What We're Reading: Merck to Produce J&J Vaccine; Fauci on Shifting Vaccine Strategies; HVAD Pump Implant Kits Recalled

Merck and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) partner to produce J&J's COVID-19 vaccine; Anthony Fauci, MD, warns against shifting to a single-dose strategy for approved 2-shot vaccines; Medtronic recalls its HVAD Pump Implant Kits.

Merck to Help Make J&J Vaccine

Today, President Joe Biden will announce that competitors Merck and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will form a partnership to produce more doses of the J&J COVID-19vaccine. Reported by The Hill, the announcement follows the emergency use authorization granted by the FDA to J&J’s vaccine this past weekend that will bring 3.9 million doses into circulation this week, although no doses are set to come next week due to production delays. This is the latest of several partnerships aiming to accelerate delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, with GlaxoSmithKline having partnered with CureVac, and Sanofi and Novartis partnering with BioNTech/Pfizer.

Fauci: US to Stick to 2-Dose Vaccine Plan

Speaking on the possibility of administering 1 shot of the approved 2-shot COVID-19 vaccines to provide protection to more people, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, said yesterday that the United States will stick to the plan of inoculating tens of millions of Americans with 2 doses. He warned that shifting to a single-dose strategy may leave people less protected and at higher risk for emerging variants. Announced yesterday, Public Health England said that 1 shot of the 2-shot vaccine manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech was 57% to 61% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after 4 weeks in patients over the age of 70.

HVAD Pump Implant Kits Recalled

Medtronic announced it is recalling the HVAD Pump Implant Kit because the device may fail to initially start, restart, or have a delay in restarting after the pump has stopped, potentially causing serious patient harm, including heart attack, worsening heart failure, or death. Identified by the FDA as a Class 1 recall, the most serious type of recall, the HVAD system is used as a bridge to cardiac transplants in patients who are at risk of death from end-stage left ventricular heart failure. So far, there have been 29 complaints about the device, with 19 serious injuries and 8 life-threatening events reported.