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What We're Reading: COVID-19 Antiviral Pill Access; Hospitalizations in Unvaccinated Children; Uptick in Influenza Cases


The US government is increasing access of Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral pill to all pharmacies nationwide; stark hospitalization rates in unvaccinated children; a steady increase observed in US influenza cases and hospitalizations.

Pfizer COVID-19 Antiviral Pill to Be Made Available Nationwide

Bloomberg reported that the US government is planning to increase access of a COVID-19 antiviral pill developed by Pfizer to all pharmacies nationwide amid a rise in cases and hospitalizations linked with the BA.2 subvariant. The pill, Paxlovid, was the nation’s first oral and at-home treatment to gain authorization for the treatment of COVID-19, but has been challenged with limited availability. The Biden administration plans to allow every pharmacy seeking to order Paxlovid to do so directly from the federal government. Use of oral antiviral pills in the United States has increased 103% between March 27 and April 10, with the White House aiming to further increase uptake.

CDC Study Finds Stark Hospitalization Rates in Unvaccinated Children

Findings of the latest CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicated that COVID-19–related hospitalization rates were approximately twice as high among unvaccinated children aged 5 to 11 years vs vaccinated counterparts amid the Omicron wave from December 2021 to February 2022. According to USA Today, 87% of the nearly 400 children hospitalized during the study period were unvaccinated, in which 30% had no underlying medical conditions and 19% were admitted to the intensive care unit. Non-Hispanic Black children were found to represent almost one-third of COVID-19–associated hospitalizations, with White and Hispanic children accounting for 31% and 19% of hospitalizations, respectively.

Steady Rise in Hospitalizations, Cases of Influenza

CIDRAP is reporting that outpatient visits for flulike illness continues to increase nationwide, according to CDC data, in which activity was shown to be highest in the Northeast, South Central, and Mountain regions of the United States. There has been a steady rise in US flu activity since the middle of February, and the data indicate that hospital admissions have also been rising for 11 weeks in a row, but remain less than that observed in the most recent pre-pandemic flu seasons.

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