Study finds Pfizer’s antiviral has little to no benefit for young adults, and WHO says BA.5 omicron subvariant accounted for 74% of cases in past week

Pfizer’s COVID antiviral, Paxlovid, appears to have little to no benefit for young adults, although it still reduces the risk of hospitalization or death in older adults, according to a new Israeli study.

Data from the study of 109,000 patients could renew questions about the US government’s use of Paxlovid, which has become the gold standard treatment for COVID-19 due to its convenience at home, as the Associated Press reported.

The Biden administration has spent more than $10 billion to buy the drug and make it available in thousands of pharmacies through its test and treat initiative. Biden himself took Paxlovid for his recent fight with COVID.

Researchers found that Paxlovid reduced hospitalizations in people aged 65 and over by about 75% when given soon after infection. This is consistent with previous findings used to weigh the drug’s approval in the United States and elsewhere.

But people between the ages of 40 and 65 saw no measurable benefit, according to analysis of medical records.

The study has limitations due to its design, which compiled data from a large Israeli health system rather than enrolling patients in a randomized study with a control group – the gold standard of medical research .

“Paxlovid will remain important for those most at risk of severe COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. David Boulware, a researcher and physician at the University of Minnesota, who n did not participate in the study. the PA. “But for the vast majority of Americans who are now eligible, it really doesn’t have much of a benefit.”

A Pfizer spokesperson
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declined to comment on the results, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The news comes as known COVID cases in the United States continue to decline, although the true tally is likely higher than reported given the number of people testing at home and the data is not being collected.

Read now: Dr Fauci’s advice has always been simple and to the point

The daily average of new cases stood at 91,383 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 16% from two weeks ago. Average daily hospitalizations fell 8% to 39,443, while average daily deaths fell 4% to 458.

The World Health Organization said cases worldwide fell 9% in the week to August 21 from the previous week, while the number of deaths fell 15%.

The agency’s weekly epidemiological update found that the BA.5 omicron variant has become globally dominant, accounting for 74% of sequenced cases in a global database, up from 71% a week ago.

Overall, omicron variants accounted for 99% of sequences reported globally in the past 30 days.

Coronavirus update: MarketWatch’s Daily Roundup organizes and reports all the latest developments each day of the week since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• Trump White House officials tried to pressure U.S. health experts to reauthorize discredited COVID-19 treatment, congressional probe finds that provides new evidence of this administration’s efforts to reverse the decisions of the Food and Drug Administration at the start of the pandemic, the AP reported. The report released Wednesday by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis also sheds new light on the role played by television personalities in bringing hydroxychloroquine to the attention of White House officials. Investigators uncovered an email from Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and others from Mehmet Oz, the famed heart surgeon who had a daytime TV show and is now the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Senate. Ingraham attended an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, who himself said he took the antimalarial drug.

Extract from the archives (February 2022): Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine more likely to be prescribed in Republican-majority counties, study finds

See also (December 2020): House panel says Trump administration has sought to block or alter more than a dozen coronavirus reports

• Since health officials confirmed the first cases of COVID-19, disinformation spread as fast as the coronavirus. social media may have made the quantity, variety and speed of misinformation unprecedented, but COVID-19 is not the first pandemic where false and harmful information has harmed public health, writes Cristian Apetrei, professor of immunology, infectious diseases and microbiology at Pittsburgh University of Health Sciences. Misinformation changed the way people trusted their governments and doctors during the 1918 flu pandemic. He fed the 19th-century anti-smallpox vaccine movements through some of the same arguments currently being used against the COVID-19 vaccine.

• North Korea said on Thursday it had found four new cases of fever in its border region with China that may have been caused by coronavirus infections, two weeks after the leader Kim Jong Un has declared a widely disputed victory over COVID-19. North Korea’s state-run Central Korean News Agency said health workers were carrying out genetic tests on samples taken from four people in Ryanggang province who had fevers to confirm whether they were caused. by the “malignant epidemic”. the AP reported. North Korea often uses this term, along with “malignant virus”, to describe COVID-19 and the coronavirus.

In North Korean state media, Kim Jong Un’s sister suggested that the dictator himself had contracted Covid-19. The statements came as the country declared victory against the virus, three months after reporting a rise in cases. Photo: KCNA/Reuters

• A Texas man was sentenced to six months in federal prison on Tuesday for threatening a Maryland doctor who has been a prominent advocate for COVID-19 vaccines, the AP reported, citing a federal prosecutor. Scott Eli Harris, 52, of Aubrey, Texas, pleaded guilty in February to threats transmitted by interstate communication. Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron announced the sentence, which is to be followed by three years of probation, in a Press release Wednesday.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 599 million on Tuesday, while the death toll topped 6.48 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world with 93.9 million cases and 1,042,709 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tracker shows that 223.7 million people living in the United States are fully immunized, or 67.4% of the total population. But only 108.2 million had a first booster, or 48.4% of the vaccinated population.

Only 21.4 million people aged 50 and over eligible for a second booster had one, or 33.2% of those who had a first booster.

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