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Covid News Watch

Jun 23, 2022

Tennessee GOP Leaders Urge Delay of Toddler COVID Shots + More

Tennessee GOP Leaders Urge Delay of Toddler COVID Shots

Associated Press reported:

Top Tennessee Republican House leaders on Wednesday urged Gov. Bill Lee to delay the state’s health department from distributing and promoting the COVID-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

In a letter sent to the Republican governor, House leaders said they had too many concerns surrounding the vaccine for those under 5 years old. “We ask that you direct the Tennessee Department of Health to halt distribution, promotion or recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines for our youngest Tennesseans,” the letter stated. It was signed by leading Republicans including House Speaker Cameron Sexton and House Majority Leader William Lamberth.

The lawmakers added that the “COVID-19 emergency has long passed in Tennessee” though that declaration is disputed by public health experts.

Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers have long been skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine ever since it became available in late 2020, even as U.S. regulators have maintained the shot is safe for adults and children. Nevertheless, the GOP-controlled General Assembly has enacted legislation largely banning vaccine requirements and some members threatened to dissolve the state’s health agency after it encouraged kids to get the vaccine.

Publix Not Giving COVID Vaccine to Children Younger Than 5

FOX Business reported:

Health officials approved COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months last week, but Florida-based Publix will not be offering the Moderna and Pfizer shots to children younger than 5.

A spokesperson for the supermarket, which is headquartered in Lakeland and has nearly 1,300 locations across the southeast, confirmed the news to Fox 13 Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

About two-thirds of Publix stores are in Florida, which was the only state not to preorder vaccines from the federal government in anticipation of them being approved for toddlers.

U.S. Delivers Over 4 Million Doses of COVID Vaccine for Young Children

Reuters reported:

The United States has already delivered more than 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 years old to sites that will administer the shots, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson said on Thursday.

HHS has received about 4.3 million orders for vaccines for young children since pre-ordering began a few weeks ago, and will continue to take new orders, the spokesperson said.

Delivery to vaccination sites such as pharmacies, doctors’ offices and children’s hospitals, began on Friday, immediately after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the emergency use authorization.

U.S. CDC Advisers Weigh Moderna COVID Vaccine for Teens, Older Children

Reuters reported:

Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are meeting on Thursday to decide on the use of Moderna Inc’s (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine for children and adolescents aged 6 to 17, after months of delay in that age group due to safety concerns.

Should they vote to recommend its use, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky must then sign off for the U.S. government to start rolling the Moderna vaccine out for these children and teens.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November delayed a decision on Moderna’s shot in the age group now under consideration on concerns that it could cause heart inflammation, particularly in younger men, at higher rates than the Pfizer vaccine.

The FDA authorized Moderna’s vaccine just last week for the 6-11 age group, along with clearance for use in children aged 5 and under.

Signals From Monkeypox: Create an External Advisory Group to Start Preparing for the Next Pandemic

STAT News reported:

As the U.S. reels from more than 1 million reported deaths due directly to the COVID-19 pandemic, another infectious disease — monkeypox — is beginning to percolate. Cases of monkeypox, which scientists have been warning about for years, continue to rise worldwide.

COVID-19 followed by monkeypox offers an opportunity to reflect on what can be done to reduce the impact of this and future pandemics.

One of the most important actions that can be taken now is to bring together an external advisory group — a private-public partnership — to address disease modeling and interventions (both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical), as well as be available before, during, and after a pandemic, just as we have external advisory groups for making clinical recommendations on vaccines to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Biden Delivers Humiliating Snub to CDC Director

The Daily Wire reported:

President Joe Biden appeared to demote his Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tuesday in a humiliating snub caught on video.

Biden was speaking to a group assembled at a Washington, DC, clinic Tuesday when he introduced Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID response coordinator. Except the president did not use that title.

“You see Dr. Jha there,” Biden said, pointing him out. “He’s the guy that’s running the CDC for me these days, basically.”

