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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Results are in for the first wave of messenger RNA vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective against infection in a real-world study of 3950 health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers.

As we enter a period of certainty regarding vaccine technology, the future of public health remains uncertain. The emergence of variants, coupled with a rush to reopen, could lead to another surge in cases, as seen in Michigan. Some are proposing a shift away from population-weighted vaccine distribution toward “ring vaccination” strategies that focus supplies on hotspots and contacts. Focused vaccination could not only dampen local surges, but also increase vaccination for underserved Black, Hispanic, and other American populations.

Advances in technologies are still few for treating patients with COVID-19 who are not hospitalized and those dealing with long-term COVID effects, but some promising treatments for hospitalized patients are emerging (see Topics to Watch).

Inhaled Nebulized Interferon Beta-1a (SNG001) to Treat Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19–Related Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

At a Glance

  • SNG001 (Synairgen) is an inhaled form of interferon β (IFN-beta) under development for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19–related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). IFN-beta is a cytokine with antiviral and immunomodulatory effects that helps the immune system clear viral infections.
  • SNG001 is intended to directly deliver nebulized IFN-beta deep into the lungs to treat lower respiratory tract infection by SARS-CoV-2, which is associated with more severe cases of COVID-19, while limiting systemic exposure to the drug.
  • A randomized, phase 2 trial of SNG001 in 101 participants hospitalized with COVID-19 found that patients receiving SNG001 for 14 days were more likely to gain clinical improvement and recover during treatment than were patients given placebo. The most common treatment-related adverse event for the SNG001 group was cough.
  • A phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigating SNG001 in 610 patients hospitalized with COVID-19–related ARDS is ongoing, with primary completion expected in June 2021.

Pulmonary Surfactant to Treat Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19–Related ARDS

At a Glance

  • Pulmonary surfactant is being investigated for treating COVID-19–related ARDS. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment for use in premature infants with or at high risk of developing respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), due to insufficient pulmonary surfactant production.
  • Pulmonary surfactant is a lipoprotein produced by the lungs. The surfactant prevents lung collapse, promotes oxygen exchange, and possesses antimicrobial activity. SARS-CoV-2 can damage the cells that produce the pulmonary surfactant. Investigators theorize that COVID-19 ARDS displays clinical signs closer to neonatal RDS than to adult non–COVID-19 ARDS.
  • Pulmonary surfactant to treat COVID-19 ARDS is in a phase 1/2 clinical trial in the United States, with primary completion expected in May 2021.
  • Treating COVID-19–related ARDS in a 60-kg lean body mass adult might cost about $14 200 for a course of luminactant and from about $12 600 to $23 800 for poractant alfa. 

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: April 7, 2021

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