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Good morning, and a fine Friday to you from STAT reporter Andrew Joseph, here filling in for Mr. Pharmalot for the day. We’re one cup of stimulation in (this week’s bag of beans promises subtle notes of blackberry and citrus), and while we compile these items of interest, are dreaming of cup No. 2. While we may not have a campus we can claim as our own, the racket from the cranky radiator in our apartment is providing a different kind of ambiance. Wishing you all a restful weekend — perhaps even a celebratory one. We here at STAT yesterday marked the 6-year anniversary of our site going live, so cheers from us, and thanks for reading. …

An experimental antiviral pill developed by Pfizer (PFE) reduced the risk of death and hospitalization by 89% in patients who were newly diagnosed with Covid-19 in a large study, STAT reports. The development of oral medicines that can be used to treat Covid early on could blunt the impact of the pandemic, and Pfizer’s announcement follows reports from Merck (MRK) and its partner Ridgeback Therapeutics that their pill, molnupiravir, reduced hospitalization and death by 50%.


The federal government has canceled its contract with a troubled Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer that ruined millions of doses and had to halt production for months after regulators raised serious quality concerns, the New York Times informs us. The decision marks a stark reversal of fortune for the politically connected contractor, Maryland-based Emergent BioSolutions (EBS), and an abandonment by the government of a deal that was supposed to be a centerpiece of Operation Warp Speed. Early in the pandemic, the government decided to bank on the company to be the sole domestic manufacturer of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and AstraZeneca (AZN) vaccines. But this March, testing found that a batch of the J&J vaccine had been contaminated, and Emergent agreed to pause manufacturing after an inspection uncovered a host of problems at its facility in Baltimore’s Bayview area.

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