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Nursing News 7/21: COVID-19 Antibody Test & Vaccine Trials Show Promise

This week in Clipboard Health’s Nursing News round-up … 

UK COVID-19 Antibody Test Shows 98.6% Accuracy During First Trials

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An antibody test to see if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 through a finger prick that takes about 20 minutes to show results completed its first major trials with 98.6% accuracy. The test is backed by the UK government and went through human trials during June that were kept secret, but now the government reports it is making plans to distribute them throughout the country, likely for free.

WHO Forms International Team to Investigate Coronavirus’ Origins in China

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The World Health Organization announced that it was forming a team made up of experts from around the world to send to China to investigate and learn more more about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness. 

Multiple Coronavirus Vaccine Trials Report Positive Immune Responses

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On Monday, several coronavirus vaccine trials from the UK, US, and China reported that their vaccines had positive immune responses during their clinical human trials. The UK vaccine, developed by Oxford University and the company AstraZeneca, is considered by the World Health Organization to be the leading candidate and was developed from a modified genetically engineered virus that’s behind the common cold in chimpanzees. It’s possible that, if successful trials continue, the vaccine could go into mass production by September

The US company Pfizer and China’s CanSino Biologics were the other two companies that reported positive trial results. Also in the US, the company Moderna was first to report that their vaccine produced an antibody response in May.

Afghan All-Female Robotics Team Develops Low-Cost Ventilator

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An internationally-awarded all-female robotics team in Afghanistan finished development for a $700 ventilator, a vital piece of medical equipment used to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients. Ventilators normally cost around $20,000 per machine. 

The robotics team’s ventilator was created using designs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and guidance by Harvard University and will now go through final testing for approval. If approved, the country will share the design with the World Health Organization. 

COBRA Rule Change Greatly Extends Time to Sign Up for Laid-Off Workers

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With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and no end date to the national emergency, the US continues to extend the time period during which laid-off or furloughed workers can apply for COBRA. Signing up for COBRA used to rely on a 60-day window after someone loses their job. But with a federal extension determined in May, the 60-day window won’t start until the federal government gives an end date to the COVID-19 national emergency. 

Trials for Gene Therapy Treatment for Hemophilia Show Promise, But May Cost Millions

California company BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. is working on getting approval in the US and Europe to sell its gene therapy treatment for hemophilia. Unlike current treatments that require patients with hemophilia to give themselves regular injections every few days, this gene therapy option would most likely be a one-time lifetime treatment.

The gene therapy treatment could cost up to $3 million per patient. That price tag will make it the most expensive drug treatment ever approved.