Matt Slocum / AP

Coronavirus Roundup: Federal Workforce Task Force Updates Vaccine Guidance; Moderna Asks FDA for Vaccine Approval for Adolescents 

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

President Biden announced on Thursday that the United States will buy 500 million Pfizer vaccines and donate them to 92 low- and lower middle-income countries and the African Union. 

“This is the largest-ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country,” said a press release from the White House. “The United States is using the power of our democracy, the ingenuity of American scientists, and the strength of American manufacturing to beat the pandemic globally by helping to vaccinate the world.” This is in addition to the 80 million doses the United States is sharing globally by the end of June. Here are some other recent headlines you might have missed. 

The Safer Federal Workforce task force posted new guidance on Tuesday saying that vaccines “should generally not be a pre-condition” for federal employees or contractors working in person. “Federal employees and contractors may voluntarily share information about their vaccination status, but agencies should not require federal employees or contractors to disclose such information,” said the guidance. “When an employee or contractor voluntarily discloses that they are unvaccinated or declines to provide vaccination information, agencies should use that information to implement [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommended mitigation measures, including masking and physical distancing.” 

Moderna announced on Thursday it asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for its vaccine for 12 to 17 year olds. So far just the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for adolescents. 

As many states have Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses set to expire, federal health officials and the company are looking at whether or not the expiration date can be extended, CNN reported on Wednesday. It isn’t clear how many doses there are. 

The Health and Human Services Department plans to vaccinate the thousands of migrant children in its custody. A complication could be ensuring they get their second dose if they leave HHS’s care, Politico reported on Thursday. 

In a report issued earlier this week, the State Department inspector general said the Bureau of Legislative Affairs’ “effective coordination” with Congress led to successfully repatriating more than 101,000 U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents from 136 countries during the first six months of the pandemic. “Bureau staff worked with the department’s repatriation task force, U.S. embassy staff around the world, and with the Department of Defense U.S. Transportation Command to conduct the repatriations,” said the report. “Staff handled an avalanche of congressional inquiries, set up a database to track requests, provided consistent messaging to congressional offices, and served on the department-wide task force.” 

The watchdog group Project on Government Oversight announced on Thursday that it updated its coronavirus spending tracker with data on corporate accountability from Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center. “Users can see if a company that received a loan, contract, or other form of federal aid had previously paid any fines or penalties for violating government regulations,” POGO said. “This new feature makes it far easier to scrutinize COVID-19 aid recipients and understand how much federal spending went to companies with a history of misconduct.”

Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, who is retiring from the agency at the end of June , wrote an essay published in The New York Times on Thursday about her 33 years there. “Public service is difficult. The past year and a half left many among our ranks exhausted, threatened, saddened and sometimes sidelined,” she wrote. However, “the COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time the U.S. public health system has had to surge well beyond its capacity, but with the worst pandemic in a century and, initially, a heavily partisan political context, the virus collided with a system suffering from decades of underinvestment.” She said “long-term commitments to resources and innovation are essential” because “the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last major threat our nation will face.” 

Upcoming: Biden will deliver remarks on the coronavirus vaccination program and efforts to defeat the virus globally at 6:15 p.m. 

Help us understand the situation better. Are you a federal employee, contractor or military member with information, concerns, etc. about how your agency is handling the coronavirus? Email us at newstips@govexec.com.

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