Aug 14, 2020 • 3:39 am CDT
Older Diabetics and Kidney Patients Need 'Coronavirus Screening'
Researchers in the state of Maryland identified the key risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19 disease in a study published in PLOS on August 12, 2020. They found both diabetes and kidney disease were accurate predictors of serious outcomes in older hospitalized patients. The COVID-19 patients had an average length of stay of 11 days, required ICU care in 31% of cases, and had a 25% mortality rate.
These medical center researchers strongly suggest 'early patient identification may lead to improved outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.'
Aug 14, 2020 • 3:26 am CDT
Reduce Nursing Home Fatalities By Increasing COVID-19 Testing
To help resolve the nursing-home catastrophe in the USA -- about 38% of all coronavirus related fatalities -- the U.S. federal government announced on August 13, 2020, it had shipped 1,846 rapid point-of-care testing devices to more than 950 nursing homes across the country.
Aug 14, 2020 • 3:04 am CDT
I'll Take a Hot Dog, Cold Beer, and Coronavirus Test While Watching the Astros
On your next visit to the Houston Minute Maid Park, baseball fans can easily schedule a free coronavirus test. The Houston Astros and Texas Division of Emergency Management have teamed up to offer 2,000 free COVID-19 tests per day, seven days a week. These COVID-19 tests are mouth swab tests that do not require assistance.
"The State of Texas continues to work diligently to increase access to testing in communities that need it most," stated Governor Greg Abbott. "We are proud to partner with the Houston Astros to provide more testing in the city of Houston."
To book an appointment and learn more, click here.
Aug 13, 2020 • 3:40 pm CDT
Oregonians Remain At Risk for Coronavirus
Data published by the U.S. CDC on August 14, 2020, suggest that a substantial number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon have gone undiagnosed --- was approximately 10 times the measured cumulative COVID-19 incidence obtained by nucleic acid testing --- and that a large portion of Oregon’s population remains susceptible to COVID-19 infection.
These findings are similar to those reported in a recent survey in the neighboring state of Idaho.
Aug 13, 2020 • 2:18 pm CDT
Europe Trails the USA's Coronavirus Vaccine Purchases
The European Commission (EC) announced on August 13, 2020, that it has concluded exploratory talks with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to purchase a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being produced by Janssen Pharmaceutical research teams. The EC said it anticipates that once the J&J Ad26.COV2-S preventive vaccine candidate has proven to be safe and effective, the EC would have a contractual framework in place for the initial purchase of 200 million doses on behalf of all Member States, and could further purchase up to an additional 200 million vaccine doses from J&J.
These 400 million vaccine doses trail the U.S. government's aggregated purchase commitments which have reached about 800 million, as of August 12, 2020.
Aug 13, 2020 • 9:27 am CDT
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber Tests Experimental Vaccine
Historic composer Andrew Lloyd Webber announced on Twitter on August 12, 2020, "I am excited that tomorrow (Aug. 13th) I am going to be vaccinated for the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial," he wrote. "I'll do anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely."
Aug 13, 2020 • 9:16 am CDT
South Korea Secures Access to SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine
The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare announced it has signed a letter of intent with Novavax, Inc. and SK bioscience on August 13, 2020, to work toward broad and equitable access in South Korea to the coronavirus vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373.
Aug 13, 2020 • 3:53 am CDT
Latin America Gains Access to COVID-19 Vaccine
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez announced on August 13, 2020, the countries of Argentina and Mexico will produce the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and supply it to most of Latin America, except for Brazil, reported Reuters.
The agreement between AstraZeneca and the biotechnology company mAbxience of the INSUD Group includes a transfer of technology to initially produce 150 million doses of the vaccine, which is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2021.
The AZD1222 vaccine candidate is made from a virus (ChAdOx1), which is a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans. A preliminary report of the phase 1/2 study published on July 20, 2020, showed a single dose of AZD1222 resulted in a 4-fold increase in antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein in 95% of participants one month after injection.
Aug 13, 2020 • 3:07 am CDT
210 Coronavirus Tests Now Authorized by the U.S. FDA
As of August 12, 2020, the U.S. FDA had authorized 210 coronavirus diagnostic tests, which include 173 molecular tests, 37 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests. And, the FDA issued new Emergency Use Authorizations to LumiraDx UK Ltd., for its LumiraDx SARS-CoV-2 RNA STAR, and Biomeme, Inc., for its Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 Real-Time RT-PCR Test.
Aug 13, 2020 • 3:00 am CDT
Consumer Update: Slow the Spread of Coronavirus
The U.S. FDA published an online Consumer Update on August 12, 2020, with some simple steps to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease and protect ourselves and our families. Furthermore, the CDC recommends wearing cloth masks or face coverings – not surgical masks or N95 respirators – when in public settings.
Aug 13, 2020 • 2:54 am CDT
U.S. FDA: There is no evidence coronavirus is transmitted through food
As of August 12, 2020, the U.S. FDA says the food supply is safe and there is no evidence the coronavirus is transmitted through food, food containers, or food packaging.
Aug 12, 2020 • 3:31 pm CDT
LabCorp Offers No-Cost Coronavirus Tests
To expand the number of blood plasma donations, LabCorp announced on August 11, 2020, details of a no-charge antibody testing program. For the next 3-months, LabCorp will perform the high-affinity coronavirus antibody test at no-charge to patients, insurance companies, or the government.
And when patients are receiving other medically necessary blood tests as part of a medically necessary exam or treatment, this program enables providers to add the SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies Test to the same order, at no charge.
The no-charge high-affinity antibody testing program will use the Roche Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 and does not apply to other COVID-19 antibody tests, such as the IgG test. Patients will be able to access their results through the LabCorp Patient™ portal and through their doctor.
Aug 12, 2020 • 2:56 pm CDT
Kaiser's J-Shaped Correlational Identifies Obesity's Relationship With COVID-19 Fatalities
Kaiser Permanente in Southern California reported that there was a J-shaped association between BMI and the risk for COVID-19 disease death from February 13, 2020, to early May 2020, even after adjustment for obesity-related comorbidities.
This study was published on August 12, 2020, and concluded saying 'obesity plays a profound role in risk for death from COVID-19, particularly in male patients and younger populations, and provides actionable insights for early interventions.'
Aug 12, 2020 • 2:43 pm CDT
England Over-Counted Coronavirus Fatalities During 2020
As of August 12, 2020, the United Kingdom's official COVID-19 disease-related fatality calculation has been reduced by more than 5,000 following a review by the Department of Health and Social Care. Previous COVID-19 deaths were included for anyone who had died following a positive SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus test, at any point.
The new daily measure provides a UK-wide count of deaths under a consistent methodology for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that has been endorsed by an external review. The measure will be based on a 28-day limit between the date of a positive lab-confirmed test and date of death.
Deaths that occur more than 28 days after a positive test will not be included in the headline count, stated the UK government.
