NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Friday marks the third anniversary of the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with COVID. Since then the toll the virus has taken has been tremendous. 1.1 million deaths nationwide and 11,899 deaths in Connecticut.

Yale Medicine‘s Dr. Albert Shaw discussed where we are now, three years later.

“We are in a better place now than we were back then with vaccines and with antiviral medications such as Paxlovid. Hopefully, that combination of vaccination and previous infection will provide a kind of immunity,” Dr. Shaw said.

He believes the biggest challenge going forward will be protecting the most vulnerable citizens, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. He does have concerns that a new covid variant strain could emerge.

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“There’s no information coming out from, for example, China, where I think there’s really a tragedy, a calamity that’s happening that we don’t really know much about,” Dr. Shaw said.

Dr. Shaw is reminding people that babies under 6 months old who are too young to be vaccinated, were hospitalized with covid with rates as high as adults during the omicron COVID wave.

“For mothers or women who are thinking of becoming pregnant stay up to date on COVID vaccines because it will protect not only from the potential complications of COVID during pregnancy but will also protect your baby as well,” Dr. Shaw said.

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The FDA has declined to grant accelerated approval to an Eli Lilly drug called donanemab, due to adverse reactions such as brain swelling.

This does not impact the status of the new Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab, brand name leqembi, which received FDA accelerated approval earlier this month after studies showed it slowed cognitive decline.