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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…)

What We’re Reading – March 23, 2020

Americans for Medical Progress is closely following coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak in several news outlets. Here are a few stories that we think are noteworthy and worth sharing today.

In the face of “overwhelming demand” Gilead Sciences has paused access to the experimental COVID-19 drug Remdesivir according to an article in STAT. It’s hoped that the antiviral candidate can reduce the intensity and duration of COVID-19. However, concrete scientific data that demonstrates this has yet to be delivered. Remdesivir is being studied in five large clinical trials, two of which could generate results in early April. 

And while researchers continue to search for effective treatments for the disease, the attempt to develop a vaccine continues. The Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society recently published this COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker on it’s website, which seeks to catalogue all the ongoing efforts. We’ve also posted the link on AMP’s COVID-19 resources page. There’s been significant public debate about how long it might take to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The BBC published this story suggesting that the earliest might be in 2021. (more…)

Combatting Stress and Anxiety in a Lab Setting and at Home

The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful for all of us. That’s a given. Many members of the research community are experiencing these events at home. But that’s not the case for many animal care employees. They are considered essential staff and continue to go to work. Research animals need food, water and daily checks and we’re all tremendously thankful for those who are providing these critical services.

However, it’s not easy. Many employees are working staggered shifts to ensure social distancing, which can be lonely and stress-inducing itself. This is why we were pleased to recently come across several tips provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to help Americans cope with the added stress. The CDC offers some good suggestions as well.  

Here’s some of the advice provided by these sources:

Anxiety Issues?

Mental health experts remind us that knowledge is power. Understanding the factors that affect a person’s risk and immune response to COVID-19 is therefore critically important. For many Americans, the chance of serious illness is limited.  (more…)

This Just in: NIH Shifts Non-Mission-Critical Laboratory Operations to Minimal Maintenance Phase

This news just came in from the National Institutes of Health:

“To further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and enhance the safety of staff, the National Institutes of Health is shifting all non-mission-critical laboratory operations to a maintenance phase. Beginning on Monday, March 23, only mission-critical functions within NIH research laboratories will be supported. Mission-critical functions include the following: care of research participants in NIH clinical protocols that are non-elective, research directly on COVID-19, urgent public health research recommended by NIH scientific leadership, work involving significant research investments that could be lost if not continued, and protection of life, property and resources, including the care of research animals. This follows a March 13 guidance to all eligible NIH staff to telework to the maximum extent possible.” More information. 

Posted March 20, 2020


What We’re Reading – Friday March 20, 2020

Americans for Medical Progress is closely following coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak in several news outlets. Here are a few stories that we think are noteworthy and worth sharing today.

An article in The Scientist highlights how the National Primate Research Centers are working hard to protect their animals from COVID-19. Rhesus macaques can be infected by SARS-CoV-2 and leading primate scientists are trying to prevent outbreaks as experiments on coronavirus get underway. 

One of the country’s largest states is telling residents to isolate themselves. Last night, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all 40 million Californians to stay at home as much as possible. UCLA rapidly responded to the announcement by providing additional guidance to staff as to who is considered essential during these trying times. Animal care staff is of course included on this list. We at AMP applaud those workers and other dedicated animal care employees across the country. 

An article on highlights Americans who are likely at highest risk during the coronavirus epidemic. Previously, the CDC identified older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions as being particularly susceptible. However, another group of people could be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and hasn’t received as much attention: people who smoke, vape or have substance use disorders.

A major concern for many Americans closely tracking the pandemic is the reported lack of  protective gear for health workers. An article in the New York Times disturbingly compares the situation to a “war with no ammo.” 

OK, time for some good news. According to a story posted on this morning, most people who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms. This is according to data compiled from the outbreak in China. It’s also believed that the worst of the epidemic now appears to be over in that country.

Finally, weeks from now (we hope) when we look back at the pandemic, lots of questions will likely be asked about why we failed to take this threat as seriously as we should have in the early stages. This emotional article in the New York Times gives us a glimpse at some of the factors. One is likely obvious to many readers: distrust of the media. More noteworthy however was the inability for many of our neighbors, friends and colleagues to initially see the enemy as legitimate simply because many did not initially know anyone who was directly impacted. It’s a relatively long article, but one worth reading.

Posted March 20, 2020

AMP’s Home for Regular Updates Throughout the COVID-19 Outbreak


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans for Medical Progress will use this webpage to provide regular updates and useful information to the research community and the general public. We invite you to bookmark this page. We also hope to offer an RSS feed in the near future. If you have requests for, or questions about content, we invite you to contact us via email.

Posted March 19, 2020