COVID-19 updates: FDA could authorize Moderna, J&J booster shots Wednesday

·6 min read

The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

More than 729,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.9 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 66.8% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.


Latest Developments


October 20, 2021

UK cases could climb as high as 100K per day


In the United Kingdom, cases are up 16% since last week, officials said Wednesday. As winter nears, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned that infections could go as high as 100,000 per day.

Deaths, however, remain low in the country. Officials are encouraging residents to get booster shots.

-ABC News' Joe Simonetti


October 20, 2021

Cases on the rise in upper Midwest


Montana and Wyoming are now leading the nation in cases, followed by Idaho, Alaska, North Dakota and West Virginia, according to federal data.

Two states in the upper Midwest are seeing notable upticks in daily infections: Michigan and Minnesota have both seen case averages jump by more than 25% in the last month.

PHOTO: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announces measures on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, to use the Minnesota National Guard to alleviate staffing shortages at health care facilities that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 surge. (Grant Schulte/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announces measures on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, to use the Minnesota National Guard to alleviate staffing shortages at health care facilities that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 surge. (Grant Schulte/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: An emergency room nurse talks with a patient outside the emergency room as a triage unit is set up outside Beaumont Hospital to manage with rising coronavirus disease cases in Grosse Pointe, Mich., April 16, 2021. (Emily Elconin/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: An emergency room nurse talks with a patient outside the emergency room as a triage unit is set up outside Beaumont Hospital to manage with rising coronavirus disease cases in Grosse Pointe, Mich., April 16, 2021. (Emily Elconin/Reuters, FILE)



Hospital admissions in the U.S. have dropped by about 10.7% in the last week, according to federal data.

However, thousands of Americans are still dying every week. The daily death average -- 1,250 -- is higher than this time one year ago, before any vaccines were available.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos


October 20, 2021

States can reserve vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds beginning Wednesday

Beginning Wednesday, states can start reserving vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11, though vaccines won't start shipping yet.

The government has purchased enough shots for all 28 million children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S.

PHOTO: Bridgette Melo, 5, holds the hand of her father, Jim Melo, during her inoculation of one of two reduced doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Sept. 28, 2021. (Shawn Rocco/duke University/Shawn Rocco/Duke University via Reuters)
PHOTO: Bridgette Melo, 5, holds the hand of her father, Jim Melo, during her inoculation of one of two reduced doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Sept. 28, 2021. (Shawn Rocco/duke University/Shawn Rocco/Duke University via Reuters)



On Oct. 26, the FDA advisory committee is expected to have a public discussion and have a non-binding vote on the matter. Within days of that vote, the FDA is expected to authorize the vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

On Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, a CDC committee is expected to have a public discussion and non-binding vote.

The CDC director is likely to issue a formal recommendation within hours of the expected Nov. 3 vote. Administration of vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds may begin as soon as the CDC director signs off.

-ABC News' Eric M. Strauss


October 20, 2021

FDA could authorize Moderna, J&J booster shots Wednesday


The FDA could authorize Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots for some populations as soon as Wednesday.

PHOTO:A medical staff member prepares a syringe with a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center in the Staten Island, N.Y., April 16, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO:A medical staff member prepares a syringe with a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center in the Staten Island, N.Y., April 16, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

Meanwhile, the CDC independent advisory committee is meeting Wednesday to discuss vaccines in general. The committee is expected to debate Moderna and Johnson & Johnson on Thursday, discussing who boosters should be recommended for and if mixing and matching vaccines should be permitted.

A non-binding vote is expected at the end of Thursday.

The CDC director is expected to make the final recommendations shortly after the vote, which could come as soon as Thursday night or Friday morning.

-ABC News' Eric M. Strauss


October 20, 2021

NYC to mandate vaccine for municipal workers


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all municipal workers.

The mandate is expected to include all employees from sanitation workers to office workers and will require some 161,000 workers to have their first dose by Oct. 29.

Municipal employees who do not get vaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave, and their future employment will be resolved in negotiations with individual labor unions.

Correction officers will face a later deadline of Dec. 1.

-ABC News' Aaron Katersky


October 19, 2021

Secretary Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19


Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has tested positive for COVID-19, a DHS spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News.

Mayorkas, who is fully vaccinated, "is experiencing only mild congestion," a statement said.

PHOTO: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas looks on during a conference at SRE Building, Oct. 8, 2021, in Mexico City, Mexico. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas looks on during a conference at SRE Building, Oct. 8, 2021, in Mexico City, Mexico. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)



Mayorkas will work from home, the statement said. Contact tracing is underway.

There were no major White House officials deemed to be close contacts. "No White House principal has been determined to be a close contact of Secretary Mayorkas, given that the most recent contact was at the outdoor National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, which took place outside of the 48-hour close contact window,” the White House said in a statement.

-ABC News' Luke Barr


October 19, 2021

Pfizer vaccine 93% effective against hospitalizations for 12-18 age group


A new CDC study found that the Pfizer vaccine was 93% effective against hospitalizations for adolescents ages 12 to 18 from July to September.

The researchers also found that nearly all (97%) of adolescents ages 12 to 18 who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman


October 19, 2021

10 states see rise in hospital admissions


Ten states -- all of which have colder temperatures -- have seen upticks in hospital admissions in recent weeks, according to federal data: Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wyoming.

However, nationwide, just under 58,000 Americans remain hospitalized, a major drop from 104,000 patients at the end of the summer, according to federal data.

PHOTO: An ambulance is seen outside the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Hospital in Buffalo, New York, Sept. 28, 2021. (Lindsay Dedario/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: An ambulance is seen outside the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Hospital in Buffalo, New York, Sept. 28, 2021. (Lindsay Dedario/Reuters, FILE)

Death rates remain high, with more than 1,000 Americans dying each day, according to federal data.

Over the last month, the U.S. has reported approximately 45,000 COVID-19 deaths, including nearly 7,600 deaths in the last week.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos


October 19, 2021

UK records highest daily death toll since March


The United Kingdom recorded 233 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest total since March 5, according to government data.

PHOTO: Tributes to lives lost at the Covid-19 Memorial Wall in London, Oct. 12, 2021. (Andy Rain/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: Tributes to lives lost at the Covid-19 Memorial Wall in London, Oct. 12, 2021. (Andy Rain/EPA via Shutterstock)

In a statement confirmed by ABC News, issued before the new figures were published, the prime minister’s office said it was keeping a "very close eye" on the numbers and urged people to get their booster shots.

"We have seen case rates rising, we've started to see some indications that hospitalisations and death rates are increasing also," a spokesman for the prime minister said. "It's important that the public understand that getting your booster jab is just as important as getting your first and second dose."

-ABC News' Guy Davies


October 19, 2021

'National emergency' declared on children's mental health


A national state of emergency for children's mental health has been declared by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on children's mental health as young people continue to face physical isolation, ongoing uncertainty, fear and grief," the groups said in a statement Tuesday. "Even before the pandemic, mental health challenges facing children were of great concern, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated them."

Mental health ER visits jumped 24% for kids ages 5 to 11 between March and October 2020, the groups said. Mental health ER visits skyrocketed 31% for kids ages 12 to 17.

PHOTO: People enter the emergency room in Redlands, Calif., Dec. 17, 2020. (Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: People enter the emergency room in Redlands, Calif., Dec. 17, 2020. (Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)

From early 2019 to early 2021, there was a more than 50% jump in ER visits for suspected suicide attempts for girls ages 12 to 17, they said.

More than 140,000 kids in the U.S. have lost a primary or secondary caregiver during the pandemic, the organizations added.

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty

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