Health Highlights: Oct. 4, 2021

New, better antivirals against COVID-19 are on the way. On Friday, drug giant Merck announced it would seek FDA emergency use approval for a powerful new antiviral, molnupiravir. At least two more such drugs that target the SARS-CoV-2 virus are in the pipeline from other companies, and could save thousands of lives. Read more

Early in pandemic, Facebook was a lifeline. A new survey of Facebook users found that in the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, users met on the social media platform to share largely accurate, supportive information. Unfortunately that didn’t last, and misinformation began to creep in. Read more

U.S. passes 700,000 lives lost to COVID-19. A high percentage of unvaccinated people and a surging Delta variant have now pushed the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 past 700,000, statistics show. Many of the deaths are occurring in the South, and deaths among people under the age of 55 are becoming more common. Read more

J & J seeks approval for COVID vaccine booster shot. U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization of a booster shot of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine will be sought by the company early this week, officials say. Over 15 million Americans have received a dose of the vaccine. Read more