Is there ANY good COVID-19 news? (Yes!)

SeanCommentary, Insights, Recent Highlights

Regardless of the day of the week, if you follow the news headlines long enough, it would be very easy to become quite discouraged. Obviously, the coronavirus story has many broad and adverse implications, both socially and economically. However, the stories that tend to dominate the headlines are those that are the scariest and most negative takes...because that's what attracts attention. That's not to say they aren't accurate, but it is to say that it's easy to lose perspective on some of the progress that is being made here or elsewhere. In no way wanting to be polyannaish, but with an aim toward being clear-eyed, I'll try to keep track of a few of those stories that may give us an indication of where there this is going in the longer term and how things might get (or be getting) better. I'll only post stories from sources I believe to be reputable (WHO, CDC, recognized scientists, experts in their respective fields, etc) or from other generally recognized and reputable news sources.

USA Today: Pfizer expects to nearly cut in half the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine from 110 days to an average of 60 as it makes the process more efficient and production is built out, the company told USA TODAY.
Stat News: The Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued an emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the second such vaccine to be cleared in the United States. Inoculations should begin within days, as was the case following last week’s authorization of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.
Stat News: The Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued an emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, a seminal moment in the effort to curb a pandemic that has so far infected an estimated 16 million people and killed nearly 300,000 in the United States.
NYT: Moderna Applies for Emergency F.D.A. Approval for Its Coronavirus Vaccine The first shots could be given as early as Dec. 21, if authorization is granted.
CNN: Pfizer and BioNTech said they will submit to the US Food and Drug Administration today for an emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine candidate. This is the first coronavirus vaccine to seek a regulatory OK in the United States. The companies said in a statement that their vaccine candidate, known as BNT162b2, will potentially be available for use in high-risk populations in the United States by the middle to end of December. The vaccine requires two doses a few weeks apart, and protection is achieved 28 days after the first shot.
AP News: Huge news today from the Moderna vaccine Trials. Moderna said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is proving highly effective in a major trial, a second ray of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent virus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide. The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from Moderna’s ongoing study. This after Pfizer announced just a week ago 90% effectiveness for its own vaccine.
AAAS: A relatively new arthritis drug, has been found to cut deaths by 71% in patients with moderate or severe illness, researchers say. Importantly, it works in the elderly, raising hopes that it will save the most vulnerable. The drug, baricitinib, is marketed under the brand name Olumiant.
CNBC: There hasn't been any really good news on the COVID front in a while, but today's announcement from Pfizer was a doozy. On Monday, Pfizer announced positive early results from its late-stage vaccine trial, saying its vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among volunteers who had no evidence of prior infection. Click through for more from CNBC.
Three recent drug studies show promising results in reducing the worst outcomes (ventilation and death) for COVID patients. The first two looked at those admitted to hospitals and who were already taking an aspirin or statin. In both cases, the patients experienced a 45% to 50% reduction of death or of needing ventilator support. The small third study looked at famotidine (Pepcid) as a treatment for those diagnosed with COVID. The results also showed a 45% to 48% reduction in death or need for ventilation. All were retrospective data reviews, not RCTs, but encouraging nonetheless. Links here:,, and
NPR: Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness. "We find that the death rate has gone down substantially," says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August. The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.
Stat News: Eli Lilly said Wednesday a monoclonal antibody treatment is effective in reducing levels of the virus that causes Covid-19 in patients, and also appears to prevent patients from visiting the emergency room or hospital. Lilly had previously released results for a similar treatment using one antibody, which experts viewed as promising. But the new results, of a combination of two antibodies, appear, based on limited data provided in a press release, to be more robust.
StudyFinds: While some health experts warn of a possible second wave in the coronavirus pandemic, a new study is pointing to signs that COVID-19’s severity may be fading. Researchers at Wayne State University say viral loads from patients are continuing to decrease as the pandemic progresses. This is also showing a connection to a lowering death rate.
Yahoo! News: Johnson & Johnson announced the start of phase three of its coronavirus vaccine trial this week, citing "positive interim results" from earlier stages of its study. Those were published Friday, and they were indeed promising. The pharmaceutical giant reported that 99 percent of the participants between the ages of 18 and 55 in early-to-mid stage clinical trials developed neutralizing antibodies against the novel virus. The analysis also found that most of the side effects associated with the vaccine were mild and resolved within a matter of days.
