Plasma from people who survived COVID-19 is safe treatment for the disease

A new study out today finds that using plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 is safe for people currently battling the disease.

The study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings involved 20,000 people and found that the treatment, called convalescent plasma, appeared to be safe for people with COVID-19.

The first group, about 5,000 people who received the plasma, had a mortality rate of around 12 percent in the subsequent week. In the early stages of the study plasma was in short supply and people who received the treatment were severely ill.

As plasma became more readily available, people were able to get the treatment earlier in their disease when it is more likely to be effective, and the mortality rate went down. However, it’s unclear if there were other advancements happening simultaneously that could also explain that change.

For the larger study the mortality rate for people who received the plasma was under 9 percent, according to the Washington Post.

Because of the way the study was conducted it wasn’t conclusively clear if the plasma helped lessen COVID-19 symptoms. There wasn’t a control group of people who did not receive treatment.

“You’d like to have the gold standard [of evidence] in something this important, and I feel like it always ends up here with this approach,” said Jeffrey P. Henderson, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Washington Post. “It’s pushed into action quickly, because there’s no other option, and there’s a theoretical reason in the moment that it works.”

Researchers say more studies are needed to determine if receiving plasma helped effectively treat people with COVID-19.

Florida, Arizona, and Texas see surge in cases amid reopenings

The epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak is now shifting in the United States from the east and west coast to southern and western states including Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

Texas reported an increase of 11 percent in COVID-19 cases in a single day with over 2,700 new cases reported on Wednesday.

Over 93,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the state and over 2,000 people have died from the disease, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

In Arizona, over 2,300 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday. Hospitals in the state are being put under pressure as well, with over 1,500 people hospitalized yesterday and at least 500 people in ICU beds, according to AZ Central.

Florida is also seeing a spike in cases with over 2,700 cases reported on Tuesday. In Florida, over 82,000 cases have been reported with more than 3,000 deaths.

At least 21 U.S. states are seeing an increase in cases, although former hotspots in New York and New Jersey are seeing their cases decline.

FDA revokes emergency approval for a specific antibody test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked approval for a COVID-19 antibody test made by Chembio company.

These tests were supposed to detect antibodies that would indicate a past infection of COVID-19.

According to the FDA, initial data on the tests was adequate to give approval under emergency authorization. However, subsequent data on the tests found that they were not as accurate as initially thought and that they found high rates of false positives and negatives.

Many antibody tests were approved under the FDA’s emergency use authorization earlier this year, but experts have said it’s unclear how accurate these tests are.

UK will use steroid to treat COVID-19 after reported benefits

Health officials in the United Kingdom said they will start using a common steroid to treat people with COVID-19 after a study reportedly found the drug could help improve outcomes for patients.

Researchers at Oxford University said that they’ve seen benefits from using a common cheap steroid called dexamethasone to treat people with COVID-19. The team announced the findings in a statement today, but haven’t yet released the findings in a published study.

However, the early reports have led health officials in the U.K. to conclude that they will use the steroid to treat people with COVID-19.

“This drug, dexamethasone, can now be made available across the NHS, and we’ve taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak,” UK prime minister Boris Johnson said, according to The Guardian.

According to reports from the researchers, the drug helped reduce the mortality rate for the sickest COVID-19 patients — those on ventilators — by a third. Other patients who took the drug had their mortality rate reduced by one-fifth.

FDA revokes emergency use approval for hydroxychloroquine

The FDA is officially revoking emergency use authorizationTrusted Source for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to be used as a treatment for COVID-19.

The drugs, designed originally as antimalarial medication, have been studied as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

The drugs were also touted by President Donald Trump, who took hydroxychloroquine for 2 weeks, despite little evidence it could be used to prevent COVID-19.

Recent studies of the drugs have found little evidence it helped people with the disease. Additionally, the drugs are known to increase risk of cardiac complications.

Rare antibodies may help researchers develop vaccine for COVID-19

California researchers say that a rare type of antibody may help them develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco and Stanford University are investigating neutralizing antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Researchers say that just 5 percent of people with COVID-19 develop these antibodies. Additionally, these antibodies develop in low numbers, so researchers want to see if they can take enough of these antibodies to turn them into a serum that can be given to anyone.

More research needs to be done, but researchers hope they can use these antibodies to create a vaccine that can protect against SARS-CoV-2.

Protester in Kansas tests positive for COVID-19

As protests against police brutality have taken place across the country, public health experts have been concerned that the virus that causes COVID-19 could spread.

This is especially true if people don’t wear masks, are unable to physically distance, or if the police arrest people and put them in jail cells where they’re unable to distance.

Now, public health officials in Kansas are reporting that a protester has tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a march without wearing a mask.

“Similar to what we would ask anyone who goes out in public right now, we are asking anyone who attended the recent protest to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate if they become sick, as well as call their healthcare provider for next steps,” said Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, Informatics Director, Sonia Jordan.

While cases are increasing rapidly in certain states, it’s likely that those increases are due to officials easing lockdowns and physical distancing measures.

Due to the incubation period of SARS-CoV-2, which can be up to 2 weeks, an outbreak of COVID-19 linked to protests is unlikely to be identified until later this month.

CDC gives guidance on how to have a cookout, go to the bank safely

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given new guidance about how to get back to normal activities and stay safe.

In a call with reporters, CDC officials gave tips on how to safely go to the bank, have a cookout, and stay in a hotel, according to the Washington Post.

The CDC recommended people only use drive up windows or ATMs for banks, for cookouts people should bring their own food and beverages and maintain physical distancing.

If you’re going to a hotel or motel this summer, get ready to use the stairs. The CDC is advising people to avoid the elevator unless necessary.

Additionally, the CDC has advice for large gatherings.

Among the recommendations, they say planners should broadcast tips on staying safe, cut down on the number of attendees to decrease the risk of viral transmission, and limit attendance to people who live in the area so the virus is unlikely to spread far if there is an outbreak.

COVID-19 cases top 2 million in US

As states reopen and lockdowns end, the COVID-19 outbreak is showing no signs of stopping in the United States.

There have now been over 2 million U.S. cases of COVID-19 reported, according to Johns Hopkins.

The epicenter of the outbreak has now shifted from east coast areas like New York and New Jersey to other states including Texas, Arizona, and Florida.

In Arizona, the state health director told hospitals to start activating their emergency plans in order to free up more hospital beds and prepare for a surge of COVID-19 cases.

The rise in cases is likely due in part to the end of lockdown orders in certain states.

The incubation period for the virus that causes COVID-19 can take up to 14 days. This means states that opened up at the end of May or around Memorial Day will likely start seeing related infections from that reopening in the coming days.