COVID-19 Update | March 17, 2023

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | March 17, 2023

March 17, 2023

COVID-19 Update | March 17, 2023

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 March 17, 2023. Notable advancements include:

  • Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid, is safe and effective at treating adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 without causing patient “rebounds.”
  • A study published in JAMA Network Open found that 4 COVID-19 booster doses remain the most effective way to prevent infection from critical Omicron BA.5.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s omicron booster vaccine as a fourth shot for children under five years old.

Recent News

  • F.D.A. Advisers Endorse Paxlovid’s Benefits as a COVID-19 Treatment
    The New York Times – March 16, 2023
    A panel of expert advisers to the Food and Drug Administration endorsed Paxlovid as a treatment for adults with COVID-19 who are at high risk for progression to severe illness. The move is likely to lead to full approval of the drug, which has been available under emergency use authorization. The 16-1 vote came after the agency released a new analysis showing that Paxlovid reduced hospitalizations and deaths among both unvaccinated and vaccinated people. Agency researchers estimated, based on COVID-19 rates in January, that Paxlovid could “lead to 1,500 lives saved and 13,000 hospitalizations averted each week in the United States.”
  • Pregnancy and COVID-19: What Women Need to Know
    The New York Times – March 16, 2023
    Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and new government data show that maternal mortality rose sharply in 2021, the second year of the pandemic. Here’s what women need to know to keep themselves safe. The most important step is to get vaccinated if you have not done so already, and to make sure you are up-to-date on your booster shots. COVID-19 can develop into a life-threatening condition during any pregnancy, but deaths and severe illnesses have been reported more often among women who were not vaccinated. The vaccines are effective during pregnancy, and a growing body of evidence tracking pregnancy outcomes has found no safety concerns.
  • Paxlovid is safe, effective and doesn’t cause ‘rebound,’ FDA sayThe Hill – March 15, 2023
    Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid is safe and effective at treating adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease, including hospitalization or death, according to a Food and Drug Administration staff report. In addition, the report said the drug doesn’t cause patients to “rebound” after taking it. Paxlovid is currently on the market through an emergency use authorization granted in 2021. The FDA typically follows the advice of its outside panels but is not required to.
  • Q&A: The Future of COVID-19
    WebMD – March 15, 2023
    As we approach the third anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts and everyday Americans wonder if we are finally at the end of what has been a painful and exhausting ordeal that’s lasted 3 years. With vaccine and booster fatigue, COVID-19 cases leveling out, and a growing body of research that has helped us understand the virus more clearly, many are still asking: How concerned should I be? We asked experts their thoughts on the future of COVID-19 and how their perspectives have shifted over the years. While the Omicron variant is still lingering, we’re in a period of lower rates of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Four COVID-19 booster doses most effective way to prevent critical Omicron BA.5
    News Medical Life Sciences – March 15, 2023
    A study published in JAMA Network Open explores the protective efficacy of previous exposure to omicron subvariants and booster vaccination against severe acute respiratory syndrome COVID-19 (SARS‑CoV‑2) omicron BA.5 infection. The study highlights that previous exposure to omicron BA.1 or BA.2 is associated with higher protection against omicron BA.5 infection. The number of vaccine doses is an important determining factor for protecting against severe BA.5 infection. The 4-dose booster vaccination regimen significantly reduces the risk of severe BA.5 infection, irrespective of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection status. Overall, the study reveals that booster vaccination is more effective than previous BA.1 or BA.2 infections in protecting against severe BA.5 infection.
  • Nasal Foralumab Shows Promise in Regulating Inflammatory Response of COVID-19
    Pharmacy Times – March 15, 2023
    Nasal administration of foralumab helps regulate the inflammatory response of COVID-19, providing an alternative way to treat the virus, according to the results of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study, investigators used RNA sequencing and serum proteomics to analyze the immune changes for individuals treated with nasal foralumab. Outpatients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 received a nasal administration for foralumab in the 100 μg/d dosage for 10 consecutive days. They were compared with individuals who did not receive the drug.
  • FDA authorizes Pfizer’s COVID-19 omicron booster as fourth shot for kids under 5
    CNBC – March 14, 2023
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s omicron booster shot for kids under five years old who were previously vaccinated with three doses of the company’s original vaccine. Children six months through four years old who completed their three-dose primary series with Pfizer and BioNTech’s original monovalent shots more than two months ago are now eligible to receive a single booster dose of the updated shot. The new shot is bivalent, meaning it targets the original COVID-19 strain as well as omicron BA.4 and BA.5.
  • New therapy for prevention and treatment of COVID-19
    Labiotech – March 13, 2023
    Nearly all COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies used in the clinic show substantial loss of potency against the currently-circulating variants. The pre-print details a novel, highly potent, anti-S2 camelid single-domain antibody, discovered at the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, which was developed as a candidate drug molecule by ExeVir Bio as XVR013.  It targets a conserved region in the spike S2 subunit that is essential for viral entry. It neutralizes all previous and current variants of concern and the currently most frequently circulating variants, including XBB, XBB.1.5, BQ.1.1 and BF.7.
  • Is it time for another COVID-19 booster vaccine? Here’s what officials are saying
    The San Francisco Chronicle – March 13, 2023
    People who received the bivalent COVID-19 booster when it first became available more than six months ago may wonder whether it’s time to roll up their sleeves again. The mantra of public health officials throughout the pandemic has been for individuals to maintain their immunity levels by staying up to date on vaccinations. But no one seems to know what happens next. The bivalent boosters were engineered to guard against the original coronavirus strain and recent BA.4/5 omicron subvariants. Even with a batch of recent studies showing that the protection they afford wanes after a few months, there is no apparent timeline for the next round of shots in the U.S.

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 hosting informational briefings for your colleagues serving in the legislature, contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].