The latest number of coronavirus tests, cases, and COVID-19 related fatalities in the UK is published on this webpage.
Aug 12, 2020 • 2:29 pm CDT
Houston's Surge Testing Sites To Remain Open
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on August 12, 2020, that the U.S. Department of HHS has extended operations for 4 temporary COVID-19 surge testing sites in Harris County, which includes the city of Houston. These testing sites will remain open through August 29th.
These testing sites are located in Houston, Pasadena, and Kingwood, and began operations on August 10th. Each location is able to process 1,250 tests per day or a total of 60,000 tests across the sites.
"As we address surges in COVID-19 cases across the state of Texas, increasing testing is essential to detecting and mitigating the spread of this virus," said Governor Abbott on August 7th. "I thank Secretary Azar, Admiral Giroir, and all of our partners at HHS for providing our communities with the additional resources they need to combat COVID-19."
As of August 12, 2020, Harris County has reported about 1,600 COVID-19 disease-related fatalities, which, based on the 4 million residents, indicates a case fatality rate of less than 1% during 2020.
Aug 12, 2020 • 1:11 pm CDT
Veklury (remdesivir) Submitted New Drug Application to the U.S. FDA
Gilead Sciences announced on August 10, 2020, that it has submitted a New Drug Application to the U.S. FDA for Veklury (remdesivir), an investigational antiviral for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Veklury has been approved by multiple regulatory authorities around the world, including in the European Union and Japan.
Aug 12, 2020 • 10:29 am CDT
LeBron's Guests Welcome in the Orlando Bubble
The NBA announced it will be expanding the 'Bubble' around the players living in Orlando, Florida, on August 12, 2020. The NBA is now authorizing 4 guests per player, plus children.
This opportunity to bring guests into the Bubble located at Walt Disney World will be only for NBA teams advancing to the 2nd round of the playoffs, and the earliest any guest could satisfy quarantine rules and be reunited with a player is August 31, 2020, reported the AP.
“I miss the hell out of my family,” Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said last week. “My wife, my kids, my mother, and so on, and so on. So, it’s a huge challenge.”
Aug 12, 2020 • 8:14 am CDT
Nursing Home Residents Receiving Dialysis Need Better COVID-19 Protection
An August 11, 2020, report by the U.S. CDC highlights how nursing homes have been among the hardest-hit care facilities during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2020. This CDC report, based on an outbreak at a Maryland facility, investigators found that around 20% of residents tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. And, 72% were asymptomatic at the time of testing.
This nursing home identified a significantly higher prevalence of coronavirus infection among residents receiving dialysis (47%), which indicates nursing home residents who undergo dialysis are a particularly vulnerable population.
Nursing Home fatality data can be found using this CDC Search map, which identifies the states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania as reporting about 38% of all COVID-19 disease-related fatalities during 2020.
Aug 12, 2020 • 7:50 am CDT
'Karen' Caused Connecticut Co-Worker $2,000 Travel Violation Fine
The State of Connecticut issued $2,000 fines on August 10, 2020, for violations of the new requirements for travelers returning from COVID-19 disease hotspot states. The travel advisory violators both refused to fill out the travel advisory questionnaire, resulting in $1,000 fine each. One of those travelers did not quarantine, resulting in a second $1,000 fine for that person.
According to the State, no COVID-19 cases have been linked to these out-of-state travelers.
The violations were issued as the result of tips - from a co-worker - sent to the Department of Public Health that resulted in an investigation, Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said, report the CT Post. Geballe said there are additional investigations currently underway concerning possible violators, reported the AP.
Aug 12, 2020 • 3:21 am CDT
Reused N95 Masks Found Very Protective
Researchers recently tested fitted filtration efficiencies (FFEs) of 29 different fitted face mask alternatives for virus particle penetration, worn when performing a series of repeated movements to recreate typical occupational activities of healthcare teams. On August 11, 2020, JAMA published these results which concluded saying 'N95 masks that are past their expiration date or have been used and resterilized, can be acceptable alternatives to a standard, new single-use N95 masks.'
Which is good news, from a cost perspective.
However, the most effective face mask achieved only 79.7% FFE in this study.
Aug 12, 2020 • 3:05 am CDT
California's San Quentin State Prison Reports Increasing COVID-19 Fatalities
The situation unfolding at San Quentin State Prison over the last 2-months has become the latest of several cautionary tales that show how any effort to achieve coronavirus 'herd immunity' before a vaccine becomes available would come with enormous costs in terms of illness, reported the LA Times on August 11, 2020. There had been more than 2,200 SARS-CoV-2 cases and 25 COVID-19 disease-related fatalities, among the San Quentin population of more than 3,260 people during 2020.
This new LA Times data indicates a virus fatality rate of about 1% at this northern-San Francisco based prison.
Aug 12, 2020 • 2:40 am CDT
FDA Issues Additional Coronavirus Test Authorizations
As of August 11, 2020, the U.S. FDA had authorized 210 coronavirus diagnostic tests, which include 171 molecular tests, 37 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests. The new Emergency Use Authorizations were issued to Solaris Diagnostics, for its molecular Solaris Multiplex SARS-CoV-2 Assay, and, Alpha Genomix Laboratories, for its molecular Alpha Genomix TaqPath SARS-CoV-2 Combo Assay.
Aug 11, 2020 • 5:19 pm CDT
Coronavirus Prevention Phase 3 Study Seeks Healthy Adults
The U.S. NIAID announced on August 10, 2020, two Phase 3, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials testing whether experimental monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) can prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are now enrolling healthy adults at clinical trial sites in the USA. Many of the trial sites are part of the recently launched COVID-19 Prevention Network.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made versions of proteins naturally produced by the immune system in response to invading viruses or other pathogens. Neutralizing antibodies, whether natural or monoclonal, can bind directly to portions of viruses that they use to attach to and enter cells, preventing them from initiating the infection cycle. Monoclonal antibodies may provide short-term protection from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Aug 11, 2020 • 3:42 pm CDT
Sputnik V Vaccine Launches Against Coronavirus
Announced by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on August 11, 2020, the Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” has been launched becoming the world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine and evoking memories of the 1957 launch of a Soviet satellite, which opened space to exploration by humans.
Based on an innovative technological platform of adenovirus-based vectors, which make it easier and faster to create new vaccines by modifying the initial carrier vector with genetic material from new emerging viruses. Such vaccines provoke a strong response from a human body in order to build immunity while the overall process of vector modification and pilot-scale manufacturing takes only a few months.
Since the start of the COVID-19 disease pandemic in late 2019, Russian vaccine researchers decided to use this already proven technology instead of going into uncharted territory, said the RDIF.
Aug 11, 2020 • 3:28 pm CDT
COVID-19 Disease Defeats The Big Ten in 2020
The Big Ten Conference announced on August 11, 2020, the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision includes all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments.
“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty, and staff,” commented Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.
Aug 11, 2020 • 11:38 am CDT
Will Children Carry Coronavirus to Kindergarten?
