From Apps To Testing, Pandemic Innovations Deliver Mixed Results
Technology experts and public health officials have scrambled over the last few months to deliver tools that could help detect and combat the virus spread, but some are more successful than others.
Despite Promise, Few In US Adopting COVID-19 Exposure Apps
Six months ago, Apple and Google introduced a new smartphone tool designed to notify people who might have been exposed to the coronavirus, without disclosing any personal information. But for the most part, Americans haven’t been all that interested.Fewer than half of U.S. states and territories — 18 in total — have made such technology widely available. And according to a data analysis by The Associated Press, the vast majority of Americans in such locations haven’t activated the tool. (Anderson and O'Brien, 12/6)
Testing Of Asymptomatic Patients Becomes More Prevalent And Useful
Some 10 months into the pandemic, testing for individuals who may be infected with COVID but who may not show symptoms remains a hodgepodge of methods, modalities, and technologies, many of which have not been authorized by regulators specifically to test asymptomatic patients. Some insiders emphasize the importance of doing rapid turnaround testing of asymptomatic people at the point of care enabled by either antigen or molecular assays, while others contend that laboratory-based tests ─ whether molecular- or antigen-based ─ ought to be the modalities of choice. (O'Connor, 12/6)
The Columbus Dispatch:
COVID-19 Surges Can Be Predicted By Sewage Water, Days Before Cases
It has been about four months since the Ohio Department of Health rolled out a sewage wastewater monitoring program to help predict the spread of coronavirus in Ohio's communities. And since then, the surge of COVID-19 cases has risen exponentially, enveloping almost every community in the state, large and small, urban and rural. The basis for testing wastewater is to look for ribonucleic acid (RNA) fragments from human feces, which can help predict hot spot communities where individuals have the coronavirus. (Narciso, 12/7)
Bay Area News Group:
Why Are There So Few COVID-19 Drugs?
When future historians recount the medical advances of the 21st century, a crowning achievement will surely be the swift development of COVID-19 vaccines to prevent the disease. So why is it so hard to deliver drugs that can treat it? Despite more than 14 million infections and 281,000 deaths, the United States has struggled to channel its expertise, energy, focus and resources into clinical trials for medicines that could reduce misery and save lives. “We need better drugs. We want this to be an entirely curable disease,” said Dr. Annie F. Luetkemeyer, an infectious disease physician at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. (Krieger, 12/6)
COVID-19 Treatment Protocol Developed In The Field Helps Patients Recover
Motivated to give patients remedies, a team at DuPage began looking into the recent data on hospitalized coronavirus patients to see if something could be offered to patients that may improve their chances of recovery. The result was a new treatment protocol involving aspirin and supplements such as vitamin D, zinc and iron. “Generally in healthcare, we wait for all the data to be perfect before incorporating it, but now in the midst of this pandemic, we needed to take bold action with courage to try to do something to help patients during this terrible time,” said Dr. Mathew Philip, internal medicine physician and medical director of clinical innovation at DuPage. (Castellucci, 12/5)
The New York Times:
‘Natural Immunity’ From Covid Is Not Safer Than A Vaccine
On the heels of last month’s news of stunning results from Pfizer’s and Moderna’s experimental Covid-19 vaccines, Senator Rand Paul tweeted a provocative comparison. The new vaccines were 90 percent and 94.5 percent effective, Mr. Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said. But “naturally acquired” Covid-19 was even better, at 99.9982 percent effective, he claimed. (Mandavilli, 12/5)
In other science and research news —
The Washington Post:
Atypical Forms Of Dementia Are Being Diagnosed More Often In People In Their 50s And 60s
After 20 years of marriage, after raising two kids, after building a farm in Kentucky and tending horses and dogs, Laura Prewitt knew this much about her husband: He was tenderhearted, fun-loving and never let stress land too long on his shoulders. But in 2014, old Ted somehow morphed into a new guy, one who is not so communicative. A guy who lost his social edge and seemed unable to read faces or feelings. Who is tired and withdrawn. “He’s just not the same guy,” she says. “I want him back.” (Talan, 12/6)
The Washington Post:
Are More People Freezing Their Eggs During The Pandemic?
When it became clear that initial stay-at-home orders would last awhile, speculation began about a looming covid-19 baby boom. It certainly made sense at the time: a bunch of couples stuck at home, little to do. Instead, procreation plans were put on literal ice. Even as New York City’s businesses — restaurants, bars, gyms, retail — have been slammed by the pandemic, New York University’s Langone Fertility Center has seen a 41 percent increase in women freezing their eggs compared with the same time period in 2019. And that number might have been even higher if not for the Langone center’s three-month pandemic-induced closure. (Glass, 12/4)