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What Proportion of Doctors Are Vaccine Hesitant? — Researchers Conducting a New Survey Said the Answer Was Far Higher Than Expected
Levels of vaccine hesitancy among physicians may be higher than expected, with 1 in 10 primary care doctors not believing that vaccines are safe, according to a new survey.
Among 625 physicians, 10.1% did not agree that vaccines were safe; 9.3% did not agree that vaccines were effective; and 8.3% did not agree that they were important, Timothy Callaghan, PhD, of Texas A&M School of Public Health in College Station, and colleagues reported online in Vaccine.
The high proportion of hesitancy among primary care doctors “was certainly a surprise for us,” Callaghan told MedPage Today. “We thought it might be a very small proportion of physicians who hold hesitancy about vaccines given that we have lots of evidence of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. However, once we dug into the data, we found that concerns about vaccines, in general, were far more widespread in the physician population than we might have expected.”
Britain Approves Moderna’s COVID Shot for 6- to 11-Year-Olds
Britain’s medicines regulator on Thursday approved the use of Moderna‘s (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine in children between six and 11 years, as the country bolsters itself for fighting coronavirus infections amid the spread of new virus variants.
While most children develop mild or no symptoms with COVID-19, they could still spread the virus and some remain at risk of becoming seriously ill as new, highly contagious variants such as Omicron and its sub-variants are driving up cases.
Official data on Thursday showed that COVID-19 prevalence in England fell to 1 in 14 people in the week ending April 9, compared with a record high of 1 in 13 recorded in the previous two weeks.
UK Clears 6th COVID Shot Despite Canceling Deal for Doses
British authorities have authorized a coronavirus vaccine for adults made by French drugmaker Valneva, despite the government’s decision last year to cancel an order for at least 100 million doses.
The UK is the first country to authorize Valneva’s vaccine, which is also under review by the European Medicines Agency. Britain’s medicines regulator said Thursday that the two-dose vaccine is intended for adults ages 18 to 50, with the second dose given about a month after the first.
The Valneva vaccine is made with the decades-old technology used to manufacture shots for flu and polio. It is the sixth COVID-19 vaccine the U.K. has cleared and the only one that utilizes a “killed” virus; scientists grow the coronavirus in a lab and then inactivate the virus so it cannot replicate or infect cells.
The U.K. government scrapped an agreement with Valneva in September to purchase at least 100 million doses, saying at the time that British regulators probably would not clear the shot. Valneva said Britain canceled the deal because of supply concerns.
Pfizer to Seek COVID Booster for Healthy 5- to 11-Year-Olds
In a small study, 140 youngsters who’d already gotten two shots were given a booster six months later, and researchers found the extra shot generally revved up their immune response. But a closer look at 30 of the children found a 36-fold increase in virus-fighting antibodies, levels high enough to fight the super-contagious Omicron variant, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said in a press release.
U.S. COVID Cases on the Rise Again
After two months of plummeting COVID cases across the U.S., the virus is on the rise again, with the Northeast accounting for many of the new cases.
“We’ve got to be careful, but I don’t think this is a moment where we need to be excessively concerned,” White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha told the Today show this week, pointing to low infection numbers and hospitalizations.
Homeschooling Surge Continues Despite Schools Reopening
The coronavirus pandemic ushered in what may be the most rapid rise in homeschooling the U.S. has ever seen. Two years later, even after schools reopened and vaccines became widely available, many parents have chosen to continue directing their children’s education themselves.
Families that may have turned to homeschooling as an alternative to hastily assembled remote learning plans have stuck with it — reasons include health concerns, disagreement with school policies and a desire to keep what has worked for their children.
In 18 states that shared data through the current school year, the number of homeschooling students increased by 63% in the 2020-2021 school year, then fell by only 17% in the 2021-2022 school year. Around 3% of U.S. students were homeschooled before the pandemic-induced surge, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
New Omicron Sub-Types BA.4 and BA.5 May Be More Able to Dodge Antibodies
Scientists are monitoring two newly characterized Omicron variant sub-types, BA.4 and BA.5, that have emerged in a few countries.
In recent weeks researchers have noted a small number of sequences of two new types of Omicron — now being referred to as BA.4 and BA.5 — so far detected in relatively few people. Both sub-variants have been detected in a few countries, including the UK, Denmark and Botswana, but have largely been present in South Africa.
BA.4 and BA.5 are both similar to BA.2 except with a few mutations that make them distinct. Both have additional mutations in their spike region — the part of the virus used to latch onto cells and cause illness.
U.S. FDA Delays Decision on Regeneron/Roche COVID Antibody Therapy
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended by three months its review of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s (REGN.O) application for the full approval of its COVID-19 antibody therapy, the U.S. drugmaker said on Thursday.
Before making its decision, the health agency wants to look at additional data submitted by Regeneron on using the antibody cocktail as a preventive treatment. The FDA has not asked for any extra studies to complete its review and will now decide on the drug by July 13, Regeneron said.
Regeneron’s “cocktail” of two monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, had received an emergency use authorization in the United States in late 2020 to treat patients who were 12 years and older with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.
U.S. CDC to Shrink COVID Int’l Travel Avoidance List
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it will revise its COVID-19 travel recommendations for international destinations and shrink the number of countries the government recommends avoiding.
About 90 countries and regions, including most of Europe, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel and Australia are currently rated by CDC as “Level 4: Very High” and the CDC recommends Americans, even if vaccinated, to avoid travel to those countries.
“This new system will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts,” the CDC said in a statement, adding that it will be effective Monday.
New COVID Rapid Test Said to Be More Sensitive Than Any Other
COVID-19 rapid test that is said to be more sensitive than any other has been developed by scientists in the United Kingdom.
It detects temperature changes when the virus binds to nanoparticles molecularly impressed on a 3D printed device.
Antigen tests quickly and conveniently tell a person they are positive for COVID-19, but they fail to detect early infections with low viral loads. Corresponding author Dr. Marloes Peeters, of Newcastle University, said: “The new test is more sensitive and works under more extreme conditions than antibody-based tests.”
Poorer Nations Shun AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine — Document
Poorer nations have refused tens of millions of AstraZeneca (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccines from the global program COVAX, a document shows, the latest sign that its short shelf life is sapping demand for the shot.
COVAX is the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine-sharing program. It has so far distributed 1.4 billion jabs to 144 countries and is co-managed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccine alliance Gavi.
Countries declined to receive nearly 35 million AstraZeneca doses, opting to replace them with vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Pfizer (PFE.N) and Moderna (MRNA.O), the document says.
COVID Cases Down but Too Soon to Tell if UK Has Passed Peak, Say Experts
Coronavirus infections have fallen slightly in most of the UK, figures from the Office for National Statistics show, although experts analyzing the data say it is too soon to say whether infections have passed their peak.
“Across most parts of the UK infections have thankfully begun to decrease. It is too early to say if we have passed the peak of infections, and infections overall remain high,” said Sarah Crofts, the head of analytical outputs for the COVID-19 Infection Survey. “We will continue to carefully monitor the data moving forward.”
According to recent hospital data, the number of COVID patients in hospital and admissions appear to have reached a peak in the UK, with signs that both may now be falling.
WHO: COVID Cases, Deaths in Africa Drop to Lowest Levels Yet
The number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Africa have dropped to their lowest levels since the pandemic began, marking the longest decline yet seen in the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
“This low level of infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic in Africa,” WHO said, noting that no country in the region is currently seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases.
The agency warned, however, that with winter approaching for Southern Hemisphere countries, “there is a high risk of another wave of new infections.” The coronavirus spreads more easily in cooler temperatures when people are more likely to gather in larger numbers indoors.