The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Biden touts antiviral pill as more than a dozen Republican AGs file suit against vaccine mandate

Merck's antiviral pill Molnupiravir. (Handout/AFP/Getty Images)
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In what could be another turning point in the grueling fight against a virus that has upended lives and killed more than 749,000 people in the country, President Biden said Friday that the United States has already secured millions of doses of Pfizer’s antiviral pill, which the drugmaker says is extremely effective in treating covid-19 for at-risk people.

“If authorized by the FDA, we may soon have pills that may treat the virus of those who become infected,” Biden said at a news conference. “The therapy would be another tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of covid.”

The news came as sixteen state attorneys general filed lawsuits against the Biden administration for imposing a vaccine mandate on businesses that employ 100 or more workers — a move that underscores the broader opposition by Republican-led states to requirements for immunizations aimed at curbing the pandemic.

U.S. coronavirus cases tracker and map

Here’s what to know

  • An experimental coronavirus pill reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent in high-risk people infected with the virus, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Friday.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers defended his decision not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, decrying the “woke mob and what he described as a “witch hunt” against him.
  • The federal government has canceled a deal worth $628 million with Emergent BioSolutions, a Maryland-based vaccine manufacturer that was a vanguard of the Trump administration’s program to rapidly produce vaccines.
  • Classes for Chicago Public Schools will be canceled on Nov. 12 to give students an opportunity to get vaccinated.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will probably challenge a key line of treatment for people with compromised immune systems — the drugs known as monoclonal antibodies.

Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people.

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