Coronavirus update: FDA experts approve shots for young children

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Merck is sending COVID-19 treatment pills to poor nations

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 45,638,297 (45,558,326)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 739,254 (737,615)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 244,800,062 (244,264,890)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,967,907 (4,959,865)‌

FDA panel greenlights vaccine for kids

A panel of health experts advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Pfizer’s vaccine for children as young as five. The group made its recommendation late Tuesday after reviewing clinical trial data.

The decision is now up to the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both agencies typically go along with the recommendations of their advisory committees.

Members of the FDA advisory committee said the clinical trial data shows that the Pfizer vaccine provides a strong defense against COVID-19 and "effectively neutralized the Delta variant" in young children.

Merck will make its pill available to poor countries

Poor nations around the world have struggled to vaccinate their populations. Merck, which recently announced details of a pill that has shown effectiveness in treating COVID-19 cases, says it will make quantities of the treatment pills available to nations that are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

The company announced the signing of a voluntary licensing agreement to facilitate affordable global access for molnupiravir, an investigational oral COVID-19 antiviral medicine for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

“Merck’s mission to save and improve lives is a truly global commitment,” said Frank Clyburn, executive vice president and president of Human Health at Merck. “This another important element in our multi-faceted strategy to accelerate broad, affordable access to molnupiravir, if approved or authorized, for patients no matter where they live.

CDC: Some people may need a fourth shot

While Americans are just beginning to roll up their sleeves for a booster shot, health officials at the CDC are contemplating the need for some people to get a fourth shot. Updated CDC guidance issued this week said some people with certain health conditions that make them moderately or severely immunocompromised may get a fourth mRNA COVID-19 shot.

The CDC has already authorized a third dose for certain immunocompromised people who are 18 and older. The agency said a third dose instead of a booster is necessary to bolster these consumers’ immune systems.

The CDC reports that a number of small studies have shown that fully vaccinated immunocompromised people made up nearly 44% of the breakthrough cases that required hospitalization.

Around the nation

  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis is denying published reports that Florida is trying to recruit unvaccinated police officers from states that have vaccination mandates and are in danger of losing their jobs. However, he acknowledges that the state is seeking officers from northern states to fill vacancies in the state police.

  • Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced that the state is ending its COVID-19 mask mandate. It’s the first state to roll back a mask mandate that was enacted during the summer’s Delta variant outbreak. Edwards said he believes the virus surge in his state is over.

  • Minnesota: Gov. Tim Walz did a little bragging about his state on Tuesday, noting that Minnesota currently ranks third in the nation for adults who have completed their initial COVID-19 vaccination series, in addition to a booster shot. Walz made his remarks during a photo op, where he received his booster shot.

  • Oregon: Officials say 203 state employees have been placed on paid administrative leave for failing to be fully vaccinated by the mandate deadline. The employees are spread across a number of state agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and State Police.

  • New Mexico: Health officials report that cases are still rising across the state, even as the numbers fall in other states around the country. The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed 2,335 new cases around the state over the weekend, as well as 15 deaths.

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