The introduction must have come as news to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the actual director of the CDC. She began leading the agency on January 20, 2021. Prior to taking the high-level Biden administration job, Walensky was the top infectious diseases expert at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Social Stress Prematurely Ages Your Immune System, Study Finds

CNN Health reported:

Social stress such as discrimination and family problems, along with job and money problems, can contribute to premature aging of your immune system, a recent study found. That’s a double whammy, as the immune system already deteriorates with age.

Immune aging can lead to cancer, heart disease and other age-related health conditions and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, such as COVID-19, said lead author Eric Klopack, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

“People with higher stress scores had older-seeming immune profiles, with lower percentages of fresh disease fighters and higher percentages of worn-out T-cells,” Klopack said.

Long COVID Affects 1 in 5 Virus Patients, U.S. Survey Finds

Bloomberg reported:

Almost one-fifth of U.S. adults who have had COVID-19 are currently experiencing symptoms of long COVID that persist for at least three months, new federal data show.

The results of a June survey by the U.S. Census shed light on how frequently the virus’s symptoms linger beyond the initial period when people are acutely sick. More than one-third of U.S. COVID patients reported ever having long COVID symptoms, and 19% said they currently were experiencing them.

Health Emergencies: WHO’s Highest Form of Alert

Reuters reported:

World Health Organization (WHO) experts meet on Thursday to evaluate whether monkeypox constitutes an international emergency, its highest form of an alert.

Only six such emergencies have previously been declared: COVID-19 (2020), the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2019), Zika virus (2016), polio (2014), West Africa’s Ebola outbreak (2014) and the H1 virus that caused an influenza pandemic (2009).

WHO does not declare pandemics, but it did start using the term to describe COVID-19 in March 2020. For many governments, that — rather than WHO’s earlier declaration of an emergency — was the moment they began to take real action to try to contain the disease, which proved to be far too late to make a difference.

EMA Recommends Novavax COVID Vaccine for Adolescents

Reuters reported:

The advisory committee to the European Union’s drug regulator on Thursday recommended expanding the use of Novavax Inc.’s (NVAX.O) COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.

Jun 22, 2022

Joe Biden Says Government Needs Money Because ‘There’s Going to Be Another Pandemic’ + More

Joe Biden Says the Government Needs Money Because ‘There’s Going to Be Another Pandemic’

The Daily Wire reported:

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the government needed more money to prepare for “the second pandemic,” which he assured reporters would come.

Biden, responding to a question about making vaccines available to young children in the wake of the most recent Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs), said that his administration was working to make sure that there were enough vaccines — but that his administration was also investing money into preparing for the next pandemic.

“We’ll get through at least this year,” Biden began, adding, “We do need more money. But we don’t just need more money for vaccines for children, eventually. We need more money to plan for the second pandemic. There’s going to be another pandemic.”

“We have to think ahead,” President Biden continued.

Moderna to Open Massive U.K. COVID Vaccine Factory

Yahoo!Finance reported:

Moderna (MRNA) has announced plans to open its first vaccine factory in the U.K., as it hailed Britain’s “world-class life sciences and research community” which emerged during COVID-19.

The vaccine maker will collaborate with the U.K. government to build a manufacturing center for messenger mRNA vaccines for COVID and flu in a deal worth £1bn. Under the deal, which is an agreement in principle and needs final approval from both sides, Moderna will also invest in research and development efforts as it seeks to be a world leader in responding to pandemics.

The Boston-based biotech firm has not disclosed how large the facility will be or where it will be built, although reports suggest it is considering between London, Oxford and Cambridge. Once built, the center will produce up to 250 million doses per year, including some for export.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our new partnership with Moderna will cement the U.K.’s status as a science superpower, significantly boosting the economy and creating jobs — and it has the potential to unlock the next generation of cutting-edge vaccines to fight diseases such as COVID-19, seasonal flu and RSV.”

COVID Vaccines for Kids Under 5 Are Finally Here, but Most Parents Aren’t Jumping in Line

USA TODAY reported:

Families with small children lined up at 8 a.m. in a sparsely filled but buzzing auditorium, ready and relieved for COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their little ones at Children’s National Hospital’s research campus in Washington.

Onlookers cooed and clapped as the kids got their shots, each child receiving a high-five, a sticker and a chance to pet Barney and Sprout, two facility dogs specially trained to help soothe children during their recovery.

