Wednesday, April 28, 2021 | Kaiser Health News

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Pfizer CEO Says Anti-Covid Pill May Be Available By End Of 2021 The oral antiviral therapeutic is in early trials, but Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla expressed confidence in the treatment, pending study results and regulator approval. Other covid research news covers IBS drugs, organ transplants and vaccines for the very […]

Pfizer CEO Says Anti-Covid Pill May Be Available By End Of 2021

The oral antiviral therapeutic is in early trials, but Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla expressed confidence in the treatment, pending study results and regulator approval. Other covid research news covers IBS drugs, organ transplants and vaccines for the very young.

Pfizer At-Home Covid Pill Could Be Available By Year-End, CEO Albert Bourla Says

Pfizer’s experimental oral drug to treat Covid-19 at the first sign of illness could be available by the end of the year, CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC on Tuesday. The company, which developed the first authorized Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S. with German drugmaker BioNTech, began in March an early stage clinical trial testing a new antiviral therapy for the disease. The drug is part of a class of medicines called protease inhibitors and works by inhibiting an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate in human cells. (Lovelace Jr., 4/27)

Fox News:
Pfizer CEO Predicts Coronavirus Oral Antiviral Pill Ready ‘By End Of Year’

Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said Tuesday he hopes the company’s coronavirus oral antiviral therapeutic in early-stage trials will be ready by the end of the year. “…If all goes well and we implement the same speed that we did so far and we are and if regulators also do the same and they are, I hope by the end of the year,” Bourla told CNBC co-hosts, per a transcript, when questioned over a timeline. Fox News requested confirmation on the timeline from Pfizer this week, though a spokeswoman wouldn’t pinpoint an answer without data in hand. (Rivas, 4/27)

In other news about vaccine development and research —

One Dose Of A Covid Vaccine Can Almost Halve Transmission, Study Finds

A single dose of a coronavirus vaccine can reduce transmission within a household by up to half, a study by Public Health England has found. People who do become infected with the coronavirus three weeks after receiving a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to their household contacts than those who were unvaccinated, the PHE study found. (Ellyatt, 4/28)

Study: Common Irritable Bowel Drug Blunts COVID-19 Vaccine Response

A UK study yesterday in the journal Gut found that the common inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) drug infliximab blunts COVID-19 vaccine response after one dose. The findings come from the CLARITY study, which assessed COVID-19 infection and vaccination in 6,935 patients who have IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, from 92 hospitals from September to December 2020. (4/27)

WJCT 89.9 FM Jacksonville:
COVID Vaccines May Not Be Effective For Organ Transplant Patients, Research Suggests 

Preliminary research conducted on a small sample size suggests that certain COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, may not be effective for solid organ transplant patients and others with compromised immune systems. A team of Mayo Clinic researchers studied seven organ transplant recipients diagnosed with COVID-19 at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville six to 44 days after receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Two patients had received just one dose and the remaining five had received both doses. (Rivers, 4/27)

ABC News:
Children As Young As 6 Months Old Now In COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

As nearly 140 million American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and we inch closer to herd immunity, vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna have moved on to the next phase of the fight against the virus: studying to see if the vaccine will be safe and effective for children. “Children under 18 make up 85 million people in [the] U.S. – about 20% of the population,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatrics, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, told ABC News. “Getting them vaccinated is a major contribution to reducing transmission of virus.” (Kuang, Delawala and Yang, 4/27)

CBS News:
CDC Reiterates Guidance On Safety Of COVID-19 Vaccines For Pregnant People 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday there is “growing evidence” about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, and it reiterated its guidance on vaccinations for pregnant people, after it was asked to clarify a remark the CDC director made Friday about the recommendation. “If facing decisions about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant, people should consider risk of exposure to COVID-19, the increased risk of severe infection while pregnant, the known benefits of vaccination, and the limited but growing evidence about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy,” a CDC spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CBS News. (Smith, 4/27)

The New York Times:
How Pfizer Makes Its Covid-19 Vaccine 

Inside this facility in Chesterfield, Missouri, trillions of bacteria are producing tiny loops of DNA containing coronavirus genes — the raw material for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It’s the start of a complex manufacturing and testing process that takes 60 days and involves Pfizer facilities in three states. The result will be millions of doses of the vaccine, frozen and ready to ship. (4/28)

States Cautiously Re-Roll Out J&J Vaccines Amid More Possible Clot Cases

Reports from Florida say people were about 50/50 in favor of the Johnson & Johnson shot versus Pfizer’s version on the second day of the vaccine’s availability in the wake of the temporary halt due to suspected cases of rare blood clots.

