Biden set to announce US will double its order of Pfizer’s antiviral pill to treat Covid-19

The announcement comes as as the US reached more than 100,000 hospitalizations due to to the illness for the first time in four months.

In his remarks, Biden will say the US will order 20 million courses of the drug, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and severe illness significantly.

Biden had announced a purchase of 10 million courses late last year.

“These pills will be delivered in the coming months and have been shown to dramatically decrease hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” the White House said.

It wasn’t immediately clear on what timeline the new pill would be delivered.

The Omicron variant caused 95.4% of new Covid-19 cases in the US last week — significantly higher than the previous week, according to estimates posted Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden and his team have yet to disclose comprehensive details about a critical portion of a plan announced last month to tackle Covid-19 this winter — an initiative to distribute half a billion tests for free using a website.

The administration is still in the procurement process, an official said. Health experts have warned the nationwide shortage of rapid at-home tests is coming during a critical period for testing as the Omicron variant disrupts daily life.

The CDC, meanwhile, is expected to update its guidance on the recommended isolation period, according to a source familiar with the plan, after the agency faced pressure to include a testing component in its new shortened isolation period.
Earlier Tuesday, the CDC also backed two major US Food and Drug Administration decisions.

The CDC announced its support of the FDA’s recommendation to shorten the time needed between completing an initial series of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 and a booster shot from six months to five months, as well as its call to authorize a third dose of the primary vaccine series for some immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11.

In the same announcement Monday, the FDA also authorized expanding booster eligibility to adolescents ages 12 to 15.

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