In polling data from April, 18% of parents said they would vaccinate their young child right away, while 27% said they definitely wouldn’t and 38% said they’d wait and see. Some parents say the vaccine trials conducted among young children were too small to satisfy their safety concerns, said Grant Paulsen, an infectious disease pediatrician and lead researcher for the children under 5 vaccine trials at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Strokes, Blood Clots, Wheelchairs: B.C. Patients Describe Rare Reactions to COVID Vaccines

Vancouver Sun reported:

As British Columbians were starting to get COVID-19 vaccinations in December 2020 and the first half of 2021, health officials were behind-the-scenes carefully tracking serious side effects from the shots, according to documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Although the 42-page released contains few examples of severe reactions, those that were flagged sparked immediate responses from health leaders who were monitoring the millions of Canadians getting the new vaccinations.

Pfizer COVID Vaccine Impacts Semen: Study

The Epoch Times reported:

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine leads to lower levels of semen, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed 220 samples of semen from three sperm banks in Israel, drawn from men who received two doses of the vaccine. The semen collection was scheduled seven days after receipt of the second dose.

The researchers, led by Dr. Itai Gat with the Sperm Bank and Andrology Unit at the Shamir Medical Center and Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical School, found that there was a decrease in sperm concentration between 75 and 120 days post-vaccination.

Follow-up testing completed over 150 days after vaccination revealed “overall recovery,” with semen volume and sperm motility bouncing back, the researchers said. However, the levels outlined in the study were still lower than before vaccination.

Moderna CEO: COVID Variant Vaccine to Be Ready for Shipping in August

Reuters reported:

Moderna‘s COVID-19 variant vaccine will be ready to ship in August as the company has been making shots ahead of approval, Chief Executive Stephane Bancel told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the only bottleneck to supply was a regulatory one.

“Our goal is as early as August given we’re going to file all the data in June, by the end of June… hopefully in the August timeframe, the vaccine is authorized,” Bancel said in an interview.

Omicron-Specific COVID Vaccines on the Horizon, Pfizer Chief Says

Reuters reported:

COVID-19 vaccines that specifically target the Omicron and other variants are under development, Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE.N) chief executive said on Wednesday, adding that the company will be able to quickly adapt shots as the novel coronavirus mutates.

While the ultimate approval decisions rest with U.S. regulators, “we are ready for that,” the drugmaker’s CEO Albert Bourla told MSNBC in an interview, noting that the Food and Drug Administration is convening a meeting later this month.

Survey Shows 3 in 5 Americans Say Pandemic Made Driving Feel Less Safe

Newsweek reported:

The pandemic overall has increased road anxiety, with 65% of Americans claiming they feel more anxious in cars now compared to before the pandemic, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 adults looked at how people are being more careful on the road and found that over half of drivers “always” or “often” feel anxious about other drivers’ behavior (53%).

Three in 5 agree that the pandemic has made people drive more unsafely (61%) which may be why a similar percentage say it’s more important to drive safely now than ever before (62%).

Omicron Subvariants BA.4, BA.5 Move Closer to Becoming Dominant Coronavirus Strains in U.S.

U.S. News & World Report reported:

A pair of Omicron subvariants that only recently started circulating in the U.S. was responsible for more than a third of new coronavirus cases last week, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC data shows that BA.4 and BA.5 caused roughly 35% of new infections last week. That’s up from nearly 23% of cases the prior week and 15% the week before that.

As BA.4 and BA.5 have increased, the prevalence of other Omicron subvariants in the U.S. has decreased. BA.2.12.1, which has been the dominant strain circulating in the U.S. since May, fell from 63% of cases to 56% over the past two weeks. BA.2, or “stealth Omicron,” was the dominant strain before BA.2.12.1 but now makes up less than 10% of infections.

COVID Rebound After Paxlovid Treatment Likely Due to Insufficient Exposure to the Drug

Fox News reported:

COVID-19 rebound,” the relapse of symptoms that occurred in some patients treated with Paxlovid, may actually be caused by insufficient drug exposure, according to a recent study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory warning individuals about “COVID-19 rebound” where symptoms of COVID infection returned in some patients after a course of treatment with the medication Paxlovid. Paxlovid is currently the leading oral medication used to prevent severe cases of COVID-19 in high-risk patients, according to the researchers.

