Experts Call Upon Governments To Recommend Higher Doses Of Vitamin D Intake To Fight COVID-19

Experts Call Upon Governments To Recommend Higher Doses Of Vitamin D Intake To Fight COVID-19

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 12/22/2020 11:26 AM ET

A group of over 100 scientists, doctors and health experts from across the globe have written an open letter calling for increased use of Vitamin D to fight the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The Open Letter calls on all governments, public health officials, doctors, and healthcare workers to recommend daily Vitamin D intake of 4000 IU (100mcg) for adults. According to the signatories, there is ample scientific evidence to suggest that "low Vitamin D levels almost certainly promote COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths".

On December 17, the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued a guideline concluding that there was little evidence for using Vitamin D supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19.

As per the NICE guideline, everyone should take 400 IU (10 microgram) of Vitamin D supplement daily from October to early March, for the maintenance of healthy bone and muscle. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight. But with the pandemic forcing many people to stay indoors more than usual this spring and summer, it is even more important this year to take a Vitamin D supplement as we head through the winter months, stresses the guideline published by the NICE.

The NICE guideline also warns that taking a high dose of Vitamin D over a long period of time could be harmful as it can lead to hypercalcemia, or calcium buildup in the body. That said, the revised NICE guidance agrees that, when more information becomes available, the recommendation on vitamin D supplementation and treatment should be considered for an update.

Contrary to the warning about Vitamin D toxicity, the signatories say that toxicity would be extremely rare with the intake level (4000 IU) they have suggested and that Vitamin D is much safer than steroids, such as dexamethasone, the most widely accepted treatment that has also shown a significant COVID-19 benefit.

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Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

Article reposted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

Pfizer BioNTech: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate More Than 90 Effective

Pfizer, BioNTech: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate More Than 90% Effective

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 11/9/2020 8:39 AM ET

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and German biotech firm BioNTech SE (BNTX) said Monday that their coronavirus vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, was found to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among patients without prior evidence of infection.

Following the news, shares of Pfizer are rising almost 16 percent or $5.75 in pre-market trade to $42.15.

The results were based on the first interim efficacy analysis conducted by an external, independent Data Monitoring Committee or DMC from the vaccine's Phase 3 clinical study.

According to Pfizer and BioNTech, their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, was found to be effective against COVID-19 in participants without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

"Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine's ability to prevent COVID-19," said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.

The results comes as coronavirus cases continue to surge worldwide and economies struggle to reopen.

The late-stage clinical trial of BNT162b2 began on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date. Of the total participants, 38,955 have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of November 8, 2020.

The trial continues to enroll participants and is expected to continue through the final analysis, when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued. The interim analysis by DMC evaluated 94 confirmed COVID-19 infections among the trial's participants.

The comparison of data between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicated a vaccine efficacy rate above 90 percent, seven days after the second dose was given. This means that protection from COVID-19 is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule.

The DMC did not report any serious safety concerns and has recommended that the study continue to collect additional safety and efficacy data as planned.

The Phase 3 study will also evaluate the potential for the vaccine candidate to provide protection against COVID-19 in those who have had prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as well as vaccine prevention against severe COVID-19 disease.

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The companies plan to submit for emergency use authorization to the FDA after accumulating two months of safety data, which is expected to be available by the third week of November.

Based on current projections, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

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Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

Article reposted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

Regeneron Says Its Covid-19 Outpatient Therapy Could Reduce Virus Levels

Regeneron Says Its Covid-19 Outpatient Therapy Could Reduce Virus Levels

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 10/29/2020 6:42 AM ET

Regeneron announced positive results from its late stage COVID-19 outpatient trial, indicating that its antibody cocktail therapy significantly reduced virus levels and need for further medical attention. The trial results showed that investigational antibody cocktail, REGN-COV2, met the primary and key secondary endpoints.

The biotechnology company has shared these results with the U.S. FDA, which is reviewing an Emergency Use Authorization submission for the REGN-COV2.

Following the news, Regeneron shares were gaining around 2.3 percent in pre-market activity on Nasdaq, and were gaining 4 percent in France.

REGN-COV2 is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, such as REGN10933 and REGN10987, and was designed specifically to block infectivity of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The ongoing Phase 2/3 seamless trial in the COVID-19 outpatient setting is measuring the effect of adding REGN-COV2 to usual standard-of-care, compared to adding placebo to standard-of-care.

