What We’re Reading: Panel Endorses Moderna Booster; Texas Abortion Law to Stand; Califf Considered for FDA Head

An independent FDA advisory panel endorses Moderna boosters for select groups; circuit court lets Texas abortion law stand, paving the way for appeals; Robert Califf, MD, is reportedly being eyed to head the FDA again.

Moderna Booster Shots Endorsed

An FDA advisory panel unanimously endorsed Moderna’s COVID-19 booster shot for the same groups for whom the Pfizer booster is currently authorized, STAT News reports. Specifically, the panel voted in favor of administering the shot to those 65 and older, those aged 18 to 64 with risk factors for more severe COVID-19, and those whose professions put them at high risk of contracting COVID-19. The experts recommended boosters be administered to these groups at least 6 months following their second dose, and they conceded it is too early to determine when the shots will become available to the general public. Experts will deliberate on booster data from Johnson & Johnson today.

Circuit Court Lets Texas Abortion Law Stand

In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Texas’ restrictive and controversial abortion law to remain in place, following a series of prior challenges, The Hill reports. The latest ruling will allow the law to stand as it works its way through the courts. Texas’ ban constitutes the strictest in the nation as it prohibits any abortion after the detection of fetal cardiac activity, usually around 6 weeks and before many women know they are pregnant. The decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and the current decision marks the third time in October the appeals court has sided with Texas to keep the law in place.

Biden Looks to Fill FDA Commissioner Role

The Biden administration is considering FDA veteran Robert Califf, MD, to lead the agency, POLITICO reports. Califf previously served as commissioner during the Obama administration. The agency, which has played a critical role in the nation’s COVID-19 response, has been without a permanent leader since January, as acting commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, has been filling in. Califf currently works for the Duke Clinical Research Institute and in 2019 began leading health policy at Alphabet, Google’s parent company. During his 2016 confirmation process, concerns were brought up regarding Califf’s close industry ties.