The investigators from the University Of California San Diego School of Medicine evaluated one patient who suffered a “COVID-19 rebound” after being treated with Paxlovid. They discovered that the patient’s relapse in COVID symptoms after taking Paxlovid was not caused by a developed resistance to the drug or impaired immunity against the coronavirus, but was due to having insufficient amounts or exposure to the drug, according to the study authors.

Summer Starts in Europe With New COVID Wave

CNN World reported:

European countries are seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases spurred by highly infectious subvariants of Omicron, raising fears of a new global wave of the disease as immunity declines and the summer travel season gets underway.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned last week that “the growth advantage reported for BA.4 and BA.5 suggest that these variants will become dominant” throughout the European Union, and probably result in a surge in cases.

Infections are rising in multiple countries, including Portugal, Germany, France, Greece, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Spain, according to the Our World in Data (OWID) project at the University of Oxford, which tracks the pandemic.

New studies have shown that Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have a growth advantage compared with earlier variants and appear to be good at evading the immune system. In other words, neither previous infections nor vaccines provide particularly strong protection against the subvariants, which is why they’re becoming the dominant strains.

Jun 21, 2022

CDC Approves COVID Vaccines for Youngest Kids + More

CDC Approves COVID Vaccines for Youngest Kids

NBC News reported:

On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on COVID vaccines for the youngest Americans. Her endorsement means shots can begin immediately, finally ending the two-and-a-half-year wait on the part of parents of children under 5.

Walenksy accepted the recommendation within hours after the CDC advisory committee voted unanimously in favor of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children as young as 6 months.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on Saturday endorsed Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest children, the last step before CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky could issue her final sign-off.

The unanimous recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices followed the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the shots on Friday.

White House Health Official Makes False Claim About COVID Vaccines

The Epoch Times reported:

A White House official made a false claim on June 20 about COVID-19 vaccines while encouraging parents to get their young children vaccinated. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said that “there have not been any serious side effects of these vaccines.”

Contrary to Jha’s claim, severe allergic reactions, blood clotting, heart inflammation and paralysis are among the serious side effects linked to the three COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the United States.

“There is a well-documented risk of myocarditis from the COVID vaccine, especially in young men and adolescent boys, and an elevated risk of clotting in young women with the Moderna vaccine,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, told The Epoch Times in an email. “It’s not right for government scientific advisers to downplay documented risks of the vaccine because it ultimately undermines confidence in public health.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Says White House Lying About COVID Vaccine Policy

Fox News reported:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said the White House lied about his state’s COVID-19 vaccine policy changes and that the media has largely chosen to ignore it.

The Republican was in Callahan, just north of Jacksonville, when he was asked about a debate on vaccines that occurred Friday and comments from the Biden administration last week that he had changed course and was ordering vaccines for young children.

“We are not going to have any programs where we’re trying to jab 6-month-old babies with mRNA,” he added. “That’s just the reality. I think what they thought would happen was that we’d be embarrassed about it.”

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Florida had reversed course and is allowing healthcare providers to order the mRNA vaccines for children under six months to 5 years of age.

On Monday, DeSantis said the state would not be ordering any mRNA vaccines for children.

Study CDC Cited in Arguing for COVID Vaccines for Babies Being Updated

The Epoch Times reported:

A non-peer-reviewed study that U.S. government scientists cited in asserting COVID-19 is a leading cause of death for children is being updated after inaccuracies were detected.

The preprint paper, published in May, says that COVID-19 has been the fifth-leading cause of death during the pandemic for children aged 1 to 5. The authors, primarily British scientists, also concluded that COVID-19 has been a top cause of death for all children. But the paper has flaws, Seth Flaxman, a professor in Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science, and one of the authors, acknowledged on Twitter on June 19.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the source for the paper, separates deaths with COVID-19 as the underlying cause from deaths as a contributing, but not the, cause.

