US coronavirus: Merck says pill cuts risk of hospitalization for Covid-19, death in half as many states see vaccinations increase

It would become the first oral antiviral for Covid-19 if approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.

“In the interim analysis, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%,” Merck said in a press release. “7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were hospitalized or died up to day 29 after randomization (28/385), compared to 14.1% of patients treated with placebo (53,377). Up to day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, compared with 8 deaths in patients who received placebo. “

Antiviral drug has been approved to treat Covid. Remdesivir is given intravenously to hospital patients. It is not intended for early and widespread use.

Some states are seeing an increase in vaccinations

Meanwhile, as more states and health systems move towards mandatory vaccinations for some workers, officials hope the employment incentive will eliminate vaccine reluctance – while ‘a governor organizes emergency scenarios.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has asked the National Guard to prepare in case there is a staff shortage when a vaccine warrant and testing requirement go into effect late Monday, he said. he declares. State employees must provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly tests before the deadline, and those who fail to comply will be placed on unpaid leave.

As of Thursday, more than 63% – 20,000 employees – were fully vaccinated while 12% of employees began weekly tests, Lamont said. More than 8,000 non-compliant employees remain, but some 2,000 have updated their status in the past two days.

“We have provided most state employees with the option to get tested weekly instead of getting vaccinated, providing more flexibility than our neighboring states. We have also provided our employees with a compliance grace period. There is no reason why all of our employees should not be in compliance, ”said Lamont.

Connecticut is just one of many states facing a rollback in the immunization requirement for essential workers, a move that has been highlighted by health experts as necessary to protect those at higher risk of Covid-19, but which has encountered strong resistance from a vocal minority who wish to remain both unvaccinated and in their current role.

In Rhode Island, the Department of Health announced in August that “all employees, interns and volunteers of RIDOH approved healthcare facilities” would be required to receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by Friday.

Care New England, one of the state’s largest hospital systems, announced Thursday that more than 95% of its healthcare workforce has been vaccinated. Staff immunization “continues to increase day by day,” according to system CEO James E. Fanale.

Mandates increase immunization rates, but not without compromise
The deadline has already passed in other states. California’s 2 million healthcare workers were to be vaccinated by Thursday or risk losing their jobs, with exemptions available for religious beliefs or qualifying medical reasons.

Many hospitals polled by CNN had high vaccination rates among employees, averaging over 90% in some of the state’s largest healthcare systems.

In New York, none of the health facilities have closed due to vaccination warrants for workers, Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday. Earlier this week, it was reported that 92% of nursing home staff, 89% of adult care facility staff and 92% of hospital staff received at least one dose statewide.

“You will see that number increase rapidly, because what we are seeing, you know, as more and more people are put on leave or suspended, that number is going to increase,” Hochul said.

Some hospitals in the region had reported suspending employees without pay or temporarily halting elective hospitalization procedures due to shortages.
About 30 healthcare workers are demonstrating this week against state-mandated Covid-19 vaccinations outside St. Catherine's Hospital in Siena in Smithtown, New York.

Vaccines for 5-11 year olds may be available soon, but survey finds reluctance persists

As the Delta variant continues to spread, healthcare workers are far from the only ones facing daily risks on the job. The resumption of in-person learning in schools has already been complicated by the Covid-19 epidemics and the quarantine of exposed students and staff.

Yet despite evidence that vaccinations reduce Covid-19 infections and severity among eligible age groups, parents and guardians are still reluctant to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11, according to a new survey.

School board group calls for federal help to end threats and violence in debates over Covid and critical race theory
According to results from the Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor released Thursday, only about a third of parents of children aged 5 to 11 say they will vaccinate their child as soon as a vaccine is available for that age group. A similar percentage, 32%, say they will wait to see how the vaccine works, and 24% say they definitely won’t get their children aged 5 to 11 immunized.

According to the report, 58% of parents said K-12 schools should require school masks for all students and staff, 4% said masks should only be mandatory for students and staff unvaccinated, and 35% said there should be no mask requirement. .

There is a split between vaccinated and unvaccinated parents surveyed, according to KFF, with 73% of vaccinated parents saying schools should require masks for all students and 63% of unvaccinated parents saying there should be no no mask requirement.

Most of the interviews, conducted September 13-22 with a sample of more than 1,500 adults, took place before Pfizer announced that clinical trials showed their Covid-19 vaccine to be safe and generated a immune response in this age group.

Almost all United employees complied with the vaccination mandate
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 16 years of age and older and has emergency use authorization for people 12 to 15 years of age. On Tuesday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they had submitted data on children aged 5 to 11 to the FDA for initial review, but have not yet applied for an emergency use authorization.

An official submission to apply for the EUA for the vaccine is expected to follow in the coming weeks, the companies said in a statement.

Among those already eligible for vaccines, the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 200 million U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Almost 67% of American adults are fully immunized.

Death rates in non-metropolitan areas higher, study finds

Meanwhile, researchers are examining the effects of the pandemic on different parts of the country.

Covid-19 deaths in non-metropolitan areas now occur at more than twice the death rate from Covid-19 in metropolitan areas, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University of the Center for Health Policy Analysis of the University of Iowa.

Some US governors say Covid hospitalizations are down but warn of what could happen if more people don't get vaccinated

After analyzing data on average death rates from Covid-19 at the county level, it was determined that in the two weeks ending September 15, 2021, non-metropolitan areas had an average of 0.85 deaths of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants. Metropolitan areas had half of that on average – 0.41 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 population.

Deaths in non-metropolitan areas have consistently exceeded those in metropolitan areas since the study began in April 2020, and the September 15 figures are the fourth time overall that the non-metropolitan death rate has been at least the double the metropolitan death rate. However, the non-metropolitan rate had not been double that of metropolitan areas since December 1, 2020.

The researchers used the methodology of the United States Department of Agriculture to differentiate between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. Counties were classified as metropolitan if they had an urban area of ​​50,000 or more inhabitants or if they were a peripheral county with strong economic ties to an urban center. All other counties in the study were coded as non-metropolitan.

CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Naomi Thomas, Melanie Schuman, Augie Martin, Rosalina Nieves, Lauren Mascarenhas, Elizabeth Joseph, Melissa Alonso, Jamie Gumbrecht and Ben Tinker contributed to this report.

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