2018 by investment giant KKR.
Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, called private equity involvement in trials “concerning.” “We need to make sure that patients” know enough to provide “adequate, informed consent,” he said, and ensure “protections about the privacy of the data.”
Pfizer and Moderna Launch Mandated Vaccine Myocarditis Studies
As reported in a handful of media outlets, Pfizer and Moderna’s new trials closely investigating vaccine myocarditis are underway. As part of its vaccine approval, the FDA has mandated both companies to conduct clinical trials tracking vaccine myocarditis months and years beyond diagnosis.
As NBC reports, “Moderna has already launched two trials, the most recent in September. Pfizer confirmed that at least one of its trials, which will include up to 500 teens and young adults under age 21, is slated to begin in the next couple of months.”
While the clinical myocarditis rate has been quantified in several high-quality studies, many serious concerns remain unaddressed. One major concern is subclinical myocarditis — the rate of serious myocardial symptoms post-vaccination that don’t formally qualify as myocarditis.
The FDA has required Pfizer and Moderna to conduct a “substudy to prospectively assess the incidence of subclinical myocarditis following administration of the second dose of [vaccine] in a subset of participants 5 through 15 years of age.”
Pfizer to Invest More Than $2.5 Billion to Expand European Manufacturing
Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N) is investing more than $2.5 billion at its drug-making plants in Belgium and Ireland, gearing up to launch new products it hopes can replace lost revenue as patents expire and COVID-19 vaccine sales decline.
The drugmaker said on Friday it plans to spend more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.26 billion) to expand its Puurs, Belgium, manufacturing site, matching the investment at its Dublin, Ireland, plant announced on Thursday.
The Puurs site has played a key role in the production of COVID-19 vaccine shots Pfizer developed with its German partner BioNTech (22UAy.DE) using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.
Pfizer’s revenue is expected to top $100 billion this year — more than double its pre-pandemic level — on the strength of sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and treatment Paxlovid. But COVID-related sales are expected to drop sharply over the next few years, and Pfizer also faces the loss of patent protections for some big-selling medicines after 2025, such as cancer treatment Ibrance and arthritis drug Xeljanz.
CDC’s Remote-Work Policy May Hinder Efforts for Agencywide Reform, Experts Say
Earlier this year, top leadership at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a monumental task: turning the sprawling, labyrinthine organization known for its highly specialized, academically focused scientific research into a sleek, flexible public health response agency primed to serve the American public. It’s an attempt to keep the CDC from repeating the mistakes it made while responding to COVID-19.
But agency veterans, outside public health officials, and workplace organization experts said the current workplace structure could be a major barrier to that goal. Like directors before her, agency head Dr. Rochelle Walensky spends a considerable amount of time away from the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta. The agency has also embraced a workplace flexibility program that has allowed most of its scientists to stay remote.
Experts said the lack of face-to-face work will likely be a substantial obstacle to the top leadership’s effort to overhaul the agency after its failures during the pandemic — a botched testing rollout, confusing safety guidance, the slow release of scientific research and a loss of public trust.
‘Zombie’ Viruses Are Thawing in Melting Permafrost. But Don’t Panic — Yet
The thawing of the permafrost due to climate change may expose a vast store of ancient viruses, according to a team of European researchers, who say they have found 13 previously unknown pathogens that had been trapped in the previously frozen ground of Russia’s vast Siberian region.
The scientists found one virus that they estimated had been stranded under a lake more than 48,500 years ago, they said, highlighting a potential new danger from a warming planet: what they called “zombie” viruses.
The same team of French, Russian and German researchers previously isolated ancient viruses from the permafrost and published their findings in 2015. This concentration of fresh viruses suggests that such pathogens are probably more common in the tundra than previously believed, they suggest in a preprint study they published last month on the BioRxiv website, a portal where many scientists circulate their research before it is accepted in a scientific journal.
Virologists who were not involved in the research said the specter of future pandemics being unleashed from the Siberian steppe ranks low on the list of current public health threats. Most new — or ancient — viruses are not dangerous, and the ones that survive the deep freeze for thousands of years tend not to be in the category of coronaviruses and other highly infectious viruses that lead to pandemics, they said.
Millions Suffer From Long COVID — and It Costs Them $9,000 a Year in Healthcare Expenses, on Average
Long COVID has affected as many as 23 million Americans to date — and it’s poised to have a financial impact rivaling or exceeding that of the Great Recession. By one estimate, the chronic illness will cost the U.S. economy $3.7 trillion, with extra medical costs accounting for $528 billion.
