The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said a booster dose of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine enhanced virus-fighting antibodies, while maintaining an ambivalent tone about whether a third dose is currently needed.The agency’s review came just after Moderna submitted to the FDA a briefing suggesting that a booster of its vaccine could protect against breakthrough infections from the delta variant.The FDA is scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday, when independent experts will advise the agency on questions about booster shots’ safety and effectiveness, as well as whether people can safely take a booster made by a company different from their original shot.U.S.coronavirus cases tracker and map Here’s what to know When the World Health Organization gave its backing to two coronavirus vaccines produced by Chinese companies early this year, global health experts greeted the move as a much-needed boost to international vaccine supply.As of last month, China has exported 1.2 billion doses of vaccines, largely made by Sinopharm and Sinovac, according to the Foreign Ministry.But this week, a new WHO decision has cast fresh doubt on the continued efficacy of these new tools for many millions who had received them.This means people who had received two doses of either Sinopharm and Sinovac could seek third doses, potentially of another vaccine, constraining an already limited global supply.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Texas Gov.Greg Abbott bans all coronavirus vaccination mandates, including for private businesses By Andrew Jeong and Felicia Sonmez 3:16 p.m.Link copied Link
Greg Abbott (R) on Monday banned any entity in his state — including private businesses — from mandating coronavirus vaccinations for workers or customers, expanding prior executive orders from his office that prohibited state government entities from imposing similar requirements.Abbott’s move puts him at odds with some large companies that have embraced mandates and the Biden administration, which last month announced plans to require all employers with 100 or more workers to adopt vaccination mandates or coronavirus testing regimens.On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki attributed Abbott’s decision to “politics.”“I think it’s pretty clear when you make a choice that’s against all public health information and data out there that it’s not based on what is in the interests of the people you are governing,” she told reporters.“It’s perhaps in the interests of your own politics.”
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement British government’s early pandemic response was a historic public health failure, lawmakers say By Annabelle Timsit 2:45 p.m.
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British lawmakers have issued a scathing report about the government’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic, calling the episode “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced.”The report was the result of a year-long inquiry conducted by two committees of the House of Commons.In 150 pages, it lists dozens of failures on the part of the British government that “led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided” — including insufficient community testing capacity, an inadequate test-and-trace system, an unwillingness to challenge scientific advice, and placing too much emphasis on avoiding lockdowns.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement FDA review finds Moderna’s booster dose of its coronavirus vaccine strengthens disease-fighting response By Carolyn Y.Johnson 2:15 p.m.Link copied Link
A Food and Drug Administration review released Tuesday found that a booster shot of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine enhanced virus-fighting antibodies in people who had received the standard two-dose regimen at least six months earlier.The document, like a previous review of evidence for a booster of Pfizer-BioNTech, struck an ambivalent tone about whether boosters are needed now.FDA reviewers noted that a half-dose booster shot of the Moderna vaccine topped off the level of antibodies, the most easily measurable barometer of immunity.But they also pointed out that the utility of a booster will depend on factors that are unclear at this moment — such as whether the protection of initial vaccination has dropped substantially.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Judge continues to prohibit New York state from banning religious exemptions to vaccine mandate By Marisa Iati 1:55 p.m.
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New York state must keep letting health-care workers request religious exemptions from its coronavirus vaccine mandate as a lawsuit filed by 17 medical professionals proceeds, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.Judge David Hurd already had issued a temporary restraining order last month, barring the state from enforcing its policy that employers deny all religious-exemption requests.Hurd’s new order, a preliminary injunction, continues the ban.The state’s decision not to allow faith-based exemptions “conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’ federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers,” wrote Hurd, of the Northern District of New York.He said the health-care workers had shown that they would face “irreparable harm” without the opportunity to request exemptions.In response, Gov.Kathy Hochul (D) vowed to continue pursuing a ban on religious exemptions.“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” she said in a statement.
“I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”New York required all workers in hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated by Sept.27.While most employees complied, the mandate also spurred lawsuits and protests .Northwell Health, the state’s largest health-care provider, fired or accepted the resignations of 1,400 employees who refused vaccination.
Key update Key coronavirus updates from around the world By Annabelle Timsit 1:43 p.m.Link copied Link
Here’s what to know about the top coronavirus stories around the globe from news service reports.
