Double-masking found to reduce SARS-CoV-2 spread, FDA decision on antibody cocktail for treatment of COVID-19, and 8 more news briefs summarized for primary care.
With new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) research being released daily, it can be difficult for busy physicians to stay up-to-date on vaccines, guidelines, treatment options, and more. For this reason, the editors at Patient Care Online scoured the web for 10 COVID-19 news briefs published in February for primary care physicians. Refresh your memory with the quick slideshow below.
Double-masking Reduces SARS-CoV-2 Spread and Exposure. Wearing any type of face mask reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, but the extent to which they reduce exhalation and inhalation of respiratory droplets and aerosols from infected persons various substantially, in part because air can leak around their edges, especially through loose side gaps. New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when both infected wearers (source) and uninfected wearers (receiver) are fitted with a cloth mask over a surgical mask (ie, double masking) or knotted and tucked masks, the cumulative exposure of the receiver was reduced 96.4% and 95.9%, respectively.
Racial Disparities Found in COVID-19 Vaccination. Data from 23 US states collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) on February 1, 2021 show Black and Hispanic people continue to receive smaller shares of COVID-19 vaccinations compared to White people based on share of cases and deaths and of total population. KFF did caution that the report has limitations, however. The data are still early with vaccinations not yet broadly available to the public in many areas and some states have high shares of vaccination data with unknown race/ethnicity and/or reporting “other or multiple races.” Also, more than half of states are not yet reporting vaccinations by race/ethnicity.
Russia’s “Sputnik V” Vaccine Found Effective Against COVID-19. Results of an interim analysis of the phase 3 trial of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine (Sputnik V) showed the vaccine was 91.6% effective against COVID-19 (from 21 days after first dose) and was well tolerated in a large cohort. The study also found the vaccine was 100% effective against severe COVID-19, but because that was a secondary outcome, the results are preliminary, according to study authors. Sputnik V has already been released in Russia for use of the public, at-risk populations, medical workers, and teachers.
Tocilizumab Slightly Upgraded as COVID-19 Treatment in Updated Guidelines. The National Institutes of Health slightly upgraded tocilizumab as a treatment for COVID-19 in its latest COVID-19 treatment guidelines. Previously, the agency recommended against the use of tocilizumab and other anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibodies (ie, sarilumab) outside of clinical trials. In the February 3, 2021 update, however, the guideline panel stated that there are “insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of tocilizumab or sarilumab for the treatment of COVID-19.” For the full statement, please click here.
WHO Rules Out Idea that COVID-19 Originated in Laboratory. In a February 9, 2021 media briefing, members of a World Health Organization team that visited Wuhan, China in January stated that it is "extremely unlikely" that SARS-CoV-2 originated due to a laboratory incident. Researchers suggested that SARS-CoV-2 was most likely first passed to people from an animal—already a leading hypothesis among researchers.
Federal Government to Ship Vaccines to Retail Pharmacies. Beginning on February 11, 2021, the federal government will ship 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 6500 retail pharmacies across the US to vaccinate priority groups at no cost as part of the first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. In a February 2, 2021 press briefing, the White House said that while it is a limited launch of the program, the goal is to distribute the vaccines through over 40 000 pharmacies nationwide.
AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Halted in South Africa. Health officials in South Africa announced that the country will stop the rollout of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The announcement came after a new analysis, submitted as a pre-print prior to peer-review publication, showed that a 2-dose regimen of the vaccine provided “minimal protection” against mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection from the B.1.351 variant that accounts for most new cases in South Africa.
FDA Issues EUA for Monoclonal Antibody “Cocktail” for Treatment of COVID-19. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Eli Lilly and Company for bamlanivimab 700 mg and etesevimab 1400 mg administered together for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatrics patients (aged ≥12 years weighing at least 88 lbs.) who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19. The authorization also includes treatment for patients aged ≥65 years or who have certain chronic medical conditions.
Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccines to be Studied in Alternating Doses. Researchers from the Oxford Vaccine Group have initiated a study to determine whether alternating between the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for the prime and follow-up booster shots would be a viable route to maximizing vaccination coverage. Researchers are also evaluating whether this "mix and match" strategy might broaden the scope of vaccine protection against emerging virus strains.