Costs on a household and national scale are tough to quantify because the illness — also known as long-haul COVID, post-COVID or post-acute COVID syndrome — is so new. Anyone with a prior COVID-19 infection is susceptible, regardless of factors such as age, health or vaccine status.
David Cutler, an economist at Harvard University who projected the $3.7 trillion economic cost of long COVID, estimates the individual medical costs of the disease to be about $9,000 a year, on average. However, typical costs can range from roughly $3,700 up to almost $14,000, Cutler said.
Costs can be much higher, depending on the severity of the illness. And because symptoms often impact a person’s ability to work, someone suffering from long COVID may not be able to lean on a regular paycheck — or employer-sponsored health insurance — to help cover those medical bills.
Exclusive: HHS Partners With U.S. Men’s Soccer Team to Promote Updated COVID Vaccines
Driving the news: The updated bivalent COVID shot is available for people aged five and up. However, only around 12% of the U.S. population has received the new booster shot, compared to the 69% that have completed their primary series, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The big picture: The video is part of HHS’ “We Can Do This” public education campaign, which looks to encourage vaccinations through partnerships with influencers and organizations with large media followings. The department has worked with NASCAR and Major League Baseball in the past to increase the uptake of the updated vaccine.
These Monkeypox Researchers Warned That the Disease Would Go Global
In May, when monkeypox began to spread across Europe and beyond, many public-health specialists were taken by surprise. But for researchers who have tracked and studied the viral disease for years in Central and West Africa, the only shock was seeing how accurate their predictions were.
“We had always warned that in favorable circumstances, like what led to this outbreak, the disease could pose a great threat to global health,” says Adesola Yinka-Ogunleye, an epidemiologist at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja who led the country’s investigation and response to a 2017 monkeypox outbreak.
Now, with more than 80,000 confirmed cases in over 100 countries, monkeypox is a stark reminder of what happens when such warnings go unheeded. Scientists such as Yinka-Ogunleye and epidemiologist Anne Rimoin, who has worked on monkeypox outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 2002, have amassed decades of experience investigating how the virus spreads.
Their fieldwork has helped to inform the global response, and yet much more remains to be uncovered. “There are lots of questions that we need to answer,” says Rimoin, who is based at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
HIV Vaccine Candidate Induces Immune Response in Early Clinical Trial: ‘an Important Step Forward’
An experimental HIV vaccine has been found to induce broadly neutralizing antibody precursors among a small group of volunteers in a Phase 1 study. The findings suggest that a two-dose regimen of the vaccine, given eight weeks apart, can elicit immune responses against the human immunodeficiency virus.
The clinical trial results, published Thursday on World AIDS Day in the journal Science, establish “clinical proof of concept” in support of developing boosting regimens to induce immune responses against HIV infection, for which there is no cure and which can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, known as AIDS.
“Learning how to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies against pathogens with high antigenic diversity, such as HIV, influenza, hepatitis C virus or the family of betacoronaviruses, represents a grand challenge for rational vaccine design,” the researchers wrote. “Germline-targeting vaccine design offers one potential strategy to meet this challenge.”
The eOD-GT8 60mer vaccine candidate is germline-targeting, meaning it was designed to induce the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies by targeting and stimulating the right antibody-producing cells.
Former U.K. Vaccines Chief Says Incidence of Myocarditis Higher ‘Than Most of Us Anticipated’ + More
Former U.K. Vaccines Chief Says Incidence of Myocarditis Is Higher ‘Than Most of Us Anticipated’
Sir John Bell told British MPs that boosters are not really providing any prolonged protection against transmission and his “biggest issue” with the mRNA vaccines is the incidence of myocarditis, particularly in young males. He also said it was “possible” there was an accidental lab leak in Wuhan.
Canadian-British immunologist and geneticist, Sir John Bell told MPs at the Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee on Wednesday, as part of the inquiry into lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that he didn’t know why COVID-19 booster jabs were rolled out to the entire population.
As Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, Bell played a critical role in the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot as an early member of the government’s vaccine task force.
Editor’s Note: A Review of Criticisms of a ProPublica-Vanity Fair Story on a COVID Origins Report
On Oct. 28, ProPublica and Vanity Fair published a story about an interim report on the origins of COVID-19 released by the Republican oversight staff of a Senate committee. The interim report was the product of a far-reaching investigation into the question of how the pandemic began, and we wanted to give readers an inside view of the team’s work and share independent experts’ views of its findings.