The paper said that only deaths where COVID-19 was “the underlying cause of death” were counted. But the authors listed 1,433 deaths among those aged 0 to 19. There were actually just 1,088 deaths, according to an Epoch Times review of the data in a CDC database called WONDER.

Biden to Visit DC Clinic Following Approval of COVID Shots for Kids Under 5

NBC News reported:

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit a COVID vaccination clinic in Washington, DC, on Tuesday afternoon to highlight the recent approval of the shots for children under age 5.

Following the visit, Biden will deliver remarks at the White House about the long-awaited milestone.

In a statement after the announcement, Biden said it was a “monumental step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus, with virtually every American now eligible for the protections that COVID-19 vaccines provide.”

WHO’s Tedros Privately Admits Lab Leak ‘Most Likely Explanation’ for COVID

ZeroHedge reported:

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who spent the early months of the pandemic publicly kowtowing to China, has privately admitted that he thinks COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese laboratory in a “catastrophic accident,” according to the Daily Mail, citing a senior Government source.

The WHO came under heavy fire early into the pandemic for praising China’s “transparent” response to the pandemic, repeating misinformation from Beijing about human-to-human transmission, and bowing to pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping not to declare the COVID-19 outbreak an emergency.

Yet, while initially promoting the natural origin theory, Tedros and the WHO have become far more ‘open’ to the lab leak theory — despite officially being on the fence, unlike Tedros.

Some Omicron Sub-Variants Escaping Antibodies From Sinopharm Shot, Chinese Study Says

Reuters reported:

A small Chinese study detailed in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal showed neutralizing antibodies against some Omicron sub-variants were largely undetectable after two doses of a Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, with a booster shot only partly restoring them.

The study comes as China, which has approved only locally developed COVID shots including the Sinopharm vaccine, strives to improve vaccination rates, maintaining a “dynamic zero-COVID” policy aimed at eradicating all outbreaks while many countries have adopted an approach of learning to live with the virus.

The vaccine, BBIBP-CorV, is one of the two Sinopharm COVID shots approved for use in China and is also the main shot that the state-owned firm has exported.

Contagious Vaccines: A Warning

The Epoch Times reported:

For two decades, scientists have been quietly developing self-spreading contagious vaccines. The National Institutes of Health funded this research, in which either DNA from a deadly pathogen is packaged in a contagious but less harmful virus, or the deadly virus’s lethality is weakened by engineering it in a lab.

The resultant “vaccines” spread from one person to the next just like a contagious respiratory virus. Only 5% of regional populations would need to be immunized; the other 95% would “catch” the vaccine as it spreads person-to-person through community transmission.

This technology bypasses the inconvenience of recalcitrant citizens who may refuse to give consent. Its advocates highlight that a mass vaccination campaign that would ordinarily take months of expensive effort to immunize everyone could be shortened to only a few weeks.

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, about a dozen research institutions in the United States, Europe and Australia are investigating the potential human uses for self-spreading vaccines. The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for example, is examining this technology for the U.S. military to protect against the West African Lassa fever, a virus spread by rats to humans. This project, it should be noted, doesn’t require the consent of our military service men and women.

COVID Vaccines for Australian Children Aged 6 Months to 5 Years May Be Approved in Weeks

The Guardian reported:

Australian children aged five and under could be in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccination within a matter of weeks, the federal government has confirmed, as tests begin on a combined shot for flu and coronavirus.

The health minister, Mark Butler, said the Therapeutic Goods Administration was considering an application from the drug maker Moderna to allow its vaccines to be given to children aged from six months to five years old.

Australians will have access to a single vaccine for COVID-19, influenza and the respiratory virus RSV by 2024, Moderna has announced. The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Burton, said the combined shot was in the early testing stages, with trials to start later this year.

Women More Susceptible Than Men to Long COVID

U.S. News & World Report reported:

Women are far more likely than men to suffer from long COVID, according to a broad new research review.

The review, published June 21 in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, included 1.3 million patients and revealed women were 22% more likely to develop persistent symptoms after a COVID infection.

For women, lingering symptoms after a COVID infection included fatigue; ear, nose and throat issues; as well as mood disorders like depression. They also had respiratory symptoms, and neurological, skin, gastrointestinal and rheumatic disorders. In contrast, men with long COVID were more likely to have endocrine disorders, including diabetes and kidney issues.

