The Corner

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update: Encouraging Results for Treatment

Shoppers keep social distance as they wait in line on the sidewalk outside a grocery store in Washington, D.C., April 14, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Yesterday, STAT News reported positive results for the antiviral medicine remdesivir. A clinical trial at the University of Chicago treated 125 patients with the drug, developed by pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences.  Of the 113 patients in severe condition, most were discharged, and only two died.

While the complete results of the trial have yet to be released, and the drug will still have to go through further studies, these results are an encouraging sign as policymakers plan to reopen the economy. Stocks rallied on the news.

The medical data from the U.S. has been mixed. While the number of new cases increased yesterday, the number of new deaths fell.

Chart: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: COVID Tracking Project
Chart: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: COVID Tracking Project

There is variation across states. In New York, daily deaths have been falling of late, whereas deaths in the rest of the country have increased. This heterogeneity accentuates the difficulty of coordinating a federal pandemic policy. The White House has published guidelines for states to reopen, including a sustained reduction in cases and robust testing and contact tracing. The reopening of the economy will be staggered as states assess their capacity to prevent further waves of infection.

While almost all the hardest-hit states have seen case growth fall to around 5 percent a day, the number is considerably higher in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Louisiana and Florida, which both appeared slated for massive outbreaks, seem to have avoided the worst.

Chart: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: COVID Tracking Project, U.S. Census Bureau

However, testing has plateaued, which makes it difficult to gauge the actual number of cases. Until we have widespread testing, including serology tests for immunity, we won’t know how vulnerable the population is to further waves of infection.

Chart: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: COVID Tracking Project

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