Coronavirus update: Researchers report positive results using an older drug

Photo (c) Longhua Liao - Getty Images

White House shows some flexibility on mandates

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

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 45,718,022 (45,638,297)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 741,597 (739,254)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 245,241,884 (244,800,062)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,976,499 (4,967,907)‌

Researchers tout an old drug as a new treatment

There may be a cheap way to treat mild cases of COVID-19 before they get worse. Researchers in Brazil conducted a clinical trial using a generic antidepressant drug to treat the virus and are reporting positive results.

They say the drug, known as fluvoxamine, appeared to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms in close to a third of people in a high-risk category. The drug was administered to about half the subjects in a trial of about 1,500 patients.

"Fluvoxamine may reduce the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines, that can be triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection," said Dr. Angela Reiersen, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis who worked on the study, 

White House signals flexibility on mandates

In the face of growing resistance and resignations in response to its vaccination mandate for federal employees and contractors, the White House is showing a little flexibility. Coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients has signaled that the Biden administration could provide some give-and-take as it enforces the president’s executive order.

The mandate was issued in response to the fourth wave of the virus, which was driven by the spread of the Delta variant. But the administration’s attempt to force people to be vaccinated appears to only have hardened the resistance.

The new approach involves more carrot than stick. Agencies and contractors are being encouraged to counsel unvaccinated team members on the benefits of the vaccine, even after the mandate deadline. Federal employees face a vaccination deadline of Nov. 22; contractors have a Dec. 8 deadline.

COVID-19 slowed the economy in the last quarter

The spread of the Delta variant and worsening supply chain bottlenecks took a toll on the nation’s economy in the last quarter. The Commerce Department reports that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of economic growth, rose only 2% in the July through September period.

That marked a significant slowdown from strong gains earlier this year when people began to get vaccinated and businesses began to resume full operations. GDP rose at an unusually fast annual rate of 6.3% in the first quarter and 6.7% in the second quarter.

Providing a drag on growth in the third quarter, businesses struggled to find employees, and supply chain bottlenecks kept products from reaching consumers. This week, toymaker Hasbro reported that $100 million in orders went unfilled in the third quarter.

Around the nation

  • New York: A judge has denied a motion from New York City’s largest police union to block the city’s vaccination mandate. The Police Benevolent Association had argued that the policy does not make clear potential exceptions for medical or religious reasons. The group also claims that the mandate does not give unvaccinated officers sufficient time to apply for such exemptions.

  • North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper is urging his constituents to remain vigilant against the coronavirus, but he reports that the state’s numbers are moving in the right direction. "We’re relieved to see fewer people requiring hospital care and ICU beds for COVID-19. Our percentage of tests positive continues to decline and the number of people vaccinated increases every day, even though we want it to go faster," Cooper said at a news conference.

  • California: Health officials have already drawn up plans to vaccinate young children. The state has established 4,000 venues to administer 1.2 million shots to children between the ages of five and 11 in the first week after the vaccine is approved for kids.

  • Colorado: While the rate of coronavirus cases nationwide is going down, federal health statistics show that Colorado leads the U.S. in per capita case increases over the past two weeks. The state also has the fewest available hospital beds.

  • Vermont: Gov. Phil Scott is under increasing pressure from medical professionals and some state legislators to reinstate a statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 numbers continue to increase. Scott says vaccinations are working and that mandating masks wouldn’t help reduce the spread of the virus.

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