The Briefing provides an at-a-glance view of some important developments in the information universe surrounding COVID-19. The views presented here are solely those of ECRI Horizon Scanning and have not been vetted by other stakeholders.

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Testing for COVID-19 continues to be key, and the need for test results highlights the dichotomy between slow, expensive, precise molecular tests and fast, less expensive, less precise antibody tests. On August 26, 2020, Abbott announced that its BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card antigen test had received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The manufacturer claims that the test can diagnose COVID-19 in 15 minutes for $5; however, the FDA conceded that the test is likely to be less sensitive than slower, more expensive molecular tests, meaning the Abbott test is less likely to correctly identify positive cases. Bottom line: More of these tests need to be run to determine how sensitive they actually are.

In this Scan, we report on two EUA treatments (see Topics to Watch). In the context of these treatments, researchers are calling for better evidence for remdesivir and convalescent plasma, patient groups are calling for action, and clinicians are hopeful for proven and widely available options while recognizing that they must make judgments in real time.

Convalescent Plasma to Treat COVID-19

At a Glance

  • Convalescent plasma (CP) is a biologic blood product–derived therapy obtained from patients who have recovered from coronavirus infection.
  • CP reduced mortality in hospitalized patients with severe acute COVID-19 when given CP earlier or CP samples containing higher levels of coronavirus antibodies.
  • On August 23, 2020, the FDA granted an EUA for convalescent plasma products, stating that the benefits of the treatment outweigh the known and potential risks.

Remdesivir (Veklury) to Treat Severe COVID-19

At a Glance

  • Remdesivir is a direct-acting antiviral therapy that inhibits the replication of coronavirus genetic material, potentially reducing severity and duration of disease.
  • Mounting clinical trial data suggest that remdesivir might reduce time to recovery and risk of death in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 after 5 days of therapy.
  • Remdesivir is the only drug granted an EUA for treating COVID-19; seeking full FDA approval, the manufacturer submitted a New Drug Application to FDA in August 2020.
  • The manufacturer announced a 5-day treatment course of remdesivir costs the US government $2340 and private entities $3120.

Commentary in this COVID-19 Scan reflects preliminary views of ECRI Horizon Scanning and internal ECRI stakeholders.
The information contained in this document has not been vetted by other stakeholders.

We welcome your comments on this Scan. Send them by email to [email protected].

Posted: September 10, 2020

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