Daily Column – 23rd December 2021

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It’s probably not a coincidence that the introduction of the new Matrix coincides with the release of some exciting news concerning pills.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Pfizer’s antiviral medication for persons who have been infected with Covid yesterday. The pill is the first Covid medication to be made available outside of a hospital setting, and because of the ease with which it can be administered and the low cost, experts believe it will be a game-changer in terms of reducing the number of Covid deaths.

What is the procedure? Within five days of acquiring Covid symptoms, people ages 12 and up who are assessed to be at the greatest risk of hospitalisation can take the medication orally at home. Unless they do, a trip to the ER will most likely not be necessary: It was discovered in a pivotal research that the drug, known as Paxlovid, could lower the chance of hospitalisation or death in vulnerable, unvaccinated patients by as much as 88 percent.

In addition to being very efficient against Omicron, Paxlovid has also been found to be highly effective against other bacteria.
Overall, covid tablets such as Paxlovid (and another from Merck, which is also waiting for FDA approval) are not considered to be a replacement for vaccines in the traditional sense. In addition, early supplies of Paxlovid will be limited until Pfizer is able to increase production capacity. The fact is that a medicine that protects the most vulnerable patients from the most severe consequences of Covid is one of the nicest Christmas presents we could have hoped for.

Here’s a look at what else is going on in the world of Omicron.

Is Omicron a less severe form of omicron? It’s possible. Researchers discovered that those infected with the Covid virus strain Omicron in South Africa are 80 percent less likely to be hospitalised than those infected with other Covid strains, according to a new study published yesterday. Other research conducted in Scotland revealed that the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron was two-thirds lower than the risk of hospitalisation from Delta. Researchers warned that the sheer number of persons infected with Omicron could still cause overcrowding in hospitals, despite the precautions taken.

People who test positive for Covid in the United Kingdom will be able to exit quarantine in seven days, as opposed to the previously required ten, according to the British health minister, who announced the change yesterday. However, in order to be released from isolation in a shorter period of time, you must have two consecutive days of negative lateral flow tests (also known as quick tests). By the way, the United States is also considering shortening the quarantine period for persons who have contracted a breakthrough disease.

Israel proposes to administer a fourth dose of the Covid vaccination to immunocompromised persons, people over the age of 60, and health-care personnel in order to mitigate the impacts of the Omicron virus outbreak.

Test hoarders should be on the lookout: In response to strong demand, Walgreens, CVS, Amazon, and Walmart are all limiting the number of at-home Covid tests that may be purchased at their stores.

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