• The Data Speak: Stronger Pandemic Response Yields Better Economic Recovery

    By Peter Dizikes

    With much of the U.S. in shutdown mode to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease, a debate has sprung up about when the country might “reopen” commerce, to limit economic fallout from the pandemic. But as a new study co-authored by an MIT economist shows, taking care of public health first is precisely what generates a stronger economic rebound later. His study of the 1918 flu pandemic shows U.S. cities which responded more aggressively in health terms also had better economic rebounds.

  • Bellerophon Starts INOpulse Treatment in Coronavirus Patients

    Bellerophon Therapeutics has treated the first Covid-19 patient with its INOpulse at the University of Miami School of Medicine in the US.
    This comes after the company received emergency expanded access from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the inhaled nitric oxide system (iNO).
    Clinical Trials Arena reports that NO is a naturally produced molecule that plays a key role in the immune response against pathogens and infections.
    In-vitro studies found that NO blocks the replication of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and improves the survival of infected cells.

  • COVID-19: One in Five over-80s Need Hospitalization and Death Rate 0.66 Percent

    This is one of the conclusions of an analysis of 3,665 cases in mainland China, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Laura Gallagher writes for Imperial College London that it also estimates that the overall death rate, including unconfirmed cases, is 0.66%. The estimated proportion of deaths from both diagnosed cases and from milder, unconfirmed cases is strongly influenced by age. The estimates are slightly lower than others that have been made for the virus, but are still much higher than for previous pandemics such as 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1, which was estimated to be fatal in around 0.02% of cases. The new estimates are based on an analysis of 70,117 laboratory-confirmed and clinically-diagnosed cases in mainland China, combined with 689 positive cases among people evacuated from Wuhan on repatriation flights.

  • Japan's Fujifilm Starts Avigan Trial to Treat Coronavirus

    Japan’s Fujifilm has begun clinical trials to test the effectiveness of its anti-flu drug Avigan in treating patients with the new coronavirus, after reports of promising results in China.
    The Bangkok Times reports that trials in China have suggested Avigan (generic name: favipiravir) could play a role in shortening the recovery time for patients infected with coronavirus.
    The drug will be administered for a maximum of 14 days to coronavirus patients between 20 and 74 years old with mild pneumonia, the spokesman said.
    The study excludes pregnant women due to side effects shown in animal testing, he added.

  • Pluristem Begins Dosing with Covid-19 Therapy in Israel

    Pluristem Therapeutics has started dosing Covid-19 patients in Israel with PLX cells under a compassionate use programme approved by the country’s health ministry.
    Dosing was performed in three patients at two hospitals. Pluristem intends to recruit more coronavirus patients in the coming days.
    Clinical Trials reports that PLX cells are off-the-shelf allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells with immunomodulatory properties that could trigger the immune system’s natural regulatory T-cells and M2 macrophages.
    This mechanism is expected to block the overactivation of the immune system, which leads to complications.
    It is hoped that the approach will potentially decrease the incidence and\or severity of pneumonia and pneumonitis associated with Covid-19 infection.

  • COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Awards $20 Million to Fund Clinical Trials

    The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a global initiative launched in March by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, has announced three grants totaling $20 million in support of efforts to identify repurposed drugs and immunotherapies for COVID-19.

  • Coronavirus: Mercedes F1 to Make Breathing Aid

    University College London engineers worked with clinicians at UCLH and Mercedes Formula One to build the device, which delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are already used in hospitals but are in short supply.
    Fergus Walsh writes for the BBC that China and Italy used the devices to help Covid-19 patients. Forty of the new devices have been delivered to ULCH and to three other London hospitals. If trials go well, up to 1,000 of the CPAP machines can be produced per day by Mercedes-AMG-HPP, beginning in a week’s time.
    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has already given its approval for their use.
    Meanwhile a consortium of U.K. industrial, technology and engineering businesses in the U.K. has come together to produce medical ventilators for the NHS. The “VentilatorChallengeUK” consortium includes Airbus, BAE Systems, Ford, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.

  • A New Way of Developing Vaccines for COVID-19 Could Help the World to Prepare for Future Outbreaks

    Vaccines are one of our greatest tools to protect against infectious diseases and the world waits with bated breath for a vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19). The wait might be much shorter if we can hone new methods of vaccine development. Charlie Weller writes for Wellcome Trust that although it has been just nine weeks since scientists around the world received the genetic code for COVID-19, a phase 1 clinical trial for a vaccine (mRNA-1273)(opens in a new tab) has already begun. This timescale from genomic sequence to clinical trial is unprecedented in vaccine development.
    This vaccine, unlike traditional vaccines, has been developed using ribonucleic acid (RNA) technology. If successful, the cutting-edge method could revolutionize vaccine development for future disease outbreaks. 

