One shot for children move forward, immunization mandates take effect and new treatments hold promise. Here’s what you need to know:
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A bang for the kids is getting closer to approval, because it’s needed most
This week, Pfizer-BioNTech submitted data from its clinical trial of a Covid vaccine for children to the FDA, which means injections may soon be available for children aged 5 to 11 in the United States. The need for this has never been so urgent. We now know that children are capable of spreading disease and becoming seriously ill. Last week, around 250,000 children in the United States were sick with Covid. And a new survey has revealed that parents more and more on board with childhood immunizations: in September, 34% of parents of children aged 5 to 11 said they would have their children immunized, up from 26% in July.
But even once the pictures are authorized, having them distributed will pose a formidable challenge. Vaccines will likely be delivered to children in different locations and by different staff than the adult equivalent. And they come at a time when the national conversation around vaccines is more politicized than ever, which could complicate matters further. For example, school clinics might be the easiest way to do injections logistically, but politically speaking, they are unlikely to be a popular option.
Despite the hindsight, employee vaccination mandates are in place and functioning
As of earlier this week, healthcare workers in New York City had to be vaccinated to do their jobs. It was feared that the implementation of the vaccines mandate would leave hospitals understaffed, but so far the new rules seem to work for the most part. Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Sunday that the number of nursing home workers who had been vaccinated had risen from 70% to 92% by Monday’s deadline. A similar mandate which went into effect in California this week has also increased vaccination rates among healthcare workers to more than 90 percent.
However, these new rules have suffered a setback. A judge ruled this week that New York must temporarily authorize exemptions for healthcare workers with religious reasons for wanting to remain unvaccinated. And a group of teachers from New York City also appealed to the Supreme Court to stop the city’s vaccine mandate for educators before it begins Monday. This week, 89% of district staff had been vaccinated.
New research offers promising treatment, vaccine updates
Drugmaker Merck said this week that its experimental oral antiviral drug halve hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated people who have been recently infected. It is also likely that it is effective against known variants including Delta, as it does not target the virus spike protein, which differentiates the variants. The company has announced its intention to apply for clearance soon. If approved by the FDA, it will be the first pill capable of treating Covid-19, a significant achievement in an area where research has lagged behind. Elsewhere, much earlier-stage research is exploring treatment options using two unexpected species: llamas and hamsters.
As for vaccines, AstraZeneca released the long-awaited results of its US vaccine trial earlier this week, which found the shot is 74 percent effective to prevent symptomatic illnesses. And another clinical trial has shown that it is probably perfectly safe to give Pfizer or AstraZeneca Covid vaccines and flu shots. at a time.
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Something to read
In an excerpt from his new book, The whole, Dave Eggers explores a fictional world where the biggest search engine and social media company merges with the incumbent e-commerce site to create the richest and most disturbing monopoly ever. Looks familiar?
You should never leave the house without something good to read. Here are our favorite devices for take your reading material everywhere with you.
How has the pandemic affected birdwatching?
At the heart of the pandemic, birdwatching has experienced an unprecedented boom like a lot of people trying to spend time in solitude and outdoors. As a result, citizen science initiatives have seen a boom in participation, with many more people recording bird sightings in their neighborhoods. For example, eBird, a database where people record the species they have seen where, recorded a more than 40% increase in sightings in April 2020 compared to the previous year, more than double the normal growth of the application. This is great for scientists, but it also poses a problem, as it can be difficult to tell if changes in the data are the result of animal behavior or increased human participation. In fact, there are signs that future researchers will need to consider the changes of the pandemic era in their use of this data.
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