Yes, Omicron Tends to Be Less Severe—but Patients Need to Understand the Exceptions

Yes, Omicron Tends to Be Less Severe—but Patients Need to Understand the Exceptions

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been shown to produce less severe illness than previous varieties of the virus—for the most part. Much of the data assembled, to date, reflect lower risk for hospitalization and death in vaccinated patients. The unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated don’t necessarily run the same low risk. Perhaps more importantly, the World Health Organization just shared circumstances in which patients may be at high risk for severe disease even with …

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Vaccination Reduces Risk for COVID-Related Hospitalization and Death—but Who Are the Exceptions?

Vaccination Reduces Risk for COVID-Related Hospitalization and Death—but Who Are the Exceptions?

It’s been well established that vaccination is the best option for reducing risk for infection with SARS-CoV-2, but also in avoiding severe disease and poor outcomes in breakthrough cases. New data published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shed some light on exactly which patients are still at increased risk for hospitalization or death from the virus even though they’re fully vaccinated (defined for purposes of the research as receiving a full complement of one …

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Update: Remdesivir May Be More Effective, More Quickly Than Previously Thought in COVID-19

Update: Remdesivir May Be More Effective, More Quickly Than Previously Thought in COVID-19

A few months ago, we shared the findings of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that a 5-day course of remdesivir improved outcomes for hospitalized patients with “moderate-to-severe” COVID-19. Further study by another group of researchers now shows that a 3-day course reduced risk for hospitalization or death in patients with COVID-19 and certain comorbidities but who had not yet been hospitalized with the virus. The latest study, published …

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We Know Omicron Continues to Wreak Havoc; the Question Is, Do Patients?

We Know Omicron Continues to Wreak Havoc; the Question Is, Do Patients?

The sharp rise in COVID-19 cases attributed to the Omicron variant so close after the winter holidays is a nonscientific (but probably accurate) indicator that people spent a lot of time in tight quarters, unmasked, with others whose immunization or exposure status was unknown to them. The more ominous prospect, given that many individuals got rapid tests (or insisted that visitors do so) before gathering, is that rapid antigen tests may not be much help …

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What You Need to Know About the Efficacy—and Availability—of COVID-19 Therapeutics

What You Need to Know About the Efficacy—and Availability—of COVID-19 Therapeutics

Due to supply chain concerns and the ongoing rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says it is moving to a weekly allocation cycle for related therapeutics for 3 weeks, starting January 3. HHS says it has stopped allocating bam/ete or Regen-COV to jurisdictions with 80% or more prevalence of the Omicron variant, given that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate …

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Still No ‘Twindemic,’ but Possibly Something Worse

Still No ‘Twindemic,’ but Possibly Something Worse

This is the second flu season in a row that the healthcare community has held its breath waiting to see if the United States would be hit with dual widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 and influenza (aka, a twindemic). And so far, in spite of another COVID surge fueled by the Omicron variant, so good on that front. However, public health officials here and in other countries are reporting an increase in flurona—or, simultaneous diagnoses of …

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Be Aware: Booster Protection Against Omicron Doesn’t Last as Long as We Might Hope

Be Aware: Booster Protection Against Omicron Doesn’t Last as Long as We Might Hope

New data from the UK Health Security Agency indicate that booster shot protection against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant fades within 10 weeks or so. There’s no indication as to whether that means boosters are any more or less successful at preventing severe disease in those who do become infected with the Omicron variant of the virus. The research shows that providing two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (available in the UK but …

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Opportunity Knocks as Millions More Americans Become Eligible for COVID-19 Boosters

Opportunity Knocks as Millions More Americans Become Eligible for COVID-19 Boosters

The Food and Drug Administration officially blessed the practice of providing COVID-19 booster shots to 12- to 15-year-old children, as well as for immunocompromised children between 5 and 11 years of age. In the same announcement, the FDA shortened the recommended interval between initial vaccination and boosters for some patients. Based on “new evidence,” the agency suggests that patients who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine get a booster shot 5 months after completing …

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Finally, an Approved Treatment Specifically for COVID-19; the Question Is, Can You Prescribe It?

Finally, an Approved Treatment Specifically for COVID-19; the Question Is, Can You Prescribe It?

Nearly 2 years after COVID-19 became a significant threat in the United States, we suddenly have not one but two oral drugs available to treat infected patients. Just last week the Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to oral antiviral medications from Pfizer and Merck, both of which have been shown to reduce risk for patients with mild to moderate disease who are at risk for severe illness. That doesn’t necessarily mean …

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Why More People Than Ever Are Sick with COVID-19—but Fewer May Soon Be Calling in Sick

Why More People Than Ever Are Sick with COVID-19—but Fewer May Soon Be Calling in Sick

With caseloads climbing to levels that exceed previous “worst days” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the potential for significant damage to an already fraught supply chain and worker shortage across multiple industries is high. That includes urgent care centers, of course, as patients seeking refuge from the emergency room or a last-minute COVID test flock to understaffed locations across the country. A new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers hope, however. Instead …

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