Fauci Gives Go-Ahead to Trick-or-Treaters and More COVID-19 News

Coronavirus

A year ago, the government recommended against kids going trick-or-treating for Halloween out of fear of COVID-19 spread. This year, kids have been given the green light to start knocking on doors. That and more COVID-19 news below.

Fauci: Okay to Go Trick-or-Treating

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and President Biden’s chief medical advisor, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that kids can safely go trick-or-treating outdoors this Halloween. He did add that children who are eligible for vaccinations against COVID-19 should do so for an “extra degree of protection.”

“You can get out there,” he said. “You’re outdoors for the most part … (so) enjoy it. … Go out there and enjoy Halloween as well as the other holidays that will be coming up.”

Weekly COVID-19 Deaths Below 50,000 Worldwide, First Time in Almost a Year

Based on data from Johns Hopkins University,  there were less than 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 globally last week, the first time the totals have been that low since November 3, 2020. Between then and October 9, 2021, there were 3,577,988 deaths from the disease worldwide or about 74% of the total deaths from the disease.

However, there are likely missing data, with some analysts believing India alone has not reported several million deaths. However, they think the dropping cases is positive news.

People With Substance Use Disorders at Increased Risk for COVID-19

A research study out of Case Western Reserve University and the National Institute on National Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reported that people with substance use disorders (SUDs) are at increased risk for COVIDi-19 and worse outcomes. The study found those who are vaccinated tend to be more immunocompromised and have a greater chance of exposure. The research leveraged data from the TriNetX Analytics network of sixty-three health care organizations in the U.S. It included data from 579,372 people, 30,183 diagnosed with SUD and fully vaccinated between December 2020 and August 2021.

AstraZeneca’s Antibody Combo Decreased Risk of Severe COVID-19 or Death

AstraZeneca reported high-level data from the TACKLE Phase III study of AZD7442 in non-hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate symptomatic COVID-19. The therapy is a combination of two long-acting antibodies (LAABs), tixagevimab and cilgavimab. They are both derived from B-cells donated by convalescent COVID-19 patients.

The study hit the primary endpoint, decreasing the risk of developing severe COVID-19 or death by 50% compared to placebo in outpatients who had been symptomatic for seven days or less. The cocktail was generally well tolerated.

Elixirgen Inks Licensing Deal for COVID-19 Vaccine

Baltimore-based Elixirgen Therapeutics entered into an exclusive license deal with an unnamed global pharmaceutical company for the rights to commercialize its COVID-19 vaccine, EXG-5003, on a global basis, excluding Japan. EXG-5003 is an intradermally injected, temperature-controllable, self-replicating RNA vaccine. It expressed the receptor-binding domain of the virus’s spike protein. It is currently being studied in a Phase I/II trial in Japan.

Lumen Bioscience Receives Federal Funding for COVID-19 Antibody Cocktail

Lumen Bioscience was awarded new development funding for its COVID-19 monoclonal antibody drug cocktail. The funding is from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC), operating through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC). The money will be used to fund a Phase II trial, which is expected to begin enrollment in late winter.

The company received previous Army funding for preclinical development of LMN-301, a drug designed to treat and prevent gastrointestinal symptoms of COVID-19.

“Everyone knows about the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19, but it’s less well appreciated among non-specialists that a majority of patients also endure GI-related issues, which can be quite severe,” said Brian Finrow, Lumen’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “A therapeutic targeting this source of infection could reduce the viral load, inhibit disease progression, and potentially eliminate a significant source of disease transmission.”

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