Research published on July 30, 2020, suggests that children can carry at least as much of the SARS-CoV2- coronavirus in their noses and throats as adults do, even if they have only mild or moderate symptoms. This study prompted fears that students may spread the virus when attending class this fall.
However, a large study from South Korea published by the U.S. CDC for an October 2020 report, offers an answer: Children younger than 10 years old transmit much less of this virus than adults do. But the risk of transmission is not zero.
These researchers found the highest COVID-19 infection rate (18.6%) for household contacts of school-aged children... and the lowest (5.3%) for household contacts of children 0–9 years.
Aug 11, 2020 • 11:25 am CDT
MIT Professor Calculated Very, Very Low Coronavirus Risk While Flying
If you decide to fly, the odds that you will pick up the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease are very low, according to a non-peer-reviewed study published on August 2, 2020. Professor Arnold Barnett, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) approximated the probability that an airline traveler in coach will contract COVID-19 on a US domestic flight that is 2-hours long, are 1 in 4,300 for full flights, and 1 in 7,700, when middle seats are kept empty.
Aug 11, 2020 • 9:25 am CDT
California Testing Llama Nanobodies Against COVID-19
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) say they have synthesized a molecule inspired by llama antibodies called nanobodies for potential COVID-19 disease treatment. The UCSF team hasn’t published research yet, so this science has not been peer-reviewed, reported BioSpace on August 11, 2020.
These antibodies are approximately 25% of the size of human antibodies and from other animals, stated the U.S. NIH, on May 19, 2020. In addition, nanobodies are extremely stable, which means they can be turned into a dry powder and aerosolized, which would make them much easier to administer than the human monoclonal antibodies.
Aug 11, 2020 • 5:26 am CDT
President Putin's Daughter Tested COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
The Russia Federation's President Vladimir Putin reported on August 11, 2020, the registration in Russia of the first vaccine against the coronavirus infection. "As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered," the president said in a TASS article.
President Putin also stated that 'one of his daughters had tested the Russian COVID-19 vaccine on herself and that she is feeling well.'
Putin further noted that after the first vaccine shot, his daughter had a 38°C fever, and on the next day, a fever slightly higher than 37°C. 'And then, after the 2nd shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high [antibody] count.'
The Russian COVID-19 vaccine candidate Gam-COVID-Vac, is an adenoviral-based vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology. Gam-COVID-Vac uses a weakened virus to deliver small parts of a pathogen and stimulate an immune response. And, is a vector vaccine based on adenovirus DNA, in which the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus gene is integrated.
Recently, the clinical trials of the Gam-COVID-Vac vaccine were declared 'over' by the Russian Healthcare Ministry.
Aug 11, 2020 • 4:56 am CDT
After 102 Days, New Zealand Confirms Locally-Transmitted Coronavirus Case
On August 11, 2020, New Zealand's Ministry of Health reported 1 new case of COVID-19 disease in a man in his 20s. He has been in managed isolation at the Grand Millennium and tested negative for COVID-19 around day 3 of his stay. He has tested positive around day 12 of his stay and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
It has been 102 days since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired-locally from an unknown source in New Zealand.
Aug 11, 2020 • 4:39 am CDT
Study: 5 Predictive Humoral Immune Response Markers in COVID-19
A study published online in Immunity on August 6, 2020, identifies 5 immune response markers which, collectively, were able to correctly classify both convalescent COVID-19 patients and those who did not survive the disease.
The study was led by Ragon Group Leader Galit Alter, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Helen Chu, M.D., University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Alter’s team used her systems serology technique, an approach that relies on 60+ assays to create a detailed profile of the immune response, to compare the immune responses of those who had survived to those who had not.
“By looking at the overall profile of the immune response, we can begin to truly understand how the immune system responds to COVID-19 and then use that knowledge to prevent the worst outcomes of this disease,” said Dr. Alter, in an August 7th press statement.
Aug 11, 2020 • 4:08 am CDT
Ethiopia Receives 250 Ventilators From the USA
The U.S. government announced the donation of 250 state-of-the-art ventilators and other critical care equipment to assist the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia with its response to the COVID-19 disease pandemic on August 4, 2020.
“This donation is a critical addition to the billions of dollars in resources and expertise that the American people have invested in Ethiopia’s health system in recent years," said U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor at the handover event.
Aug 10, 2020 • 8:36 pm CDT
Could Dedicated COVID-19 Clinics Flatten the Curve
A study published by PLOS on August 6, 2020, concludes that opening clinics dedicated specifically to treating influenza can limit the number of people infected with the incoming flu virus from the Southern Hemisphere and reduce the peak prevalence rate.
While this study focused on influenza, the findings are relevant for policymakers seeking to “flatten the curve" of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID-19 is more infectious than H1N1 and has a higher mortality rate. So I would expect the positive effect of using 'dedicated clinics' to be larger for COVID-19." said these researchers.
Aug 10, 2020 • 7:45 pm CDT
College Co-Eds Conduct Coronavirus Tests in College Dorms
Elon University is requiring that all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus in the Fall 2000 semester get tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, encouraging students to use an online service that enables individuals to test themselves at home or dorm rooms with a non-invasive nasal swab test. When the sample is collected, it is shipped directly to the laboratory via FedEx, with the test results securely accessed online.
On August 5, 2020, North Carolina based Elon clarified that this test is a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test, which allows the coronavirus testing of individuals even without symptoms.
Aug 10, 2020 • 3:15 pm CDT
Wearing Neck Fleece or Bandanas Offer Reduced Virus Protection
A study published on August 7, 2020, demonstrated a simple optical method to evaluate the efficacy of masks to reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets during a regular conversation. In proof-of-principle studies, these researchers found neck fleece or bandanas, offer very little virus protection.
A further area of interest is the comparison of mask performance between solid particles and droplets, motivated by the observed liquid droplet breakup in the neck fleece and mask saturation by droplets.
Aug 10, 2020 • 9:09 am CDT
Bikers To Be Blocked At Cheyenne River Reservation
Thousands of bikers attending the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will not be allowed through Cheyenne River Sioux checkpoints, a spokesman for the Native American group told The Guardian on August 9, 2020. The tribe’s checkpoint rules say 'non-residents driving non-commercial out-of-state vehicles are never allowed through the reservation.
But they say non-residents in non-commercial South Dakota vehicles are allowed through .... as long as they are not coming from a SARS-CoV-2 virus 'hot-spot'.
As of August 7th, residents were informed they may travel at their own risk and are recommended to quarantine for 10-days upon returning to the Reservation from a hot-spot. Non-residents traveling for non-essential reasons coming from a hot-spot ... will be turned around.
At the end of the day on August 9, 2020, there were 15 active cases of COVID-19 disease on the Cheyenne River Reservation.
