The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goes one step further to expand eligibility for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. It said that children twelve to fifteen years could get their booster shots from their nearest vaccination center. Moreover, the FDA said that the recent move is part of an effort to protect kids from the deadly virus as schools try to reopen or stay open after the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
Omicron, the most contagious Coronavirus variant, is penetrating swiftly into the communities and is posing a threat to school-going children. So, the latest announcement from the drug agency will play a pivotal role in protecting them from the virus. The FDA stated that everybody who was at least twelve years old could receive a booster shot five months after receiving the second Pfizer-BioNTech dose. It also approved boosters for some kids ages five to eleven who are experiencing compromised immune systems.
The US FDA allowed Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses for children as young as 12 and can get it as early as five months after their last dose rather than six months. Now CDC will review the FDA decision on Wednesday and officially authorize boosters for kids 12 to 15. pic.twitter.com/I6y8Su1eR7
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) January 4, 2022
CDC will Review the FDA Assessment
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its panel of external vaccine advisers will now review the authorizations of the FDA on Wednesday. Assuming the board agrees with the assessment of the FDA, Rochelle Walensky, the CDC Director, could officially authorize their use later the same day. In addition, the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research of the FDA, Peter Marks, stated that a booster shot of the currently approved vaccines might help provide enhanced protection against both highly infectious variants, such as Delta and Omicron.
The Omicron variant seems to be slightly more resistant against the initial two-shot series of the current vaccines of Moderna and Pfizer. As a result, some U.S. schools and a few major Universities decided provisionally to revert to virtual classes to combat the spread of the virus. Other school districts are going with in-person classes but tighten face mask mandates. Furthermore, the FDA’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, expressed while announcing the latest booster approval that throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for the FDA o instantly adapts meant using the best available knowledge to make knowledgeable decisions with the safety and health of Americans in mind.
She said that with the ongoing wave of the Omicron variant, the agency must continue to take lifesaving, effective, and preventative measures like primary COVID vaccination and boosters, social distancing, and facemask wearing to resist Coronavirus effectively. According to the CDC, approximately two hundred and six million Americans received full vaccination shots, around sixty-two percent of the population. Still, only around one-third of them, almost sixty-nine million people, received booster doses. The United States recorded over eight hundred twenty thousand Coronavirus deaths, the most of any country.
Over 100000 U.S. Hospitalizations amid the Omicron Variant Spread
According to the statistics from the U.S. Department of Human & Health Services (HHS), more than 102,500 Americans are hospitalized in the country amid Coronavirus infection. It marks a rise in hospitalizations as the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant drives the largest number of average daily cases recorded in the U.S. The statistics of the HHS revealed that around 103330 hospitalizations were recorded in the country with Coronavirus.
CNN reports HHS statistics; the number is a stark surge from the hospitalizations of the last week, which totaled around seventy-one thousand cases. Coronavirus hospitalization hit its highest at more than one hundred, forty-two thousand cases around one year ago, on 14th January 2021, and last hit more than one hundred thousand almost four months ago in September.
According to the HHS statistics, thirty-eight U.S. states have at least seventy percent of ICU beds occupied, and around eighteen thousand patients with Coronavirus are in the intensive care unit. In addition, unvaccinated people face about eight times as high a rate of hospitalization compared to vaccinated adults, according to the November aggregate figures from the CDC.
During the last seven days, around 405470 new Coronavirus cases were recorded in the United States on average. It is the largest 7-day average of cases since the outbreak started. Initially, Omicron was detected in South Africa in November and instantly made its way across the world. World scientists believe the new variant has a high transmission level, accounting for a significant number of cases. But the good thing about the variant is that it may not be as deadly as other variants.
Pentagon Chief Tested Positive for Coronavirus
On Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tested positive for Coronavirus as he was experiencing mild symptoms. Austin tweeted about his contraction with the virus and announced quarantine himself at home. Furthermore, he told his Twitter followers that he would attend critical discussions and meetings virtually in the coming week. However, Kathleen Hicks, the Deputy Secretary, would represent him in all relevant matters.
Austin last met with U.S. President Joe Biden on 21st December, over a week before he started to experience COVID-19 symptoms. Moreover, the Pentagon Chief said he informed the president and leadership team about his illness. His staff started contact tracing and testing of all those people with whom he came into direct contact over the last week.
My last meeting with @POTUS was on Tues 12/21, more than a week before my symptoms began. I tested negative that very morning. I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly & only with a few staff. We were properly masked & socially distanced throughout. 5/7
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 3, 2022
Austin doctors specified that as he received his booster shot in November, that is why the virus didn’t behave much dangerous to him. However, in October, another Biden’s Cabinet member, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, tested positive for Coronavirus.
Omicron Variant New York Hospitalizations Surpassed Last Winter Peak
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that the number of Coronavirus patients hospitalized in the state surpassed 9500 on Monday, beating the last year’s winter peak. So, the state and New York City is once again become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the highly transmissible Omicron variant driving the rapid rise in new cases.
According to Washington Post data, the United States was averaging over four hundred thousand new virus cases daily as of Monday, double the previous rate of the week. The analysts expected that the rate soon hit one million cases per day. On the other hand, Pfizer is studying its vaccine, in even smaller shots, for kids younger than five.