Coronavirus Updates: Anti-covid pill shows promising results

Coronavirus Updates: Anti-covid pill shows promising results

  By Ben Guarino Washington Post
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The latest An experimental pill can reduce the risk of death and hospitalization from covid-19, pharmaceutical company Merck and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, announced in a news release Friday. They have applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for the drug, molnupiravir. If authorized, the pill would be the first of its kind — an oral antiviral for covid-19. Such a drug would be especially welcome in parts of the world with less access to expensive monoclonal antibody treatments or vaccines. More than a year-and-a-half into the pandemic, some things about the virus aren’t clear — since, as reporters Joel Achenbach and Yasmeen Abutaleb write, U.S. data are a mess. Local health departments are left to collect information on hospitalizations, vaccinations and deaths, and the resulting patchwork quality of the country’s pandemic statistics has hindered progress against the virus. President Biden’s science adviser, Eric Lander, said this is a “question that pertains to the whole health-care and public health system. In the United States, our data systems are not interoperable. They don’t talk to one another.” Jobless benefits ended in September, marking the end of the longest period of unemployment help in American history. But the pandemic isn’t over. The Post interviewed several men and women about the economic stresses they continue to face. Theirs are stories of avoiding homelessness, bills coming due and searching for employees.  The Washington Post Get breaking news alerts, offline reading lists and more. Download the app   Vaccine mandates for employees are showing results. Immunization rates among health-care workers increased in New York and California after they were ordered to do so. New York hospital staff are 87 percent vaccinated as of Wednesday, an increase of 3 percentage points in a week, per state data. Other states are watching New York closely, because it has the earliest deadline in the nation for workers to comply with its mandate. With about 85 percent of its population fully vaccinated, Portugal’s vaccination campaign is nearly complete. It offers a case study of life in a well-vaccinated environment. The virus still causes cancellations and sickness, but the nation has a low death rate — nine times below the United States’. And the country’s capital, Lisbon, is thriving, with nightclubs set to reopen this week. Other important news Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh tested positive for the coronavirus. He has been fully vaccinated since January, and he shows no symptoms of covid-19.  Fully vaccinated Australians will be able to travel again in November, with the relaxation of stringent border restrictions that earned the country nicknames such as “Fortress Australia” or “Hermit Kingdom.”  Leaders of the National School Boards Association are sounding the alarm because crowds angry over mask mandates and other politicized issues have mobbed meetings: “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat.”  Post science reporter Carolyn Y. Johnson profiled three scientists whose foundational research led to the coronavirus shots. Meet the members of the vaccine vanguard: Barney Graham laid the groundwork for the world to battle this pandemic, and the scientists he mentored will equip us for the next one Drew Weissman helped make ‘hugs and closeness possible again.’ It didn’t happen overnight. For Katalin Kariko, a life in full: Awe-inspiring ideas, careful experiments, unnoticed successes and the repeated sting of rejection
 
Guide to the pandemic Track confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.and the spreadaround the world. U.S. vaccine distribution and delivery, tracked by state. Guides: Finding vaccine appointments | Vaccines | Variants | Masks Follow live updates about the pandemic from Post reporters across the globe. Submit a question and we may answer it in a future story or newsletter. 
 
Your questions, answered “My wife is pregnant and is also a healthcare worker, so she can get the Pfizer booster through her job. It is unclear to me whether the CDC recommends the booster for pregnant women. Is that published anywhere?” — David in Tennessee The short answer is she may get a booster shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the agency reserves stronger language — should, not may — for certain groups including people 65 and up. People are eligible for Pfizer boosters based on criteria that include age, occupation and medical conditions. From the information in your question, it appears your wife would be eligible because she is a health-care worker and also because she is pregnant. (Though I’d encourage her to talk to her doctor about this, as the CDC says people eligible in this manner ought to weigh “their individual benefits and risks.” If she is one of the very rare people who are 50 or older and pregnant, then the CDC would say she should get a booster.) Pregnancy is considered an underlying medical condition for covid-19. That’s because women and other individuals who are pregnant and develop covid-19 have elevated risks of severe outcomes, including death. There have been 22,000 hospitalizations and 161 deaths among pregnant patients with covid-19. Twenty-two pregnant patients died in August alone, per the CDC, which is the highest monthly toll yet reported.  As for getting first shots when pregnant, the CDC’s answer is an emphatic yes. This is so important — and not enough pregnant patients are getting shots — that the agency released a health advisory this week. Per agency data, 32 percent of the pregnant population were fully immunized, compared with 56 percent of the general U.S. population.  On Wednesday, the agency called for “urgent action” to get vaccinated for anyone who is pregnant, recently pregnant, trying or may become pregnant in the future. This alert reflects the evolution of the CDC’s thinking, as more information has become available. At the start of the year, when coronavirus vaccines were first available and data about receiving them during pregnancies were limited, the agency said those who were pregnant were eligible. But it officially had a neutral stance on these immunizations.  By August, CDC officials had enough data to update its advice from neutral to an endorsement: Yes, pregnant patients should get vaccinated. They do not have increased risks of miscarriage or harm to their babies, studies such as this observational report in the New England Journal of Medicine show. What’s more, some evidence suggests that vaccinated women can pass immune protection to infants, by sharing antibodies through breast milk.
 
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