Pfizer and BioNTech today filed their formal application with the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for children 5 to 11 years old. In a submission to the FDA last month, the drug companies said children 5 to 11 would be administered two doses of the vaccine, with each dose containing about one-third of the amount given to older people.

An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to discuss the application on Oct. 26, and an authorization could come before Thanksgiving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make its recommendation after the FDA makes its decision.

In its earlier submission to the FDA, Pfizer and BioNTech said, “In the trial, which included 2,268 participants 5 to <12 years of age, the vaccine demonstrated a favorable safety profile and elicited robust neutralizing antibody responses using a two-dose regimen of 10 μg doses. These results – the first from a pivotal trial of any COVID-19 vaccine in this age group – were comparable to those recorded in a previous Pfizer-BioNTech study in people 16 to 25 years of age, who were immunized with 30 μg doses. The 10 μg dose was carefully selected as the preferred dose for safety, tolerability and immunogenicity in children 5 to <12 years of age.”

In a visit to Elk Grove Village on Oct. 7, President Joe Biden called on more employers to require their employees to get vaccinated. “With vaccinations, we’re going to beat this pandemic, finally,” he said.

“The fact is this has been a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said. “The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, overrunning emergency rooms and intensive care units. The unvaccinated patients are leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or a need of a cancer operation.

“The unvaccinated also put our economy at risk,” he added.

Yesterday, the White House announced that it was increasing the available supply of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests to 200 million per month, starting in December.  

In addition, the White House announced that President Biden was increasing the number of pharmacies in the federal government’s free testing program to 10,000 local pharmacies across the country. “In total, we will have 30,000 community-based sites in the U.S. where people can walk in and get a free test — absolutely, a free test.”

Recent Trends

New Cases: The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 147 to 157 in the week ending Oct. 7, a 7% increase from the prior week. The number of new cases per week in the State are now about 6.8 times higher than they were on June 10, the day before the State moved to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan. 

The above chart illustrates that the trends of new cases per week are also higher in suburban Cook County, Chicago and Evanston. The number of new cases per 100,000 for Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and Illinois is: Evanston – 113; suburban Cook County – 135; Chicago – 101; and Illinois – 157.

Under CDC guidelines, each of these areas are considered to be areas with “substantial transmission.” See footnote 2.

Test Positivity Rates: The seven-day test-positivity rates in each region are: Evanston 0.5%; suburban Cook County – 2.1%; Chicago – 1.8%; and Illinois – 2.6%. The test positivity rates are lower in each area than they were one week ago.

Vaccinations: The number of people in the State who are vaccinated continues to grow, but at a very slow pace. As of Oct. 7, 80.4% of Illinois residents 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 79.7% on Sept. 30; and 62.9% were fully vaccinated, compared to 62.4% on Sept. 30. These percentages include people who reside in Illinois and have been vaccinated in Illinois or in other states. The seven-day average for vaccinations is 33,510, up from 23,885 one week ago. (Sources: CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health.)

As of Oct. 7, 88.8%of Evanston residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 81.7% were fully vaccinated. There is a fraction of a percentage point increase in each number from the prior week. (Source: City of Evanston.)

Delta Variant: According to data published by IDPH, in the last seven days there were 1,301 new cases of the Delta variant in Illinois, comprising about 6.6% of the total new cases in the State in that same period.

Evanston – COVID

Evanston reported six new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, compared to 11 yesterday and 20 on Tuesday.

The numbers are higher than one week ago. There has been a total of 84 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents reported in the last seven days, compared to 71 in the prior seven days. Ike Ogbo, Director of Evanston’s Department of Health and Human Services, told the RoundTable that 17 of the cases reported this week were cases that were attributable to a prior period, but were not reported in the prior period because of a delay in getting lab results. He said most of the new COVID-19 cases are due to “community spread” and that Northwestern University accounts for 31% of the new cases.

In the last week, 16,500 COVID-19 tests were administered. The City said there was an increase in tests reported this week due to Northwestern University’s testing and to delays in lab reporting. 

The seven-day test positivity rate today is 0.5%, compared to 1.2% one week ago.

There has been a total of 5,303 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 100 of which are active.

No Evanstonian has died from COVID-19 since Sept. 14. The total number of deaths in Evanston due to COVID-19 is 121.

Cases at D65 and ETHS. According to data posted on School District 65’s website,  there were five new COVID-19 cases of students at District 65 in the week ending Oct. 5, and 53 students were in quarantine. The data does not indicate if the students were infected at the schools. There were no new cases for teachers and no teachers are in quarantine.

According to data posted on ETHS’s website, for the week ending Oct. 5, there was one new COVID-19 case of a student at ETHS and two were in quarantine. For staff, there was one new case and one staff member was in quarantine The data does not indicate if the students were infected at the schools.

Impact of Northwestern University. The most recent data on Northwestern University’s website reports that between Oct. 1 and Oct. 7 there were 28 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of an NU faculty member, staff member or student. If the faculty member, staff member or student resides in Evanston, the case or cases would be included in the City’s numbers.  

Mr. Ogbo told the RoundTable that despite NU’s vaccine mandate, “we are seeing a fraction of breakthrough cases in Evanston. He said the breakthrough cases “are asymptomatic or mild” which “goes to show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing infection, serious illness and death.”

FOOTNOTES

1/ The State moved to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan on June 11. As of July 1, the RoundTable has been covering COVID-19 metrics once a week on Thursdays.  Specifically, the RoundTable is presenting two charts showing: 1) the trends in the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in two recent seven-day periods for Evanston, Chicago, Suburban Cook County, and the State. The chart also shows the weekly numbers of new cases for each region as of June 10 as a baseline to gauge whether cases are going up since the move to Phase 5; and 2) the most recent test positivity rates for these areas.  

As discussed in footnote 3 below, the CDC recommends that these two measures be used to determine the level of risk of transmission.  If we see a surge in new cases or in the test positivity rates, we will consider covering additional metrics.

We will also report the most recent percentages of vaccinated people, 12 years and older, in Evanston and Illinois.

2/ In late July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and Evanston’s Health & Human Services Dept. each adopted recommendations that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear a mask in a public indoor setting in areas with “substantial” and “high transmission” of new COVID-19 cases. Areas of substantial transmission are considered to be those with between 50 and 99 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period. Areas of high transmission are considered to be those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period.

They also recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. 

3/ On Feb. 12, the CDC issued a K-12 School Operational Strategy. As part of that strategy, the report says CDC recommends the use of two measures to determine the level of risk of transmission: 1) the total number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days; and 2) the percentage of COVID tests during the last seven days that were positive. The CDC provides a chart to assess whether the risk of transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high. If the two indicators suggest different levels of risk, CDC says the higher level of risk should be used. The table below, reprinted from CDC’s report, provides CDC’s Indicators and Thresholds for Community Transmission of COVID-219.

CDC’s guidelines are available here: Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention | CDC

 

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