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What We’re Reading – Monday, March 30, 2020

General News 

The situation remains dire in New York, which is the current epicenter for the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., as doctors and nurses fall ill. It’s hoped that a Navy hospital ship, which is arriving in Manhattan this morning, will provide some much-needed relief. At this point, the worldwide total of confirmed cases has surpassed 700K with the U.S. having the most. 

Research News 

A new study in Nature Medicine suggests the virus could have been transmitted from animals to humans long before it was first detected in the Wuhan province of China. Scientists say gradual evolutionary changes over years or perhaps even decades may have allowed the virus to eventually gain the ability to spread from human to human and threaten lives. 

Now that conditions are improving in China – at least for now – experts are trying to determine why the country’s world-class infectious disease reporting system did not work as well as it should have in the early stages of the outbreak. This article in the New York Times delves into this issue.

New Resource: Information About the Role of Animals In Developing COVID-19 Vaccines

We’re hoping to clear up some of the confusion about the critical need for animal research in developing COVID-19 vaccines. Some news coverage has suggested that animal studies are not/were not involved in developing and testing at least one of the vaccine candidates. Animal research opponents have also claimed animal trials are being “skipped” to rapidly develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. This is untrue.  

AMP has added information to our public FAQ to address this issue. We’ve provided details and links to documentation demonstrating that even the vaccine candidate currently being tested in human clinical trials is also being tested in animals. Our information also demonstrates that the mRNA technology, which serves as the basis for this vaccine, required animal studies in its development as well.  

We invite research organizations to use this resource as they wish when proactively and reactively communicating about this issue. 

What We’re Reading – March 27, 2020

General News 

As the nation’s limited supply of ventilators continues to generate concern, New York hospitals are attempting to allow patients to share the medical devices in order to save more lives. Here’s a story on that. Meanwhile, across the country, residents in California worry they could see coronavirus outbreaks that are just as bad. CNN covered that story. 

In light of the shortages we are seeing in grocery stores, it’s unlikely that this next story comes as a surprise. According to NPR, the Coronavirus pandemic may be loosening links in the supply chain. And one more story that’s admittedly stress-inducing: We’ve come across some moving images that help illustrate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These photos and stories were published in the New York Times and come out of Bergamo, Italy.  (more…)

New Resource: AMP Launches COVID-19 Photo Library

In order to assist research organizations with their internal and external COVID-19 communications, AMP has created a library of free coronavirus-related images. None of the photos require attribution or photo credits.  

The library includes images of the coronavirus itself and also photos of PPE, social distancing, outbreak monitoring, handwashing, etc. 

Sample Images:

Research animal photos that can help organizations highlight the importance of animal studies in the development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines can be found on AMP’s Come See Our World website. For those images, photo credit requirements vary. Information is provided along with each individual image. 

Link to COVID-19 Photo Library

Alert: U.S. Becomes Nation With Most COVID-19 Cases in the World

At least 81,321 people in the United States are now known to have become infected with the coronavirus including more than 1,000 deaths. This makes the nation the world leader in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The news comes as two noteworthy stories were published today in Science Magazine. One is focused on the accelerating effort to locate COVID-19 treatments.. The other article is an editorial from Seth Berkley, Who is the chief executive officer of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s titled COVID-19 needs a Manhattan Project | Science  

What We’re Reading – Thursday, March 26, 2020

It’s likely the most tragic news about the COVID-19 outbreak will come from New York and California over the next few days and weeks. 

In California, coronavirus cases are said to be doubling every three to four days. Meanwhile, in New York, things continue to worsen in hospitals. This New York Times article provides an inside view of conditions at Brooklyn Hospital Center, a 175-year-old facility with a capacity of about 300 beds. It’s a hospital that treated Civil War wounded and also happens to be the place where NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci was born

Imaging technology is giving us an inside view of the severe damage COVID-19 can cause to the lungs. This CNN story includes a video showing how the disease impacted a healthy 59-year-old male.  

Impacts on Medical Education 

COVID-19 pandemic could have a major effect on medical education in the United States. STAT Writers Martin Kaminski and Frances Ue warn “Bringing new doctors into hospitals at the peak of COVID-19 is a bad idea.” (more…)

New Additions to AMP’s COVID-19 Resources

Each day, AMP is expanding it’s COVID-19 information and assistance for the research community. 

One significant addition is on our main resources page. We’re posting select news stories that highlight the critical role of animals in identifying COVID-19 treatments and also in developing a vaccine. When appropriate and effective, we need to remind the public that animal research saves lives and is critical for countering the tremendous health threat we currently face. Institutions are encouraged to cite these stories and the information contained within them in communications with the public. We’ll also keep adding stories as we spot them.   (more…)

What We’re Reading – Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A warning, we have some challenging news today. However, it’s not all bad. 

An epidemiologist advising the CDC has estimated the peak of US pandemic deaths will occur approximately three weeks from now. That same expert suggests the doubling time for cases seems to be about two-to-three days. This trend is currently being witnessed in New York where over 26,000 have been infected and 271 persons have died. One attempt to aggressively battle the disease in that city and elsewhere is expediting the use of blood plasma treatments, a move approved by the FDA. Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board is calling for a national lockdown. 

Overseas, the death toll has risen dramatically in Spain, pushing it past China and second only to Italy.  

We located a helpful new resource this morning. COVID Near You is a website that allows the public to quickly and easily report COVID-19 symptoms or testing activity. Using participant-submitted reports, the system maps this information to provide local and national views of the illness. Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School are behind the project. We’ve also added a link to our COVID-19 resources page.

Finally, this is a tough read, but we think it’s worth it. Jessica Lustig of the New York Times explains what she learned when her husband got sick with coronavirus.  

What We’re Reading – Tuesday, March 24, 2020

We begin with an ominous warning from the World Health Organization this morning. The WHO now says the U.S. has the potential to become the new global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Many experts claim that rapidly growing numbers of cases in the country are due to the early failure to test citizens and isolate them. A new analysis from Associated Press supports that belief. Science Magazine has published a story about the challenging decisions that some labs are having to make about rodents involved in research and how those decisions came about. Meanwhile, another reminder of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic came this morning when it was announced that the Olympic Summer Games will be delayed until 2021. 

Also of interest this morning, the New York Times has published an article that shows which states and cities have established shelter-in-place orders and summarizes the situation in those locations. 

On a more positive note…

CNN has a new story that explains why soap, sanitizer and warm water work against COVID-19 and other viruses. The Hill features a new opinion piece from the president of the American Council on Education explaining why university research is key to current and future COVID-19 breakthroughs. 

Yesterday, we shared with you a list of the current vaccine candidates, which can now be found on AMP’s COVID-19 resources page. Today STAT brings us a list of experimental drugs to treat COVID-19 and their guesses as to when those might be available or when we may have efficacy data. 

Finally, The Washington Post carries and important reminder for all of us, that our mental health should not be neglected during these trying times.  

This Just In: USDA APHIS Releases COVID-19 FAQ

USDA APHIS has developed a list of frequently asked questions about agency services and business continuity in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FAQ includes answers to the following questions:

Q: Is APHIS still conducting Animal Welfare Act inspections?

A: APHIS is continuing to conduct regular inspections where local area and individual premises conditions allow our inspectors to maintain social distancing norms. APHIS will always place the highest priority on investigating reports of extreme Animal Welfare Act violations that could lead to the confiscation of animals. However, if a State or locality has issued a shelter-in-place order like San Francisco, inspectors will honor that order and not conduct inspections in that area at this time. (more…)