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COVID Pill Rollout Hurt by Shortages As Omicron Rages

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Two brand-new COVID-19 pills that were supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic in the U.S. are in short supply and have played little role in the fight against the omicron wave of infections.

The problem is that production is not yet at full strength and that the pill considered to be far superior, Pfizer’s, takes six to eight months to manufacture.

While the supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, doctors are clamoring for the pills now, not just because omicron is causing an explosion of cases but because two antibody drugs that were once the go-to treatments don’t work as well against the variant.

“This should be a really joyous time because we now have highly effective antiviral pills,” said Erin McCreary, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Instead, this feels like the hardest and most chaotic stretch of the pandemic.”


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The pills — and other COVID-19 drugs, for that matter — are being carefully rationed, reserved for the highest-risk patients.

“January is going to be a terrible month with a million cases a day,” said University of North Carolina virologist Dr. Myron Cohen. “Most people will do perfectly well, but we have to select out the people who won’t and give them the drugs we have available.”

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the two pills from Pfizer and Merck late last month based on studies showing they cut the risk of severe disease and death when given shortly after symptoms appear. They are the first COVID-19 treatments patients can take at home, and thus could reduce the burden on hospitals.

The U.S. didn’t make the kind of mass purchases in advance that it did with vaccines.


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Because of the time it takes to manufacture Pfizer’s pill, Paxlovid, the company says it can supply only about 250,000 courses of the treatment by the end of this month.

The U.S. has ordered enough Paxlovid to treat 20 million people, but the first 10 million orders won’t be delivered until June.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said this week that the government collaborated with Pfizer to help speed up development of the pill by several months, and that officials continue to work with the company to look for ways to boost production.

Pfizer said it is adding capacity: “We expect to use our strong manufacturing capabilities and our extensive supplier network to continue to improve output rapidly.”

Merck’s pill, molnupiravir, is easier to manufacture and available in greater quantities.

But final testing showed it was far less effective than Pfizer’s pill and carried significant risks, including the potential for birth defects when taken by pregnant women. As a result, it is considered the last-choice option under federal guidelines.


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Merck said it has delivered 900,000 courses of the drug and is on track to ship all 3 million ordered by the U.S. by the end of the month.

Since last month, the government has sent states enough Pfizer pills to treat 164,000 people, allocating them by population. That approach is coming under fire from some states with heavier caseloads.

The amount allocated to New York — enough to treat about 20,000 people — is just not enough, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

“We need more of these drugs in order to make them alter the course of the pandemic and reduce hospitalization,” she said.

State guidelines generally recommend doctors give priority for the drugs to those at the highest risk, including cancer patients, transplant recipients and people who have lung disease or are pregnant. New York’s guidelines also recommend prioritizing certain racial and ethnic minorities, given their higher rates of severe illness and death.

States are distributing the pills differently.

In Michigan, all initial shipments went to 10 pharmacies in the hardest-hit areas. Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas and many other states have distributed the pills more widely, so that at least one pharmacy in each county carries the drug.

Despite the strict prescribing guidelines, some patients have been able to get the pills through luck and persistence.

Craige Campbell, a website manager from Desert Hot Springs, California, began leaving messages with his doctor immediately after testing positive for COVID-19 and developing a 101-degree fever. Despite having no underlying health conditions, he was soon able to get a prescription.

The only pharmacy dispensing the drug was more than an hour’s drive away, so Campbell had a friend pick it up for him.

“I felt a bit privileged in a way,” he said. “The odds that it would land in my plate in the right amount of time were pretty extraordinary.”

At the same time, there is a shortage of antibody medications, the infused or injected drugs that can head off death and hospitalization. Only one of them, from GlaxoSmithKline, appears effective against omicron, and it, too, is being rationed.

Federal officials are limiting shipments of it to about 50,000 doses per week. This week, the government announced it is buying 600,000 more doses, on top of 400,000 purchased in November.

At the UPMC hospital system in Pennsylvania, the staff can treat fewer than 1,000 patients per week with antibodies, down from as many as 4,000 earlier in the pandemic.

Doctors and nurses around the U.S. have developed complex means of deciding who should get the scarce medications, based on patients’ symptoms, their underlying medical risks, where they live and whether they are healthy enough to travel for an infusion.

“What do we have on hand?” is the first question, said University of Maryland Medical Center’s Dr. Greg Schrank. “Among those therapies, what’s the most effective and how can we direct it to the people that we know are of greatest risk?”

The increasingly complicated treatment picture comes as exhausted, frustrated hospital workers try to manage rising admissions.

