Covid update - November 18, 2020

Covid News

Thanks to RA Capital for their great summary webinar.  I encourage everybody to tune in!  Here is my summary from that and the past week of #Covid19 news.

Note that I am not an expert and these are my personal interpretations.  Please let me know if you see any inaccuracies!

 First Home test is available.

  • A Califorina company, Lucira, has created the first home test. [LINK]
  • Results come back in 30 minutes
  • Cost is $50
  • You need a prescription
    • This is to regulate the testing - one major hurdle is how to report numbers of infections if the test is availble over the counter, like a pregnancy test.
  • It’s accurate - but still needs more data from non-infected people. As of new, the test was approved with results from people who were known to be infected.
    • It uses the accurate “molecular” testing, but targets unusual RNA strands rather than the more cumbersome, and more accurate, PCR tests that also use the molecular method. “Antigen” tests are looking for anti-bodies, which give a lower accuracy.

Two vaccines are working beyond expectations.

  • These are both mRNA vaccines and contain no actual virus. They work by creating custom proteins to counter the virus. This is new technology.
    • There are more vaccines that use this new type of technology in final studies now, so things look good for them too. In fact, there are many treatments being developed with this technology, so it’s exciting in the long term as well.
  • Between the two vaccines, there are a total of 100 million doses contracted with the US, with an option for 400mm more. That means that the entire country can get vaccinated.
  • Timeline:
    • Emergency Use Authorization later this month.
    • Available immediately - somewhere in the low 10’s of millions, prioritized to seniors and front line workers.
  • These vaccines aren’t fun - they hurt around the injection point and have side effects like fatigue and headache.

Immunity after an infection

  • There’s a new study from Mt. Sinai that tracks immunity over time (link) - it’s good news. After 3-5 months, patients still have antibodies to resist reinfection. It’s an ongoing study but this is great news.

Two studies released

  • In an effort to come up with a comprehensive course of treatment for hospitalized patients, the UK is running an aspirin trial to see if its anti-coagulant effects are helpful in keeping patients off respirators.
    • The benefits look marginal, but when combined with other treatments it looks like Aspirin might increase survival rates by a few percent.
    • Even a small improvement is OK it for a cheap, available drug.
  • Remember cytokine storms? The immune system goes out of control and starts to attack the body. A study that inhibited a specific cytokine was stopped because it was not producing a benefit. It seems like a more overall approach — like Dexamethasone’s immune suppressing — is the more successful method.


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