Coronavirus News – April 30

‘Clear-cut’ evidence remdesivir works against coronavirus, according to Dr. Fauci

Dr. Anthony Facui, the nation’s top epidemiologist, said yesterday, “The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.” The data he referred to is from a large study of more than 1,000 patients from multiple sites around the world. Patients either received the antiviral drug remdesivir or a placebo. Dr. Fauci said the remdesivir study group was able to be discharged from the hospital within 11 days, on average, compared to 15 days in the placebo group. There were indications that Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir led to fewer deaths, but that part of the analysis is still under review. The FDA plans to announce an EUA for remdesivir, according to the New York Times. Read more. 

Inovio to expand manufacturing of vaccine candidate with CEPI grant

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Plymouth Meeting, PA) has received another grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) (Oslo, Norway) to help expand manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. CEPI has given $1.3 million more to support large-scale manufacturing of INO-4800, its DNA-based vaccine which is in Phase 1 clinical testing in the U.S. CEPI has given $17.2 million total to Inovio. The company is working with German contract manufacturer Richter-Helm BioLogics GmbH & Co. KG, which makes vaccines for HPV. The company is aiming to move to Phase 2/3 efficacy trials this summer. Read more.

Hundreds of Georgia’s poultry workers test positive for COVID-19

Nearly 400 workers in Georgia’s poultry industry have positive for COVID-19, according to Georgia Department of Public Health statistics, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The biggest challenge for these employees is the community widespread transmission in the areas where they live, the lack of education about COVID-19, and reluctance to change behaviors,” Nancy Nydam, Georgia Public Health spokesperson, told the AJC. The data did not identify the workers or say where they contracted COVID-19, but Fieldale Farms (Baldwin, GA) confirmed a 63-year-old Hispanic man with other health issues who worked at the company’s chicken plant in Cornelia, GA, died last month from COVID-19. President Donald Trump is vowing to prevent food shortages through an executive order signed Tuesday by ensuring U.S. meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted. Read more.

Children with coronavirus may be just as infectious as adults

According to a study from Germany that recommends caution against an unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens, children with the novel coronavirus may be as infectious as adults. While children have a lower risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, they may be no less capable of spreading it. Levels of the virus in the respiratory tract do not appear significantly different across age groups. The WHO says more research is needed on the topic. But, the most detailed pediatric data on COVID-19 from China showed 13% of confirmed cases had no symptoms, and when confirmed and suspected cases were combined, almost one-third of children ages 6 to 10 years were asymptomatic. Read more.

Jobless claims drop week-over-week, but U.S. total hit 30 million mark this week

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week, down from the previous week’s 4.4 million people. However, a total of 30.3 million have applied for unemployment in the six weeks since the coronavirus began affecting the U.S. job market. Congress has authorized expanded unemployment payments of $600 per week through July. Those benefits are also available to “gig” workers and the self-employed, who ordinarily are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Many workers are still waiting to collect thanks to an overwhelmed unemployment delivery system. Read more.