CNBC: Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it has begun its phase three trial testing its potential coronavirus vaccine. J&J is the fourth drugmaker backed by the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed to enter late-stage testing. The others are Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The trial will enroll up to 60,000 adult volunteers across 215 locations in the U.S. and other countries, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Participants will be randomly selected to receive a dose of the potential vaccine or a placebo, according to details of the trial, which will determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective.
WSJ: An antibody-based drug derived from the blood of an early U.S. survivor of Covid-19 reduced the rate of hospitalization compared with placebo in a new study of people recently diagnosed with the disease, said Eli Lilly LLY +1.62% & Co., one of the drug’s developers.
Stat News: se of inexpensive, readily available steroid drugs to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 reduced the risk of death by one-third, according to an analysis encompassing seven different clinical trials conducted by the World Health Organization and published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Yesterday, Abbott announced a new rapid test for COVID-19: 15 minutes, requiring no instrumentation, and with a high degree of reliability. They expect to ship million of the test in September and 50 million a month starting in October. This strikes me as a game-changer for quickly identifying potential spreaders, even those who are asymptomatic, and for allowing more business to reopen, given there can be increased assurance of who has it and who doesn't. This is great from a medical perspective, and therefore, in this case, from an economic perspective as well. Let's hope! Click to read full press release.
NYT: Scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the virus are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies suggests. Disease-fighting antibodies, as well as immune cells called B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved — an encouraging echo of the body’s enduring response to other viruses.
Stat News: The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday authorized emergency use of a new and inexpensive saliva test for Covid-19 that could greatly expand testing capacity. The new test, which is called SalivaDirect and was developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, allows saliva samples to be collected in any sterile container. It is a much less invasive process than the nasal swabs currently used to test for the virus that causes Covid-19, but one that has so far yielded highly sensitive and similar results. The test also avoids a key step that has caused shortages of chemical reagents used in other tests. Another strong vaccine candiate. An investigational vaccine known as mRNA-1273 protected mice from infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to research published today in Nature. Although this article dicusses results in mice, the vaccine is also in Phase 3 human trials.
CNN: A third US company has released study results showing its coronavirus vaccine is safe and elicits an immune response. Novavax, Inc. released Phase 1 data Tuesday from 131 volunteers showing that after two doses of the vaccine, participants developed neutralizing antibodies at levels more than four times higher on average than the antibodies developed by people who had recovered from Covid-19. Neutralizing antibodies fight off the virus that causes Covid-19.
Reuters: NeuroRx say emergency treatment with RLF-100 helps critically ill Covid patients. Critically ill COVID-19 patients recovered rapidly from respiratory failure after three days of treatment with RLF-100, a therapy granted fast-track designation in the United States, two drug companies said on Sunday. Geneva-based Relief Therapeutics Holdings AG RFLB.S has a patent for RLF-100, or aviptadil, a synthetic form of a natural peptide that protects the lung. U.S.-Israeli NeuroRx Inc partnered with Relief to develop the drug in the United States. In June the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted fast-track designation to RLF-100 for treatment of respiratory distress in COVID-19.
Science Daily: Two doses of an experimental vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) induced robust immune responses and rapidly controlled the coronavirus in the upper and lower airways of rhesus macaques exposed to SARS-CoV-2, report scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The candidate vaccine, mRNA-1273, was co-developed by scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center and at Moderna, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts. The animal study results published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine complement recently reported interim results from an NIAID-sponsored Phase 1 clinical trial of mRNA-1273. The candidate mRNA-1273 vaccine is manufactured by Moderna.
WSJ: Two of the most advanced experimental coronavirus vaccines entered the pivotal phase of their studies on Monday, with the first subjects receiving doses of vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. Researchers evaluating the vaccines plan to enroll 30,000 people in separate last-stage, or phase 3 trials, results of which will determine whether the vaccines protect against symptomatic Covid-19, and whether they should be cleared for widespread use.
CNBC: A potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University in the U.K. with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has produced a promising immune response in a large, early-stage human trial, according to newly released data published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet. The researchers are calling their experimental vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It combines genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause infections in chimpanzees. The phase one trial had more than 1,000 participants in people aged 18 to 55. AstraZeneca’s shares fell by just over 1% in morning trading. The researchers said the vaccine produced both antibodies and killer T-cells to combat the infection that lasted at least two months.