Led by Shirley Sylvester, senior medical director for women’s health at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J., the researchers noted that differences in how men’s and women’s immune systems function could be an important factor.

Jun 17, 2022

Rand Paul Spars With Fauci Over Money Tied to Vaccines + More

Rand Paul Spars With Fauci Over Money Tied to Vaccines

Newsweek reported:

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci had to testify remotely this week due to his recent COVID diagnosis, but the virus didn’t stop Fauci from his usual sparring with Senator Rand Paul, who went off on the doctor about the federal agency’s financial disclosures.

Testifying in isolation on Thursday, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, answered questions from senators about the ongoing federal pandemic response, re-emphasizing that “our current vaccines have maintained their effectiveness for preventing severe COVID-19.”

During Paul’s turn, the Kentucky Republican berated Fauci, asking the 81-year-old if he could say that he has “not received a royalty from any entity that [he] ever oversaw the distribution of money and research grants.”

COVID Vaccine Injury Plaintiffs Face Long Odds in U.S. Compensation Program

Reuters reported:

“I thought it would be impossible to deny me.” That’s what Cody Flint, who used to work as a crop duster in Mississippi, said he expected when he filed a claim with an obscure government tribunal that provides compensation for COVID-19 vaccine-related injuries.

Flint, 34, told me that he submitted hundreds of pages of supporting material, including reports from four doctors who attributed his episodes of vertigo, headaches, and partial loss of hearing and eyesight — afflictions that have ended his career as a pilot, at least for now — to a rare side-effect of the Pfizer vaccine.

The feds rejected Flint’s claim on May 25 in a two-page letter that he shared with me. “The compelling, reliable and valid medical and scientific evidence” didn’t prove the vaccine caused his symptoms, an official with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, or CICP, wrote.

As a layperson, I don’t know if that decision was correct. What I do know is that he is not alone in coming up short at the CICP, which has denied about 90% of petitions since its inception in 2010.

FDA Authorizes Pfizer and Moderna COVID Vaccines for Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers

STAT News reported:

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for use in children as young as six months of age, setting the stage for a government push to make the shots available for the youngest children.

The decision comes less than two days after a panel advising the FDA voted unanimously to recommend authorization, saying their benefits would outweigh any risks for young kids.

The FDA also authorized the Moderna vaccine, which was previously cleared in adults over 18, for older children and adolescents, meaning both vaccines are cleared for all ages over 6 months.

Before families can start to avail themselves of the vaccines, though, an advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to recommend the shots, too, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky must accept the recommendation. The group meets Friday and Saturday when the votes will be held.

Fauci Says COVID Origin Evidence Points ‘Strongly’ Toward ‘Natural Occurrence’

Fox News reported:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified virtually before a Thursday Senate panel about the illness only a day after announcing he had contracted COVID-19.

Fauci, when asked if there were any breakthroughs in understanding the origin of COVID-19, said that researchers had concluded that it “very, very likely” had its genesis in an animal species.

Fauci acknowledged the prominent theory among the U.S. public that the virus originated out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology via a leak. “We still open up and keep always an open mind about whether this had to do with a virus that was isolated out in the environment and that came into a lab and then had what most people refer to as a ‘lab leak,’” he continued.

While Fauci said that researchers would keep an “open mind,” he also argued that most evidence supported a natural occurrence. Asked whether China would cooperate with investigations into the origin of COVID-19, Fauci deflected and tempered expectations for any meaningful answers.

Why Some Parents Are Skeptical About COVID Vaccines for Young Children

The Washington Post reported:

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines for children as young as 6 months. Shots should be available next week, which will provide some parents a long-overdue tool to protect their children from COVID.

It​​ also will likely go unused by most American parents. This latter group, which will likely not seek out a coronavirus vaccine for their young children, deserves closer attention, not least of all because their hesitancy represents a change in how parents make healthcare decisions for their children.

