FDA Approves Emergency Use of Remdesivir

The latest in COVID-19

Created with Sketch.

FDA Approves Emergency Use of Remdesivir

Quick Take

  • World Health Organization extends its declaration of a global health emergency.
  • FDA approves emergency use of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that seems to boost recovery time.
  • Over 75 laboratories participate in a national initiative to speed up research of the virus.
  • CDC report shows that more than 4,000 meatpacking workers have been infected with coronavirus.

A total of 64,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and confirmed cases in the country have just passed 1.1 million.

WHO Extends Global Health Emergency Declaration

The World Health Organization has extended its declaration of a global health emergency as the global death toll reaches a quarter million. The move comes three months after the organization’s original decision to announce a “public health emergency of international concern” on Jan. 30th. At the time, only 98 of the nearly 10,000 cases confirmed had occurred outside of China.

The growth rate of the virus has slowed down in many Asian and European countries, but there is much concern over a rapid rise in new cases in Africa and South America, where many countries have weak health care systems that could easily be overwhelmed. 

Across the United States, governors are struggling to keep stay-at-home orders in place amid rising demand from protesters to reopen the economy. Scientific and public health experts warn that reopening businesses, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls may lead to a deadly second wave of the pandemic.

FDA Approves Emergency Use of Remdesivir

The FDA has approved the emergency use of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that seems to boost recovery among COVID-19 patients. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the approval was made at lightning speed, calling it an important clinical advance.

The agency based its decision on the results of a government study that showed remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31% for COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Those given the drug were able to leave the hospital in 11 days, on average, versus 15 days for those given a placebo. 

Earlier this week, the White House announced an initiative to produce a COVID-19 vaccine that could be available nationwide by January. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the initiative, coined “Operation Warp Speed,” would produce hundreds of millions of doses by January.

Federal Initiative To Study Virus Genome

The CDC has announced a national initiative to speed up research on how the virus was spreading around the country, bringing together at least 75 public health institutions to stud the virus’s genome. Understanding the genome can help scientists trace patterns of transmission, investigate outbreaks, and better assess the accuracy of diagnostic tests and the effectiveness of treatments and vaccines.

The new consortium aims to standardize what information should accompany each genome sequence, such as where and when a sample was taken, which are critically important details to make use of the data. The hope is that sharing the results will help researchers design vaccines and therapies much quicker.

Rich Private Schools Should Return Stimulus Funds

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says private schools with large endowments should return federal stimulus loans they received from a program intended for small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many prominent private schools have applied for the loans, which are issued by the SBA to help businesses meet their payroll needs. Some schools such as Harvard have decided to return the loans amid public scrutiny, but others say they need the money. The Los Angeles Times reported that a private school in Los Angeles attended by at least two of Mr. Mnuchin’s children had also accepted a loan.

Run by the SBA, the $660 billion aid program — formally known as the Paycheck Protection Program — has been criticized for providing funds to large public companies ahead of Main Street small businesses. The money comes in the form of SBA-backed loans, backed that can be forgiven if recipients put the majority of funds toward payroll needs.

Over 4,000 Meatpacking Workers Infected

A new report from the CDC shows that more than 4,000 workers at 115 meatpacking plants across the country have been infected with coronavirus. At least twenty of the meatpacking workers have died from coronavirus.

The news comes as President Trump issued an executive order labeling meat processing as critical infrastructure, enabling the Department of Agriculture to take additional action in keeping plants open, superseding local regulations. In total, the meat and poultry processing industry employs about half a million people. Over the last month, dozens of meatpacking plants have been forced to close amid outbreaks, straining the country’s meat supply.