Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—March 15, 2020

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

#5: Abbott Receives FDA Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Test

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization for Abbott’s molecular COVID-19 test.

In response to the authorization the company announced that 150,000 of the Abbott RealTime SARS-CoV-2 tests are being shipped within the United States. Tests have already been sent to facilities in 18 states including New York and Washington where the majority of US COVID-19 cases have been recorded.

The tests are utilized on the m2000 RealTime System, a platform which uses polymerase chain reaction technology for rapid diagnosis. More than 175 m2000 systems are used in hospital and laboratories across the United States.

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#4: NIH Launches Phase 1 Clinical Trial for COVID-19 Vaccine

Could a vaccine for COVID-19 be on the horizon?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that a phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine candidate has launched in Seattle, Washington.

The trial will enroll 45 health adult participants between the ages of 18 to 55 years of age over a 6-week period. The first trial participant received the investigation vaccine, mRNA-1273, today.

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#3: Slowing the Coronavirus Spread: President Trump Presents New Guidelines for Next 15 Days

President Donald Trump outlined new guidelines for Americans to follow for 15 days in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to his remarks at Monday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing.

The White House is now recommending that people stay home when possible, including young and healthy people. Schooling and working from home are among the recommendations. Groups of 10 or more should be avoided as should discretionary travel and eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts, he said.

Toward the end of the briefing, Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, added that in “small print” on the guidelines, “In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate, should be closed.”

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#2: Coronavirus: For Health Care Workers, Risk of Infection, But Also Burnout

Two prominent emergency medicine physicians are calling for hospitals and other health care organizations to be vigilant and proactive in protecting health care workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, James G. Adams, MD, of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and Ron M. Walls, MD, of Harvard Medical School, explain that the pressure on the health care workforce is 2-fold.

“The first is the potentially overwhelming burden of illnesses that stresses health system capacity,” they write, “and the second is the adverse effects on health care workers, including the risk of infection.”

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#1: COVID-19: New Jersey Institutes Statewide Curfew

New Jersey officials have implemented a statewide curfew in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents are being instructed to avoid non-essential travel during the hours of 8pm and 5am in attempt to control the spread of the virus, Governor Phil Murphy announced today.

The Garden State has more than 9 million residents and has documented 98 positive cases of COVID-19 and 2 associated deaths as of Sunday, March 15th. Bergen County appears to be the epidenter of the NJ coronavirus outbreak, with 29 positive cases.

New Jersey, along with New York and Connecticut will require casinos, movie theaters, and gyms to be shut down at 8pm today and remain closed until further notice. Restaurants and bars will be limited to take-out and delivery services only.

Murphy also announced that as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, all public, private, and parochial schools will be closed until further notice. Additionally, all higher education institutions will be required to cease in-person instruction.

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