Coronavirus update: Pfizer tests antiviral drug on children

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The WHO is reversing course and now favors booster shots

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 79,381,454 (79,341,565)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 962,381 (960,402)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 450,498,812 (448,229,284)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,018,519 (6,009,446)‌

Pfizer tests COVID-19 pill on children

Drugmaker Pfizer has announced the start of tests for its COVID-19 treatment pill Paxlovid on children under age 18. The clinical trial will seek to determine whether the five-day treatment can keep children infected with the virus out of the hospital.

If the trial yields positive results, the company will seek FDA approval for the antiviral to be prescribed for children under 12. Dr. Annaliesa Anderson, who leads Pfizer’s Paxlovid research, says it could be especially important for children with underlying health conditions that prevent vaccination.

“When it comes to COVID-19, they’re not exempt from the severe outcomes, and they do need treatment to prevent severe disease, particularly if they have risk factors that would lead to that,” Anderson told the Wall Street Journal.

WHO now favors boosters

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its vaccine guidance and now recommends COVID-19 booster shots. Previously, the organization had discouraged an additional dose of the vaccine.

The WHO issued a statement Tuesday saying its Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition "strongly supports urgent and broad access to current COVID-19 vaccines for primary series and booster doses, particularly for groups at risk of developing severe disease."

The reason for the change might be the declining demand for COVID-19 vaccines. Previously, the WHO had taken the position that people in wealthier countries shouldn’t get a booster until more people in poorer countries were vaccinated.

Man sentenced in fake vaccine case

A Redmond, Washington man who claimed to be a biotech expert was sentenced this week in federal court on charges of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. The man was sentenced to five years probation and fined $246,986.  

Prosecutors said Johnny Stine posted a number of ads online in which he claimed to have developed a COVID-19 vaccine long before Pfizer introduced the first approved vaccine. The ads offered injections for prices ranging from $400 to $1,000. Prosecutors said he also sold other bogus drugs.

“This wasn’t just a COVID-related scheme. From 2018-2020, Mr. Stine made more than $200,000 selling cancer patients his ‘vaccines’ that he said would cure their disease,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “He truly preyed on those who were desperate for any glimmer of hope, injecting people with unapproved substances developed in his rented garage, with no assurance of safety or purity.”

Around the nation

  • Maine: State health authorities have finally cleared a backlog of unprocessed COVID-19 tests that had made the case count appear artificially high. The state reported two additional COVID-19 deaths Tuesday and added 565 cases in the state’s first update in three days.

  • Tennessee: Parents polled by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy showed declining trust in the information they receive about vaccines for children. "Pediatricians have been worried that misinformation about COVID-19 vaccination would erode parental confidence in all childhood vaccines,” said Dr. Stephen Patrick, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy. “It is deeply concerning that in just one year, there has been a 10% drop in the number of Tennessee parents who say they trust information they receive about vaccines.”

  • South Carolina: State health officials say the COVID-19 numbers are trending in the right direction. On Tuesday, about 2% of COVID-19 tests were reported positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set 5% positivity and below as the level of low community spread.

  • Oregon: The statewide mask mandate is set to expire on Friday, but some businesses, such as restaurants, are planning to retain some protective measures implemented during the pandemic. “We do have some glass partitions in some of our booths over in the bar that will stay up,” restaurant operator Jessica Blaine told KVAL-TV.

  • Arkansas: Public schools in the state that had mask mandates reportedly had fewer cases of the coronavirus. A CDC analysis of coronavirus transmission in Arkansas schools shows that mask requirements are "an important part of a multicomponent approach" to preventing the virus's spread. 

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