World COVID-19 December 24: US licenses Merck drug, UK says Omicron is lighter than Delta

World COVID-19 December 24: The US licensed the drug Merck, the UK said Omicron was lighter than Delta - Photo 1.

Merck’s COVID-19 drug is not as effective as initially expected, but has the advantage that it can be used for many groups of patients – Photo: REUTERS

On the evening of December 23 (Vietnam time), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urgently approved Merck’s drug Molnupiravir to treat COVID-19 for patients with mild and moderate symptoms.

Along with Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill, the drug Molnupiravir is expected to become an important tool against the rapidly spreading variant of Omicron in the US.

Paxlovid is urgently approved for use in people 12 years of age and older and reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 90% in high-risk patients. Clinical trial data for Molnupiravir showed a 30% reduction in the risk of death or hospitalization, less than the 50% originally reported.

The FDA recommends that certain groups of patients avoid Pfizer’s dual-drug regimen because of the potential for ritonavir, an older antiviral drug, to interact with certain other prescription medications. People with kidney problems should also avoid this regimen.

World COVID-19 December 24: The US licensed the drug Merck, the UK said Omicron was lighter than Delta - Photo 2.

Queuing for COVID-19 testing at a testing center for motorists in Puerto Rico, US on December 23 – Photo: REUTERS

Mr. Nick Kartsonis, Merck’s senior vice president of clinical affairs, confirmed that Molnupiravir has certain advantages over Pfizer’s drug, although it is not as effective.

“Our drug does not require any second drug to be effective. You can also take it for a special population of patients, including those with serious problems with liver function. , kidney,” Kartsonis emphasized to Reuters news agency.

On the same day, Dr. Dean Li, an executive officer of Merck, said that preliminary preclinical studies indicate that Molnupiravir is as effective with the Omicron variant as the previous variants.

Merck expects to ship hundreds of thousands of courses of molnupiravir in the coming days and 1 million courses in a few weeks. Pfizer plans to ship about 250,000 courses in January 2022.

Merck and Pfizer’s drugs, which can be taken at home, are expected to reach more people than monoclonal antibody treatments, which require intravenous knowledge.

World COVID-19 December 24: The US licensed the drug Merck, the UK said Omicron was lighter than Delta - Photo 3.

People with the Omicron variant in the UK have a 31 to 45% lower risk of calling an ambulance than people with Delta – Photo: AFP

UK: Hospitalization rate of people with Omicron is 70% lower than Delta

The UK government’s first study on Omicron, published on December 23, showed that people infected with the Omicron variant had a 70% lower risk of being hospitalized than people with Delta.

The initial findings, described as “encouraging” and “promising”, are in line with analysis by Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh published on December 22.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Omicron is more contagious than earlier variants like Delta. As a result, Britain could still face a significant number of people requiring hospital treatment in the coming weeks.

“Our latest analysis shows positive signals. However, it should be noted that these are preliminary data and more research is needed to confirm these findings,” said Jenny Harries, head of the study. UKHSA noted.

According to the newspaper The Guardian, preliminary UKHSA data suggest that the body’s ability to protect against COVID-19 begins to wane 10 weeks after the booster shot. This has raised speculation some people may need a fourth dose of the vaccine by 2022.

A British health official suggested getting the first dose of a new vaccine targeting Omicron instead of a fourth dose of the same previous vaccine. The UK’s vaccine and immunization advisory committees are expected to discuss the issue further in the coming weeks.

More news about COVID-19:

Omicron now accounts for 76% of COVID-19 cases in the UK, making it the dominant variant. The regions with the highest percentages of Omicrons were London (90.2 percent) and the east of England (80 percent), while the lowest were the north-east (56.8 percent), Yorkshire and the Humber (71 percent).

France experienced its worst day ever in terms of new COVID-19 cases on December 23, with more than 91,000 new cases recorded. The number of deaths from COVID-19 is 179 cases, an increase of 61 cases compared to the previous day in the context of France fighting against the fifth wave of infections.

Ministry of Health Israel is considering whether to give people four shots of COVID-19 vaccines to try to prevent the fast-spreading variant of Omicron, according to Reuters news agency.

According to advisers to the Israeli government, action needs to be taken even before there is more scientific data to prove how effective it really is. This group also argues that the potential benefits of getting the fourth shot outweigh the risks.

If Israel’s Ministry of Health approves, the people of this country will receive the 4th injection as early as this weekend, making Israel the first country to organize the 4th injection in the world.


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