Coronavirus News Roundup: FDA Fast Tracks 2 Vaccines, NCPA Launches Relief Package Campaign

July 17, 2020
Drug Topics staff

Here's the coronavirus-related news you should know from this week.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected an estimated 13,832,242 individuals worldwide, and approximately 3.6 million Americans. The latest COVID-19 related news includes developments in telemedicine, pharmacy preparation for a possible vaccine, and NCPA investigating pitfalls of previous COVID-19 relief packages in anticipation of new ones.

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

Episode 5: COVID-19 Innovations are Here to Stay

In episode 5 of Over the Counter, experts in technology and pharmacy highlight the major ways that telemedicine is rising to meet the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the podcast.

Pharmacies Must Prepare for a COVID-19 Vaccine

Despite some anticipated hesitancy, demand for the novel coronavirus vaccine will be significant when it becomes available.

Although community pharmacies are the ideal locations to provide a vaccine for COVID-19 after it is developed, they must overcome barriers that include state regulations and patient objections. One recent survey found that only 3 in 4 Americans would choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

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NCPA Launches “Essential” Campaign to Shed Light on COVID-19 Relief Package Pitfalls

The campaign advocates for improvements to the next COVID-19 relief package, including expanded protections and roles for community pharmacists.

The next COVID-19 national relief package should ensure hazard pay for pharmacists, allow pharmacist-administered tests and vaccines, and deem pharmacists “essential” workers, according to NCPA.

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FDA Grants Fast Track Designation for 2 MRNA-Based COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates

Pfizer and BioNTech SE announced that 2 of its most successful vaccine candidates received Fast Track designation from the FDA, opening the avenue for speedy development.

Two vaccine candidates from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE being developed to protect against SARS-CoV-2 received Fast Track designation from the FDA, which will allow the companies to begin phase 2b/3 safety and efficacy studies for the vaccines.

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FDA Authorizes Use of Non-Invasive Nerve Stimulation Therapy for Asthma Exacerbations in COVID-19

The therapy will also be available for individuals with asthma and suspected COVID-19 infection.

The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization to electroCore, Inc for its gammaCore Sapphire CV non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation, a therapy for patients with confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, who are experiencing flares in asthma-related dyspnea and reduced airflow, where medications fail to assuage symptoms.

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Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Shows Safety, Immune Response Results in Phase 1 Study

Moderna announced interim analysis results of its investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, from an ongoing phase 1 study.

Moderna’s investigational vaccine candidate for COVID-19 induced immune responses in all participants in its phase 1 study, according to new interim results from the ongoing trial.

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Social Determinants of Health: Tackle Disparities From the Pharmacy

Enhanced pharmacy services such as home delivery, curbside services, and expanded personal patient outreach create opportunities to address social determinants of health during the pandemic.

Nonmedical issues are requiring pharmacists’ attention in increasingly urgent ways, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A greater focus on social determinants of health (SDOH) may lead to a much more comprehensive approach to treating patients in the pharmacy and ultimately drive improved outcomes. Overall health is often determined by social and economic issues, and understanding how these factors affect patients is key to identifying and addressing SDOH in the pharmacy setting.

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Expert Interview: Racial Disparities Amid COVID-19

Dr. Cheryl Wisseh, PharmD, zone 5 director of the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA) discusses the ways that the current pandemic is displaying and doubling down on long standing disparities in our health care system.

Watch the interview.

Expert Interview Part 2: Racial Disparities Amid COVID-19

In part 2 of our interview, Dr. Cheryl Wisseh, PharmD, MPH, zone 5 director, NPhA, dives into the forces that bring about racial disparities, and offers pharmacy and health system-centered solutions.

Watch the interview

Over the Counter Episode 4: 2 Pandemics, Racism and COVID-19

Episode 4 of Over the Counter tackles dual pandemics: COVID-19 and racism. Experts discuss the most pressing health care and pharmacy issues related to racial disparity and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the podcast.