The Smothers Brothers were ahead of their time: Two people fell into a vat of chocolate at an M&M/Mars factory in central Pennsylvania. They weren’t hurt but said they couldn’t get out … which is exactly what we would say in that situation.
The White House outlined the plan for getting COVID-19 vaccines to kids 5 and under if they’re authorized by federal regulators next week.
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Plans unveiled for COVID vaccines for kids under 5
Ten million pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses will be available for states, Tribes and other jurisdictions to pre-order in anticipation of vaccinations for kids ages 5 and younger beginning before the end of the month, the White House announced Thursday.
Administration officials outlining the plan said vaccines will be distributed across thousands of different sites, but they will put a focus on frontline providers like pediatricians and primary care doctors, as that is where they expect many families will want to go.
“We have waited a long time for this moment,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha said.
“If the FDA and CDC recommend these vaccines, this would mark an important moment in the pandemic. It would mean that, for the first time, essentially every American, from our oldest to our youngest, would be eligible for the protection that vaccines provide,” Jha said.
Details: Jurisdictions were able to pre-order five million doses combined of Pfizer and Moderna’s shots beginning last Friday, and another five million were made available on Wednesday. The doses cannot ship until the Food and Drug Administration gives its authorization.
Enthusiasm limited: To date, jurisdictions have ordered just 58 percent of the available Pfizer doses and 34 percent of the available Moderna doses.
But anonymous administration officials stressed to reporters it was still early in the ordering process, and it followed a similar pattern to what they saw with vaccines for adults and adolescents.
Read more here.
Biden weighing executive orders on abortion rights
President Biden said late Wednesday that he is considering signing an executive order on abortion rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade later this month, offering a window into the administration’s thinking as officials prepare for the ruling.
“There’s some executive orders I could employ, we believe. We’re looking at that right now,” Biden said during a taped appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” prompting a round of applause from the audience.
Biden did not expand on what executive orders he is considering. He also urged voters to vote Republicans out of office come November so that Democrats can pass federal legislation codifying Roe v. Wade.
“It’s clear that if, in fact, the decision comes down the way it does and these states impose the limitations they’re talking about, it’s going to cause a mini revolution and they’re going to vote a lot of these folks out of office,” Biden said.
Pressure from Congress: His comments come after a group of Democratic senators led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote to Biden on Tuesday urging him to sign an executive order “directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.”
Read more here.
REMISSION SEEN IN EVERY RECTAL CANCER PATIENT IN DRUG STUDY
A new drug called dostarlimab saw astonishing results in a 12-person rectal cancer trial: Every one of the dozen patients went into remission.
All the patients were still in remission in a six-month follow-up of the trial as well. Additionally, none of the patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone any preventative surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence were reported during the volunteers’ follow-up appointments, according to the study.
The drug, sold under GlaxoSmithKline’s brand name of Jemperli, has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the treatment of certain endometrial cancers.
‘Unheard of’ results: The study was published to The New England Journal of Medicine, and even though it featured so few patients, such a success rate is “unheard of,” according to Alan P. Venook, a colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, San Francisco who spoke to The New York Times.
Still need more research: The authors of the trial caution that while their study is promising, it was quite small, and further, larger research featuring more diverse ethnic backgrounds will need to be conducted to see the true efficacy of dostarlimab.
Read more here.
REPORT ON COVID ORIGIN SUGGESTS MORE INVESTIGATION INTO LEAK
The possibility that the coronavirus could have escaped from a laboratory warrants “further investigations,” a group of World Health Organization (WHO) scientists said in a report released Thursday.
However, the preliminary report from the scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus and other novel pathogens noted that the group had not been provided any new data to evaluate the “laboratory leak” possibility as a pathway of SARS-CoV-2 into the human population.
The report said all currently available data suggest SARS-CoV-2 originated in animals, with the closest genetically related viruses identified in bats in China in 2013 and Laos in 2020.
Missing info: However, researchers said the missing data means they were not able to identify the animal that infected humans nor the location where the infection could have occurred.
The scientists said “it remains important to consider all reasonable scientific data” to evaluate the possibility of a laboratory incident.
Read more here.
Abbott, FDA warned of problems months earlier: report
Abbott Laboratories and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were notified about possible problems at an Abbott plant in Sturgis, Mich., that makes baby formula in February 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday and The Hill confirmed.
The Journal’s reporting cites documents that the newspaper viewed, a person familiar with the matter and a government official.
The revelation is potentially damaging in that it suggests officials knew about possible problems at the plant much earlier than previously known.
The Biden administration has faced criticism over the baby formula shortage, which has panicked parents across the country struggling to find formula for their young children.
President Biden has authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to help deal with the shortage, which has been blamed on supply chain issues and the Abbott shutdown.
According to the Journal’s report, a discrimination complaint was made to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by a former employee at Abbott after the worker was fired in August 2020.
Read more here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
California leaders move to enshrine abortion, contraceptive rights in state Constitution (LA Times) NYC Health Chief Declares Latest COVID Peak Over; Toddler Mask Mandate Ends Monday (WNBC) The Supreme Court could end abortion in Michigan. The race is on to let voters have their say. (Politico)
OP-EDS IN THE HILL
Operation Warp Speed was a tremendous success. Here’s why it won’t be replicated under Biden Will the Supreme Court apply a double standard to abortion and gun rights? Hospital complications kill thousands per year – CMS shouldn’t hide that data
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.
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