COVID-19 Roundup: First Pill Treatment, Vaccination and Pregnancy, Safety, and Symptoms
First Pill As COVID-19 Treatment1
A new, experimental pill for COVID-19, molnupiravir, may reduce hospitalizations and deaths from SARS-CoV-2 by up to 50%, according to the preliminary results of a recent study.
Included in the study were 775 adults who were recently diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were unvaccinated against the disease. All participants were at high-risk of severe disease due to obesity, diabetes, or other comorbidities. The results indicated that 7.3% of those who were randomly assigned to receive molnupiravir were hospitalized or died within 30 days, compared with 14.1% of those who received placebo. An additional 8 deaths occurred the following 30 days among the placebo group, compared with no additional deaths in the molnupiravir group.
All currently approved COVID-19 treatments are administered intravenously or through an injection. This pill, produced by Merck, can be administered orally and out of the office. Patients take 8 pills per day for 5 days.
COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnant Women2
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health advisory recommending increased vaccination among individuals who are pregnant, recently pregnant, or trying to become pregnant.
Recent data shows that approximately 97% of individuals who are pregnant who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated against the disease. Approximately 31% of individuals who are pregnant have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
In addition to the risk of severe illness or death, unvaccinated pregnant individuals are at a higher risk of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, such as stillbirth and preterm birth.
Booster Dose Safety3
A third dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines resulted in similar adverse events as the second dose, according to the results of a recent clinical trial.
A total of 12,591 individuals recorded their local and systemic reactions to the booster dose through v-safe, a smartphone-based surveillance system. Among the participants who received a third dose, 79.4% reported local reactions and 74.1% reported systemic reactions. Similarly, 77.6% reported local reactions and 76.5% reported systemic reactions following the second dose.
“As of September 19, 2021, approximately 2.21 million persons in the United States had received additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines after completion of a primary series,” the researchers concluded. “During August 12-September 19, 2021, no unexpected patterns of adverse reactions were observed among 22,191 v-safe registrants who received an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Most reported local and systemic reactions were mild to moderate, transient, and most frequently reported the day after vaccination.”
Symptoms to Predict COVID-19 Spread4
The prevalence of 7 symptoms may predict community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, according to the results of the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study.
The researchers examined 1,147,370 SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test results to identify predictive symptoms. Participants completed random surveys about their symptoms during the week prior to throat or nasal swab testing.
Loss or change in the sense of smell or taste, fever, new persistent cough, chills, appetite loss, and muscle aches were among the 7 symptoms identified to predict a COVID-19 community outbreak. The results also indicated that new, persistent cough and sore throat were more predictive of a B.1.1.7 infection, while loss or change in the sense of smell was more predictive of the wild-type infection.
— Leigh Precopio
- Perrone M. Merck says experimental pill cuts worst effects of COVID-19. Associated Press. October 1, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/merck-says-experimental-covid-pill-cuts-worst-effects-a9a2245fdcee324f6bbd776a0fffcc60
- COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant people to prevent serious illness, deaths, and adverse pregnancy outcomes from COVID-19. News release. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published online September 29, 2021. Accessed October 1, 2021. https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2021/han00453.asp
- Hause AM, Baggs J, Gee J, et al. Safety monitoring of an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine – United States, August 12 – September 19, 2021. MMWR Morb Moral Wkly Rep. 2021;70(39):1379-1384. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7039e4
- Elliott J, Whitaker M, Bodinier B, et al. Predictive symptoms for COVID-19 in the community: REACT-1 study of over 1 million people. PLoS Med. Published online September 28, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003777