The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on June 29 announced it has acquired more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug remdesivir from manufacturer Gilead Sciences to distribute to hospitals. The agency also secured an allocation for clinical trials.
One treatment course averages 6.25 vials, and hospitals will pay no more than Gilead’s wholesale acquisition price of approximately $3,200 per course.
HHS will allocate this round of remdesivir in the same way as the initial donated lots of the drug. State and territorial health departments will receive the drug based on COVID-19 hospital burden, as reported through TeleTracking. Hospitals should report this data by 8pm ET on July 6. Health departments then will distribute the allocation to hospitals. Amerisource Bergen will deliver the drug directly to hospitals, with shipments every two weeks beginning July 13.
Pandemic Correlates with Decline in ED Use
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows a decline in emergency department (ED) use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Syndromic Surveillance Program data show total ED visits declined 42 percent during the early months of the pandemic. Specifically, in the 10 weeks following the March 13 national emergency declaration, ED visits declined 23 percent for myocardial infarction (MI), also known as a heart attack; 20 percent for stroke; and 10 percent for hyperglycemic crisis, compared with the 10 weeks prior to this period.
The largest absolute differences were observed in adults age 65 and older for MI and stroke, and people younger than 18 for hyperglycemic crisis. These declines could be caused by fear of COVID-19 exposure, public health recommendations to minimize non-urgent health care, or stay-at-home orders. The decline in ED visits for acute life-threatening conditions could partially explain reports of excess mortality not associated with COVID-19.
CDC urges health care professionals to reinforce the importance of timely care for acute health conditions and to continue to practice and communicate infection prevention and control guidelines in the ED.
CDC Expands List of Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19
CDC also updated and expanded the list of underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 for people at any age. These conditions include:
- chronic kidney disease;
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
- weakened immune system from a solid organ transplant;
- serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathy;
- sickle cell disease; and
- type 2 diabetes mellitus.