The debate over COVID-19’s origins has been contentious from the start, and the report’s conclusion that the pandemic was “more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident” triggered criticism. Scientists, China observers and others questioned the Senate team’s findings and our reporting about them. Over the past several weeks, reporters and editors at both publications have taken a hard look at those criticisms. Our examination affirms that the story, and the totality of reporting it marshals, is sound.
We re-interviewed some of our original sources and reached out to other specialists to address questions that were raised about the work we did to put in context the evidence cited by the interim report. In particular, we took a close look at how Toy Reid, a State Department political officer on loan to the committee, translated a Chinese Communist Party branch dispatch that was cited in both the interim report and in our story as evidence that staff at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) may have been responding to a biosafety hazard or breach.
We commissioned three Chinese language experts with impeccable credentials who were not involved in the original story to review Reid’s translation. They all agreed that his version was a plausible way to represent the passage, though two also said they would have translated the words to refer to the dangers of day-to-day lab operations. The third produced a translation that was in line with Reid’s. All agreed the passage was ambiguous. We have updated the story to underscore the complexity of interpreting that dispatch.
It remains clear that in 2019, the WIV was addressing serious safety issues while scientists there faced pressure to perform. Risky coronavirus research took place in laboratories that lacked the maximum biocontainment safeguards, according to the interim report.
Long COVID May Be ‘the Next Public Health Disaster’ — With a $3.7 Trillion Economic Impact Rivaling the Great Recession
Despite being up to date with vaccines and boosters, Sam Norpel, 48, got COVID-19 in December 2021, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was fueling record U.S. caseloads. She never got better — and in fact, feels worse, with a range of debilitating symptoms that make it impossible to work.
Her halting speech can be triggered by something as innocuous as cold water or cool air on the skin. Extreme noise sensitivity requires her to wear noise-canceling headphones all day. She’s also endured a low-grade migraine for nearly a year, which can flare up after prolonged screen time.
Norpel is one of the millions of Americans with long COVID, also known as long-haul COVID, post-COVID or post-acute COVID syndrome. While definitions vary, long COVID is, at its core, a chronic illness with symptoms that persist for months or years after a COVID infection.
Up to 30% of Americans who get COVID-19 have developed long-haul symptoms, affecting as many as 23 million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
FDA Pauses Authorization for Last Remaining COVID Monoclonal Antibody Treatment
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday that the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment bebtelovimab from Eli Lilly is no longer authorized for emergency use in the U.S. as it is not expected to be effective at neutralizing the two most dominant Omicron subvariants in the country right now.
The Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 collectively account for 57.3 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. right now, having pushed the BA.5 Omicron subvariant out as the dominant subvariant earlier this month.
The agency stated that Eli Lilly and its distributors have paused the distribution of bebtelovimab until further notice and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response has also paused the fulfillment of any pending requests for the drug.
With this treatment no longer being distributed or authorized for use, the FDA advised that healthcare providers choose “appropriate” treatments including the authorized antivirals Paxlovid, Veklury and Lagevrio.
West Virginia to End COVID-Related Emergency Order in 2023
Republican Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that West Virginia’s state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic will end at the start of the new year.
The state of emergency has been in effect since March 16, 2020. It allows the governor to suspend certain rules on personnel and purchasing.
Most U.S. states have now ended COVID-19-related emergency orders, or have orders in place that will expire in the coming weeks and months.
Hospital Care at Home Faces Possible Sunset
A pandemic-driven workaround that delivers hospital-level care in patients’ homes could become a bargaining chip as Congress hashes out a year-end spending deal.
Why it matters: The Acute Hospital Care at Home program is held up in some health circles as a viable model for treating frail Medicare patients while relieving overcrowding in inpatient settings.
But it’s one of a long list of COVID-era flexibilities that could sunset at the end of the public health emergency without congressional action.
How it works: Since the fall of 2020, hospitals can apply for waivers and, if approved, be reimbursed the same amount by Medicare to provide 24/7 nursing services in patients’ homes.
Australian GP Sues Medical Regulators over Registration Suspension for Speaking Against COVID Vaccines
An Australian general practitioner who was suspended for saying COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous has taken court action against the country’s medical regulators to regain his registration. North Brisbane GP registrar William Bay got his registration suspended on Aug. 17 after he interrupted a national Australian Medical Association conference in late July and told the doctors present to stop forcing vaccines on people.
