Overnight Health Care: Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine is 100 percent effective in 12- to 17-year-olds | US achieves full vaccinations for half of adults | Trump on Wuhan lab: Now everyone agrees ‘I was right’
Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. It seemed like a novel approach, but Ohio’s idea for a vaccine lottery is catching on. Colorado officially jumped on the bandwagon today, and the White House officially endorsed the idea. Seems like the possibility of winning lots of money is a great incentive.
Today: Another coronavirus vaccine for adolescents could soon be available. Meanwhile, half of all eligible adults are fully vaccinated, the CDC has new data on breakthrough infections, and former President Trump took a victory lap on the Wuhan lab theory.
We’ll start with Moderna:
Moderna moves closer to offering vaccine to 12- to 17-year-olds
Moderna announced on Tuesday that studies had found that its COVID-19 vaccine was 100 percent effective at stopping infection in adolescents aged 12 to 17.
The company intends to submit its data for the age group to global regulators, including the FDA, in early June.
The studies included 3,732 participants aged 12 to 17 and no cases of COVID-19 were found in any vaccinated participants. “No significant safety concerns” were identified.
The vaccine was 93 percent effective after the first dose and 100 percent effective after the second.
“We are encouraged that mRNA-1273 was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 in adolescents,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “It is particularly exciting to see that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
What this means: FDA’s emergency authorization for Moderna to be given to 12- to 17-year-olds would open up more opportunities for older students to get vaccinated before the next school year starts. The FDA has already granted emergency authorization for the Moderna vaccine to be given to those 18 and older and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be given to those 12 and older. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech received the emergency authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds about two weeks ago, after the FDA permitted it to be given to those 16 and older in December.
US achieves full vaccinations for half of adults
CDC data showed the U.S. reached a huge milestone with its COVID-19 vaccination effort on Tuesday, with half of the nation’s adults being considered fully vaccinated.
Fifty percent, or more than 129 million, of Americans 18 and older are considered fully vaccinated.
A person is considered fully vaccinated in the U.S. two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after receiving the only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
What’s next: President Biden’s next target is to ensure that 70 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine by the Fourth of July. Tuesday’s data shows 61.6 percent of adults, amounting to more than 158 million, have received at least one dose.
The U.S. is also nearing half of its total population having received at least one dose of the vaccine, as Tuesday’s data shows 49.5 percent of Americans have reached this point.
But vaccinations have slowed in recent weeks after the most eager recipients received their vaccines, prompting states to institute incentives, including lotteries, to encourage unvaccinated people to get their shots.
CDC identifies only 10,000 COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated, but likely an undercount
More than 10,000 fully vaccinated people in the U.S. have experienced a “breakthrough” COVID-19 infection, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study.
According to the CDC, a total of 10,262 vaccine breakthrough infections had been reported from 46 U.S. states and territories as of April 30, out of the approximately 101 million people who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the time.
The agency noted, however, that the breakthrough number in the report is likely a substantial undercount.
State health departments voluntarily report vaccine breakthrough infections to the CDC, and people voluntarily report infections to states, so the data might not be complete or representative.
Many people with vaccine breakthrough infections, especially those who are asymptomatic or who experience mild illness, might not seek testing, CDC said.
Going forward, the CDC is limiting the monitoring of people who have been infected while vaccinated. The agency is only sequencing a limited number of the cases, which has drawn concern from scientists. CDC said only 5 percent of breakthrough cases were sequenced.
In addition, beginning May 1 the CDC shifted from monitoring all reported breakthroughs to only those that result in hospitalization or death. The agency said the narrowed focus means only the cases of “highest clinical and public health significance” get reported.
Why it matters: Tracking and sequencing help identify who might be more at risk, and whether certain variants can escape the vaccine’s neutralizing effects. Scientists have questioned the benefit of limiting surveillance, when casting a wider net would likely be more beneficial.
Trump on Wuhan lab: Now everyone agrees ‘I was right’
Former President Trump on Tuesday took a victory lap for his assertion that the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, and defended using the term “Chinese virus,” which has been criticized as racist and blamed in part for a spike in violence against Asian Americans.
“Now everybody is agreeing that I was right when I very early on called Wuhan as the source of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus,” Trump said in a statement.
Top U.S. public health officials and experts are increasingly lending credibility to the need for a deeper investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, but so far there is no definitive proof the virus leaked from a lab.
Experts and officials have also noted that even if the virus escaped from a lab, that doesn’t mean it was manufactured in one.
Still, Trump says he’s vindicated.
“To me it was obvious from the beginning but I was badly criticized, as usual. Now they are all saying ‘He was right.’ Thank you!” Trump added.
Keeps using that term: The World Health Organization last February urged people to avoid terms like the “Wuhan virus” or the “Chinese virus,” fearing it could spike a backlash against Asians.
Trump never followed that advice though, and researchers have found his tweets led to an increase in anti-Asian backlash. Last week, he was sued by a civil rights group for calling COVID-19 the “China virus.”
Senate confirms Biden pick to lead Medicare, Medicaid office
The Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm President Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who will be the first Black woman to hold the key health policy position.
In a 55-44 vote, the upper chamber approved Brooks-LaSure as the CMS administrator, where she will oversee the Biden administration’s goals of expanding the Affordable Care Act.
Her confirmation brings another Obama-era official into Biden’s administration. Brooks-LaSure served in the former president’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Five Republicans joined Democrats in supporting Brooks-LaSure’s confirmation: Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
Follows: The confirmation came after GOP lawmakers had opposed her nomination following the Biden administration’s decision to rescind Texas’s Medicaid waiver previously granted by the Trump administration.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced last month that he would place a hold on Brooks-LaSure’s nomination, saying the Biden administration “decided to play political chicken with uninsured Texans’ healthcare.”
Brooks-LaSure had not been confirmed when the Medicaid waiver was rescinded, so she had not participated in the decision.
What we’re reading
Pandemic leads doctors to rethink unnecessary treatment (Kaiser Health News)
Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible (The Washington Post)
Healthiest states in the U.S. during the 2020 pandemic were in the Northeast (NBC News)
State by state
Colorado Children’s Hospital declares ‘state of emergency’ for pediatric mental health (Fort Collins Coloradoan)
Nevada’s vaccination rollout struggled to reach Latinos — until local organizers stepped in (NBC News)
After citing privacy law, Pa. backtracks and discloses wasted vaccine details (Spotlight PA)
Op-eds in The Hill