COVID-19 Update: HCQ Study 'Fully Irresponsible,' Blood Type Effect

Victoria Giardina

July 21, 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:

HCQ Paper 'Fully Irresponsible'

The March 2020 paper that set off months of debates about whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19 has "gross methodological shortcomings" that "do not justify the far-reaching conclusions about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19," according to a review commissioned by the journal that published the original work. 

"[The study] suffers from major methodological shortcomings which make it nearly if not completely uninformative," Frits Rosendaal from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, wrote in the review. "Hence, the tone of the report, in presenting this as evidence of an effect of hydroxychloroquine and even recommending its use, is not only unfounded, but, given the desperate demand for a treatment of COVID-19, coupled with the potentially serious side-effects of hydroxychloroquine, fully irresponsible."

Blood Type Study

Blood type is not a predictor of COVID-19 severity or need for hospitalization, but it may be linked with testing positive for the disease, a new, observational study suggests. Investigators from the division of vascular and endovascular surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston analyzed data from 1289 symptomatic adults with COVID-19 and a documented blood type to compare their outcomes. 

"Blood type does not relate to severity of disease in COVID," study author Anahita Dua, MBChB, a vascular surgeon at MGH, told Medscape Medical News. "However, other links between blood type and COVID-19 deserve further study."

COVID-19 Vaccine Congressional Hearing 

Executives from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, and Pfizer appeared at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations panel to answer questions and brief lawmakers on the potential availability timelines for their COVID-19 vaccines in development. Some of the executives were cautiously optimistic about having a vaccine ready in the near future. 

Part of the discussion also involved how to address the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy

The federal government has taken many steps to try to speed the development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, but these efforts will be undermined if many Americans avoid the vaccine because their concerns about these products have not been answered, said Macaya Douoguih, MD, MPH, Johnson & Johnson's head of clinical development and medical affairs for vaccines. 

"It's not only about access. It's about being willing to accept the vaccines," Douoguih said. "They need to have trust and confidence."

Following the publication Monday of early trials testing two experimental COVID-19 vaccines, one of them from AstraZeneca, Reuters lists five takeaways from the developments, drawn in part from an editorial in The Lancet

Concern Over Full Access to HHS Data

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will allow validated users to access all raw COVID hospital data submitted to its new HHS Protect database, an official said, but only limited data is available to the public at this point. 

Many public health officials and epidemiologists have expressed concern that the recent change requiring the reporting of data to HHS instead of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention could cause delays in COVID-19 response and hinder state health departments and researchers from analyzing what's happening in their state, region, or nationally if they don't have access to all the data.

Children and the Pandemic

As August looms and the start of school approaches nationwide, parents, teachers, and caregivers are wrestling with how to educate and care for children safely. Medscape asked five medical experts in pediatric infectious diseases who consult at the local, state, and national levels about their thoughts on sending children to school and daycare and what best practices might be.

Many important questions don't yet have answers. "We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 and its effect on children," said Kristina Bryant, MD, from Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. "What we think we know today may not be what we know in October."

In Memoriam

As frontline 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 1800 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

If you would like to share any other experiences, stories, or concerns related to the pandemic, please join the conversation here.

Victoria Giardina is Medscape's editorial intern. She has previously written for The Dr. Oz Show and is currently a national lifestyle writer for Her Campus . She can be reached at vgiardina@webmd.net or on Twitter @VickyRGiardina .

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