From Stat

New Research Rewrites History of When COVID-19 Took Off in the U.S. — and Points to Missed Chances to Stop It

May 26, 2020

New research has poured cold water on the theory that the Covid-19 outbreak in Washington state — the country’s first — was triggered by the very first confirmed case of the infection in the country. Instead, it suggests the person who ignited the first chain of sustained transmission in the United States probably returned to the country in mid-February, a month later.

The work adds to evidence that the United States missed opportunities to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from taking root in this country — and that those opportunities persisted for longer than has been recognized up until now.

New research has poured cold water on the theory that the Covid-19 outbreak in Washington state — the country’s first — was triggered by the very first confirmed case of the infection in the country. Instead, it suggests the person who ignited the first chain of sustained transmission in the United States probably returned to the country in mid-February, a month later.

The work adds to evidence that the United States missed opportunities to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from taking root in this country — and that those opportunities persisted for longer than has been recognized up until now.

“Our finding that the virus associated with the first known transmission network in the U.S. did not enter the country until mid-February is sobering, since it demonstrates that the window of opportunity to block sustained transmission of the virus stretched all the way until that point,” the authors wrote in the paper. The paper has been posted to a preprint server, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal….

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Nine Ways COVID-19 May Forever Upend the U.S. Health Care Industry

May 19, 2020

In the U.S. alone, Covid-19 has claimed nearly 100,000 lives and 30 million jobs. Beyond grinding day-to-day life to a halt, the pandemic has prompted a reckoning throughout the country’s health care infrastructure, shattering decades-old assumptions about how Americans conceive of medicine, and the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers they pay to provide it.

Already, the coronavirus has led to sweeping changes in who can receive care and how they access it. Millions of Americans, newly out of work, are also newly uninsured. Millions more who still have insurance have been forced to delay necessary but noncritical treatments. At the same time, doctors across the country have been granted broad flexibility to treat patients remotely, using telemedicine, instantly reshaping services ranging from routine checkups to addiction treatment.

In the U.S. alone, Covid-19 has claimed nearly 100,000 lives and 30 million jobs. Beyond grinding day-to-day life to a halt, the pandemic has prompted a reckoning throughout the country’s health care infrastructure, shattering decades-old assumptions about how Americans conceive of medicine, and the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers they pay to provide it.

Already, the coronavirus has led to sweeping changes in who can receive care and how they access it. Millions of Americans, newly out of work, are also newly uninsured. Millions more who still have insurance have been forced to delay necessary but noncritical treatments. At the same time, doctors across the country have been granted broad flexibility to treat patients remotely, using telemedicine, instantly reshaping services ranging from routine checkups to addiction treatment.

STAT surveyed a host of prominent health policy experts — top health advisers to both Republican and Democratic presidents, lawmakers, executives, physicians, and top lobbyists — who forecast a new status quo that they say will upend what American health care looks like for decades….

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Covid-19 Experts Examine Where the U.S. Response Went Wrong

May 13, 2020

From testing failures to downplayed virus risks to the disproportionate effect on communities of color, two Covid-19 experts emphasized at a Tuesday forum what is now a familiar refrain: The U.S. response has been fundamentally flawed.

“We had information and we discounted it,” said panelist David Williams, a professor of public health, African and African American studies, and sociology at Harvard. “We didn’t take it as seriously as we could have. I do think that we could have been in a better position than we currently are if we had acted promptly.”

From testing failures to downplayed virus risks to the disproportionate effect on communities of color, two Covid-19 experts emphasized at a Tuesday forum what is now a familiar refrain: The U.S. response has been fundamentally flawed.

“We had information and we discounted it,” said panelist David Williams, a professor of public health, African and African American studies, and sociology at Harvard. “We didn’t take it as seriously as we could have. I do think that we could have been in a better position than we currently are if we had acted promptly.”

Williams appeared at the hourlong virtual event held by the Kennedy Library Forums with STAT senior infectious disease reporter Helen Branswell and moderator Rick Berke, STAT’s executive editor….

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Mounting Promises on Covid-19 Vaccines Are Fueling False Expectations, Experts Say

May 6, 2020

Vaccines to prevent Covid-19 infection are hurtling through development at speeds never before seen. But mounting promises that some vaccine may be available for emergency use as early as the autumn are fueling expectations that are simply unrealistic, experts warn.

Even if the stages of vaccine development could be compressed and supplies could be rapidly manufactured and deployed, it could take many more months or longer before most Americans would be able to roll up their sleeves. And in many countries around the world, the wait could be far longer still — perpetuating the worldwide risk the new coronavirus poses for several years to come.

Vaccines to prevent Covid-19 infection are hurtling through development at speeds never before seen. But mounting promises that some vaccine may be available for emergency use as early as the autumn are fueling expectations that are simply unrealistic, experts warn.

Even if the stages of vaccine development could be compressed and supplies could be rapidly manufactured and deployed, it could take many more months or longer before most Americans would be able to roll up their sleeves. And in many countries around the world, the wait could be far longer still — perpetuating the worldwide risk the new coronavirus poses for several years to come.

That reality is being obscured by reports that some of the earliest vaccine candidates — including one from the biotechnology company Moderna and another from University of Oxford — may within months have enough evidence behind them to be administered on an emergency use basis….

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‘It’s Noisy’: Competing COVID-19 Efforts Could Hamper Progress, Experts Warn

April 23, 2020

As many of the most forward-thinking tech and biopharma behemoths — from Apple and Google to Gilead and MIT — rush in to use their savvy and expertise to help fight Covid-19, some of their independent efforts risk undermining their common goals.

For all the know-how and good intentions of these institutions, responding to a global pandemic is far different than operating in the private sector. In interviews with STAT, several researchers and technology experts said that instead of collaborating and seeding innovation, some groups are effectively duplicating each other’s work or competing for limited resources — which could stymie progress in the pandemic response, the experts warned.

As many of the most forward-thinking tech and biopharma behemoths — from Apple and Google to Gilead and MIT — rush in to use their savvy and expertise to help fight Covid-19, some of their independent efforts risk undermining their common goals.

For all the know-how and good intentions of these institutions, responding to a global pandemic is far different than operating in the private sector. In interviews with STAT, several researchers and technology experts said that instead of collaborating and seeding innovation, some groups are effectively duplicating each other’s work or competing for limited resources — which could stymie progress in the pandemic response, the experts warned.

“It’s noisy,” said Eric Perakslis, a data science researcher and fellow at Duke University who led technology efforts for Ebola response programs in West Africa. “While these efforts are well-meaning, they do lower all boats in a way….”

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