Headlines in the News

What We Know About Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine and How It Differs From Pfizer’s

December 17, 2020

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was authorized and shipped out to the first Americans earlier this week.

But there are a few key differences. Most importantly, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require a super-cold transportation network, making it more accessible for smaller facilities and local communities.

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was authorized and shipped out to the first Americans earlier this week.

But there are a few key differences. Most importantly, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require a super-cold transportation network, making it more accessible for smaller facilities and local communities.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee meets Thursday to review whether to recommend emergency use authorization for Moderna’s vaccine, with the FDA’s decision expected by Friday.

Here’s a look at what we know about the Moderna vaccine and how it compares to Pfizer’s….

Read the full CNN article

U.S. Angling to Secure More of Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine

December 17, 2020

U.S. officials say they’re actively negotiating for additional purchases of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine after passing up a chance to lock in a contract this summer since it was still unclear how well the shots would work.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and special adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui also told reporters Wednesday that Pfizer had been unable to commit to a firm delivery date. Azar called that “the core issue.”

U.S. officials say they’re actively negotiating for additional purchases of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine after passing up a chance to lock in a contract this summer since it was still unclear how well the shots would work.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and special adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui also told reporters Wednesday that Pfizer had been unable to commit to a firm delivery date. Azar called that “the core issue.”

There was no immediate comment from the company, whose CEO Albert Bourla told CNN this week it is “working very collaboratively” with the government to deliver additional vaccine through the federal Operation Warp Speed. That’s a White House-backed, taxpayer-funded effort to quickly develop coronavirus vaccines and treatments….

Read the full The Associated Press article

The Coronavirus at 1: A Year Into the Pandemic, What Scientists Know About How It Spreads, Infects, and Sickens

December 17, 2020

The coronavirus behind the pandemic presents some vexing dualities.

It’s dangerous enough that it dispatches patients to hospitals in droves and has killed more than 1.6 million people, but mild enough that most people shrug it off. It blocks one arm of the immune system from responding as it takes hold, but lures other parts into dangerous hyperdrive. It homes in on cells high up in the airway — think the nose and throat — but also burrows deeper into the lungs, maximizing infectiousness without ceding how sick it can make people.

The coronavirus behind the pandemic presents some vexing dualities.

It’s dangerous enough that it dispatches patients to hospitals in droves and has killed more than 1.6 million people, but mild enough that most people shrug it off. It blocks one arm of the immune system from responding as it takes hold, but lures other parts into dangerous hyperdrive. It homes in on cells high up in the airway — think the nose and throat — but also burrows deeper into the lungs, maximizing infectiousness without ceding how sick it can make people.

“It’s sort of right in that sweet spot,” said Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease expert at Scripps Research Institute….

Read the full Stat article

F.D.A. Advisory Panel Gives Green Light to Pfizer Vaccine

December 10, 2020

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine passed a critical milestone on Thursday when a panel of experts formally recommended that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the vaccine. The agency is likely to do so within days, giving health care workers and nursing home residents first priority to begin receiving the first shots early next week.

The F.D.A.’s vaccine advisory panel, composed of independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors and statisticians, voted 17 to 4, with one member abstaining, in favor of emergency authorization for people 16 and older. With rare exceptions, the F.D.A. follows the advice of its advisory panels.

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine passed a critical milestone on Thursday when a panel of experts formally recommended that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the vaccine. The agency is likely to do so within days, giving health care workers and nursing home residents first priority to begin receiving the first shots early next week.

The F.D.A.’s vaccine advisory panel, composed of independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors and statisticians, voted 17 to 4, with one member abstaining, in favor of emergency authorization for people 16 and older. With rare exceptions, the F.D.A. follows the advice of its advisory panels.

With this formal blessing, the nation may finally begin to slow the spread of the virus just as infections and deaths surge, reaching a record of more than 3,000 daily deaths on Wednesday. The F.D.A. is expected to grant an emergency use authorization on Saturday, according to people familiar with the agency’s planning, though they cautioned that last-minute legal or bureaucratic requirements could push the announcement to Sunday or later….

Read the full The New York Times article

‘Kind of a Chess Game’: for States, Distributing COVID-19 Vaccine Poses Myriad Hurdles

December 10, 2020

The first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. could get authorized for emergency use in a matter of days. But for state health officials, any excitement over any potential breakthrough is tempered by an overwhelming logistical test: distributing a vaccine to millions of Americans.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said there’s “no shortage of challenges” for the people charged with planning the vaccination rollout for their state.

The first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. could get authorized for emergency use in a matter of days. But for state health officials, any excitement over any potential breakthrough is tempered by an overwhelming logistical test: distributing a vaccine to millions of Americans.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said there’s “no shortage of challenges” for the people charged with planning the vaccination rollout for their state.

“The big question that program managers have is: Exactly how much vaccine am I gonna get?” Hannan said in an interview Wednesday with NPR’s All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro….

Read the full NPR article

Trump Tries to Revive Stalled Election-Eve Drug Discounts

December 9, 2020

The Trump administration is trying to revive the president’s stalled election-eve plan to send millions of Medicare recipients a $200 prescription discount card.

A person familiar with the effort tells The Associated Press that government agencies still face legal questions about the plan. That’s on top of the daunting logistics of sending an estimated 39 million people a functional card in the midst of the holiday season without the benefit of much advance planning. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration is trying to revive the president’s stalled election-eve plan to send millions of Medicare recipients a $200 prescription discount card.

A person familiar with the effort tells The Associated Press that government agencies still face legal questions about the plan. That’s on top of the daunting logistics of sending an estimated 39 million people a functional card in the midst of the holiday season without the benefit of much advance planning. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed the administration is continuing to move forward. “It’s simply good policy, and demonstrates President Trump is continuing to deliver on his promises to our nation’s seniors to lower drug prices….”

Read the full The Associated Press article