• Which Covid-19 Drugs Work Best?

    Results are in from the first organized trials of drugs to treat Covid-19, but so far, there’s no cure.
    Antonio Regalado writes in MIT Technology Review that as the new respiratory disease spread widely starting in January, doctors—first in China and then in the US, Italy, and France—all moved to test readily available drugs that are used for other purposes and are fairly safe. Now, just three months into the pandemic, the first medical results from organized trials—studies structured to measure whether a drug actually helps—are becoming public. We count three so far, all involving drugs with antiviral properties. He offers a detailed report on the facts about the drug studies published so far.

  • HIV Drug to Be Trialed on Coronavirus Patients to See If It Can Fight COVID-19

    Coronavirus patients will be treated with an HIV drug or steroid as part of trial to see if existing medications can beat the deadly infection. Sarah Knapton reports in The Telegraph that researchers from the University of Oxford enrolled the first patient last week, and want hospitals to sign up thousands more people in the coming weeks. The trial – which has been expedited by the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty – would usually have taken around 18 months to organize, but red tape has been removed and researchers have worked round the clock to get the experiment up and running within just nine days.

  • There's a New Symptom of Coronavirus, Doctors Say: Sudden Loss of Smell or Taste

    A loss of a sense of smell or taste may be a symptom of COVID-19, medical groups representing ear, nose and throat specialists have warned. Ryan W. Miller reports in USA Today that the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and ENT UK, citing a growing number of cases around the globe, each issued warnings about patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus with the only symptom being a lost or altered sense of smell or taste. 

  • FDA Updates COVID-19 Testing Guidelines to Allow Self-Swab Tests

    The FDA has updated its guidelines for COVID-19 testing procedures to make the process easier and less uncomfortable for patients, as well as to help limit the impact of testing on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare workers, including protective masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. Darrell Etherington reports in Techcrunch that the change means that people taking a test will be able to conduct their own swab, which will involve swabbing shallowly in their nose. 

  • Moderna Could Make Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Available to Healthcare Workers by Fall

    There are some hard limits to the vaccine development process that mean we are not going to see any preventative immune therapies to fight the new coronavirus for at least a year to 18 months. Darrell Etherington reports in Techcrunch, however, that Moderna, which is behind the first potential vaccine to enter human clinical trials in the U.S., provided new info on Monday that indicates it will seek to provide access to the vaccine to a limited group, likely consisting of healthcare workers, by as early as this fall.

  • Drug Recommended by Trump May Have Saved One Man in Florida, May Have Killed One Man in Arizona

    President Donald Trump last week said he was instructing the FDA to fast-track testing of hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, as treatment for COVID-19. Tamar Lapin reports in the New York Post that Rio Giardinieri, 52, who was being treated at the Memorial Regional Hospital in South Florida for coronavirus and pneumonia, was told by a friend about Trump’s recommendation. He took the drug and all his symptoms disappeared. His doctors believe, however, that the episodes he experienced were not a reaction to the medicine but his body fighting off the virus.
    CBS News reports that according to CBS affiliate KPHO, a Phoenix-area man has died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, . The additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication that’s been touted by Trump as a treatment for COVID-19. CBS News notes that at a news conference last week, Trump falsely stated  that the FDA had just approved the use of an anti-malaria medication called chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus. Even after the FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs to be tested for that use, Trump overstated the drug’s potential upside in containing the virus.

    On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top infectious disease expert, called Trump’s assertions about hydroxychloroquine “anecdotal” and said there is no evidence that it is effective for COVID-19 patients. But the next day, Trump was still touting the drug on social media.

  • Surgeon General on COVID-19: “This Week It's Going to Get Bad”

    Yesterday the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, MD, said on the Today Show that this week could get bad for many Americans who will face a growing rise of COVID-19 cases in their communities. Confirmed U.S. cases rose by 9,541 yesterday, to 42,817, according to the Johns Hopkins online tracker, with 458 associated deaths.