In the trial, REGN-COV2 significantly reduced viral load and patient medical visits, including hospitalizations, emergency room, urgent care visits and/or physician office/telemedicine visits.

The initial data in 275 patients strongly suggested that the REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail could lower viral load and thereby potentially improve clinical outcomes.

The latest trial data, involving an additional 524 patients from the ongoing Phase 2/3 trial, provides definitive final virology results and meets the clinical endpoint of reducing medical visits.

On the key clinical endpoint, treatment with REGN-COV2 reduced COVID-19 related medical visits by 57 percent through day 29, and by 72 percent in patients with one or more risk factor.

Regeneron said the Phase 3 portion of this trial continues in non-hospitalized patients.

REGN-COV2 is also being studied in a Phase 2/3 clinical trial for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, the Phase 3 open-label RECOVERY trial of hospitalized patients in the UK and a Phase 3 trial for the prevention of COVID-19 in household contacts of infected individuals.

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Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

Article reposted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

COVID-19: 195 Million Workers Could Lose Job In 3 Months

COVID-19: 195 Million Workers Could Lose Job In 3 Months

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 4/9/2020 11:11 AM ET

The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

This is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers losing their job.

The rapidly intensifying economic effects of COVID-19 on the labor workforce are proving to be far worse than the 2008-9 financial crisis, the UN labour agency said in its latest report.

Large reductions are foreseen in Arab countries (8.1 per cent, equivalent to 5 million workers), Europe (7.8 per cent, or 12 million workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 per cent, or 125 million workers).

Huge losses are expected across different income groups in the next three months, especially in upper-middle income countries.

Workers in four sectors that have experienced the most "drastic" effects of the disease and falling production are food and accommodation, retail and wholesale, business services and administration, and manufacturing.

Together, they add up to 37.5 per cent of global employment and this is where the "sharp end" of the impact of the pandemic is being felt now, said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

"Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies," the ILO chief added.

Ryder warned that the world's 136 million health and social professionals, who are working in the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus, are at high risk of contracting the disease.

The full or partial lockdown measures are affecting almost 2.7 billion workers – four in five of the world's workforce, as per ILO's assessment.

The report, titled "ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work", describes COVID-19 as "the worst global crisis since World War II".

Ryder said that without appropriate policy measures, workers face a high risk of falling into poverty and will experience greater challenges in regaining their livelihoods during the recovery period.

Meanwhile, another UN study into the financial and human cost of the pandemic gives a bleak warning that it could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion.

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Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

Article reposted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

US Coronavirus Death Toll Crosses 10000

US Coronavirus Death Toll Crosses 10,000

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 4/7/2020 7:51 AM ET

In a week that was feared as the toughest yet, the coronavirus death toll in the United States crossed 10,000.

As per latest reports, 10,943 people have died of COVID-19, and 367,650 others have been confirmed positive in the country.
This is more than a quarter of the global confirmed cases.

With 10,943 deaths, the U.S. is currently placed third in coronavirus death toll world wide.

New York is the worst-hit state with 4,758 deaths and 131,916 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New Jersey is the second badly hit state with 1003 deaths and 41090 infections.

Michigan (727 deaths, 17221 infections), Louisiana (512 deaths, 14867 infections), California (387 deaths, 16363 infections) Washington (381 deaths, 8384 infections), Illinois (307 death, 12262 infections) and Georgia (294 deaths, 7558 infections) are the other worst-affected states.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump spoke to his potential presidential rival Joe Biden on Monday over telephone. He discussed the federal response to the pandemic with the former Vice President, who is confined to his home in Delaware unable to engage in traditional campaigning.

The White House issued the details of the Trump administration's all-out effort to fight one of the biggest challenges the country faced in its history.

The Federal Government deployed over 3,000 military and public health professionals in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other parts of the country most affected by Coronavirus.

Since last Sunday, cargo planes have delivered crucial supplies and protective equipment including nearly 300 million gloves, almost 8 million masks, and 3 million gowns.

The government is delivering an additional 600,000 N95 masks to New York City to support its public hospital system, as requested by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In all, 1.67 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in the United States so far.

