As Floyd County sees the continued spread of COVID-19, the FDA is reviewing more preventative tools to slow the pandemic as well as reduce the risks of the disease.
Public health officials are currently awaiting FDA approval for a low dose Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Other than the much lower dosage, the vaccine would be identical to the one adults receive, according to Northwest Georgia Public Health Director Dr. Gary Voccio.
“We’re hoping the FDA will act on that this week,” he said.
However, Voccio said he can’t predict the impact this may have on the current vaccination rate.
Although vaccinations continue to go up, it’s still very slow, with 41% of Floyd County residents being fully vaccinated and 45% having received at least one dose. Georgia overall was at 48% full vaccination rate as of Tuesday afternoon.
Local hospitals have begun to see a decrease in COVID-19 patients after being overwhelmed just a month ago. According to the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, there were 23 COVID patients at AdventHealth Redmond and 41 patients at Floyd Medical Center on Tuesday. Redmond also had four patients waiting on test results to come back.
The FDA is also looking over a new antiviral treatment regimen developed by Merck & Co.
According to Voccio, molnupiravir is an oral pill that, taken twice a day over a period of five days, has shown significant reduction in hospitalizations and deaths for people with COVID-19.
“It ... basically causes (the virus) to replicate itself to death,” Voccio said. “It’s fairly expensive though. ... It apparently, from what medical data shows, is highly effective against COVID variants.”
Right now, it’s still in the preliminary study stage but is expected to go before the FDA for approval in the near future.
Other companies, including Pfizer, are also developing their own antiviral pill to fight COVID-19.
However, Voccio and public health officials are still recommending vaccinations as the best way to prevent the spread. While the cases continue to drop, Voccio still advises caution for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“In situations where COVID might be present, wear a mask. ... All these non-pharmaceutical interventions need to stay in place,” he said. “We are glad to see cases declining, particularly in children, but we still want people to be cautious. With the holidays coming up, we don’t want any spikes. ... We don’t want to be put back in a situation we just go out of.”
The COVID-19 testing site in Floyd County has moved back to the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds at 1400 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Free testing will be offered Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Register online at honumg.info/LTSGA011.