The Defender’s COVID NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines related to the SARS CoV-2 virus, including its origins and COVID vaccines.
Study: Pfizer COVID Pill Showed No Benefit in Younger Adults
Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill appears to provide little or no benefit for younger adults, while still reducing the risk of hospitalization and death for high-risk seniors, according to a large study published Wednesday.
The results from a 109,000-patient Israeli study are likely to renew questions about the U.S. government’s use of Paxlovid, which has become the go-to treatment for COVID-19 due to its at-home convenience. The Biden administration has spent more than $10 billion purchasing the drug and making it available at thousands of pharmacies through its test-and-treat initiative.
The study has limitations due to its design, which compiled data from a large Israeli health system rather than enrolling patients in a randomized study with a control group — the gold standard for medical research.
Pfizer Taps Company Coming off FDA Ban for Paxlovid Production in China
Pfizer will team with Zhejiang Huahai for five years. The Chinese firm will produce and sell Paxlovid exclusively in China. The company drew the ire of the FDA in 2018 when the agency investigated the company for the presence of a suspected carcinogen in a blood pressure medicine it produced.
After a global recall of blood pressure medicines produced by Huahai and several other companies, the FDA banned drugs produced at Huahai’s factory in Chuannan. Last year, after Huahai addressed the compliance issues, the FDA lifted its ban.
Questioned about potential scrutiny it might be under, Pfizer offered only a bare-bones statement, confirming the manufacturing agreement. While Huahai announced the partnership on Aug. 17, Pfizer did not reciprocate.
Whistleblower Disputes Data Glitch Explanation Behind Drastic Increase in Non-Infectious Diseases in Military
A medical Army officer who discovered a sudden increase in disease coinciding with reports of side effects alongside COVID-19 vaccines — which the Army has dismissed as a data glitch — said he faces involuntary separation after being convicted but not punished for disobeying COVID-19 protocol.
In January 2022, First Lt. Mark Bashaw, a preventive medicine officer at the Army, started noticing some “alarming signals” within the defense epidemiological database.
The Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED), which tracks disease and injuries of 1.3 million active component service members, showed during the pandemic a significant increase in reports of cancers, myocarditis and pericarditis; as well as some other diseases like male infertility, tumors, a lung disease caused by blood clots and HIV, Bashaw said.
Coronavirus Cases and Deaths Drop Worldwide, Though WHO Warns That Could Be Due to Surveillance Decline
Confirmed coronavirus cases fell by 15% worldwide over the past week and new infections declined by 9%, the World Health Organization said Wednesday in its weekly assessment of the state of the pandemic.
Though it looked like an improvement on its face, WHO said it was impossible to know the degree to which drops in testing and other surveillance had influenced those numbers. The public health body has warned that we are in essence flying blind by not testing.
Long COVID Is Keeping 2 to 4 Million Americans out of Workforce, Report Says
Employers have complained of labor shortages throughout the pandemic, and the analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, which collects data from Americans through a survey on education, employment, health and housing, suggests one possible reason for the lack of workers.
The report found that about 16 million Americans between 18 and 65 have long COVID. Of these people, who are considered of working age, they estimate that 2 to 4 million are out of work because of their symptoms.
NHS and Care Homes in England to Pause Routine COVID Testing
Most hospital patients and care home residents in England will no longer be tested for COVID unless they have symptoms, the government has said.
From Aug. 31, NHS and social care staff will also not be offered lateral flow tests unless they fall sick. Free testing for the general public ended in April in England but continued in some high-risk settings.
The government said U.K. COVID rates have fallen, meaning most testing could be paused.
White House Strategy for Monkeypox Vaccines Causing ‘Chaos out in the Field’
The federal government last week slashed the number of vials states received in anticipation of each being able to vaccinate up to five people per vial instead of one.
But health officials in half a dozen states told POLITICO that they are routinely able to extract only three or four doses per vial, meaning they were able to vaccinate fewer people last week than if the federal government had made no changes at all because of the drastically reduced allocations.
WHO: Monkeypox Cases Drop 21%, Reversing Month-Long Increase
The number of monkeypox cases reported globally dropped by 21% in the last week, reversing a month-long trend of rising infections and a possible signal the outbreak in Europe may be starting to decline, according to a World Health Organization report issued Thursday.
British health authorities said last week after seeing a decline in the number of new cases getting reported daily that there were “early signs” the country’s monkeypox outbreak was slowing.