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Coronavirus update: Another treatment drug shows promise

More people are returning to work

COVID-19 pill treatment
Photo (c) dowell - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 46,346,347 (46,261,126)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 751,776 (750,578)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 248,830,725 (248,311,594)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,033,849 (5,025,920)‌

Pfizer says its antiviral drug shows promising results

There may be another drug on the way that could treat patients infected with COVID-19. Pfizer reports that its investigational novel COVID-19 oral antiviral candidate, PAXLOVID, significantly reduced hospitalizations and deaths in clinical trials.

The analysis showed an 89% reduction in risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause when compared to a placebo in patients treated within three days of symptom onset. Only 0.8% of patients who received the drug required hospitalization.

“Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. “These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients’ lives.”

More people returned to work last month

Economists are generally encouraged that the pace of hiring picked up in October. The Labor Department reports that the economy added 531,000 jobs last month, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6%.

Employment in leisure and hospitality, a sector that has struggled to find workers, increased by 164,000 in October and has risen by 2.4 million so far in 2021. Bars and restaurants scored the biggest month-over-month gain, but jobs in the sector as a whole are down 8.2% since the start of the pandemic.

Professional and business services added 100,000 jobs last month, including a gain of 41,000

in temporary help services. Employment continued to rise in management and technical consulting services, but employment for the sector as a whole is 215,000 below where it was in February 2020.

New study shows vaccines lose effectiveness over time

There may be a good reason to get a COVID-19 vaccination booster as soon as you are eligible. A new study shows that the U.S. vaccines lose much of their efficacy over time.

A study published in the journal Science showed that all three vaccines lose potency when confronted with the Delta variant. The study was based on the records of nearly 800,000 U.S. veterans.

It found that the two-shot Modena vaccine held up the best, falling to 58% efficacy. The Pfizer vaccine fell to as low as 45% effectiveness, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protection suffered the biggest decline, to just 13% after six months.

Around the nation

  • Kentucky: The number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 is lower than originally believed. Gov. Andy Beshear says the actual number is considerably lower since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counted thousands of Kentuckians twice. Despite fewer people being vaccinated, the state’s COVID-19 numbers have improved in recent weeks.

  • Florida: State officials have served notice that they will go to court to try to block the Biden administration’s vaccination mandate from going into effect. Attorney General Ashley Moody called the vaccine requirement unlawful and unconstitutional and said she will be filing suit against the federal government as soon as possible.

  • Texas: Authorities are trying to learn how two children in Garland were given adult doses of the Pfizer vaccine instead of the smaller children’s dose approved for kids aged five to 11. They’re also trying to determine why the shots were given two days before approval by the CDC.

  • Maryland: State health officials say they are not encountering any vaccine hesitancy among parents, many of whom are eager to get their children vaccinated. While the state is gearing up to give shots to young children, pediatricians report that their phones are ringing off the hook with parents eager to book appointments for their children.

  • Hawaii: State health and tourism officials have reached an accord to loosen travel restrictions and begin welcoming visitors back to the islands. Updates to the state’s entry requirements for international visitors will go into effect next week. At the same time, the state has announced the easing of restrictions for some indoor and outdoor activities.

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