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How Pharma Companies are Fighting Against COVID-19

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The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 made its first appearance in December 2019 in China. It is believed to have originated from bats or pangolins in the meat markets that occupy the streets of Wuhan. Since then, the number of those infected has increased worldwide as the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the globe. Along with the growing fear rate in the United States with new travel advisories, and more deaths reported in the U.S.  Pharmaceutical companies are gearing up to have a new vaccine on the market to combat the virus as the number of COVID-19 cases increase in the United States. 

The U.S. government is working diligently with pharmaceutical companies round the clock to produce a vaccine to treat the vastly growing coronavirus. Some of the companies in the United States that have product prospects in clinical trials or have disclosed partnerships with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services include: 

Moderna Inc. 

The company launched its first round of experimental vaccines known as m-RNA-1273 to begin Phase 1 trial among healthy volunteers. The initial testing will consist of two doses of the vaccine to ensure safety and results in an immune response likely to protect against the virus that could start by April. 

Sanofi 

David Loew, Sanofi’s global head of vaccines who announced partnership with U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development to produce a vaccine using the DNA recombinant program. Loew stated the company previously developed a vaccine for SARS, a relative of the coronavirus family that could be used to help create a vaccine for COVID-19.  In just as little as six months Sanofi could have a prototype to begin the trial process.

Johnson & Johnson 

J&J’s Janssen subsidiary is one of many companies that have joined with HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), to create vaccines for the COVID-19 virus. HHS announced that BARDA and Janssen would join forces to identify medications that can be used to alleviate symptoms and treat infections. Janssen will work with the Rega Institute for Medical Research in Leuven, Belgium that will work together to screen compounds.

Gilead Sciences 

Gilead Sciences is working with health authorities in China on two trials for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and also observing the efficacy of the medication remdesivir to combat coronavirus symptoms. With active clinical trials in place results could be ready in a matter of weeks.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 

Regeneron is studying the combination of neutralising monoclonal antibodies REGN3048 and REGN3051 to fight against coronavirus infection in a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The drug will be studied among 48 patients to observe the safety and sustainability of the medication.

The coronavirus vaccine could become available within the next eighteen months. In the meantime, public health agencies and scientists continue to work together to take the appropriate responses to treat present patients and future cases. Here are a few preventive actions to take recommended by the CDC: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Sources: 

  1. https://medcitynews.com/2020/02/here-are-the-leading-companies-enlisting-in-the-fight-against-coronavirus/?rf=1
  2. https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/analysis/coronavirus-mers-cov-drugs/
  3. https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/who-forum-coronavirus-vaccine/
  4. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sanofi-announces-it-will-work-with-hhs-to-develop-coronavirus-vaccine/
  5. https://www.pharmacist.com/article/moderna-delivers-first-experimental-coronavirus-vaccine-human-testing

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Do I Need a Face Mask?

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Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, two questions have dawned on Americans, “Do I need a face mask?” and secondly, “Where can I find one?” There has been a significant increase in purchases consisting of hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, and face masks to protect individuals from the infectious disease. Previously the Centers for Disease Control stated that healthy individuals did not need to wear a mask limiting it to only healthcare professionals and those who are actively sick to limit transmission. 

Newfound studies caused the CDC to rethink recommendations regarding face masks, including where and when individuals should wear them. The study indicated that a large portion of COVID-19 patients was “asymptomatic” and did not show any symptoms. Those who gradually developed symptoms were considered to be “pre-symptomatic” and could transmit the virus to others before demonstrating any symptoms. This evidence means it is possible to infect others through social interaction such as talking, coughing, sneezing, before showing any symptoms.

Observing this new information, the CDC has now issued recommendations to the public to wear face coverings for preventative measures. CDC advises that face coverings can be made from household items or made at home from simple and cost-effective materials. 