Science Daily: New research by Monash University in Australia has been able to detect positive COVID-19 cases using blood samples in about 20 minutes, and identify whether someone has contracted the virus. In a discovery that could advance the worldwide effort to limit the community spread of COVID-19 through robust contact tracing, researchers were able to identify recent COVID-19 cases using 25 microlitres of plasma from blood samples.
Stat News: Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine led patients to produce antibodies that can neutralize the novel coronavirus that causes the disease, though it caused minor side effects in many patients, according to the first published data from an early-stage trial of the experimental shot. The results were published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Moderna posted a listing on, a government registry, that says it will start a Phase 3 study in 30,000 patients on July 27.
CNBC: Two experimental coronavirus vaccines jointly developed by German biotech firm BioNTech and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have received ‘fast track’ designation from the U.S. drug regulator, the companies said on Monday.If the ongoing studies are successful, and the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval, the companies said they expect to make up to 100 million doses by the end of this year and potentially more than 1.2 billion doses by 2021-end.
Bloomberg: In very encouraging news, Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir reduced mortality risk for Covid-19 patients by 62% compared to standard care, according to a new analysis of trial data released by the drugmaker. The new analysis compared late-stage trial data with real-world treatment. Gilead will present the findings at the Virtual COVID19 Conference as part of the 23rd International AIDS Conference, the company said in a statement
MedicalXpress: New research from Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital shows that many people with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 demonstrate so-called T-cell-mediated immunity to the new coronavirus, even if they have not tested positively for antibodies. According to the researchers, this means that public immunity is probably higher than antibody tests suggest. The article is freely available on the bioRxiv server and has been submitted for publication in a scientific journal.
Given the several studies showing no signficant benefit, here's a suprise...In a large-scale retrospective analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized between March 10 and May 2, 2020 across the system’s six hospitals, the study found 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died compared to 26.4% not treated with hydroxychloroquine. None of the patients had documented serious heart abnormalities; however, patients were monitored for a heart condition routinely pointed to as a reason to avoid the drug as a treatment for COVID-19. The study was published today in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the peer-reviewed, open-access online publication of the International Society of Infectious Diseases (
NYT: Despite risking case counts, the trend line of reported deaths as a percentage of confirmed cases in the U.S. continues to fall. It may be due to decreasing age in the confirmed cases cohort and, possibly, to better treatment efficacy, but it's a bit of encouraging news in data that is otherwise trending the wrong way. Click through for graph.
StatNews: An experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the drug giant Pfizer and the biotech firm BioNTech spurred immune responses in healthy patients, albeit with some non-serious side effects, especially at higher doses. The vaccine generated antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and some of these antibodies were neutralizing, meaning that they appear to prevent the virus from functioning. Levels of neutralizing antibodies were 1.8 to 2.8 times the level of that in the recovered patients. A spokesperson said, "What we can say at this point is there is a viable candidate based on immunogenicity and early tolerability safety data."
Reuters: The RECOVERY study from the U.K. showed that a low daily dose of the generic steroid dexamethasone, given to the most serious hospitalized patients, those on oxygen or a ventilator, reduced deaths by 1/3rd. "The results, described as a 'major breakthrough' by scientists leading the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease, the researchers said. 'This is a result that shows that if patients who have COVID-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost,' said Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the trial. "
LBC Radio (UK): Sir John Bell is Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University. He is leading a team working on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine and he spoke to Matt Frei on the possibility of a vaccine being available by Autumn. The accelerated development of a coronavirus vaccine could mean the UK is fully vaccinated by Christmas.
Stat News: Sinovac Biotech announced preliminary study results on Saturday showing its experimental Covid-19 vaccine generated immune responses in patients and was safe — early data that suggest it might protect people against infections with the novel coronavirus. The Beijing-based drug maker’s vaccine, called CoronaVac, induced neutralizing antibodies in “above 90%” of people who were tested 14 days after receiving two injections, two weeks apart. There were no severe side effects reported, the company said in a statement. The preliminary results were from a 600-patient, placebo-controlled Phase 2 study. Sinovac is also conducting a 143-patient, placebo-controlled Phase 1 study.
CNN Health: A medicine that may treat and prevent Covid-19 is now being tested in patients in multiple sites around the United States, according to an announcement Thursday from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. It is the first trial of a Covid-19 antibody cocktail in the United States. If successful, Regeneron hopes it could be available by the fall. The clinical trial started Wednesday.
