Is the Pandemic Over?; Pot vs Big Pharma; Long COVID Treatment

The Pandemic Is Over. Or Is It?

President Joe Biden told 60 Minutes that the COVID-19 pandemic is over ­— before he walked back on it twice.

But the pushback was immediate, with many critics pointing out that the US averages more than 71,000 new cases and more than 400 deaths per day. Worldwide, each day brings 500,000 new cases and nearly 2000 deaths.

The World Health Organization said that the end is in sight, though it still considers COVID-19 to be a global pandemic.

Getting on with life: Most of the country is protected by vaccination, infection, or a combination, Biden’s supporters argue. And 46% of Americans have returned to their pre-pandemic lives — the highest percentage since the pandemic began, according to a new Axios/Ipsos poll.

Not everyone’s convinced: The same poll found that 57% of Americans say they’re still at least somewhat concerned about the coronavirus.

Legalized Cannabis Costs Big Pharma

Legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis is on the November ballot in seven states and a dozen cities. Some 37 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia have already granted access to medical or recreational cannabis.

If voters continue the trend, it could cause the US pharmaceutical industry’s market value to drop by billions, according to a study published in PLOS One. The study suggests that each legalization law results in the decline in the industry’s total market value of $3 billion a year.

Why the drop? When cannabis becomes legal, sales of generic and brand-name drugs decrease significantly, the study found.

Fewer sales: The study also found that legalization leads to fewer sales of prescription pain, sleep, anxiety, and nausea drugs.

Trying Unproven Treatments for Long COVID

People with long COVID-19 who seek treatment report being dismissed, obstructed, or gaslit by physicians or caregivers.

They also run up against the reality that little is known about the chronic condition, and that there are no approved treatments for it, according to the FDA.

So they turn in desperation to alternative or unproven treatments, which may be expensive, ineffective, or outright dangerous and is offered by practitioners who may be unscrupulous.

Big problem: Some 16 million Americans have long COVID, according to the Brookings Institution’s analysis of a 2022 US Census Bureau report. Up to one quarter have such debilitating symptoms that they no longer work at jobs, the report notes.

So-called therapies: The unproven treatments include hyperbaric oxygen (about $120 per session); halotherapy or dry salt therapy (up to $50 per treatment); stem cell therapy (as much as $25,000 per treatment); and blood thinners ($10,000-$15,000).

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