Fox News:
2 New Clot Cases In Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients Reported, CDC Investigating

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating two new cases of a rare, severe blood clot that occurred alongside low platelets in Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recipients, bringing the total number of instances to 17. A CDC spokesperson told Fox News that one case of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) under investigation occurred in a male vaccine recipient, and the other in a female, both under age 60. It was not clear if the male patient was the same individual in California who is receiving treatment at the University of California San Francisco medical center. (Hein, 4/27)

In other news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine —

WUSF Public Media:
Demand For J&J Vaccine On Par With Pfizer At Most Florida FEMA Sites 

Faced with a choice between the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines, Floridians who visited the state’s federally supported sites on Monday were about evenly split. It was the second day the FEMA sites offered the J&J vaccine since the federal government lifted a pause, put in place to determine risk of a rare blood clot. All this week, patients can still choose to get the one-and-done J&J shot or get a first dose of Pfizer and return for a second shot in three weeks. (Colombini, 4/27)

New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Louisiana Vaccine Providers Slowly Bring Back J&J Vaccine After CDC Lifts ‘Pause’

After the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was entered back into use by the Louisiana Department of Health on Saturday, local providers have now begun ramping up plans to start distributing it. Ochsner Health, the state’s largest hospital system, has about 13,500 doses of the J&J vaccine, according to Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, an infectious disease specialist. They’ll start giving it out next week. LCMC Health has not yet started giving out the J&J vaccine, but plans to put it back into use during the first half of May, said Dr. Jeffrey Elder, an emergency medicine physician who oversees the LCMC mass vaccination effort at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. (Woodruff, 4/27)

The Boston Globe:
R.I. Vaccine Subcommittee Was ‘Blindsided’ By News Of State Lifting Pause On Johnson & Johnson Shot

When Rhode Island state health officials announced late Monday that they would resume administering the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, members of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee were “blindsided by the news.” “I thought we would be talking about it” during Tuesday morning’s scheduled biweekly meeting, said Dr. Karen Tashima, director of clinical trials at the Immunology Center at Lifespan Corporation, and member of the subcommittee. Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, a physician and subcommittee member, said members were surprised the news came out the night before, without input from the subcommittee. (Gagosz, 4/27)

Capital & Main:
California Faces Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Dilemma 

From Gov. Gavin Newsom on down, there’s general agreement about the status of COVID-19 vaccination efforts in California. Unless the state’s most vulnerable populations are inoculated at rates that fit their risk profiles, the thinking holds, broad attempts at stamping out the virus are going to fall short. Some of the state’s own numbers suggest the scope of that challenge. Through April 21, the most recent day of data available, 30.1% of California’s doses of vaccine had been administered in what the state says are communities that already enjoy the healthiest living conditions. Among communities with the least healthy conditions, only 21% of the state’s supply has been administered. (Kreidler, 4/27)

Mobile Vaccine Centers, Walk-In Clinics Among Efforts To Curb Hesitancy

As reports discuss efforts in Baltimore, Ohio, Philadelphia and New York to reach neighborhoods and groups with low vaccination rates, over 140,000 Nevadans are behind or are skipping getting their second covid shot.

