COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates: Thursday / Friday, Dec. 16-17


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The first at-home treatment for Covid has been given to patients in the UK as part of a major national study.

Molnupiravir will be tested on 10,000 people at risk of serious illness in research led by University of Oxford…

Molnupiravir, initially developed to treat influenza, works by inserting errors into the genetic code of coronavirus every time it copies itself, limiting its ability to multiply in the body.

The UK has agreed to purchase 480,000 courses of the drug which is designed to reduce the risk of more vulnerable patients needing hospital treatment after catching the virus…

In October, the drug companies behind molunpiravir – Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics – reported initial trial results in a press release suggesting the pill reduced the risk of hospital treatment in vulnerable patients with Covid by 50%.

But new data was recently provided to the US medicines regulator, the FDA, as part of the approval process in the United States.

It showed that in a later, second part of the trial, there was no significant difference in outcomes between the group given the drug and a similar group given a dummy pill or placebo. Combined with the results from the first part of the trial, it reduced the overall efficacy of the treatment from 50% to 30%.

Drug regulators in other countries have been more cautious as a result…

In late October, Brazil’s health regulator, Anvisa, released a statement saying that five of its directors had received death threats over the possible approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged between five and 11 years old. The agency granted such approval for the Pfizer shot on Thursday.

Anvisa said it had reported the emailed threats to police and prosecutors.

In a live weekly broadcast on multiple social media platforms, Bolsonaro said he does not interfere in Anvisa’s internal affairs, but had asked for the officials’ names so that the public “could come to its own judgments.”

Bolsonaro has consistently cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines and sharply criticized all forms of social distancing. His handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 618,000 lives in Brazil, is widely cited as a reason his popularity has plummeted this year…

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