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  • 11:01 am

Vaccines for kids update: Biden announces distribution plan, pending CDC and FDA approval

Health officials are poised to OK COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11, so the Biden administration has unveiled its plan to get shots in those little arms.

Vaccines for kids update: Biden announces distribution plan, pending CDC and FDA approval
[Source Images: LaserLens/iStock; valio84sl/iStock]
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Federal health officials are poised to approve COVID-19 vaccines for children ages five to 11, so the Biden administration has unveiled how it plans to get the shots in those little arms.

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This morning, the White House said that pending the OK from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine will be administered at:

  • over 25,000 pediatrician offices and other primary care facilities
  • more than 100 children’s hospital systems
  • tens of thousands of pharmacies
  • hundreds of schools and community-based and rural clinics

For schools looking to serve as vaccination sites, the federal government will help school districts find providers who can set up on-site vax clinics.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine specially dosed and formulated for 5-11 year olds will come in 10-dose vials, in cartons of 10 vials each and with smaller needles. The vaccines can be refrigerated for 10 weeks and stored at ultracold temperature for six months.

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The United States has an estimated 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds, according to the White House.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also will launch a public education campaign for parents and guardians about vaccines for children of these ages.

“These steps will be critical in ensuring that we are staying ahead of the virus by keeping kids and families safe, especially those at highest risk,” the White House said in a written statement.

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The FDA’s independent advisory committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday and the CDC’s independent advisory committee meeting is November 2-3.

Currently, 189 million Americans are vaccinated, representing two out of three people eligible for the shots.

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  • 7:00 am

‘Squid Game’ got more engagement than ‘Big Brother’

Fall broadcast television is getting its butt kicked by streaming.

‘Squid Game’ got more engagement than ‘Big Brother’
[Photo: Netflix]
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In another signal of streaming’s dominance when it comes to television content, new data from Diesel Labs shows that audiences are far more engaged in streaming shows than broadcast shows. The Diesel Labs Fall 2021 Linear vs. Broadcasting Comparison reveals that streaming content gets almost twice as much audience engagement as broadcast content.

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For example, Netflix’s hit Squid Game—a show that must be watched with subtitles or dubbed if you don’t speak Korean—outperformed reality show staple Big Brother by a factor of two. And keep in mind, Big Brother is a huge hit for CBS when compared to the network’s second-most popular show, Survivor. Big Brother gets 13 times the engagement of Survivor, yet Squid Game got double that of even Big Brother.

Overall, Netflix received almost three times the amount of engagement as broadcast leader CBS and is the leader when it comes to streaming platforms. And when all streaming services are taken into account, 60% of the top 10 engaged shows can be found on them. And showing just how popular Squid Game itself is, audience engagement for that show alone dwarfed the combined engagement of all shows on broadcast leader CBS.

Diesel Labs’ report covered fall shows on broadcast networks and streaming services between September 1 and October 11, 2021.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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GameStop conspiracy theories shot down by SEC in report on meme stocks and short squeezes

What fueled January’s rally, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, was simply a high volume of new traders entering a buying frenzy.

GameStop conspiracy theories shot down by SEC in report on meme stocks and short squeezes
[Source image: robuart/iStock]
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The Securities and Exchange Commission has released a hotly anticipated report on January’s trading frenzy that rocketed so-called meme stocks into the stratosphere. It dismisses conspiracy theories that swept social media to ostensibly explain the bizarre trading activity, choosing the most anodyne explanation instead: that what fueled the GameStop rally was nothing more than hundreds of thousands of new investors—at one point, reaching nearly 1 million per day—entering into a sudden feeding frenzy over these stocks.

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“Whether driven by a desire to squeeze short sellers and thus to profit from the resultant rise in price, or by belief in the fundamentals of GameStop,” the SEC writes, “it was the positive sentiment, not the buying-to-cover, that sustained the weeks-long price appreciation of GameStop stock.”

Its 44-page report also throws a wet blanket on the hypothesis that a “short squeeze” is what sent GameStop shares sky-high—from under $20 in December to $483 by the end of January. While the agency admits it’s true that many short sellers were forced to cover their short positions, it argues that the evidence just doesn’t support this being the driving factor. It says traders covering their short positions accounted for only a “small fraction of overall buy volume,” and GameStop’s stock prices stayed elevated even after the effects of their covering should’ve waned.

As for other blame, the regulator does take a swing at mobile brokerage apps like Robinhood. It insinuates they’re recklessly gamifying trading: “Consideration should be given to whether gamelike features and celebratory animations … intended to create positive feedback from trading lead investors to trade more than they would otherwise.”

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But it stops short of saying what to do about them. Observers had eagerly awaited the report because (they’d hoped) it would recommend specific policy changes that the SEC believes should be made in the debacle’s wake. The agency leaves these and other questions unanswered, and also doesn’t address the role that armchair traders on Reddit played, or whether anybody made large sums of money by whipping up positive sentiment online to manipulate the market.

