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Live Q&A: FDA Approves New COVID-19 Treatment Pills; WHO Warns Policies Could Cause Virus Mutations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized new medications to treat COVID-19, with emergency authorizations for treatment pills from both Pfizer and Merck. The federal government also announced it will purchase 10 million courses of the Pfizer drug. The Pfizer one is called Paxlovid and is taken twice per day for five days alongside a generic antiviral drug called ritonavir. They’re recommending the prescription for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and claim it could prevent some people from needing to be hospitalized. Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement, “This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.”

In other news, the World Health Organization is criticizing the mandates for COVID-19 booster shots, claiming that they limit the global supply to poor countries, and that this could cause more virus mutations and thereby draw out the crisis. WHO Director-General Tedros said in a news brief, “Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate.” Tedros also stated, “No country can boost its way out of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, a new COVID-19 vaccine has been developed at the Walter Reed Army Institute that can allegedly protect against all known COVID-19 variants, including Omicron. A paper published on Dec. 16 in Science Translational Medicine says the new vaccine can protect non-humans from the virus and its variants, and can even protect against SARS-origin viruses going back to its emergence in 2002.

In this live Q&A with Crossroads host Joshua Philipp, we’ll discuss these stories and others, and answer questions from the audience.

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