Health Highlights: June 2, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

1 in 4 U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Occur in Nursing Homes

COVID-19 has killed more than 100,000 Americans and a quarter of these deaths were among people in nursing homes, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Almost 26,000 of the COVID-19 deaths were people in nursing homes, and that number is likely an underestimate and will increase, according to a new report made for U.S. governors.

These figures come from a letter from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that also says that nursing homes accounted for 60,000 cases of COVID-19, the AP noted.

“This data, and anecdotal reports across the country, clearly show that nursing homes have been devastated by the virus,” CDC director Robert Redfield and CMS Administrator Seema Verma, wrote in the letter.

Even as restrictions ease experts expect more outbreaks.

“What is going on in a nursing home can be a barometer for where the virus is,” Tamara Konetzka, a research professor at the University of Chicago, told the AP.


Company Says Remdesivir Helps Moderately Sick COVID-19 Patients

The California-based pharmaceutical company Gilead announced that its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir improved symptoms of hospitalized patients suffering with moderate COVID-19, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Remdesivir is the only drug shown to help fight the COVID-19. A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found the drug shorten recovery from 15 to 11 days in severely sick patients, the AP noted.

Given by IV, remdesivir interferes with a protein the virus needs to replicate itself and is approved in Japan as a treatment for COVID-19 and in the U.S. is for emergency use in some patients.

For the study, nearly 600 patients were assigned to five to 10 days of remdesivir. By the 11th day patients on five days of remdesivir were 65% more likely to improve, Gilead reported.

“when treating patients with severe disease — those who require non-invasive supplemental oxygen — 5 days of remdesivir led to similar improvements as a 10-day course. The totality of clinical data shows that remdesivir has the potential to meaningfully benefit patients with COVID-19 and offers important hope,” the company said in a press statement.