The Baltimore Sun:
Baltimore County To Deploy Mobile Unit In Areas With Low COVID-19 Vaccination Rates 

Baltimore County officials announced Tuesday the county will use a new way to reach neighborhoods with low vaccination rates: a mobile vaccine center. The mobile outreach unit will be staffed by Baltimore County Department of Health employees and will deliver shots — and information about the vaccines — in ZIP codes where data shows residents have been affected disproportionately by COVID-19 and have lower vaccination rates, said county Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. (Deville, 4/27)

The Wall Street Journal:
New York Opens Vaccine Appointments To Walk-Ins As Demand Wanes 

New York state mass-vaccination sites will open to walk-ins beginning Thursday, removing another barrier to vaccination efforts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said demand for Covid-19 vaccines across the state was waning and people are no longer chasing appointments. About 115,000 New York residents are vaccinated every 24 hours now, down from 175,000, he said Tuesday during a press briefing. (West, 4/27)

Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Skipped Or Late Vaccine Doses In Nevada Total More Than 100K

More than 143,000 Nevadans are behind on getting their second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials report. Close to 13 percent of the 1.1 million state residents who had intiated the vaccination process as of Monday were more than four days past due for their second dose, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Shannon Litz wrote in an email. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine require two doses given weeks apart to be fully effective. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose. (Scott Davidson, 4/27)

WLRN 91.3 FM:
Herd Immunity And Addressing COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy In South Florida 

Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida is trailing close behind the national numbers, with 40 percent of the population having received at least one dose. Everyone 16 or older is eligible to receive the vaccine in every state. But demand and interest in the vaccine is wavering, and that could put herd immunity at risk. WLRN’s “Sundial” assembled a panel of experts and people knowledgeable on vaccine rollout to discuss the hesitancy. (Ovalle and Remington, 4/27)

Roll Call:
Republican Doctors In Congress Try To Boost Vaccine Confidence 

A group of Republican doctors and health care providers in Congress, led by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, launched a public service campaign Tuesday to encourage COVID-19 vaccine participation among constituents. Polling shows that Republican voters have some of the highest rates of vaccine skepticism of any demographic in the country. (Cohen, 4/27)

In other updates on the vaccine rollout —

U Of Portland, Willamette U To Require COVID-19 Vaccinations

University of Portland officials announced on Tuesday that the school will require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff when the fall semester starts. The Catholic university said in a news release that employees must provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 1 and students must provide proof by Sept. 1.The news release says more than 100 colleges and universities nationally have announced vaccination requirements for students and/or employees, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. (4/28)

Philadelphia Inquirer:
People With Intellectual Disabilities Are Helping Providers Improve The Vaccination Experience

When Natasha Black learned that she was eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, she said she was excited — and hopeful that daily life might finally get back to normal .Black, a member of a self-advocacy group for people with intellectual disabilities, had spent the year away from family, friends, and work. Isolated in her group home in the Pennsylvania suburbs, she missed being able to take walks, chat with neighbors, play a game of pickup soccer. “I was staying at home every day — we couldn’t do nothing,” said Black, who knew she needed to be especially careful not to get coronavirus. “I was worried. I was bored. I had some hard times,” she said. (Whelan, 4/28)

The Covid-19 Vaccine: How To Add It To Your Medical Record 

Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and receiving a vaccination card has become a rite of passage for many Americans who have endured the pandemic for the last year. Securing a vaccination card, however, doesn’t necessarily mean your Covid-19 vaccine status is in your medical records. (Marples, 4/26)

Ohio’s Amish Suffered A Lot From Covid, But Vaccines Are Still A Hard Sell 

The Amish communities of northeastern Ohio engage in textbook communal living. Families eat, work and go to church together, and through the pandemic, mask-wearing and physical distancing have been spotty. That has meant that these communities bore a high rate of infection and death. Despite this, health officials are struggling to encourage residents to get vaccinated against covid-19. Holmes County, where half the population is Amish, has the lowest vaccination rate in Ohio, with just 10% of the population fully vaccinated. (Huntsman, 4/28)

You Don’t Have To Suffer To Benefit From Covid Vaccination — But Some Prefer It 

If you think vaccination is an ordeal now, consider the 18th-century version. After having pus from a smallpox boil scratched into your arm, you would be subject to three weeks of fever, sweats, chills, bleeding and purging with dangerous medicines, accompanied by hymns, prayers and hell-fire sermons by dour preachers. That was smallpox vaccination, back then. The process generally worked and was preferred to enduring “natural” smallpox, which killed around a third of those who got it. Patients were often grateful for trial-by-immunization — once it was over, anyway. (Allen, 4/28)

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