What We're Reading: Missing COVID-19 Cases; Sanofi Ramps Up Vaccine Work; Hand Sanitizer Warning

June 23, 2020

Researchers find that 80% of cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may have gone undiagnosed in March; Sanofi Pasteur expands partnership to speed up vaccine development; FDA issues warning on 9 hand sanitizers produced by Mexico-based manufacturer.

Study Suggests 80% of US COVID-19 Cases Went Undetected in March

There was a surge of Americans seeking outpatient care in March for flu-like illnesses, and a study reported by CNN suggests that as many as 80% of those patients were actually infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The study was published in Science Translational Medicine. Researchers examined state data reported to the CDC on the number of people who sought care for flu-like illnesses who were never diagnosed with COVID-19, influenza, or any other viruses. Running a series of calculations on the above-average surge for March, the researchers estimated that if one-third of those people sought COVID-19 testing, which was scarce at the time, it would have amounted to 8.7 million infections. Currently, the United States has reported 2.3 million infections.

Sanofi Speeds Up Plans to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine With Expanded Biotech Deal

Sanofi Pasteur announced a $425 million deal to expand its partnership with Translate Bio and said a first-in-human study of a COVID-19 vaccine, based on the biotech's mRNA technology, will begin in the fourth quarter. In addition, STAT reported that the start of a phase 1/2 clinical trial for a vaccine Sanofi is developing with GlaxoSmithKline has been moved to September from December. The deal with Translate Bio gives Sanofi an exclusive license to pursue the development of mRNA vaccines across all infectious disease areas.

FDA Issues Warning on 9 Hand Sanitizers Found With Toxic Substance

The FDA announced that 9 hand sanitizers produced by Eskbiochem SA may contain methanol, warning that if absorbed through the skin or ingested, it can cause dangerous effects such as seizures, permanent blindness, and coma. Reported by The Hill, the FDA is asking consumers to stop using the products made from the Mexico-based manufacturer and to dispose of them in appropriate hazardous waste containers as opposed to flushing or pouring them down the drain. The FDA said that it had requested the company to pull the products but the manufacturer has yet to do so.