Rush to test against Omicron in the US
The head of the FDA, Patrizia Cavazzoni, is delighted with this decision.
The antiviral will be available for high-risk patients aged 12 and older, the FDA said but stressed that vaccines remain the first line of defence against the pandemic.
A new treatment from Pfizer, marketed under the name Paxlovid, consists of a combination of two pills taken twice daily for five days, as soon as they are diagnosed and within five days of the onset of symptoms.
According to the latest studies, it reduces hospitalizations and deaths in at-risk individuals by 88% when taken within the first five days of symptom onset, according to clinical trials.
Pfizer also announced that its antiviral treatment should remain effective against Omicron.
Omicron is highly contagious, which has led to an increase in cases in the United States, as well as in many other countries around the world.
However, for Americans, their priority was to find tests, especially for those who are preparing to be with their families for the holidays.
Queues are getting longer in front of testing centers in the United States, and some drugstore chains and the online retail giant Amazon have decided to ration purchases due to lack of inventory.
The White House, which promises to distribute 500 million free tests, but only from January, nevertheless defends itself of having badly anticipated the situation.
President Biden had said earlier that the country was “prepared” to absorb a possible increase in hospitalizations, and estimated that vaccinated Americans should not “panic”.
However, health authorities have recommended avoiding large gatherings and preferring to celebrate in small groups, among vaccinated people.
“If you are tested, and you know where you stand on vaccines, there is “no reason why you shouldn’t gather with your family and friends,” Biden said on ABC.
Many cities have decided to temporarily close schools or to implement a vaccination pass – in Washington, the federal capital, it will be mandatory from January to be immunized to go to a café, a restaurant or a gym.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the world’s largest electronics and technology show, has seen its planned return to in-person attendance in early January compromised. Many large companies have decided to follow suit or cancel their presence.