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Moderna seeks authorization of updated COVID-19 vaccine; new Novavax vaccine in works: Coronavirus update for June 10, 2022

by Jun 10, 2022Health

Novavax vaccine

 Moderna will seek authorization for an updated COVID-19 vaccine designed to protect against omicron subvariants, and a panel recommended the authorization of a new COVID-19 vaccine from the biotechnology company Novavax.

Cleveland.com is rounding up some of the most notable coronavirus news making headlines online. Here’s what you need to know for Friday, June 10.

Moderna to seek authorization for booster targeted against omicron

Moderna said it will seek authorization for an updated COVID-19 vaccine designed to protect against omicron subvariants. The pharmaceutical company called the updated vaccine its “lead candidate” for a fall booster.

Moderna recently released preliminary data showing that its omicron-targeting COVID-19 booster candidate produced 1.75 times as many neutralizing antibodies against the version of omicron that circulated over the winter, known as BA.1, compared with its existing vaccine.

But several new omicron subvariants have been identified. Two of those, known as BA.4 and BA.5, are now responsible for 13% of new coronavirus cases in this country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new estimates.

White House officials have said they are preparing for a fall and winter COVID-19 wave, driven by omicron subvariants, that could see 100 million coronavirus infections and a significant number of deaths.

New COVID-19 vaccine takes step toward full approval

A panel of independent vaccine experts recommended Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration authorize a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Maryland biotechnology company Novavax. If fully approved, Novavax would be the fourth shot approved for use in the United States.

It is not clear when doses of the Novavax vaccine will be available. The FDA is still reviewing data regarding its manufacturing.

The Novavax shot is a protein-based vaccine based on a traditional technology also used in flu and shingles vaccines. Many experts are eager to add another vaccine to the toolbox, particularly because the Johnson & Johnson shot is now recommended only for people who cannot or will not take messenger RNA vaccines.

Nearly 83% of Americans age 5 and up have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts on the committee noted that data supporting the vaccine’s authorization was old, showing its performance before the current variants arose.

COVID-19 leading cause of duty-related police deaths in 2020

COVID-19 caused 62% of duty-related deaths of U.S. police officers in the pandemic’s first year — and that rose to 77% to 82% among minority officers—according to a new study published in Policing: An International Journal.

Researchers from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health looked at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund database, which tracks law-enforcement officers who die while on duty, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2020.

Of the 295 duty-related deaths, 182 (62%) were attributed to COVID-19, for a national rate of 12.8 per 100,000 officers per year. That was higher than that of all other causes of death combined (8.0 per 100,000), researchers said.

The remaining 38% of death were attributed to gunshot wounds, vehicle crashes, other diseases, accidents, drownings, and beatings, researchers said.

The study authors noted that police officers and other first responders can’t avoid close contact with the public. In 2020, police worked amid reduced staffing, and a limited supply of personal protective equipment.

More than 82 million COVID-19 vaccines discarded

States, U.S. territories, federal agencies and pharmacies discarded 82.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from December 2020 through mid-May — just over 11% of the doses the federal government distributed, according to CDC data. That’s an increase from the 65 million doses the CDC told the Associated Press had been wasted as of late February.

Pharmacy chains CVS and Walmart were responsible for more than a quarter of the doses thrown away in the United States in that time period, in part due to the sheer volume of vaccine they handled.

Five other pharmacies or dialysis centers — Health Mart, DaVita, Rite Aid, Publix and Costco — wasted fewer overall doses, but a higher share: more than a quarter of the vaccine doses they received, well above the national average.

Two states also discarded more than a quarter of their doses: Oklahoma, which tossed 28% of the nearly 4 million doses it received, and Alaska, which threw away almost 27% of its 1 million doses, according to the CDC data.

The Pfizer vaccine is kept ultra-cold while being shipped to central distribution points. Then, vaccine vials are sent to hospitals and pharmacies in insulated containers used as temporary storage. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine must be kept frozen as well, but at regular freezer temperatures.

Vaccines that are kept too long outside of freezers must be discarded.

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