American coronavirus: FDA meeting on Covid-19 boosters may not answer all questions, experts say



“What I think we’re going to hear from the FDA advisory panel is a green light to stimulate people over 60, probably because that’s where the data is strongest,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. “The question is what does this mean for younger people, and do we need to start strengthening them now?”

Three reports released on Wednesday supporting the argument that people might need a booster dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine over time are part of a batch of data that will be discussed by vaccine advisers at the FDA as they review a request from Pfizer to approve a third, booster dose for most people six months after receiving their first two doses of the vaccine.

“Generally, we have a pretty good idea of ​​how (these meetings) are going to go ahead of time,” CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta said Thursday. “I have to say, I’m not so sure on this one.”

Outstanding questions, Gupta noted, included: Is immunity waning? How serious are breakthrough infections? How long does the booster effect last? And by how much do boosters reduce transmission?

The questions are influenced by the position of the United States in the pandemic.

The proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated – now at around 54.2% of the total population – is still far lower than where experts said it needs to slow or stop the spread, and cases are on the rise.

The advisers will review the data to balance safety and effectiveness with the increase in infections and serious illnesses the United States faces, Reiner said.

“We want them to do that, we welcome that. But I guess we’re not going to hear some sort of general opening of boosters for the whole population,” Reiner said.

Disparity in the Covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic has affected different populations differently, and people of color bear a heavy burden, new research shows.

Blacks, people over 40, and people with pre-existing conditions were most likely to suffer from long symptoms of Covid, which affected a third of Covid-19 patients, according to a Department of Health study and of Social Services in Long Beach, California. .

The most common widespread symptom was fatigue, followed by loss of taste and loss of smell, the team reported in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. United.

“The odds of experiencing symptoms 2 months after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result were significantly higher in women, people with at least one pre-existing condition, and people aged 40 to 54,” they wrote.

Blacks had higher rates of difficulty breathing, joint pain, and muscle pain than other racial and ethnic groups. These results show the need to monitor demographic disparities in prolonged symptoms of Covid-19, the researchers said.

And an analysis released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that racial disparities among children mirrored those among adults.

Compared to white children, children of color have had more cases, deaths, and more mental health and school issues related to the pandemic. Although they are the most vulnerable, they are also less likely to be vaccinated, according to the analysis.

While hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 are rare in children compared to adults, children who were hospitalized were more likely to be black and Hispanic. Black and Hispanic children were also more likely to have a Covid-19-related illness called MIS-C – multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children – and black children were more likely to be admitted to intensive care for this.

Black, Hispanic, Native American and Native Alaskan children were more likely to die from Covid-19 than white children.

“Because children make up a significant portion of the population and are more racially diverse than the rest of the population, equitable immunization among this group is essential to achieve a high overall immunization coverage rate within the community. population and can help reduce disparities in immunization. rate more broadly, ”the report says.

A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic at Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Masks Help Block Airborne Transmission, Study Finds

Meanwhile, new research published this week indicates that the Alpha variant of the coronavirus spreads more easily when people breathe or speak, but has shown that even the simplest masks can significantly reduce transmission.

“Our latest study provides further evidence for the importance of airborne transmission,” said Dr. Don Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, who worked on the study. .

Local health departments are planning a potential Covid-19 booster rollout, but there is still

The intensive study, conducted at the University of Maryland, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and elsewhere, showed that people expel the virus in their breath and saliva – findings that support the now widely accepted idea that the The virus spreads in droplets of all sizes that fall on surfaces or float in the air. They measured RNA, the genetic material most commonly used to detect the virus.

Loose masks kept about 50% of the virus-charged particles from coming out, the team found.

Milton said they are now testing to see what happens with the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, which is much more transmissible than Alpha and now accounts for virtually all infections in the United States today.

But the implications of the findings for Alpha are clear.

“SARS-CoV-2 is moving towards a more efficient aerosol generation and loose masks offer important but modest source control. Therefore, until vaccination rates are very high, continuous diaper checks and properly fitted masks and respirators will be required. the team wrote.

“We know that the Delta variant that is currently circulating is even more contagious than the Alpha variant. Our research indicates that the variants keep getting better for air travel, so we need to provide better ventilation and wear masks well. adjusted, in addition to vaccination, to help stop the spread of the virus, ”Milton said in a statement.

CNN Virginia Langmaid, Jen Christensen and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.


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