Aug 10, 2020 • 8:39 am CDT
Oral COVID-19 Vaccine Application Filed With the U.S. FDA
Vaxart announced on August 10, 2020, that its oral COVID-19 vaccine Investigational New Drug application has been filed with the U.S. FDA. Andrei Floroiu, chief executive officer of Vaxart, said in a press statement: “We expect our upcoming Phase I study to generate data that will further differentiate our oral vaccine from injectable vaccines by substantiating the importance of activating both systemic and mucosal immunity in protecting against COVID-19 disease.
Aug 10, 2020 • 7:15 am CDT
Paris Announces 135 Euro Fines For Mask-Less Adults
The wearing of a face mask in Paris transitioned from being fashionable to compulsory for those over 11 years of age on all public transport on August 10, 2020. And anyone failing to comply with this new mandate is subject to a fine of 135 euros. The new policy is in response to coronavirus infections in France surpassing those reported in May 2020.
This new rule applies to densely crowded city zones such as tourist spots said the Paris mayor’s office in a statement. See this map of Paris for details.
According to ParisInfo.com, most restaurants, cafes, night clubs, and sports facilities remain closed for an indefinite period. Even the French Riveria's Saint-Tropez resort is requiring masks to be worn outdoors, reported EuroNews.
Aug 10, 2020 • 6:40 am CDT
Dr. Francis Collins Shares His Vaccine-Hesitancy Concerns
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 16th leader of the National Institutes of Health, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., finds hope in his evangelical beliefs and the altruism of medical researchers. Dr. Collins spoke to the Wall Street Journal on August 7, 2020, about his concerns over vaccine hesitancy and health disparities spotlighted by the COVID-19 disease pandemic.
Aug 10, 2020 • 6:30 am CDT
NIH Study: Monoclonal Antibodies May Reduce Coronavirus Spreading in the Body
Eli Lilly, in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, announced on August 5, 2020, they're testing a lab-engineered treatment called 'monoclonal antibodies' to reduce the new coronavirus from spreading in the body. This is a Phase 3 clinical trial studying LY-CoV555.
"Monoclonal antibodies stick right to the part of this spike protein that represents the part that binds to the human cell and lets the virus get inside. So you cover that up and the virus has nowhere to go," said the NIH's 16th director, Dr. Francis S. Collins.
'In contrast to the convalescent plasma taken from survivors' blood, monoclonal antibodies can be manufactured in large amounts in a lab.'
Aug 10, 2020 • 6:16 am CDT
Canada's Coronavirus-Positive Rate Drops to 1%
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement on August 9, 2020: 'Over the past week, an average of 48,360 people were tested daily, with 1% testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19 disease in people.
Aug 10, 2020 • 12:42 am CDT
How Long is the Coronavirus Infection Incubation Period?
While the common wisdom among health authorities is that the average incubation period is about 5-days, rising to a maximum of about 2-weeks, researchers from the Chinese CDC, the U.S. NIAID, and Peking University, say the mean value could be higher, reported the SCMP on August 9, 2020. The incubation period of an infectious disease is the time elapsed between virus infection and the appearance of symptoms.
This study found the mean incubation time was 8.29 days, while the median value was 7.76 days. Compared with previous research, the incubation period estimated in our study is significantly longer, stated these researchers.
This data may influence the duration of mandatory quarantine time frames.
Aug 10, 2020 • 12:21 am CDT
United Arab Emirates Successfully Enrolled 5,000 Clinical Trial Participants
A leading Phase III clinical trial of the New Crown COVID-19 inactivated vaccine being held in the United Arab Emirates has reached a major milestone with over 5,000 volunteers who have received their 1st vaccination, as of August 6, 2020.
This large study follows previous trials conducted by Sinopharm in China, which is reported to have resulted in 100% of the volunteers generating antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, after 2-doses in 28 days.
In the USA, there are numerous vaccine clinical studies seeking participates, such as this NIH study.
Aug 9, 2020 • 7:05 pm CDT
Georgia High School to 'Zoom' Again
A letter obtained by NBC News on August 9, 2020, reveils Georgia's Paulding County School District Superintendent Brian Otott informed the parents of North Paulding High School's 2,000 students, they will use a “digital learning” model while the school undergoes deep cleaning after 9 students tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The letter also reiterates that school district guidelines require any students or staff who are confirmed with COVID-19, along with any who were in close contact with them, must be quarantined for at least 14-days.
In addition to the 9 known cases - 3 staff members and 6 additional students - are pending virus test results.
Aug 9, 2020 • 2:22 pm CDT
Coronavirus Antibodies Found in NYC's Hospital Staff
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck New York City (NYC), it became the USA's epicenter and healthcare personnel (HCP) working in NYC had a high exposure risk to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One leading health system, Northwell, has treated about 55,000 virus patients. The good news is a new study published in JAMA on August 6, 2020, found a 13.7% prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the Northwell / HCP cohort.
A previous study in the Mount Sinai Health System found 36% of HCWs had IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, reflecting the high exposure of inpatient and ambulatory frontline staff.
'While we continue to recommend standard protective precautions for everyone, HCWs with SARS-CoV-2 IgG may become our safest frontline providers as we learn if IgG antibodies confer immunity to protect against reinfection.
Knowing IgG antibody status may ease concerns regarding personal risk as this pandemic continues,' commented these researchers on June 3, 2020.
Aug 9, 2020 • 1:19 pm CDT
How Does Our Immune System React to this Coronavirus?
The human immune system’s response to COVID-19 disease is one of the biggest questions of the 2020 pandemic. Understanding it is key to bringing an end to the global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The problem is that the human immune system is wildly complicated, and this new betacoronavirus seems to interact with it in some unusual ways, stated an insightful article published in The Atlantic on August 5, 2020.
Aug 9, 2020 • 12:57 pm CDT
India Picks Speed Over Coronavirus Testing Accuracy
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently committed to increase SARS-CoV-2 testing to 1-million per day to tackle an ongoing COVID-19 disease outbreak. Beginning August 1st, about 500,000 tests were being delivered each day across India, according to the international comparison site, Our World in Data.
To meet PM Modi's goal, the BBC reported on August 8, 2020, Indian authorities have been switching over to a quicker method called a 'rapid antigen test', which can give a result in about 20 minutes. But, these tests are less reliable, with an accuracy rate in some cases as low as 50%.
Dr. Anupam Singh, a public health expert in India, says 'there are some advantages to the rapid tests: "It allows a faster detection process and means you can quickly detect highly infectious individuals with a high viral load who might be so-called super-spreaders.'
But, he also has concerns about this strategy, which can potentially miss many infections.
Aug 9, 2020 • 7:53 am CDT
Study: SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load Can Predict COVID-19 Disease Mortality
A study published in The Lancet on August 6, 2020, shows an independent relationship between high viral load of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and mortality. These researchers say 'transforming qualitative testing into a quantitative measurement of a viral load will assist clinicians in risk-stratifying patients and choosing among available therapies and trials.'
Furthermore, 'viral load might also affect quarantine - isolation tactics on the basis of infectivity risk.'
