US to buy 10M courses of Pfizer COVID-19 pill

 

© Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Thursday that it has reached a deal to buy 10 million courses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment, in a move that officials hope will help hasten the end of the pandemic.

The $5.29 billion deal will allow for the first deliveries of the pills to be made this year, with the order concluding next year.

Pfizer’s pill, known as Paxlovid, has been shown to be very promising in trials, reducing the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent.

Significance: Experts say that once the pill is available, it will help end the crisis phase of the pandemic, given that in addition to vaccines, it will help lower the risk from COVID-19 and make it more manageable.

“This promising treatment could help accelerate our path out of this pandemic by offering another life-saving tool for people who get sick with COVID-19,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

What’s next: The drug still needs to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration before it can be used. Pfizer applied for authorization earlier this week.

The company also announced a deal this week to share the formula for the pill to allow low-income countries to make it.

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ASTRAZENECA ANTIBODY COCKTAIL 83 PERCENT EFFECTIVE

AstraZeneca found its antibody cocktail to be more than 80 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a company analysis released on Thursday — a strong result for a treatment that could help immunocompromised people avert severe illness from COVID-19.

The pharmaceutical company said its study showed its long-acting antibody combination called AZD7442 reduced the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 by 83 percent over six months. The data has not yet been peer-reviewed but will be submitted for publication.

Researchers provided the one-time 300mg dose in two separate, sequential shots to participants, a majority of whom had comorbidities that put them at high risk of severe COVID-19.

Participants were not vaccinated, and researchers will continue to study them for 15 months.

Since about 2 percent of the world’s population is estimated to not have an adequate immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine, the preventative treatment would be designed to help these at-risk people prevent serious illness from the virus.

In a separate analysis of another trial, one 600mg dose of AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination was found to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 and death by 88 percent among patients who were treated within three days of developing symptoms.

In the works: AstraZeneca previously submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant an emergency use authorization for AZD7442 last month.

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CANADA, MEXICO TO ANNOUNCE VACCINE DEAL

The heads of Canada and Mexico on Thursday will pledge to share millions of vaccine doses with other countries in need at the first gathering of North American leaders at the White House since 2016.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will meet with President Biden for the North American Leaders Summit, where the three will discuss economic initiatives, migration, climate change and the pandemic.

The leaders will announce that Canada and Mexico will send millions of vaccines to other nations in the region as part of an agreement to pay forward doses after the U.S. first shared millions of the shots with its neighbors, a senior Biden administration official told reporters on a call previewing the summit.

The exact number of doses, recipients and timing of the donations will be determined by health experts and announced at a later date, the official said, but it will be part of a broader effort to expand vaccine production capabilities in the region.

“We’re going to have public health experts determine the timing and the amount and the types of doses so that we’re working — North America — not just for our own well-being and competitiveness, but as a way to project in supporting our regional partners to come back from the pandemic stronger than before,” a senior administration official said.

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Antigua: Over 80% of students vaccinated in secondary school system

Unvaccinated students can return to classroom with negative test

By Dillon De Shong

Loop

Photo: iStock

Antigua and Barbuda has achieved a milestone in its vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic among secondary school students with more than 80 per cent of eligible students in both public and private being vaccinated.

In the secondary school system, approximately 7,200 students are eligible for the vaccine and more than 6,200 have been vaccinated or taken their first dose.

More than 90 per cent of public-school teachers have also been vaccinated.

As a result of this, the delivery of education to these students will be altered with unvaccinated students being allowed back in the classroom from Monday, November 22, 2021, both in public and private secondary schools.

“Remaining unvaccinated students who are still pending their first dose will be allowed to return to school with one caveat, that they will have to return with a rapid antigen test that indicates their negative status.  

This will continue for the rest of the term and into the new term on the basis they will have to do it twice per month. Every two weeks they will be required to undertake one of these tests,” says Minister of Information Melford Nicholas.

The tests will be available at the clinics free of charge to students. This means unvaccinated secondary school students returning to the classroom on November 22 will have to present their negative COVID-19 status.

The change to the delivery of education in the secondary school system in Antigua and Barbdua is being done given the challenge of operating a dual system of persons attending face to face school on intermittent days while teachers also provide remote learning for those students who could not be in the classroom.

Minister Nicholas says it is no longer feasible, the resource constraints are significant and teachers cannot pay attention to both audiences.

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WORLD  STATS

Coronavirus Cases:

256,441,840

Deaths:

5,149,859

Recovered:

231,656,697
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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November 19 (GMT)

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