A queue at a COVID-19 testing site in Times Square, New York City, December 13, 2021 (Seth Wenig/AP)


President Joe Biden pledges more than 250,000 treatment courses of Pfizer’s antiviral pill, available from January after it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration:

With today’s action, we add the first-ever oral treatment to our nation’s medicine cabinet and take a significant step forward in our path out of the pandemic. As soon as emerging science showed the promise of this antiviral, we acted quickly and aggressively to pre-purchase 10 million treatment courses — more than any other country in the world.

Paxlovid is the first antiviral Coronavirus pill authorized for use at home. The FDA said it “should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of Covid-19 and within five days of symptom onset”.

EA on Monocle 24: What Biden Has — and Has Not — Done Over Omicron

Pfizer’s data indicates Paxlovid cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by 88% if taken by high-risk adults within five days of first symptoms.


President Joe Biden announces additional containment measures as the Omicron variant of Coronavirus spreads through the US.

Biden said the Government will buy and distribute 500 million free rapid tests, establish new vaccination and testing sites, and deploy 1,000 military medical professionals to assist hospitals. He said:

We should all be concerned about Omicron, but not panicked….

I know you’re tired, really, and I know you’re frustrated….We all want this to be over, but we’re still in it.

Biden explained that troops arrive in Wisconsin and Indiana, and that the first of the new testing sites will open in New York within days. He also promised to use the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers meet the demand for testing.

The President repeated his appeal to all US residents to get vaccinated, “I honest to God believe it’s your patriotic duty”, and said some requirements are in place “not to control your life, but to save your life and the lives of others”.

Public health experts cautioned that it will take weeks to distribute tests and set up vaccination centers, as infections and hospitalizations rise. Some called for more vigorous measures.

But Biden ruled out steps similar to those taken in some European countries, limiting contact and closing public spaces: “That’s what I keep getting asked. The answer is absolutely no. No.”

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Joe Biden warns of “a winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated, amid the Delta variant of Coronavirus, the prospect of an Omicron surge, and a toll passing 800,000 fatalities.

Biden issued his statement as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of an Omicron peak in January, with the prospect of overstretched hospitals.

The US death toll is now 803,652 with 50,513,424 confirmed cases. One in 100 Americans over 65 has been killed by the virus

There were 1,288 deaths on Thursday, a rise of 23% in 14 days, and 124,413 cases, a jump of 31%. About 68,000 Coronavirus patients are hospitalized across the US, a 21% increase from two weeks ago.

The Omicron variant now accounts for almost 3% of Covid cases in the US as of Saturday, up from 0.4% last week. Infections are rising in schools, and hospitals are close to capacity in several states.

The virus is spreading most rapidly in the Northeast and around the Great Lakes. Connecticut is recording more than 2,600 new daily infections, compared to about 330 at the start of November. Rhode Island has the highest rate of additional cases, and Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have the highest rates of hospitalizations.

About 68,000 Coronavirus patients are hospitalized across the US, a 21% increase from two weeks ago.

Administration Asks Supreme Court to Back Vaccine Requirements

The Biden Administration filed two emergency applications in the Supreme Court on Thursday, seeking revival of a requirement that health care workers at hospitals are vaccinated.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told justices that the regulation, for any medical facility receiving federal funds, “will save hundreds or even thousands of lives each month”. She said the assessment is backed by “both science and common sense.”

Federal judges in Missouri and Louisiana have blocked the requirement.