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White House Tells States to Prepare for COVID Vaccinations in Young Children

NBC News reported:

The White House told governors to start preparing to vaccinate children as young as 5 by early next month in anticipation of clearance of Pfizer‘s COVID vaccine for the age group in the coming weeks, a White House official said.

The Biden administration has purchased 65 million pediatric doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough to vaccinate the estimated 28 million children who would be eligible should the Food and Drug Administration approve Pfizer’s request to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11, said an official of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Saliva Test May Predict COVID Severity Among Children, Penn State Research Finds

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

A simple saliva test may be able to determine which children are at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to early research findings by doctors at Pennsylvania State University.

While the vast majority of children who contract the virus experience only mild symptoms or none at all, early identification of those who are at risk of developing severe cases would help doctors better monitor and intervene before children become critically ill, said Steven Hicks, a pediatrician at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and coauthor of the study.

‘Major Step Forward’ in COVID Fight as ‘Highly Potent’ Antibody Found to Eliminate Virus

Daily Express reported:

The stunning breakthrough was made by researchers at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). They discovered a “highly potent” monoclonal antibody that targets the spike protein of the disease and is “effective at neutralising all variants of concern.” Their findings are published in the prestigious journal Cell Reports.

Antibodies are specialised, Y-shaped proteins released by the immune system like a lock-and-key to the body’s foreign invaders.

This newly discovered antibody is said to be “one of the most powerful” identified so far.

FDA Grapples With Timing of Booster for J&J COVID Vaccine

Associated Press reported:

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it is wrestling with whether and when recipients of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine need another dose — at six months or as early as two months.

In an online review, FDA scientists didn’t reach a firm conclusion, citing shortcomings with J&J’s data, including little information on protection against the extra-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

44,400 Breakthrough Cases Recorded in Indiana; 420 Fully Vaccinated Residents Have Died

International Business Times reported:

Nearly 45,000 people in Indiana have been infected with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, with more than 400 dying from the virus, according to the state’s health department.

In the latest data published Thursday, 44,479 breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic — 5,303 more cases since the update on Sept. 30. The total number of cases represents 1.348% of the state’s fully vaccinated population.

China to Test Thousands of Wuhan Blood Samples in COVID Probe

CNN reported:

China is preparing to test tens of thousands of blood bank samples from the city of Wuhan as part of a probe into the origins of COVID-19, according to a Chinese official. The move comes amid increasing calls for transparency over the emergence of the virus.

The store of up to 200,000 samples, including those from the closing months of 2019 were pinpointed in February this year by the World Health Organization’s panel of investigators as a possible source of key information that could help determine when and where the virus first crossed into humans.

The samples are kept in the Wuhan Blood Center, and are thought to span 2019, providing real-time tissue samples from a wide swathe of the population in the Chinese city where SARS-CoV-2 is thought to have first infected humans.

Nearly 45,000 Breakthrough COVID Cases Reported in Mass. Since July

NBC Boston News reported:

Nearly 45,000 fully vaccinated Massachusetts residents have now tested positive for COVID-19 and 345 of them have died, according to the latest state data on breakthrough cases published Tuesday.

The Department of Public Health has tracked a cumulative 44,498 confirmed COVID-19 infections among those fully vaccinated in the state to date.

Watch: Merck’s COVID Pill Could Transform Treatment. Here’s How It Works

STAT News reported:

Earlier this month, study results showed that molnupiravir, Merck’s investigational antiviral pill, cut hospitalization rates of COVID-19 patients by about half. Molnupiravir is the first oral treatment that has shown promise in treating COVID-19. Another antiviral, remdesivir, can only be administered intravenously.

“Having an oral option will be a big change,” said Benjamin Gewurz, associate director of the Ph.D. program in virology at Harvard Medical School. “Some people could just take a pill rather than having an IV or injection of some sort. And that’s what would be a huge, huge advance.”

Virginia Teen Claims She Received 6 Doses of Pfizer Vaccine

NBC News 12 reported:

A teenage girl from Salem claims she received six doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a CVS pharmacy.

NBC affiliate WSLS reports that Ellaica Desdura was getting the vaccine so she could travel to the Philippines. But when she was getting the shot, she told WSLS that she was given the full vial of the Pfizer vaccine.

The incident led to EMS crews being called to the scene. The family told WSLS that Ellaica did not go to the hospital but experienced arm swelling, irregular heart rate and nausea.

WHO Announces New Expert Group to Investigate Origins of COVID and Other Outbreaks

The Washington Post via MSN reported:

The World Health Organization on Wednesday named 26 scientists to a new advisory body devoted to understanding the origins of COVID-19 and other future outbreaks, marking a change in approach for the world’s top global health body to one of the most politically sensitive issues of a pandemic that has killed more than 4.8 million people.

The group includes scientists from the United States and China, as well as 24 other nations, and will be formalized after a brief period of public consultation. It is set to consider not only the big, unresolved question of the novel coronavirus — how did it first infect humans? — but it will also establish a framework for future outbreaks involving other pathogens so that similar big questions are not left unresolved again.