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COVID-19 reaches 5 million death mark, is raging in Europe

The confirmed worldwide death toll from the virus passed five million, even as many countries remain unable to accurately record the number of their COVID-19 deaths. The virus is out of control in Europe

More than half the world’s new confirmed cases were reported in Europe We could see another half a million COVID-19 deaths in Europe and Central Asia by the first of February Pfizer's antiviral pill is the second of its kind to demonstrate efficacy against COVID-19

The confirmed worldwide death toll from the virus passed five million, even as many countries remain unable to accurately record the number of their COVID-19 deaths.

Cases are rising again in Europe, where pandemic restrictions have been relaxed and temperatures have dropped. In the last two weeks of October, more than half the world’s new confirmed cases were reported in Europe, the WHO said.

WHO regional director Hans Kluge said in a statement, “According to one reliable projection, if we stay on this trajectory, we could see another half a million COVID-19 deaths in Europe and Central Asia by the first of February next year.”  

Large swathes of the continent are battling to beat back surges of the Delta variant, which has complicated the relaxing of restrictions in many countries.   

The official daily death toll from the virus in Russia reached a record of nearly 1,200.

India administered more than a billion doses of coronavirus vaccines, with 54% percent of the population having received at least one shot and 25% fully inoculated.

More than half the world’s population has received at least one vaccine dose, although the global figure masks vast disparities in vaccine access between wealthy and poor nations. More than 7.1 billion doses have been administered worldwide. 

Paxlovid- Pfizer’s newest COVID-19 pill

Pfizer announced on Friday that Paxlovid, its pill to treat COVID-19, had been found in a key clinical trial to be highly effective at preventing severe illness among at-risk people who received the drug soon after they exhibited symptoms.

The antiviral pill is the second of its kind to demonstrate efficacy against COVID-19. It appears to be more effective than a similar offering from Merck, which is awaiting federal authorization.

Pfizer pill vaccine
Image source: Financial Times

Pfizer’s pill cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when given within 3 days of the start of symptoms.

The treatment could become available in the next few months, though supplies are likely to be limited at first. The Pfizer and Merck pills are both geared toward patients regarded as high-risk, such as those above the age of 60 or with conditions like obesity that make them more susceptible to severe consequences from COVID-19.

Trump time vaccine off the market

The federal government has canceled a deal worth $628 million with Emergent BioSolutions, the Maryland-based vaccine manufacturer that was a vanguard of the Trump administration’s program to rapidly produce vaccines to counter the coronavirus pandemic, known as Operation Warp Speed.

The cancellation comes after Emergent’s manufacturing facilities in Baltimore were found to have produced millions of contaminated vaccine doses this spring, prompting a months-long shutdown.

In March, ingredients intended for use in producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shots contaminated 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In response, the Biden administration put Johnson & Johnson in direct control of vaccine production there and removed AstraZeneca manufacturing from the facilities.

Emergent had produced 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses for global use as of late September.