What We’re Reading: Efficacy of AstraZeneca Vaccine; FDA Grants EUA for Antibody Cocktail; Assessing Ventilator Usage

AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could be up to 90% effective; FDA grants emergency use authorization (EUA) for antibody cocktail used against COVID-19; spotlighting shortage of specialists to operate ventilators.

AstraZeneca-Oxford Vaccine Reported to Be 90% Effective

Today, AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could be approximately 90% effective when administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least a month later. As reported by Reuters, the British drugmaker says it will have as many as 200 million doses by the end of 2020, which would be nearly 4 times as many as US competitor Pfizer. Nearly 700 million doses of the vaccine could be ready globally by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

FDA Grants EUA For Second COVID-19 Antibody Treatment

The antibody cocktail (casirivimab and imdeveimab) manufactured by the biotech company Regeneron, which was administered to President Donald Trump while he was battling COVID-19, has been granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA. NPR reports that the treatment was shown in a clinical trial of about 800 people to significantly reduce virus levels within days. In its announcement, FDA said that the drug is only for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in people 12 years and older who are at high risk of developing more severe symptoms and not for those who are hospitalized or who require oxygen therapy due to virus complications.

Assessing Ventilator Usage and Workforce

While cases of COVID-19 continue to surge nationwide, an article by The New York Times spotlights the lack of respiratory therapists, pulmonologists, and critical care doctors who have the training to operate ventilators, which are now in plentiful supply after the rise in manufacturing for the Strategic National Stockpile since the onset of the pandemic. In Mississippi, a top health official noted that more than half of the state’s 1048 ventilators were still available, with concern placed more on having sufficient staff members to care for the sickest patients.