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White House steps up effort to provide antiviral access to more Americans as cases start to stabilize in Northeast

The White House on Thursday announced more steps to make the antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible across the U.S., cautioning that COVID-19 cases are likely to continue to climb over the summer travel season.

The nation’s first federally backed test-to-treat site is opening Thursday in Rhode Island, providing patients with immediate access to the drug once they test positive, the Associated Press reported. More federally supported sites are set to open in the coming weeks in Massachusetts and New York City, both hit by a marked rise in infections.

Federal regulators have also sent clearer guidance to physicians to help them determine how to manage Paxlovid’s interactions with other drugs, with an eye toward helping prescribers find ways to get the lifesaving medication to more patients.

Despite a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths from the virus have remained largely stable over the past eight weeks, as vaccine booster shots and widely accessible treatments have helped to delink infections and mortality.

But COVID cases continue to rise across the U.S. and are trending at the highest levels seen since February, when the first omicron wave was starting to ebb. Cases are higher in nearly every state, and there are concerns that case numbers are even higher, as many people are now testing at home and the data is not being collected. 

The U.S. is averaging 110,084 cases a day, up 26% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. The country is averaging 26,110 hospitalizations a day, up 29% from two weeks ago.

The daily death toll has fallen to 358 on average, up 12% from two weeks ago.

The rise in cases appears to be stabilizing in the Northeast, a recent hot spot, and are leveling off in New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, the tracker shows.

In medical news, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a decision on the vaccine developed by Novavax NVAX, 13.55% after the regulator’s vaccines advisory committee meets June 7 to discuss the risks and benefits of the investigational two-dose shot. 

Experts believe the vaccine called Nuvaxovid, may serve as an alternative option for people who are hesitant to get a mRNA vaccine, as MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee has reported.

Nuvaxovid is a recombinant protein-based shot that is similar in design to a flu shot that’s been available in the U.S. since 2013. This type of vaccine has a different makeup than the mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna MRNA, 7.08%, Pfizer PFE, -0.23% and BioNTech BNTX, 5.03%, as well as the adenovirus shot from Johnson & Johnson JNJ, 0.19%.

Nuvaxovid has been authorized as a vaccine or booster in several countries, including Australia, Europe, Japan, the U.K., and Singapore, where a rollout of the shot is currently under way. The company said Wednesday it is participating in a new Phase 2 trial in the U.K. that gives a Novavax booster to teens who were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.

The company also applied for authorization of a booster for teens in the U.K. earlier this month. 

Source Credit: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/white-house-steps-up-effort-to-get-antiviral-access-to-more-americans-as-cases-start-to-stabilize-in-northeast-11653661414 

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