Pfizer Releases Promising Data on COVID-19 Antiviral Treatment
The US hit a grim milestone on Monday with over 50 million COVID-19 cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic. The latest stats come from John Hopkins University. The report also detailed that almost 798,000 people have died of the virus in the US. Here is the latest news surrounding the pandemic and the worrisome emergence of the Omicron variant.
Omicron Continues to Spread Like Wildfire in EuropeRead More »
Officials continue to remind people that the hospitalizations and deaths generally lag confirmed infections by about two weeks. This has put the UK on edge waiting for the potential explosion of hospitalizations just in time for the holidays.
Study Shows Reduced Effectiveness of Vaccines Against Omicron
A new study out of Oxford University is raising alarm bells about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant. The results demonstrate that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are not as effective at preventing infection against this latest strain, particularly when compared to Delta. These findings are in alignment with early results from additional studies.
The researchers caution that this does not necessarily mean that the vaccines will be less effective in preventing serious disease in confirmed patients. Because of the lag between confirmed illness and hospitalization data, it is still too early to say with certainty how effective these two vaccines are against severe illness and death.
New York Mask Mandate
In response to both a rising number of new cases and the new worries over the Omicron variant, all New Yorkers will be required to mask up in all indoor public spaces starting December 13 and continuing through January 15. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the new mask mandate on Friday, justifying that she is trying to get ahead of the winter surge.
The mask mandate will not be required for businesses that implement vaccine requirements for entry. Those in violation of the mandate could face a fine of up to $1,000.
California Mask Mandate
Right on the heels of the announcement in New York, the state of California also announced that it will implement a new statewide mask mandate in indoor public places beginning on December 15 and continuing through January 15. The mandate was announced on Monday by California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
According to Ghaly, the Golden State has seen a 47% increase in cases since Thanksgiving. While about half of the state is already under a mask mandate via country rules, the new directive will cover the rest of the state.
In addition, individuals attending events with over 1,000 people will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test result within one day of the event. Lastly, officials are also asking that visitors or residents returning to California get tested within three to five days of arriving in the state.
COVID-19 Continues to Wreak Havoc on Sports
The continuation of the pandemic is still wreaking havoc all over the sports world. On Monday, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls announced that they have postponed their season for at least two games. The Bulls had to postpone the scheduled Tuesday game against the Detroit Pistons and the Thursday matchup with the Toronto Raptors after 10 players and staff members were put into the league’s health and safety protocols.
According to the NBA, 97% of their players are vaccinated.
Over on the other side of the pond, England’s Premier League announced on Monday that it will enforce the COVID-19 emergency measures as a result of a rapid increase in the number of cases.
These measures include that all clubs require masks indoors, limit treatment time, and observe proper social distancing protocols. The concerns have also prompted the league to boost PCR testing of players, coaches, and administrators.
According to Premier League officials, there were 42 new positive cases of the virus between the test period of December 6 through December 12. This figure is over triple the previous week’s number of 12 cases.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have been hit particularly hard by the virus in recent days, forcing the postponement of multiple games and trainings.
Sad Statistic for US Seniors
According to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 1 in every 100 seniors has lost their lives at the hands of the virus. Over 75% of all US deaths have been in the population group age 65 and older. Over one in every 60 people over the age of 75 has died from the virus since the start of the pandemic, a sad reminder that this population is extremely vulnerable.
Unfortunately, approximately only about half of fully vaccinated nursing home residents have received their booster shots of the vaccine. In addition, less than 25% of nursing home staff have received this booster.
The US government and health officials continue to urge all Americans 16 and over to get their booster shot as soon as possible in order to experience maximum protection.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 Pill Called a Game-Changer
Pfizer Chair and CEO Albert Bourla called the pharmaceutical company’s antiviral pill used to treat COVID-19 a game-changer. Bourla said that the pill is not preventative, however, the treatment has shown to be effective in keeping sick individuals out of the hospital while also preventing death.
Tuesday’s news release by Pfizer detailed how the treatment cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% if the pill was taken by high-risk adults within a day or two of symptom onset. Combining a new antiviral drug known as nirmatrelvir with an older treatment called ritonavir, the pill is set to be marketed under the name Paxlovid.