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REPORT: New oral medicine reduces COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths

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Medical research company Merck announced Friday that their investigational oral antiviral medicine reduced the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In addition, it reduced deaths as well. Ridgeback Biotherapeutics teamed up on the study Now, the companies are seeking emergency use authorization in the United States.

Nearly 1,550 COVID positive patients were a part of the study. Every single one had at least one risk factor. Out of those, only 7.3% of those who received the medicine, molnupiravir, hospitalized themselves as a result of their illness. Meanwhile, out of the control group of the study, 14.1% either died or visited a hospital. After 29 days, eight people who did not receive the medicine died while not a single person who received it died.

Merk’s CEO and President Robert M. Davis hopes that this will ease the strain caused by the virus. “With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic and will add to Merck’s unique legacy of bringing forward breakthroughs in infectious diseases when they are needed most,” Davis said.

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics CEO Wendy Holman was equally optimistic. “We are very encouraged by the results from the interim analysis and hope molnupiravir, if authorized for use, can make a profound impact in controlling the pandemic,” Holman said.

Should President Biden authorize molnupiravir it would be the first oral medicine to treat COVID-19.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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NY Gov Hochul issues executive order: Polio ‘an official diisaster’

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New York Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday issued an executive order that Polio is now considered an official disaster. 

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York State Health Commissioner. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up-to-date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”

The virus that causes polio has been found in the wastewater of more than one county, according to state health officials. “A sewage sample from Nassau County collected in August tested positive for poliovirus, following the prior detection of the virus in wastewater samples in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County and New York City, further indicating that the virus is spreading in the area to some degree” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“The Nassau County sample was also genetically linked to the single confirmed case of paralytic polio that had been identified this summer in a young adult resident in Rockland County who was unvaccinated.”

Hochul’s executive order has been issued through Oct. 9, and expands the network of providers able to administer polio vaccinations to “include emergency-medical-services workers, midwives and pharmacists.”

The new order makes providers send polio-immunization data to the New York State Department of Health in order to better help health officials “focus vaccination efforts on areas of low uptake.”

New York state health officials have sent out alerts to providers, have hung fliers “in houses of worship, grocery stores and summer camps and talked with community leaders about boosting vaccination rates this summer.”

The Wall Street Journal Reports:

The poliovirus spreads mostly when a person touches their mouth after coming in contact with an infected person’s feces. Most infected people don’t develop any symptoms but can still spread the virus, a major concern for health officials, and around a quarter develop flulike symptoms. Those who are vaccinated are at low risk, health officials have said, as getting three doses of the polio vaccine administered in the U.S. is at least 99% effective at preventing paralytic disease.

Health officials, however, also said that certain New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated but at high-risk should receive a single lifetime booster. That applies to individuals who will or might have close contact with a suspected or confirmed polio patient, as well as healthcare workers in those areas who might handle poliovirus samples or treat patients who might have polio…

Two forms of the virus can cause paralysis, one of them being the wild poliovirus found in nature. The case in New York, on the other hand, is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus, a mutated form of a strain used in an oral polio vaccine…

The oral polio vaccine, used in many parts of the world outside of the U.S., relies on a weakened, live form of the virus that recently inoculated children shed in their feces. In places with lower vaccine uptake, the weakened virus can sometimes circulate and mutate to become more like the wild virus and potentially paralyze people who are not fully vaccinated.

 

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