In commemorating a stark and tragic milestone, the half-million lives lost to COVID-19, on Monday, President Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-mast through Friday. (Reuters)
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s sister, Mercia Bowser, 64, died of COVID on Wednesday. (The Washington Post)
In marking a more optimistic milestone of 50 million vaccines administered in 37 days — half-way to Biden’s goal of 100 million in 100 days — the president pleaded with Americans to continue social distancing, hand-washing, and “for God’s sake, wear a mask.” (USA Today)
And Anthony Fauci, MD, said it’s possible Americans will still be wearing masks in 2022, but the country will be “approaching a degree of normality” later this year. (CNN)
FEMA is working to develop a $2-billion funeral assistance program to help COVID victims’ families, but concerns about potential fraud have delayed the agency’s progress. (Politico)
The CDC, with little fanfare, launched Vaccine Finder, a new website intended to help Americans locate COVID vaccine providers anywhere in the country. (Stat)
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, and other plaintiffs, challenging changes the Trump administration made to the Title X family planning program. (The Hill)
The NIH announced that it is recommending Eli Lilly’s newly authorized infused antibody cocktail of bamlanivimab plus etesevimab for COVID outpatients with mild-to-moderate disease; and the company said Friday that the government has ordered 100,000 doses with an option to buy more than 1 million more.
The FDA said Thursday that it will allow Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be stored and transported at normal freezer temperatures for up to 2 weeks. (Washington Examiner)
In other FDA news, the agency:
- Sought to warn against compounding remdesivir for COVID-19 due to “complexities related to the quality and sourcing” of its active ingredient; pharmacies also should not produce thymosin alpha-1 for COVID, because it has not been approved
- Agreed that pulse oximeters when used for at-home monitoring lose accuracy among certain demographics, including individuals with dark skin
- Issued warning letters to 10 companies regarding the illegal sales of dietary supplements “that claim to cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent depression and other mental health disorders”
- Approved the checkpoint inhibitor cemiplimab (Libtayo) as a first-line treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer in patients with high PD-L1 expressing tumors, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced
Meanwhile, the CDC called out individual brands following a Listeria outbreak tied to queso fresco-type soft cheeses: El Abuelito, Rio Lindo, and Rio Grande.