The CDC reiterated surgical masks, and N-95 respirator masks should be exclusive to healthcare professionals. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.pppmag.com/article/1336
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html#studies

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Coronavirus Update: 1 Million Cases Worldwide

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The devastating hit from the coronavirus continues to take a toll not just in the U.S. but also internationally, crippling economies and healthcare systems. The virus hit 1 million worldwide, with more than 50,000 deaths as recorded by the John Hopkins University in New York

The number of true cases and deaths are presumed to be much higher due to limited testing available, differences in counting practices, suspicions of a cover-up in some countries, and mild cases that have gone unreported. In the U.S., the unemployment rate has accelerated past 10 million and predicted by officials could be the highest collapse since the Depression. 

Unemployment has also soared in Europe, approximately a million or higher on the content lost their jobs over the same period, according to European Worker Unions. Spain alone acquired more than 300,000 to its unemployment rolls in March.

Spain announced a record 950 one-day number of deaths accounting for a total of 10,935. Italy, the worst among any country infected, reported 766 additional deaths bringing in a total of 14,681 deceased. Over 10,000 medical professionals in Italy have been infected, and 69 doctors have died, as reported by authorities. In France, the death toll reached 5,387 in hospitals, with 471 in the last day.

As of today, there are 264,159 infected patients in the U.S. and 6,714 recorded deaths. New York continues to lead as the worst hot spot in the country, with 102,863 total number of cases and 2,935 deaths reported. In Louisiana, deaths soared to 370, and confirmed infections rose to 10,297 due to backlogged test results finally returning from laboratories.

Preparations have begun as the Federal Emergency Management Agency requested 100,000 body bags from the Pentagon for the possibility that funeral homes will be overwhelmed, as stated by the military. President Trump announced the federal stockpile is significantly low of essential protective equipment needed by doctors and nurses. 

What do you think about the spike in cases? Will we see this number increase to 1.5 million? Please let us know in the comments.

Sources: 

  1. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-04-02/coronavirus-one-million-cases
  2. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

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Is Social Distancing helping Californians?

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In California and Washington, the accelerated spread of the coronavirus led both states to issue social distancing measures before other states followed. According to the LA Times, experts are now observing the effects of social distancing, indicating that it can be effective. Since the virus is still relatively new, it is difficult to predict what the future will look like in the hands of the latest viral infection. 

The early actions adopted by the SF Bay area just may have saved the city from resulting in high cases, as seen in New York. The only way to determine the actual number of cases is from the number of hospitalizations and deaths. This information provides much more accuracy than the cases identified through testing, according to Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist at UCLA.

The fact remains that cases are still actively increasing across California. On Monday, Gavin Newsom announced the number of patients under hospitalization due to COVID-19 doubled in four days, and patients in ICU’s tripled.  

There are still mishaps that could occur in California, for example, through the lack of testing. Unable to identify the number of true cases and those who may be carriers increasing exposure to other individuals. The exact number of cases will determine just how many hospital resources will be needed to meet the demand in healthcare facilities. 

On March 16, Bay Area health officials ordered six counties to shelter in place to help slow the spread of the virus. Soon after the measures taken by the Bay Area,  California issued a statewide stay-at-home order set in place by Newsom to increase social distancing. Unlike New York state that took a later initiative and  issued the stay-at-home order on March 20 and made it effective on March 22

A model designed by the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation implies when California and New York will face its most challenging days. New York will see its most challenging day of the epidemic in early April. The early stay-at-home order indicates that New York will be significantly worse than California’s hardest day. 

Other than the later stay-at-home order for New York, different elements play a role in the state’s surge in cases. Including the high population and overcrowded mass transit systems, stated by Dr. Chris Murray, professor, and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

According to the report projects, California will experience a peak in hospitalizations and deaths in late April. The models created to project the duration of the pandemic can only be as reliable as the data collected which can make the projections questionable. The lack of testing is the disadvantage California has, according to Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director

California continues to prepare for an influx of patients by issuing a statewide order to keep social distancing in place to help slow the spread of the virus, implemented by Newsom. Recently Newsom reached out to medical students and healthcare professionals to join the California Health Corps to acquire expanded treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Sources:

  1. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-31/coronavirus-social-distancing-west-coast-california-new-york-covid
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/21/coronavirus-update-california-issued-statewide-stay-at-home-order/
  3. https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/01/attention-medical-students-california-needs-you/
  5. https://covid19.ca.gov/healthcorps/

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