Data holes could complicate Moderna and J&J booster shot process – Axios

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Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios
Deciding which Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine recipients should get booster shots may end up being even messier than the process for Pfizer recipients was.
Why it matters: More Americans may very well need another round of shots, particularly older people and those who received J&J's one-dose vaccine. But regulators had issues with the quantity of data available for boosting with Pfizer, and there's even less — at least publicly available at this time — for the other two vaccines.
The big picture: The U.S. has relied heavily on other countries' data when it comes to making booster decisions, particularly Israel.
Between the lines: There are two broad kinds of data relevant to the booster process: data on the original dose's effectiveness over time, and data on a booster shot's effectiveness. The latter is more problematic.
Where it stands: Moderna has asked for authorization of a third shot for its recipients, but with a dose half the size of the original two.
Yes, but: Even if regulators end up having less data to consider — which is still a big if — it may not matter that much to the outcome.
The bottom line: If regulatory bodies met today to decide on boosters for Moderna and J&J recipients, they'd have less data to work with than they did a couple of weeks ago — and that could be a big problem.
Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios
Generic drug companies have asked Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to license their COVID-19 vaccine technology to help increase global production, but so far the vaccine makers have given them the cold shoulder.
Why it matters: Other companies are saying they have extra capacity to make more vaccines. Not using that extra capacity could prolong the pandemic throughout the world.
Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Merck said Friday that an experimental pill it is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by around 50% in a clinical trial.
Why it matters: An oral antiviral drug designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be a key tool to combat the pandemic, since not all people will get vaccinated and because it will take potentially years to vaccinate people in certain countries around the world.
New coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell by 25% over the past two weeks — another hopeful sign that the worst of the Delta wave may be behind us.
By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging roughly 114,000 new cases per day. That's still a lot, but it's a significant improvement from this summer, when the Delta variant unleashed a new wave of infections, hospitalizations and death.

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