Coronavirus update: New antibody treatment gets green light

Photo (c) Wachirawit Jenlohakit - Getty Images

Dr. Fauci sounds increasingly optimistic

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 77,740,239 (77,707,694)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 919,694 (919,260)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 412,262,713 (409,654,864)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,818,207 (5,811,876)‌

FDA approves new antibody treatment

Doctors have a newly approved treatment against the coronavirus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for a new monoclonal antibody for the treatment of COVID-19 that is reportedly effective in treating the Omicron variant.

The treatment – bebtelovimab – is approved for mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients who are at least 12 years old. Bebtelovimab is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or who require oxygen therapy.

"Today's action makes available another monoclonal antibody that shows activity against omicron, at a time when we are seeking to further increase supply," said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "This authorization is an important step in meeting the need for more tools to treat patients as new variants of the virus continue to emerge."

U.S. approaching end of pandemic, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), has always been the voice of caution, urging Americans not to let down their guard against the coronavirus. So it is worth noting when he sounds optimistic.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Fauci said the U.S. could be reaching the end of a “full-blown” pandemic. He notes that cases have fallen dramatically in recent weeks and that many states have begun to loosen restrictions.

"As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated," Fauci told the publication. "There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus."

Doctor fears pandemic has permanently set back cancer screening

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many other types of medical issues were put on the back burner, including cancer screenings. Now, a California doctor worries we are about to see negative repercussions.

Steve Serrao, chief of gastroenterology at a hospital in Moreno Valley, California, told Vox that he fears the delayed diagnoses of various cancers and other chronic, life-threatening illnesses could result in its own epidemic. 

“Our next surge will be advanced chronic disease,” Serrao said in an interview with the website. “That’s going to be the next surge of patients who overwhelm our system. I don’t think our systems are ready.”

Around the nation

  • Massachusetts: A small group of protesters made their way inside the State House, demanding to see Gov. Charlie Baker. The members of the group said they wanted to tell Baker to end the mask and vaccination mandates. State police allowed the group to stage their protest and leave without being arrested.

  • Utah: State health officials say they stopped using the GenBody brand of rapid antigen tests last week. They report that about two-thirds of the test results came back with results different from the final PCR tests and were likely to produce false-negative results. In statements to the media, GenBody defended the accuracy of its test.

  • Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan is asking the Maryland Board of Education to withdraw its school masking mandate because of improving health metrics across the state. The governor cited the widespread availability of vaccines and improvements in the state’s COVID-19 health data this month.

  • Louisiana: While some areas of the state are relaxing COVID-19 rules, the City of New Orleans will retain its mask and vaccination mandates through Mardi Gras. The Louisiana Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by 100 plaintiffs seeking to remove the restrictions.

  • Rhode Island:  Gov. Dan McKee ended the state’s indoor mask mandate on Friday, but he said students and teachers will continue to wear masks at school until March 4. McKee said he can loosen restrictions because of the improving COVID-19 numbers in his state.

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