Following his suspension, Bay filed a lawsuit against the Australian Health Regulation Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia.
At a Brisbane supreme court’s directions hearing on Nov. 30, Bay, who represented himself, told the court that he should not have been deprived of his registration due to several reasons, one of which was the medical regulators did not have a valid legal existence as a national authority.
After the first hearing concluded, Bay told his supporters he was pleased that the court allowed him to challenge the validity of the health regulators. Justice David Boddice told Bay that the purpose of the first directions hearing was to establish what materials the parties had to provide each other and determine the date of the next hearing.
COVID Hit HIV Detection in Europe, Threatens Eradication Progress
The number of people in Europe with undiagnosed HIV has risen as testing rates fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening a global goal of ending the disease by 2030, a report said.
The joint World Health Organization (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) report said that in 2021 a quarter fewer HIV diagnoses were recorded compared to pre-pandemic levels in the WHO’s European region.
This region includes Russia and Ukraine, which have the area’s highest rates of HIV infection.
This setback was likely because services related to HIV, including testing, were sidelined in many European countries during the two years of the pandemic, the report found.
Biden Administration Prepares to End Monkeypox Emergency Declaration
The Biden administration is eyeing an end to its public health emergency declaration for mpox, a sign that officials believe they’ve brought the monthslong outbreak under control.
Health officials are likely to issue a 60-day notice later this week for winding down the declaration, two people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO. Such a move would put it on track to officially expire by Jan. 31.
The decision is not yet final, and could still change, the people cautioned. But the discussion comes as U.S. cases of mpox — the virus known as monkeypox until recently — have hit new lows, easing a health crisis that predominantly gripped the community of men who have sex with men throughout much of the spring and summer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recording just a handful of new infections per day, down from more than 400 average daily cases at the peak of the outbreak. The decline has also alleviated initial fears that the virus would spill into the broader population, further complicating efforts to contain the spread.
Family of Woman Who Died From Seizures Believes Death Was Linked to COVID Vaccine
Doctors who treated an elderly Longford woman who died following an unexplained series of seizures last year told an inquest it was possible that her death was linked to an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, two hospital consultants who treated the patient, Bridget Kerr (86), also stressed it was not in their area of expertise to state definitively that a reaction to the Pfizer vaccine was an explanation for her death.
An inquest at Dublin District Coroner’s Court heard a postmortem on the body of Ms. Kerr, a mother of seven from Cooleeney, Dublin Road, Longford, was inconclusive in establishing the cause of her death. Evidence was heard that several other possible explanations including stroke, brain tumor and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) had been ruled out.
Ms. Kerr died at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin on April 27, 2021, after being transferred there from the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar after suffering a number of seizures. Her family claims their mother only became unwell after receiving the COVID vaccine from her local GP two months earlier.
Toxic Concentrations of Chemicals Released in the Heart May Explain Myocarditis After COVID Vaccine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention myocarditis after a COVID-19 vaccine has been reported in adolescents and young adult males within several days after the Pfizer and Moderna shots. It typically occurs after the second dose and usually within a week of vaccination. And now a first-of-its-kind study may explain why this happens.
In a paper published in JAMA Cardiology, scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital looked at 15 children ages 12 to 18 years old who were admitted to the hospital one to nine days after their COVID vaccine. A blood test showed the above-normal concentrations of the chemical troponin in each patient’s blood. High levels of troponin can lead to damaged heart cells, cell death and heart attacks.
“In this small case series study, myocarditis was diagnosed in children after COVID-19 vaccination, most commonly in boys after the second dose,” the authors say in the study. “In this case series, in short-term follow-up, patients were mildly affected. The long-term risks associated with post-vaccination myocarditis remain unknown. Larger studies with longer follow-up are needed to inform recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination in this population.”
Three COVID Questions Dr. Fauci Needs to Answer
Despite never having been elected to anything, the 81-year-old Dr. Anthony Fauci has imposed his iron will on Americans for nearly three years. After a half-century on the taxpayer dole, he has become the highest-paid employee in the federal government, overseeing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and its $6 billion budget. The incoming House Republican majority would be wise to shed light on Fauci’s efforts to undermine the practice of medicine during the pandemic. Here are three specific areas worthy of investigation.
