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Vaccines for the Littlest Kids Have Already Flopped

The Atlantic reported:

Next week, the FDA and CDC are expected to finally, finally green-light two vaccines for kids under 5 — a milestone that millions of parents have been waiting for since their own adult shots came through. But reality won’t match the vision many once had of this moment.

Closer to the pandemic’s start, when the vaccines were fresh and inoculation lines still stretched impossibly long, an idealized version of herd immunity still seemed possible; maybe, just maybe, vaccinating some 60% to 90% of Americans — including a hefty fraction of the nation’s 74 million kids — would quash the outbreak for good.

For months, the number of Americans who opted for their initial doses has held at just above 250 million, or about 79% of the population. And those numbers are unlikely to budge: A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that less than a fifth of parents are eager to vaccinate their infants and toddlers right away, with the rest unsure about the shots or outright opposed.

During the delays in rolling out COVID vaccines for infants and toddlers, doubts about the shots ballooned, and misinformation seeped into data gaps. Parents watched SARS-CoV-2 hopscotch through their families.

FDA Decision on Novavax’s COVID Shots Could Be Delayed to Review Changes in Manufacturing

CNBC reported:

The Food and Drug Administration needs to review changes to Novavax’s manufacturing process before it can authorize the biotech company’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., an agency spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The FDA’s committee of independent vaccine experts on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend Novavax’s vaccine for use in the U.S., after an all-day meeting in which they reviewed data on the shot’s safety and its effectiveness at preventing COVID.

The FDA, in a statement to CNBC, said Novavax informed the agency of changes to its manufacturing process on June 3, days before the committee was scheduled to review its vaccine’s safety and efficacy data.

Novavax, in a statement, said it shared updated information with the FDA about improvements to its manufacturing process. The biotech company wouldn’t provide any further specifics.

Officials: Millions of COVID Shots Ordered for Youngest

Associated Press reported:

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say. The government allowed pharmacies and states to start placing orders last week, with 5 million doses initially available — half of the shots made by Pfizer and the other half the vaccine produced by Moderna, senior administration officials said.

As of this week, about 1.45 million of the 2.5 million available doses of Pfizer have been ordered, and about 850,000 of available Moderna shots have been ordered, officials said. More orders are expected in the coming days.

It’s not clear how popular the shots will be. A recent survey suggests only 1 in 5 parents of young children would get their kids vaccinated right away. And public health officials have been disappointed at how many older U.S. children, who have been eligible for shots for months, have yet to be vaccinated: Less than one-third of kids ages 5 to 11 have gotten the two recommended doses, according to government figures.

An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday to review data from the two companies. Officials say they expect an FDA decision shortly after that meeting. A CDC advisory committee is scheduled for next Friday and Saturday, with a CDC decision expected soon after.

Pandemic’s Origins Obscured by Lack of Chinese Data — WHO Panel

Reuters reported:

The World Health Organization said on Thursday its latest investigation into the origins of COVID-19 was inconclusive, largely because data from China is missing, another blow to its years-long effort to determine how the pandemic began.

The missing data, especially from China, where the first cases were reported in December 2019, meant it was not possible to identify exactly how the virus was first transmitted to humans.

The findings are likely to add to doubts it will be possible to determine how and where the virus emerged.

U.S. Has a ‘Very Serious’ Problem With COVID Vaccine Uptake

CNN World reported:

The United States has a “very serious” problem with COVID-19 vaccination uptake, a top health official has warned.

Unlike many less developed countries, the U.S. has enough doses to vaccinate everyone as well as the necessary infrastructure to support the rollout. The problem: not everyone wants the shot.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48.7% of people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated and received at least one booster dose in the U.S.

That is a lower rate than in other countries with similar access to vaccines. For example, 69.6% of people over the age of 12 have been boosted in the United Kingdom and 55.5% in Canada. Across the 27 European Union countries, 62.6% of adults have been boosted.

White House Expects COVID Vaccine Orders for Children Under 5 to Pick up

Reuters reported:

Pre-orders of vaccines for children under age 5 have been slow, but Biden administration senior officials say they are not alarmed and expect the pace to pick up after federal approvals later this month.

The administration expects vaccinations of young children to begin in earnest as early as June 21, if the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve the vaccines in separate meetings slated for next week, officials told reporters on Wednesday.

The vaccines will be distributed to pediatricians, children’s hospitals, local pharmacies and local health clinics, officials said. Thus far, 58% of the available 2.5 million Pfizer vaccines have been ordered and just 34% of the Moderna vaccines, officials said.

America Begins Rationing COVID Resources

Axios reported:

With existing pandemic funds dwindling and no new money from Congress in sight, the Biden administration is redistributing $10 billion from testing and other preparedness programs to ensure new COVID vaccines and existing treatments remain available this fall.

With Congress unwilling to approve new spending, the White House is making tough choices to avoid being caught short if new, more dangerous COVID variants emerge.

The Biden administration is redirecting $5 billion to purchase doses of updated versions of the vaccine for the fall.

Another $4.9 billion will be redirected to buy 10 million courses of Pfizer‘s Paxlovid oral antiviral treatment, while $300 million will be reallocated for more monoclonal antibody treatments, the official said.

Two New Omicron Subvariants Gain Ground in U.S.

U.S. News & World Report reported:

The Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are spreading rapidly in the United States, but it’s not yet clear if they’ll trigger a new wave of infections or a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, experts say.

The subvariants now account for 13% of new coronavirus cases nationwide, compared with 7.5% a week ago and 1% in early May, according to new estimates released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That suggests that BA.4 and BA.5 could outcompete two other Omicron subvariants, BA.2 and BA.2.12.1, which together account for most cases at the moment, according to Denis Nash, epidemiologist, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

WHO: COVID Cases and Deaths Falling Nearly Everywhere

Associated Press reported:

The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported globally fell everywhere last week except in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the continuing decline of COVID-19, which peaked in January, as “a very encouraging trend.” Still, he warned that the pandemic was not yet over and urged caution, even as many countries have dropped their coronavirus protocols and shifted into trying to live with the virus.