Positive COVID-19 cases are still on the rise as Pfizer and BioNTech announce they will soon seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the release of their new vaccine.
As the total number of cases in Itawamba County closes in on 1,500 – currently standing at 1,476 as of Nov. 23--, Pfizer and BioNTech report that they have completed testing on a two dose vaccine for COVID-19.
Pfizer said its vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing mild and severe forms of COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose with no serious side effects.
The vaccine is 94 percent effective in more vulnerable adults aged 65 and older.
The testing involved 44,000 volunteers. Half of those volunteers received the vaccine and the other half received a salt water placebo. Of the 170 positive COVID-19 cases which were evaluated, 162 were from the placebo group and eight were from the vaccine group. Ten severe cases COVID-19 were observed with nine of those ten coming from the placebo group.
Pfizer plans to apply for emergency authorization to hopefully get a working vaccine out to the public as soon as possible.
Pfizer expects to make 50 million doses available in 2020 and 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
According to the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) website, as of Nov. 23 Itawamba County has reported 34 total deaths due to COVID-19. That’s four more deaths in the last seven days alone. Mississippi surpassed 3,600 total COVID-19 deaths statewide.
Itawamba County Schools reported new cases at Dorsey, Fairview, Tremont, Itawamba Attendance Center, Itawamba Agricultural High School. and Mantachie Schools for the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 13.
MSDH tracks counties with recent high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Counties are ranked by weekly incidence (cases proportional to population).
For the two week period of Nov. 2 through Nov. 15, Itawamba County ranked sixteenth in high incidence with a thirteen percent increase.
As case numbers continue to rise throughout the state, MSDH is still taking steps to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable by issuing free masks with attached face shields to eligible citizens.
Those eligible for the free masks include anyone 65 years of age and over and those with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or weakened immunity.
Masks are distributed at drive-thru testing locations only on scheduled dates. Itawamba County Health Department offers drive thru testing every Monday and will have masks available on testing dates.
Free testing is also available daily at Med Plus Urgent Care and Express Care in Fulton, Mantachie Rural Health Care, and Access Family Health in Tremont.
Itawamba County is still under a mask mandate meaning that all citizens are required to wear a mask in public spaces. Social gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. MSDH also reminds everyone that social distancing when in the presence of others is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19.