A new variant of concern, designated Omicron, has been identified. The variant has several mutations that have been associated with increased transmissibility and higher immune evasion in other variants. Omicron also has new mutations in the spike protein that vaccine antibodies target. Right now, the threat is theoretical. But the vaccine manufacturers are already working on a vaccine to combat omicron, if tests show that current vaccine antibodies do not provide protection.
A review of French National Health Data from 3.9 million patients 75 years or older who had received at least 1 dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and 3.2 million who had received 2 doses found no increase in the incidence of acute myocardial infarction, stroke, or pulmonary embolism within 14 days of vaccine administration.
Merck announced that in the 29-day, 1,443 patient, Phase II/III, MOVe-OUT trial (NCT04575597), 6.8% of patients treated with a five-day course of molnupiravir were hospitalized or died compared to 9.7% with placebo in outpatients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 with at least one risk factor to progress to severe disease. An interim analysis from 775 patients had suggested that 7.3% of patients treated with molnupiravir were hospitalized or died compared to 14.1% with placebo. The FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee voted 13 to 10 to recommend an emergency use authorization for molnupiravir.
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