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Coronavirus update: FDA ready to consider second booster

The U.S. 28-day infection rate is still falling

Young girl receiving COVID-19 booster
Photo (c) Ratiger - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 79,735,691 (79,732,549)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 971,198 (970,116)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 470,949,009 (469,983,184)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,078,815 (6,076,070)‌

FDA to consider second booster shot

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced plans to convene its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on April 6 to consider whether Americans need a second booster shot against COVID-19. Both Moderna and the partnership team of Pfizer and BioNTech made formal applications to the FDA last week.

The agency said the group will discuss considerations for future COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and the process for selecting specific strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for COVID-19 vaccines to address. Officials from other federal health agencies will also participate.

"As we prepare for future needs to address COVID-19, prevention in the form of vaccines remains our best defense against the disease and any potentially severe consequences," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "Now is the time to discuss the need for future boosters as we aim to move forward safely, with COVID-19 becoming a virus like others, such as influenza. 

U.S. 28-day infection rates still falling

For much of the last two years, the U.S. has led the world in the total number of coronavirus cases -- and in fact, it still does. But Johns Hopkins University now ranks nations by the number of cases recorded in the last 28 days. Using that metric, 10 nations are ahead of the U.S with more new cases.

South Korea leads the world in 28-day cases with 7.5 million. Vietnam and Germany are next with 5.1 million cases each.

The U.S. now ranks 11th in the world over the last 28 days, just behind Italy. By the latest count, the U.S. has recorded just 1.2 million cases over the last four weeks. 

Vaccine makers see falling demand, crowded market

Moderna and the partnership team of Pfizer and BioNTech were the first out of the gate with COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., and they were soon followed by Johnson & Johnson. But that hasn’t stopped other drug manufacturers from working on vaccines of their own.

Novavax and a partnership featuring Sanofi and GSK are the latest to finalize testing of their own vaccines. Meanwhile, millions of Americans have been vaccinated and the virus appears to be in retreat in much of the country.

“We think there’s likely going to be long-term ongoing demand for Covid vaccines, for boosters at least,” Matt Linley, analytics director for Airfinity, a London-based health analytics company, told the medical publication STAT. “But it will be a lot smaller than it is. We believe it’s kind of peaked.”

Around the nation

  • Illinois: Federal health officials report that all 102 Illinois counties are listed as having a low level of community transmission. That’s a significant improvement from two weeks ago when one-third of Illinois counties were listed as having a medium or high level of community transmission.

  • Massachusetts: While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are steadily declining, that’s not the case in the state’s deer population. A federal study has found that the virus is present in about 15% of the state’s whitetail deer population. Deer-to-human transmission has only been confirmed in one case so far.

  • Oklahoma: There appears to be a discrepancy in federal and state accounting of Oklahoma nursing home deaths from COVID-19. A comparison of federal data with state health department reports shows that the state has records of 512 fewer deaths, a gap of 27%.

  • Utah: In another sign that COVID-19 cases are rapidly declining, the Utah National Guard's COVID-19 Joint Task Force has announced it is ending its support after being on the ground at hospitals around the state for two years. Guard officials say the decision is based on declining needs.

  • Virginia: An update from federal health officials shows that only four localities in the state have high enough transmission rates to warrant the continued wearing of masks in indoor public spaces. All four of the regions are in rural Southwest Virginia.

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