Coronavirus update: U.S. buys more COVID-19 treatments, jabs for kids could come this fall

Photo (c) Ovidiu Dugulan - Getty Images

Scientists aren’t unanimous regarding the need for boosters

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 41,371,382 (41,223,899)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 664,019 (662,262)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 225,988,972 (225,389,505)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,652,516 (4,642,054)‌

U.S. stocks up on COVID-19 treatments

As it encourages more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the U.S. government is taking steps to treat those with the virus. The government is purchasing 388,000 doses of Eli Lilly’s antibody therapy and 1.4 million more doses of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail.

"The recent increase in COVID-19 cases has caused a substantial rise in the utilization of monoclonal antibody drugs, particularly in areas of the country with low vaccination rates," Lilly's chief scientific and medical officer Daniel Skovronsky told Reuters.

The purchases by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are a response to the continuing wave of new cases of the virus, caused primarily by the Delta variant.

Vaccination for kids may come sooner than expected

Many of the new cases of the coronavirus are among young children, which isn't surprising — children under 12 aren't yet eligible to receive the vaccine.

That may be about to change. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, believes that approval to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11 could come this fall as clinical trials are evaluated.

"If you look at the studies that we at the National Institutes of Health are doing in collaboration with the pharmaceutical companies, there will be enough data to apply for an emergency use authorization both by Pfizer, a little bit later by Moderna," Fauci said.

Mixed views on booster shots

Many vaccinated Americans are making plans to get a COVID-19 booster shot. Some have already gotten one. But the scientific jury is still out on when or if a booster is necessary.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel meets later this week to discuss booster shots, and Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, told CNN he expects spirited debate.

Earlier this week two FDA staffers, who were expressing frustration with President Biden’s announcement last month that the administration would launch a booster program, publicly questioned the need for booster shots. They co-authored an article saying the data does not appear to support a need for booster shots for the general public right now.

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: Another 1,500 New Jersey residents are projected to die of COVID-19 by December, according to a statistical model that has proved accurate in the past. And that’s if public masking and other mitigation steps are observed. Without those steps, the model predicts the death toll could double.

  • Kentucky: Six of the state’s 120 counties are in the top 10 in the nation when it comes to new cases of the virus. Perry County ranks number one in the nation. “COVID is as bad in Kentucky as it has ever been in this pandemic,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Right now, sadly, we are one of the hottest states in the country.”

  • Maine: The state’s COVID-19 patients are getting younger. State officials reported this week that people under 20 years old accounted for nearly half of the 667 new COVID-19 cases. That’s a big change from the early days of the pandemic and a significant increase from earlier this summer.

  • Nevada: State health officials report mixed COVID-19 news. The rate of positive test results has declined sharply this week. At the same time, the number of active cases remains high.  Nevada’s 26 deaths last week included 19 from the Las Vegas area.

  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis is not letting up in his campaign against mask and vaccination mandates. The governor this week threatened to fine local governments that require employees to be vaccinated. An appeals court recently upheld DeSantis’ order banning mask mandates at public schools.

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