What We're Reading: COVID-19 Plasma Treatment Receives EUA; Research on Reopening Schools; Mask Mandates

August 24, 2020

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); limited transmission of COVID-19 was reported in reopened childcare centers; universal mask mandates could save lives.

FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Plasma Treatment

Yesterday, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to STAT. Convalescent plasma, which is blood plasma derived from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, was touted by President Donald Trump’s press secretary as a major therapeutic breakthrough. However, the lack of confirmed clinical efficacy has drawn some skepticism among the scientific community, as current data suggest the therapy may not be effective for all patient populations.

CDC Director Addresses Reopening of Schools, Child Care Programs

According to a study conducted by the CDC that examined 666 reopened childcare centers this summer in Rhode Island, limited transmission of COVID-19 was reported among children and staff, which may inform decisions to reopen schools for in-person learning this fall. Reported by CIDRAP, CDC director Robert Redfield, MD, highlighted the significance of these findings, especially in areas with low cases of COVID-19 like Rhode Island. Redfield stressed that for schools to reopen safely, Americans must adhere to mask wearing, social distancing guidelines, and hand hygiene.

Study Suggests Mask Wearing Can Save 70,000 Lives in Near Future

According to a projection by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 70,000 lives can be saved by December if the United States issues universal mask mandates. Reported by The Hill, the study estimated that 134,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 by December if safety measures remain stagnant, and the projected death toll could rise if these measures are further laxed. Moreover, IHME predicts that if mask mandates remain the same, COVID-19 death rates would dip in September and increase later in the fall, totaling nearly 310,000 deaths by December 1, 2020. So far, the United States has reported 5.6 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 176,000 deaths.