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Massachusetts Coronavirus Breakthrough Cases Surge 11,321 Last Week, Smashing Record High for the State
More than 11,000 fully vaccinated people in the Bay State tested positive for coronavirus last week as part of the post-Thanksgiving surge, a daily average of about 1,617 people as breakthrough infections hit a record high in the state. Sixty-one breakthrough deaths were reported.
The count of 11,321 breakthrough cases last week was a 71% spike from the tally of 6,610 breakthrough infections in the prior week.
Pfizer CEO Says Fourth COVID Vaccine Doses May Be Needed Sooner Than Expected Due to Omicron
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Wednesday that people might need a fourth COVID-19 shot sooner than expected after preliminary research shows the new Omicron variant can undermine protective antibodies generated by the vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech released results from an initial lab study Wednesday morning that showed a third shot is effective at fighting the Omicron variant, while the initial two-dose vaccination series dropped significantly in its ability to protect against the new strain. However, the two-dose series likely still offers protection against getting severely sick from Omicron, the companies said.
“When we see real-world data, it will determine if the Omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long. And the second point, I think we will need a fourth dose,” Bourla told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Anorexia Cases up 65% Among Children & Teens During COVID: Study
Shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, most countries implemented stringent lockdown measures to varying degrees that included school closures, immediate closures of non-essential businesses, and banning public gatherings.
The resulting social isolation and lack of structure in daily life profoundly impacted children and teenagers.
A new study delves into the latest evidence that shows there was an almost 66% jump per month in anorexia diagnoses among girls between the ages of 9 to 18 years during the first wave of the pandemic.
The team of Canada-based researchers further observed that the number of hospitalizations for newly diagnosed anorexia patients nearly tripled compared with pre-pandemic rates.
FDA Says It Now Needs 75 Years to Fully Release Pfizer COVID Vaccine Data
That timeline would take it until at least 2096, Aaron Siri, a lawyer working on the case, said in a blog post.
“If you find what you are reading difficult to believe—that is because it is dystopian for the government to give Pfizer billions, mandate Americans to take its product, prohibit Americans from suing for harms, but yet refuse to let Americans see the data underlying its licensure,” Siri said.
When Will Kids Under 5 Be Able to Get a COVID Vaccine?
Almost exactly a year ago, the first COVID-19 vaccines became available in the U.S. Today, they’re approved or authorized for nearly every age group — except young kids. But clinical trials involving children as young as 6 months are underway now, and some may have results by the end of the year.
Right now, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only one authorized in the U.S. for use in kids under the age of 18. The FDA authorized it for 12- to 15-year-olds in May and for 5- to 11-year-olds in early November.
Moderna submitted data from clinical trials involving 12- to 17-year-olds, but in November the FDA said it needed more time to review that data. The company also released statements recently saying that its two-dose mRNA vaccine is safe and effective in 6- to 11-year-olds. And Moderna trials involving kids 6 months and up are ongoing.
A Youth Mental Health Crisis Was Already Brewing. The Pandemic Made It Worse, Surgeon General Says.
The situation painted across the U.S. surgeon general’s 53-page advisory is dire.
Compared with 2019, emergency room visits for suicide attempts rose 51% for adolescent girls in early 2021. Among boys, there was a four percentage point increase. Depression and anxiety doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, with 25% of youths experiencing depressive symptoms and 20% suffering anxiety symptoms, according to the report published Tuesday.
“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy wrote in an advisory published on Tuesday. “Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real, and they are widespread. But most importantly, they are treatable, and often preventable.”
Bill Gates Thinks the ‘Acute Phase’ of COVID Pandemic Will Be Over in 2022, Despite the Emergence of the Omicron Variant
“It might be foolish to make another prediction, but I think the acute phase of the pandemic will come to a close some time in 2022,” Gates wrote in a review of the year, published on his GatesNotes blog Tuesday.
Gates said a lot more information on the Omicron variant — such as how well existing vaccines or previous infection protect against it — will be available soon, as researchers, including those that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support, work to learn more about it.
Beyond Omicron: What’s Next for COVID’s Viral Evolution
As the world sped towards a pandemic in early 2020, evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom gazed into the future of SARS-CoV-2.
Like many virus specialists at the time, he predicted that the new pathogen would not be eradicated. Rather, it would become endemic — the fifth coronavirus to permanently establish itself in humans, alongside four ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses that cause relatively mild colds and have been circulating in humans for decades or more.
Explosion in New Heart Conditions Explained as ‘Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder’
Experts in the UK say that an explosion in new heart illnesses in younger patients can be explained by a new condition called “post-pandemic stress disorder.”
“I’ve seen a big increase in thrombotic-related vascular conditions in my practice,” said senior vascular surgeon Tahir Hussain, who works at an NHS hospital in London. “Far younger patients are being admitted and requiring surgical and medical intervention than prior to the pandemic.”
Some people expressed skepticism that the sudden increase in heart problems amongst young people is solely due to lockdown stress (the UK hasn’t been under any form of lockdown for almost 6 months).
NYC Anime Convention May Offer ‘Earliest Looks’ at Omicron Spread in U.S., CDC Director Says
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has contacted more than 35,000 people so far who attended a recent anime convention in New York.
The CDC has joined investigations into the possible spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant at the Anime NYC 2021 convention held last month, assisting with contact tracing among the tens of thousands of convention attendees, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a virtual White House briefing Tuesday.
These contact tracing efforts — arguably the largest in the nation to involve Omicron — could hold clues to just how easily and quickly this variant may spread.
Changing the Definition of ‘Fully Vaccinated’ Is More Than Just Semantics, Experts Argue
Who’s “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 — and who’s not — is starting to get a lot more complicated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you are only granted the status two weeks after you get a single-dose vaccine or the second dose in a two-dose series. But with the advent of boosters, certain colleges, the NBA, and the state of New Mexico are saying you’re only there with three shots.
“For the time being, the official definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is two,” although that determination could change as we learn more about the Omicron variant, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a White House briefing last week.
Pfizer Will Submit Full Data on COVID Treatment Pill to the FDA in a Few Days, CEO Says
Bourla said he’s confident the full results from the clinical trials will show that the oral antiviral pill, Paxlovid, reduces hospitalization and death by 89% as interim data showed in November. Paxlovid is taken in combination with a popular HIV drug, ritonavir.
Pfizer submitted its application to the FDA last month for emergency approval of the treatment. Bourla told CNBC the FDA has a “very high sense of urgency” and he believes they will make a decision this month.
An Inhaled COVID Vaccine Makes It to Human Trials
A team of scientists from McMaster University, Canada have announced that two new inhalable COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for human clinical trials beginning in 2022. The vaccines will be administered as boosters, given to healthy individuals who had previously received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Inhalable nasal spray vaccines have been gaining momentum, especially in the last year, with greater potential to break infectious chains by providing a more accessible means of protection to individuals. The idea is to halt infection at the body’s point of entry, where SARS-CoV-2 viral particles infect cells in the nose before progressing to the lungs and other organs.