What We’re Reading: Moderna Vaccine Efficacy Reduced; Vaccine Mandate Revived; New Combo Against Breast Cancer

Two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have reduced efficacy against the Omicron variant; a federal appeals court reinstates the Biden administration’s health care worker vaccine mandate in 26 states; a new combination therapy may reduce breast cancer progression.

Moderna Vaccine Efficacy Reduced by Omicron

Study results show that 2 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be about 50 times less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant compared with the original variant, according to NPR. This news comes after recent reports claimed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was also less protective against the variant. However, those who received a third dose of Moderna showed antibodies highly effective at blocking the Omicron variant, which had similar effectiveness at blocking the Delta variant. The researchers said their results demonstrate that if the Omicron variant does become the dominant strain the United States, it will be critical for people to get their booster doses, particular elderly individuals or those with health problems that put them at high risk of complications.

Court Revives Health Worker Vaccination Mandate

According to Reuters, a US federal appeals court revived the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers who operate in federally funded health facilities. The mandate, which affects millions of health care workers in 26 states, represents a rare win for President Biden’s pandemic strategy, with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruling that a lower court only had the authority to block the mandate in the 14 states that had originally filed suit. The appeals court ruled that the lower court was wrong to impose a nationwide injunction. The mandate required health care facilities to get their staff vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing federal funding remains blocked in 24 states.

New Drug Combo May Help Fight Breast Cancer

New research shows that a new drug combination was effective at slowing disease progression in people with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is resistant to chemotherapy, according to United Press International. The combination consisting of docetaxel (Taxotere) and the experimental nitro monomethyl L-arginine acetate, or L-NMMA, led to response rates as high as 82% in participants with advanced tumors and 15% in those with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. L-NMMA is intended to target nitric oxide in tumor tissue that is known to promote cancer growth, and docetaxel is used to treat breast, lung, prostate, stomach, and head and neck cancers.