WSJ: The federal government plans to fund and conduct the decisive studies of three experimental coronavirus vaccines starting this summer, according to a lead government vaccine researcher. These phase 3 trials are expected to involve tens of thousands of subjects at dozens of sites around the U.S., John Mascola, director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. Meant to determine a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, they would mark the final stage of testing. Moderna Inc.’s vaccine is set to be first, starting in July, followed in August by one co-developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC and in September by Johnson & Johnson’s , he said.
WSJ: A new study finds that the novel coronavirus has become less lethal over the past few months. While there’s no evidence that mutations are making the virus less deadly, treatments have improved enormously as scientists have learned more. After adjusting for age and comorbidities, the study found the overall death rate declined by some 40% from March to April with huge reductions in those over age 80 (from 36.3% to 16.1%), and subjects with hypertension (23% to 12.1%), diabetes (30.3% to 8.4%), cardiovascular disease (31.5% to 12.1%), COPD (29.7% to 11.4%) and renal disease (32.3% to 11.5%). The treatment learning curve has been as steep as the infection curve. But even if there’s a second Covid-19 wave, it is likely to be less deadly than the first.
Just three months after the start of the pandemic, drugmaker Eli Lilly has announced the first human test of an antibody treatment designed to fight the novel coronavirus. The potential drug, developed by Lilly, Vancouver-based biotech company AbCellera, and the Vaccine Research Center at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was identified by screening over 5 million immune cells in the blood of one of the first people in North America to recover after having contracted COVID-19.
Click through for Graphic: This is not COVID-specific, but rather a look at the market since the March 23rd, pandemic-induced panic sell-off. The S&P 500 just completed it's best 50-day stretch ever, up 39.6% since the March 23rd low. While there seems to be A LOT of optimism built-in to the market's recent performance, the last two months offer a very good reminder on a few points: 1) the darkest days of despair are generally not the days to consider giving up on equities; 2) all bad news eventually recedes into the background; and 3) the market is less interested in what the economics of TODAY look like and much more interested in what the economics six months from now might look like.
CNN: Wow!! "The US should have a "couple hundred million" doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by start of 2021," Fauci says. Best thing I read today, and even better than the market retaking 26,000 this morning.
MedRxiv: Famotidine (aka Pepcid) is commonly used for gastric acid suppression but has recently gained attention as an antiviral that may inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication. This study tested whether famotidine use is associated with improved clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19 initially hospitalized to a non-intensive care setting. Use of famotidine was associated with reduced risk for death or intubation (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 0.42, 95% CI 0.21-0.85) and also with reduced risk for death alone (aHR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11-0.80). After balancing baseline patient characteristics using propensity score matching, these relationships were unchanged. This means there was a 58% reduction in intubation or death for the famitodine arm of the study.
Stat News: Researchers have begun testing what appears to be the first new medicine developed specifically against Covid-19, in a milestone for drug companies aiming to combat the disease, the medicine’s makers said Monday. The medicine, a human-made antibody against the coronavirus that causes the disease, was discovered by a Vancouver company, AbCellera, and is being developed by Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based drug giant.
Financial Times: Tests on French health workers with mild forms of coronavirus show that 98 per cent of them developed antibodies powerful enough to neutralise the virus a month later. The study at two Strasbourg hospitals will help to ease scientific concerns that people with mild forms of the disease do not develop robust immunity to the Sars-Cov-2 virus.
Science Magazine: Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has been conspicuously absent from the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. No longer. The company this morning announced it has cut deals to develop and manufacture two different COVID-19 vaccines and a much-discussed experimental antiviral compound that is already in early clinical trials. Researchers say the first human trial of a possible vaccine has been found to be safe and may effectively fight the virus. Scientists in China say 108 healthy adults were given a dose of adenovirus type 5 vectored COVID-19 (Ad5-nCoV) during the trial. The trial demonstrates that a single dose of the new adenovirus type 5 vectored COVID-19 (Ad5-nCoV) vaccine produces virus-specific antibodies and T cells in 14 days,” Professor Wei Chen of the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology said in a statement.
NYT: A New Entry in the Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine: Hope Scientists are increasingly optimistic that a vaccine can be produced in record time. But getting it manufactured and distributed will pose huge challenges.
