Coronavirus update: FDA approves AstraZeneca antibody cocktail

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Pandemic-era layoffs plunge

Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 49,554,373 (49,410,379)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 793,475 (791,705)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 268,127,375 (267,344,049)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,284,165 ( 5,275,993)‌

FDA clears AstraZeneca antibody drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) to AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail as a substitute for vaccinations in people with moderate to severely compromised immune systems. 

The drug, which is not a vaccine but can have preventive qualities, is only authorized for people who are not currently infected with COVID-19 and who have not recently been exposed to an individual infected with the virus. 

“Today’s action authorizes the use of the combination of two monoclonal antibodies to reduce the risk of developing COVID-19 in these individuals,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. 

Weekly jobless claims plunge to a 52-year low

The pandemic threw millions of Americans out of work last year, but those days appear to be over. Layoffs have all but disappeared.

The Labor Department reports that initial claims for unemployment benefits last week totaled only 184,000 – not only a pandemic low but the lowest number since 1969. Economists say the claims number, which dropped from 227,000 reported the previous week, suggests that the labor market is still dealing with a shortage of workers.

The total number of people still drawing unemployment benefits for the week ending November 20 was 1,947,598, a decrease of 350,527 from the previous week. 

Is it a cold or COVID-19?

It’s cold and flu season, so how can you tell if the onset of symptoms is a seasonal affliction or the coronavirus? Some clinics are adapting their range of testing services for the age of COVID-19.

"We will do more than just test, treat, and vaccinate you for COVID,” said Rahul Khare, CEO and founder of Chicago’s Innovative Care. “We will find out if you have an ear infection, strep throat or another common illness, and then treat you for those, so you can get on the mend sooner."

Clinics that provide an evaluation, expanded testing, and treatment options can save patients time and avoid the need for multiple clinic visits.

Around the nation

  • California: The increase in COVID-19 probably means the state’s economy will take longer to fully recover, according to a study by UCLA economists. The longer that COVID-19 hangs around and remains a threat, the less likely consumers will return to normal spending patterns, the study found.

  • Indiana: The state health department reports that hospitalizations have climbed more than 20% in the last week amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases. “Our hospital is pretty much full,” said Dr. Thomas Huth, vice president for medical affairs at Reid Health. “We’re sitting at or beyond capacity.”

  • Tennessee: Former Republican senator and Nashville doctor Bill Frist is speaking out, saying health officials and political leaders could have done a better job in presenting information about the virus. Frist said consistent communication by trusted leaders should be a priority, especially since only half the state is vaccinated.

  • Oregon: State health officials stepped up efforts to increase vaccinations this week, opening several “high volume” vaccination clinics across the state. The clinics offer vaccines made by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as booster doses for people who have already been vaccinated. 

  • Minnesota: Minnesota’s death toll from COVID-19 is surging, with state health officials reporting 75 deaths on Wednesday. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have all increased in recent weeks, even though 70.6% of Minnesota residents over the age of five have been vaccinated.

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