«  View All Posts

COVID-19 Update 5/26: Moderna for 12-17, Case Rates, Testing

May 26th, 2021 | 3 min. read

By Steve E. Bishop, M.D.

COVID-19 Update 5/26: Moderna for 12-17

On this COVID-19 update, Dr. Bishop provides an update on case rates, Moderna's impending EUA for children 12-17, and when to test children for the virus. Watch the update below and read on for a full update. 

Case Rates Improving

Luckily there not too many major updates other than to say that in general, the numbers in most places continue to improve drastically, which is excellent. I know in Virginia here, we're down to around a hundred cases a day statewide, which is excellent. And hospitalizations are trending down as well - looks like around maybe 10 or so a day and deaths thankfully are down in the very low single digits, 1 or 2, mostly under 10, which is great.

But even better news than that is that the vaccine uptake continues to do pretty well. So in Virginia for example, about 43% of the population is fully vaccinated. 53% have received at least one dose. That is excellent news. Hopefully, things will continue to go up from there in terms of vaccine uptake and the numbers will continue to go down.

The other big news of the week is that Moderna announced in the last few days that they are going to release data to the FDA and others and seek expanded emergency authorization approval for their vaccine for 12 to 17-year-olds because theirs was only approved for 18 and up previously. That will be good news. We'll wait and see what the data shows on that and we'll be intrigued to again dive into that data and see what it looks like. The trial was kind of on the smaller side, 3,732 kids aged 12 to 17 in the US, but according to the top-line results resulted in good immunogenicity, which means there were antibodies present and there were no illnesses with COVID in the vaccine group. All excellent news.

Now there were only four cases in the placebo group, so we'll have to get a little bit more detail on those results when those do come out next month sometime.

All right. So those are the big two updates for this week. I'll hang out here. What questions do you guys have? What are you curious about this week? Looks like things are continuing to get better, which is great, slowly but surely. I know the Virginia governor announced he is going to make some updates to the COVID restrictions in the next few days, so I'm expecting we'll hear about that shortly. My suspicion is that it's going to be a continued rollback of some of the group size limitations and the mask rules and some of those other things. But we will see what the governor has to say when all that information comes out, hopefully soon.

Infection Rates

"When I look at infection and death rates currently still look the same as last fall in October timeframe. Is it going to go down? It seems like we're back to normal to some degree yet people are still getting infected and dying."

Yeah. So it is not zero, right? That's part of the problem. We do want those numbers to continue to go down, for sure. I'm hoping as the vaccine uptake rate gets toward that 70% mark, that we're really going to see the numbers really go, it's not going to go to zero, but go as low as they can be. So we will have to see about that.

Now, if you look at the numbers, comparing right now, we're not right where we were last fall. We're really kind of where we were last April per se before things got really bad in October, November, December, January, and into February. I think things are definitely better and again, I'm looking primarily at the Virginia numbers right now on the VDH dashboard. But the numbers certainly aren't zero anywhere, and they're not probably going to be for a long time.

As we said from early on, the big thing is going to be the vaccine uptake. And we're hovering around 40 some percent in Virginia. Before we see the transmission of the virus really halt significantly, we're going to have to hit a 70 to 80% either vaccine or immune rate. And that's probably going to take a few more months, unfortunately.

Testing Children

"Do I still need to get my kids tested every time they have a cough, runny nose since they're in-person at preschool and other activities now?"

Probably not, unless they are having a specific exposure, like, you know they get exposed to somebody with COVID and they have symptoms now. Especially if everyone in your household other than the kids is vaccinated. I think you probably don't need to worry too much about it. It's really a kind of case-by-case discussion.

Now, if you're worried about them potentially spreading it to other kids at preschool or whatever, then that might be another reason to consider getting tested. But I think as we do more things in person again, and go back to preschools and schools and all this stuff, you're going to see some resurgence of these respiratory viruses that really were non-existent because nobody was interacting with anybody over the winter last year.

I think we're going to have to be a little bit more judicious from a physician's perspective about, okay, who are we testing? Do they really need to be tested? Is there a risk here? But I think for the most part, if everybody in your household is vaccinated, I'm not sure I would jump to test everybody for COVID with a cough or sniffles or something like that.

Especially right now during allergy season, it's much more likely that's just going to be seasonal allergies or something along those lines. But it also depends too on what if you've gotten any guidance from your school or preschool and what kind of thing they want done.

Steve E. Bishop, M.D.

As a board-certified internist and concierge doctor in Richmond, VA, Dr. Steven Bishop is passionate about helping his patients improve their lives through better health. He helps healthy adults adjust their lifestyles as they age and helps patients with complex medical diseases manage and improve their health.