COVID-19 News Roundup
Week of May 18th
May 19, 2020 | Kaija Stern - Doximity Marketing Associate
Welcome back to Doximity’s COVID News Roundup, where our team compiles the most recent and reliable information to give you a progress snapshot on a national and international level, as well as how it pertains to you and your hospital.
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has updated its COVID-19 trajectory models to include a multitude of covariates surrounding human behavior such as mobility patterns, SEIR rates, testing availability, and hospitalization rates. Unfortunately, the new projections for COVID-19 related deaths in the US have increased based on these findings, showing that we could have an estimated 137,184 cumulative COVID-related deaths by August 2020, with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois having the highest projections.
As the medical community continues to await updates on potential vaccines, a scientific brief was released on May 7 that highlights the impacts of ACE inhibitors and receptor blockers on severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by COVID-19. After previous concerns around continuing use of these inhibitors for patients with other health problems such as hypertension, heart failure, and kidney disease, observational studies from China, Italy, the UK, and the US concluded that neither type of drug was found to be associated with increased severity of COVID-19.
Around the world, lockdowns and stay at home orders are coming to a close, and governments are beginning to lift these orders in a phased-out way. Many have used this time to increase testing, tracing, and caring for patients, and this has certainly helped to slow the spread. In a media briefing on May 11, WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, outlined the three questions that countries and/or states must ask themselves before re-opening:
- Is the epidemic under control?
- Is the healthcare system able to cope with a potential resurgence of cases that may arise after relaxing certain measures?
- Is the public health surveillance system able to detect and manage the cases and their contacts, and identify a resurgence of cases?
Until a vaccine is identified and propagated, this comprehensive package of measures is the most effective tool to tackle the virus and will rely on governments, healthcare workers, hospitals, and public health officials alike.
Hospitals and You
If anything, the current crisis has revealed that hospitals and health systems are more important than ever. As the World Economic Forum stated in their agenda on May 13, “As countries steel themselves against future health crises, they should not ignore basic investments in their health systems.” The agenda recognized that while resilient health systems are essential beyond the pandemic, current affairs are augmenting disparities in access to care. Across the globe, about $7.5 trillion is spent each year on health (10% of global GDP), and although this has certainly increased in the past few months, dangerous public health gaps still exist, especially in rural and low-income regions. As patients, hospitals, and countries begin to recover, focusing next on these areas could be the best step to preventing future pandemics. With May coming to an end, we are also beginning to see some hospitals and health systems in the US reopen to regular care and elective procedures. Many treatments that were deemed elective at the height of the pandemic, including operations for chronic pain, some cancer treatments, and spinal surgeries are becoming more urgent as time goes on without care. As Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explained, “these aren’t luxury procedures. You don’t want to do [elective surgeries] when there’s no room in your [hospital] system, but if your system has room, [hospitals can] minimize and reduce the risk of someone coming in for another procedure if they’re diligent about infection control.”