Antiviral access for all over-70s

3 minute read

And the risk of MIS-C is lower for Delta and Omicron than it was with Alpha.

Your weekly pandemic wrap from Australia and around the world.

11 July

Anyone with covid who is
– over the age of 70
– over 50 but at high risk of severe disease, or
– Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and over 30 and at high risk of severe disease, is now eligible for treatment with the anti-viral drugs Paxlovid or Lagevrio.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler announced yesterday the government was expanding PBS access to the drugs because “covid-19 can be very serious for adults in high-risk groups, even when they are fully vaccinated”.
The drugs are now also available for immunocompromised individuals aged over 18 years, adults with chronic respiratory conditions and people with disabilities who have multiple comorbidities.

Delta and Omicron infections are associated with a lower risk of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), even after taking account of vaccination, research suggests.
A population-based study using hospital and local registry data, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, compared the incidence of MIS-C with the rate of new SARS-CoV-2 infections at various time points since the start of the pandemic, among 1.5 million children in southeast England.
Compared to the peak of the first Alpha variant wave in the UK, the incidence of MIS-C was 56% lower during the pre-vaccine Delta period, 66% lower in the post-vaccine Delta period, and 95% lower during the Omicron period.

Women and people with a history of anaphylaxis or with underlying comorbidities such as obesity are more likely to experience short-term adverse events after covid vaccination, but the existing vaccines are very safe, researchers say.
A paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia presents data from AusVaxSafety, an Australia vaccine safety surveillance system, covering around one-quarter of all vaccine doses administered to 30 August 2021.
The most common short-term side effects – reported within three to eight days after vaccination – were injection-site pain, fatigue, headaches and muscle aches.
Nearly 36% of those receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine reported at least one short-term adverse event, compared to nearly 53% after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. After the second dose, nearly 55% of those receiving the Pfizer vaccine reported an adverse event compared to 22% receiving their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Overall, women were more likely to report adverse events than men, and the odds were also higher among those who were obese, had chronic inflammatory disease or had a history of anaphylaxis.
Just under 1% sought medical advice within three days of vaccination, and 0.2% presented to the emergency department. Nearly 7% said they missed out on a day of work or other activities as a result of adverse events.

The BA.5 subvariant is making its presence felt around the world, as new covid infections increase for the fourth week in a row.
The latest WHO figures show 4.6 million new cases were reported in the past week, although the number of deaths has continued its decline. The biggest increases are seen in southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean region and Europe, with France recording a 33% increase and Italy a 50% increase compared to the previous week. Australia has recorded nearly 51,000 new cases in the last week.
Globally, the BA.5 subvariant now accounts for more than half of the sequences uploaded to a global database of SARS-CoV-2 genomes, while BA.4 accounts for around 12%.

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