From @mlipsitch (Harvard epidemiologist and microbiologist): A little good news. Survivors of SARS1 from 2003 retain neutralizing antibody 9-17 years later. So it is possible for functional antibody to a coronavirus to persist for longer than previously shown.
Stat News: A candidate vaccine for Covid-19 developed by the drug maker Moderna appears to generate an immune response similar to the response seen in people who have been infected by the virus and recovered, the company said Monday. The data were limited and from only a small number of participants in the trial, led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but they are still likely to be seen as encouraging.
WSJ: There are some green shoots starting to show up in economic and activity data. Map requests on Apple Inc. devices fell 50% throughout the country between mid-January and the week ended April 9, but they have steadily climbed since then and are now down just 20%. While driving doesn’t necessarily equate to spending, retail visits show the same trend, according to Unacast, a mobility-data analytics company: off more than 50% in mid-April from a year earlier, but down just 32% this past week. Real-estate brokerage Redfin Corp. said home-buyer demand as measured by customers contacting affiliated agents, after plummeting by one-third, is now above prepandemic levels. Some companies also report a turning point. On May 7, Uber Technologies Inc. said rides had risen for three straight weeks, and were up more than 40% from the trough in large cities in Georgia and Texas, which are starting to reopen businesses shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Fast-food chain Wendy’s Co. reported that same-store sales in the week ended May 3 were down just 2% from a year earlier. I suspect we'll see these and other numbers improve more as we enter June and state-level lockdowns decrease and people venture out more.
Barrons: Shanghai Disneyland reopened on Monday, after closing its gates nearly four months ago as the coronavirus spread across China and around the world. The reopening marks the first step of Walt Disney’s recovery, as the company weathers the closure of its other theme parks and resorts in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and the U.S. The reopening seems to have had a good start. Tickets for the reopening day sold out within minutes after booking started, signaling Chinese fans’ excitement over the magic kingdom’s return.
NYT: Patients with mild to moderate Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, appeared to improve more quickly if they were treated with a three-drug cocktail, compared with a group receiving just a two-drug combination, scientists reported on Friday. Included in the cocktail were three antiviral drugs: lopinavir-ritonavir (sold under the brand name Kaletra), taken orally; ribavirin, an antiviral drug used to treat hepatitis C, also taken orally; and interferon beta-1b, an injectable drug used to treat multiple sclerosis that regulates inflammation and suppresses viral growth.
NYT: Pfizer Begins Human Trials of Possible Coronavirus Vaccine. The drug company, along with a German partner, is running tests in healthy volunteers. It’s one of several companies on an accelerated timetable to try to find a safe, effective vaccine.
STAT News: A government-run study of Gilead’s remdesivir, perhaps the most closely watched experimental drug to treat the novel coronavirus, showed that the medicine is effective against Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. In a statement on Wednesday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is conducting the study, said preliminary data show patients who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo. The preliminary data showed that the time to recovery was 11 days on remdesivir compared to 15 days for placebo, a 31% decrease. The mortality rate for the remdesivir group was 8%, compared to 11.6% for the placebo group.
Korea Herald / Inquirer: South Korea’s infectious disease experts said Thursday that dead virus fragments, NOT reinfections, were the likely cause of over 260 people here testing positive again for the novel coronavirus days and even weeks after marking full recoveries. Oh Myoung-don, who leads the central clinical committee for emerging disease control, said the committee members found little reason to believe that those cases could be COVID-19 reinfections or reactivations.
STAT News: A U.S. government-run study of Gilead’s remdesivir, perhaps the most closely watched experimental drug to treat the novel coronavirus, showed that the medicine is effective against Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. During an appearance alongside President Trump in the Oval Office, Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, said the data are a “very important proof of concept” and that there was reason for optimism, but cautioned the data were not a “knockout.”
NYT: Scientists at Oxford's Jenner Institute had a head start on a vaccine, having proved in previous trials that similar inoculations — including one last year against an earlier coronavirus. This headstart has enabled them to leap ahead and schedule tests of their new coronavirus vaccine involving more than 6,000 people by the end of next month, hoping to show not only that it is safe, but also that it works.
Science Magazine: For the first time, one of the many COVID-19 vaccines in development has protected an animal, rhesus macaques, from infection by the new coronavirus, scientists report. The vaccine, an old-fashioned formulation consisting of a chemically inactivated version of the virus, produced no obvious side effects in the monkeys, and human trials began on 16 April.
