COVID-19 Update: Vaccine in Phase 3,
Doc Recruiting Drops

Victoria Giardina

July 27, 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:

Vaccine in Phase 3

Moderna and the National Institutes of Health announced the start of a phase 3 clinical trial testing the COVID-19 vaccine candidate they co-developed. The trial, which aims to enroll approximately 30,000 adult volunteers and will be conducted at US clinical research sites, is designed primarily to evaluate the safety of the experimental vaccine and whether two doses can prevent symptomatic COVID-19.

"Results from early-stage clinical testing indicate the investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine is safe and immunogenic, supporting the initiation of a Phase 3 clinical trial," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, MD, said in a press release. "This scientifically rigorous, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is designed to determine if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 and for how long such protection may last."

In anticipation that a vaccine may prove effective — but initially doses may not be plentiful enough for all who want them — a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the National Academy of Medicine is drafting recommendations on how to prioritize distribution of a vaccine. 

The committee expects the draft recommendations to be ready by late August, after which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will make the final recommendation to the US government on allocation and distribution for Americans. 

Will You Get a Vaccine?

With phase 3 trials for vaccine candidates just beginning, so is the discussion about how to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine when they become available. Please take our poll to share your thoughts.

Doc Recruiting Drops

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial impact, doctor recruiting has dropped by 30% since March 31, according to a report from physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. "Rather than having many practice opportunities to choose from, physicians now may have to compete to secure practice opportunities that meet their needs," the authors of the report write.

Conversely, the recruitment of doctors who are on the front lines of COVID-19 care is expected to increase. Among the fields anticipated to be in demand are emergency department specialists, infectious disease specialists, and pulmonology/critical care physicians.

First Test Authorized for Screening

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced two additional indications for use of LabCorp's COVID-19 RT-PCR diagnostic test: testing for people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have no reason to suspect an infection, and pooled sample testing.

"FDA's authorization of the first diagnostic test to be used for anyone, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have other exposure risk factors, is a step toward the type of broad screening that may help enable the reopening of schools and workplaces," FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, said in the press release. 

When to Wear a Mask (and When You Don't Have To)

There are some basic rules about wearing a mask that make some sense, and they don't have to be political, bioethicist Arthur Caplan, PhD, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, says in a Medscape commentary. He explains when it's responsible to wear a mask, and when it's ethically acceptable not to wear one.

FDA Hand Sanitizer Warning: Reiteration

In May, the FDA warned about some hand sanitizers containing methanol, and issued a further warning earlier this month about an increasing number of adverse events, including blindness, cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

The agency put out another press release today reiterating its warnings and its latest enforcement efforts: an import alert to help prevent certain hand sanitizers from entering the country, and a warning letter to Mexican manufacturer Eskbiochem S.A. de C.V. for undeclared methanol, misleading claims, and improper manufacturing practices.

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. Thousands 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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