Coronavirus update: Moderna vaccine gets full FDA approval

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Athletes at the Winter Olympics are testing positive for COVID-19

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 74,943,410 (73,429,392)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 887,408 (884,265)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 379,460,051 (375,465,073)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,677,734 (5,665,888)‌

FDA fully approves Moderna vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after reviewing data, has granted full approval to Moderna’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19. It joins the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech as the two FDA-approved vaccines.

Previously, both vaccines were administered under the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EAU). The Moderna vaccine will be marketed under the brand name Spikevax.

“The FDA’s approval of Spikevax is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the second vaccine approved to prevent COVID-19,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock. “The public can be assured that Spikevax meets the FDA’s high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality required of any vaccine approved for use in the United States.” 

COVID-19 shows up at the Winter Olympics

The coronavirus had an impact on last summer’s Olympic Games in Japan and promises to do the same at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. A third member of the U.S. bobsled team has tested positive for COVID-19.

Elana Meyers Taylor announced on Twitter that she tested positive for COVID-19 two days after arriving in the Chinese capital. Josh Williamson, another U.S. bobsledder, announced that he also tested positive for the virus last week.

A spokesperson for the team said one other unidentified team member has also tested positive, but team officials expect all three will be able to compete during the games when they get underway later this week.

Former CDC chief optimistic about pandemic’s end

January was a rough month for COVID-19, mainly because of the easily spread Omicron variant. But the wave appears to have peaked at the start of February. Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says he is increasingly optimistic that the end is in sight.

“Despite growing pandemic fatigue and rough weeks ahead as the Omicron tsunami recedes, we're better defended against COVID than ever,” Frieden wrote in an editorial on “Vaccines and prior infection have steadily strengthened our collective immune defenses. We have now built up a wall of immunity -- although we have lost far, far too many people along the way to get here.”

Frieden says an analysis of blood donations in November showed that about 94% of donors had at least some immunity against the virus. He also notes that the rate of coronavirus-associated hospitalization was 16 times higher in unvaccinated adults than among adults who were up to date on vaccination in December.

Around the nation

  • Louisiana: New Orleans will be the nation’s first major school district to require COVID-19 vaccinations. The regulations mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for children age five and up, but they also make it easy for parents to opt out.

  • Nebraska: Hospitals in Lincoln recorded six deaths on Monday. The deaths include two men in their 60s who were vaccinated, one man in his 60s who was unvaccinated, one man in his 70s who was unvaccinated, and two men in their 80s who were unvaccinated. 

  • Massachusetts: State health and education officials are urging colleges in the state to consider loosening COVID-19 restrictions. After two years of social isolation, the officials say there is greater concern now about students’ mental health than their exposure to the virus.

  • Colorado: After being battered by the Omicron variant, Colorado health officials say the state is seeing new cases rapidly decline. Hospitalizations of confirmed coronavirus patients fell to 1,300 on Monday. That's the lowest number in almost a month, officials say.

  • New Jersey: State health officials say they saw the most COVID-19 deaths since the early weeks of the pandemic in January. The state recorded 2,380 confirmed deaths last month, the most since May 2020.

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