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Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

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Decoding COVID-19 – Some Known Questions Some Unknown Answers

Decoding COVID-19 – Some Known Questions, Some Unknown Answers

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 4/4/2020 1:37 AM ET

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe, researchers, drug companies and world leaders are ramping up the fight against the novel coronavirus. An outbreak of a mysterious pneumonia which was first identified and confined only to the Chinese city of Wuhan, last December, is now a global pandemic, with a death toll nearing 60,000 and an unprecedented economic damage.

1. What is the infectious agent behind the ongoing pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). This pathogen belongs to the genera "Coronaviruses", which are single-stranded RNA viruses.

2. Are there other coronaviruses that have infected humans?

Yes. Including the novel SARS-CoV-2, seven coronaviruses have infected humans.

Four coronaviruses, namely HCoV 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1 are common in humans and they are associated with mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold.

Two other coronaviruses – MERS-CoV that causes MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS-CoV that causes SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) – are more virulent and have proven fatal in many cases.

The SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent behind the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is proving to be deadlier of the lot.

3. What does corona in the name "coronavirus" mean?

First identified in the mid-1960, the viruses were named coronaviruses because of the crown-like spikes on their surfaces when viewed under an electron microscope.

4. What is so novel about this coronavirus SARS-COV-2?

Although all coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they originated from animals, mostly bats, the pathogenicity (ability to cause disease) seems to be increasing with each evolving strain.

While the four common human coronaviruses (229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1) are considered mild pathogens as they cause only common cold, SARS-CoV, the virus implicated in the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic and MERS-CoV, the virus that caused an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012, are considered highly pathogenic.

Even deadlier than SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV, is SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

5. From where did SARS-CoV-2 originate?

As mentioned above, all coronaviruses are zoonotic.

While SARS-CoV originated in bats and was transmitted to people through infected civets, MERS-CoV originated in bats and spread through infected dromedary camels (Arabian camels) to people.

The source of origin of the SARS-CoV-2 has been widely debated, some claiming that it originated in bats, and some suggesting that it is from the scaly, anteater-like animals called pangolins. What is also still not confirmed is through which intermediate host SARS-CoV-2 spread to people.

A recent study in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 could have been transmitted from bats to humans through pangolins.

The Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) of the SARS-CoV-2 has been found to be 80% similar to SARS-CoV and 96% identical to a bat coronavirus. The RNA contains genetic information about the virus.

6. How does the SARS-CoV-2 spread?

The SARS-CoV-2 spreads through sneeze/cough-induced droplets of infected persons. Say, when infected people cough or sneeze without covering their mouth or nose, the virus-laden droplets may fall on persons standing near them and the virus may get into their body through mouth or eyes or nose. Sometimes, people can also contract the virus by touching infected surfaces and unknowingly touch their mouth or eyes or nose with the hand contaminated with the virus.

That's the reason why washing of hands with soaps/sanitizers is recommended.

7. Is the COVID-19 virus airborne?

The World Health Organization says that according to current evidence, the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. In an analysis of 75,465 COVID-19 cases in China, the airborne transmission was not reported. But under certain conditions in hospital settings where procedures that generate aerosols are performed, the airborne transmission may be possible.

Tuberculosis, measles, and chickenpox are examples of airborne transmission of the virus.

Recently, the National Academy of Sciences, quoting certain studies, suggested that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by asymptomatic patients' exhalation, say through normal breathing or speech.

In the light of such findings, it is better to use a face mask when stepping out.

While updating guidelines for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recently recommended the use of simple cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, i.e. in grocery stores and pharmacies. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators as they are critical supplies, reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

8. How long can SARS-CoV-2 survive outside the body?

SARS-COV-2 needs a living host to survive and multiply. Until it finds a susceptible host, the virus can linger in the air or remain on surfaces for a certain period of time without losing its viability. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the SARS-COV-2 can survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours, on cardboard for 24 hours and on copper for four hours.

9. What is the death rate for COVID-19?

On March 3, 2020, the WHO announced that globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. The seasonal flu generally kills far less than 1% of those infected.

According to experts, it is very difficult to calculate the case fatality rate during a rapidly expanding pandemic.

10. How does the death toll due to COVID-19 compare against SARS and MERS, which are also caused by a coronavirus?

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 1,098,762 and the death toll is 59,172 as of this writing. During the SARS pandemic, there were 8,098 reported cases and 774 deaths. The MERS outbreak, which is still ongoing with sporadic flare-ups, has had 2,519 cases and 866 fatalities.

