Coronavirus Roundup: Booster Shot News; Reality TV Star Sentenced for Paycheck Protection Program Fraud
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on vaccines voted on Friday to recommend a Pfizer/BioNTech booster shot for individuals 65 and up, but not for the general population. These are non-binding decisions that the FDA does not necessarily have to take up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee is meeting this week to discuss booster shots, so a decision from the FDA is expected soon.
Ahead of all that, White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz said in a statement on Friday that this was “an important step forward in providing better protection to Americans from COVID-19. We stand ready to provide booster shots to eligible Americans once the process concludes at the end of next week.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said on “Fox News Sunday” he would be surprised if “it does not become clear over the next few weeks that administration of boosters may need to be enlarged.” Based on the data from the United States and Israel “it's clear that waning of the effectiveness of those vaccines is a reality, and we need to respond to it,” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed similar sentiments on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “I believe as a scientist who's been following it that, ultimately, the real proper regimen will turn out to be the original two shots, plus a boost,” Fauci said. “But you want to do that according to what the data tells you, including the risk-benefit ratio particularly for the younger people who do not generally get as much severe disease as the elderly and others, so I believe that there's a good chance that, as we get into the coming months [and] into the next year, that you will see the data pointing to the benefit of having a much broader blanket of people.”
Pfizer/BioNTech said on Monday a lower dose version of their vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11, based on their study. "Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency and other regulators as soon as possible," said a press release. "For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for emergency use authorization as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group."
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee tweeted on Saturday that “Love and Hip Hop” star Maurice Fayne was sentenced to 17 years in prison for scamming Paycheck Protection Program loans in order to fund a Ponzi scheme. “He used scammed PPP loans to pay for his child support, debt, custom jewelry, his co-conspirators and to lease a Rolls Royce,” said the watchdog. “Fame won't protect you if you're scamming.”
On Friday, a federal court ordered the CDC to release records regarding the Trump administration's policies that allegedly restricted employees from talking to the press, the Knight First Amendment Institute announced. “We’re pleased with today’s decision,” said Anna Diakun, staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, in a statement. “The public needs to understand the extent to which the Trump administration sidelined and even muzzled CDC employees in the midst of a global pandemic, preventing them from providing urgent public health information to the press and the public.”
The Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service is looking to issue nearly all payments electronically by 2030 after the success it had with stimulus payments during the pandemic, Federal News Network reported on Monday.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is demanding answers on the Health and Human Services Department’s recent change in the distribution process for states to receive coronavirus monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments. “I am concerned that by seizing control of this critical supply chain, HHS will exert more power over states by restricting access to these treatments,” Tuberville wrote in a letter on Friday. “The ability to withhold access is problematic in that it allows unelected bureaucrats at HHS to put undue political pressure on states to comply with whatever additional COVID-related mandates they deem appropriate.”
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold a hearing on Wednesday on pandemic relief programs. “During the hearing, experts will explore the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of pandemic relief programs, assess the current economic situation, and recommend further steps for Congress to take to ensure no one is left behind as America works to emerge from the pandemic and build a post-pandemic economy that is better for all,” said an announcement on Monday.
Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 1 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 email@example.com.