Coronavirus Updates

As parents await an approved vaccine for children under 5, Moderna said on Wednesday a study had found its two-dose pediatric vaccine to be safe for young children, toddlers and babies. Its effectiveness, however, was complicated by the spread of the coronavirus’s omicron variant. While the pediatric vaccine generated an immune response equivalent to that of young adults before the highly transmissible variant emerged, those immune defenses were less strong in the face of omicron. In children, the pediatric vaccine was about 40 percent effective, Moderna said. The company plans to submit the data to the Food and Drug Administration for consideration in the coming weeks. 

The FDA also faces requests to authorize a second booster vaccine dose for adults. But even if they are authorized, Biden administration officials said they lack the funds to purchase those shots. They said they’ve bought enough doses for Americans age 65 and older, as well as the potential initial regimen for children under 5, but can’t buy more doses for people in other age groups unless Congress passes a delayed $15 billion funding package. It’s not yet clear whether additional doses for adults will be necessary, but officials said placing orders for doses ahead of time has been an important lesson of the pandemic. White House officials have expressed worry that vaccine manufacturers will prioritize orders placed by other countries.

That concern comes as omicron’s BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus now amounts to as much as 70 percent of new infections in much of the United States, according to the genomic surveillance company Helix. That version of the virus has prompted a surge of cases in Europe and fear that the United States will experience its own wave, similarly to how it has mirrored Europe in the past. A broad increase in cases has so far not happened in the United States, and disease experts don’t know for sure whether it will. If it does, it’s unclear whether the pandemic policies of the Biden administration and private institutions would substantially change. 

A program to ensure global vaccine equity was doomed from the beginning to fall short, a Washington Post analysis found. The initiative, called Covax, was meant to convince wealthy and poor countries to combine their money to order vaccine doses in advance and then share them in a way that would protect the most vulnerable people first. But the program’s supporters underestimated the desperation of the wealthier countries, which snatched up doses from manufacturers for their own residents. Covax was also slow to adapt as nations declined to participate. Now, more than one-third of the world has not received a vaccine dose — a result that not only is inequitable, but also makes it easier for new variants to emerge.

In a study published Monday, people who had covid-19 had a 46 percent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or being prescribed medication to control their blood sugar within a year than those who had not had the coronavirus. Greater severity of covid symptoms was associated with a higher chance of developing diabetes, but even people with less severe or asymptomatic infection had an increased risk, according to the study of more than 181,000 Department of Veterans Affairs patients. The study did not prove cause and effect but did show a strong association between covid-19 and diabetes. 

Other important news

Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant has become the world’s dominant form of the coronavirus. The Post created a map and several charts to help you visualize how it’s spreading around the world. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus a second time. She had been scheduled to travel to Europe with President Biden and other administration officials, but canceled her trip.

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