OH-17 News

COVID Vaccine Production Quietly Suspended at Johnson & Johnson + More – The DEFENDER

Johnson & Johnson temporarily halted production of its COVID-19 vaccine in The Netherlands, the only manufacturing hub making usable doses for the pharmaceutical company, according to a New York Times report on Tuesday.

The company stopped production of the vaccine at its facility in the Dutch city of Leiden at the end of 2021 and has instead turned its attention to making another vaccine for an unrelated virus, The Times reported. The pause is temporary and expected to last just a month — but it could reduce Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine supply by a few hundred million doses.

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from Janssen Pharmaceuticals has been linked to rare blood clots and is considered less effective than Pfizer and Moderna‘s shots by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccines are extremely important in Africa and other low-income countries, which rely on the simpler one-dose shot.

Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) said on Monday U.S. government funding for its COVID-19 vaccine had been expanded to cover a late-stage study in adolescents with a booster component.

Novavax in July 2020 had received $1.6 billion in funding to develop its protein-based vaccine under a government program aimed at accelerating access to coronavirus vaccines and treatments, formerly called Operation Warp Speed.

Novavax’s two-dose shot has received authorizations from the European Union and the World Health Organization and was recently cleared for use in adults in Britain and New Zealand. Novavax last year started testing its vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 17.

A group of young children in Ireland experienced no major reactions after mistakenly being given adult-sized shots of Pfizer‘s COVID-19 vaccine.

The mistake was noticed by staff at a mass vaccination center where the children came for the second dose of Pfizer‘s two-shot vaccine, the Irish Examiner reported Monday. Only one of the seven children had a mild adverse effect, the paper reports, citing regulators.

Children are supposed to be given a 10-milligram dose of Pfizer’s vaccine, known as Comirnaty, according to Health Service Executive’s National Immunization Office. For adults, the dose is 30 milligrams.

It’s not the first time health workers have confused doses. Kaiser Permanente warned in January that nearly 4,000 patients had received an insufficient dose of the vaccine.

Pfizer made nearly $37 billion (£27bn) in sales from its COVID-19 vaccine last year — making it one of the most lucrative products in history — and has forecast another bumper year in 2022, with a big boost coming from its COVID-19 pill Paxlovid.

The U.S. drugmaker’s overall revenues in 2021 doubled to $81.3 billion, and it expects to make record revenues of $98 billion to $102 billion this year.

The bumper sales prompted accusations from campaigners of “pandemic profiteering”. The group Global Justice Now said the annual revenue of $81 billion was more than the GDP of most countries and accused Pfizer of “ripping off public health systems”.

The European Union’s drug regulator launched a review to evaluate whether the Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N)(22UAy.DE) COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a third booster shot in adolescents aged 12 to 15, even after several countries in the region have already started such a campaign.

In its statement on Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency added that a review of booster shots given to 16- and 17-year-old teenagers was ongoing.

Germany’s vaccine committee last month recommended that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a booster, following the initial two-shot course, as infection rates continue to soar among youngsters in particular. Other states in the region followed suit.

Pediatric mental health visits to physicians increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, Canada, according to a population-wide study.

Starting in July 2020, rates of visits to mental health services were consistently 6% to 15% above expected levels — based on prior years — and were sustained as of February 2021 (adjusted relative rate [aRR] 1.15, 95% CI 1.13-1.17), reported Natasha Ruth Saunders, MD, MSc, of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and colleagues.

The largest increase in physician-based mental health visits was recorded for adolescent girls (aRR 1.26, 95% CI 1.25-1.28), they noted in JAMA Pediatrics.

Just 10% of Americans now expect that COVID-19 will be eradicated by this time next year, according to a new poll released Tuesday by Axios-Ipsos.

One in 3 survey takers said they expect to catch COVID-19 within the next month as the results show an American public that is starting to process the concept of living with the coronavirus. The poll does show that Americans are divided on how to live with COVID-19.

Axios reports that there are four fairly evenly split groups on how to go forward with the virus: open up and end all restrictions, open up with precautions, keep precautions and requirements in place, and increase mask and vaccine requirements.

A sub-variant of the Omicron variant of COVID is spreading rapidly in Europe and Asia and could become the dominant variant of the virus. The so-called “stealth” Omicron COVID sub-variant BA.2 has now been found in 67 countries.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Dr. Dorit Nitzan, regional director for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the expected trajectory of BA.2 will see the sub-variant become the new dominant variant of COVID once it passes a certain threshold as is being seen in Denmark and the U.K.

Research Director, Co-Director of the MPH Global Health Epidemiology Program CE, and an epidemiologist in Copenhagen, Lone Simonsen, told Newsweek: “BA.2 is already dominant in Denmark, but we see no rise in severe illness and ICU admissions are dropping. My take is BA.2 is a faster but not more deadly variant.”

Pet hamsters can transmit COVID to humans and are the likely source of a recent outbreak of the Delta variant in Hong Kong, data suggests.

The research confirms fears that a pet shop was the source of a recent COVID outbreak in the city, which has seen at least 50 people infected and led to the culling of more than 2,200 hamsters.

However, virologists emphasized that, although the pet trade could provide a route for viral spread, existing pet hamsters are unlikely to pose a threat to their owners and should not be harmed.