Overnight Health Care: Biden says US donation of 500 million vaccines will ‘supercharge’ global virus fight | Moderna asks FDA to clear COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents

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Today: Moderna filed for authorization to use its COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents. President Biden unveiled the details of the administration’s 500 million vaccine dose donation, and the CDC found childhood vaccinations dropped during the pandemic.

We’ll start with Biden:

Biden: US donation of 500 million vaccines will ‘supercharge’ global virus fight

President Biden on Thursday touted a U.S. donation of 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as a step to “supercharge” the global fight against the virus.

Biden, speaking in the United Kingdom at a meeting of G7 global leaders, made the formal announcement of the dose donation while standing next to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

“We’re taking a major step that will supercharge the global fight against this pandemic,” Biden said, saying the U.S. will be the “arsenal of vaccines” just as it was the “arsenal of democracy” during World War II.

The details: The first vaccines will begin shipping in August and 200 million will be available this year, the White House said, with the remaining 300 million in the first half of next year. The doses will go to 92 lower-income countries.

More still needed? The progressive group Public Citizen praised the announcement but said more needs to be done to boost global manufacturing of vaccines, not just donating doses made with the current capacity.

“The world needs urgent new manufacturing to produce billions more doses within a year, not just commitments to buy the planned inadequate supply,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program.

Read more here

FDA extends shelf life of J&J vaccine amid concern over expiring doses

Johnson & Johnson doses are not going to expire as soon as feared. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the shelf life of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by a month and a half, a move that helps ease concerns about doses that would soon expire. 

The FDA said the shelf life is now 4 1/2 months instead of three months. 

“The decision is based on data from ongoing stability assessment studies, which have demonstrated that the vaccine is stable at 4.5 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36 – 46 degrees Fahrenheit,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. 

The move comes after concern had grown about possibly expiring doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

For example, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Monday issued an “urgent appeal” to get more shots in arms, given that he said about 200,000 doses of the J&J vaccine in Ohio were set to expire on June 23. 

Read more here

Moderna asks FDA to clear COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents

Moderna on Thursday said it has filed a request with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its coronavirus vaccine in adolescents as young as 12 years old.

The emergency use authorization is expected to be granted, and would greatly expand the amount of vaccines available for students in middle and high school ahead of classes resuming in the fall. In the U.S., only adults can get the Moderna vaccine at this point. 

Moderna announced late last month that its two-dose vaccine was 100 percent effective among the nearly 2,500 adolescents who received it as part of a study in which more than 3,700 people were enrolled.

Timeline: The FDA examined the data from Pfizer-BioNTech for a little more than a month before granting the authorization, so Moderna is likely operating under the same timeline.

The FDA granted an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds last month, the first vaccine available to the age group. 

Why it’s important: Another authorized vaccine will help the vaccination effort for children as schools prepare to return to normalcy by reopening fully in the fall. Children also need to be vaccinated in order to raise the overall level of immunity in the country and lower the numbers of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Read more here

CDC: Significant drop in routine child, adolescent vaccinations early in pandemic

The CDC documented a significant drop in routine child and adolescent vaccinations across 10 jurisdictions in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, spurring concerns of potential outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

The study released Thursday calculated the median weekly percent decrease in vaccinations between March and May 2020, compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2018 and 2019. HPV vaccinations among 13- to 17-year-olds saw the largest drop with a median of 71.3 percent less shots in 2020 compared to the two previous years. 

Vaccinations did pick up between June and September 2020, once most state stay-at-home orders ended, but not at a high enough rate to make up for the drop off in the earlier months of the pandemic. 

What does it mean: The agency emphasized that more routine vaccinations will be needed as schools reopen for full in-person learning in order to stop vaccine-preventable diseases from spreading among children. 

The results prompted the researchers to call on health care providers to examine the vaccination status of all pediatric patients and get in touch with those who are behind schedule to get their shots. 

“This lag in catch-up vaccination might pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in schools that have reopened for in-person learning,” the research said. 

Read more here.

US death rates from heart disease, diabetes see largest increases in more than 20 years

U.S. death rates in 2020 for heart disease and diabetes tracked their highest increases in more than 20 years amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that the rate of heart disease deaths, which has been on the decline long-term, jumped by more than 3 percent, increasing from 161.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2019 to 167 deaths per 100,000, according to new CDC data. 

In raw numbers, according to the AP, that spike is equivalent to 32,000 more heart disease deaths in 2020 than in 2019.

The death rate for diabetes tracked a 14 percent increase, climbing from 21.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2019 to 24.6 per the same population last year, amounting to 13,000 more diabetes deaths last year than the previous year.

Other increases: Death rates jumped by 8 percent for Alzheimer’s, 11 percent for Parkinson’s, 12 percent for high blood pressure and 4 percent for strokes.

Experts’ take: Experts are now saying that the spike in death rates for non-coronavirus diseases may be attributed to people not wanting to visit hospitals, despite experiencing dangerous symptoms, amid the pandemic out of fear of contracting the virus, the AP reported.

Another potential theory for the spike in death rates for these diseases is because some patients may have stopped taking care of themselves during COVID-19 lockdowns, including exercising less, gaining weight or cutting back on high blood pressure medications.

Read more here.

What we’re reading

The C.D.C.’s new leader follows the science. Is that enough? (The New York Times) 

FDA accuses company of distributing unapproved Covid test and using falsified data (STAT)

Republicans rebel against a powerful anti-opioid tool (Politico)

Labor Department issues emergency rules to protect health care workers from Covid (Kaiser Health News)

State by state

Lawmakers pressure Newsom to ‘step up’ on racism as a public health issue (Kaiser Health News)

As coronavirus pandemic winds down, demand for psychiatric beds in Maryland remains stubbornly high (The Baltimore Sun)

Outside Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, a Black activist ensures women are not alone (NBC News)

Op-eds in The Hill 

Congress must close the Medicaid coverage gap once and for all

EPA must act on lead exposure that has poisoned Americans for too long

Tags Joe Biden Mike DeWine
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