A sports radio personality in South Carolina said in a video posted on Twitter late Monday that he was fired after refusing to adhere to a vaccine mandate issued by his employer.Tim Hill, a host of “The Game” show on 107.5 FM WNKT in Columbia, said he had requested a religious exemption but was denied by the parent company of the station, Cumulus Media.“Never thought it would come to this and am pretty sad,” he said on his Twitter video.“I would never tell anyone they had to be vaccinated or unvaccinated.I feel like this is a very personal choice.”Cumulus had ordered its employees to get their shots by late September to allow the return of most of its workforce to the office by this week.Hill’s last show was Friday.
Cumulus did not immediately reply to a request for comment.Hill is a devout Catholic, according to the State , a Columbia-based newspaper affiliated with McClatchy.Catholic groups in the United States, including the Catholic Medical Association based in Pennsylvania, have spoken out against vaccine mandates but have urged people who choose not to be immunized to do their utmost to avoid becoming spreaders of the coronavirus.The Vatican itself, though, has ordered a de facto vaccine mandate, requiring all visitors — lay and religious — to show proof they have received at least one dose of the vaccine, tested negative or have recovered from covid-19.Hill said he had offered to use his own microphone during shows and install an air filtration system at the station, the State reported.“If you have a sincerely held religious belief, then it becomes a matter of reasonable accommodation,” Hill told the State.“They said they couldn’t reasonably accommodate me.I offered to wear a mask or do the show from where our producer does it, or from home.
They thought none of that was reasonable.”
Pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday reiterated their requests for booster doses of their coronavirus vaccines in briefing documents filed with the Food and Drug Administration.Moderna recommended a booster for older adults, high-risk adults and people whose jobs heighten their chances of exposure.The company said the booster, to be given at least six months after completing Moderna’s initial two-dose regimen, is particularly meant to prevent vaccinated people from experiencing breakthrough infections from the delta variant.Johnson & Johnson recommended a booster dose for adults to be given at least six months after the company’s initial shot, although it said the booster could be given as soon as two months later.
The booster is intended to increase protection against current and future variants, Johnson & Johnson said.The FDA is expected to release its first independent analysis of the companies’ data in advance of a two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday, when independent experts will advise the agency on an array of questions related to boosters.They will also consider data from a National Institutes of Health trial that tests mixing and matching boosters, which could simplify boosting.
On a recent morning in October, social studies teacher Randy Martin swept back his long hair, adjusted his mask and posed a question to the roomful of masked eighth-graders facing him in a classroom tucked among the foothills of New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains.“Who,” he said, “thinks it’s worth being back at in-person school?”Sixteen hands shot up: the majority of Martin’s 25-person class at Desert Ridge Middle School in Albuquerque.The class then launched into a lengthy argument over the merits of bricks-and-mortar vs.virtual schooling — par for the course on a “Modern Monday,” a day that Martin always sets aside for debating current events.In that moment, Martin and his middle-schoolers seemed confident that the world of virtual learning was a world they had left behind.And for the vast majority of American schoolchildren in this unusual academic year, that’s true — at least for now.
Allen West, Republican running for Texas governor, released from hospital after covid-19 diagnosis By Annabelle Timsit and Rachel Pannett 8:04 a.m.
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Allen West, a former Republican congressman from Florida, said Monday he was released from a hospital in Texas after being admitted Saturday with covid-19 and worrisome oxygen saturation levels.West, a tea party firebrand who is seeking the Republican nomination in the Texas gubernatorial race, is unvaccinated.From his hospital bed, he issued a string of tweets attacking vaccine mandates and promoting controversial treatments, vowing that if elected, he would “vehemently crush anyone forcing vaccine mandates” in Texas.In a video posted to his Twitter and Facebook accounts after he was released from the hospital, West once again criticized vaccine mandates and said “this should not be about forcing people to take a certain shot.” He thanked the health-care workers who treated him with monoclonal antibodies and other treatments, including budesonide nebulizer, an inhaler typically used in patients with asthma .“One of the things that I’ve learned, there are so many other protocols out there that we should be recommending to people,” he added.“I want to make sure that the Texas Medical Board, Texas Nursing Board, Texas Pharmacy Board, never interfere and get in the way of what’s best for you and your relationship with your doctor and your body.”In a previous tweet on Saturday , West, 60, said he had taken the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the anti-parasitic ivermectin, also a popular animal dewormer.Neither drug is approved for the treatment of covid-19.In the short video, West said he and his wife, Angela, who is vaccinated and received monoclonal antibodies with West but was released from the hospital that day, are “doing very well.”“I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” he said, adding that he would be doing virtual campaign events until he tested negative for the coronavirus, and that he “may need some time to rest and recuperate.”West cited a passage from the Bible, and ended the video with a message: “I just want to let you know: Do not fear covid.”
