FDA extends the shelf life of two Covid-19 vaccines, CDC notes that most of the children admitted during the omicron wave were unvaccinated, and several in this week’s summary of Covid-19 news.
- A new omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1, which has been running one recently increase in cases in the state of New York, now account for about 20% of all new infections in the United States, according to CDC data released on April 16th. New York State Department of Health, The BA.2.12.1 sub-variant, as well as another BA.2.12 sub-variant, are thought to be around 23% to 27% more transferable than the original BA.2 sub-variant, although it is not clear whether they lead to more serious disease . In addition, BA.2.12.1 may have a mutation that makes it possible to avoid immunity and more easily infect cells. Currently, Covid-19 cases are rising across the United States, with the Northeast seeing the largest increases. Overall, the country sees an average of more than 31,500 new cases a day, an increase of 14% from nearly 28,000 cases two weeks ago. (Doherty, Axios19/4)
- Pictoran in vitro diagnostic company based in New Zealand, and Mobility health announced a partnership to distribute Pictor’s PictArrayTM SARS-CoV-2 antibody test, which can determine if a patient has coronavirus antibodies and whether they are from vaccination or infection. To distinguish between antibodies from vaccination and antibodies from infection, the test identifies the presence of both nucleocapsid protein antibodies and spike protein antibodies. If both types of antibodies are identified, a person has previously contracted Covid-19. If only spike protein antibodies are identified, the person has not received Covid-19 and the antibodies are from vaccination alone. According to Howard Moore, Pictor’s CEO, the test can help determine a person’s risk of infection if they do not have an adequate antibody response after vaccination or previous infection. In particular, Moore said the test could be used to determine if a patient should receive additional booster doses. “You have to be a little careful about administering vaccinations,” he said. “We believe you should be careful about administering vaccines to the people who have been infected. Their antibody levels may be reasonably high.” (Bardin, MedCity News4/13)
- The US Covid-19 vaccination campaign has helped avert millions of deaths, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and even more infections, according to a new examination performed by The Commonwealth Fund and Yale University. The study, based on data from previous research, used a model to analyze how vaccination efforts affected the United States and its health system between December 12, 2020 and March 31, 2022. The model took into account the US population demographics, mobility patterns, age-specific risks of serious Covid-19 outcome and four coronavirus variants (alpha, delta, iota, and omicron). Overall, researchers estimated that the U.S. vaccination campaign averaged 66,159,093 infections, 17,003,960 hospitalizations and 2,265,222 deaths. In addition, vaccination reduced the cost of health care, including the cost of outpatient visits, hospitalizations, intensive care, ED visits and more, by 899.4 billion. “Our findings highlight the profound and sustained impact of the vaccination program in reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths,” the study authors wrote. “As we noted in our analysis in December, vaccines spared the U.S. healthcare system an overwhelming number of COVID-19 admissions. The current analysis confirms and expands past results. Investing in vaccination programs has also provided significant cost savings – roughly the size of one – one-fifth of the annual national health expenditure – by dramatically reducing the amount spent on COVID-19 hospital admissions. ” (Cheney, HealthLeaders Media4/15)
- Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced on Tuesday that it is suspending its Covid-19 vaccine sales forecast due to a global supply surplus and uncertain demand. Earlier, the company said in January that the vaccine could bring in between $ 3 and $ 3.5 billion in sales this year, up from $ 2.38 billion in sales in 2021. However, the vaccine brought in only $ 457 million in the first quarter of the year, much lower than expected. The majority of sales came from overseas, and the vaccine generated $ 75 million in sales in the U.S., or about 25% less than what it made in the first quarter of 2021, when it was first approved. Currently, Covid-19 vaccines are from Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern is more commonly used in the United States. In addition, last year the CDC recommended the two mRNA vaccines over J & J’s vaccine, citing the risk of a rare blood clot problem associated with the shot. (AP / Modern Healthcare, 4/19; Vakil, Bakken19/4)
- The FDA last week extended the shelf life of two Covid-19 vaccines and is considering the shelf life of some monoclonal antibodies. On April 7, the Agency extended the shelf life of the J&J Covid-19 vaccine from nine months to 11 months. This is the third extension of the J&J vaccine shelf life since June 2021. Similarly, on April 13, the FDA extended the shelf life of two formulations of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to 12 months when stored at -130ºF to -76ºF . In addition, the FDA and HHS‘ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response is considering extending the shelf life of the combination monoclonal antibodies bamlanivimab and etesevimab. The agencies will issue an update in early May, and healthcare providers can store all unopened and properly stored vials of bamlanivimab and etevesimab until then. (AHA news, 4/18; Gleeson, Beckers Hospital Review4/12)
- Most children ages 5 to 11 who were hospitalized with Covid-19 during the omicron rise were unvaccinated, according to a new CDC examination. For the study, the CDC examined 397 children admitted due to Covid-19 between 19 December 2021 and 28 February 2022. Overall, 87% of the children admitted were unvaccinated, 30% had no underlying medical conditions, and 19% were admitted to the intensive care unit. Black children in particular accounted for a majority of unvaccinated hospitalizations with 34%, while white children came in second with 30.7% and Latin American children accounted for 18.9%. According to the CDC, these findings underscore the importance of vaccinating children against coronavirus. “Increased vaccination coverage among children, especially among racial and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19, is crucial in preventing COVID-19-associated hospitalization and serious outcomes,” the study authors wrote. (Falcons, Axios4/19; AHA news19/4)