What We’re Reading: Cancer, COVID-19 Trial Begins; COVID-19 Risk in Young Adults; Regulators Issue OSHA Fine

September 11, 2020

A trial investigating an experimental treatment for patients with cancer, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) begins; new research outlines COVID-19 risks for young adults; federal regulators issue OSHA fine.

City of Hope Begins Phase 1 Trial on Cancer, COVID-19

City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, announced it will begin investigating a new treatment for patients with cancer who also have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In this new clinical trial, investigators will repurpose leflunomide, an anti-inflammatory drug for rheumatoid arthritis. The drug is inexpensive and has few serious adverse effects. Any patient treated for cancer within the last 2 years may be eligible for the treatment. The phase 1 trial was approved by the FDA and if it finds leflunomide is safe and tolerable for these patients, a phase 2 randomized clinical trial will begin at a later date.

Research Highlights Risk of COVID-19 in Young Adults

In a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine, investigators lay out the life-threatening risks of COVID-19 in people of all ages. Since the pandemic began, public focus has been fixated on those more at risk of serious complications from COVID-19, including those with preexisting conditions and the elderly. However, researchers found that among 3222 young adults hospitalized with COVID-19, 88 died (2.7%), The New York Times reports. In addition, the study showed 1 in 5 young people required intensive care while 1 in 10 needed a ventilator to assist with breathing.

Regulators Fine Smithfield Foods' Meatpacking Plant

Federal regulators issued their first fine to a company for failing to protect employees from exposure to COVID-19, based on an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation, according to The Associated Press. Regulators cited Smithfield Foods’ Sioux Falls, South Dakota, meatpacking plant for not doing enough to space out employees or provide additional safety measures, like face coverings, leading up to the first known infection at the plant on March 23. Smithfield Foods plans to contest the citation and $13,494 fine. The latest assessment of the plant found 1294 employees have been infected, 43 have been hospitalized, and 4 have died of COVID-19.