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April 20, 2020

Covid-19 roundup: Gilead's experimental Covid-19 treatment shows early promise

Daily Briefing

    Apple will share maps data to help inform public health policies, FDA approves new ventilator technology developed by Synapse Biomedical and University Hospitals, and more.

    Covid-19 weekly webinar: What you need to know in 45 minutes

    • Abbott Laboratories on Wednesday announced the launch of its third antibody test for the new coronavirus and said it could be testing up to 20 million people for coronavirus antibodies by June. The new test will "provide more understanding of the virus, including how long antibodies stay in the body and if they provide immunity," Abbott said (Mangan/Tirrell, CNBC, 4/15; Cortez, Bloomberg, 4/15; Japsen, Forbes, 4/15).
    • Apple on Tuesday announced that it will share mobility data from Apple Maps to help public health officials determine how many people are driving, walking, or taking public transportation in large cities in 63 countries or regions. Apple said the information could "provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities," which potentially could use the data "as a foundation for new public policies" (Kim Cohen, Modern Healthcare, 4/14; Coleman, The Hill, 4/14; Nellis/Dave, Reuters, 4/14).
    • Duke Clinical Research Institute, part of the Duke University School of Medicine, last week announced it will be leading the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes (HERO) Registry, which will contain data on Covid-19 reported by frontline health care workers. The initiative aims to gather data from hundreds of thousands of health care providers and is intended to accelerate research on Covid-19's impact on providers (Bazzoli, HealthcareITNews, 4/14).
    • Facebook has announced that it will begin telling users when they've interacted with a post containing false information about the new coronavirus. Facebook said it will direct the users to the World Health Organization's (WHO) myth-busters page (Bond, NPR, 4/16).
    • FDA has approved the TransAeris Diaphragmatic Pacing Simulator System, which was developed by Synapse Biomedical and University Hospitals (UH) to help transition patients off of ventilators. According to UH, the system uses "temporary small electrodes implanted by minimally invasive surgery to stimulate the diaphragm" (Haidet, WKYC, 4/15).
    • FDA on Thursday announced it has expanded the types of nasal swabs that are acceptable for use in Covid-19 tests to include swabs made of polyester, which the agency said should be easier to make and could help alleviate shortages of cotton swabs traditionally used for the tests. FDA said US Cotton has developed a polyester swab that is compatible with Covid-19 tests, and the company will be producing "large quantities" of the swab (Herper, STAT News, 4/16).
    • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Tuesday announced that they are teaming up to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus. The drugmakers said they plan to begin clinical trials for a vaccine in the second-half of 2020, with a goal of having a vaccine ready in the second-half of 2021 (Babu, Reuters, 4/14; Roland, Wall Street Journal, 4/14).
    • Mayo Clinic has developed a system that utilizes EHR data, non-clinical information, and contact-tracing data to determine which employees have been exposed to the new coronavirus. The tool is able to identify potential coronavirus exposures within an average of two hours after a confirmed Covid-19 case, Mayo said. Mayo plans to roll out the system at its campuses in Arizona and Florida next week, according to Laura Breeher, medical director of Mayo Clinic Occupational Health Services (Drees, Becker's Health IT, 4/14).
    • UnitedHealth Group (UHG) on Wednesday announced that Andrew Witty, president of UHG and CEO of Optum, will be taking a leave of absence and joining WHO to help with the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus. UHG CEO David Wichmann will oversee operations at Optum during Witty's absence. Daily Briefing is published by Advisory Board, a division of Optum, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of UHG (Japsen, Forbes, 4/15; Taylor, FierceBiotech, 4/15; Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 4/15).
    • A University of Chicago hospital participating in a study of remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead Sciences that's being tested as a possible Covid-19 treatment, said it has seen rapid recoveries from fevers and respiratory symptoms among patients who have taken the drug. The hospital also said it has discharged nearly all of its patients who took remdesivir within less than a week (Banerjee/Beasley, Reuters, 4/16; Feuerstein/Herper, STAT News, 4/16).

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