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‘Nightmare,’ Some Planning to Get New COVID Vaccine Getting Bills for Nearly $200

CBS News reported:

​​When Glen Cote of Acton drove to his appointment at CVS for the new COVID-19 vaccine, he was shocked to receive a text on his phone minutes before his appointment, letting him know that the vaccine would cost $190.99.

“Nightmare is the first word that comes to mind,” he explained to WBZ-TV. Cote is covered by MassHealth, the state’s program for Medicaid.

The new COVID-19 shot was approved by the FDA and CDC about a week ago, with the vaccine to be shipped to area pharmacies. Signs outside many CVS stores read “FREE FLU & COVID-19 vaccines here.”

Instead, posts on social media show that several people nationwide are getting charged for the shot, anywhere between $125 and $190.

WHO Chief Pushes China for ‘Full Access’ to Determine COVID’s Origins, Financial Times Reports

Reuters reported:

The chief of the World Health Organization urged Beijing to offer more information on the origins of COVID-19 and is ready to send a second team to probe the matter, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

“We’re pressing China to give full access, and we are asking countries to raise it during their bilateral meetings — to urge Beijing to cooperate,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the newspaper.

The WHO chief’s comments come as health authorities and pharmaceutical companies across the world have been racing to update vaccines to combat newer emerging coronavirus variants.

Ghebreyesus has long been pressing China to share its information about the origins of COVID-19, saying that until that happened all hypotheses remained on the table.

Why Officials Aren’t Calling This Year’s New COVID Shots ‘Boosters’

CBS News reported:

Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, as signs of waning immunity and changes in the virus prompted the rollout of additional doses of vaccine, health authorities took to urging Americans to seek out “booster” shots to improve their protection against the virus.

Now, with an updated vaccine formula rolling out for the fall, officials are changing that message to move away from the word “booster.” Instead, doctors and health departments are now working on getting used to calling this year’s newly recommended shots the “2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine” or simply the “updated COVID-19 vaccine.”

Virtually all Americans ages 6 months and older are now recommended to get one dose of these updated shots from Moderna or Pfizer, regardless of what vaccines they have or have not received before.

“Bye-bye, booster. We are no longer giving boosters, and it’s going to be very difficult to stop using that word because that word has become pervasive,” Dr. Keipp Talbot, a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s committee of vaccine advisers, said. “We are beginning to think of COVID like influenza. Influenza changes each year, and we give a new vaccine each year. We don’t ‘boost’ each year.”

COVID Severity ‘Much Lower’ Now — but These 3 Symptoms Remain: Top NYC Doc

New York Post reported:

Despite the recent warning of a new variant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of COVID-19 are noticeably weaker than previous waves, a top NYC doctor has said.

“Just about everyone who I’ve seen has had really mild symptoms,” Dr. Erick Eiting, vice chair of operations for emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Downtown, told NBC News. The outlet also reported that the virus has become so light, it is hard to tell apart from allergies or just a common cold.

“The only way that we knew that it was COVID was because we happened to be testing them,” Eiting added, noting that current symptoms mostly include congestion, some sneezing and a mild sore throat.

“Especially since July, when this recent mini-surge started, younger people that have upper respiratory symptoms — cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever and chills — 99% of the time they go home with supportive care,” said emergency physician Dr. Michael Daignault, of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California.

Did You Have a Severe Case of COVID? Research Suggests That Neanderthal Genes Could Be to Blame

Insider reported:

Researchers in Italy say their study of people infected with COVID-19 shows that those with certain genetic variations attributable to Neanderthal ancestry were far more likely to experience severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Writing in the journal iScience, the researchers, associated with the nonprofit Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, reported that they examined the DNA of nearly 1,200 volunteers in the Bergamo province, which was especially hard hit in the early days of the pandemic. What they found is that the “Neanderthal haplotype,” a set of genetic variants associated with the human ancestor, is “the major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19.”

The link between health and Neanderthal DNA has been suggested by other studies. A study published in June by the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution indicated a link between Neanderthal DNA and a genetic disorder known as Dupuytren’s disease. In March, a study published in Nature also found a connection between Neanderthal ancestry and an increased risk of an extreme immune response, or cytokine storm, from contracting COVID-19.

New COVID Variant BA.2.86 Spotted in 10 States, Though Highly Mutated Strain Remains Rare

CBS News reported:

People across at least 10 states have now been infected by BA.2.86, a highly mutated variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 that authorities have been closely tracking.

According to data tallied from the global virus database GISAID, labs have reported finding BA.2.86 in samples from Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Estimates suggest BA.2.86 still remains a small fraction of new COVID-19 cases nationwide.

Too few sequences of the virus have been reported to show up on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biweekly variant estimates, which still show that a long list of closely related XBB variant descendants is driving virtually all infections around the country.

Pence Says He Hasn’t Made a Decision on Whether to Get COVID Booster

The Hill reported:

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that he’s not sure if he will get the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine booster, but he encouraged other Americans to at least consider it.

“We haven’t made a decision on that yet as a family,” Pence replied when asked if he would get the shot in a CNN interview Sunday. “I think every family ought to make those decisions.”

The FDA approved an additional COVID-19 booster shot last week to specifically combat newer strains of the virus. COVID cases are on the rise nationally, raising concerns about another winter wave of sickness.