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COVID-19: Vaccine Effectiveness, Authorization Updates

A new Department of Health and Human Services report shows COVID-19 vaccinations prevented an estimated 265,000 COVID-19 infections and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries from January to May 2021.

Using modeling to estimate COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths without the vaccines, researchers found the initial vaccine rollout was associated with an 18 percent reduction in infections among Medicare beneficiaries and a 21 to 22 percent reduction in hospitalizations and deaths versus if no vaccines were available. This data underscores the importance of vaccination in preventing severe outcomes from COVID-19.

Vaccine Authorization Updates

Pfizer and BioNTech on Oct. 7 submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) of their COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11. FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet Oct. 26, from 8:30 am to 5 pm ET, to consider the EUA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will convene Nov. 2 and 3, from 10 am to 5 pm ET, to discuss the Pfizer vaccine in children.

The American Medical Association announced Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code updates Oct. 6 to include codes for pediatric doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The provisional codes will be effective upon the FDA issuing an EUA in the younger population.

Additionally, the VRBPAC will meet Oct. 14 and 15, from 8:30 am to 5 pm ET, to discuss the EUAs submitted for booster doses of the Moderna and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. ACIP will meet Oct. 20 and 21, from 10 am to 5 pm ET.

COVID-19 Antiviral Treatment

Merck announced Oct. 11 the submission to the FDA for authorization of its investigational oral antiviral medicine, molnupiravir, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 or hospitalization. Interim results from the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial show that molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50 percent.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.

About the Author

Emily Schweich is a communications manager at America's Essential Hospitals.

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