A trove of newly released documents detailing U.S.-funded coronavirus research in China prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that Dr. Anthony Fauci was “untruthful” when he claimed that his agency did not finance gain-of-research in Wuhan, an infectious disease expert said Sunday.
Documents published by The Intercept on Sunday show that Fauci’s organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), provided federal funds to the U.S. nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology to construct laboratory-generated SARS and MERS-related coronaviruses that demonstrated enhanced pathogenicity in humanized mice cells, according to Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard Ebright.
“The documents make it clear that assertions by the [National Institutes of Health] Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful,” Ebright said in a tweet Sunday evening.
The two leading European health agencies determined Thursday that COVID-19 booster shots are not necessary for fully vaccinated individuals who do not have compromised immune systems.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency issued a statement saying the current priority should be vaccinating all eligible individuals. Booster shots should be considered only for those with compromised immune systems.
Top U.S. health officials told the White House pandemic coordinator on Thursday to scale back the Biden administration’s plan to administer the coronavirus booster shots to individuals in September, The New York Times reported.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey D. Zients that they need more time to collect and analyze the necessary data relating to the booster shots, The New York Times reported.
The doctors told Zients that their agencies might be able to determine whether to recommend boosters for recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks, according to the Times.
The two doctors presented their argument to Zients at a meeting on Thursday. It is unclear how Zients responded to the news.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday, reversing its previous COVID-19 guidance by urging Americans to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Critics quickly denounced the reversal, saying it undermines vaccine confidence.
The CDC said all students and teachers should wear masks, even if they are vaccinated, and that all Americans, including those with the vaccine, should wear masks in public places where the virus has a significant presence. The agency cited the delta variant of COVID, which is more transmissible.
The CDC had previously announced in May that vaccinated individuals did not have to wear masks. The White House fended off questions from reporters at the White House press briefing on the reasoning behind that reversal.
The Center for Disease Control updated federal COVID guidance Friday with several major changes as schools around the country grapple with policies for students’ return in the fall.
The CDC urged schools to allow students to return to in-person classes whether or not they are vaccinated as most studies showed significant learning loss during remote-only or hybrid teaching models.
The agency also said teachers and students should wear masks unless they have gotten the vaccine, a recommendation that is certain to drive controversy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for an internal review of its own approval process that gave a greenlight to a drug to treat Alzhiemer’s, a move that could shed more light on the controversial chain of decision-making that led to the drug’s being okayed for use.
The FDA last month approved drug company BioGen’s product Aduhelm, the first medicine greenlit in the U.S. to slow the cognitive decline of those living with Alzhiemer’s.
Yet that decision was shrouded in controversy: The approval went against the advice of an outside panel of FDA experts and even led to the resignation of several of those experts in protest.
The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.
The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.
Gov. Ralph Northam intends to let the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency expire June 30, which could affect mask wearing throughout the commonwealth and the remaining restrictions on businesses.
Virginia law normally prohibits a person from covering one’s face with the intent of concealing one’s identity in public spaces, which was put on hold during the state of emergency. According to the Virginia code, a person can only wear a mask in certain situations, which include a legitimate medical reason when advised by a physician or during a health-related state of emergency when the governor expressly waives this section of law.
With the governor ending the state of emergency, it’s unclear whether wearing a mask in public could be grounds for prosecution absent a doctor’s note. The governor has said a person would not be prosecuted for wearing a mask and that he has been in contact with police groups that told him police would not arrest anyone for wearing a mask. The provision that states a person would only be guilty when intending to conceal his or her identity with the mask could be difficult to prove when a person is simply following guidelines from the governor’s office and the Center for Disease Control.
The Department of Health and Human Services will invest $3.2 billion to develop and manufacture COVID-19 antiviral medicines, it announced Thursday.
The initiative, funded as part of the American Rescue Plan, is designed to accelerate research into antivirals as well as build platforms for urgent response to future viral threats, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement Thursday. Specifically, the plan expands antiviral clinical trials, forms partnerships between health agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and funds “drug discovery groups” tasked with innovating new antiviral medicines.
“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in the statement.
Children and young adults are experiencing increased mental health issues, and suicide also is on the rise within the age group at least in part because of ongoing state shutdowns, according to several reports.
Within months of governors and local authorities shuttering schools, children were increasingly brought to emergency room doctors and specialists, according to a by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Earlier this year James Payne, a 73-year-old retired attorney in Utah, was so fed up with the high cost of a blood thinner medication he takes, he researched prices in Canada, where he found it was cheaper.
“Under Medicare, I am now paying $225 for a three-month supply,” Payne explained. “That’s $25 more than I was paying last year. Under my employer’s insurance I was only paying $20.” Payne says he is not sure why the costs are so much higher and continue to climb under Medicare, but he thinks there must be ways to make life-saving medications more affordable.
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