Coronavirus News Roundup: US Secures Doses of Investigational Vaccine, Oxford Vaccine Shows Promise

July 24, 2020

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

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected an estimated 15,526,057 individuals worldwide, and approximately 4.0 million Americans.

The latest COVID-19 related news includes the National Community Pharmacists Association. (NCPA) urging the federal government to eliminate direct and indirect renumeration fees, New York allowing pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, and the US government securing 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

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

UMass Memorial Provides Model for Curbside Medication Delivery

Since Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts issued a stay-at-home advisory in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, Massachusetts, has dispensed more than 5000 medications to patients and employees using its curbside prescription service.

UMass Memorial offers the service at 2 separate locations, both in downtown Worcester.

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NCPA Letter to Trump Urges for DIR Reform to Lower Drug Prices

In a letter to President Trump, NCPA CEO explained that failure to implement sweeping DIR fee reform would be detrimental to independent community pharmacies and their patients.

NCPA pressured the Trump administration to eliminate pharmacy direct and indirect renumeration (DIR) fees that inflate drug costs for seniors and negatively impact independent community pharmacies.

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NACDS Discusses NY Law Allowing Pharmacy-Provided COVID-19 Vaccinations

Kathleen Jaeger, NACDS senior vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy, offers key insights on a recent NY law that allows pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

Watch the interview

US Secures Deal with Pfizer, BioNTech for 100 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

The US government agreed to pay $1.95 billion for the first 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s investigational candidate.

As part of a national effort to ramp up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the US government agreed to pay $1.95 billion for the first 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s investigational candidate following FDA approval, according to a press release.

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HHS Invites NACDS to Join Federal Vaccine Consultation Panel

The Federal Vaccine Consultation Panel will allow industry leaders to share the questions, concerns, and needs of their constituencies related to the development and distribution planning of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a move that underscores the important role of pharmacists in effective pandemic response, the office of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has invited NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson to serve on HHS’ new COVID-19 Vaccine Consultation Panel (VCP).

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Smell Disturbances in the Era of COVID-19

Some patients affected by COVID-19 may be concerned about hyposmia (reduced ability to smell) or anosmia (loss of smell) that they experience after contracting the virus.

Some patients affected by COVID-19 may be concerned about hyposmia (reduced ability to smell) or anosmia (loss of smell) that they experience after contracting the virus. Although the exact prevalence of olfactory disturbances in patients with COVID-19 is not known, various studies reported the rates to be as low as 5% and as high as 98%.

In a telephone survey of Italian patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the investigators found that olfactory disturbances were reported early on in the course of the disease and that severe disturbances were more likely to be reported by female patients. Likewise, the investigators found that patients who reported severe olfactory disturbances were significantly younger than patients with no or mild olfactory disturbances.

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COVID-19 Testing Is Not an Automatic Choice for Pharmacists

Preparation taking place in some pharmacies, but clarification is still needed.

Are you testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? A recent National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) survey found that most pharmacists want to be part of the testing process, but few pharmacies offer sample collection or onsite testing.

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Oxford’s COVID-19 Vaccine Induces Strong Immune Responses in Early-Stage Trial

The AZD1222 vaccine, made from a common cold virus present in chimpanzees, produced rapid neutralizing antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

An ongoing clinical trial led by Oxford University investigating a potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine against COVID-19 reported encouraging early results, according to investigators.

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