Italy is preparing to implement some of the most stringent vaccination requirements in Europe, even amid intense pushback marked by major weekend protests and clashes with police on the streets of Rome.In a country where 80 percent of the eligible population is now vaccinated, many Italians were caught off guard by the scale of the protests Saturday, in which 12 people were arrested, including leaders of an extreme right-wing party.More than 30 officers were injured, and a group of protesters stormed the headquarters of CGIL, Italy’s largest and oldest labor union.“The invasion of Rome is in progress,” read a message on one Telegram group involved in the protests.But in the aftermath, Italy has shown no sign of reconsidering the new rules, which take effect Friday.At that point, the Green Pass, as it is known, will be mandatory for both public and private workers; any employee who does not comply can be suspended without pay.Although the Green Pass can also be obtained with a negative coronavirus test, the impracticalities would mount, requiring workers to be swabbed every 48 hours.“The government continues its commitment to complete the vaccination campaign,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement following the protests.Italy has been trying for two months to use the Green Pass as a way to prod those who are hesitant about vaccination.
In early August, it made the Green Pass mandatory for indoor dining and other leisure activities.But Italy has struggled to persuade the last several million holdouts, and even the announced new rules for workers have not triggered a noticeable bump in new first doses.
While many of Americans’ favorite international tourism destinations across Europe, Africa and the Caribbean have reopened (albeit with fits and starts), most of Asia remains largely closed to leisure travelers.
The World Tourism Organization estimates the number of international tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific region to be down 95 percent in 2021 compared to 2019 numbers.For Asian countries that heavily rely on tourism, the closures have had a massive economic impact.A study by the flight booking company Next Vacay estimates that Thailand’s economy lost more than $13.5 billion last year because of the pandemic.“Testing and tracking methods across Asia have allowed infection rates to stay relatively low, while their tourism destinations have become some of the worst-hit in the world,” said Next Vacay founder and chief executive Naveen Dittakavi.
Key update Moderna chairman says company will not share coronavirus vaccine formula By Bryan Pietsch 5:26 a.m.Link copied Link
Moderna will not share the formula for its coronavirus vaccine, its chairman said on Monday, dismissing calls from global health officials who say the American company should do so to boost vaccine supply in poorer countries.Noubar Afeyan, chairman and co-founder of Moderna, said in an interview with the Associated Press that instead of sharing its vaccine formula, “the most reliable way to make high-quality vaccines and in an efficient way” would be for the company to scale up its own production.The World Health Organization and the United Nations health agency have urged Moderna to share the formula as many of the world’s poorest have yet to receive their first doses of the vaccine, even as wealthy nations have begun administering third doses and booster shots.The Biden administration, under similar pressure to ensure that poorer countries receive supplies of the vaccine, has pushed Moderna in recent weeks to boost its production so that more doses can be donated to low- and middle-income countries, The Washington Post reported last week .Moderna and the Biden administration have been at odds, The Post reported, over the company’s refusal to commit to increasing production for low- and middle-income countries.A senior U.S.
official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter told The Post that a proposal from Moderna did not meet the Biden administration’s expectations, with the company saying that it did not have the capacity to immediately increase production.Moderna received billions of dollars in research and development funding from the Trump administration, and its vaccine relies heavily on a technology developed alongside the National Institutes of Health.Afeyan and Moderna’s other co-founder, Robert Langer, were named last week on Forbes’s list of the 400 richest people in America.Forbes estimated Afeyan’s net worth to be nearly $5 billion and Langer’s to be about $4.9 billion.
More than 24,000 nurses and other health-care workers at Kaiser Permanente authorized a strike, their unions announced Monday, threatening to walk out over pay and working conditions while the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain hospitals and clinics.Workers in California and Oregon endorsed the work stoppage by an overwhelming margin in the weekend vote as they pressed Kaiser to scrap its plans for a two-tiered wage and benefits system, which would pay newer employees less than more tenured colleagues and offers them fewer health protections.
They also want 4 percent raises for the next three years and a commitment to hire more nurses to relieve staffing shortages.More than 50,000 Kaiser workers nationwide are making similar demands in contracts that will soon expire, and union leaders say more strike authorization drives could materialize in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Washington state and D.C..