The fourth COVID-19 vaccine to enter human trials, this one in Germany, was announced yesterday by the Paul Ehrlich Institute. Two human trials are underway in the U.S; one in China; and now this one in Germany.
STAT News: Chicago hospital treating severe Covid-19 patients with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir in a closely watched clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week.
CNBC: Abbott Labs is working on a fourth diagnostic test for the coronavirus: A “lateral flow” blood test that could provide mass testing to the general population. The company is on track to ship 4 million this month of its new antibody tests, which indicate whether a person has had Covid-19 in the past and was either asymptomatic or recovered, Abbott CEO Robert Ford said during an earnings conference call with investors Thursday. It plans to ramp up to 20 million shipments per month, beginning in June, he said, adding there’s a need to manufacture more tests.
TechCrunch: Apple and Google are working together to develop a contact tracking and tracing tool to help in the fight against COVID-19. This is a good example of companies taking steps toward a solution. I suspect we'll see more of these kinds of creative and helpful developments from many companies.
CNN: Antibody tests that would verify whether a person recently had the novel coronavirus could be available within a week, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert. (Sean's comment: I think widescale testing to see who's sick or who has been and recovered is going to be the most important element, short of a vaccine, to reopening the economy so this is VERY good news.)
ScienceDaily: A recent analysis from the University of Göttingen suggests that countries have only discovered on average about 6% (1 in 16) of actual coronavirus infections and the true number of infected people worldwide may already have reached several tens of millions. Using differences in mortality statistics across countries, they estimate that South Korea has detected about 50% of its infected population, Germany 16%, Spain and Italy less than 3%, and the U.S. and the UK, less than 2%. If so, this is a very positive development in that it means the infection fatality rate may be much lower than initially thought (although the virus still very dangerous given that no uninfected patients have immunity to the disease.)
Mercury News: Stanford is currently doing public testing of a newly developed serological COVID-19 antibody test. The university is also working on a second test that will be deployed for more widespread use. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is imminent – “within hours, not days,” said California Gov. Newsom.
ScienceDaily: An international team led by University of British Columbia researcher Dr. Josef Penninger has found a trial drug that effectively blocks the cellular door SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect its hosts. The findings, published today in Cell, hold promise as a treatment capable of stopping early infection of the novel coronavirus.
ScienceDaily: Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have announced a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. When tested in mice, the vaccine -- delivered through a fingertip-sized patch -- produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus.
As we've seen, the COVID-19 pandemic is unleashing what looks to be a global, if not necessarily well-coordinated, Manhattan Project-level of scientific effort and innovation. Here's a look at the many COVID-19-related therapeutic drug trials going on right now.
...and here is a list of the trials related to various diagnostic protocols and approaches.
...and, finally, a summary of vacination-related efforts underway around the globe.
This is encouraging bounce-back data, although still early. China manufacturing economy bounces back strongly after lockdown China’s official manufacturing PMI in March was 52, back from an all-time low in February and higher than forecasts Strong recovery comes amid fears of a second economic hit, with demand set to collapse in export markets under coronavirus lockdown
From CNN: This is a good use of underutilized manufacturing capcacity. Ford plans to make as many as 50,000 simple ventilators for coronavirus patients within 100 days and plans to continue producing 30,000 per month after that, the company announced Monday.
Johnson & Johnson said Monday human testing of its experimental vaccine for the coronavirus will begin by September and it could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021.
Bloomberg: Abbott Laboratories is unveiling a coronavirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting. The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1, said John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics.
Starbucks has reopened 95% of the stores that were shuttered in China, including four or five in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first tracked.
CNN Business: James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner fame, has designed a new ventilator in 10 days. He's making 15,000 for the pandemic fight.
Calculated Risk: U.S. testing numbers continue to rise (146,000 yesterday). Need more but heading the right direction.
YouTube: Funny remake ("My Corona") of the original 80s hit My Sharona. [Language Warning]
NYT: Not all bad. Some things companies around the U.S. are doing to make a difference in the coronavirus effort.
WaPo: The coronavirus isn’t mutating quickly, suggesting a vaccine would offer lasting protection
NYT: South Korea has shown that it is possible to contain the coronavirus without shutting down the economy, and that's a hopeful sign, but probably not until our numbers in the U.S. are MUCH lower than what we're currently seeing.