Aug 9, 2020 • 7:39 am CDT
Restaurants Should Eliminate Virus-Spreading Towels
As restaurants reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, they may be missing one virus-spreading tool to eliminate. Many restaurant workers often use sponges and towels to clean food contact surfaces, but these types of absorbent materials were found to harbor potentially pathogenic organisms for more than 2-weeks, researchers said on August 6, 2020.
“The hypothesis of our study was that cleaning tools may become contaminated with bacterial pathogens and cross-contaminate other surfaces,” Sujata A. Sirsat, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston, located in Texas, told Healio.
These Houston researchers found that E. coli, Salmonella, and S. aureus survived for up to 16 days on the sponges and up to 13 days on microfiber towels that were washed with sterile water.
Aug 9, 2020 • 6:40 am CDT
Serena Confronts NYC's Coronavirus and the 'Court'
After the coronavirus pandemic paused the women's tennis tour during March 2020, Serena Williams is returning to the competition in Lexington, Kentucky on August 10, 2020. However, Serena is really revving up for the U.S. Open, which is scheduled to start in combative New York City (NYC).
With several women tennis players announcing they will skip the U.S. Open out of concerns over NYC's mandatory 2-week quarantine, and catching the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus while visiting NYC, the USA's epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic with 23,575 related fatalities, Serena's attendance is an emotional game-changer.
At 38 years of age, and after winning 24 major tournament titles, Serena has her eyes focused on equalling the all-time tennis champion, Margaret Court, who holds 24 Grand Slam singles titles and 21 in mixed doubles, which are records for both genders.
With the clocking ticking away, and as the new generation of tennis players rise, winning the U.S. Open on September 13, 2020, would be a tremendous milestone.
But, perhaps Serena's finest achievement in life is her daughter Olympia, who has a keen interest in another sport. With a hearty laugh, Serena commented to SI on July 25th: "Our daughter loves soccer - I hate to say it! Every time she starts kicking a ball, I get this jealous look in my eyes and I give her a tennis racquet."
Aug 9, 2020 • 5:54 am CDT
COVID-19 Vaccine Development Race: Challenges and Opportunities
In the race to produce safe and effective vaccines against the SARS betacoronavirus disease that is causing COVID-19 disease, pharmaceutical formulation science is playing a critical role throughout the development phases, said researchers in a new study published on August 5, 2020.
This study offers a review of the vaccine candidates currently being tested in clinical trials and provided in-depth insight into the various types of vaccines, their compositions, advantages, and potential limitations.
Aug 9, 2020 • 5:45 am CDT
Yale's Experimental Test Empowering the NBA's Coronavirus Bubble
To determine if the innovative and inexpensive SalivaDirect test can accurately detect asymptomatic cases, the Yale School of Public Health team partnered with the National Basketball Association (NBA) as they hope to finish their disrupted season while ensuring the health of players and staff. This partnership is enabling the Surveillance with Improved Screening and Health (SWISH) study by testing samples collected from NBA players and staff using a standard nasal/oral test for SARS-CoV-2 and SalivaDirect.
On August 4, 2020, the Yale researchers published the SWISH study's initial results, which found 'when comparing paired nasopharyngeal swabs and saliva specimens using the authorized ThermoFisher Scientific TaqPath COVID-19 combo kit and our SalivaDirect protocol, we found high-agreement in testing outcomes (>94%).'
To meet an ever-expanding coronavirus testing need, the U.S. FDA has authorized 207 coronavirus diagnostic tests, which include 168 molecular tests, 37 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests, as of August 7, 2020. Several of these tests can be ordered online at UltaLabs.
Aug 8, 2020 • 7:05 pm CDT
Charles Barkley Says 'Coronavirus Time-Out Is Good for Golden State'
Charles Barkley said on August 7, 2020, he thinks Golden State will have a leg up on its competitors in 2020-21, mostly because the Warriors aren't participating in the restarted NBA season, reported NBCSports. And most importantly, the Warriors star players have avoided the NBA's SARS-CoV-2 bubble in Orland, and no Golden State players have been diagnosed with COVID-19 disease.
"I think they're gonna have a huge advantage next season because they're gonna get rest and get Klay (Thompson) and Steph (Curry) back," Barkley said.
Aug 8, 2020 • 6:25 pm CDT
Over 200 Coronavirus Tests Now Authorized
As of August 7, 2020, the U.S. FDA had authorized 207 coronavirus diagnostic tests, which include 168 molecular tests, 37 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests.
COVID-19 Antibody (IgG), Immunoassay tests are sponsored by UltaLabs.
Aug 8, 2020 • 10:28 am CDT
Fatalities Continue to Decline in the USA
As of August 5, 2020, the U.S. CDC reported 235,992 fatalities involving 'COVID-19, Pneumonia, and Influenza', which have been declining most weeks since April 18, 2020.
This data indicates a .1% fatality rate, based on about 237 million residents in the USA.
Aug 8, 2020 • 9:47 am CDT
Should Coronavirus Vaccines Launch Human Challenge Trials?
About 32,665 people have already volunteered to participate in 'human challenge clinical trials' for COVID-19 vaccine candidates. This process involves intentionally exposing people to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in an attempt to accelerate vaccine development. This process has been previously used for influenza, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, and cholera vaccine development.
On July 15, 2020, a new company, 1Day Sooner, published an open-letter addressed to Dr. Francis Collins, with the National Institutes of Health, which highlighted this innovative approach.
Currently, no coronavirus vaccine trials are using this process.
Aug 8, 2020 • 8:59 am CDT
California's Gov. Newsom Ordered Full Investigation Into 250,000 Missing Health Records
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced on August 7, 2020, 'there are over 250,000 unprocessed health records in California, and many of them contain COVID-19 test results.'
Californian Health Department believes the COVID-19 trends reported by Governor Gavin Newsom over the past few weeks ... remain consistent. Newsom has ordered a full investigation of the issue, Dr. Ghaly stated on Youtube.
Aug 8, 2020 • 8:46 am CDT
Sweden's Anders Tegnell Says 'Open Schools'
Over the past 6-weeks, Sweden's health officials are seeing if its light-touch approach to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic is working. Furthermore, Sweden's chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, told Fortune on August 5, 2020, 'school kids are low-risk virus vectors who ought to be in classrooms, not at home distance-learning.
“Keeping schools open is quite possible to do without having any negative effects."
Aug 8, 2020 • 7:40 am CDT
Travel Recommendations by Country
On August 7, 2020, the U.S. CDC published a color-coded 'map' that highlights which country travelers should avoid during the COVID-19 disease pandemic.
Aug 7, 2020 • 12:32 pm CDT
4th US Military Fatality Report During COVID-19 Pandemic
A 4th US service member fatality related to COVID-19 disease was reported by the Department of Defense, as of August 7, 2020. This new fatality is the first reported since May. The other 2 military deaths were a National Guard member from Pennsylvania and a sailor who was aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt reported Stripes.
