What We're Reading: Scientists Question Novel COVID-19 Therapy; Fauci Warns of Rushed Vaccine; Remdesivir Efficacy

August 25, 2020

Scientists say data on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment convalescent plasma may be misrepresented; Anthony Fauci, MD, warned that distributing a COVID-19 vaccine without testing in large trials could affect other vaccines; remdesivir was shown to have little effect in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Blood Plasma Data Misrepresented, Scientists Say

After being granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA, data on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment convalescent plasma is being challenged by scientists nationwide as they say it misrepresents its potential efficacy among the general population. Reported by The New York Times, President Trump and 2 of his top officials said that the treatment had reduced deaths by 35%. However, scientists say that data was based on a small subgroup of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who were under 80 years old, not on ventilators, and received the treatment within 3 days of diagnosis.

Fauci Warns of Rushed Vaccine

Reported by Reuters, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, warned that distributing a COVID-19 vaccine under EUA guidelines, without assessing its safety and efficacy in large trials, could lead to an adverse effect on the testing of other vaccines. Noting risks of this strategy, Fauci said that prematurely releasing a vaccine would make it difficult, if not impossible, for other vaccines to enroll people in their trial. These comments come as President Trump claimed, without evidence, that “deep state” elements at the FDA were delaying progress to harm his November election bid.

Remdesivir Shows Scant Benefit in Hospitalized Patients With COVID-19

According to open-label trial findings published last week in JAMA, the antiviral drug remdesivir was shown to have little effect in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in 105 hospitals across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Reported by CIDRAP, there were no significant differences in duration of supplemental oxygen or hospitalization between the intervention group given remdesivir and the control group given standard care. However, a separate small study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Monday suggests the therapy may benefit patients with COVID-19 who are receiving mechanical ventilation.