China Says COVID Might Have Originated in U.S., Calls Wuhan Lab Theory Lies

Newsweek reported:

A Chinese state media commentary has hit out at a new report into the origins of COVID-19, which states that a lab leak is still on the table. The article, released on Friday by the Chinese government’s official press agency Xinhua, dismissed any suggestion that the SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked from a Chinese lab, and said the theory had been “concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes.” The report also states that labs elsewhere in the world should be investigated if they’re located near where pre-2020 cases were detected.

Such lab investigations could include examining biosafety measures, finding out whether there were any occupational illnesses before the recognized start of the pandemic and looking at whether SARS-like coronaviruses were being engineered.

In response to the report, the Xinhua article pointed to the WHO’s inconclusive 2021 origins report that referred to a lab-leak scenario as “extremely unlikely,” and the article also pushed a theory that COVID could actually have originated in the U.S.

It said the U.S. had been a “terrible bookkeeper” of its own early COVID outbreak and claimed that the Fort Detrick base in Maryland and biolabs at the University of North Carolina “have long been engaged in coronavirus research and modification.”

How Vaccine Immunity, Prior Infection Hold up Against BA.2 — Qatar Data Show Strong Protection Against Severe Outcomes With Just About Any Type of Immunity

MedPage Today reported:

Protection against symptomatic BA.1 or BA.2 COVID-19 infection was similar between individuals who received three doses of an mRNA vaccine and those who had either a prior infection or some form of hybrid immunity, a national case-control study from Qatar found.

Against severe disease from either of the two Omicron subvariants, effectiveness was strong across the different types of immunity, at 70% or higher, reported Laith Abu-Raddad, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha, and colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine.

An analysis of effectiveness based on the time since infection or vaccination “showed rapidly waning vaccine protection after the second and third doses but slowly waning protection from previous infection,” the group highlighted.

Omicron May Be Less Likely to Cause Long COVID Than Prior Variants, Study Suggests

NBC News reported:

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 appears less likely than Delta to lead to long COVID, according to British researchers.

But because Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants, the enormous number of people who have been infected since it began spreading in the winter means there will still be many who are struggling with long-lasting symptoms, such as brain fog, headaches and debilitating fatigue.

The new research, which was published Thursday in The Lancet, is an observational analysis of people who signed up for a smartphone app-led project called the ZOE Covid Study. Users regularly report any COVID symptoms, vaccination status and other demographic information.

Since the app’s launch in March 2020, approximately 4.7 million people, most of whom reside in the U.K., have signed on.

Congressional COVID Funding Deal Appears ‘Dead’ After GOP Criticism

The Washington Post reported:

A congressional deal for billions of dollars in additional coronavirus funding appeared all but dead Thursday after Senate Republicans accused the White House of being dishonest about the nation’s pandemic funding needs.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who brought the Senate close to a bipartisan $10 billion COVID funding deal in March, said the Biden administration had provided “patently false” information about its inability to buy additional vaccines, treatments and supplies. He cited a newly announced White House plan to repurpose some existing funds to cover the country’s most pressing vaccine and treatment needs.

“I hope that there’s an appreciation that for the administration to say they could not purchase these things, and then after several months, divert some funds and then purchase them is unacceptable, and makes our ability to work together … very much shaken to the core,” Romney said at a Senate health committee hearing Thursday, noting the White House had repeatedly claimed it had exhausted COVID funding and could not redirect other spending.

Canada Has a Massive Surplus of Unused Ventilators

Politico reported:

More than half of the 40,000 ventilators the Canadian government ordered early in the pandemic are now sitting unused in the federal emergency stockpile. Just over 2,000 of the ventilators have been deployed, either in Canada or abroad. Ottawa is now working to cancel orders for ventilators that have yet to be delivered but won’t say how much it has paid for the machines.

In the spring of 2020, Canada rushed to shore up supplies of medical and personal protective equipment as COVID-19 case numbers climbed.

In response to the crisis, the federal government quickly ordered just over 40,000 ventilators at a cost of C$1.1 billion, the vast majority from Canadian manufacturers that started building the life-saving machines from scratch.

At the time, it was billed as a success story for Canadian ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. By May 2021, more than 27,000 ventilators had been delivered. But the worst-case pandemic scenarios never came to pass, and most of the machines were never needed.