Recently, the U.S. DoD announced an agreement with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, to demonstrate large-scale manufacturing and delivery of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2-S. Under the terms of the agreement, the federal government will own the resulting 100 million doses of vaccine.
Aug 7, 2020 • 9:33 am CDT
DeWine Celebrates 2nd Test Result
Late on August 6, 2020, Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced on Twitter that his initial coronavirus test result, which was positive, was been superseded by a 2nd test, which produced a negative result. Which means, the governor is not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
As of August 6th, the national average for positive tests in the USA during 2020 is 9%, reports the CDC.
However, a recent Washington Post article concluded 'The faster test gives a result within 24 hours. It had a very low false-positive rate, but a 20% false-negative rate, meaning that if the result was positive, a person almost certainly had COVID-19. But if the result came back negative, a person still had a 20% chance of having the disease.
'Some would say that antigen tests just aren’t accurate enough. But the alternative is people not being tested at all. Catching 80% of asymptomatic cases is a lot better than catching zero,' concluded the Washington Post.
Aug 7, 2020 • 5:38 am CDT
England's 2nd Coronavirus Wave May Arrive in December 2020
England’s contact-tracing system should immediately improve to avoid a 2nd COVID-19 disease wave when schools reopen in September 2020, concluded a study published in The Lancet on August 3, 2020.
Assuming 68% of contacts could be traced, we estimate that 75% of individuals with symptomatic infection would need to be tested and positive cases isolated if schools return full-time in September, or 65% if a part-time rota system were used. If only 40% of contacts could be traced, these figures would increase to 87% and 75%, respectively.
However, without these levels of testing and contact tracing, reopening of schools together with the gradual relaxing of the lockdown measures are likely to induce a second wave that would peak in December 2020.
Aug 7, 2020 • 5:17 am CDT
COVID-19 Found in Hotel Rooms
A new study posted in a September 2020 early release by the U.S. CDC found that people infected with the coronavirus shed it on pillowcases, duvet covers, sheets, and light switches, as well as on the bathroom door and faucet handles. The researchers detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA on 8 (36%) of 22 surfaces.
However, no clear evidence of infection caused by contact with the contaminated environment was found.
The detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in these surfaces highlights the importance of proper handling procedures when changing or laundering used linens of SARS-CoV-2 patients. Thus, to minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, we recommend that used linens not be shaken upon removal and that laundered items be thoroughly cleaned and dried to prevent additional spread, suggested these researchers.
Aug 6, 2020 • 7:22 pm CDT
Pediatrics Study: Infants with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Generally Have Mild Presentations
A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on August 1, 2020, observed 7 febrile infants aged ≤60 days with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, none had severe outcomes. Our result, although based on small numbers, suggests that infants with SARS-CoV-2 generally have mild presentations, similar to typical viral illness with other coronaviruses.
Furthermore, no infant had severe outcomes, including the need for mechanical ventilation or ICU level of care. Two infants had concurrent urinary tract infections, which were treated with antibiotics.
Aug 6, 2020 • 3:49 pm CDT
US Governor Tested Positive For COVID-19 Disease
On August 6, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Twitter he has tested positive for COVID-19 disease and is not displaying symptoms, at this time
Aug 6, 2020 • 3:38 pm CDT
Traveling to Europe... Check This Website First
Information for Travelers Going to Europe:
If you are planning to visit or travel through Europe, the US Department of State is urging Americans to check this website of the relevant U.S. embassies or consulates for information on restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by relevant authorities.
The State Department said on August 6, 2020, 'some European countries currently prohibit entry by tourists and other non-essential travelers. We recommend that you visit the websites of those countries' embassies in the United States for additional information including entry/exit restrictions and permissible categories of travel.'
And when returning to the USA from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the European Schengen area, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are required to travel through select U.S. airports with enhanced screening procedures. FAQs on travel are available on this website.
Aug 6, 2020 • 2:31 pm CDT
China Coronavirus Vaccine Producer May Produce 200 Million Doses in 2021
Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products announced on August 6, 2020, it may produce up to 200 million doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus prevention vaccine candidate AZD1222, in mainland China, by the end of 2021, reported Reuters.
Aug 6, 2020 • 9:33 am CDT
'Buy American" Rules May Impact COVID-19 Vaccine Purchases
The US President is expected to sign an executive order requiring the federal government to purchase certain drugs from U.S. manufacturers, rather than from overseas companies, reported USAToday on August 6, 2020.
Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy said the pending executive order "establishes 'Buy American' rules for our government agencies, strips away regulatory barriers to domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing."
This order may impact coronavirus vaccine purchase decisions in the USA.
Aug 6, 2020 • 9:19 am CDT
Hot-Air Hand Dryers Spread Infectious Bacteria
A previous study reported in 2018 found evidence that bathroom hand dryers can disperse bacteria from hands or deposit bacteria on surfaces, including recently washed hands, and, within buildings, bacteria may travel between rooms. While COVID-19 disease is spread by a coronavirus, this risk hand dryer risk is applicable today.
Peter Setlow, a biochemist at the University of Connecticut, told Tom Bartlett with Wired, 'Sorry, hand-dryer industry, my personal opinion is that they shouldn’t be used.'
Aug 6, 2020 • 8:54 am CDT
FDA Approved 166 Molecular Tests For Coronavirus Detection
As of August 5, 2020, the U.S. FDA has authorized 203 coronavirus diagnostic tests under EUAs, which include 166 molecular tests, 35 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests.
Aug 6, 2020 • 5:38 am CDT
Is Your Face-Mask Working?
Which cloth face masks work best in reducing aerosol transmission of the coronavirus when speaking, coughing, and sneezing? According to a limited case study published by MedpageToday on August 5, 2020, compared with wearing no mask at all ... the efficacy was highest for a 3-layer surgical mask, followed by a 2-layer cloth mask, and a 1-layer cloth mask.
Aug 6, 2020 • 5:22 am CDT
Insureance Company Returns $101 Million
On August 5, 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced that it will return $101 million in premium refunds and anticipated rebates to its customers and members as a result of ... lower than anticipated health care costs ... during the COVID-19 disease pandemic.
The new refunds are in addition to the $116 million Blue Cross previously invested to support its members, customers, clinical partners, and the community throughout the pandemic, bringing the company's COVID-related financial commitments to more than $217 million.
Aug 5, 2020 • 7:44 pm CDT
Police Checkpoints Launch to Enforce NYC Coronavirus Quarantine Orders
New York City (NYC) Mayor de Blasio announced on August 5, 2020, the Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, will operate traveler registration checkpoints at major bridge and tunnel crossings beginning August 6th.
Travelers to NYC who have visited 35 designated states or territories with high COVID-19 disease transmission rates are required to complete the Department of Health traveler form. Individuals who refuse to fill out the travel form are subject to a $2,000 fine.
Furthermore, visitors who fail to quarantine for a period of 14-days upon entering NYC are subject to a $10,000 fine.
