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Pfizer COVID Vaccine Is Less Effective in Kids 5 to 11, Study Finds

STAT News reported:

Newly emerging data suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine works substantially less well at preventing infection and hospitalizations in children aged 5 to 11 than it does in those aged 12 to 17 — a finding that is raising questions about whether the companies chose the wrong dose for the younger children.

The data, from New York state, show a rapid and substantial decline in protection after vaccination in children in the younger age group, with efficacy against infections dropping off more quickly and dramatically than the declines seen in children aged 12 to 17. The study also found a significant, but less steep, decline in protection against hospitalizations.

The findings, compiled by researchers working for the New York State Department of Health, were posted Monday on a preprint server; the study has not yet undergone peer review.

Moderna Faces New Lawsuit Over Lucrative Coronavirus Vaccine

The Washington Post reported:

Moderna faces yet another patent challenge over its coronavirus vaccine after Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences, both small biotechnology companies, filed a lawsuit on Monday alleging Moderna hijacked its technology to develop the multibillion-dollar vaccine.

Arbutus and Genevant said in their lawsuit that Moderna infringed on their patent for so-called lipid nanoparticle technology, which they say was key in the development of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine and took scientists from Arbutus and Genevant “years of painstaking work to develop and refine.” The suit had been expected after Moderna lost a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling last year in the protracted patent battle.

The suit is one of two high-profile legal fights Moderna faces over its blockbuster vaccine, which was developed in less than a year and has been key to fighting the pandemic.

Hazlet Couple Die of COVID on Same Day, While Family Battles ‘Nightmare’ Visitation Rules

Asbury Park Press reported:

There is no easy way to lose your parents, especially at the same time. But Suzanne O’Dwyer and her siblings say their sadness was compounded by overly restrictive hospital visitation and communication policies. While acknowledging the strain hospitals have been under, and compassionate gestures from individual staffers, the children of Tom and Sue Tanski have a message for officials who set these policies.

“(COVID patients) need visitors while they are still coherent and able to appreciate the love and support they are given by their families and friends,” O’Dwyer said. “I am hoping no other family has to endure this pain.” Visitation rules prevented them from seeing their parents in person until they were on ventilators.

There are going to be visitation rules, no matter what: vaccination requirements, negative-test requirements, full protective-wear requirements. O’Dwyer and her siblings understand that.

Nevertheless, “Let the family be able to choose to go in there and sign a waiver that (the hospital) is not responsible if they get COVID,” daughter Lori DiGioia said.

Pandemic Fears Are Fading Along With Omicron: AP-NORC Poll

Associated Press reported:

Omicron is fading away, and so are Americans’ worries about COVID-19.

As coronavirus pandemic case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths continue to plummet, fewer people now than in January say they are concerned that they will be infected after the rise and fall of the wildly contagious virus variant, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Just 24% say they are “extremely” or “very” worried about themselves or a family member contracting COVID-19, down from 36% in both December and January, when Omicron caused a massive spike in infections and taxed public health systems. Another 34% say they are somewhat worried.

Unlike COVID, Traffic Deaths Show No Sign of Slowing Down

Associated Press reported:

The start of a new year has not shown an improvement to the rash of traffic deaths in Wisconsin since the start of the COVID pandemic.

Preliminary state data shows that as of Feb. 20, 65 people had died in crashes, compared to 54 deaths at the same time in 2021. Last year’s total of 601 traffic deaths was tied for the state’s highest yearly death toll in 14 years.

The issue of reckless driving has gotten the most attention in Milwaukee, which saw a dramatic increase in deaths in 2020 and a high total in 2021. It has been a central issue in elections for mayor and city council, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Advocates Criticize ‘Tepid’ Biden Request for Global COVID Funding

The Hill reported:

Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Biden administration’s request for $5 billion from Congress for efforts to fight COVID-19 globally, including vaccinations, falls far short of what is needed.

They had been pushing for months for $17 billion to step up global vaccination and treatment efforts, but the White House asked for less than a third of that amount in informal talks with Congress last week, without offering an explanation.

Nearly Half of Biden’s 500 Million Free COVID Tests Still Unclaimed

Associated Press reported:

Nearly half of the 500 million free COVID-19 tests the Biden administration recently made available to the public still have not been claimed as virus cases plummet and people feel less urgency to test.

Wild demand swings have been a subplot in the pandemic, from vaccines to hand sanitizer, along with tests. On the first day of the White House test giveaway in January, COVIDtests.gov received over 45 million orders. Now officials say fewer than 100,000 orders a day are coming in for the packages of four free rapid tests per household, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

New COVID Vaccinations Drop in U.S. As Cases and Hospitalizations Decline

The Guardian reported:

The number of new people getting vaccinated in America has steadily declined in recent months, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The seven-day average of new vaccinations now mirrors the rates from December 2020, when there was a limited supply of the vaccines.

Dr Farrin Manian, an infectious disease specialist and chair of the department of medicine at Mercy Hospital St Louis, conceded that there are people who aren’t going to change their minds about vaccination. But in talking with patients, he still encounters some who are open to it.

Thousands of Girls as Young as 11 in England Hiding Signs of ‘Deep Distress’

The Guardian reported:

Thousands of girls as young as 11 are hiding signs of “deep distress” from their parents and teachers, according to an “alarming” report that reveals a “growing gulf” between the mental health of girls and boys.

Record numbers of children are seeking access to NHS mental health services amid the pandemic as detailed in multiple studies over the last year.

Now an analysis of data from 15,000 secondary pupils by Steer Education points to a worrying new trend of an increasingly stark divide between the mental health of girls and boys. Experts fear this could be a long-lasting result of the COVID crisis.