COVID-19 SPREADING IN THE US IN JANUARY The US CDC COVID-19 Response Team, in collaboration with researchers and health officials from California, Illinois, New York, and Washington, published findings from a study on early SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the United States. The study, published in the US CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, indicates that limited community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States may have begun as early as January, based on a variety of disease surveillance data as well as genetic analysis and retrospective case investigations. This would place community transmission in the United States weeks earlier than the first identified domestic transmission, reported in late February in California. Diagnostic testing on postmortem specimens identified 2 unrelated cases in California, one who developed symptoms on January 31 and another who “died at home between February 13 and 17.” Genomic sequence data suggest that early community transmission could be linked to travelers who arrived from Wuhan, China, or passengers or crew members from a cruise ship that departed from San Francisco, and subsequent introductions arrived via Europe.
Dr. Jay Butler, US CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases, further noted in a media briefing that there was no evidence for widespread transmission earlier than late January, dispelling speculation that the virus could have been circulating in the US in December of last year. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield stated that the findings indicate that the delayed rollout of SARS-CoV-2 testing did not negatively impact the speed of the US response, because even expanded testing would have been unlikely to have detected such limited transmission; however, some experts have disagreed.
GSK to Manufacture 1 Billion Doses of Pandemic Vaccine Adjuvant System (Homeland Preparedness News) GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said it will manufacture 1 billion doses of its pandemic vaccine adjuvant system in 2021 to support the development of multiple adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
COVID-19 TREATMENT PHASE 1 TRIAL Pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly commenced early stageha human trials of a monoclonal antibody therapeutic for COVID-19, marking the first trial of a treatment developed specifically for COVID-19. The Phase 1 clinical trial of LY-CoV555, an antibody treatment created from a blood sample of early US COVID-19 survivors, will test the drug’s safety in 32 patients who are currently hospitalized for COVID-19. Results of the trial are expected to be available later this month in order to determine if the treatment can continue to a larger trial testing efficacy and safety in non-hospitalized patients. Eli Lilly is already working to scale up production, with the aim of making the drug available as early as this fall, if it is demonstrated to be safe and effective. In addition to these trials, Eli Lilly plans to test other antibody therapies, and combinations of antibodies, as both treatment and prevention against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Anakinra reduced both need for invasive mechanical ventilation in the ICU and mortality among patients with severe forms of COVID-19, without serious side-effects. Confirmation of efficacy will require controlled trials.
(It has been postulated that anakinra, a recombinant IL-1 receptor antagonist, might help to neutralise the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-related hyperinflammatory state, which is considered to be one cause of acute respiratory distress among patients with COVID-19.)
CONCLUSIONS Remdesivir was superior to placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults hospitalized with Covid-19 and evidence of lower respiratory tract infection. (J.Harris: This drug is sometimes better than nothing, barely, but “it beats the hell out of a snowball” as old-time cattlemen would say when criticized for feeding his cows poor quality hay — usually in a drought.)
COLLINS PUN FOR THE DAY: Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’
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