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CDC Changed Definition Of Breakthrough COVID-19 After Emails About ‘Vaccine Failure’

CDC Changed Definition Of Breakthrough COVID-19 After Emails About ‘Vaccine Failure’

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

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CDC Changed Definition Of Breakthrough COVID-19 After Emails About 'Vaccine Failure'

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) altered its definition of COVID-19 cases among the vaccinated, leading to a lower number of cases classified as a breakthrough, according to documents obtained by The Epoch Times.

The CDC in early 2021 defined the post-vaccination cases as people testing positive seven or more days after receipt of a primary vaccination series, according to one of the documents.

The definition was changed on Feb. 2, 2021, to only include cases detected at least 14 days after a primary series, another document shows.

“We have revised the case definition,” Dr. Marc Fisher, the lead of the CDC’s Vaccine Breakthrough Case Investigation Team, wrote to colleagues at the time.

The rationale for the change was redacted.

A CDC spokesperson defended the altered definition.

“CDC made the change to the definition of a breakthrough infection time period due to the most current data that showed that the 14-day period was required for an effective antibody response to the vaccines,” Scott Pauley, the spokesman, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“That, in combination with the data showing that many cases of COVID-19 were incubating for up to two weeks before becoming symptomatic, required the change to refine the time period to eliminate cases where exposure happened before the vaccination response would be effective,” Mr. Pauley added.

Dr. Harvey Risch, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, said there was “no cogent rationale” for excluding early cases and other events among the vaccinated, whether they occurred within seven days or 14 days.

“With either of these delays, CDC addressed what is the theoretical best that the vaccination could achieve. If the vaccines don’t work for the first 7 or 14 days or increase risk of getting Covid-19 during that period, that is part of what happens when they are deployed in a population,” Dr. Risch told The Epoch Times via email.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor health policy at Stanford University, said that the CDC should have been focused on advising people that they weren’t as protected immediately after vaccination.

“Rather than playing games with the definition of breakthrough cases,” Dr. Bhattacharya told The Epoch Times in an email, the CDC should have warned “recently vaccinated vulnerable older people that they were at higher risk for being infected during that period.”

An internal CDC email obtained by The Epoch Times. (The Epoch Times)

Undercount

The CDC excluded some post-vaccination cases because they did not meet the updated definition, the documents show, providing an inflated view of vaccine effectiveness.

One document, for instance, shows that Kansas in early 2021 reported 37 cases among the vaccinated.

Thirty-four were not counted because they occurred after receipt of one dose, not two. A primary series for both vaccines was two doses until recently, with the second dose not advised until at least 21 days after the first dose.

The other three cases happened after a second dose, but they were not counted as breakthrough cases by the CDC because they happened within 13 days of completion of a primary series, Dr. Fisher informed colleagues in an email.

On Jan. 29, 2021, the CDC learned in a call with Maryland health officials that a cluster appeared to stem from a person who was vaccinated with a single dose before experiencing symptoms. A CDC official said it was a “possible breakthrough case,” but the case would not have been counted under the earlier or later breakthrough definition.

In another likely form of suppression of the true number of cases, states weren’t able to report cases through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System until February 2021, according to one of the emails.

Kansas was the first state to send info through the system, according to a Feb. 1, 2021, email reporting the 37 cases.

States could also report cases outside of the system through calls, as could health care providers, according to another email. Reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System were also analyzed for possible inclusion.

The CDC started reporting the number of breakthrough cases on April 15, 2021. Some of the breakthrough cases led to hospitalization and death. CDC officials discussed breakthrough cases sporadically in public settings, but also made false claims about vaccine effectiveness, including claiming in March 2021 that vaccinated people did not get sick.

COVID-19 vaccines in Washington in a Dec. 14, 2020, file photograph. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Change Came After Emails About ‘Vaccine Failure’

The breakthrough case definition was revised after multiple CDC officials emailed about the vaccines failing to prevent infection.

Dr. Fisher said in one missive on Dec. 21, 2020, that he was directed by a superior “to start working on a protocol to evaluate COVID vaccine failures or breakthrough cases.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director at the time, highlighted an editorial on Jan. 30, 2021, that described variants as a “growing threat” of escaping the protection from vaccines and said she’d spoken to the head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health about the matter.

Around the same time, CDC officials circulated a one-page document about investigating post-vaccination cases.

“What? There is a 1-pager from Tom about vaccine failures?” Dr. Nancy Messionnier, another top CDC official, said on Jan. 27, 2021, after hearing about the document, which was being distributed by CDC medical officer Dr. Thomas Clark.

The version of the document The Epoch Times received was fully redacted. After Dr. Clark was asked for an unredacted version, the CDC declined to provide any other versions of the document.

Dr. Fisher also made a presentation near the end of January 2021 on breakthrough cases and sent those slides to colleagues after emphasizing he’d developed them “for internal use” and that the slides “have not been reviewed or cleared by anyone.” Dr. Fisher did not respond when asked for the slides.

Soon after the change, the CDC was alerted to a college athlete who tested positive for COVID-19 about three weeks after completing a Pfizer primary series. One CDC official described it as a “potential breakthrough case” and said data would have to be reviewed to see whether it would be counted.

In a document distributed to states, the CDC outlined a number of ways post-vaccination cases, even one detected at least 14 days after a primary series, would not be counted. That included excluding people who received a vaccine that was not authorized in the United States, people with only a positive antibody test, and people who tested positive within 44 days of their latest test.

Time Exclusion

The CDC initially floated (pdf) counting a person as “fully vaccinated” as early as seven days after completion of a primary series but ultimately settled on 14 days after completion.

The CDC declined to provide the name of the official who decided on the definition of fully vaccinated. The agency, in response to a Freedom of Information Act, also said it did not have any records on deciding to exclude cases that occur in what amounts to at least 35 days after the first vaccine dose.

Officials pointed to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) materials that outlined the results from clinical trials from Pfizer and Moderna, which make the vaccines that the FDA authorized in 2020.

The trials found efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 was much lower within days of vaccination. In Pfizer’s trial, for instance, suspected cases within seven days of a vaccine dose were 409 among the vaccinated versus 287 among placebo recipients. Moderna estimated a 50.8 percent efficacy within 14 days of dose one, compared to 92 percent efficacy 15 or more days after the dose.

Observational data have also indicated lower or negative shielding in the days after vaccination, and almost immediately after the vaccines were rolled out, some vaccinated people were reporting getting infected anyways.

Tyler Durden Sun, 07/23/2023 - 17:30

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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