What We're Reading: COVID-19 Relief Bill Update; FDA Expedites Trial Process; Hospitalization Risk Reduced

February 23, 2021
AJMC Staff

House Budget Committee advances $1.9 trillion coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief bill; FDA will expedite trials examining booster shots against COVID-19 variants; 1 shot of Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine cuts hospitalization risk by 75%.

House Panel Advances $1.9T COVID-19 Relief Bill

Yesterday, the House Budget Committee advanced President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief bill on a 19-16 party-line vote. Reported by The Hill, the bill must now be marked up by the House Rules Committee before consideration on the House floor this week. If approved by the Senate, the bill would include $1400 stimulus checks, extensions to emergency unemployment benefits, funding for vaccinations and testing, $129 billion for schools, increases to child tax credits and earned income tax credits, and a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.

FDA Recommends Expedited Trials for COVID-19 Booster Shots

Reported by The Wall Street Journal, the FDA announced yesterday that it will expedite trials examining vaccine booster shots against variants of COVID-19 and will not require large clinical trials of the new shots’ efficacy compared with placebo. Seeking to fast-track booster doses amid the emerging threat of variants from South Africa and the United Kingdom, the agency also provided new guidelines for makers of diagnostic tests and monoclonal-antibody drugs. This new guidance will focus on how those companies can best adapt their products to address virus mutations now prominent in the United States.

One Vaccine Dose Cuts Hospitalization by 75%

Reported by POLITICO, English and Scottish public health officials announced yesterday that data suggest hospitalization and death rates will fall by approximately 75% in people who receive a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was noted to potentially be an underestimate. In more at-risk groups, such as people over the age of 80, 1 dose provided 57% efficacy at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after 3 to 4 weeks, with both doses shown to be 85% effective. Notably, elderly populations were found to be 40% less likely to be hospitalized and 56% less at risk of death when infected after vaccination compared with nonvaccinated individuals.