COVID-19 Daily: Be Wary of New Treatments, HCW Infections

Ellie Kincaid

May 08, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Here are the coronavirus stories Medscape's editors around the globe think you need to know about today: 

Be Wary of Those Racing to Fill the Therapeutic Void

The quick spread of COVID-19 and the resultant patient volume have physicians facing a disease they don't completely understand, with little data to support any treatment, Aaron B. Holley, MD, program director of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center writes in Medscape

"I'd advise you to be suspicious of anyone who emphatically supports a particular therapy or treatment modality at this point," he writes. "Their words may be amplified in the echo chamber created by the therapeutic void, but you can still tune them out."

Estimated 90,000 Health Workers Infected 

At least 90,000 healthcare workers worldwide may have been infected with COVID-19, according to an estimate from the International Council of Nurses (ICN), which represents 130 national associations and more than 20 million registered nurses.

The 90,000 estimate covers 30 countries and is based on information collected from national nursing associations, government figures, and media reports. More than 260 nurses have died from the disease, the ICN said. 

US "Deaths of Despair" From COVID-19 Projected

An additional 75,000 Americans could die by suicide, drugs, or alcohol abuse because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to projections in a report from the Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care. 

For the analysis, the researchers combined information on the number of deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drugs in 2018 (181,686) as a baseline. They projected levels of unemployment from 2020 to 2029, and then used economic modeling to estimate the additional annual number of deaths. 

Evidence Builds Linking Anticoagulation to COVID-19 Survival

Among nearly 3000 patients with COVID-19 admitted to New York City's Mount Sinai Health System beginning in mid-March, median survival increased from 14 days to 21 days with the addition of anticoagulation, researchers report. In-hospital mortality was 22.5% with anticoagulation and 22.8% without anticoagulation. 

"Operation Quack Hack"

As of Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued 42 warning letters to companies that were "selling unapproved products that fraudulently claim to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19," the agency announced. Of those 42 products identified through what the FDA calls "Operation Quack Hack," 29 are no longer being sold with a claim related to COVID-19.

Novel Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

A novel clinical presentation in children involving symptoms seen with atypical Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome may be linked to COVID-19 infection, according to reports from National Health Service England, The Lancet, and the New York City health department.

"At this time, there is no causality established between SARS-COV-2 and these inflammatory syndromes other than a temporal association," one expert said. "If there is a link, then the symptoms may be from a 'direct hit' of the virus on tissues, or from an overly exuberant immune response."

At-Home Saliva Test Authorized

The FDA has granted an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test that can use saliva samples collected at home. The agency had previously authorized the saliva test from Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory, but not for home use. The expanded authorization permits testing of samples patients collect themselves and then return to the lab. The test requires a prescription. 

Medical Editors on Effective Information Sharing

On an episode of the "Explore the Space" podcast, Vinny Arora, MD, and Samir Shah, MD, (social media editor and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, respectively) discuss the journal's May 2020 issue, getting information out quickly in a pandemic, and practice changers for hospitalists.

COVID Toes 

Lesions that appear on the feet of patients with COVID-19 have been described as resembling those seen in individuals exposed to cold temperatures, and many of the reported cases involve children. Medscape's reference team rounds up what you need to know about "COVID toes," which are among the more commonly reported dermatologic manifestations of COVID-19. 

In Memoriam

As front-line healthcare workers care for patients with COVID-19, they commit themselves to difficult, draining work and also put themselves at risk for infection. More than 1000 throughout the world have died. 

Medscape has published a memorial list to commemorate them. We will continue updating this list as, sadly, needed. Please help us ensure this list is complete by submitting names with an age, profession or specialty, and location through this form

Ellie Kincaid is Medscape's associate managing editor. She has previously written about healthcare for Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Nature Medicine.

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