WIRED – No one really knows if the malarial drug helps fight Covid-19, and an information war is hindering the struggle to find out. Unorthodox research methods and a seeming rush to publication, or even prepublication, is muddiing the situation. Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, says a French study was low quality in terms of trial design and evidence of whether it works or not.
WASHINGTON POST – “It raises a lot of flags, and it requires a lot of answers,” said HPM’s Walid F. Gellad who also serves as head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, “especially when people start saying it’s become the standard of care, and all we saw was a news release in a trial with an outcome that was changed two weeks ago. It really is striking.”
WTAE - HPM’s Mark Roberts said, “We don’t really know how many people have been sick, or have gotten infected and not gotten sick. Since there can be asymptomatic carriers, we need to ramp up testing to determine which counties can reopen. He’ll be looking closely at states that have eased stay-at-home restrictions to see what impact, if any, a limited reopening has.
NPR - Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92) says the problem is that our system rewards tribalism, with insufficient motivation for effective collaboration. He's leading a fast-track remap trial for COVID-19, part of an international effort involving hundreds of investigators. He has lots of opinions about which drugs might work best, but he'd rather focus on a trial design that can be as modular as possible and let as many people in as possible.
BUSINESS INSIDER - By the time global health groups agreed on a testing strategy for Ebola, the epidemic had waned and there weren’t enough people to test. HPM’s Walid Gellad, director of Pitt’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, said it’s a legitimate worry that the torrent of studies will compete for the same pool of patients, making it harder to find enough people to test all the drugs.
WTAE - HPM’s Mark Roberts said a drop in coronavirus cases means that people are following social distancing guidelines. He thinks President Trump's plan is “reasonable,” but he added, “What we need to do is understand the impact of the decisions we’re making on the disease and on the economy.”
CNN – The scramble for successful treatments is disjointed and chaotic, according to Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92). There are two million people who already have this disease. If even one in 10 has been able to participate in a trial, we could have gone through 100 different drugs by now and known definitively which ones worked or not. The disorder is global, and there aren’t enough tests right now to practice effective public health.
WASHINGTON POST - “It’s a cacophony—it’s not an orchestra. There’s no conductor,” said Pitt Med and HPM faculty's Derek Angus (BCHS '92), who is leading a covid-19 trial to test multiple therapies. “My heart aches over the complete chaos in the response.” The lack of coordination puts the world at risk of ending up with a raft of inconclusive and conflicting studies and little idea of what interventions work for the next wave of illness.
ASSOCIATED PRESS - A dozen patients had serious problems but it’s not clear whether they were from the drug or their disease. UPMC critical care chief and HPM faculty member Derek Angus (BCHS '92) said the recovery rate is good but “there is no way of knowing from this series if the antiviral drug was helpful.”
WTAE – “The solution is to find an optimal tradeoff between doing something now, such as prescribing a drug off-label, or waiting until traditional clinical trials are complete,” said Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of Pitt Med's Department of Critical Care Medicine. “By building this one-stop solution at the point-of-care, we are rolling out an approach that can assure that every patient admitted with COVID-19 can be enrolled in the program.”
WTAE – “We don’t really know what’s the proportion of people who get the disease that don’t have any symptoms at all, what’s the proportion of people who have mild symptoms, and what’s the proportion of people who have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization,” said Mark Roberts, chair of health policy and management at Pitt Public Health.
WHYY PHILADELPHIA – Referencing the model used in recent White House briefings, Mark Roberts, HPM chair and director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, said, “It’s a surprisingly accurate model. Their predictions of what today would look like three weeks ago are very good.” The model puts the U.S. about nine days away from the peak of COVID spread.
PUBLIC SOURCE - How might we come out of extreme social distancing? Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab, thinks the most interesting option might be relaxing social distancing behaviors based on the ability to know whether the person is immune to the disease or not. We could test and say you are immune and can go back to work. That would be the most accurate way of doing it.
90.5 WESA - “If nobody ever went out and nobody ever touched anybody else, this disease could not pass at all,” said HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. He thinks the current restrictions on daily life need to continue for the time being. “If people went about their lives as normal, there would be tens of thousands of cases requiring hospitalization in western Pennsylvania alone.”