Coronavirus update: More evidence in favor Paxlovid

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New evidence may explain why vaccinated people are increasingly getting infected

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 86,636,811 (86,478,140)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,014,835 (1,014,174)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 541,470,003 (540,830,183)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,324,459 (6,322,765)‌

Evidence mounts that Paxlovid keeps patients out of the hospital

Two new studies published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) bolster the case for Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid. Both studies found that patients who take the drug early on in a COVID-19 infection were very unlikely to visit a hospital emergency room (ER).

Paxlovid is a combination of two antiviral medications -- nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. It was approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2021, for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at risk for more severe symptoms.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Harvard University, and the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed electronic health record data from Kaiser Permanente Southern California on 5,287 patients who were 12 years old or older and received Paxlovid from Dec. 31, 2021, through May 26, 2022. 

Research explains why so many vaccinated people get COVID-19

New research suggests that the reason many fully vaccinated people are testing positive for COVID-19 is because the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are able to evade the antibody responses among people who are vaccinated or have had a previous infection.

The study found that when the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants invade the body, the antibody response is several times lower when compared to the body's response to the original strain of the coronavirus.

That said, the researchers have concluded that it’s still worthwhile to get vaccinated because it can prevent severe symptoms in most people.

Booster shots important for nursing home residents

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University, collaborating with scientists at Brown University, have made a case for residents and staff at nursing homes to not only be vaccinated against COVID-19 but to also get booster shots.

Their study shows that high levels of Omicron-specific immunity can be achieved in nursing home residents and their caregivers with a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The findings were published this month in the journal eBioMedicine.

Researchers examined blood samples from 85 nursing home residents and 48 health care workers in Ohio who received the COVID-19 vaccine booster to determine the level of neutralizing antibodies present. It found that Omicron-specific antibodies reached detectable levels in 86% of nursing home residents and 93% of health care workers after receiving the booster shot.

Around the nation

  • New York: The five boroughs of New York City have all been downgraded to medium COVID-19 transmission risk. In early May, all five were classified as high risk. Cases have fallen so sharply that Broadway theaters will drop their mask mandate beginning July 1.

  • Florida: Florida is seeing a renewed surge in COVID-19 infections, and the outbreak is more serious in some communities than others. “We're seeing a lot of new cases,” said Seminole County emergency manager Alan Harris. "We're definitely in high transmission."

  • Illinois: The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,609 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 33 additional deaths on Wednesday. However, the cases per 100,000 population has declined slightly. The intensive care unit occupancy rate remains elevated at 81%.

  • Virginia: In a break with the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health is relaxing quarantine guidelines for people who are exposed to COVID-19. Most won’t be recommended to quarantine if they recovered from a positive case within the last six months or if they are up-to-date on their vaccines.

  • Tennessee: Some Republican state lawmakers are asking Gov. Bill Lee to block the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of five. The members of the Tennessee House said they had too many concerns about the vaccine for it to be used on young children.

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