Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—April 19, 2020

Stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease news by checking out our top 5 articles of the week.

#5: Characteristics of Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19

Older adults and those with one or more underlying conditions make up the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalizations, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC investigators retrospectively examined medical histories and epidemiological data from 1482 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 through March in order to categorize hospitalizations among patients. The investigators used COVID-NET to identify their patients.

The study authors wrote that 75% of their patients were aged greater than 50 years and about half were male. About 12% of the patients had data on their underlying conditions, and the most common conditions were hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

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#4: Webb Diagnostic Technologies Announces Rapid Total Antibody Test

Webb Diagnostic Technologies announced today that they will begin marketing a point-of-care serology test for COVID-19. This test, which will be marketed throughout the United States, can instantly detect antibodies in whole blood, serum, and plasma for SARS-CoV-2.

According to the company, the test is designed to detect all human immunoglobulins, including IgG, IgM, and IgA. These immunoglobulins may indicate previous or current exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Rapid total antibody tests will be an important part of mitigating the spread of the virus and could play an important role as social distancing regulations are lifted.

Typically, serology tests use lateral flow technology that required special lab equipment and can take up to 25 minutes. This test will be disposable and will not require additional equipment. Additionally, the test will take 3 minutes from the point of blood draw until test completion.

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#3: NIH Releases Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with COVID-19

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the first time Tuesday unveiled treatment guidelines for clinicians treating patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The guidelines distill the existing and evolving knowledge of the US medical community with regard to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; however, they also highlight the lack of clear and convincing data to support any specific therapy.

The guidelines were constructed by a panel of physicians, statisticians, and other experts. The panel was chaired by Roy M. Gulick, MD, chief of the Infectious Disease Division at Weill Medical Hospital of Cornell University; H. Clifford Lane, MD, clinical director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Henry Masur, MD, chief of the Critical Care Medicine Department at the NIH Clinical Center.

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#2: More Evidence Backs Loss of Smell as an Early Symptom of COVID-19

For some, loss of smell is an increasingly recognized early symptom of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to a paper published in Laryngoscope.

Investigators from the University of Cincinnati conducted a review of literature regarding SARS-CoV-2 published in English or Chinese through the end of March to synthesize existing evidence about how loss of smell is related to COVID-19. The team found 19 studies that were suitable to their analysis, which included 14 published studies, 3 preprints, and 2 communicated studies.

“COVID-19 is not associated with the symptoms that are typically associated with a viral cold such as nasal blockage or mucus production,” Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine's Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and an UC Health physician specializing in diseases of the nose and sinuses, said in a press release.

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#1: Preprint: Results of Hydroxychloroquine Use Among VA Health Systems

Several prospective, randomized trials of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are underway. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine on March 28, 2020.

The widespread present use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 therapy and prophylaxis implies a need for immediate insight into clinical outcomes among patients currently being treated with hydroxychloroquine. While such results will not be as definitive as clinical trial data, they can guide clinicians in making decisions about use of the drug outside of research settings.

Investigators from the University of South Carolina, the University of Virginia, and the Columbia Veteran’s Affairs Health Care System have published a preprint detailing outcomes of hydroxychloroquine use in US veterans hospitalized with COVID-19.

While the results have not yet been peer-reviewed, the investigators found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation. Further, there was an association of increased mortality identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone.

The investigators gathered information through a retrospective analysis of electronic health record data from patients hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 infections in US Veterans Health Administration medical centers up to April 11, 2020.

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