March 17, 2020

COVID-19 roundup: University of Pennsylvania creates a model to predict disease's spread

Daily Briefing

    Pfizer announces it will share its expertise and manufacturing capabilities with other players, Walgreens and CVS waive prescription drug home delivery fees, and more.

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    • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson's drug-making arm, Janssen Pharmaceutical, have teamed up on efforts to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus. To develop the vaccine, scientists are delivering coronavirus antigens into cells via a common cold virus. The team hopes they can start testing the vaccine in healthy human participants in the fall, according to the Boston Globe. Dan Barouch, head of Beth Israel's Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, said a vaccine "may actually be required to end this epidemic" (Saltzman, Boston Globe, 3/12).

    • FDA has granted Roche emergency use authorization for a test to diagnose the new coronavirus. Roche's test uses nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab samples to detect the virus with help from Roche's Cobas 6800 and 8800 lab-testing systems. The company said the systems are built to deliver thousands of results a day (Dearmet, MedCity News, 3/15).

    • Pfizer has announced that it will share its drug development expertise, tools, and manufacturing capabilities with any company that's working to development drugs and vaccines for the new coronavirus. And the company is calling on others in the industry to take the same stance. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a statement said, "Pfizer calls on all members of the innovation ecosystem—from large pharmaceutical companies to the smallest of biotech companies, from government agencies to academic institutions—to commit to work together in addressing this dire crisis" (Liu, FiercePharma, 3/16).

    • Data scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a model that hospitals can use to project how COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, will affect hospital capacity and demand for services. The model was offered first to University of Pennsylvania hospitals, and now, any hospital can use it, according to STAT News. Penn data scientist Corey Chivers said, "The intention is to see what the capacity requirements for hospitalization, intensive care, and ventilators might be." The model makes its predictions by looking at confirmed cases in the region and how many inpatients the hospital has at that time (STAT News, 3/16).

    • Walgreen's Boots Alliance and CVS Health separately have announced they will waive prescription drug home delivery fees so patients can access medication without leaving their homes as calls to isolate during the new coronavirus outbreak grow. Walgreens announced that, as of last Friday, the company is "waiving delivery fees for all eligible prescriptions during this evolving situation." CVS made a similar announcement earlier this month (Japsen, Forbes, 3/12).
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