Treatment and vaccine trials are halted, the United States forges ahead with its decentralized response, and new revelations about American society and institutions highlight the virus’ deadly toll. Here’s what you need to know:
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Once promising treatments and vaccines hit roadblocks
Two weeks ago, President Trump received a dose of a experimental antibody cocktail that he later claimed to have “cured” him of Covid-19. Two companies that make versions of the drug – Regeneron and Eli Lilly – each applied for emergency FDA clearance soon after. Previous therapies approved by the FDA were all intended for people already in hospital, but this one is given right after diagnosis. For this and other reasons, it looks promising, but data on the drug is still limited. Then on Tuesday, Eli Lilly halted her Phase III drug trials due to potential safety issues not specified. While this may sound like bad news, it’s important to remember that breaks are an important and necessary part of the clinical trial process.
In addition to Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson also suspended a Phase III trial this week for its coronavirus vaccine after a participant reported an adverse event. The break will give the Data and Security Watch Committee enough time to investigate what happened before continuing the trial. Meanwhile, a massive international lawsuit Investigating the effectiveness of Remdesivir, the only treatment authorized for Covid-19 in the United States, revealed that the drug did not prevent the death of Covid-19. Having said that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the drug can’t benefit people earlier in their illness. The data, which was part of a WHO-sponsored study, was posted online yesterday but has not yet been peer reviewed or published in a journal.
United States continues decentralized approach as virus cases increase
Last week, cases have increased in 35 states across the United States, with 14 reporting their maximum seven-day average on Thursday. Despite the national trend, America’s responses to the coronavirus continue to be decentralized, and states must make many of their own decisions on how to stop the spread of the virus. In New York, for example, authorities recently implemented targeted locks in areas where the case rate is increasing. While such a hyperlocal approach makes a lot of sense, the boundaries between city neighborhoods are porous at best.
When a vaccine is ready, its distribution will likely be just as decentralized as other public health measures taken in the past eight months. In mid-September, the CDC released a manual outlining what states should do now to prepare for a vaccine. The states’ first versions of their plans must return to the CDC today. But they have to submit these plans without knowing when the vaccine will arrive or how many doses they will receive. And the CDC’s guidelines still leave many decisions up to states, such as deciding who gets a vaccine first. All of this means that we could consider a different deployment strategy in each state.
Pre-existing conditions of the coronavirus pandemic
A massive new accounting Global People’s Health has found that the health of people in the United States – especially whether you are poor or not white – lags behind other rich countries. The diseases and disorders that marginalized Americans are most likely to have are the same co-morbidities that can make Covid-19 serious or fatal. This is not the case in countries with better social and health safety nets. “Some researchers have described Covid-19 as not a pandemic but a”syndemic“Writes Adam Rogers of WIRED,” a synergistic epidemic related, overlapping issues, each compounding the others. “