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Coronavirus update: FDA committee greenlights Moderna vaccine for kids

New blood test may reveal how COVID-19 immunity works

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 85,763,130 (85,633,278)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,011,926 (1,011,545)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 536,747,070 (536,003,693)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,312,635 (6,310,809)‌

FDA committee okays Moderna vaccine for kids

As expected, an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens ages six to 17. In fact, there wasn't a single dissenting vote.

The FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has already authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people age five and older. Both agencies are expected to follow the committee’s recommendation.

"I'd like to give parents as many choices as possible and let them make the decisions about this for their children," said committee member Dr. Arthur Reingold, a professor at the University of California. 

Blood test could tell how much immunity you have against COVID-19

A new study could shed light on why some people exposed to COVID-19 become infected while others do not. Scientists say they have developed a blood test that measures the body’s immune response.

The test focuses on the part of the immune system that provides long-term protection by helping the body to "remember" the virus so that it combats it when needed. Scientists say it could help them understand why the virus isn't uniform in the way it affects people.

"Ideally, it will give you a full picture of where you stand and a comprehensive picture of your immune protection," Ernesto Guccione, one of the authors, told NBC News.

Omicron hit rural areas harder than cities, study finds

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 spread like wildfire in late 2021, but a new study found it caused more negative outcomes in rural areas of America than in cities. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say this is likely due to fewer people being vaccinated in rural counties.

The study found that counties with vaccination rates below 40% had far higher mortality rates than counties with vaccination rates of 60% or more. The study recommended that health policymakers continue to make vaccination coverage a priority.

“It is our hope this information might be useful for decision-makers for future public health campaigns and approaches to address pandemics,” said co-author Neil MacKinnon.

Around the nation

  • Maine: A videographer working for MaineHealth has won an Emmy award after producing a short film capturing the anxiety and fatigue of Maine Medical Center nurses treating unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in the Portland hospital’s intensive care unit. The footage was shot last August, during a surge in the more severe Delta variant.

  • Michigan: The Michigan State Medical Society has issued a statement urging people who test positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent symptoms from worsening. The Michigan COVID-19 website includes a locator that helps those who test positive find locations for treatment.

  • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia County leads the state in the number of new cases per population of 100,000. The county logged 354 cases per 100,000 people in the most recent accounting, a nearly 1,300% increase from the previous week. Allegheny and Monroe counties rank second and third, respectively.

  • Colorado: Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment will close 48 COVID-19 testing sites at the end of the month as part of a plan to normalize the treatment of the virus. However, the move comes as cases have risen in the state — along with hospitalizations.

  • Oregon: A rise in new COVID-19 cases has placed  Lane, Douglas and Jackson counties back into the CDC-designated “high” category for transmission. The Oregon Health Authority has counted an average of 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day across the state over the last week.

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