COVID-19 Update | April 21, 2023

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | April 21, 2023

April 21, 2023

COVID-19 Update | April 21, 2023

The California Biotechnology Foundation is committed to keeping you up to date about COVID-19 testing, treatment and prevention advancements. The following resources track what progress has been made as of April 21, 2023. Notable advancements include:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have authorized an additional round of bivalent COVID-19 booster shots for adults who are 65 and over as well as people with compromised immune systems.
  • According to new studies AstraZeneca’s new version of its COVID-19 antibody treatment could protect immunocompromised patients against all known virus variants.
  • A trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine describe how two different drug combinations helped lower the risk of severe COVID-19.

Recent News

  • Direct Biologics unveils positive data from COVID-19 therapy program
    Clinical Trials Arena – April 20, 2023
    Direct Biologics has reported positive safety and efficacy results from its expanded access program of ExoFlo to treat hospitalized adult COVID-19 patients with moderate-to-severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).The results showed that no serious adverse events were reported related to ExoFlo. A Grade 1 adverse event associated with ExoFlo, hyperpigmentation at the infusion site, was reported. The findings demonstrated no infusion reactions, thereby supporting the favorable safety profile of ExoFlo.
  • Early use of dexamethasone associated with reduced mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 requiring breathing support
    News Medical Life Sciences – April 19, 2023

    In a recent study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers examined the clinical use of dexamethasone for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 respiratory illness and explored the heterogeneity of treatment outcomes across different subgroups. Overall, the study findings showed that among COVID-19 inpatients, administering dexamethasone within 48 hours of hospitalization or supplemental oxygen escalation significantly lowered the probability of COVID-19-associated death or discharge for hospice care among individuals receiving supplemental oxygen, ECMO, or MV.
  • Scientists discover a protein domain that could lead to new COVID-19 treatments
    News Medical Life Sciences – April 18, 2023
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists exploring bioenergy plant genetics have made a surprising discovery: a protein domain that could lead to new COVID-19 treatments. Researchers found the same plasminogen-apple-nematode, or PAN, domain studied by ORNL in plants like poplar and willow is also present in the human NRP1 receptor protein. NRP1 is less studied than the ACE-2 receptor targeted by current COVID-19 treatments, but this research shows its promise as a future therapeutic target.
  • Everything You Need To Know About the COVID-19 Bivalent Booster
    Health Essentials – April 18, 2023
    New variants of SARS-CoV-2 (the original virus that causes COVID-19) have emerged. Omicron and its various offshoots — including BA.4, BA.5 and XBB.1.5 — have become particularly tricky to protect against because they’re so evasive and spread so quickly. Because of that, we’ve had to adapt our treatments for COVID-19 and design new vaccines, like a bivalent booster, to ward off the most dominant and dangerous versions of the virus.
  • CDC panel weighs updates to COVID-19 vaccine recs
    University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – April 19, 2023
    Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today presented proposed COVID-19 vaccine policy updates to its vaccine advisory group, which are similar to those in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization. The updated booster guidance from the FDA and CDC is part of a plan to boost protection in vulnerable groups and simplify current recommendations for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people ahead of a fresh push—potentially with an updated vaccine—in the fall.
  • AstraZeneca confident new COVID-19 antibody protects against known variants
    Reuters – April 18, 2023
    AstraZeneca is confident that its new version of COVID-19 antibody treatment could protect immunocompromised patients against all known virus variants, its vaccines head said. Laboratory studies show the antibody, called AZD3152, neutralizes all known variants of COVID-19 and AstraZeneca has support from regulators to make the treatment available by the end of this year, Iskra Reic said in an interview. AstraZeneca plans, pending more positive data and regulatory approval, to make the antibody available by the end of 2023.
  • Early steroid use for severe COVID-19 tied to fewer deaths
    University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – April 18, 2023
    JAMA Network Open has published a new US national cohort study demonstrating that early administration of the steroid dexamethasone was associated with significantly reduced odds of mortality or discharge to hospice in those requiring supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation and/or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The effect was not seen, however, in patients who did not require supplemental oxygen or noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation. Systemic corticosteroids are now a standard therapy for those hospitalized for COVID-19, largely because of the positive outcomes seen in the Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial.
  • Two drug combos show protection against severe COVID-19
    University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – April 18, 2023
    Two new randomized, controlled trials published in the Annals of Internal Medicine describe how drug combinations lowered the risk of severe COVID-19, with one detailing use of the antidepressant fluvoxamine plus the corticosteroid budesonide, and the other outlining the monoclonal antibody duo amubarvimab plus romlusevimab. In the TOGETHER adaptive platform trial of repurposed drugs, a Stanford University–led team evaluated the use of the oral selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluvoxamine plus the inhaled corticosteroid budesonide among non-hospitalized adults with early symptomatic COVID-19 and at least one risk factor for severe disease at 12 sites.
  • D.A. Authorizes Another COVID-19 Booster Shot for People Over 65
    The New York Times – April 18, 2023
    The Food and Drug Administration authorized an additional round of bivalent booster shots for adults who are 65 and over as well as people with compromised immune systems. The effort is to ensure ongoing protection against COVID-19, which is still claiming more than 1,300 lives each week. The bivalent shots target Omicron variants of COVID-19. The agency said people who are 65 and older who have not had a bivalent booster shot in at least four months may get another one. For those who are immunocompromised, additional doses of the bivalent vaccine can be given two months after the last shot. Those who are unvaccinated can get a single dose of the bivalent booster, the agency said.
  • Single Dose of Omicron-Targeting Vaccines to Become Main COVID-19 Shot in U.S.
    The Wall Street Journal – April 18, 2023
    Americans seeking messenger RNA vaccines for COVID-19 for the first time will get one, updated shot targeting both the Omicron variant and the original strain of the virus under new moves rolled out by federal health officials.  The Food and Drug Administration also authorized a second booster of the updated shots for people at high risk of COVID-19, specifically people 65 years and older or people who have weak immune systems. The agency’s actions mark the latest tweaks to COVID-19 vaccines, and could be followed up by further efforts to simplify the complicated vaccination regimen, perhaps by enshrining plans for a once-a-year shot for most people.

Rely on California Biotechnology Foundation to monitor breaking news and provide updates on the latest advancements in COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.

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If you have any questions about hosting informational briefings for your colleagues serving in the legislature, contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].