COVID-19 Update | December 17, 2021

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021

The California Biotechnology Foundation is committed to keeping you up to date about COVID-19 testing, treatment and prevention advancements. The following resources track what progress has been made as of December 17, 2021. Notable advancements include:

  • Pfizer said final analysis of its antiviral COVID-19 pill showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast-spreading omicron variant.
  • AstraZeneca reported that their antibody treatment against COVID-19 retained neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant, according to a recent lab study.

Recent News

  • AstraZeneca therapy works against Omicron; results mixed for Regeneron
    Reuters – December 16, 2021 
    AstraZeneca and Regeneron reported contrasting data on the effectiveness of their COVID-19 antibody therapies against the Omicron variant, underscoring the major challenges ahead for drugmakers. Regeneron said its REGEN-COV therapy, is less effective against Omicron, though it is still active against the Delta variant, confirming indications from lab tests and computer modelling late last month. AstraZeneca, however, said a lab study found that its antibody treatment retained neutralizing activity against Omicron, the first such data for the treatment.
  • Studies indicate Moderna and Pfizer boosters are likely to offer substantial protection from Omicron.
    New York Times – December 15, 2021 
    A flurry of new laboratory studies indicate that vaccines, and especially boosters, may protect against the worst outcomes of the fast-spreading Omicron variant. It will, however, still cause breakthrough infections in vaccinated people and those who have been infected with older versions of the virus, the research says.
  • Omicron found to grow 70 times faster than Delta in bronchial tissue
    The Guardian – December 15, 2021
    The Omicron variant has been found to multiply about 70 times quicker than the original and Delta versions of COVID-19 in tissue samples taken from the bronchus, the main tubes from the windpipe to the lungs, in laboratory experiments that could help explain its rapid transmission. The study also found that the new variant grew 10 times slower in lung tissue, which could be an indicator of lower disease severity.
  • Omicron evades Moderna vaccine too, study suggests, but boosters help
    NPR – December 15, 2021
    There’s more mixed news about the power of vaccines to protect people against the omicron variant, this time about the Moderna vaccine. A preliminary study made public studied blood samples in the lab from 30 people who had gotten two Moderna shots, and it found that the antibodies in their blood are at least about 50 times less effective at neutralizing the omicron variant of the COVID-19.
  • Fauci pushes for universal coronavirus vaccine
    NBC News – December 15, 2021
    The scientific quest for a universal coronavirus vaccine received a boost, as three top federal researchers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, outlined a path to develop new vaccines that could tackle a variety of ailments including COVID-19, some common colds and future viruses. Fauci and two colleagues said the virus that causes COVID-19 is unlikely to be eliminated, and current vaccines are too limited to prevent the emergence of new variants.
  • Pfizer says COVID-19 pill near 90% effective in final analysis
    CNBC – December 14, 2021 
    Pfizer said final analysis of its antiviral COVID-19 pill still showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast-spreading omicron variant. The U.S. drugmaker last month said the oral medicine was around 89% effective in preventing hospitalizations or deaths when compared to placebo based on interim results in around 1,200 people.
  • Merck’s COVID-19 pill loses its luster: what that means for the pandemic
    Nature – December 13, 2021
    Molnupiravir, one of two antiviral pills that have caused excitement in the past few months because preliminary clinical-trial results showed that they can significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, has yet to receive an emergency use authorization from the FDA. An FDA advisory committee met on November 30th and narrowly voted to recommend the drug candidate’s emergency approval by 13 to 10.

Rely on California Biotechnology Foundation to monitor breaking news and provide updates on the latest advancements in COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.

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If you have any questions about informational briefings contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].