News Scan for Jul 11, 2022

News brief

US buys 3.2 million doses of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

The Biden administration announced this morning that it would buy 3.2 million doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to soon receive authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) news release.

The protein-based vaccine would be offered as a primary series of two shots. If approved, it will be the fourth COVID-19 vaccine available to US adults.

The 7-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 111,794, with 327 daily deaths and 38,149 hospitalized, according to the Washington Post tracker. In the past week, new daily cases rose 6%, hospitalizations rose 11%, and deaths fell 14%.

With COVID-19 cases in the city rising again, New York City public health officials late last week urged residents to return to mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, the Associated Press reports.

In global news, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency are recommending that second booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines be considered for people between 60 and 79 years old and people who have medical conditions putting them at high risk of severe disease.

"The updated recommendations come amid increasing rates of COVID-19 reporting and rates of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and occupancy in several countries … and in the context of the emergence of the Omicron lineages BA.4 and BA.5. These data signal that a new COVID-19 wave is ramping up across the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA)," the ECDC said in a statement.
Jul 11 HHS news release
Jul 11 ECDC


COVID vaccine booster—not initial regimen—key for blood-cancer patients

Most patients with blood cancer produced an immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine booster rather than the initial regimen, and none given the preventive monoclonal antibody combination Evusheld were infected, finds a retrospective US study published today in Cancer.

Brown University researchers led the study, which involved analysis of SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels and COVID-19 outcomes in the sera of 378 patients with hematologic cancers after initial and booster vaccine doses. Patients who have blood cancers such as multiple myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma are at high risk for poor vaccine immune response and severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Patients had received boosters after either the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 version.

Of the 378 patients, 181 (48%) had detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their sera (seroconverted) after initial vaccination. Patients with active cancer or who had recently received an immune-cell–depleting monoclonal antibody were the least likely to produce an immune response.

Among the 85 patients whose immune systems didn't respond to initial vaccination, 48 (56%) developed antibodies after a booster vaccine dose. The results were similar for patients who were and weren't receiving active treatment (53% vs 58%).

By the end of February 2022, 33 patients (8.8%) later tested positive for COVID-19, and 3 died of their infections (0.8%). While postvaccination seroconversion and the incidence of infection weren't significantly associated, no patient with detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies died of COVID-19, and none of the 25 given AstraZeneca's tixagevimab-cilgavimab combination (Evusheld) tested positive for the virus.

In a news release from Wiley, which publishes the journal, first author Thomas Ollila, MD, said that the findings underscore the importance of encouraging COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and checking antibody levels in patients with blood cancer to identify who might benefit from Evusheld. "This is real world evidence that these actions can save lives," he said.
Jul 11 Cancer study
Jul 11 Wiley
news release

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