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New Drug That Could Prevent COVID-19 Deaths Is ‘Huge Advance’ In Battle Against Virus

The news comes as the country and state face grim milestones: About 700,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, including 25,000 Illinoisans, as of Friday.

People wearing masks enjoy the warm spring weather at Promontory Point in Hyde Park on April 26, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — A pill could halve a sick person’s chances of being hospitalized for or dying from COVID-19, officials announced Friday.

Merck & Co., who developed the pill — called molnupiravir — said they plan to apply for emergency use authorization for the pill with the FDA and to push for use of the pill around the world, according to a Reuters report.

The pill would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. It works by creating errors in the virus’s genetic code, according to Reuters. Other drugmakers are working to create similar medicines.

The drug is being hailed as a “huge advance,” according to Reuters, but it will be some time before it’s OK’d for widespread use.

And officials have said the best thing people can do to be protected from COVID-19 is to get fully vaccinated.

The announcement of the pill’s effectiveness comes as the United States hit a grim milestone: The virus has killed about 700,000 Americans.

Illinois also hit a milestone Friday: 25,000 people dead from COVID-19.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7 million people — or 55.27 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 22,754 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,571,537 vaccine doses of the 17,344,115 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.55 million Chicagoans — or 57.6 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 62.8 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Forty-one Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.

• At least 25,017 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,697 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 3,356 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,630,864.

• Since Thursday, 156,801 tests were reported statewide. In all, 32,034,910 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 2.2 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.2 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.8 percent. It was at 2.8 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 447 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 236 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,779 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four deaths per day, up 17 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has 512 had confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 317,613 confirmed cases. An average of 341 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 19 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is unchanged since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2.4 percent, down from 2.9 percent the week prior.

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