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COVID Surges Emerge; FDA Warns About Chantix; Lions, Tigers, Bears Get Vaxxed

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While the rest of the country celebrated Independence Day, a sudden rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations — especially among Black residents — put a damper on the holiday spirit in Los Angeles County. (Los Angeles Times)

A hospital in hard-hit Springfield, Missouri ran out of ventilators as COVID cases climbed. (Kansas City Star)

New coronavirus cases rose 42% in the past week in Florida, though hospitalizations remained low. (Tallahassee Democrat)

As of about 8 a.m. ET, the estimated COVID-19 toll in the nation included 33,723,804 cases and 605,567 deaths, increases of 43,280 and 532, respectively, since last Friday.

The Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infection and symptomatic disease declined to 64% as Delta variant cases climbed in Israel, health officials reported. (Reuters)

England will end most COVID restrictions on July 19, despite rising hospitalizations. (New York Times)

Doctors and other healthcare workers were arrested on charges related to a vaccination scam that may have led to thousands of people in India receiving fake COVID-19 vaccines, Mumbai police officials said. (CNN)

FDA announced Pfizer’s voluntary recall of the smoking cessation drug varenicline (Chantix) at the warehouse level due to potentially unacceptable levels of a nitrosamine impurity. It recommended Pfizer expand its recall to the consumer level, but said the company has not done so yet.

The agency also cleared another batch of drug substance for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from the troubled Emergent BioSolutions plant.

Here’s what convinced unvaccinated people to get the shot. (NBC News)

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery may not have been the only reason for increased vaccination rates in the state. (JAMA)

Nearly 15 million Americans, or about 11% of people who had sufficient time to do so, did not receive their second dose of vaccine. (Washington Post)

Tyson Foods recalled approximately 8.5 million pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products due to possible Listeria contamination, the USDA announced.

In a suit filed in Washington district court, healthcare workers alleged their Amazon Alexa-enabled devices may have recorded private, HIPAA-protected conversations with patients. (Healthcare IT News)

An NIH initiative will fund five new projects to find safe ways to return students and staff to in-person school in vulnerable and underserved communities.

A student ministry camp in Texas led to more than 125 kids in grades 6 through 12 developing COVID. (Newsweek)

The FDA declined to approve Provention Bio’s teplizumab, an investigational drug for the delay of clinical type 1 diabetes in at-risk individuals, asking for more data, the company said.

The agency approved an expanded indication for pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in patients with recurrent, metastatic or locally advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma not curable by radiation or surgery, manufacturer Merck announced.

A federal judge denied a compassionate release request for a medical technician who was sentenced to 39 years for stealing painkillers and infecting 46 patients with hepatitis C. (AP News)

Articles written by women in five high-impact medical journals were cited less often than ones authored by men, especially when women wrote together as primary and senior authors. (JAMA Network Open)

“Don’t leave your mark at the pool this summer!” the CDC warned in a colorfully graphic tweet. (CNN)

The Oakland Zoo began inoculating high-risk big cats, bears, and ferrets against COVID-19 using an experimental vaccine authorized by the USDA. (ABC News)

Sandra Lindsay, RN, the critical care nurse who was the first person in the U.S. to become fully vaccinated outside of clinical trials, will have her scrubs and vaccine card displayed at the Smithsonian. (CBS News)

  • Judy George covers neurology and neuroscience news for MedPage Today, writing about brain aging, Alzheimer’s, dementia, MS, rare diseases, epilepsy, autism, headache, stroke, Parkinson’s, ALS, concussion, CTE, sleep, pain, and more. Follow

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COVID-19 Booster Shots Can Wait

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are proving quite safe and highly effective in the prevention of COVID-19, especially severe and/or fatal disease.

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