COVID news: Moderna omicron booster OK'd in the UK; CDC 'reset' – USA TODAY

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be getting a major facelift. 
Amid ongoing criticism for the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other viral outbreaks along the way, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced it will undergo large-scale changes, calling it a “reset.” 
The announcement came as a result of an in-depth review that was ordered by the CDC director in April. 
The reorganization “will not be simply moving boxes,” Walensky told the Associated Press. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after a really challenging three years.” 
Although the changes are still being formulated, some of the steps include altering the length of time agency leaders are devoted to outbreak responses, restructuring the agency’s communications office, and increasing use of preprint scientific reports to get out actionable data, among others. 
Walensky also said she intends to “get rid of some of the reporting layers that exist,” and “work to break down some of the silos.” 
Health experts say it’s a great first step but hope the CDC and other federal agencies will continue to evolve after this initial shakeup.
Also in the news:
► First lady Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, nine days after her husband ended his isolation following a re-infection of COVID-19. 
► New coronavirus cases reported globally dropped 24% in the last week while deaths fell 6%, but were still higher in parts of Asia, according to a Thursday report by the World Health Organization.
► Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” he announced Monday. He received four doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and also started a course of the company’s antiviral, Paxlovid.
► Brazil’s federal police is asking the supreme court to charge President Jair Bolsonaro with spreading misinformation about COVID-19, according to The Guardian.  
📘What we’re reading: When should I get a COVID booster? Next-generation antibody tests could help. Read more here. 
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Americans may have missed out on about $28 billion in wages due to not having access to sick leaving during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute released earlier this month. 
The report found prior to and during the first two years of the pandemic, 58% of all work absences were unpaid. Other findings:
“The pandemic caused unpaid work absences across the entire workforce, but data on gender and race highlight the greater toll on women and minority populations,” Mona Shah, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a statement. “Policymakers should consider how paid sick leave policies can promote public health and advance equity.”
British drug regulators have become the first in the world to authorize an updated version of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine that includes protection against the omicron variant, which the government said would be offered to people aged 50 and over starting in the fall.
Each dose of the booster shot will target both the original COVID-19 virus that was first detected in 2020 and the omicron BA.1 variant that was first picked up in November. In a statement Monday, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said the side effects were similar to those seen for Moderna’s original booster shot and were typically “mild and self-resolving.”
The decision to authorize is based on clinical trial data showing Moderna’s new booster induced more neutralizing antibodies against BA.1, the original omicron variant, when compared to the company’s 50 microgram booster dose of original COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, U.S. regulators have asked vaccine makers to develop a booster targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. In an interview with NBC News, White House COVID coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said the new boosters may be available “in a few short weeks” to anyone over the age of 12.
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans haven’t been to the dentist since before the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a new survey from invisible aligners company
According to the Byte survey, the top reasons for delaying dental visits are:
The sample size of that survey was small, but several dentists that spoke to USA TODAY said they weren’t surprised by the results.
The further out people push that first return visit, the scarier the procedures and total bill could become, said Dr. Sodabeh Etminan, dental director at the University of Illinois’ Mile Square Health Center, a network of health centers in the Chicago area.
She said anyone who hasn’t been to the dentist since before the pandemic needs to make it a priority.
“I know it’s easier said than done,” Etminan said. “Go in and get it done. If there is something going on, you’re going to get the news one way or the other.”
 – Katie Wedell, USA TODAY
A vaccine given to millions of children around the world for tuberculosis may be protective against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in patients with type 1 diabetes, a new study suggests.  
In a study of 144 patients, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital found 12.5% of patients who were given a placebo met the criteria for confirmed COVID-19 compared to only 1% who got the vaccine.
This would make the vaccine, called the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, 92% effective against COVID-19, study authors concluded in the paper published Monday in Cell Reports Medicine.
“Multiple studies have shown that adults with type 1 diabetes who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are at increased risk of severe illness,” said Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We found that three doses of BCG administered prior to the start of the pandemic prevented infection and limited severe symptoms from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.”
Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT. 
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.


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