US cases of COVID-19 surge to record levels; FDA expands eligibility for Pfizer/BioNTech booster doses to children ages 12 to 15 years old; Israeli study finds fourth shot of COVID-19 vaccine effective and safe.
According to Bloomberg, US cases of COVID-19 rose to a new global record yesterday with more than 1 million people diagnosed with the virus. As the more infectious Omicron variant continues to surge nationwide, the case total is nearly double the previous record of approximately 590,000 US cases set last week and is more than twice the case count observed in any other country since the onset of the pandemic. Moreover, hospitalizations increased 27% in the past week to more than 103,000—marking the highest hospitalization levels seen since late Summer.
The FDA yesterday expanded eligibility for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 booster doses to children ages 12 to 15 years old and also reduced the time between the second Pfizer dose and the booster shot to 5 months from the previous 6 month wait time. The move still requires recommendation from the CDC whose expert advisory panel will meet to discuss the expanded eligibility on Wednesday, reported CNBC. Although children are generally at lower risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19, hospital admissions among younger age groups have increased to record levels in recent weeks.
Preliminary findings of a study conducted in Israel showed that a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine increased antibodies 5-fold in the week after the shot was given, according to Reuters. As the fastest country to roll out 2-dose inoculations last year, and the first to administer third shots as boosters, Israel administered the fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people over 60 years, health workers, and immunocompromised patients, which was shown to be effective and safe in participants.