What We're Reading: Fauci in Modified Quarantine; Reasons for Halting Remdesivir Study; Unemployment Rate Projections

May 11, 2020

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, MD, and other health officials are entering various levels of quarantine after potential exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases details how and why it halted a study on remdesivir in patients with COVID-19 early; the president’s economic advisers project rising unemployment rates.

Top Health Officials Undergo Quarantine After Potential Exposure

After potential exposure to a White House staffer who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, MD, said he will begin a “modified quarantine” as he was not in close proximity with the person infected, while other top health officials, such as FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, and CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, will undergo full quarantines. As reported by CNN, Fauci will still testify at a Senate hearing about COVID-19 next week by wearing a mask. Conversely, Hahn and Redfield will now testify by video conference.

Behind NIAID’s Decision to Halt Remdesivir Study

After halting its study 2 weeks ago examining the efficacy of Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir in patients with COVID-19, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) discussed in a piece by STAT how it decided to stop the trial, which then limited researchers’ ability to collect more data on whether the drug saves lives. As indicated in the trial, the difference in mortality between patients with COVID-19 given remdesivir (8%) and placebo (11.6%) was not statistically significant when it was halted. However, officials at NIAID indicate that the potential of putting patients at risk of dying outweighed the need for proof of the drug’s efficacy.

Economic Advisers Note Unemployment Rate May Surpass 20%

Yesterday, 2 of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers, Kevin Hassett and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, projected that the unemployment rate will continue to rise nationwide amid the pandemic, with Hassett predicting that it may reach 20% by next month. According to The Washington Post, Hassett said that it is unknown when those who lost their jobs will be able to return to work—a sentiment echoed by Mnuchin, who expects the second quarter of this year to be worse than the first. As of Friday, the US economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April.