Aug 5, 2020 • 5:58 pm CDT
Can Melbourne Learn From New South Wales Schools?
Schools in the Australian state of New South Wales successfully mitigated their COVID-19 disease risks during the initial 'wave' of coronavirus infections, reported a new study published in The Lancet on August 3, 2020. These researchers found children and teachers did not contribute significantly to SARS-CoV-2 transmission via attendance in educational settings.
This lessons-learned by be needed in the southern city of Melbourne.
Under the newly imposed "stage 4" restrictions, Melbourne's millions of residents are now under very strict 'lockdown measures, which includes access to school.
Aug 5, 2020 • 3:50 pm CDT
Cruise Ships Delayed Until Halloween
Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, and other cruise lines announced they will not offer voyages out of US ports until at least October 31, 2020. The Cruise Lines International Association published this statement on August 5, 2020.
Previously, the Norwegian shipping company Hurtigruten announced on August 3, 2020, it has halted all expedition cruises and conceded it failed to follow its own disease-prevention guidelines.
And, the U.S. CDC continues to recommend that everyone avoid all non-essential international travel because of the COVID-19 disease pandemic.
Aug 5, 2020 • 11:52 am CDT
J&J Charges $10 Per Coronavirus Vaccine Dose
Johnson & Johnson and Janssen announced on August 5, 2020, they would produce 100 million doses of the Ad26.COV2-S vaccine candidate for the U.S. government, for about $1 billion dollars. This pricing indicates an average cost per vaccine dose of $10.
However, these J&J vaccines would be offered to US residents for free, subject to vaccine administration fees.
Aug 5, 2020 • 10:13 am CDT
Texas Warns Doctors Regarding 'COVID-19 Cures'
The Texas Medical Board said on July 31, 2020, 'In the past week there was a widely published claim of a “cure” for COVID-19 disease. As we are all aware the medical community is still learning, researching, and gaining an understanding of the virus. While there are therapies being used to treat COVID-19, there is no definitive cure at this time.'
The Texas Board does not issue endorsements of the use of any specific drugs or treatments for COVID-19, but any treatment decision must be made with full, proper, and accurate disclosure by a physician.
Physicians should refer to laws and Board rules, including those for complementary and alternative medicine (such as Plaquenil / Hydroxychloroquine) when considering potential treatments and medical decisions regarding COVID-19.
Aug 5, 2020 • 9:37 am CDT
Canada Selects Another Coronavirus Vaccine Partner
Pfizer Canada and BioNTech SE announced an agreement with the Government of Canada on August 5, 2020, to supply the BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV2, subject to clinical success and Health Canada approval.
Assuming clinical success, these Companies may seek regulatory review for BNT162b2 as early as October 2020 and, if regulatory authorization or approval is obtained, plan to supply up to 100 million doses worldwide by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
Aug 5, 2020 • 7:56 am CDT
Coronavirus Test Results in Just 30 Minutes ... From Saliva Sample
Sorrento Therapeutics announced on July 29, 2020, it entered into a licensing agreement with Columbia University for the rights to a rapid, one-step diagnostic test that detects SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus... in as little as 30 minutes ... from a sample of saliva.
Unlike other commercially available test diagnostic products, the COVI-TRACE holds all of the testing materials in a single tube and requires no specialized laboratory equipment, making it easily deployable for point of care, on-site, or potentially at-home testing.
A recent study shows the sensitivity and specificity of COVI-TRACE is 97% and 100%, respectively.
Aug 5, 2020 • 5:15 am CDT
Scotland's Vaccine Facility Ready For Inspection
A vaccine manufacturing facility in Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland, is leading the UK's efforts to produce a coronavirus vaccine - VLA2001 - thanks to a multi-million-pound investment by the UK government to secure early access to 60 million doses of Valneva’s promising vaccine candidate.
If Valneva’s VLA2001 vaccine is proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials, the expanded Livingston facility could potentially supply up to 100 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally, announced the UK on August 5, 2020.
Aug 5, 2020 • 4:27 am CDT
COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates: As of August 5, 2020
The U.S. FDA has not approved any preventive vaccines for use against either MERS or SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses. However, there over 300 clinical studies seeking participants to evaluate experimental coronavirus vaccines.
Update vaccine candidate listing as of August 5, 2020.
Aug 5, 2020 • 3:55 am CDT
COVID-19 Disrupts Tuberculosis Vaccinations
Across 106 countries, a survey found disruptions to tuberculosis (TB) service delivery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: 78% of TB programs reported disruption to BCG vaccination services (17% with high or very high disruptions).
The WHO’s latest Global TB Report says that 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018.
Aug 4, 2020 • 3:23 pm CDT
COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdowns Caused Cancer Diagnosis Delays
A new letter published in JAMA on August 4, 2020, indicates a significant decline in newly identified patients with 6 common types of cancer... since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented.
These delays mirror other countries such as the Netherlands, which has seen as much as a 40% decline in cancer incidence, and the UK has experienced a 75% decline in referrals for suspected cancer. These delays in diagnosis will likely lead to presentation at more advanced stages and poorer clinical outcomes said these researchers.
Aug 4, 2020 • 3:10 pm CDT
Columbia Students Take COVID-19 Pledge ... Or Leave Campus
Many new restrictions and regulations are outlined in Columbia University's Community Health Compact to ensure the well-being of all students, faculty, and staff as they return to campus. But before arriving on campus, all students must sign a 'compact to demonstrate their commitment to upholding its regulations.'
Furthermore, those who do not adhere to the new policies ... will be asked to leave campus, according to the University's compact.
Aug 4, 2020 • 2:42 pm CDT
What Causes the Loss of Smell When Infected With COVID-19 Disease?
A study published in Science Advances on July 24, 2020, found that olfactory sensory neurons do not express the gene that encodes the ACE2 receptor protein, which SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter human cells. Instead, ACE2 is expressed in cells that provide metabolic and structural support to olfactory sensory neurons, as well as certain populations of stem cells and blood vessel cells.
The findings suggest that infection of non-neuronal cell types may be responsible for anosmia, the loss of smell, in COVID-19 disease patients.
In a letter published in JAMA on July 16, 2020, the authors do not claim that the opacification of the olfactory clefts is the cause for the patient’s anosmia; rather it is an observation made of a patient who has COVID-19 disease.
Aug 4, 2020 • 12:06 pm CDT
Antibody Treatment Study Launches For Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
A new antibody treatment study in the US National Institutes of Health’s Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) program launched on August 4, 2020.
Patients admitted with COVID-19 disease at select hospitals in the USA may now volunteer to enroll in a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of a potential new treatment for the disease.
This Phase 3 randomized, controlled trial is known as ACTIV-3, and as a “master protocol,” it is designed to expand to test multiple different kinds of monoclonal antibody treatments. It also can enroll additional volunteers in the middle of the trial, if a specific investigational treatment shows promise, says the NIH.
