An end to mask reuse? CDC and FDA move away from recycling guidance, as shortages end

One of the earliest and most preventable failures of the coronavirus pandemic was the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). The distribution system was so convoluted that mere weeks into the pandemic, grassroots organizations were created to source and share even the most basic of supplies. Beyond competition for ready-to-ship PPE, the supply chain of materials was quickly overwhelmed, leading to global scarcity. Even the US Strategic National Stockpile's viability was at times in doubt. 

To combat this, significant time and resources were poured into evaluating reuse and recycling of respirators (N95 in particular). A wide range of degradation of efficacy was reported, but given masks that mostly worked or no masks at all, reuse was the least bad option available.

It seems we may have finally turned a corner on this.  On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued joint guidance on pivoting away from the strategy of crisis conservation due to increased availability of respirators. The FDA's website emphasizes acquiring more National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved devices, which have finally become more readily available, and reserving decontamination and reuse for crisis situations only. Similarly, the CDC's website outlines strategies for conventional, contingency, and crisis situations with regards to respirator use. Various.

Pfizer seeks expansion of emergency use authorization for its vaccine

On Friday, Pfizer petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to include children aged twelve to fifteen.

The initial EUA approved the vaccine for use in individuals aged sixteen and older in December. Since then, the pharmaceutical company has been conducting expanded clinical trials to evaluate safety and efficacy in previously-excluded populations, including minors.

Data from a new study released in early April by Pfizer supported its protection for adolescents aged twelve to fifteen, and it is based on these results that the petition has been made.

It should be noted that the new data has yet to be peer-reviewed, and the FDA review process is expected to take several weeks before a decision is rendered. Amidst this, Pfizer is continuing clinical trials of their vaccine in children aged six months to eleven years old, so we are likely to see more requests for EUA expansion in the future. Various.

  • Medicare and Medicaid starts to collect payments from its pandemic hospital lifeline program
  • Vaccine mandates for healthcare workers
  • Federal government investing in evidence
  • Federal bailout money disproportionately benefited wealthy hospital systems

  • Inhaled steroids may prevent disease progression in mild covid-19
  • Supreme Court blocks California's restrictions on religious gatherings in private homes