COVID-19 Update | May 20, 2022

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | May 20, 2022

May 20, 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 May 20, 2022. Notable advancements include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 booster shot for children ages 5 to 11 has been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna fare better against COVID-19 variants of concern.

Recent News

  • California expands COVID-19 test to treat’ sites. Heres a map of sitesKCRA – May 18, 2022California state health officials said they are expanding sites across the state where people can get both tested for COVID-19 and access to free treatments like Paxlovid for the virus. California plans to launch 146 OptumServe “test to treat” sites over the next two weeks, the Department of Public Health said. The sites are aimed at improving access to those without health insurance.
  • Cancer Drug Imatinib Shows Promise in Treating People With Severe COVID-19Healthline – May 18, 2022Treating people with severe COVID-19 with the cancer drug imatinib may lower mortality rates. Research presented this week at the American Thoracic Society International Conference reported that at a 90-day follow up COVID-19 patients who were treated with the drug had a 7 percent lower mortality rate than those not treated with imatinib. “In this ongoing pandemic, this could result in lower mortality rates and shorter intensive care admissions,” said Erik Duijvelaar co-first author and MD-PhD candidate at Amsterdam University Medical Centers in the Netherlands, said in a press release.
  • Since You’re Already Getting a Flu Shot, Why Not One for COVID-19, Too?New York Times – May 18, 2022As COVID-19 morphs into a stubborn and unpredictable facet of everyday life, scientists and federal health officials are converging on a new strategy for immunizing Americans: a vaccination campaign this fall, perhaps with doses that are finely tuned to combat the version of the virus expected to be in circulation. The plan would borrow heavily from the playbook for distributing annual flu shots, and may become the template for arming Americans against COVID-19 in the years to come.
  • FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster for children 5 to 11USA Today – May 17, 2022The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 booster shot for children ages 5 to 11. The booster dose is available to children five months after completing their primary series of two shots. The companies submitted for an emergency use authorization from the FDA last month after a study found healthy children in that age group had a safe and strong immune response to the booster.Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for younger children. Children in that age group get a dose that is equivalent to one-third of the dose given to adults.
  • Third round of free COVID-19 tests made available by U.S. governmentWashington Post – May 17, 2022Households can now order eight more free at-home COVID-19 tests, the White House, giving Americans access to an additional supply of rapid tests ahead of possible summer and fall surges. “As the highly transmissible subvariants of Omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” the White House said in a statement. The tests are available at The Biden administration previously committed to making 1 billion at-home tests available to American households at no charge and has so far distributed 350 million tests. Households were allowed to order four tests at a time in January and March.
  • mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna fare better against COVID-19 variants of concernMedical Xpress – May 17, 2022A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna perform better against the World Health Organization’s variants of concern (VOCs) than viral vector vaccines from AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen. Although they all effectively prevent severe disease by VOCs, the research, published May 17th in the open access journal PLoS Medicine, suggests that people receiving a viral vector vaccine are more vulnerable to infection by new variants. By March 2022, COVID-19 had caused over 450 million confirmed infections and six million reported deaths.
  • Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat COVID-19Technology Review – May 17, 2022COVID-19 is far more likely to kill you if you’re old. One reason is that aged immune systems struggle to cope with infections and recover from them. So why not try drugs that make bodies young again? That’s the bold idea now being explored in clinical trials around the world, which are testing drugs that reverse the impacts of age on the body, rejuvenate the immune system and clear out aged, worn-out cells. Some scientists avoid using the term “anti-aging” because of its snake oil connotations—but these drugs specifically target the biology of aging.
  • Scientists Use Machine Learning Models to Help Identify Long COVID-19 PatientsUNC Health Newsroom – May 16, 2022Clinical scientists used machine learning (ML) models to explore de-identified electronic health record (EHR) data in the National COVID-19 Cohort Collaborative (N3C), a National Institutes of Health-funded national clinical database, to help discern characteristics of people with long-COVID-19 and factors that may help identify such patients using data from medical records. The findings, published in The Lancet Digital Health, have the potential to improve clinical research on long COVID-19 and inform a more standardized care regimen for the condition.
  • Getting sick from Omicron protects vaccinated individuals against a wide range of variants better than a booster, studies findFortune – May 16, 2022With Omicron subvariants causing COVID-19 cases to jump nationwide, two new studies offer a small consolation for vaccinated individuals who suffer breakthrough infections. The infection leaves you with protections that may be more effective than those offered by a second booster. One study was conducted by German biotechnology company BioNTech SE and the second by the University of Washington in collaboration with San Francisco-headquartered Vir Biotechnology. Both studies investigated the immune responses of various groups based on their vaccination and infection status. Currently, adults 50 and over are eligible for a second booster shot, according to the CDC, along with immunocompromised individuals over 12 and those who received two doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
  • The Answer to Stopping COVID-19 May Be Up Your NoseNew York Times – May 16, 2022The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use were developed at unprecedented speed and surpassed expectations in how well they worked. The billions of people who are protected by them have avoided severe symptoms, hospitalization and deaths. These vaccines are a scientific success beyond measure. And yet they could be even better. The enemy has evolved, and the world needs next-generation vaccines to respond. This includes vaccines that prevent COVID-19 infections altogether. When the early mRNA vaccines were first authorized in December 2020, the world was dealing with a different kind of pandemic. The dominant strain circulating had a relatively low capacity to spread between people.

Rely on California Biotechnology Foundation to monitor breaking news and provide updates on the latest advancements in COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.

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If you have any questions about informational briefings contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].