Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Merck says pill to treat COVID-19 cuts death risk in half, will seek emergency authorization

By Travis Caldwell and Naomi Thomas | CNN

Merck & Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Friday that a pill halved the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 in a study.

If approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, it would become the first oral drug that fights the viral infection for COVID-19.

“In the interim analysis, molanupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%,” Merck said in a news release. “7.3% of patients receiving molnupiravir were either hospitalized or died during day 29 following randomization (28/385), compared to 14.1% of placebo-treated patients (53,377) on day 29 During the U.S., no deaths occurred in patients receiving mollupiravir, compared to 8 deaths in patients receiving placebo.

Merck said it would seek FDA emergency use authorization “as soon as possible.”

Molnupiravir is not a vaccine. It is an oral antiviral, and experts have said that developing such a drug could be the next chance to thwart Covid-19. A short-term regimen of daily pills will aim to fight the virus soon after diagnosis and prevent symptoms from developing after exposure.

An antiviral drug has been approved for the treatment of Kovid. Remdesivir is given intravenously to sick patients in the hospital. It is not intended for initial, widespread use.

In this August 22, 2021, file photo a family walks on broken soil along the shores of Lake Oroville as water levels remain low due to persistent drought conditions in Oroville, Calif. California’s reservoirs are so short of a historic drought that regulators warned on Thursday, Sept. 30, that it’s possible the state’s water agencies might get nothing from them next year, a frightening prospect that could lead to mandatory restrictions for residents. (AP Photo/Ethan Swapp, FILE)

Some states see an increase in vaccination

Meanwhile, more states and health care systems are moving toward mandatory vaccinations for some workers. Officials hope the employment incentives will eliminate hesitation over Covid-19 vaccines – while a governor draws up a contingency plan.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has instructed the National Guard to prepare for staff shortages when a mandate and testing requirement goes into effect at the end of Monday. State employees must provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly tests; Those who fail to do so will be placed on unpaid leave.

As of Thursday, more than 63% — 20,000 employees — had been fully vaccinated, while 12% of employees have begun weekly testing, Lamont said. More than 8,000 non-compliant workers remain, yet some 2,000 have updated their status in the past two days.

“We have provided most state employees with the option of getting tested weekly instead of getting vaccinated, which provides more flexibility than our neighboring states. We have also provided compliance grace period to our employees. There’s no reason why all of our employees shouldn’t be in compliance,” Lamont said.

Connecticut is one of several states that face pushback over making vaccinations mandatory for critical workers. Health experts say that it is necessary to protect people at high risk for Kovid-19. But it has been met with resistance from a minority who want to remain unvaccinated and in their current roles.

In Rhode Island, the Department of Health announced in August that “all staff, trainees and volunteers in Ridoh-licensed health facilities” would be required to receive their first dose of the vaccine by Friday.

Care New England, one of the state’s largest hospital systems, reported Thursday that more than 95% of its health care workers have been vaccinated. Staff vaccination “continues to climb by the day and by the hour,” said CEO James E. Fanley said.

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In other states the deadline has passed. California’s 2 million health care workers must be vaccinated by Thursday or risk losing their jobs with exemptions for religious beliefs or qualified medical reasons.

In New York, no health care facility closed as a result of a vaccine mandate for workers, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday. Earlier this week, it was reported that 92% of nursing home staff, 89% of adult care facilities workers, and 92% of hospital workers across the state have received at least one dose.

Hochul said, “You will see that number increasing rapidly, because what we are looking for is, you know, as more people are discharged or suspended, that number is going to increase. “

Vaccines for young children soon available, but hesitation remains, survey finds

The resumption of in-person learning in schools has already been complicated by the outbreak of Covid-19 and the quarantine of exposed students and staff.

A survey said that despite there is evidence that vaccination is reducing infection and severity in age groups, some parents are hesitant to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor Thursday, a third of parents of children ages 5 to 11 say they will vaccinate their child as soon as possible. A similar percentage, 32%, say they will wait and see how the vaccine is working, and 24% say they definitely would not vaccinate their children.

The bulk of the interviews, conducted from September 13 to 22, from a sample of more than 1,500 adults, were prior to Pfizer’s announcement that clinical trials showed their COVID-19 vaccine was safe and that this age group had immunity. response was generated.

The Pfizer/BioEntech vaccine is approved for people 16 years of age and older and has emergency use authorization for people 12 to 15 years of age.

Among people already eligible for vaccines, the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 200 million American adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 67% of American adults are fully vaccinated.

Mortality rates higher in non-metropolitan areas, study finds

Researchers are looking into the effects of the pandemic on different parts of the country.

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