Coronavirus update: Pfizer to sell COVID-19 treatment pills to U.S. government

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The FDA has approved booster shots for everyone 18 and older

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 47,539,865 (47,423,960)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 768,789 (767,450)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 256,324,678 (255,235,906)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,136,380 (5,128,223)‌

Pfizer to sell treatment pills to the government

Pfizer has announced an agreement with the U.S. government to sell it $5.29 billion worth of its COVID-19 treatment pills. As yet, however, the drug has not been cleared by regulators.

Pfizer’s experimental antiviral drug, Paxlovid, is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a decision could come sometime in December.

The pills have been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19 in the early phase of the disease, significantly reducing hospitalization and death. The federal government has agreed to pay about $529 for each course of treatment, consisting of 30 pills over five days. 

FDA authorizes booster shots for all

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reacted to several states giving COVID-19 booster shots to everyone regardless of eligibility. The agency now says everyone 18 and older is eligible to receive the Pfizer or Moderna booster shot.

"The FDA has determined that the currently available data support expanding the eligibility of a single booster dose of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to individuals 18 years of age and older," said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The FDA says people who were inoculated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would be eligible for a booster six months after their second shot. People who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine become eligible two months after their first shot.

Many COVID-19 patients may never regain sense of smell

One major symptom of COVID-19 is a temporary loss of smell. Scientists now say that for an estimated 1.6 million U.S. coronavirus patients, the loss may actually be permanent.

The condition is known as anosmia. Researchers writing in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery say many people who have recovered from the coronavirus still have no sense of smell six months or more after the onset of symptoms.

“In the last couple of months, my colleagues and I noted a dramatic increase in the number of patients seeking medical attention for olfactory dysfunction.” study author Jay Piccirillo, an otolaryngologist at Washington University in St. Louis and an editor at JAMA Otolaryngology, told Gizmodo in a statement.

Around the nation

  • New York: State and local officials have stopped short of reimposing mask mandates and other restrictions in the face of sharply rising COVID-19 cases. “Nobody wants to go back to what we saw last year where we had mandates imposed and businesses shutting down,” Monroe County Executive Adam Bello told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

  • Massachusetts: Massachusetts was the latest state to open booster shots to all residents aged 18 and older before the FDA acted. Gov. Charlie Baker likely made that decision because the number of cases in his state has risen sharply in recent weeks.

  • South Dakota: The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has settled a complaint with Smithfield Foods about the company’s coronavirus safety measures during a massive outbreak last year at a South Dakota pork processing plant. The company will draw up a plan to control future outbreaks and pay a $13,500 fine.

  • Florida: Attorney General Ashley Moody has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming its vaccination mandate for health care workers is “unlawful.” Moody also said the mandate threatens to make the shortage of health care workers worse.

  • Illinois: In a Facebook post, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico called on state officials to withdraw the statewide mask mandate, even though cases of the coronavirus are increasing across the state. Chirico said Illinois is the only midwestern state still enforcing a mask mandate.

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