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Coronavirus update: Regeneron antibody cocktail shows promise, Fauci says restrictions may extend into 2022

Moderna is already taking orders for its vaccine

Photo (c) FilippoBacci - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 8,865,697 (8,790,206)

Total U.S. deaths: 227,774 (226,864)

Total global cases: 44,644,423 (44,093,002)

Total global deaths: 1,176,101 (1,169,052)

Regeneron antibody cocktail shows promising results

Regeneron reports some much needed good news when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19). In clinical trials of its antibody treatment, the drug “significantly reduced” the levels of the virus in newly-diagnosed patients.

Better yet, the company says the treatment reduced the need for hospitalization in 57 percent of the subjects who took the drug. For patients in the “high risk” group, it cut hospitalization by 72 percent.

It’s the same antibody cocktail used as part of President Trump’s treatment, even though it has yet to be granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company says only 50,000 doses have been produced but it could have as many as 300,000 by next spring.

Fauci says vaccine won’t end prevention measures

Once there’s a COVID-19 vaccine, you may think life can return to normal. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) doesn’t agree.

"I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 and perhaps into the next year before we start having some semblance of normality," Fauci said during a webinar with a college in Australia.

Fauci said restrictions will have to stay in place because it will take several months for enough people to get vaccinated. He said many people may be reluctant to get the vaccine until they see that it is safe and effective.

Moderna prepares to launch its vaccine

Moderna is getting ready to launch its coronavirus vaccine candidate and world governments are already lining up to get their share. In its third-quarter earnings report, the pharmaceutical giant says it has already received more than $1 billion in deposits.

“We are actively preparing for the launch of mRNA-1273 and we have signed a number of supply agreements with governments around the world,” said Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel. “Moderna is committed to the highest data quality standards and rigorous scientific research as we continue to work with regulators to advance mRNA-1273.”

Pandemic causing loss of sleep

A survey by ValuePenguin found that 26 percent of Americans say they’re getting less sleep at night because of the pandemic. The loss of shuteye has a lot to do with changes in lifestyle and personal habits.

The authors say some of those habits could have harmful health implications. The survey showed that while a quarter of the population is sleeping less, about 20 percent is drinking more.

But on the positive side, 49 percent of consumers say they're practicing healthier habits now than they were prior to the pandemic. Though good sleep habits have declined, more consumers are eating vegetables and avoiding fast food.

Conflicting findings

One crucial element of the coronavirus is that it doesn’t behave the same way in all people, which can lead to some scientific confusion. As ConsumerAffairs reported this week, British scientists concluded that coronavirus antibodies don’t last that long in the blood, casting doubt on “herd immunity.”

But researchers at Mt. Siani have reached the opposite conclusion. They found that patients with mild symptoms of the virus had a “robust” level of antibodies in the blood that lasted for about five months.

“While some reports have come out saying antibodies to this virus go away quickly, we have found just the opposite – that more than 90 percent of people who were mildly or moderately ill produce an antibody response strong enough to neutralize the virus, and the response is maintained for many months,” said Florian Krammer, a senior author of the paper. 

Around the nation

  • Massachusetts: Massachusetts residents face new travel restrictions, but not from their state government. Two neighboring states, New York and Connecticut have slapped quarantine requirements on Massachusetts residents after a big spike in COVID-19 cases.

  • Colorado: COVID-19 is complicating efforts to battle the state’s raging wildfires. The Colorado Department of Public Health reports 400 outbreaks of the virus, including 45 illnesses among Cameron Peak fire crews.

  • Iowa: The state’s outbreak could have an impact on voters next week since hundreds of polling places have been closed due to the fast-spreading coronavirus. "All of us, we are going to have to look up where we need to go. I mean, I'm not sure which place I would go," Sheena Thomas, a voter in Des Moines, told NPR. "That's going to be an issue for everybody."

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