Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Virtual care companies rush to ease access to Covid-19 antivirals

STAT - December 3, 2021

As two new antiviral pills for Covid-19 approach emergency authorization, experts are concerned that a lack of public health infrastructure — especially easy access to fast-turnaround testing and quickly filled prescriptions — will prevent them from making a meaningful dent in the pandemic.

Fauci Says Americans Don’t Need to Change Holiday Plans due to Omicron — If They’re Vaccinated

PEOPLE - December 3, 2021

With the new, potentially highly-transmissible COVID-19 variant omicron now in the U.S. and coinciding with the start of the holiday season, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that families can move forward with their celebrations — as long as they're vaccinated. … "Just as I said and I'll say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, enjoy the holidays with your family in a family setting," he said.

‘The fire that’s here’: US is still battling delta variant

AP - December 3, 2021

While all eyes are on the new and little-understood omicron variant that has been detected around the U.S., the delta form of the coronavirus isn’t finished wreaking havoc in the U.S., sending record numbers of patients to the hospital in the Midwest and New England. “Omicron is a spark that’s on the horizon. Delta variant is the fire that’s here today,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state CDC in Maine…

US reports 1st case of omicron variant in returning traveler

AP - December 2, 2021

The U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of the omicron variant Wednesday — in a vaccinated traveler who returned to California after a trip to South Africa — as scientists around the world race to establish whether the new, mutant version of the coronavirus is more dangerous than previous ones. Dr. Anthony Fauci … announced the finding at the White House. … The infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, developed mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 Monday.

Hospitals refused to prescribe ivermectin. Threats and lockdowns followed.

NBC News - December 2, 2021

One Montana hospital went into lockdown and called police after a woman threatened violence because her relative was denied her request to be treated with ivermectin. … underline the pressure on health care workers to provide unauthorized Covid treatments, particularly in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low, government skepticism is high, and conservative leaders have championed the treatments.

Biden’s new Covid plan: more boosters, free home testing, and ‘monoclonal antibody strike teams’

STAT - December 2, 2021

President Biden will announce a new plan this afternoon for combating the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The plan includes a new campaign to increase uptake of booster shots, new policies meant to provide Americans with free at-home coronavirus tests, and more stringent policies on international travel.

Survivors of severe COVID-19 may have an increased risk of dying over the next 12 months, study suggests

Fox News - December 2, 2021

The alarming findings suggested the increased risk of dying was greater for patients under the age of 65, according to the report published in Frontiers in Medicine. Researchers from the University of Florida stated, "The risk of 12-month mortality among adults under 65 who are hospitalized with COVID-19 is increased by 233% over those who are COVID-19 negative."

South Africa’s new COVID cases double in 1 day amid omicron

AP - December 2, 2021

South Africa’s new cases of COVID-19 nearly doubled in a day, authorities reported Wednesday, signaling a dramatic surge in the country where scientists detected the omicron variant last week. New confirmed cases rose to 8,561 Wednesday from 4,373 a day earlier, according to official statistics.

Omicron and delta spell return of unpopular restrictions

AP - December 2, 2021

With the delta variant of COVID-19 pushing up cases in Europe and growing fears over the omicron variant, governments around the world are weighing new measures for populations tired of hearing about restrictions and vaccines.

More omicron cases pop up as world rushes to learn more

AP - November 29, 2021

Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus. The variant was identified days ago by researchers in South Africa, and much is still not known about it, including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade the protection of vaccines.

Will the Vaccines Stop Omicron? Scientists Are Racing to Find Out.

New York Times - November 29, 2021

The early findings are a mixed picture. The variant may be more transmissible and better able to evade the body’s immune responses, both to vaccination and to natural infection, than prior versions of the virus, experts said in interviews. The vaccines may well continue to ward off severe illness and death, although booster doses may be needed to protect most people. Still, the makers of the two most effective vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are preparing to reformulate their shots if necessary.

Wary, weary world slams doors shut, fearing omicron variant

AP - November 29, 2021

Nations around the world sought Monday to keep the new omicron variant at bay with travel bans and further restrictions, even as it remains unclear what it means for the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan announced it would suspend entry of all foreign visitors, while new cases of the variant identified days ago by researchers in South Africa appeared as far apart as Hong Kong, Australia and Portugal.

New data, analyses take some of the shine off Merck’s Covid pill

STAT - November 29, 2021

New data, in addition to analyses by scientists at the FDA, may take some of the shine off Merck’s experimental Covid-19 pill, molnupiravir. On Friday, the drug maker released full results from its study of the pill, molnupiravir, showing it reduced the risk of hospitalization by 30%, down from a decrease of 50% seen in an earlier analysis. In the 1,433-patient study, fewer patients died when they received the treatment.

Military service members face deadline to get COVID-19 vaccine or face disciplinary action​

CBS News - November 29, 2021

Thousands of American service members are facing disciplinary action — up to dismissal — if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday. … With 91% fully vaccinated, the Marines are on track to have the worst record of all the services. The Navy, which had the most serious outbreak of COVID aboard the carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt, has the best record: 97% fully vaccinated.

US advisers support expanding COVID boosters to all adults

AP - November 19, 2021

U.S. regulators on Friday opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, expanding the government’s campaign to shore up protection and get ahead of rising coronavirus cases that may worsen with the holidays. Pfizer and Moderna announced the FDA’s decision after at least 10 states already had started offering boosters to all adults. The latest action simplifies what until now has been a confusing list of who’s eligible by allowing anyone 18 or older to choose either company’s booster six months after their last dose — regardless of which vaccine they had first. But there’s one more step: The CDC must agree to expand Pfizer and Moderna boosters to even healthy young adults. Its scientific advisers were set to debate later Friday.

AstraZeneca Releases More Positive Data on COVID-19 Antibody Treatment

TIME - November 19, 2021

AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 antibody cocktail was more than 80% successful at both preventing symptomatic disease and stopping the illness from worsening after six months, demonstrating its ability to provide long-lasting protection. … on half-year data from outpatient participants with mild-to-moderate illness, found the cocktail reduced the risk of severe disease or death by 88%.