According to an analysis published October 13 by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation, COVID-19 continues to be a leading cause of death in the US. While daily mortality is now falling, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death in the US in September 2021, behind heart disease, according to the analysis based on CDC and other data. The majority of COVID-19-related deaths have been among unvaccinated individuals.
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously to approve Moderna’s request for authorization of an additional dose of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and to approve a similar request from J&J-Janssen. Any recommendations the committee makes are used to help the FDA make decisions but are not binding. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to discuss the boosters on October 21. Moderna has asked regulators to authorize an additional half-dose of its vaccine for adults aged 65 and older and individuals at high risk of severe COVID-19, similar to the authorization granted last month for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. An FDA briefing document released this week suggests that a booster dose of Moderna’s vaccine administered at least 6 months from the second dose increased antibody levels in recipients. In separate documents submitted to the FDA, Moderna said a half-dose (50μg) additional shot provided similar increases in antibody levels as the full dose (100μg) but with fewer side effects. So there are several more steps to final FDA and CDC approval of the boosters which could happen by this time next week or perhaps the following week.
Since President Joe Biden announced SARS-CoV-2 vaccination requirements for federal workers and contractors, healthcare systems, and employers with 100 or more employees, most workers have chosen to be vaccinated, despite some predictions mandates might worsen labor shortages by prompting widespread resignations. The requirements boosted vaccination rates by at least 20 percentage points, White House officials said on October 13. Aerospace company Boeing and Southwest Airlines are the latest large corporations to announce their employees must be vaccinated or receive exemptions by December 8, in compliance with new federal guidelines expected to be finalized soon.
CSSE is reporting 44,834,986 positive cases in the U.S. and 723,242 deaths.