COVID-19 Update | July 14, 2023

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Update | July 14, 2023

July 14, 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 July 14, 2023. Notable advancements include:

  • Updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax targeting the Omicron subvariant should be available in the U.S. early this September.
  • Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid, was linked to a 30% lower risk of emergency department visits, hospitalization, and death among COVID-19 patients with serious chronic conditions.
  • According to a national study in the Journal of the American Medical Association two anti-inflammatory drugs, abatacept and infliximab, reduced deaths among patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19.

Recent News

  • Updated COVID-19 shot should be ready by ‘latter part of September,’ HHS secretary says in letter to manufacturers
    CNN Health – July 13, 2023
    US health officials are moving forward with plans to sunset the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution program and move the vaccines to the commercial market this fall, and they are laying out their expectations to manufacturers about what that transition should look like. US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to the CEOs of Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax detailing how, after the transition to commercialization, HHS expects “that vaccines will remain available in the types of locations where the public currently receives them – including pharmacies, clinics, healthcare provider offices, health departments, and other points of care – to maximize access.”
  • Nasal Covid Vaccines: The Latest Tool To Fend Off COVID-19
    Forbes – July 12, 2023
    A new nasally administered COVID-19 vaccine shows greater promise in protecting patients from both Omicron infection and disease progression than traditional vaccines used throughout the pandemic. A defining feature of the COVID-19 pandemic is the ongoing mutation of the virus to avoid our medical interventions. We may develop a drug or vaccine that neutralizes X version of the virus, but then it mutates to Y version and escapes neutralization. This is precisely what happened with the mRNA vaccines widely used in the United States and elsewhere.
  • Artificial Intelligence Could Accelerate Access to COVID-19 Treatment
    Pharmacy Times – July 12, 2023
    Researchers from the Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology are investigating how the use of artificial intelligence (AI) could expand access and increase the efficiency of diagnoses and treatments for COVID-19. The use of telemedicine and electronic health record (EHR) messaging increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the widespread availability of at-home tests allowed patients to report a positive test and start treatment without visiting their physician’s office. Although this shift in health care delivery has many benefits, the researchers noted that the influx of messages without a digitized triage system can slow responses and delay access to timely treatments.
  • Blood plasma proteins hold answers to better understanding long COVID-19
    Drug Target Review – July 11, 2023
    A team at Lawson Health Research Institute, Canada, has discovered unique patterns of blood plasma proteins in patients with long COVID-19, that could reveal potential drug targets to improve patient outcomes. Currently, 10 to 20 percent of people with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be diagnosed with long COVID-19. “Those patients experience a wide variety of symptoms, which may include fatigue, brain fog and difficulty breathing,” said Dr Douglas Fraser, Lawson Scientist and Critical Care Physician at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). “Their quality of life can be significantly altered, so anything that we can do to learn about this disorder and identify potential treatment targets is very important.”
  • Air monitor can detect COVID-19 virus variants in about 5 minutes
    The Source – July 10, 2023
    Now that the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, scientists are looking at ways to surveil indoor environments in real time for viruses. By combining recent advances in aerosol sampling technology and an ultrasensitive biosensing technique, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have created a real-time monitor that can detect any of the SARS-CoV-2 virus variants in a room in about 5 minutes. The inexpensive, proof-of-concept device could be used in hospitals and health care facilities, schools and public places to help detect CoV-2 and potentially monitor for other respiratory virus aerosols, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
  • Two anti-inflammatory drugs reduce deaths in severe COVID-19 patients
    News Medical & Life Sciences – July 10, 2023
    Two anti-inflammatory drugs, abatacept and infliximab, reduced deaths among patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19, according to a national study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. William G. Powderly, MD, who led the large clinical trial, discusses patient conditions with Maanasi Samant, MD, in the intensive care unit at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, one of the major trial sites, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two drugs commonly used to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis did not shorten recovery time for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 but did reduce the likelihood of death when compared with standard care alone, according to a national study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
  • Novavax COVID-19 vaccine produces immunity
    Pharma Times – July 7, 2023
    Second dose of treatment generates response among young people during Oxford University trial Researchers leading the University of Oxford’s Com-COV3 study have delivered results from a study researching the immune response and side-effect profile of ‘mixed’ two-dose COVID-19 vaccine schedules. The trial unfolded in adolescents aged between 12 and 16 years who received either a full or a one-third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – or a full dose of the Novavax vaccine at least eight weeks after a first full dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
  • Better pandemic preparedness linked to lower COVID-19 mortality rates, study shows
    News Medical & Life Sciences – July 6, 2023
    The vast majority of countries that entered the COVID-19 pandemic with strong capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats achieved lower pandemic mortality rates than less prepared nations, according to a major new study published today in BMJ Global Health. The analysis was led by researchers from the Brown University School of Public Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). The study found that when accounting for two key differences between countries-;the age of their populations and their capacity to diagnose COVID-19 cases and deaths-;the pandemic clearly was less deadly in countries that rank high on the Global Health Security Index, which measures the pandemic preparedness capacities of 195 countries.
  • Three Vaccines for Fall: What You Need to Know
    The New York Times – July 5, 2023
    Most Americans have had one or more shots of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. New this year are the first shots to protect older adults from respiratory syncytial virus, a lesser-known threat whose toll in hospitalizations and deaths may rival that of flu. Federal health officials are hoping that widespread use of these three vaccines will head off another “tripledemic” of respiratory illnesses, like the one seen last winter. For people with insurance, all of the vaccines should be available for free. “This is an embarrassment of riches,” said Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital and an adviser to the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Paxlovid tied to 30% lower risk of severe COVID-19 in patients with chronic conditions
    CIDRAP – June 30, 2023
    Paxlovid was linked to a 30% lower risk of all-cause emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalization, and death among vaccinated, nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients with serious chronic conditions but didn’t appear to benefit those with only asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or no serious underlying conditions, concludes a Harvard University–led study. For the observational study, published today in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers assessed outcomes among two groups of 2,547 COVID-19 patients aged 18 to 50 years. Participants had been vaccinated from December 2021 to July 2022, and the search was conducted in September. One group received Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir), while the matched control group didn’t.

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].