  • U.S. Pharmaceutical Giant Says COVID Vaccine Could Be Ready for Emergency Use by Early 2021

    U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson says human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine will begin by September and says the vaccine could be available for emergency use by early next year.  

    The company said Monday that it has jointly committed more than $1 billion to develop and test a vaccine along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It said if human trials of the vaccine are successful, it is prepared to produce more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine. 

  • Pandemic Bonds: The Financial Cure We Need for COVID-19?

    By Dror Etzion, Bernard Forgues, and Emmanuel Kypraios

    Like other financial players that have embraced innovation in recent years, insurers too have developed novel tools and products. One such innovation is catastrophe bonds. A catastrophe bond provides the issuer (usually either an insurer or a reinsurer) with financial protection in case of a major catastrophe. Most catastrophe bonds cover extreme natural events such as hurricanes or earthquakes, but some bonds cover pandemics like the one the world is facing now.

  • Cryptocurrency Laundering Is a National Security Risk

    As U.S. adversaries get more acquainted with blockchain technology, their hostile cyber operations are likely to rely increasingly on cryptocurrency activity. And rogue states are likely to become more innovative in using cryptocurrencies as they try to dampen the impact of U.S. economic sanctions.

  • Understanding the Economic Shock of Coronavirus

    As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, governments have turned to proven public health measures, such as social distancing, to physically disrupt the contagion. Yet, doing so has severed the flow of goods and people, stalled economies, and is in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself.
    Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak , Martin Reeves, and Paul Swartz write in the Harvard Business Review that this didn’t look plausible even a few weeks ago. As the virus began to spread, politicians, policy makers, and markets, informed by the pattern of historical outbreaks, looked on while the early (and thus more effective and less costly) window for social distancing closed. Now, much further along the disease trajectory, the economic costs are much higher, and predicting the path ahead has become nearly impossible, as multiple dimensions of the crisis are unprecedented and unknowable.
    “In this uncharted territory, naming a global recession adds little clarity beyond setting the expectation of negative growth. Pressing questions include the path of the shock and recovery, whether economies will be able to return to their pre-shock output levels and growth rates, and whether there will be any structural legacy from the coronavirus crisis,” they write.

  • Sweden under Fire for “Relaxed” Coronavirus Approach – Here’s the Science Behind It

    By Paul W Franks and Peter M Nilsson

    A growing number of Swedish doctors and scientists are raising alarm over the Swedish government’s approach to COVID-19. Unlike its Nordic neighbors, Sweden has adopted a relatively relaxed strategy, seemingly assuming that overreaction is more harmful than under-reaction. Some support the government’s policy as rational and reasonable, while critics say that Sweden is hurtling toward a disaster of biblical proportions and that the direction of travel must change. The truth is that of all these opinions, none is derived from direct experience of a global pandemic. No one knows for sure what lies ahead.

  • Deal with Ransomware the Way Police Deal with Hostage Situations

    By Scott Shackelford and Megan Wade

    When faced with a ransomware attack, a person or company or government agency finds its digital data encrypted by an unknown person, and then gets a demand for a ransom. The two major ways people have so far responded – pay the ransom of hire a specialist to recover the data — are missing another option that we have identified in our cybersecurity policy studies. Police have a long history of successful crisis and hostage negotiation – experience that offers lessons that could be useful for people and organizations facing ransomware attacks.

  • MyPillow, Other U.S. Companies Making Face Masks to Meet Coronavirus Shortages

    As coronavirus cases start to overwhelm U.S. hospitals, American companies say they’re starting to make face masks and other personal protective equipment critically needed by medical staff.
    Brie Stimson writes in Fox News that in Minnesota, the MyPillow company is refocusing 75 percent of its production to face masks for health care workers.
    “We have capacity to make a lot of things at big rates and we’re going to be going hopefully from 10,000 units a day to 50,000 units a day in a very short period of time,” CEO Mike Lindell told FOX 9 of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
    In New Jersey, Stuart Carlitz, president and CEO of mattress company Eclipse International, said he made the decision to switch production to masks last week after hearing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo say that state had a shortage and was paying high prices for masks.
    “I’m not trying to sell masks,” Carlitz said. “Whether it’s a dollar apiece or four dollars apiece, that’s not going to change my business. I’m going to donate the masks.”
    Other companies, too, have converted their production lines to producing masks, among them: The Tablecloth Company in Paterson, N.J., decided to start making masks after requests from customers, including nursing homes where the virus can easily spread, according to NJ.com.
    Los Angeles-based apron company Hedley &Bennett will also be putting its 30 factory employees to work on face masks, Owner Ellen Bennett told Fast Company magazine.
    Other American fashion brands like Hanes, Los Angeles Apparel and Michael Costello and Karla Colletto Swimwear are also asking their workers to start making masks.
    Michigan-based Ford is assisting General Electric Healthcare with ventilator production, according to Yahoo Finance.