What We're Reading: Adverse Reactions to J&J Vaccine; $6.5B Agency to Cure Cancer; Pfizer Seeks Vaccine EUA Expansion in Adolescents

Adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine cause some states to pause distribution; the Biden administration proposes creation of a $6.5 billion medical research agency aiming to cure cancer and other diseases; Pfizer/BioNTech seeks expansion of its COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization in adolescents.

Georgia, 2 Other States Pause J&J Vaccine Sites

As reported by CBS News, Georgia has become the third state to temporarily shut down a vaccine site distributing the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine after 8 people experienced adverse reactions to the shot. Moreover, J&J has announced a major distribution setback as this week’s shipment to states will be reduced by 86%. Adverse reactions were also reported earlier last week in North Carolina, in 18 people, and Colorado, in 11 people, with symptoms including dizziness, nausea, and fainting. For all 3 of the US approved COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J—one-tenth of all recipients have experienced adverse effects.

Biden Admin Proposes $6.5B Agency to Cure Cancer, Diabetes

Last Friday, the Biden administration proposed the creation of a $6.5 billion medical research agency with the goal of quickly developing cures for diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer disease, and diabetes. STAT reports that the new agency would be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with the $6.5 billion sum amounting to more than the current budget for the largest agency within the NIH, the National Cancer Institute. If established, the agency would mark a significant shift from basic science projects to higher-risk ones that more directly target medical breakthroughs in each disease.

Pfizer, BioNTech Seek EUA Expansion in Adolescents for COVID-19 Vaccine

According to The New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech requested that the FDA expand its emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 15 years following positive trial results in these populations. In an announcement by both companies this past Friday, Pfizer/BioNTech are planning to request similar authorizations from health agencies worldwide. If granted expanded authorization, adolescents of this age group could start getting vaccinated before the start of school in the fall. Moderna is also testing its vaccine in a study of 12- to 17-year-olds, with Pfizer and Moderna currently conducting studies among children under the age of 12.