Covid-19 roundup: Moderna gets the OK to use vaccine in children ages 12-17; 23andMe finds genetic link to loss of taste and smell
Parents in Canada and Europe now have two options to provide their children with a Covid-19 vaccine.
Moderna announced that it has submitted authorization approval for the use of its vaccine in adolescents with both Canadian and EU health officials on Monday. In May, the company announced that the Phase II/III study of the vaccine in children ages 12-17 met its primary endpoints. The jab achieved 100% efficacy in a study that involved 2,500 patients who were observed under the same case definition in the Phase III study in adults.
In a statement, CEO Stéphane Bancel said:
We are pleased to announce that we have submitted for authorization of our COVID-19 vaccine for use in adolescents with Health Canada. We are encouraged that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 infection in adolescents. We have filed for conditional marketing approval with the European Medicines Agency and we will file for an Emergency Use Authorization with the U.S. FDA and regulatory agencies around the world for this important younger age population. We remain committed to doing our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderna announced on May 25 that its vaccine was effective in 3,700 children between the age of 12 and 17, and showed an efficacy “consistent with 100%.” Because children are less likely to develop serious side effects, the trial also looked at milder cases than examined in the adult study. The study found that the vaccine was 93% effective at stopping mild cases 14 days after patients were dosed.
Previously, the Cambridge, MA drugmaker said it plans to apply for US authorization in kids in June. Though a date was not announced, the company did double down on that plan in Monday’s release.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized in May for use in children in the US as young as 12 years old. It was authorized for the same age group in Canada on May 5, and in Europe on May 28.
Report: loss of taste and smell linked to genetic variant
The loss of smell and taste has been one of the key side effects for Covid-19 patients, and now 23andMe has published a report saying that could be linked to a genetic variant.
A patient with a copy of the genetic variant near two olfactory genes is 11.5% more likely to lose smell or taste if they are infected than someone without a copy, the company says. The research builds off work the company has done the past year surrounding the role blood type plays in the severity and susceptibility to the virus.
The study uses genetic data from more than a million people, and examined the differences in the genome between people who did and didn’t lose their taste and smell. Scientists identified an association on chromosome 4 near the olfactory genes UGT2A1 and UGT2A2, the company said.
About 68% of the participants in the study who tested positive for Covid-19 reported a loss of smell and taste, compared to 17% of those who tested negative. The report also found that in those between the ages of 26-35, 73% reported loss of smell compared to just 43% of people above the age of 85.
US senators pledge vaccine doses to Taiwan in visit
As Taiwan battles a Covid-19 outbreak that saw its daily number of cases raise by 700 in just a 10-day period, three US senators have said their country will donate 750,000 doses of the vaccine.
The jabs come at a time when Taiwan says China has hindered efforts to secure doses. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-IL, visited the country with Sen. Christopher Coons, D-DE, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-AK, to demonstrate bipartisan support for the territory, Politico reports.
Taiwan was included in a list of places that President Joe Biden’s administration says is due for a share of 25 million doses that will be distributed around the world. Many of those doses will be sent over via COVAX, the program sponsored by Gavi, the vaccine alliance to provide low and middle-income countries with jabs.
The island of 24 million people has recently seen the spike in cases drop slightly, as there were 342 new positive cases reported Friday. Before then, the island was experiencing extreme success battling the virus, as there had only been a single day between January 1 and May 6 in which there had been more than 10 new Covid-19 cases reported in a day.
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