CNBC: Ford partners with GE, 3M to begin manufacturing protective equipment, ventilators
@Liz AnnSonders: Not sure how this isn't / can't be done here, ut South Korean authorities said Wednesday they were looking at whether country had sufficient stockpiles of #coronavirus test kits to expand exports to US @Reuters
Vanity Fair: (Yes, it's Vanity Fair, but in my defense, it's about the Chinese box office reopening): The Chinese film industry is finally moving forward after weeks of devastating news due to the spread of COVID-19. According to Variety, more than 500 cinema screens have reopened in China, where the number of coronavirus infections is dropping daily.
NYT: Scientists Identify 69 Drugs to Test Against the Coronavirus Two dozen of the medicines are already under investigation. Also on the list: chloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria.
WSJ: The U.S. central bank signaled it would do practically anything—extending loans to big and small businesses and purchasing unlimited amounts of government debt—to help an American economy in a race against time.
LAT: Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted. Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world.
@DrDenaGrayson: Awesome news! The FDA approved the first #coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at the point-of-care for a patient (such as a doctor’s office) — and **deliver results in just 45 minutes**.
@LizAnnSonders: @DrTedros (WHO) notes that Wuhan reported no new cases for the first time since outbreak started. "Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world, that even the most severe situation can be turned around."
@MarriottIntl: Click for video, but this sobering video from Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson is an example of extraordinary leadership. From the 4:05 mark: "If there is any good news visible today, it is the signs of early recovery in greater China. China appears to have succeeded in reducing the spread of Covid-19 through strong counteractions...We are seeing early signs of lodging demands begin to return...If this holds, this may bode well for the course of this epidemic in other parts of the world."
CalculatedRisk: Tests per day is a key number to track (along with actual cases and, sadly, deaths). But total tests were a key for South Korea slowing the spread of COVID-19. South Korea has been conducting 15,000 tests per day with a 51 million population, so the US needs to test around 100,000 per day. The US conducted 34,644 tests in the last 24 hours. That is progress.
China's market, through March 17th, was down ONLY 8.9% YTD, despite being in lockdown for two months. This presumably due the market responding to the country's aggressive approach and its apparent effectiveness. Click for chart.
Positive signs in China’s economy where large firms back to work & operating at levels > pre-virus rates, however, impact of quarantine on consumption services & household behaviour only beginning to be revealed
Quite a one-two-punch from 2 #COVID19 papers released today. First, a @ScienceMagazine paper estimates that most COVID19 infections are undocumented and unidentified through regular surveillance because they experience no, or only mild, symptoms. (This seems like a good news / bad news kind of thing due to transmission issues.)
WSJ: The Food and Drug Administration said late Monday that it will allow private companies to begin marketing coronavirus test kits directly to the public, in a new initiative to ease a chronic shortage of test kits.
The first testing in humans of an experimental vaccine for the new coronavirus began on Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced.
Through testing and retesting of all 3,300 inhabitants of the town of Vò, near Venice, regardless of whether they were exhibiting symptoms, and rigorous quarantining of their contacts once infection was confirmed, health authorities have been able to completely stop the spread of the illness there.
Q: How far away is a vaccine? @mvankerkhove (of WHO) says WHO is working to accelerate development. At least 20 vaccines in development for #covid19, she says.
Not coronavirus related directly, but stocks are getting very close to as cheap (relative to bonds) as they were at the bottom of the 2008-9 bear market (from LPL Research)
Let's hope! From Science Magazine: "dozens of diseases wax and wane with the seasons—and will COVID-19?"
Apple has announced it is reopening all 42 stores in China after the two-month shutdown in the Chinese economy.
Paul Lem, the founder and chief executive of Spartan Bioscience, for one. A few weeks ago, he and his fellow scientists pivoted abruptly from ongoing projects to focus on what seems the perfect application for one of its technology platforms — a way of quickly determining who has contracted the COVID-19 virus. Lem said he expects within weeks to have a hand-held product capable of identifying the COVID-19 virus within 30 to 45 minutes, a speedy result made possible because the necessary analysis is done on-site. It does not have to go to a laboratory for processing, as is the case with most other DNA test technology. If the Spartan device works as expected, it would be ideal for use at border crossings, remote communities, physicians’ offices, among other venues.
It's a small study and is probably getting too much airplay some experts have said, but fom the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases: "Conclusions Hydroxychloroquine was found to be more potent than chloroquine to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in vitro."
A randomized, controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the investigational antiviral remdesivir in hospitalized adults diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha.