Coronavirus News Roundup: Clinical Trial Updates, COVID-19 Coverage at ASCO


Here's this week's roundup of the latest coronavirus-related news.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected an estimated 5,800,000 individuals worldwide, and approximately 1.7 million Americans. As all 50 states are beginning to reopen in some way, here are the reports, research, and updates on COVID-19 you need to know.

Here’s a roundup of the latest coronavirus-related news:

ASCO20 Virtual: Study Assesses COVID-19 Clinical Data, Finds Cancer Mortality Links

A study presented online for the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Virtual Scientific Program found that mortality was high among patients with cancer affected by COVID-19. Mortality was also associated with both general population risk factors, as well as those unique to patients with cancer.

The study, which is being presented as a late-breaking abstract, also showed that receipt of hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin was an independent factor associated with increased morality. Lead investigator Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, FAMIA, FASCO, associate professor of medicine and biomedical informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, discussed the findings in a virtual press briefing.

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ASCO Special Report Offers Guidance on Cancer Care Delivery During Pandemic

ASCO recently released a detailed guidance to oncology practices aimed at protecting the safety of patients and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ASCO Special Report: A Guide to Cancer Care Delivery During the COVID-19 Pandemic provides information on a wide range of policies and practices developed by cancer facilities, as well as guidance provided by government agencies and other medical societies. The report was developed by a group of ASCO expert volunteers who work in diverse practice settings, and is not intended to provide recommendations for care of individual patients.

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Experts Caution Against High Doses of Vitamin D for COVID-19

High doses of vitamin D supplement have not shown any benefit in preventing or treating COVID-19, and individuals should be cautioned against over supplementation of the vitamin, experts emphasized in a global consensus paper published in BMJ, Nutrition, Prevention and Health.

Unverified reports have suggested that of high-dose vitamin D (higher than 4000IU/d) could reduce the risk of COVID-19; however, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to back these claims.

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Preliminary Report of Remdesivir Trial Shows Improved Recovery Time in Severe COVID-19

Preliminary data from the Adaptive Covid-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT-1), which incorporated sites in 10 countries and evaluated the safety and efficacy of intravenous (IV) remdesivir, showed promising results for a 10-day course of remdesivir in shortening recovery time in adults hospitalized with COVID-19 and demonstrating evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.

The study’s preliminary results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated remdesivir in hospital settings in the US (45 sites), Denmark (8), the UK (5), Greece (4), Germany (3), Korea (2), Mexico (2), Spain (2),  Japan (1), and Singapore (1).The 58-day trial began on February 21, 2020 and ended on April 19, 2020.

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COVID-19 and Telemedicine: A Conversation

In an interview with Drug Topics®, Richard Scholz, chief strategy officer of ERxDirect, explained the prominence of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and the lasting implications of new technologies during unprecedented times.

Watch the interview

WHO Suspends Hydroxychloroquine Study Arm of COVID-19 Solidarity Trial

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it is temporarily pausing the hydroxychloroquine arm of its Solidarity Trial, which is evaluating the drug for use in COVID-19, as it reviews safety data.

The suspension comes after data from the trial was published by The Lancet on Friday, May 22, which showed that treatment with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, with or without a macrolide, did not demonstrate in-hospital clinical benefits in patients with COVID-19. Moreover, the study authors reported an estimated higher mortality rate among patients receiving the drug, according to the findings.

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FDA OKs Octapharma’s IVIG to Begin Phase 3 Trial for Severe COVID-19

Officials with the FDA have approved Octapharma’s investigational new drug (IND) application for intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) (Human, Octagam 10%) therapy for severe COVID-19, according to a press release.

The IND approval will allow the start of a phase 3, multicenter clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of IVIG in patients with severe disease progression.

According to Octapharma, the study will begin immediately at approximately 10 US research sites and aims to enroll approximately 54 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 with a resting oxygen saturation, or SpO2, of ≤93%, requiring oxygen supplementation.

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Drug Interaction Concerns for Potential COVID-19 Treatments

As states begin to relax the measures put in place to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 infections and businesses across the country slowly reopen, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects that more than 137,000 Americans will die by early August.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that a single, effective vaccine approach will likely be required to successfully protect the global community from SARS-CoV-2 the virus that causes COVID-19.2 This is, like everything else about the pandemic, an informational moving target. Every day there are new ideas, new evidence, old possibilities disproved, and clinicians and researchers on the front lines share the benefit of their experiences.

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