  • Coronavirus: Could the World Have Prepared Better for a Pandemic?

    As we deal with COVID-19 epidemic, obvious questions are being asked about how governments and companies can prepare themselves for these sorts of extreme events. One technique that has gained prominence in helping business people and officials deal with events that have a low probability but high impact is called scenario analysis or scenario planning. There are a number of different methods that can be used to model scenarios, but in essence these all involve developing stories about a number of possible ways that the future could unfold.

  • We Were Warned

    When, inevitably, an investigative commission will be set up to investigate the government’s response to COVID-19 crisis, it will conclude that signs of a coming crisis were everywhere. Uri Friedman writes that President Donald Trump has referred to the coronavirus outbreak as “an unforeseen problem,” as “something that nobody expected,” and as a crisis that “came out of nowhere,” but as is so often the case with Trump, he was not telling the truth. In fact, the investigative commission will conclude that the warning lights were blinking red for years, within the government and outside the government. Despite the warning lights, the voluminous studies, and the alarming reports from the U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. government was not sufficiently prepared when the virus SARS-CoV-2, finally came calling.

  • WHO Launches Global Megatrial of the Four Most Promising Coronavirus Treatments

    Could any drugs already in use against various diseases hold the key to saving COVID-19 patients from serious harm or death? Science reports that on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY, to test these drugs: A drug combo already used against HIV; a malaria treatment first tested during World War II; and a new antiviral whose promise against Ebola fizzled last year. The drugs being tested are: Remdesivir; Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine; Ritonavir/lopinavir; and Ritonavir/lopinavir and interferon-beta.

  • Covid-19: Gilead Pauses Access to Experimental Drug Due to “Overwhelming” Demand

    Foster City, California-based Gilead Sciences said it has temporarily stopped granting patients access — with some exceptions — to remdesivir, the company’s experimental drug against the coronavirus which causes COVID-19. STAT reports that the company cited “overwhelming demand” as the reasons for the temporary suspension.

  • FDA Warns of “Unauthorized” COVID-19 Tests

    The FDA warns that new that at-home COVID-19 tests are “unauthorized.” STAT reports that several startups selling the kits insist they are allowed to sell the tests under new, looser government rules aiming to expand testing for COVID-19.

  • Fast COVID-19 Test to Be Limited to Hospitals

    Sunnyvale, California-based Cepheid has a new diagnostic test for the coronavirus – a test which returns results in just 45 minutes, four times faster than existing systems. Techcrunch reports, however, that the test, which was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration last week,  will not materially affect the number of tests experts say are needed because it will likely be used only in the most urgent situations: triaging patients who are already in the hospital or the emergency room, and testing health care workers who might be infected to see whether they can return to work.

  • National Guard Deployed in 3 States as U.S. COVID-19 Cases Pass 33,000

    President Trump yesterday announced he has activated the National Guard for three hard-hit states, and Ohio and Louisiana yesterday became the latest states to issue mandatory shelter-in-place orders, as the number of COVID-19 infections in the United States soared past 33,000. Meanwhile, an increasing number of infections and exposures have been reported in lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic. And surges continue in western Europe, with disease activity picking up pace in some African countries, lifting the global total yesterday to 335,957 in 171 countries, 14,632 of them fatal.

  • South Korea’s Coronavirus Plan Is Working, Can the World Copy It?

    To fight the COVID-19 epidemic, the South Korean government has taken drastic, even extreme, measures: Government health agencies send citizens phone alerts – at times, a dozen a day – about new infections in their neighborhoods; health officials conduct thousands of in-person interviews with those suspected of being infected; and the government has instant access to extensive amounts of personal information —  such as bank records, phone GPS data, and surveillance footage — not only for confirmed coronavirus patients but also suspected cases. This access is possible because South Korean lawmakers loosened privacy laws following a 2015 outbreak of MERS. It is not clear that citizens in Western countries would be comfortable with this intrusive approach.