11. How is coronavirus detected?

Diagnostic tests, done on samples collected as swabs from a person's nose and throat or as sputum, and sometimes on blood collected from them, help to identify if a person is infected with the virus or not. The collected samples are sent to a testing lab where it is processed. Most of the diagnostic tests take 4 hours to come out with the results.

Abbott's ID NOWCOVID-19 rapid test, which was recently rolled out under emergency use, delivers results in as little as 5 minutes.

12. Why is coronavirus infection comparatively lower in Japan?

Despite being densely populated and having a higher percentage of senior citizens, Japan has recorded comparatively fewer COVID-19 cases. Critics say that it is only due to limited testing of people that the exact proportion of infection is not revealed. However, some experts say that the Japanese culture and etiquette like wearing masks or greeting others with a bow instead of shaking hands could be the reason for the slow spread of the pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases in Japan is 2,617, with 63 fatalities, as of this writing. (Source: Worldometer).

13. Can a person who has recovered from COVID-19 be re-infected with SARS-CoV-2?

It is only natural to assume that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may not contract that virus again, at least not immediately. But there have been instances in some countries, say China and Korea, where patients who seem to have recovered from COVID-19, re-testing positive for the virus after discharge.

Is a re-infection really possible immediately after recovery or does it have anything to do with the quality of the tests? More research is required.

14. Are there any treatments or vaccines for COVID-19?

Currently, there are no treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. A number of companies are racing to find a treatment or vaccine for the same.

Recently, the FDA gave emergency use authorization for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to be prescribed to adolescent and adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as appropriate. Besides malaria, the two drugs are used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

However, the European Medicines Agency has allowed the two drugs only to be used in clinical trials or emergency use programs in the indication of COVIS-19.

In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research's National Task Force has recommended Hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against SARS-CoV-2 infection for high-risk population such as asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases.

15. What is the latest by which a vaccine for COVID-19 will be available?

Although a number of companies are engaged in the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, leading the pack are Moderna Inc. (MRNA), which began a phase I trial of its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 in mid-March, and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which is planning to advance its experimental vaccine into phase I study by September of this year.

Moderna hopes to have its coronavirus vaccine for emergency use this fall while Johnson & Johnson is aiming to achieve emergency use authorization for its vaccine by early 2021.

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Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

Article reposted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

US COVID-19 Death Toll Crosses 5000 Record 884 Deaths In 24 Hours

US COVID-19 Death Toll Crosses 5000; Record 884 Deaths In 24 Hours

By RTTNews Staff Writer | Published: 4/2/2020 10:43 AM ET

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States crossed 5,000 on Wednesday, with 884 more deaths reporting in 24 hours.

This is the biggest daily surge in coronavirus deaths in U.S. since the first case in the country was reported on January 23.

Also, the number of confirmed infections across the country rose by more than 25,000 in one day.

In all, 215,344 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States, which is almost double the number reported in Italy (110,574), the second worst-affected in the world.

However, in terms of death, Italy's case – 13,155 – is far worse than that of the United States – 5,112.

The latest victims include a six-week-old baby.

The alarming pace of spread prompted Vice-President Mike Pence to warn that the country appeared to be on a similar trajectory as Italy.

Of the latest deaths occurred in the U.S., most of them were in New York. It continues to be the worst-hit state with 2219 deaths and 83901 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New York City's second-most populous borough Queens, where social-distancing guidelines are hard to enforce, reportedly has the highest concentration of coronavirus infection.

New Jersey has fast overtaken many other states to become the second worst-affected state with 355 deaths and 22255 infections.

Michigan (337 deaths, 9,334 infections), Louisiana (273 deaths, 6,424 infections), Washington (254 deaths, 5984 infections), California (215 deaths, 9936 infections) and Georgia 154 death, 4748 infections) are the other worst-affected states.

Wyoming still remains to be the only U.S. state not to have reported a death from the coronavirus, but there are 137 infected cases.

Meanwhile, the states of Florida, Georgia and Mississippi have ordered its people to stay at home, leaving more than 75 percent of the country's population under lockdown.

Amid reports that two prisoners at a Louisiana prison died of coronavirus, all inmates in federal prisons have been confined to their cells and wards to prevent the spread of the disease.

Article written by an RTT News Staff Writer, and posted on the RTT website.

Article reposted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe