The US Food and Drug Administration could decide in the coming days to take steps to curb the use of antibody treatments produced by Eli Lilly and Regeneron, the source said, pointing to the growing body of evidence that shows their monoclonal therapies don’t effectively neutralize the virus’ omicron variant.
The National Institutes of Health had recently updated its guidelines to advise clinics against using these treatments on patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 due to their diminished effectiveness against the Omicron variant.
Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:
FDA expands eligibility for remdesivir
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the use of the antiviral remdesivir for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. The medication had received emergency use authorization in May 2020. Back then it was only for use in people hospitalized with severe COVID-19. In October of that year, it was approved for anyone 12 and older who was hospitalized. But on Friday, the agency expanded the use to include everyone who tests positive for the disease, but is not hospitalized, has mild to moderate symptoms, and is at high risk of severe illness. Patients can get the medication through an I.V. for a period of three days.
Booster shots needed against omicron, CDC studies show
Three studies released Friday offered more evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are standing up to the omicron variant, at least among people who received booster shots. The papers echo previous research – including studies in Germany, South Africa and the U.K. – indicating available vaccines are less effective against omicron than earlier versions of the coronavirus, but also that boosters doses rev up virus-fighting antibodies to increase the chance of avoiding symptomatic infection.
COVID testing company sued over alleged scheme
The Center for COVID Control is facing a fraud lawsuit filed by Minnesota’s attorney general alleging a widespread COVID testing scheme. One former employee said so many tests were coming in for processing that they were stored in garbage bags.
NY school mask mandate could be ending
Governor Kathy Hochul says she expects school districts will no longer enforce mask wearing in classes once she ends the statewide mandate. The current mandate is slated to end next month, though it could be extended.
“That’s actually what we expect,” she said. “When the state mandate lapses, I expect all school districts will say, ‘We don’t have to do this anymore.'”
NY positivity rate continues downward trend
New York state’s overall COVID positivity rate has fallen below 10% for first the time since mid-December, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday. The state reported a 9.75% 7-day average as of Thursday. The total number of cases was 28,296, down from 90,000 on January 7th, a 66.6% drop in just two weeks.
Many COVID-19 vaccine side effects caused by placebo effect: Study
Many continue to worry about experiencing side effects from vaccines — especially the COVID-19 vaccines — but new data from a comprehensive meta-analysis suggests there is little to fear.
The study from Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center found that a large number of side effects reported by patients after receiving their shot can be attributed to the placebo effect.
1 police department loses 2 officers to COVID-19 within days
Two officers with the Aurora Police Department in Illinois — both 51 years old — have died of COVID-19 within days of each other.
Aurora police officer Brian Shields died of COVID-19 on Jan. 11. Just days later, on Jan. 19, Aurora Police Sgt. Ken Thurman died of COVID-19, the department said.
Adele postpones residency due to COVID among crew
Adele has announced the postponement of her Las Vegas residency, one day before it was set to kick off, saying COVID has rendered it impossible to move forward.
In a tearful video posted to Instagram, an apologetic Adele said her team tried everything to put the show together in time, but said they had been “absolutely destroyed” by delivery delays and COVID.
Robin Roberts has COVID
The “Good Morning America” anchor tweeted Thursday night that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She said her symptoms have been mild.
Appreciate the concern about my absence this week on @GMA. Unfortunately I tested positive for Covid. Grateful my symptoms have been mild and that I’m doing well. Looking forward to returning as soon as I can. #ThankfulThursday 🙏🏾 #HappyFridayEve ❤️
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) January 21, 2022
Teachers union says Long Island school district not enforcing COVID mask mandate
A teachers union on Long Island says its school district is not enforcing the COVID-19 mask mandate among students.
The allegations are being made by the Connetquot Teachers Association, which operates within the Connetquot School District.
Murphy says NJ mask mandate could end
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state could drop its school mask mandate before the end of the year if omicron numbers continue to drop.
“Yes, I think there’s a real shot at that, I really do, fingers crossed,” Murphy said on Channel 11 Thursday. “We are early days in terms of turning the corner, but it certainly looks like we’ve begun to turn the corner here.”
When am I contagious if infected with omicron?
When am I contagious if infected with omicron? It’s not yet clear, but some early data suggests people might become contagious sooner than with earlier variants – possibly within a day after infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms develop. But that window of time might happen earlier with omicron, according to some outside experts. That’s because omicron appears to cause symptoms faster than previous variants – about three days after infection, on average, according to preliminary studies. Based on previous data, that means people with omicron could start becoming contagious as soon as a day after infection.
Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses a conundrum for workers without paid sick days
As the raging omicron variant of COVID-19 infects workers across the nation, millions of those whose jobs don’t provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck. While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, some of those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though omicron has managed to evade the shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers having to decide whether to show up to their job sick if they can’t afford to stay home.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Daniel Schneider, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “As staffing gets depleted because people are out sick, that means that those that are on the job have more to do and are even more reluctant to call in sick when they in turn get sick.”
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