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March 20, 2020

COVID-19 roundup: Regeneron's treatments could enter clinical trials this summer

Daily Briefing

    Blue Shield of California partners with startup GYANT on a hospital screening tool, study finds Kaletra has "no benefit" in treating seriously ill COVID-19 patients, and more.

    • Abbott on Wednesday announced it received emergency use authorization from FDA for its molecular test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The company said it plans to immediately ship 150,000 tests where needed, adding that a number of tests have already been sent to labs and hospitals in 18 states. Abbot's manufacturing location is also planning to increase production of the tests so it can develop the tests at capacity, which is one million tests per week (Modern Healthcare, 3/18).
    • Blue Shield of California is partnering with digital health startup GYANT to roll out a COVID-19 screening tool for hospitals in its network. Patients will be able to access the screening tool through chat, where they will be provided with the option to learn more about the infection or undergo a 10 to 15 question virtual screening. Once they're screened, patients will be referred to a nurseline, telehealth appointment, or a facility for testing. Blue Shield said it will cover the cost of licensing and implementation of the system over the next three months (Reuter, MedCity News, 3/18).
    • Chinese researchers in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday reported that two promising antiviral drugs showed "no benefit" in treating COVID-19 in seriously ill patients. The study tested Kaletra, which is a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, two antiviral drugs that usually treat HIV. So far, no antiviral drugs have proved effective in treating the condition. But researchers said more studies could determine whether Kaletra could be effective when prescribed earlier in the illness or in a combination with other medication (Grady, New York Times, 3/18).
    • Health care analytics technology and services vendor Health Catalyst announced it will offer clients two new COVID-19 analytics systems as well as a COVID-19 service to domestic clients at no incremental cost through the end of the year. The first analytics system, called Patient & Staff Tracker, will help health systems determine where COVID-19 patients have traveled within the health system as well as which staff members interacted with the patient. Health Catalyst said the tracking system will be available by the end of March. In the meantime, the company will continue to assess additional potential systems to address the pandemic (Siwicki, Healthcare IT News, 3/18).
    • Regeneron said it has developed hundreds of antibody treatments for the new coronavirus that could start clinical trials this summer. The company in a release said researchers will choose two out of hundreds of antibodies isolated from mice and human patients who have recovered from COVID-19 that could neutralize the virus. Regeneron expects it will be prepared to do large-scale manufacturing by mid-April, which means human clinical trials could begin by early summer, according to STAT News. The studies would test the treatment on both people with COVID-19 and as a prophylactic that would prevent people from infection (Herper, STAT News, 3/17).


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