As of Sunday, nearly 128,000 Americans were in the hospital with COVID-19, surpassing the all-time high of around 125,000 last January. While fewer COVID-19 patients now require intensive care, the surge is pushing hospitals to the breaking point.

Considering that threat, Pfizer’s pill arrived just in time, Schrank said.

“It’s not going to turn the tide on the total number of cases, but it could really help dampen the impact on hospitals,” he said.

Source Here: fox16.com

Healthcare

‘Joe Vs Carole’: ‘Tiger King’-inspired TV Series Starring Kate McKinnon Gets First Trailer

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(NEXSTAR) – It’s the story you already know, now told by a bunch of people you probably also know.

Peacock has released the first trailer for “Joe vs Carole,” an upcoming scripted drama series based on the events that inspired the Wondery podcast “Joe Exotic: Tiger King,” and Netflix’s “Tiger King” docuseries.

“The story you know was only half the tale,” the trailer teases.


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Peacock’s adaptation, starring Kate McKinnon (“SNL”) as Carole Baskin and John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) as Joe Exotic, is said to be based specifically on the Wondery podcast, which was hosted and reported by Robert Moor. McKinnon is also an executive producer of the Peacock series.

“The limited series will center on Carole Baskin, a big cat enthusiast, who learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe ‘Exotic’ Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit,” per a description offered by Peacock. “She sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a quickly escalating rivalry. But Carole has a checkered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy. The results prove dangerous.”

In addition to McKinnon and Mitchell, “Joe vs Carole” will star Kyle MacLachlan, Dean Winters and William Fichtner. The series debuts March 3 on Peacock’s streaming platform.


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Peacock’s scripted take on the “Tiger King” drama was one of several to be announced following the success of the podcast and docuseries. One, which was set to star Nicolas Cage as Exotic, was shelved as it is “no longer relevant,” Cage told Variety in July 2021. Rob Lowe had also teased his possible casting as Joe Exotic in a Ryan Murphy-helmed production, though it’s unclear if the project is still in the works.

Original Post: fox16.com

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The Sweet Story Behind 3-year-old’s Viral ‘Spider-Girl’ Birthday Photos

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – A 3-year-old girl’s Spider-Man costume has captured the hearts of thousands on social media.

The pictures, which show Demi Rose Jackson overlooking downtown Mobile, Alabama, and dressed as the one and only Spider-Man while styling in her afro-puffs, have gone viral. 

Demi Rose Jackson’s mother and eldest sister shared the deeper meaning behind the costume. 

Her professional photographer mother Diamond Jackson had the vision to make Demi Rose’s love for the marvel character come to life, saying her daughter’s obsession is fairly new. 


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“We literally ran across a Spider-Man bookbag or lunch box in Target one night, and she just fell in love,” Diamond said. “Ever since then, when we see things, she is crazy about it. She even has a love for spiders.”

They say the toddler insisted on Spider-Man’s actual costume and not some superhero-inspired dress. It was at that moment that she turned into Spider-Girl. 

In true Peter Parker fashion, Demi Rose decided to remain in character and let her family do all the talking. 

Her eldest sister Denver helped hold Spider-Girl’s string as she shot her web.

“When I saw the costume, I was so excited, like, ‘Oh my God, it’s so cute,’” said Denver. She also said the three-year-old can be a bit of a handful.

“At home, she’s active. She’s always torturing us. She’s very bad. But she’s sweet,” Denver said. 

The pictures have been shared on Facebook more than 75,000 times. They also had actors Viola Davis and Marvel’s own Michael B. Jordan marveling at what many are calling “Black Girl Magic.”


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Diamond and Denver say most of that magic comes from Demi Rose’s natural hair. 

“I think afros were always kind of big, but long ago it wasn’t,” Denver said. “But I think after the Spider-Man photo, it made a big, big difference and inspired a lot of people.”

“I really want them to embrace their natural hair,” said Diamond. “I think it’s important for them to love every part about themselves, and when I say ‘them’ I mean all three of my daughters. It was to the point where I cut my own hair to go natural, to let them know if I can love myself like this, then you can too.” 

Diamond hopes this moment continues to bring joy and inspire inclusion across the world. 

“My heart is full. I feel like with everything going on in the world, I feel like it’s perfect to have a little superhero that we can believe in,” Diamond said. 

Original Article: fox16.com

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Healthcare

US and Russia Try to Lower Temperature in Ukraine Crisis

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The United States and Russia sought to lower the temperature in a standoff over Ukraine, even as they reported no breakthroughs in high-level talks aimed at preventing a feared Russian invasion

Source Here: theday.com

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