Aug 4, 2020 • 11:38 am CDT
Coronavirus Pandemic Disrupts HPV Vaccinations
In an effort to boost public health and help keep vaccinations on track in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the American Cancer Society announced on August 3, 2020, that it is renewing Mission: HPV Cancer Free, a campaign to eliminate HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancer.
The ongoing COVID-19 disease pandemic has created unprecedented challenges. One outcome from the past few months is dramatic declines in vaccination. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund showed a 71% drop in healthcare visits for 7-17-year-olds.
These are the ages when HPV vaccines are administered.
Aug 4, 2020 • 9:18 am CDT
Over 11,000 Nursing Homes Begin Weekly COVID-19 Testing
On July 22, 2020, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would begin 'requiring, rather than recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5% coronavirus positivity rate or greater, test all nursing home staff each week.” If implemented, 11,640 nursing homes would be required to conduct such weekly testing, which is listed here.
Aug 4, 2020 • 6:59 am CDT
Europe Scrambles to Stop Second COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown
According to VOA video reporting on August 3, 2020, pandemic lockdown measures are being re-imposed in various European nations, which were among the hardest hit by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in March and April, prompting strict measures to control the spread of the disease. Scientists are warning that hard choices lie ahead for many countries.
Aug 3, 2020 • 9:05 pm CDT
Taiwan's Brain Navi Develops Robot That Performs Nasal Swab Tests
Brain Navi Biotechnology Co. announced on July 31, 2020, the developed a new robot to perform nasal swab tests autonomously to prevent cross infections. With the Brain Navi Nasal Swab Robot's assistance, users can test safely around the clock, so as to spare healthcare workers from the high-risk environment when sample collecting.
Aug 3, 2020 • 7:00 pm CDT
198 Coronavirus Tests Authorized in the USA
The U.S. FDA has authorized 198 coronavirus diagnostic tests which include 161 molecular tests, 35 antibody tests, and 2 antigen tests, as of August 3, 2020.
Aug 3, 2020 • 6:32 pm CDT
Melbourne Significantly Tightens Coronavirus Lockdown
The premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, announced on August 2, 2020, an overnight curfew would be implemented across Melbourne — Australia's 2nd largest city — from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. after he declared a state of disaster in the entire state.
Under the newly imposed "stage 4" restrictions, Melbourne 4.9 million residents will be allowed to shop and exercise only within 5 kilometers of their homes. And, just 1 person from each household will be allowed to shop at a time, and only once a day.
Additionally, Andrews announced Stage 3 restrictions will be launched in Regional Victoria late on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
Aug 3, 2020 • 2:00 pm CDT
Pregnant Women Excluded From These Coronavirus Vaccine Studies
The initial two COVID-19 vaccine candidates to enter large-scale U.S. trials will not be tested in pregnant women during 2020, researchers told Reuters on July 31, 2020. Traditionally, U.S. regulators require vaccine producers to conduct safety studies in pregnant animals ... before vaccine candidates are tested in pregnant women ... to ensure they don’t harm the fetus or lead to miscarriage.
Doctors may want to see even more data for completely new vaccine technologies, such as those used by Moderna and Pfizer, compared with known technologies that have already been evaluated in pregnant women, said Reuters.
Aug 3, 2020 • 12:59 pm CDT
Oxford Study: Antibody Test Detects 11% Fewer Coronavirus Cases
A recent Oxford University study of more than 9,000 healthcare workers found significant numbers of people were getting 'negative' antibody test results, despite probably having had the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The results suggest these were around 11% less sensitive than is currently believed, in part, because the tests were developed using samples from symptomatic, often hospitalized patients, reported the Telegraph on August 1, 2020.
Of the people who tested positive for antibodies on one test, 47% reported a loss of their sense of taste or smell. But among those whose test results fell just below the threshold for a positive antibody test result, meaning that they would currently be classed as not having had the virus, 30% also reported a loss of sense of taste or smell.
And, 387 people also tested just below the threshold in terms of antibodies for a positive test, but did not have symptoms. They may have been asymptomatic coronavirus patients, but the researchers could not say with confidence that they had the virus.
Aug 3, 2020 • 8:56 am CDT
Preventive Antibody Launches Phase 3 Study in Nursing Homes
Eli Lilly announced on August 3, 2020, the initiation of BLAZE-2, a Phase 3 trial studying LY-CoV555 for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection in residents and staff at long-term care facilities in the USA. LY-CoV555 is a neutralizing antibody against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
LY-CoV555 is a potent, neutralizing IgG1 monoclonal antibody (mAb) directed against the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus. It is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, thus neutralizing the virus, potentially preventing and treating COVID-19 disease.
Aug 3, 2020 • 8:17 am CDT
Serious COVID-19 Patients Rapidly Recovered With New Treatment
On August 2, 2020, NeuroRx, Inc., and Relief Therapeutics Holdings announced hospitalized patients on ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, with COVID-19 disease and severe medical comorbidities, recovered after 3-days of treatment with RLF-100, which is known as Aviptadi.
Aviptadil is being developed as the first COVID therapeutic to ... block replication of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in human lung cells and monocytes.
Aug 3, 2020 • 7:44 am CDT
Immunity Certificates Not Supported by Scientific Evidence
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced updated travel guidance on July 30, 2020, stating 'travel bans can't stay in place indefinitely.' However, a debate regarding the clinical relevance of immunity passports in the context of COVID-19 disease pandemic.
The WHO's new guidance says the use of 'Immunity certificates are not supported by scientific evidence ... therefore they not recommended by the WHO.'
Aug 3, 2020 • 4:01 am CDT
USA Orders 100 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses for $2.1 Billion
The U.S. government, Sanofi, and GSK announced late on July 31, 2020, funding of up to $2.1 billion for the development and delivery of 100 million doses of a SARS-CoV-2 recombinant protein-based vaccine.
Aug 2, 2020 • 2:12 pm CDT
Cruise Ship Spreads Coronavirus On-Board and On-Shore
Hurtigruten announced on August 2, 2020, that 36 of the crew and 3 of the passengers on the two voyages of its MS Roald Amundsen had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Furthermore, the current outbreak was discovered when the Hurtigruten ship had docked in Tromso, the largest town in northern Norway, on July 29, 2020.
Of 158 staff on board the Roald Amundsen, four who had been isolated due to other symptoms subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and were admitted to hospital in Tromso. Further tests uncovered another 32 infections among employees, and the rest of the staff are now isolated on the ship.
The fact that additional passengers are infected shows that all passengers on both voyages must be in quarantine and should be tested, says department director at the National Institute of Public Health Line Vold, who has notified 69 municipalities to follow up on just under 400 passengers
Aug 2, 2020 • 12:34 pm CDT
BCG Vaccinations Could Have Flattened COVID-19's Curve
A study published by Sciences Advances on July 31, 2020, estimated that very few US residents would likely have died from COVID-19 disease if the USA had instituted various BCG vaccination programs ... several decades ago.