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May 6, 2022

COVID News Watch

Bill Allowing Preteen Vaccines Without Parental OK Advances + More

The Defender’s COVID NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines related to the SARS CoV-2 virus, including its origins and COVID vaccines.

COVID News Watch

Bill Allowing Preteen Vaccines Without Parental OK Advances

Associated Press reported:

A California measure that would allow children age 12 and up to be vaccinated without their parents’ consent, including against the coronavirus, cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday. If the proposal becomes law, California would allow the youngest age group of any state to be vaccinated without parental permission.

California state law already allows people 12 and older to consent to the Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

​​The bill that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee would lift the parental requirement for that age group for any vaccine that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FDA Severely Limits Use of J&J COVID Shot — Decision Comes More Than a Year After ‘Pause’ Over Rare Clotting Events

MedPage Today reported:

Use of Johnson and Johnson‘s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine should only be limited to certain adults, the FDA said on Thursday.

Due to an updated analysis of the rare cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which typically occur 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination, use of the J&J vaccine should be restricted to those for whom mRNA vaccines are “not accessible or clinically appropriate,” or who would not get vaccinated if not for the J&J vaccine, the agency said.

FDA and CDC initially paused the use of the vaccine in April 2021, following 15 cases of TTS. Through March 18 of this year, the agencies have confirmed 60 TTS cases and nine deaths.

The greatest risk is among women ages 30 to 49 years (about 8 cases per million doses).

Healthy Young People in U.K. May Never Be Offered Another COVID Jab, Says Expert

The Guardian reported:

Healthy younger people in the U.K. may never be offered another COVID jab, a leading expert has said, as a new wave of infections is expected to hit the country in the coming weeks.

Giving his personal expert opinion, Adam Finn, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the U.K.’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, suggested there was little point in offering a fourth jab to those yet to pass middle age, at least in the current landscape.

“You just don’t achieve anything very useful by [further] immunizing healthy young people with these vaccines because they rarely get sick — which the vaccines prevent,” he said, adding that vaccines offered poor and short-lived protection against mild infection and onwards transmission.

Transforming Mental Illness Into Mental Wellness

The Enquirer reported:

We are in a mental health crisis. Data continues to pour in that the pandemic has only made this crisis worse.

Locally, Prevention First recently reported that more than half of our middle and high school students say they have high levels of stress, with close to 40% saying they feel anxious or nervous most of the time.  A recent survey by Mason-based Myriad Genetics found only about half of parents believe their young adult children would be comfortable talking with them about their mental health struggles.

The Lindner Center of HOPE experiences this rise in community mental health needs every day in calls from individuals or their families, clinicians seeking referrals, and increasingly, inquiries from local companies looking for resources for their employees.

Demand for mental health services in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky far exceeds the capacity. How do we fix it? It starts by committing to transform mental illness into mental wellness. And it takes all of us to do so.

A Guide to Help You Keep up With the Omicron Subvariants

Kaiser Health News reported:

Two years into the coronavirus pandemic, Americans can be forgiven if they’ve lost track of the latest variants circulating nationally and around the world. We’ve heard of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron variants, but a new Greek-letter variant hasn’t come onto the scene in almost half a year.

Instead, a seemingly endless stream of “subvariants” of Omicron, the most recent Greek-letter variant, has emerged in the past few months.

How different are these subvariants from one another? Can infection by one subvariant protect someone from infection by another subvariant? And how well are the existing coronavirus vaccines — which were developed before Omicron’s emergence — doing against the subvariants?

COVID Subvariant XE: What to Know

Fox News reported:

It’s nicknamed Frankenstein, but experts say that shouldn’t scare you.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a preliminary report on the new COVID-19 “Frankenstein” subvariant called XE, which is a mix of the Omicron BA.1 variant and the “stealth” variant BA.2, with the agency declaring it’s still part of the Omicron variant, but not a variant of interest or concern yet, according to a recent Euronews report.

A “recombinant” strain is a type of variant that occurs when an individual becomes infected with two or more variants at the same time, and is assigned the letter “X” prefix to classify them as recombinant, said Dr. Stacia Wyman, senior genomics scientist at the Innovative Genomics Institute at UC Berkeley. Wyman noted the XE subvariant originated from someone who was infected with both the BA.1 and BA.2 variants.

White House Documents Detail a Looming Squeeze on COVID Boosters

STAT News reported:

The White House could run out of COVID-19 vaccines if it moves forward with plans to encourage all adults to get a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose by roughly Sept. 1, according to a tranche of budget documents sent to Congress that have not previously been made public.

Although Food and Drug Administration officials have hinted that all American adults may be encouraged to get second boosters this fall, right now, second booster doses are only available to people over the age of 50.

The budget documents make it clear that if the administration does want to push second boosters, it will need more money to make it happen: it needs at least 87 million more vaccines for adult boosters and another 5 million more for first boosters for kids.

Evidence Mounts for Need to Study Pfizer’s Paxlovid for Long COVID — Researchers Say

Reuters reported:

Additional reports of patients with long COVID who were helped by Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE.N) oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid offer fresh impetus for conducting clinical trials to test the medicine for the debilitating condition, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Three new case studies follow earlier reports of long COVID patients who experienced relief of their symptoms after taking the treatment, which is currently only authorized for high-risk people early after the onset of COVID symptoms.

As many as 30% of people infected by the coronavirus are believed to develop long COVID, a condition that can last for several months with symptoms including fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chronic pain, brain fog and muscle weakness. It affects people who have had both mild and severe COVID-19, including children, and can be severe enough to keep people out of work.

Early Promise for COVID Vaccine Taken as Pill

U.S. News & World Report reported:

An experimental COVID-19 vaccine in pill form could be a win-win, as it not only protects against infection but also limits the airborne spread of the virus, tests in lab animals show. The current vaccines reduce the risk of serious COVID-19 illness and hospitalization but aren’t foolproof armor against infection with SARS-CoV-2.

The findings were published on May 5 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The vaccine uses an adenovirus as a vector to express the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the study authors explained. Unlike vaccines injected into the muscle, the experimental vaccine seeks to neutralize the coronavirus by increasing the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) — the immune system’s first line of defense against pathogens — in mucosal tissue in the nose and lungs.

Protecting these locations makes it less likely that vaccinated people will transmit the infectious virus during a sneeze or cough, according to the researchers.

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