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U.S. FDA Advisers Weigh Moderna COVID Vaccine Heart Risk for Young Men

Reuters reported:

Moderna‘s (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine may have a higher risk of heart inflammation in young men than the Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNTech (22UAy.DE) shot, according to data presented on Tuesday to U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers weighing its use for those aged 6 to 17.

An FDA official told the expert panel that while the data showed a higher risk for the Moderna shot, the findings were not consistent across various safety databases and were not statistically significant, meaning they might be due to chance.

There have long been concerns that the Moderna shot, which is given at a higher dose than the Pfizer/BioNtech shot, may cause myocarditis and pericarditis at higher rates.

Lessons From Earlier Pandemics: Vaccine Panel Must Discuss Imprinting Among Infants and Toddlers

STAT News reported:

This week, when the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee considers approving the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers, the issue of imprinting may not be on the agenda. But it should be, given lessons from the Russian pandemic of 1889, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the Hong Kong flu of 1968, the swine flu pandemic of 1957, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

Immune imprinting results from exposure to proteins or other biological structures of viruses, like those found in SARS-CoV-2, that allow the virus to penetrate host cells and cause infection.

Imprinting may come directly from an acute infection or indirectly through vaccination. It can result in reduced — or enhanced — responses to future variants with unknown clinical consequences. The former is beneficial, the latter is not.

The immune systems of infants and toddlers — the targets of the latest COVID-19 vaccination approval — are immature and developing. If an immature immune system is immunologically imprinted, either by acute infection from the currently circulating viral variant or by a COVID-19 vaccine based on the original, wild-type variant that is no longer in circulation, it may fail to develop appropriate defenses when confronted — even years later — by a COVID variant or another totally different pathogen.

Canada’s Trudeau Gets COVID for Second Time This Year, Says He’s Grateful to Be Vaccinated, Boosted

The Daily Wire reported:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is back in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 for the second time this year — and insisting it would be worse if he was not vaccinated and boosted.

Trudeau, who went into isolation in January, just as the nation’s truckers converged on Ottawa to protest his government’s strict vaccine mandates, announced his latest positive test Monday. He said he was feeling “okay,” and expressed gratitude that he was vaccinated.

Although the COVID vaccines were originally advertised as providing significant protection from infection, many media outlets now say they are “primarily designed to keep those who become infected from falling seriously ill,” according to The Associated Press.

COVID Reinfections Set to Spike in U.S. As New Variants Evade Immunity

Yahoo!News reported:

If you’re anything like the majority of Americans — an estimated 60-plus-percent of them, according to government data — you’ve already had COVID-19.

The question now is whether you’re ready to get infected again — this time by a new subvariant that not only sidesteps some of your existing immunity but may also be more resistant to key treatments.

Once upon a time, reinfection was rare; some scientists even suspected that natural immunity from a prior case of COVID would shield most people from ever getting infected again. But Delta cracked that immunity wall, and Omicron BA.1 breached it, propelling infection rates — including breakthrough infections — to record highs.

Amid a National Crisis in Youth Mental Health, Surgeon General Says Kids Need to Be Part of the Solution

ABC News reported:

Facing a growing mental health crisis among America’s teens and young adults, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says the problem is not something adults can fix alone.

After declaring a national advisory on the youth mental health crisis late last year, Murthy is now participating in a two-day conference called the Youth Mental Wellness Now! Summit, hosted by The California Endowment.

The purpose of the youth-led summit is to create a national movement around youth mental health led by young people through the sharing of stories and to galvanize organizations to commit to support. They have concrete commitments in excess of $255 million.

Murthy blames the youth mental health crisis on loneliness, isolation, economic hardship, uncertainty, and online and offline bullying, which were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Other existential challenges like climate change, racism and violence in the community have also caused youth to lose hope.

One-Third in New Poll Say Most People Around Them Have Moved Past Pandemic, but They Haven’t

The Hill reported:

More than a third of Americans say in a poll released Tuesday that they have not moved past the pandemic but believe others around them have, indicating a possible rift in how people are viewing COVID-19.

The new Axios-Ipsos poll found that 35% of respondents said they believe people around them have moved past COVID-19 while they themselves have not. While 42% say they have returned to what their lives were like before the pandemic, 33% say returning to their normal pre–COVID-19 lives will never happen or will take over a year.

The survey also found that respondents who are vaccinated are less likely to believe the pandemic has ended (22%), compared to those who have not received their shots (55%).

Can These Drugs Stop a COVID Infection in Its Tracks? Seattle Researchers Are on the Forefront of New Treatments

The Seattle Times reported:

In a small research center nestled near the heart of Seattle’s South Lake Union, Dr. Elizabeth Duke has been testing medicines to arm us in the fight against COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began, Duke and other infectious disease experts have led trial after trial at UW Medicine and, more recently, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s COVID-19 clinical research center, which was developed in October 2020 to treat outpatients with mild-to-moderate COVID.

The trials take time — and data analysis often takes longer — but as new virus variants emerge and the pandemic presses on, the clinic has remained at the forefront for testing many of the country’s newest COVID therapeutics.

Now, Duke and her team are in the middle of taking a significant next step in the world of COVID drugs: figuring out how to prevent virus infections from happening in the first place.

U.K. Doctors With Long COVID Say They Have Been Denied Disability Benefits

The Guardian reported:

Doctors who worked on the frontline during the pandemic and have been left with long COVID say they have been denied financial support by the U.K. government, with some left with little option but to sell their house.

Months or even years after an initial COVID infection some people continue to have symptoms, from fatigue to brain fog. According to the Office for National Statistics, as of May 1, an estimated 2 million people in the U.K. reported having long COVID, as the condition is known.

Now healthcare staff in the U.K. have told the Guardian that despite being left with serious impairments as a result of long COVID, they have been turned down for personal independence payment (Pip), a non-means-tested benefit helping people with the extra living costs of their chronic illness or disability.

EU States Step up Pressure on Pfizer to Cut Unneeded COVID Vaccine Supplies

Reuters reported:

European Union governments are intensifying pressure on Pfizer (PFE.N) and other COVID-19 vaccine makers to renegotiate contracts, warning millions of shots that are no longer needed could go to waste, according to EU officials and a document.

During the most acute phase of the pandemic, the European Commission and EU governments agreed to buy huge volumes of vaccines, mostly from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech (22UAy.DE), amid fears of insufficient supplies.

But with the pandemic abating in Europe and amid a marked slowdown in vaccinations, many countries are now urging tweaks to contracts to reduce supplies and consequently cut their spending on vaccines.

World Bank Approves $474 Million Loan to South Africa for COVID Vaccines

Reuters reported:

The World Bank has approved a loan of 454.4 million euros ($474.4 million) to help South Africa fund COVID-19 vaccine purchases, the bank and South Africa’s National Treasury said in a statement.

South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, with over 3.9 million confirmed cases and more than 101,000 deaths. It initially struggled to secure vaccines due to limited supplies and protracted negotiations, but it is now well-supplied with doses.

As of Monday, just over 50% of South Africa’s adult population of around 40 million people had received at least one vaccine dose. In recent months the vaccination campaign has slowed, despite efforts to boost takeup.