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COVID-19: XBB.1.5 Cases Evade Therapeutics; Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pediatric Vaccination Status

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Jan. 6 that it does not expect Evusheld, AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody medication to treat COVID-19, to neutralize XBB.1.5, the newest circulating omicron subvariant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The agency says the unlikeliness of Evusheld’s efficacy against XBB.1.5 stems from its similarity to other COVID-19 variants, including XBB, that were not neutralized by the treatment. COVID-19 cases caused by the XBB.1.5 subvariant currently account for nearly 28 percent of COVID-19 cases in the nation.

Additionally, CDC issued a health alert to supplement prior alerts from April and May 2022 that emphasizes to providers, public health departments, and the public that the majority of omicron sublineages circulating in the U.S. have reduced susceptibility to certain therapeutics, namely, bebtelovimab and combination cilgavimab and tixagevimab (Evusheld).

The agency noted that certain antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 remain effective, including ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid), remdesivir (Veklury), and molnupiravir (Lagevrio).

CDC Study Highlights Racial and Ethnic Vaccination Disparities

A study published Jan. 6 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that COVID-19 vaccination in children and adolescents is highest among Asian and Hispanic youth.

Using data from the National Immunization Survey–Child COVID Module, the report found that 63.4 percent of Asian children ages 5–11 years old and 91.8 percent of Asian adolescents ages 16–17 years old had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Coverage was next highest among Hispanic children aged 5–11 years old and adolescents ages 16–17 years old, with 34.5 percent and 77.3 percent, respectively, having received at least one dose.

Among children ages 5–11 years old, coverage among Black children was lower than that among Hispanic, Asian, and other/multiple race children.

Pediatric vaccination rates remain low; the data indicate that 47.2 percent of all American children and adolescents had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 43.3 percent had completed the primary series.

CDC urges vaccination providers and trusted messengers to offer culturally relevant information and vaccine recommendations to mitigate disparities in child and adolescent COVID-19 vaccination coverage and build trust among groups with lower coverage. The agency’s COVID-19 Vaccination Field Guide includes evidence-based strategies to increase vaccine coverage.

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

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Andrea Lugo is a communications associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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