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Doctors Without Borders to Deploy Additional Teams in France to Help with COVID Case Increase

November 12, 2020

(Newsweek) – Doctors Without Borders is looking to increase its relief work in France, as the European nation confronts an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases. The Paris-founded humanitarian aid organization (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in French) issued a public call to medical professionals and paramedics on Wednesday asking for their assistance. In a statement, the international non-profit said additional help is necessary to support nursing homes and residential care facilities in the Paris area, citing “a glaring shortage” of medical staff.

States Ramp Up for Biggest Vaccination Effort in US History

November 12, 2020

(Medical Xpress) – With a COVID-19 vaccine drawing closer, public health officials across the country are gearing up for the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history—a monumental undertaking that must distribute hundreds of millions of doses, prioritize who’s first in line and ensure that people who get the initial shot return for the necessary second one. 

Russia’s Claim of a Successful COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Pass the ‘Smell Test,’ Critics Say

November 12, 2020

(Science) – Another day, another promising COVID-19 vaccine? A Russian institute announced today its vaccine candidate has had remarkable success in an efficacy trial, just 2 days after the widely celebrated news from Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine had greater than 90% efficacy. The Russian report, however, is being met with raised eyebrows—and some outright guffaws.

U.S. to Start Distributing Lilly COVID-19 Antibody This Week

November 12, 2020

(Medscape) – The FDA on Monday gave emergency use authorization to Lilly’s antibody for anyone over age 65 who is recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, and for patients age 12 and older who have an underlying health condition putting them at risk for serious illness. The agency said the treatment should not be used in patients already hospitalized with COVID-19.

Hundreds of Thousands of Healthcare Workers Worldwide Contracted COVID-19

November 12, 2020

(Medscape) – Hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses and other frontline healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 this year, and thousands have died, according to a survey of 37 countries.

‘We’re Being Left Behind’: Rural Hospitals Can’t Afford Ultra-Cold Freezers to Store the Leading Covid-19 Vaccine

November 11, 2020

(STAT News) – Large urban hospitals across the U.S. are rushing to buy expensive ultra-cold freezers to store what’s likely to be the first approved Covid-19 vaccine. But most rural hospitals can’t afford these high-end units, meaning health workers and residents in those communities may have difficulty getting the shots. The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech, seems to provide 90% immunity according to early data released on Monday. But there’s a catch: The vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. Typical freezers don’t get that cold, making distribution of this vaccine a logistical nightmare.

Why Do COVID Death Rates Seem to Be Falling?

November 11, 2020

(Nature) – One shining light that he can point to is his intensive-care unit’s dwindling fatality rate. In April, up to 35% of those in the unit with COVID-19 perished, and about 70% of those on ventilators died. Now, the intensive-care mortality rate for people with the illness is down to 30%, and for those on ventilators it is around 45–50%. “This itself was a relief,” says Vijayaraghavan. Around the world, similar stories are emerging. Charlotte Summers, an intensive-care physician at the University of Cambridge, UK, says that data collected by the country’s National Health Service (NHS) show a decline in death rates.

Developmental Disabilities Heighten Risk of Covid Death

November 11, 2020

(New York Times) – People with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders are three times more likely to die if they have Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, compared with others with the diagnosis, according to a large analysis of insurance claims data. The finding raises complex questions about how to allocate new vaccines as they become available in limited supplies. The drug maker Pfizer announced this week that its experimental vaccine is performing well in clinical trials.

The Polio Eradication Campaign Is Faltering. Can a New Vaccine Help It Get Back on Track?

November 11, 2020

(Science) – The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is about to roll out a brand-new vaccine—one that its leaders desperately hope will turn the flagging effort around. If it works as expected, the vaccine just might overcome one of the biggest obstacles to polio eradication: out-of-control outbreaks caused by the polio vaccine itself. If not, GPEI will be back to dousing each outbreak with a vaccine that risks starting another, as eradication slips further from sight.

Pfizer Vaccine Results Leave Questions About Safety, Longevity

November 11, 2020

(Bloomberg) – Covid-19 vaccine results from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE fueled optimism that the world will soon have a potential way out of the pandemic, yet experts cautioned that the shot still has many hurdles to clear. Questions about production, distribution and, most importantly, the performance and capability of the shot itself still need to be answered, even if the numbers look highly promising, according to vaccine specialists. The Pfizer trial started less than four months ago, and how long the vaccine will confer protection and how many will benefit are almost complete unknowns for now.

FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization to Lilly’s Antibody COVID-19 Therapy

November 11, 2020

(Medscape) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) on Monday for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab (Eli Lilly) to treat adults and children with mild to moderate COVID-19. The monoclonal antibody therapy has emergency authorization for treating patients who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection and who are considered to be at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19 or hospitalization.

Hospitals Poised to Launch First COVID-19 Vaccines in Clinicians

November 11, 2020

(Medscape) – As hospitals scramble to prepare, their watchword is flexibility. They don’t yet know how many initial doses they will get, of which vaccine, or in what time frame. They have a sophisticated infrastructure to deliver flu vaccines each fall, but that framework doesn’t align with the likely scenarios of limited supply, additional reporting requirements, two-dose regimens, and differing storage needs.

The Story of mRNA: How a Once-Dismissed Idea Became a Leading Technology in the Covid Vaccine Race

November 10, 2020

(STAT News) – But what the companies share may be bigger than their differences: Both are banking on a genetic technology that has long held huge promise but has so far run into biological roadblocks. It is called synthetic messenger RNA, an ingenious variation on the natural substance that directs protein production in cells throughout the body. Its prospects have swung billions of dollars on the stock market, made and imperiled scientific careers, and fueled hopes that it could be a breakthrough that allows society to return to normalcy after months living in fear.

Brazil Halts Trial of Chinese Vaccine. But Was Science or Politics to Blame?

November 10, 2020

(New York Times) – Brazil said on Monday that it had halted a late-stage trial of a Chinese vaccine that had been considered a global front-runner in the race to develop a protective shot for the coronavirus after a “serious adverse” reaction in a participant. The Brazilian health regulator provided little information on its decision, including whether the reaction was related to the vaccine, called CoronaVac and produced by the Chinese company Sinovac, or coincidental.

IVF Babies with Birth Defects Also Show Increased Cancer Risk

November 10, 2020

(Med Page Today) – Children with birth defects who were conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) were more likely to develop childhood cancer compared to those conceived naturally, according to the results of a cohort study. Kids with a major birth defect conceived via IVF had nearly seven times the risk of cancer than those without a birth defect (hazard ratio 6.90, 95% CI 3.73-12.74), reported Barbara Luke, ScD, MPH, of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Four Reasons for Encouragement Based on Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Results

November 10, 2020

(STAT News) – A preliminary analysis of the race frontrunner, Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, suggested it was 90% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid disease. While these are early findings — the trial is still ongoing — they suggest the vaccine could be very protective. There’s another important caveat. We don’t yet have details about whether the vaccine blocked mainly mild cases, or if there is evidence that it seemed to prevent some severe infections, too.

STAT-Harris Poll: Most Americans Won’t Get a Covid-19 Vaccine Unless It Cuts Risk by Half

November 10, 2020

(STAT News) – Six in 10 Americans said they are somewhat or very likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine if doing so would lower the risk of becoming infected by about half, according to a new survey from STAT and The Harris Poll. The poll also found that more Americans say they are likely to get a vaccine, practice social distancing, and wear a mask if they or someone they know has contracted Covid-19.

Scientists Criticize Use of Unproven COVID Drugs in India

November 9, 2020

(Nature) – In India, which has the world’s second-largest COVID-19 outbreak, there is a desperate need for effective treatments. But researchers are concerned about how the country’s drug regulator is handling potential therapies. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved several repurposed drugs for ‘restricted emergency use’ for treating the disease, the first time it has used such powers. Yet scientists say it’s unclear on what basis the drugs were approved, and critics argue that the manufacturers’ data on their effectiveness is unconvincing so far.

What Pfizer’s Landmark COVID Vaccine Results Mean for the Pandemic

November 9, 2020

(Nature) – Drug company Pfizer’s announcement on 9 November offers the first compelling evidence that a vaccine can prevent COVID-19 — and bodes well for other COVID-19 vaccines in development. But the information released at this early stage does not answer key questions that will determine whether the Pfizer vaccine, and others like it, can prevent the most severe cases or quell the coronavirus pandemic.

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Is Looking 90% Effective

November 9, 2020

(Associated Press) – Pfizer Inc. said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine may be a remarkable 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results that nevertheless brought a big burst of optimism to a world desperate for the means to finally bring the catastrophic outbreak under control.

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