Rising cases fan testing debate; Fauci optimistic on vaccine timeline

Global coronavirus diagnoses topped 9 million, underscoring the difficulties governments around the world are having in trying to contain the pandemic — which is hammering Brazil and India while sparking more debates over testing and relaxing economic lockdowns.

Amid a new controversy over federal support for COVID-19 testing, the U.S. is struggling to contain the virus that’s sickened 2.3 million and killed 120,000. Currently in the U.S., younger individuals are increasingly impacted by the virus, which disproportionately affected older patients in the outbreak’s early stage.

Still, most public officials are balking at the idea of reinstating strict stay-at-home orders that have throttled the global economy. In Texas, one of the many concerning states in the south with surging hospitalizations, Gov. Greg Abbott said a new lockdown would be the last option.

Over the last few days, President Donald Trump sparked concern — and confusion— among health experts by suggesting the

Read More

Trump fans controversy on COVID-19 testing as cases spike worldwide

President Donald Trump sparked a new controversy over the weekend by suggesting that testing more people for the coronavirus has contributed to the U.S. holding the top spot in the world for COVID-19 diagnoses, in the midst of the worst daily case spike the world has seen since the crisis began.

With the world’s largest economy struggling to contain the virus, the president made waves after a rally in Tulsa, where turnout was less than expected. Trump said that when testing is widespread, “you’re going to find more people. So I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down please.’”

White House officials have said the president was kidding, and never directed the coronavirus task force to slow down testing. However, the comments drew widespread criticism, and flew in the face of worrying trends in states like Florida, which despite a slight decrease in testing is seeing cases surge.

Read More

Novartis enters vaccine race as reopenings, testing efforts ramp up

Pharmaceutical companies on Thursday continued their pursuit of a breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which set a grim new milestone even as states and cities forge ahead with plans to relax the lockdowns that are crippling the U.S. economy.

The global COVID-19 case count keeps climbing topping 5.7 million with more than 356,000 dead. The U.S. accounts for nearly a third of those deaths, with diagnoses closing in on 1.7 million nationally on a death toll that topped 100,000 on Wednesday.

The casualties will likely mount until a vaccine is found — which experts say will take at least another year. However, aggressive efforts by some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry have ramped up expectations for a timeline, which have boosted markets in the face of grim economic news.

“As we start to focus on transitioning and coming back online into the workplace, that

Read More

Insurers eye payment ‘recalibration’ as coronavirus fuels shift to telehealth, testing

The easing of coronavirus lockdowns are creating a new playing field for the health industry, which is bracing itself for a wave of new practices — including how reimbursements in the era of telemedicine and widespread testing.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, insurers pivoted quickly by covering costs of testing, telemedicine and inpatient visits. At least for now, those expenses have not outweighed the savings from a drop in elective procedures: Analysts anticipate the largest for-profit national players to weather the pandemic with a strong balance sheet.

However, one top insurance executive warned the industry is still likely to see widespread change as the aftermath of the outbreak affects reimbursements, with telemedicine use spiking and national coronavirus testing kicking into high gear.

“There are a number of questions given the shock that happened to the system,” Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer at the Blue Cross Blue Shield

Read More

Walmart plows ahead with COVID-19 testing

Walmart (WMT) continues to plow ahead with turning its store parking lots into vital COVID-19 testing facilities.

“We have got about 180 sites that are doing coronavirus testing today,” Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade on Friday. “We just launched a site last week where we can do coronavirus testing at the drive-thru at a neighborhood market pharmacy in a safe way. We would like to do antibody testing now, when we think the process is right.”

Currently, Walmart, Target, CVS Health and other retailers doing COVID-19 testing at their stores use the traditional nasal swab approach. That is likely to further evolve in the months ahead as antibody testing becomes more reliable and readily available.

Since Walmart announced COVID-19 testing on March 13, it reached a goal of opening 100 sites by the end of May early, on May 15. The company is

Read More