June 22, 2020

Covid-19 roundup: WHO drops hydroxychloroquine from Covid-19 clinical trial

Daily Briefing

    NIH expands Covid-19 research in underrepresented communities, Gilead Sciences tests remdesivir in pediatric patients, and more.

    • The American Red Cross announced it is testing all blood, plasma, and platelet donations for antibodies to the new coronavirus and providing donors with the results of the tests at no cost. Red Cross said donors can view the test results online within seven to 10 days from when they donated. The Red Cross said there is an "urgent need for blood donations," and it's hoping the testing and results will serve as an incentive to get more people to donate blood (Milling, Forbes, 6/15; Thomas/Waldrop, CNN, 6/15).
    • Apple announced its electrocardiogram (ECG) app for Apple Watch now can be used in place of in-clinic ECGs amid America's coronavirus epidemic. Apple expanded the app's scope so it could be used for in-clinic ECGs under FDA guidance intended to encourage and allow further use of remote patient-monitoring technologies during the epidemic. Apple said physicians can use the ECG app to support diagnoses of certain arrhythmias and other related conditions (Cohen, Modern Healthcare, 6/15; FierceHealthcare, 6/19).
    • Cleveland Clinic researchers have developed a risk-prediction model called Nomogram that can estimate a patients' likelihood of testing positive for the new coronavirus, as well as a patients' risk of developing a severe case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. The tool, which is available online at no cost to users, can help health workers consider the effects of a patient's age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status on their Covid-19 risk, Modern Healthcare reports. (Coutré, Modern Healthcare, 6/16).
    • FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for a hospital system that can alert physicians eight hours before a Covid-19 patient's condition deteriorates, the New York Post reports. The system, made by CLEW, currently is the only FDA-cleared system intended to provide clinicians with an early warning of when patients might experience blood complications or respiratory failure due to Covid-19 (Steinbuch, New York Post, 6/16).
    • FDA on Wednesday sent warning letters to three companies accused of selling at-home tests for the new coronavirus that have not been screened or approved. The agency said it hasn't yet approved any coronavirus test kits for complete at-home use (Perrone, Associated Press, 6/17).
    • Fitbit is rolling out a health screening tool, called Ready for Work, that is intended to help employees screen themselves for signs of Covid-19 before returning to work. The tool offers a digital daily check-in feature that will allow users to self-report any symptoms associated with Covid-19, as well as their current body temperature and any recent exposure to the new coronavirus. Based on the self-reported data, the tool will then advise employees on whether they should go to work or stay home (Landi, FierceHealthcare, 6/16).
    • Gilead Sciences on Wednesday said it will start studying the effectiveness of remdesivir in hospitalized pediatric patients with Covid-19. Gilead said it has provided remdesivir to pediatric patients with severe Covid-19 since February, but the new trial provide data on the drug's effectiveness and safety in children. The trial will involve about 50 pediatric patients with moderate and severe Covid-19, including some newborns, in the United States and Europe (Perez, Forbes, 6/17; Gilead release, 6/17).
    • Microsoft AI has distributed a grant to Mount Sinai Health System to help support a new Covid-19 data science center, called the Mount Sinai COVID Informatics Center (MSCIC). The grant will support efforts at MSCIC to develop artificial intelligence tools and evidence-based treatments for patients with Covid-19. MSCIC also will use Microsoft Azure cloud computing to give researchers access to Covid-19 patient data and research findings (Kent, HealthITAnalytics, 6/9).
    • NIH last week announced that it is expanding Covid-19 antibody testing and research efforts in underrepresented communities through its precision medicine research program, called All of Us. Specifically, NIH said it plans to test blood samples gathered from participants in the program early this year for antibodies to the new coronavirus, continue collecting data through its COVID-19 Participant Experience survey, and collect and analyze data from the program's EHRs to assess Covid-19 patients' outcomes and risk factors. NIH said the research could help to shed light on why underrepresented communities may be at higher risk of death and severe complications due to Covid-19 (O'Reilly, Axios, 6/16; Drees, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/16).
    • OpenAI and TrialSpark on Tuesday revealed an effort called Project Covalence that aims to lower the costs of and speed up Covid-19 clinical trials. The effort will help facilitate clinical trials by identifying and monitoring patients digitally using telemedicine, remote data collection, and at-home testing. The project's first study seeks to understand how the novel coronavirus has spread through Massachusetts (Herper, STAT News, 6/16).
    • Lighting manufacturer Signify on Tuesday said researches at Boston University confirmed the company's UV light can degrade coronavirus in a laboratory setting within seconds. The company said it will make the light available to other lighting companies, so the lights potentially can be used to reduce the presence of the new coronavirus indoors (Sterling, Reuters, 6/16).
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday announced it is dropping hydroxychloroquine from its clinical trial studying potential Covid-19 treatments in light of new data that indicated the drug does not reduce mortality in Covid-19 patients when compared with standard care. WHO said Covid-19 patients who are enrolled in the trial and already were receiving hydroxychloroquine can choose either to stop or complete the treatment (Joseph, STAT News, 6/17; Furlong, Politico, 6/17).
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