COVID-19 Update: Merck Experimental Pill May Reduce Worst Effects of COVID; and More

Merck Experimental Pill May Reduce Worst Effects of COVID

Merck said Friday that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced both hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus, as reported by the Associated Press. If cleared, it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID, as all current therapies require either IV or injection. “(This pill) would allow us to treat many more people, much more quickly and, we trust, much less expensively,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the research.

Preexisting Chronic Conditions Tied to COVID-19 Severity in Children

Preexisting chronic conditions, including asthma and obesity, are associated with COVID-19 disease severity in children, according to a study published online Sept. 15 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. “Given the recent, concerning increases in COVID cases nationwide and the fact that the vast majority of children remain unvaccinated and susceptible, these findings should be taken into account when considering preventive strategies in schools and planning vaccinations when available for children less than 12 years of age,” a research said of the findings.

Pregnant Women Who Get COVID Vaccine Pass Antibodies to Newborns

Smoking Has Causal Effect on Risk for Severe COVID-19

Smoking seems to have a causal effect on the risk for severe COVID-19, according to a study published online Sept. 27 in Thorax. Researchers from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a large-scale observational analysis and Mendelian randomization analyses using U.K. Biobank data. The researchers found that current smokers had elevated risks for hospitalization compared with never-smokers (odds ratio, 1.80) and for mortality (odds ratios, 2.14, 5.91, and 6.11 for smoking one to nine, 10 to 19, and 20+ cigarettes/day).

Pregnant Women Who Get COVID Vaccine Pass Antibodies to Newborns

One way to help protect newborns from COVID-19 is for women to get their COVID vaccine while pregnant. A new study found that mothers-to-be who had either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine passed high levels of antibodies to their infants. Researchers from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine discovered that 100% of 36 newborns tested at the time of birth had protective antibodies after their mothers had received the vaccines. They observed the highest levels of antibodies in cord blood of mothers who were fully vaccinated in the second half of their pregnancies. This correlates with protection for the babies in their first months of life.