Herewith three items of pandemic news you may have missed recently: troubling details on Long Covid; news from the treatment front; and Minnesota’s Covid notification app. Plus the accustomed frippery.
Minnesota’s Covid notification app
Yesterday I downloaded and installed COVIDaware MN, the app that my state just released to enable smartphone notifications to those potentially exposed to infection. It uses technology built into iOS and Android since the spring — a Bluetooth Low Energy beacon, a random and rotating anonymous device ID, and push notification — to let you know if you may have spent 15+ minutes within 6 feet someone who later tests positive. (Such a report requires a state health department-issued verification code to prevent mischief.) No location data is collected or stored.
In an excess of privacy caution, the app leaves it up to the positive individual whether or not to send notifications to those they may have exposed.
I do not expect ever to get notified, because I never see anyone other than my wife (and she does not have the app on her phone), and don’t expect to see anyone else until at least two weeks after my second shot. Unless it’s the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine.
With vaccines grabbing all the headlines, I thought I would convey three quick news items about Covid-19 treatment options, authorized and experimental.
Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment gets an EUA. The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for the mAb anti-viral cocktail that was given to the President. The two drugs in question are called casirivimab and imdevimab. You may forget these forgettable monikers; I expect everyone to just say Regeneron. The treatment is to be infused (intravenously) during the early, viral replication phase of Covid-19. Once the immune system has begun clearing the virus it is time for other treatments, such as immune modulators or anticoagulation factors. See the figure at right for the phases of the disease, which comes from This Week in Virology‘s Dr. Daniel Griffin. Click for a larger version.
Merck will acquire OncoImmune for its CD24Fc recombinant fusion protein targeting the innate immune system. Interim results from a Phase III trial showed that for 203 patients with severe or critical Covid-19, a single dose of CD24Fc resulted in a 60% chance of improved clinical status and a 50% reduction in the probability of death by respiratory failure. Merck will pay $425 million in cash for the Maryland-based, private company.
An oral antiviral treatment enters Phase II testing. Massachusetts-based Clear Creek Bio has dosed the first patient in a Phase II outpatient study of Brequinar to treat Covid-19. The company says, “Brequinar is an orally available, potent, and selective small molecule DHODH inhibitor that has been shown in vitro to inhibit viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 as well as a broad spectrum of RNA viruses.” Brequinar was developed and first investigated as an immunosuppressant and/or an anti-cancer drug; it has not been approved for either use but is of continuing interest as an antiviral.
Long Covid is no joke
A paper in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases describes the results of following 124 Covid-19 patients for up to three months after hospital discharge or clearing the disease at home. The patients’ disease ranged from mild to critical.
The researchers found that lung diffusion capacity was below the lower limit of normal in 42% of recovered patients, and was reduced from their baseline in 91% of them. In addition, recovered patients at the 3-month mark complained of:
- Low exercise capacity: 22%
- Problems in mental and/or cognitive function: 36%
- Functional impairment: 64%
- Fatigue: 69%
- Reduced quality of life: 72%
Ready for your frippery? Visit The Useless Web for endless hours of mindless fun. Each time you click you get another website, opening in a new tab, that certifiably has no value at all. One among many that was presented to me: Magic 8 Ball says — Signs point to yes!