Pandemic update: This pill weakens Covid

With Covid infections already spiking to disturbing highs, here comes Omicron, threatening to disrupt countless lives and throw the economic recovery into a tailspin. It’s now clear that widespread Omicron community transmission is already occurring in the United States.

Just what we didn’t need. Are there no bright spots?

There are. One of them is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is soon expected to approve a Pfizer pill that it says is 85 percent effective at eliminating hospital stays and mortality among Covid patients. Pfizer has said it will manufacture and distribute 20 million of these pills in the first half of 2022 The federal government has purchased ten million of them from Pfizer for $530 each. The pills the government purchases will probably be distributed at little or no cost to people who contract the life-threatening disease.

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The pill appears a big step forward from the monoclonal antibodies presently administered through hospitals to serious Covid cases. Monoclonal antibodies reduce the risk of hospitalization of Covid patients by upwards of 70 percent.

Another good sign. Last week, Ulster County achieved a new benchmark in its vaccination efforts. The county Covid website said that 85 percent if all Ulster County residents 18 years old and older had received at least one shot of the available vaccines. On December 2, a total of  21,417 Ulster County residents had tested positive for the disease, and 302 persons had died from it.

Just how serious is the pre-Omicron situation in the Hudson Valley? Transmission to new cases has roughly doubled in the past two months. This past Friday, The New York Times published a story listing the number of new cases in the previous seven days for every county in the country.

In New York City, according to The Times,19 people per 100,000 of population had contracted Covid per day last week. For that same week, the numbers were considerably higher immediately outside the city: 21 per hundred thousand in Westchester, 26 in Rockland, 39 per hundred thousand in Nassau County and 45 in Suffolk. Heading north through the Hudson Valley, the equivalent numbers were 34 in Putnam County, 45 in Orange, 29 in Dutchess, 69 in Sullivan, 38 in Ulster, 44 in Columbia, 42 in Greene, 72 in Delaware, and 60 in Schoharie.