COVID-19 Update | March 11, 2022
March 11, 2022
The California Biotechnology Foundation is committed to keeping you up to date about COVID-19 testing, treatment and prevention advancements. The following resources track what progress has been made as of March 11, 2022. Notable advancements include:
- Pfizer announced that it had started a clinical trial to test its COVID-19 antiviral pill in children as young as 6.
- Novavax Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine was found to be up to 90% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 infections according to recent clinical trials and is on its way towards authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
- Child Vaccine Confusion
New York Times – March 10, 2022
For American parents with young children, it’s been a frustrating and confusing couple of months. In February, federal regulators said that they would evaluate Pfizer’s vaccine for the youngest children, only to reverse course 10 days later. Shortly thereafter, scientists reported that the vaccine was only weakly protective against an Omicron infection and appeared to offer little defense against moderate illness among adolescents ages 12 to 17.
- Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Discover New Potential Therapy for COVID-19
NBC Los Angeles – March 9, 2022
Scientists from Cedars-Sinai report research findings have opened the possibility to a new therapy for COVID-19 patients, a discovery made in a biologic substance created by reengineered human skin cells.The substance stopped SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from reproducing and protected cells when tested in human lung cells, scientists reported. “We were surprised to find this potential therapy shuts down a novel pathway for viral replication and also protects infected cells,” Ahmed G. Ibrahim, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai and first author of the study, said in a statement.
- Pfizer launches trial to test COVID-19 pill in children
NBC News – March 9, 2022
Pfizer announced that it has started a clinical trial testing its COVID-19 antiviral pill in children as young as 6. The drugmaker said it aims to enroll approximately 140 participants in the trial, which will look at whether the drug, called Paxlovid, can safely treat COVID-19 in children who are at risk of becoming severely ill. Paxlovid has already been authorized for people ages 12 and older. The children in the trial will be divided into two groups, based on their weight, which will determine whether they receive the currently authorized dosage or a lower one.
- ‘Test to Treat’ gets COVID-19 pills to at-risk patients fast but its reach is limited
NPR – March 8, 2022
High-risk patients with COVID-19 symptoms will now be able to walk into hundreds of pharmacy-based clinics for a free test – and walk out with a free course of COVID-19 treatment pills. It’s the start of a new initiative from the Biden administration, and it’s a key feature of the President’s national COVID-19 preparedness plan. “I’ve ordered more pills than anyone in the world has,” Biden said in his State of the Union address March 1, “And now, we’re launching the ‘Test to Treat’ initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy and, if they prove positive, receive the antiviral pills on the spot at no cost.”
- Moderna plots vaccines against 15 pathogens with future pandemic potential
Reuters – March 7, 2022
Moderna Inc said it plans to develop and begin testing vaccines targeting 15 of the world’s most worrisome pathogens by 2025 and will permanently wave its COVID-19 vaccine patents for shots intended for certain low- and middle-income countries. The U.S. biotechnology company also said it will make its messenger RNA (mRNA) technology available to researchers working on new vaccines for emerging and neglected diseases through a program called mRNA Access.
- The U.S. is about to approve a fourth COVID-19 vaccine that could be a silver bullet solution to the anti-vax crisis
Fortune – March 7, 2022
It might not be long until a fourth COVID-19 vaccine is available in the U.S., and it’s a big deal. Novavax Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine is on its way towards authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration after formally submitting a request in late January. The company says it has resolved the manufacturing issues that had delayed their application, and now expects approval from the FDA in the coming weeks, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal. In clinical trials first published in January 2021, Novavax’s vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 infections, on par with the already-approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
- Moderna says it will ‘never’ enforce COVID-19 vaccine patents in dozens of low- and middle-income countries
Politico – March 7, 2022
Moderna pledged to “never enforce” its patents for COVID-19 vaccines against manufacturers that are based in or producing in 92 low- and middle-income countries, a shift for the biotechnology firm that has come under pressure to share its mRNA technology to help address global vaccine inequity. The 92 countries are members of the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment, a mechanism aimed at securing financing for vaccines to go to those areas. “We are committed to defeating the pandemic across the globe, and we are fulfilling that through our pledge not to enforce our COVID-19 related patents in low- and middle-income countries,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.
- COVID-19 vaccines not linked to deaths, major US study finds
BBC – March 7, 2022
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 92% of reported side-effects after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were mild. Study author Dr Tom Shimabukuro said: “[It’s] reassuring that reactions to both mRNA vaccines are generally mild and subside after one or two days – confirming reports from clinical trials and post-authorization monitoring.”
- People in the U.S. can now order 4 more free COVID-19 tests online
NBC News – March 7, 2022
People in the United States can now order four more free, at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests from COVIDtests.gov as part of the Biden administration’s effort to increase COVID-19 testing. The program, run in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, began during the omicron surge in December. As with the last round of test shipments, entering a U.S. home address at COVIDtests.gov will create a free order for four tests. Households that already received a package of tests from the site are eligible to request a new one.
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