What We’re Reading: AstraZeneca Updates Efficacy Data; Senate Confirms First Openly Transgender Official; Migrant Children Contract COVID-19

AJMC Staff

AstraZeneca releases updated efficacy data for its COVID-19 vaccine following scrutiny; Rachel Levine, MD, is confirmed as the first openly transgender person to serve in a federal position; hundreds of migrant children remain in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

AstraZeneca Data Confirm Vaccine Is Effective

After the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) questioned data released by AstraZeneca on its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, the company announced that analyses of more data show the vaccine is 76% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, the Associated Press reports. That number is slightly less than the previously reported 79% efficacy announced earlier in the week. The DSMB expressed concerns that the company may have released outdated information on the trial that would provide an incomplete overview of the efficacy data. Some experts claimed the newly released data were reassuring and will likely serve as a stepping stone for US regulators to authorize the vaccine.

Senate Confirms Dr Rachel Levine as HHS Assistant Health Secretary

Rachel Levine, MD, has been confirmed by the Senate to be HHS’ assistant health secretary, making her the first openly transgender person confirmed to a federal position, The New York Times reports. Upon her confirmation, Levine vowed to promote policies advancing the health of all Americans and fight for transgender youth. Transgender adolescents attempt suicide at a much higher rate than youths whose gender identity matches the sex listed on their birth certificates. Levine was confirmed in a 52-48 vote, with Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine crossing party lines to endorse the candidate.

Migrant Children Contract COVID-19, Remain in Isolation

Hundreds of migrant children detained at the United States–Mexico border have tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Hill. HHS data show there have been nearly 3000 lab-confirmed COVID-19 tests recorded among unaccompanied children since March 2020, and 2587 of that total have since recovered and moved out of medical isolation. Currently, 319 children remain in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test while over 11,500 unaccompanied youths are in HHS shelters. The agency also currently runs more than 200 facilities in 22 states.