An independent panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will meet later Tuesday to discuss the use of the Moderna vaccine in children aged 6 to 17.
If the panel offers a favorable opinion, the Moderna MRNA, +3.78% vaccine could become a second available option for children in that age group, along with the Pfizer PFE, +0.02% vaccine that was granted authorization last June for 12- to 15-year-olds.
The meeting will be followed on Wednesday by one that will review both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children below the age of 5, the last group to be added to the vaccine program. The federal government has pledged to make vaccines available immediately after authorization from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinations could start as early as next week.
The news comes as U.S. cases are averaging 16,795 a day, down 2% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. Cases have been stabilizing in recent weeks after a spike earlier in the year caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant and its many subvariants. But case numbers are deemed to be undercounted, now that many people are testing at home and the data are not being collected.
Read also: COVID patients with weak immune systems should get priority care to avoid new variants emerging, experts say
And as the numbers come down in the Northeast, which was a recent hot spot, they are rising in the South and the West with cases more than doubling in the past two weeks in Wyoming and Oklahoma, the tracker shows.
The same trend is playing out with hospitalizations. The country is averaging 29,642 hospitalizations a day, up 9% from two weeks ago, with the numbers falling in the Northeast and rising elsewhere. The daily death toll has fallen to 324 on average, down 12% from two weeks ago.
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Other COVID-19 news you should know about:
• There was disappointing news from U.K. biotech PureTech Health PLC PRTC, -4.97% PRTC, -3.47%, which said its LYT-100-COV (deupirfenidone) in patients with post-acute long COVID with respiratory complications had no treatment effect in a Phase 2 trial. The company said it would not pursue further studies for long-COVID patients but would focus instead on reviewing the treatment in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. “Although we had hoped to offer a treatment to Long COVID patients, these data further strengthen our confidence that LYT-100 has the potential to offer improved tolerability and therefore potentially improved treatment adherence and patient outcomes in IPF, a devastating condition that has been well-studied and where pirfenidone has proven efficacy,” CEO Daphne Zohar said in a statement.
• The Rolling Stones postponed a concert in Amsterdam on Monday after frontman Mick Jagger tested positive for COVID, Reuters reported. “The Rolling Stones are deeply sorry for tonight’s postponement, but the safety of the audience, fellow musicians and the touring crew has to take priority,” they said. Jagger had symptoms after arriving at the Johan Cruijff Arena, the band said.
• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tested positive for COVID for a second time on Monday, just days after meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders at a Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
• Chinese police are investigating staff at a Beijing bar that has become a COVID hot spot, authorities said Tuesday, as an outbreak traced to the venue spread citywide just a week after many businesses reopened in the capital, the Wall Street Journal reported. As many as 287 cases recorded in Beijing in the last six days have been linked to the Heaven Supermarket Bar in the Sanlitun district. The bar’s managers are now under criminal investigation on suspicion of hindering COVID prevention measures, a Beijing Public Security Bureau spokesman told a news conference Tuesday.
Here’s what the numbers say
The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 536.1 million on Friday, while the death toll rose above 6.31 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 85.7 million cases and 1,011,641 fatalities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 221.7 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 66.8% of the total population. But just 104.4 million have had a first booster, equal to 47.1% of the vaccinated population.
Just 15.7 million of the people aged 50 and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 24.8% of those who had a first booster.
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