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Health economists put a number on how many lives have been saved by COVID vaccines

A new research model uses near-real-time data for state vaccination rates, coronavirus cases, and deaths to reveal how many lives have been saved.

Health economists put a number on how many lives have been saved by COVID vaccines
[Illustration: Ilija Erceg/iStock]
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More than 200 million U.S. residents have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine with the expectation that the vaccines slow virus transmission and save lives.

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Researchers know the efficacy of the vaccines from large-scale clinical trials, the gold standard for medical research. The studies found the vaccines to be very effective at preventing severe COVID–19 and especially good at preventing death. But it’s important to track any new treatment in the real world as the population-level benefits of vaccines could differ from the efficacy found in clinical trials.

For instance, some people in the U.S. have only been getting the first shot of a two-shot vaccine and are therefore less protected than a fully vaccinated person. Alternatively, vaccinated people are much less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others, including those who are not vaccinated. This could make vaccines more effective at a population level than in the clinical trials.

I am a health economist, and my team and I have been studying the effects of public policy interventions like vaccination have had on the pandemic. We wanted to know how many lives vaccines may have saved due to the states’ COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in the U.S.

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Building an accurate model

In March 2021, when weekly data on state COVID-19 vaccinations started to become reliably available from state agencies, my team began to analyze the association between state vaccination rates and the subsequent COVID-19 cases and deaths in each state. Our goal was to build a model that was accurate enough to measure the effect of vaccination within the complicated web of factors that influence COVID–19 deaths.

To do this, our model compares COVID-19 incidence in states with high vaccination rates against states with low vaccination rates. As part of the analysis, we controlled for things that influence the spread of the coronavirus, like state–by–state differences in weather and population density, seasonally driven changes in social behavior and non-pharmaceutical interventions like stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and overnight business closures. We also accounted for the fact that there is a delay between when a person is first vaccinated and when their immune system has built up protection.

Vaccines saved lives

To check the strength of our model before playing with variables, we first compared reported deaths with an estimate that our model produced.

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When we fed it all of the information available – including vaccination rates – the model calculated that by May 9, 2021, there should have been 569,193 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. The reported death count by that date was 578,862, less than a 2% difference from our model’s prediction.

Equipped with our well-working statistical model, we were then able to “turn off” the vaccination effect and see how much of a difference vaccines made.

Using near real-time data of state vaccination rates, coronavirus cases, and deaths in our model, we found that in the absence of vaccines, 708,586 people would have died by May 9, 2021. We then compared that to our model estimate of deaths with vaccines: 569,193. The difference between those two numbers is just under 140,000. Our model suggests that vaccines saved 140,000 lives by May 9, 2021.

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Our study only looked at the few months just after vaccination began. Even in that short time frame, COVID-19 vaccinations saved many thousands of lives despite vaccination rates still being fairly low in several states by the end of our study period. I can say with certainty that vaccines have since then saved many more lives – and will continue to do so as long as the coronavirus is still around.


Sumedha Gupta is an associate professor of Economics at IUPUI.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The Conversation

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How to watch today’s Apple Unleashed event: New MacBooks, Airpods, and more

Apple’s last event of the year is upon us.

How to watch today’s Apple Unleashed event: New MacBooks, Airpods, and more
Tim Cook at Apple Park. [Photo: Apple]
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Apple is holding another launch event today. This event is titled Unleashed and is expected to be the company’s final event of the year. It follows a little more than a month after its last event, which saw the introduction of the iPhone 13 series and a new iPad mini.

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Today’s event, on the other hand, is expected to be very Mac-focused. Here’s what’s expected, according to MacRumors:

  • 16-inch MacBook Pro: This MacBook Pro would feature an Apple M-series chip—the first Pro laptop to do so. It is also expected to feature a better display (with a notch), and the return of the standard row of F keys.
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro: This would be the first 14-inch version of the MacBook Pro that Apple has ever released. Other than the size difference, it’s expected to be almost identical to the 16-inch version above.
  • Mac mini: Apple updated the Mac mini last year, but rumors are another one will launch today—perhaps a pro version. This version is expected to have a next-generation M-series chip as well as a smaller footprint.
  • AirPods 3: The only non-Mac product expected to debut today is the next generation of the AirPods. AirPods 3 are expected to take on a form factor that is similar to the current AirPods Pro but they are not expected to get advanced features like active noise cancellation.
  • macOS Monterey: Apple previewed macOS Monterey back in June, but today we could finally learn when it will be released to the public.

Apple’s Unleashed event takes place at 10 a.m. PT today, October 18. You can view it on the TV app on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac; on Apple.com; or on Apple’s YouTube channel, the stream of which is embedded below.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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