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June 26, 2020

Covid-19 roundup: American College of Physicians issues new face mask guidelines for providers

Daily Briefing

    NIH stops its trial testing hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment, the World Health Organization unveils a coronavirus vaccine distribution proposal, and more.

    • The American College of Physicians (ACP) last week published new guidance in the Annals of Internal Medicine that are intended to provide clarity on which kinds of masks health care providers should be wearing when treating patients with known or suspected cases of the new coronavirus, ACP officials said. The guidelines recommend that all providers wear N95 respirators when working in close contact with such patients (Reed, FierceHealthcare, 6/19).

    • CommonSpirit Health on Monday announced that it is using de-identified cell phone data, public health data, and data from its 137 hospitals to predict changes in health care demand and prepare for surges of patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. CommonSpirit said it is utilizing predictive modeling tools to develop these forecasts, which have provided outlooks for 75% of CommonSpirit's markets nationwide (Dyrda, Becker's Health IT, 6/22).

    • CVS Health on Wednesday announced it has launched Return Ready, a coronavirus testing solution aimed at helping employees return to workspaces and students, faculty, and staff return to schools. The solution tailors a testing and contact tracing strategy to an employer's or university's specific needs, CVS said. The company also announced that it will offer on-site or drive-thru coronavirus tests at CVS Pharmacy locations and will have a dashboard for tracking both testing capacity and test results (Humer, Reuters, 6/24; Minemyer, FierceHealthcare, 6/24).

    • FDA last week announced that it has given an emergency use authorization to CLEW for its Covid-19 predictive screening tool. The tool is intended for use in ICUs and employs "machine-learning models trained to identify respiratory failure and or hemodynamic instability hours in advance," according to CLEW (Jercich, HealthcareITNews, 6/18).

    • Gilead Sciences on Monday announced that it will soon begin testing an inhalable version of its drug, remdesivir, which has emerged as a promising potential treatment for Covid-19. Currently, remdesivir must be administered intravenously, but an inhalable version would be administered through a nebulizer. Gilead said it hopes the inhalable version will provide patients with a more convenient treatment. In addition, Gilead has licensed nine generic drug companies to manufacture remdesivir. According to Daniel O'Day, Gilead's chair and CEO, the company expects to have more than two million doses of remdesivir manufactured by the end of this year, and "many millions more" by 2021 (Walker, Wall Street Journal, 6/22; Wu, New York Times, 6/22; Wang, Inside Health Policy, 6/22[subscription required]).

    • The Healthcare Manufacturers Management Council on Tuesday announced it has launched a supply exchange site where manufactures can list products they have that can be used to address needs related to Covid-19. Providers, government emergency management agencies, and first responders can use the site to find manufactures of in-need supplies, and providers can post what supplies they need, along with their contact information, for manufacturers to be in contact (Anderson, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/23).

    • Hospitals throughout the United States are now treating their sickest Covid-19 patients with dexamethasone, a low-cost steroid that's shown promise as a potential Covid-19 treatment. The surge in demand for the drug has caused nationwide shortages, STAT News reports (Erman, Reuters, 6/19; Silverman, STAT News, 6/25).

    • NIH last week announced it has stopped a clinical trial testing hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment. According to NIH, a data and safety monitoring board determined that hydroxychloroquine "was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19" and recommended the trial be stopped (Crespo/LeBlanc, CNN, 6/20; Johnson, The Hill, 6/20; Roubein, Politico, 6/20).

    • NIH may have intellectual property related to a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Moderna, Axios reports. According to Axios, if the federal government owns property related to the potential vaccine and therefore has a financial stake in the candidate, "it could try to make the vaccine a free or low-cost public good with wide distribution," assuming the vaccine proves safe and effective (Herman, Axios, 6/25).

    • Sanofi Pasteur announced it has agreed to a $425 million expansion deal with Translate Bio to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus. Sanofi also said its Phase 1/2 clinical trial for another potential coronavirus vaccine, which it's developing with GlaxoSmithKline, has been moved up from December to September (Branswell/Feuerstein, STAT News, 6/23).

    • Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a new saliva test that has been shown effective at testing for the new coronavirus, according to a research manuscript that has yet to be peer-reviewed. According to the manuscript, the test bypasses the extraction of RNA used in traditional coronavirus tests, making the new test much faster and less susceptible to material shortages (Asplund, Modern Healthcare, 6/22).

    • Verily, Google's sister company, has developed a program called Healthy at Work, which screens users for Covid-19 symptoms daily and features coronavirus testing and population analytics abilities. The program utilizes Verily's coronavirus testing infrastructure, which so far has tested more than 220,000 individuals across 13 states. The program is intended to help employees safely return to work (Drees, Becker's Health IT, 6/18).

    • The World Health Organization last week released a coronavirus vaccine distribution proposal to its member countries. According to the proposal, if a coronavirus vaccine is developed, health care workers, adults ages 65 and up, and adults with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer will receive priority for vaccinations. These groups will "be used to calculate how much product should be allocated to each country, and may inform how countries use those doses," the proposal said (Furlong, Politico, 6/23).

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