White House Has Plan For Wider Access To Pfizer’s Covid Pill
Bloomberg reports on rising accessibility of Pfizer's paxlovid pill, with the Biden administration set to outline a plan for getting the drug to pharmacies across the U.S. Separately, nasal sprays could be the next weapon to treat the illness, partly because of the way they directly affect sinuses and throats.
Pfizer Paxlovid Covid Pill Will Soon Be Available Across The U.S.
The U.S. government is finishing plans to make Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill available at any pharmacy across the country, with supply increasing as the BA.2 sub-variant drives an uptick in cases and hospitalizations. The administration will outline a plan next week aimed at getting the pill, Paxlovid, to additional people who’d otherwise face a more serious case of Covid-19, an administration official said Friday. The official asked not to be identified ahead of an announcement. Use of oral antiviral pills in the U.S. jumped 103% between March 27 and April 10, the official said. The White House wants to drive that number higher, and signal to health providers to err on the side of prescribing the pills, rather than worrying about scarcity. (Wingrove and Rutherford, 4/22)
Why Nasal Sprays Are Poised to Be the Next Weapon for Fighting Covid
“Covid isn’t just a sprint, it’s a marathon,” says [Marty] Moore, the relentlessly upbeat founder of Meissa Vaccines Inc. Today’s vaccines have largely won the sprint of preventing serious disease, “and thank goodness for that,” he says. “But now we need something else to gain control of the virus.” Moore is among a growing cohort of virologists proposing we spray vaccines up people’s noses rather than inject them into arms. The advantage of that approach, they argue, is it can trigger the body to develop infection-blocking defenses in the sinuses and throat and allow it to start fighting illness much faster than an injected vaccine can. (Loh, 4/25)
In vaccine news —
COVID Shots Still Work But Researchers Hunt New Improvements
Moderna and Pfizer are testing 2-in-1 COVID-19 protection that they hope to offer this fall. Each “bivalent” shot would mix the original, proven vaccine with an omicron-targeted version. Moderna has a hint the approach could work. It tested a combo shot that targeted the original version of the virus and an earlier variant named beta — and found vaccine recipients developed modest levels of antibodies capable of fighting not just beta but also newer mutants like omicron. Moderna now is testing its omicron-targeted bivalent candidate. (Neergaard, 4/24)
Longer COVID Vaccine Dose Interval Tied To Higher Antibody Levels
An interval of over 10 weeks between COVID-19 vaccine doses was associated with SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels up to 11 times higher than with an interval of 2 to 4 weeks in never-infected participants, according to a preprint paper to be presented at the upcoming annual congress of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ESCMID). (Van Beusekom, 4/22)
Studies Suggest Current Vaccines Boost Immune Response Against Omicron
Despite being developed to fight the original COVID-19 strain, a third dose of mRNA vaccine boosts the immune system substantially to better fight infections caused by the Omicron variant relative to the standard 2-dose primary series, according to two new studies in Nature and JAMA Network Open. (Soucheray, 4/22)
Research Into COVID Loss Of Taste And Smell Sheds New Light On Problem
For Elizabeth Byland, 35, the story isn't over. An improv professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Byland lost her sense of smell when she was infected in July 2020, and it's still not fully back to normal. Her dogs now have the scent of orange slices. Carrots taste like soap, her favorite body wash smells "putrid" and her beloved pizza is inedible. Her husband and nearly everything else has a background scent like a subway system. "The sad part is, it's become my normal," Byland said. "I don't think about it as much as I used to." (Weintraub, 4/24)