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Rand Paul Spars With Fauci Over Money Tied to Vaccines
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci had to testify remotely this week due to his recent COVID diagnosis, but the virus didn’t stop Fauci from his usual sparring with Senator Rand Paul, who went off on the doctor about the federal agency’s financial disclosures.
Testifying in isolation on Thursday, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, answered questions from senators about the ongoing federal pandemic response, re-emphasizing that “our current vaccines have maintained their effectiveness for preventing severe COVID-19.”
During Paul’s turn, the Kentucky Republican berated Fauci, asking the 81-year-old if he could say that he has “not received a royalty from any entity that [he] ever oversaw the distribution of money and research grants.”
COVID Vaccine Injury Plaintiffs Face Long Odds in U.S. Compensation Program
“I thought it would be impossible to deny me.” That’s what Cody Flint, who used to work as a crop duster in Mississippi, said he expected when he filed a claim with an obscure government tribunal that provides compensation for COVID-19 vaccine-related injuries.
Flint, 34, told me that he submitted hundreds of pages of supporting material, including reports from four doctors who attributed his episodes of vertigo, headaches, and partial loss of hearing and eyesight — afflictions that have ended his career as a pilot, at least for now — to a rare side-effect of the Pfizer vaccine.
The feds rejected Flint’s claim on May 25 in a two-page letter that he shared with me. “The compelling, reliable and valid medical and scientific evidence” didn’t prove the vaccine caused his symptoms, an official with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, or CICP, wrote.
As a layperson, I don’t know if that decision was correct. What I do know is that he is not alone in coming up short at the CICP, which has denied about 90% of petitions since its inception in 2010.
FDA Authorizes Pfizer and Moderna COVID Vaccines for Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for use in children as young as six months of age, setting the stage for a government push to make the shots available for the youngest children.
The decision comes less than two days after a panel advising the FDA voted unanimously to recommend authorization, saying their benefits would outweigh any risks for young kids.
The FDA also authorized the Moderna vaccine, which was previously cleared in adults over 18, for older children and adolescents, meaning both vaccines are cleared for all ages over 6 months.
Before families can start to avail themselves of the vaccines, though, an advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to recommend the shots, too, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky must accept the recommendation. The group meets Friday and Saturday when the votes will be held.
Fauci Says COVID Origin Evidence Points ‘Strongly’ Toward ‘Natural Occurrence’
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified virtually before a Thursday Senate panel about the illness only a day after announcing he had contracted COVID-19.
Fauci acknowledged the prominent theory among the U.S. public that the virus originated out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology via a leak. “We still open up and keep always an open mind about whether this had to do with a virus that was isolated out in the environment and that came into a lab and then had what most people refer to as a ‘lab leak,’” he continued.
While Fauci said that researchers would keep an “open mind,” he also argued that most evidence supported a natural occurrence. Asked whether China would cooperate with investigations into the origin of COVID-19, Fauci deflected and tempered expectations for any meaningful answers.
Why Some Parents Are Skeptical About COVID Vaccines for Young Children
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines for children as young as 6 months. Shots should be available next week, which will provide some parents a long-overdue tool to protect their children from COVID.
It also will likely go unused by most American parents. This latter group, which will likely not seek out a coronavirus vaccine for their young children, deserves closer attention, not least of all because their hesitancy represents a change in how parents make healthcare decisions for their children.
China Says COVID Might Have Originated in U.S., Calls Wuhan Lab Theory Lies
A Chinese state media commentary has hit out at a new report into the origins of COVID-19, which states that a lab leak is still on the table. The article, released on Friday by the Chinese government’s official press agency Xinhua, dismissed any suggestion that the SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked from a Chinese lab, and said the theory had been “concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes.” The report also states that labs elsewhere in the world should be investigated if they’re located near where pre-2020 cases were detected.
Such lab investigations could include examining biosafety measures, finding out whether there were any occupational illnesses before the recognized start of the pandemic and looking at whether SARS-like coronaviruses were being engineered.
In response to the report, the Xinhua article pointed to the WHO’s inconclusive 2021 origins report that referred to a lab-leak scenario as “extremely unlikely,” and the article also pushed a theory that COVID could actually have originated in the U.S.
It said the U.S. had been a “terrible bookkeeper” of its own early COVID outbreak and claimed that the Fort Detrick base in Maryland and biolabs at the University of North Carolina “have long been engaged in coronavirus research and modification.”
How Vaccine Immunity, Prior Infection Hold up Against BA.2 — Qatar Data Show Strong Protection Against Severe Outcomes With Just About Any Type of Immunity
Protection against symptomatic BA.1 or BA.2 COVID-19 infection was similar between individuals who received three doses of an mRNA vaccine and those who had either a prior infection or some form of hybrid immunity, a national case-control study from Qatar found.
Against severe disease from either of the two Omicron subvariants, effectiveness was strong across the different types of immunity, at 70% or higher, reported Laith Abu-Raddad, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha, and colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine.
An analysis of effectiveness based on the time since infection or vaccination “showed rapidly waning vaccine protection after the second and third doses but slowly waning protection from previous infection,” the group highlighted.
Omicron May Be Less Likely to Cause Long COVID Than Prior Variants, Study Suggests
But because Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants, the enormous number of people who have been infected since it began spreading in the winter means there will still be many who are struggling with long-lasting symptoms, such as brain fog, headaches and debilitating fatigue.
The new research, which was published Thursday in The Lancet, is an observational analysis of people who signed up for a smartphone app-led project called the ZOE Covid Study. Users regularly report any COVID symptoms, vaccination status and other demographic information.
Since the app’s launch in March 2020, approximately 4.7 million people, most of whom reside in the U.K., have signed on.
Congressional COVID Funding Deal Appears ‘Dead’ After GOP Criticism
A congressional deal for billions of dollars in additional coronavirus funding appeared all but dead Thursday after Senate Republicans accused the White House of being dishonest about the nation’s pandemic funding needs.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who brought the Senate close to a bipartisan $10 billion COVID funding deal in March, said the Biden administration had provided “patently false” information about its inability to buy additional vaccines, treatments and supplies. He cited a newly announced White House plan to repurpose some existing funds to cover the country’s most pressing vaccine and treatment needs.
“I hope that there’s an appreciation that for the administration to say they could not purchase these things, and then after several months, divert some funds and then purchase them is unacceptable, and makes our ability to work together … very much shaken to the core,” Romney said at a Senate health committee hearing Thursday, noting the White House had repeatedly claimed it had exhausted COVID funding and could not redirect other spending.
Canada Has a Massive Surplus of Unused Ventilators
More than half of the 40,000 ventilators the Canadian government ordered early in the pandemic are now sitting unused in the federal emergency stockpile. Just over 2,000 of the ventilators have been deployed, either in Canada or abroad. Ottawa is now working to cancel orders for ventilators that have yet to be delivered but won’t say how much it has paid for the machines.
In the spring of 2020, Canada rushed to shore up supplies of medical and personal protective equipment as COVID-19 case numbers climbed.
In response to the crisis, the federal government quickly ordered just over 40,000 ventilators at a cost of C$1.1 billion, the vast majority from Canadian manufacturers that started building the life-saving machines from scratch.
At the time, it was billed as a success story for Canadian ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. By May 2021, more than 27,000 ventilators had been delivered. But the worst-case pandemic scenarios never came to pass, and most of the machines were never needed.