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Science, Technology
& Innovation

Issue 92: Anti-viral pills, a new weapon for the pandemic

92
Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments in healthcare. image Anti-viral pills, a new weapon for the pandemic In recent weeks, two pharmaceutical companies, Merck and Pfizer, have announced promising trial results for their anti-viral oral pills, which reduces COVID hospitalisation and death rates by 50% and 89% respectively. The idea that a deadly pandemic could soon be treatable with oral pills holds great promise for changing the course of the pandemic. Experts agree that anti-viral pills will play a significant role in managing COVID-19, but they do not expect it to be the silver bullet to ending the pandemic. A lot of it will depend on how well they work in the real world. Nature looks at five key factors that could determine how the new COVID-19 anti-virals shape the course of the pandemic. Will the drugs work against variants of concern? More studies will need to be done to determine its efficacy against known COVID variants; How effective are the new anti-virals? Thus far, both companies have only provided broad headline numbers. Until full details of the clinical trials are released, some crucial details are still missing for scientists to draw conclusions about the drugs’ efficacy; Are the treatments safe? Both drugs were reported to be well tolerated by participants, but some features of the drug pose limitations and concerns; Could the coronavirus become resistant to anti-virals? Drug resistance is a familiar problem in treating viral infections. Combination therapies will likely be needed and more research required to determine what works; Who will be able to access the new drugs? Availability of drugs to mid- to low-income countries and access to speedy accurate tests would determine how widespread their use would be. Even as researchers await answers to these lingering questions, governments are pushing ahead with approvals of anti-virals for emergency use. The UK has authorised Merck’s pill while the US FDA is reviewing both drugs for approval. Ultimately, treatments alone are not likely to end the pandemic, but they will add to our armoury of weapons to fight disease progression and spread of the virus. Healthcare in the Spotlight Omicron COVID-19 variant poses ‘very high’ global risk, countries must prepare: WHO First spotted in South Africa, the new variant carries an “extremely high number” of mutations which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses. The Atlantic: The double-whammy COVID-flu It’s becoming clear that “coinfections” happen all the time. Just how bad are they? The New York Times: The Quiet Scientific Revolution That May Solve Chronic Pain Emerging science of chronic pain is beginning to influence care — not by creating new treatments, but by legitimising chronic pain so that doctors take it more seriously. The Straits Times: New app for dementia patients offers wellness activities, lets public help those lost to alert caregivers Developed by Dementia Singapore, the innovative care solution harnesses the power of technology to facilitate the safe return of a person living with dementia swiftly back to his or her family when things go wrong. Nature: More Alzheimer’s drugs head for FDA review: what scientists are watching After the FDA’s approval of Biogen’s anti-amyloid drug to treat Alzheimer’s, other pharma firms have followed suit, hopeful for approval. But questions still linger whether anti-amyloid treatments actually help cognition. Medical News Today: Qigong benefits, types, and how to get started Research show that practicing qigong helps reduce pain, improve mental health and increase physical fitness and flexibility. Medical Xpress: Secrets of antibodies: When it comes to Dengue and Zika, Dengue antibodies can knock out Zika—and vice versa Cross-protective antibodies from Dengue and Zika last far longer than previously thought, scientists have found in a massive study involving more than 4,000 children in Nicaragua. Healthbytes Ten ways to confront the climate crisis without losing hope Source: The Guardian It’s easy to despair at the climate crisis, or to decide it’s already too late – but it’s not. Here’s how to keep the fight alive.

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Leaders and changemakers of today face unique and complex challenges. The HEAD Foundation Digest features insights and opinions from those in the know addressing a wide range of pertinent issues that factor in a society’s development. 

Informed opinions can inspire healthy discussions and open up our imagination to new possibilities. Interested in contributing? Write to us at info@headfoundation

Stay updated on our latest announcements on events and publications

About

Leaders and changemakers of today face unique and complex challenges. The HEAD Foundation Digest features insights and opinions from those in the know addressing a wide range of pertinent issues that factor in a society’s development. 

Informed opinions can inspire healthy discussions and open up our imagination to new possibilities. Interested in contributing? Write to us at info@headfoundation

Stay updated on our latest announcements on events and publications

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