A large new study found Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in high-risk patients, the pharmaceutical company announced in a statement Tuesday.
Researchers looked at more than 4,000 recently diagnosed patients and found the two-antibody combo drug, called REGEN-COV, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 70%, and also reduced the median recovery time from 14 days to 10.
“This is a landmark moment in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Suraj Saggar, trial investigator and chief of infectious disease at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. “With so many people will getting infected … these data underscore the need to rapidly adopt REGEN-COV as standard-of-care to offer high-risk patients their best chance to reduce serious consequences.”
The results haven’t yet been published or reviewed by independent scientists. Previously, Eli Lilly announced that its two-antibody treatment also reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in similar patients.
Also in the news:
►Miami Beach plans to extend a state of emergency for the entertainment district to control spring break crowds. The extension, expected to be announced Tuesday, will authorize a curfew Thursday night through early Monday that could be extended every week through April 13, Melissa Berthier, spokesperson for the city of Miami Beach, told USA TODAY.
►The Navajo Nation reported Monday zero new COVID-19 positive cases and no recent deaths for the first time in over six months.
►Starting Monday, hundreds of Michigan school districts had to offer at least 20 hours a week of in-person instruction to receive all of a minimum $450-per-student increase in emergency pandemic funding.
►Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Monday announced a statewide tour to hear from residents and gather ideas on how to spend the state’s portion of the federal government’s $1.9 trillion plan to support the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
►Vice President Kamala Harris returned to Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday, the first time traveling to the state since she was on the campaign trail last October. She was in Jacksonville to spread President Joe Biden’s “Help is Here” message for the $1.9 trillion federal relief package that was his administration’s first major legislative victory.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin will be getting his first vaccination against COVID-19 on Tuesday, but out of sight of the cameras, his spokesman said. Only 6.3 million people, or 4.3% of Russia’s 146-million population, have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has over 29.86 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 542,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 123.6 million cases and 2.72 million deaths. More than 156.7 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 126.5 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: More stimulus checks are on the way through direct deposit and the mail and additional payments are expected to be released on a weekly basis going forward. Your questions answered here.
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AstraZeneca may have used outdated information in COVID vaccine trial
Hours after COVID-19 vaccine collaborators AstraZeneca and Oxford University released data on their large clinical trial, federal officials said that information may have been missing a month’s worth of data.
The Data Safety Monitoring Board or DSMB, “expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.”
Early Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of government agency that released the information, said on Good Morning America the company released data available only through Feb. 17, while presenting it as if it were current information.
“It really is unfortunate that this happened,” said Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “This is very likely a very good vaccine.”
AstraZeneca said Monday that advanced trial data from a U.S. study on its vaccine shows it is 79% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalization. The U.S. study comprised 30,000 volunteers, 20,000 of whom were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots.
– Karen Weintraub
Air travel hits new pandemic record at 1.5M passengers
More than 1.5 million people streamed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the largest number since the pandemic tightened its grip on the United States more than a year ago.
The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,543,115 travelers Sunday, its busiest day since March 13, 2020. The numbers are a stark contrast from the same date in 2020, when the agency screened only 548,132.
It marked the 11th straight day that the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1 million people, likely from a combination of spring break travel and more people becoming vaccinated against COVID-19.
Airline executives say they have seen an increase in bookings during the last few weeks. However, passenger traffic remains far below 2019 levels.
– Julia Thompson
States move closer to vaccine-for-all
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that all state residents age 50 and above would be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting today. Florida announced Monday it, too, will allow anybody age 50 and up to get the shot. It’s a welcome sign in the state, which became the first state to have more than 1,000 known cases of coronavirus variants.
On Wednesday, Arizona will make vaccines available to anyone 16 and older at the sites it operates in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, the state health department and Gov. Doug Ducey announced.
The federal government is now distributing an average of more than 3 million doses a day, and President Joe Biden has said he will direct all states to remove eligibility requirements for adults by May 1.
Alaska and Mississippi have already opened vaccinations to all adults, and several other states have said they will do so in the coming weeks. They include Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Massachusetts, Nevada, Connecticut, Iowa, Utah and Illinois.
Almost one-quarter of Americans have received at least one dose
More than 3 million coronavirus vaccine doses were reported administered across the nation on back-to-back days for the first time as the pace of vaccinations continues to increase across the nation. Almost one-quarter of the entire U.S. population – and almost one-third of adults – has received at least one dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, warned that data on new cases and hospitalizations indicates numbers are again rising in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
“The apparent leveling off of cases and hospital admissions, after the consistent decline in early January through the end of February, I consider to be very concerning,” she said.
A surge could be coming if Americans do not continue wearing masks, socially distancing and adhering to other restrictions, she said.
“Believe me, I get it, we all want to return to our everyday activities and spend time with our family, friends and loved ones,” she said. “But we must find the fortitude to hang in there for just a little bit longer.”
Contributing: Associated Press