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COVID Vaccines Didn’t Work, so CDC Changed the Definition of Vaccines
In early 2020 when the public first learned that a novel virulent virus was making people sick in China and around the world, it made sense to institute public health measures to protect against it.
But, instead of encouraging doctors and scientists to look for ways to treat the virus and ways to keep sick people from healthy people, as has been done with other pandemics in modern human history, government authorities actually actively prevented doctors from treating patients.
Instead of any open, honest discussion about the effectiveness of preventative measures and the different treatment options, the world was told that the only way out of the coronavirus crisis was via mass vaccination. If the public understood that there were options for treating COVID-19 and that the infection was likely to be mild in over 99% of the people who got it, they wouldn’t be as motivated to get a vaccine.
‘The Results Confirm Our Fears’: Federal School Test Scores Dropped During Pandemic
Test scores for the country’s 9-year-olds suffered significant declines early this year when compared to early 2020, according to federal data released Thursday that will reinforce the worries of educators and politicians over COVID-19’s impact on children.
Students who took National Assessment of Educational Progress long-term trend tests this past winter scored an average of seven points lower in math and five points lower in reading when compared to 9-year-olds who took the same federal exam in 2020 — just before the pandemic was declared a global health emergency and physical classrooms shuttered.
Those results mean fewer students could carry out simple reading tasks, understand texts or handle arithmetic and early math problem-solving. The overall reading score decline marked the test’s largest drop of statistical significance since the 1980s, while the drop in math scores marked the first such drop ever recorded since the government first tested learning trends on the subject during the 1970s.
Thursday’s test scores offer the first nationally representative measurement of how the pandemic affected school learning, and mark a significant preview for more detailed data from separate tests that the government is set to release this fall. The winter tests were administered as Omicron-driven infections led to chaotic school conditions across the country, and while classrooms eased into something approaching more normal in-person learning.
U.S. CDC Advisers Expected to Recommend Omicron-Specific Vaccine Boosters
Vaccine experts will meet on Thursday to discuss updated COVID-19 boosters and make recommendations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on who should receive the shots, one of the last steps before they are rolled out as soon as this weekend.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the updated shots from Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNTech (22UAy.DE) and Moderna that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants as well as the original virus.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) will vote on a recommendation for who should receive the boosters before the agency’s Director Rochelle Walensky makes the final call after the meeting. She has generally been supportive of a booster campaign in recent public statements.
Vaccine makers have yet to complete human trials for the newly authorized boosters, and ACIP members are likely to raise questions over the lack of data. Most of the available data on the redesigned boosters comes from lab and animal studies.
Biden Administration Weighs Saving Monkeypox Doses for Potential Smallpox Outbreak
Top health officials in the Biden administration are weighing whether to save vaccine doses that could be used to fight monkeypox for a potential future smallpox outbreak, according to two people with knowledge of the matter and a senior administration official.
The U.S. has purchased at least 11 million vials of the Jynneos vaccine which is FDA-approved for both smallpox and monkeypox to combat the current monkeypox outbreak. Manufacturer Bavarian Nordic, a pharmaceutical company based in Denmark, is now bottling 5.5 million of those vials.
Some of that vaccine — plus an additional 5.5 million vials stored in Denmark — may be saved if the administration determines the monkeypox outbreak is leveling off, the people familiar with the matter and the official said.
Fauci Warns of ‘Pretty Bad Flu Season’
Speaking with Bloomberg Law, Fauci noted that a more severe flu season has already been observed in the Southern Hemisphere, which encounters new annual flu strains sooner than the Northern Hemisphere.
“We should be prepared for that superimposed upon what I hope is the residual and not another spike of COVID,” Fauci told Bloomberg.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized bivalent COVID-19 boosters, which were updated to target a subvariant of Omicron. Fauci said he hoped the updated shot could help impede the concurrent viral spread of both the coronavirus and influenza.
White House to Encourage COVID Boosters, Flu Shot This Fall
That’s at the heart of its campaign to sell the newly authorized shot to an American public that has widely rejected COVID-19 boosters since they first became available last fall.
Shots of the updated boosters, specifically designed by Pfizer and Moderna to respond to the Omicron strain, could start within days. The U.S. government has purchased 170 million doses and is emphasizing that everyone will have free access to the booster.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said this latest round of shots will offer protection during the busy cold and flu season, with the hope of transitioning people to get the vaccine yearly. Typically, at least half of U.S. adults get a flu shot.
Exercise Rates Still Haven’t Recovered From Pandemic, Global Study Shows
The COVID-19 pandemic stopped people in their tracks, reducing their physical activity. And daily “step counts” still haven’t reached previous numbers, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco examined worldwide trends in physical activity by measuring step counts in the two years following the start of the pandemic. Step counts were distinctly lower early in the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels and remained lower for the first two years of the global crisis, the study team found.
U.K. Downgrades COVID Alert Level Amid Falling Cases
The U.K.’s COVID-19 alert level has been downgraded to level 2, meaning the virus is in “general circulation” but healthcare pressures and transmission are “declining or stable.”
The chief medical officers of the U.K. nations and the national medical director of the NHS in England have jointly recommended that the COVID alert level be moved down from level 3 amid falling cases. They said the COVID-19 wave of the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 was “subsiding”.
Rates of COVID have decreased as have the number of severe cases needing hospital care, they added. However, they said further COVID surges were “likely” as they urged people to take up the offer of vaccination. The autumn booster campaign is due to start within days.
EU Regulator Clears Tweaked Versions of COVID Vaccines
The European Medicines Agency has recommended the authorization of two coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc., tweaked to include protection against an early version of the Omicron variant.
In a statement on Thursday, the EU drug regulator said the two messenger RNA boosters offered protection both against the original version of COVID-19 and the Omicron subvariant BA.1, which has since been overtaken globally by later Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
Nearly 80% of coronavirus cases worldwide are now being caused by Omicron BA.5, according to the World Health Organization.
The decision comes a day after the U.S. drug regulator cleared updated versions of COVID-19 vaccines incorporating protection against the later subvariants, after telling pharmaceuticals in June that any updated boosters must target the most recent versions of Omicron.
EU Regulator Backs Use of Novavax COVID Shot as a Booster
The vaccine, Nuvaxovid, is designed to target the strain of the virus that originally emerged in China. The EMA’s recommendation is for people who previously were inoculated with either the Novavax shot or any other COVID vaccine.
Separately on Thursday, the EMA backed two separate COVID-19 vaccine boosters updated to target the Omicron variant of the virus.