Members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team said on Friday that recent trials showing the effectiveness of US pharmaceutical company Merck’s experimental new COVID-19 pill were certainly good news, but stressed that vaccines could end the pandemic. would be the best way to do it.
During the response team’s virtual briefing, America’s top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the early data from the study on the Merck COVID-19 pill were “impressive,” including a 50% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths Was.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Ziants said the US government had already made arrangements to buy 1.7 million doses of the pill, with the option of more if needed.
If approved for emergency use, the Merck pill would be the first COVID-19 treatment that can be taken orally and not via injection or intravenous drip. Fauci said he would not predict when the pill might be approved as the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluate the drug.
Vaccination still seen as best option
But, Ziants said, while the shot is great news, vaccination is still the best way out of the pandemic, and the bulk of the data the response team presented at its briefing recommended the 70 million non-vaccinated U.S. residents to get the shot. spent to encourage.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky said her agency’s new data demonstrated the value of vaccination in preventing serious disease. Data collected in August during the peak of infection caused by the delta type of virus showed that areas with 55% or less of the total population were vaccinated, twice the infection rate of areas with higher vaccine coverage. was more than . Hospitalization and mortality were also significantly higher where vaccination rates were lower.
Fauci presented data compiled over the past 30 days at hospitals in King County, Washington state, that he said also demonstrated the vaccine’s effectiveness against the delta variant. That data showed that unvaccinated people were eight times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, 41 times more likely to be hospitalized and 57% more likely to die from it.
Noting the recent drop in new cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks, Fauci said people shouldn’t interpret that decline as meaning they no longer need vaccinations. He said that the best way to prevent this disease from re-emerging and to end this epidemic is to get vaccinated.