FDA committee to decide on boosters; White House in talks with Nicki Minaj on vaccine info: COVID-19 updates

A federal advisory committee will decide Friday whether third shots of COVID-19 vaccines are safe and protective against infections.

At root is whether the extra shots are “luxuries” or an essential part of providing complete protection against the virus, presidential adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week. 

He and other federal officials, including President Joe Biden, believe it is time to begin offering third shots to compensate for what appears to be fading protection. The government has agreements to purchase the doses and provide them at no cost to consumers.

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Others, particularly the director general of the World Health Organization, argue that Americans would benefit far more by getting initial shots to the unvaccinated around the world.  

The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will consider information from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in deciding whether to allow the companies to provide third vaccine doses to people 16 and older.  

 —  Karen Weintraub and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

Also in the news:

►Two dozen Republican attorneys general threatened legal action Thursday over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates set to affect about 100 million U.S. workers. The White House announced mandatory vaccines for employers with more than 100 employees, along with all federal workers.

►Italy Premier Mario Draghi’s government passed a decree mandating that private- and public-sector workers show a health pass in order to access workplaces. The pass is issued to those who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or a recent negative test.

►St. Peter’s Health hospital in Montana implemented crisis standards of care, officials said Thursday, under which health care workers may have to choose how to allocate scarce crisis resources. Hospital officials said the situation is worse than at earlier points in the pandemic, and that the ICU and morgue are full.

►Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro might be barred from attending the U.N.’s General Assembly next week because he has not received a COVID-19 vaccine. Attendees will be required to be vaccinated, but Bolsonaro has said he plans to travel to New York for the assembly.

© Kyle Green, AP Images Medical professionals pronate a 39-year-old unvaccinated COVID-19 patient in the medical intensive care unit at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 41.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 669,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 226.9 million cases and 4.6 million deaths. More than 180 million Americans — 54.2% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘What we’re reading:  Long-haul COVID-19 can last months. But here’s why experts are optimistic about recovery.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

FDA OKs treatments to be used together to prevent COVID-19 after exposure

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded emergency use authorization Thursday to allow two monoclonal antibody treatments to be administered together to prevent infection in high-risk individuals who have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 or who are at high risk of exposure in an institutional setting, such as a nursing home or prison.

The authorization applies to patients 12 years of age and older who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or are not expected to mount an adequate immune response, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company said in a statement.

“Recent reports suggest that fully vaccinated residents of nursing homes have contracted COVID-19, some of whom became quite ill,” Dr. Myron Cohen, director of UNC’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement. “This additional emergency use authorization of monoclonal antibodies for post-exposure prophylaxis in addition to the treatment of COVID-19 offers a significant achievement in the fight against this pandemic.”

White House offers call on vaccine info to Nicki Minaj

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the White House was in a “very early stage call” with Nicki Minaj’s staff after a Twitter post from the rapper alleging the COVID-19 vaccine causes impotence went viral, and added that the White House hopes celebrities share “accurate information” on the vaccine.

“We offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she had about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” Psaki said. “This is pretty standard and something we do all the time.”

Responding to a tweet from a fan saying that Minaj should speak at the United Nations’ General Assembly after her messages about the vaccine, the Trinidadian-born rapper tweeted Wednesday that “the White House has invited me” and “yes, I’m going.” The White House said that the rapper was just offered a call.

 — Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY

South Dakota governor responds to Biden vaccine orders

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said that her state will challenge the constitutionality of President Joe Biden’s sweeping order mandating vaccines for all employers with more than 100 employees and for all federal workers, a plan set to impact up to 100 million workers in the U.S.

In an op-ed for USA TODAY, Noem wrote that public health orders should be a decision left to individual states.

“As governor, I will continue to honor the wishes of our Founders by taking my direction from the Constitution. I will continue to value freedom and personal responsibility,” she wrote.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Students wait in a queue to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London on June 5, 2021. A health worker points out bottles of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London on June 5, 2021. A healthcare worker shows a woman the dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine for COVID-19 before giving it to her in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, June 4, 2021. Workers hold documents as they wait for their turn to receive the first dose of Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus in a passenger bus converted into a mobile vaccination centre at a wholesale market in Kolkata, India on June 3, 2021. An official in personal protective equipment (PPE) manages the crowd as people line up to receive China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on May 31, 2021, as part of the government’s campaign to halt the rising number of cases of the virus. Two elderly women walk into the Alba Caracas hotel to get their first dose of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine after being in line for more than 5 hours, during a massive vaccination campaign for seniors in Caracas, Venezuela, May 31, 2021. Catherine Bechard, a Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, regional Indigenous Affairs advisor, walks along a line-up of southern Alberta residents waiting to get shots of a COVID-19 vaccine from a Montana tribe in Carway, Alberta,, May 18, 2021. A woman receives a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as medical health workers visit door-to-door to deliver the vaccines to people who live far from health facilities in Siaya, Kenya, on May 18, 2021. People line up to receive doses of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on the outskirts of Siliguri, India on May 13, 2021. People wait after receiving doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at a vaccination center for people over 50 years old set up at the Vasconcelos Library, in Mexico City on May 11, 2021. A health worker prepares to administer a dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan on May 5, 2021. Nurse Pilar Rodríguez arrives to start visiting her patients in the town of Sa Pobla on the Spanish Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain, Friday, April 30, 2021. Pilar Rodríguez, age 49, is one of three nurses in the town of Sa Pobla in the interior of the island to administer shots there and in nearby villages. On her rounds of the area on foot, she is welcomed amiably by elderly folk, many bound to a chair or a bed. So far, Rodríguez said she and her colleagues have vaccinated over 70 people at their homes in the rural area. They have all received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the shot leading Spain’s campaign. A man prepares to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the first drive-through vaccination center in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Health workers arrive to inoculate elderly citizens with doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, at their house at El Agustino district in Lima, Peru on April 28, 2021. An elderly woman reacts as she receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at El-Menzah sports hall in Tunisia’s capital Tunis on April 12, 2021, as vaccination centers in the North African country experience an influx of registrations a day ahead of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. A medical worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine against Covid-19 at a vaccination center on April 8, 2021 in Erfurt, Germany. Palestinian health ministry workers prepare doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine COVID-19, donated by the Chinese government, at a school in Halhoul, north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on April 6, 2021, to be provided to Palestinian teachers and education ministry employees before schools reopen the following week. A woman wearing Javanese traditonal costume in a vehicle receives a dose of the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 vaccine during a mass drive-thru vaccination program at Prambanan temple complex on April 5, 2021 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Healthcare workers from Humber River Hospital draw out doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine before administering the vaccine to residents at a LOFT community housing complex in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Friday, March 26, 2021. A health worker monitors people who received the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for any bad side effects in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FDA committee to decide on boosters; White House in talks with Nicki Minaj on vaccine info: COVID-19 updates

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