WASHINGTON POST - Two rheumatoid arthritis drugs that suppress the immune system may help critically ill patients survive Covid-19, providing a benefit even on top of steroids. The results had an unusual path into the public domain—via Twitter—after DSMB monitoring found that the drugs were so effective that it would be unethical to continue giving placebo to critically ill patients according to investigator Derek Angus (BCHS ’92).
VOX - Asked to prognosticate on the likelihood that Democrats will approve Mediate negotiations for prescription drugs, HPM's Walid Gellad puts the odds at 50/50. “I think now you don’t have all those stories about insulin and EpiPen, plus you have positive stories about vaccines and other drugs," Gellad said. "You don’t have as fertile an environment for more extreme drug measures.”
CENTRE DAILY TIMES—The top U.S. drug regulator is resisting calls to tinker with how COVID-19 vaccines are administered. HPM's Walid Gellad, who supports stretching out the time between shots, anticipates states ramping up over the next week or two to reach people beyond front-line health care workers. The Pa. health department will begin listing public vaccination sites as early as this week that will serve general public.
PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES - Doctors say the state’s new mitigation efforts will help blunt the accelerating Covid-19 cases. “We have to close those down until we get enough of the vaccine around and enough people who are immune to stop the transmission," said HPM's Mark Roberts, adding that there are ways to mitigate the impact on businesses. Pitt’s advanced simulation system, called FRED, shows stricter physical distancing regulations can esse...
POST-GAZETTE - HPM's Marian Jarlenski calls for Medicaid policies to shift from pregnancy-specific benefits and toward a comprehensive approach that enables management of chronic conditions before, between and after pregnancies; enhances the ability to access and use contraception to avoid or delay pregnancy; and allows for people to obtain abortion care when faced with an undesired or medically risky pregnancy.
WTAE NEWS — Like ACHD, HPM's Mark Roberts anticipates a surge in cases after Thanksgiving. "I would say that we should start seeing something in the next couple of days," he said. "Right now, the only way we can stop the spread is if people behave in a way that decreases their likelihood of spreading the virus: That’s socially distancing, wearing the mask, washing your hands. All the things that Dr. Bogen is suggesting."
ABC27 News — Why were CDC forecasts for the “fall resurgence” of COVID-19 off by so much? Possibly because the biggest variable of all isn’t molecular. “In essence, models that do this kind of prediction, you have to predict human behavior, which is hard,” said HPM's Mark Roberts, who also directs Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. And human behavior, Roberts said, has been unhelpful.
POLITICO — A president who preached "America First" is demanding to know why the U.S. could end up third in the global vaccine race. Meanwhile outside public health experts also urge haste as the pandemic worsens. "Every day that goes by is 2,000 people dead. I don't know another circumstance where waiting on drug approval has such an impact on mortality," said HPM's Walid Gellad . "Sometimes in a crisis, you might have to cut corners."
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER — Monoclonal antibodies are not magic bullets. They must be given intravenously in a hospital or infusion center where COVID-19 poses a particular danger to immune-compromised chemotherapy patients. HPM's Walid Gellad summarizes “We don’t want people running to the emergency room to get this therapy. We don’t want people running to infusion centers, where there are patients with cancer."
TRIB LIVE - HPM's Julie Donohue said certain protocols are critical to stemming potential transmission, naming strategies such as universal mask-wearing, heightened sanitizing and hygiene practices, and “cohorting”—dividing students and staff into distinct groups with minimal interaction between each other—to reduce their number of contacts throughout the day. “It’s an incredibly challenging set of decisions to make,”
MOUNTAIN STATE SPOTLIGHT - As COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in West Virginia are rising and the holidays loom, the worst may be ahead. Regardless of all else, the most important thing going forward is our individual behaviors, said Mark Roberts, chairman of health policy and management.
TRIB LIVE - Findings from a research team led by HPM's Coleman Drake provide evidence that expanding insurance coverage is a potential avenue to improve cancer outcomes. “It’s really about getting people into the normal health care system rather than presenting at the ED (emergency department) or some other environment when things go wrong,” Drake said. “It allows people to access preventive health care.”
NATURE - Critical-care physician Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) of the University of Pittsburgh says that his hospital’s statistics team also saw reductions over time. “Without question, we’ve noticed a drop in mortality,” says Angus. “All things being equal, patients have a better chance of getting out alive.”
NEW YORK TIMES - “It’s kind of the best times for these therapies to enter, because they can have an impact,” said HPM's Walid F. Gellad, who leads Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing. “It’s also the worst time because we don’t have enough doses, and it’s going to add to the backlog of testing.”