Joe Palca

A vaccine authorized in December for use in India may help solve one of the most vexing problems in global public health: How to supply lower-income countries with a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe, effective and affordable.

The vaccine is called CORBEVAX. It uses old but proven vaccine technology and can be manufactured far more easily than most, if not all, of the COVID-19 vaccines in use today.

Two new studies of a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster showed promise against the omicron variant at a time when public health officials are urgently recommending booster shots against the fast-spreading variant.

One study was conducted in some 69,000 health care workers in South Africa. Results showed the vaccine reduced hospitalizations by 85% when comparing people who got two doses of the J&J vaccine to people who had a single dose.

The James Webb Space Telescope, on a long and winding journey to its job site a million miles from Earth, has begun the key task of unfurling a giant umbrella-like shield to protect its delicate instruments from the intense radiation of the sun.

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A Canadian biotech firm is reporting positive results from a large study of its COVID-19 vaccine. What makes it unusual is that the key ingredient of the vaccine is grown in plants.

Medicago has already developed an experimental flu vaccine in Nicotiana benthamian, a plant related to tobacco. When the pandemic struck, the company decided to try to make a COVID-19 vaccine.

Now it appears those efforts have succeeded.

Two new drugs are awaiting authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for treating patients with COVID-19, and both may be effective against the omicron variant.

One is made by Merck, the other by Pfizer.

A new kind of COVID-19 vaccine is about to roll out around the world. Although it won't replace the highly successful vaccines currently available, it could make a difference in the course of the pandemic, especially in lower resourced countries.

Pfizer and BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their COVID-19 booster shot to all people 18 and older.

The companies say the request is based on results from a study of more than 10,000 volunteers that show vaccine efficacy of 95% or greater for people receiving the booster.

Conventional wisdom says that if you're vaccinated and you get a breakthrough infection with the coronavirus, you can transmit that infection to someone else and make that person sick.

But new evidence suggests that even though that may happen on occasion, breakthrough infections might not represent the threat to others that scientists originally thought.

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