New COVID fighting pill is considered for emergency use; Doctors worry about a busy flu season
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Doctors say the possibility of a new drug is exciting in the fight against COVID. The drugmaker, Merck, is now seeking authorization for the first antiviral pill for COVID.
It’s drug was shown in a clinical trial to cut the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID in half when it’s given to high-risk patients. It also has to be given early in their infections. The Merck drug was designed to stop COVID from replicating. Patients would take 4 capsules twice a day for five days. Doctors are excited but still warn this new drug would be taken after diagnosis. It would not be taken to prevent COVID.
“I think we have to step back and understand that we have a vaccine that can actually prevent the disease that’s been shown to be incredibly effective, so I do want to say, this is not a time to forget about the vaccine. We should continue doing that, but this medication, if you get COVID, this medication looks like it has some real promise. It’s also been shown to be effective against the variants that we’ve seen and heard about,” says Dr. Robert Hart.
Doctors say there’s been a sharp decline in the COVID hospitalization numbers. Right now, throughout the Ochsner Health System, about 200 people are hospitalized. That’s down from the more than a thousand patients just before Hurricane Ida.
Now, doctors are urging everyone to get a flu shot. They fear we could see an extremely high number of cases this season and possibility more people with COVID as people are out and about this fall.
For people concerned about getting a COVID vaccine and a flu shot at the same time, doctors say there’s nothing to worry about.
“There will be no interaction between the two and actually the CDC guidelines changed several months ago with regard to not having to wait in between the COVID vaccine and other vaccinations. You don’t have to take them on the same day, at the same time, but you certainly don’t have to postpone one for the other,” says Dr. Whitney Hardy.
Ochsner will hold what they’re calling a drive-thru flu fair next weekend. You can drive up and get a flu shot.
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