You might not be ‘fully vaccinated’ soon

Plus: Boosting the world's supply of mRNA shots, an order for Pfizer's antiviral pill, and more.
Three white and pink Pfizer COVID antiviral pills in plastic packaging.
The US has $5.3-billion deal with Pfizer to produce almost 10 million of its COVID antiviral treatment courses. The pill is called Paxlovid. Pfizer

This time a year ago, Americans were anxiously waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine and figuring out how cold is too cold to eat outside at restaurants. Now, the US has three kinds of shots available, plus boosters, plus two antiviral pills on the way. Families are getting their five-year-old children immunized to make life a little bit safer and more normal. The pandemic isn’t over, but many people are in a much better position than they were a year ago, and that’s something to be thankful for.

Pfizer and the US government have a deal for a COVID-19 treatment pill

On Thursday Pfizer announced that the US government will pay the pharmaceutical giant $5.3 billion for almost 10 million treatment regimens of its COVID-19 treatment pill, Paxlovid, pending approval. Pfizer submitted Paxlovid to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization on Tuesday. The company reported earlier this month that the pill reduced risk of hospitalization and death in coronavirus patients by 89 percent in randomized studies. The FDA will hold a public meeting later this month on a competing treatment by Merck.

“Fully vaccinated” might mean three vaccines

The definition of “fully vaccinated” may change from two jabs to three jabs—or, in the case of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two—with the initial shot(s) and a booster. Between rising cases of the Delta variant and more time elapsed since people first got vaccinated, a booster shot could add some much-needed protection. A few European countries, like France, are moving toward a booster mandate, where anyone over 65 will be required to get another shot to revalidate their vaccine card by December 15. The US hasn’t changed its definition for the status yet, though Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health and Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control have both hinted that it might.

Biden urges manufacturing to increase global supply

While some countries are already mandating boosters, many still haven’t been able to distribute initial vaccinations. The Biden administration says it aims to expedite COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing to bulk up the global supply, particularly for low- and lower-middle income nation . The US has vowed to produce more than one billion mRNA vaccines to donate to the global COVAX program by mid-2022.

Doctors share tips for another winter with COVID

In a nutshell, if you’re at least five years old, doctors recommend getting vaccinated before winter hits. If you’re already vaccinated, get a booster shot whenever one’s available. Vaccines offer a significant layer of protection from the still-spreading and -mutating coronavirus, which should make holiday gatherings this year much safer. But they work best when everyone takes then. Oh, and don’t forget your flu shot too.

Germany’s COVID-19 infections reach record high

Germany reported 65,371 new COVID-19 infections in a 24-hour period this week, marking a record high of new cases for the typically buttoned-up country. The figure was an increase of 12,545 new infections from the previous 24-hour period. The per-week incidence rate has also risen from 249.1 to 336.9 cases per 100,000 people. With about 67 percent of its population fully vaccinated, Germany has one of the lowest inoculation rates in western Europe. This news could mean strict lockdown rules for the unvaccinated.