First, get to the bottom of the mask masquerade. During his final press conference, Fauci stressed the importance of facial accessories by cracking a joke about “looking terrific.” Early in the pandemic, he was singing a different tune, acknowledging in private emails, “the typical mask you buy at a drug store is not really effective at keeping out a virus.”
Second, explore Fauci’s constant shifting of the goalposts with COVID-19 vaccines. Alongside Biden, Fauci has become the face of the vaccine push. In fact, his parting words were a final plea to “get your updated COVID-19 shot.” Never did he offer a shred of remorse for all his failed claims about the efficacy of the vaccines. In December 2020, Fauci marveled at the purported 90% efficacy rate of the Pfizer vaccine, heralding the development as “just extraordinary.” As the pandemic wore on and “breakthrough cases” became the new norm, Fauci shifted to, “even if a vaccine fails to protect against infection, it often protects against serious disease.”
Making matters worse was Fauci’s relentless disinformation campaign against the use of safe, effective re-purposed generic drugs in favor of high-priced, patented pharmaceutical products. Fauci dismissed critics as opponents of science, even at one point claiming to represent science itself. Yet when data have countered his preferred narrative, science has faced no greater foe than Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Finally, as the Chinese people revolt against their government’s Draconian measures, the American public deserves to know exactly which elements Fauci borrowed from the Chinese Communist Party playbook.
‘Negative Efficacy’ Should Have Stopped COVID Vaccine Recommendations in Their Tracks
However, many studies have found that the boosters do not make a significant difference in protection, especially in terms of protection against reinfection. In fact, the latest data shows vaccine efficacy against the coronavirus tends to even drop into the negatives after just a few months.
It is a well-known fact that COVID vaccine effectiveness wanes quickly as time goes on; this is confirmed by countless studies. Although the official narrative for COVID-19 vaccines nowadays only emphasizes their efficacy in protection against ICU admission and death rates, it actually implies the indisputable fact that vaccines don’t protect, contrary to their design, against infection or even symptomatic infection, especially after the emergence of various Omicron variants.
Even the protection two shots offer against hospitalization drops to about 40% after less than a year. It’s actually looking worse for protection against severe symptoms, as efficacy rates seem to drop into the negatives about five months into full vaccination. When a vaccine’s efficacy drops into the negatives, it means that vaccination actually elevates the risks of hospitalization and severe diseases rather than reducing the risks. In simple terms, it does more harm than good when the efficacy is negative.
CDC Awards Over $3 Billion to Strengthen U.S. Public Health Infrastructure
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday it is awarding more than $3 billion to help strengthen the public health workforce and infrastructure across the United States after the COVID-19 pandemic put severe stress on them.
The public health agency’s funding includes $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan announced by President Joe Biden‘s administration last year and would cover all state, local and territorial health departments across the country.
“The pandemic severely stressed (the health) agencies, which were already weakened by neglect and underinvestment,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “This grant gives these agencies critical funding and flexibility to build and reinforce the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure.”
New York Nursing Home Sued for Fraud, Neglect by State Attorney General
The owners of a nursing home in Western New York allegedly “wove a complicated web of fraud” that resulted in patient neglect and caused the conditions that led to deadly problems exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged Tuesday in a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed against the owners, operators, and related companies of The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, said the defendants took advantage of the state’s Medicaid program to increase their personal profits, rather than use those funds for the intended purposes of staffing and patient care.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Villages management tried to keep positive cases secret and either delayed or entirely neglected to enforce proper protocols for quarantining infected residents, the lawsuit said, resulting in preventable deaths. Staff members were forced to report to work even when they were sick and were provided little to no personal protective equipment.
China Pushes Dubious Claim of Sick Jogger Causing COVID Outbreak
China is pushing a dubious study that claims an unmasked runner infected nearly 40 people with COVID on a half-hour jog through the park — despite experts worldwide downplaying the risk of outdoor spread.
In the November report, the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that “Patient Zero” jogged through a local park in the Chongqing municipality back in August and potentially exposed the virus to approximately 2,836 people and infected 39 with the virus.
According to the report, a total of 39 people tested positive for COVID, including 33 park visitors and two park cleaners. The employees then passed on the virus to four colleagues. Physician and epidemiologist Dr. Bob Morris shared the new report’s findings on Twitter, saying there was “overwhelming evidence of outdoor transmission of Omicron.” He added: “Nothing beats a surveillance state for contact tracing.”
But other experts expressed skepticism over the findings, noting that the scientists had not presented any evidence that the cases came from the same source.