Health Highlights: April 29, 2021

COVID-19 Pill Could be Available Later This Year: Pfizer CEO

A pill to treat COVID-19 is being developed by Pfizer and could be available by the end of the year, company CEO Albert Bourla says.

In March, Pfizer launched an early-stage clinical trial of a new antiviral drug for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, CBS News reported.

The drug reduces the production of enzymes the virus needs to multiply in human cells.

If clinical trials are successful and the Food and Drug Administration approves the drug, it could be available across the U.S. later in 2021, Bourla told CNBC on Tuesday, CBS News reported.

Last month, Dr. Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer and president, worldwide research, development and medical of Pfizer, said it’s possible that the new drug could be prescribed “at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care.”

“I think that with this drug we really have to look at it as a game changer,” Dr. Neeta Ogden told CBSN. “We haven’t seen medication even discussed on the horizon that one can take early on or prophylactically if you’ve been exposed, kind of like what we have for the flu.”

Many Americans Have COVID-19 Vaccine Preferences

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they have a preference for a specific COVID-19 vaccine, a new survey finds.

The poll of 1,000 people found that most (36%) preferred Pfizer, followed by Moderna at 19% and Johnson & Johnson at 17%, CBS News reported.

Reasons cited for wanting the Pfizer vaccine include the vaccine’s efficacy (45%), positive study data (35%), reportedly fewer side effects (32%), reading a positive news story (29%), and social media posts by family and friends (21%), according to the survey by M Booth Health, a health communications consultancy, and Savanta, a market research and advisory company.

Among those who preferred the Moderna vaccine, common reasons included efficacy (32%), fewer side effects (31%), positive study data (30%), and social media posts by family and friends (23%), CBS News reported.

Those who wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine listed reasons such as the fact that it requires only one shot (31%), pre-existing trust in the brand (26%) or “good experiences” with the company’s products in the past (19%).

Hepatitis Scare: Don’t Drink ‘Real Water’ Brand Alkaline Water, FDA Says

As an investigation into a hepatitis outbreak in Nevada associated with Real Water brand alkaline water continues, no one should drink, cook, serve or sell the water, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

As of April 26, there had been 11 probable cases and one suspected case of acute non-viral hepatitis in Nevada.

Despite a recall on Real Water brand alkaline water sold nationwide, the FDA said it is still being sold online and is trying to locate any remaining products to ensure they are no longer available to consumers.

The FDA said it has inspected Real Water Inc. facilities in Nevada and Arizona, is reviewing information provided by the company, analyzing Real Water products, and will provide ongoing updates about the investigation.

Symptoms of non-viral hepatitis and other types of hepatitis are similar and can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay or gray-colored bowel movements, joint pain, yellow eyes and jaundice, the FDA said.

People who develop these symptoms should contact their doctor, the agency advised. The FDA added that this water should not be served to pets.