Coronavirus update: Drug firms seek to vaccinate very young children

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Airlines want to end pre-travel testing

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 84,449,947 (84,218,910)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,007,719 (1,007,059)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 531,567,231 (530,201,825)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,297,253 (6,293,029)‌

Vaccine approval requested for very young children

Pfizer and BioNTech say they will ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clear their COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of six months and four years, the only age group not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

An FDA advisory committee will consider the request. After analyzing data from clinical trials, it will make a recommendation to the FDA before the end of this month.

The FDA could give its approval for doses of the vaccine for the age group within days of a positive recommendation from the committee. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would also need to give the green light, as the agency has done for all other age groups.

Airlines push for an end to pre-travel testing

Travel industry officials used a meeting this week at the White House to press the Biden administration to end the requirement that vaccinated international travelers take a COVID-19 test before leaving for U.S. destinations.

Airline trade group Airlines for America pressed its case, arguing that the requirement no longer matches the current threat from the coronavirus. The group also claimed that the requirement is reducing international travel and hurting the U.S. economy.

"Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the U.S.," Airlines for America CEO Nick Calio said in a statement.

Dogs can sniff out COVID-19, researchers say

When a COVID-19 test isn’t readily available, maybe your dog can tell if you have the virus. It’s not a farfetched idea, researchers say.

A study published in the journal Plos One presents evidence that dogs can be trained to detect the coronavirus in humans. The dogs tested in the research accurately identified 97% of positive cases after sniffing human sweat samples. Researchers say that’s more accurate than some rapid antigen tests currently in use.

Previous research has suggested that dogs can detect the presence of some other diseases, such as cancer.

Around the nation

  • Michigan: State health officials are reporting a sharp drop in new COVID-19 cases. Last week, there were 73 outbreaks, down from 120 the previous week.  But doctors are still concerned about schools.  The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 16 of the outbreaks were at K-12 schools.

  • Ohio: Statistics from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) show a 22.1% increase in alcohol-related death from 2019 to 2020, and health officials attribute it to the effects of the pandemic. The 2021 numbers are still preliminary, but officials say it appears that the upward trend is continuing.

  • Florida: Cases are rising across the state, driven largely by the proliferating Omicron subvariants. The CDC has placed nine Florida counties — including the Tampa Bay and South Florida regions — in the high risk for COVID-19 transmission category.

  • California: The surge in new COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron subvariants hasn’t resulted in much of an increase in hospitalizations – until now. Health officials say hospitalizations have spiked across the state in the last week; in San Francisco, they have doubled over the course of the last month.

  • Texas: State employment officials report that COVID-19 has increased employee benefit costs. They say the number of workers’ compensation claims reported to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) increased 20% during the first 27 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the claims involve corrections officers and first responders.

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