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Coronavirus Updates

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is one of the first sites to begin testing the safety and efficacy of the drug canakinumab for use as a COVID-19 treatment.

The drug, which is approved to treat a type of juvenile arthritis, will be tested for the treatment of a severe immune overreaction called cytokine release syndrome, which has been occurring in some patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

Canakinumab works by neutralizing a protein called Interleukin-1β, a key component of the body's natural inflammatory response. Neutralizing this protein may help suppress the uncontrolled, deregulated inflammation seen in COVID-19.

"It can kind of snowball on itself," says Benjamin Van Tassel, Pharm.D., a professor at VCU's School of Pharmacy and a co-investigator on the study, speaking about inflammation seen in COVID-19 in a press release. "A little bit of inflammation can trigger more inflammation, which triggers more and more. And that seems to be the most dangerous part of a COVID-19 infection: when you enter into this hyper-inflammatory state."

The phase 3 clinical trial will enroll volunteer COVID-19 patients who are experiencing cytokine release syndrome and who require oxygen but do not require a ventilator.

In addition to studying canakinumab, VCU researchers are in the process of studying antiviral drug remdesivir and a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis called sarilumab as possible COVID-19 treatments as well. Continued research is required to determine the safest and most effective treatment for COVID-19 and its associated symptoms.

Read more about the clinical trial.

Watch our latest HealthDay Now as we take a look at how living through the COVID-19 pandemic impacts children socially, mentally and emotionally.

One year in, this is their "new normal," but what does that mean for them? From social isolation to remote learning to a loss of structure and normalcy, we discuss how living during the pandemic has both short- and long-term effects on children.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with:

  • Dr. Mark Reinecke, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University
  • Tracy Compton, a parent
  • Stephen Guerriero, a teacher
  • Jake Anderson, a student

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

HD Live! Videos

UPDATE 1/26/21: Since our HD Live! interview with CEO Andrei Doroshin, the Philadelphia Health Department has severed its ties with the organization. The nonprofit has changed its status to a for-profit entity.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a look at Philly Fighting Covid, a nonprofit organization run by graduate students from Drexel University that aims to help with mass COVID-19 vaccination in Philadelphia.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Andrei Doroshin, founder of Philly Fighting Covid.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a deep dive into the vaccine rollout across the country.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Biden COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a look back and a look ahead at COVID-19 and its impact on the United States and its healthcare workers.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. David Shulkin, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, ex-CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and an accomplished healthcare executive, and Dr. Joel Zivot, anesthesiologist and clinician at Emory University Hospital ICU.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the latest on COVID-19, including the vaccines, the infection rates and the future.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! is a conference wrap-up of the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2020.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, American Heart Association President-Elect, for a summary of the highlights of the AHA Scientific Sessions 2020.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is on how healthcare in America could be impacted by a Trump or Biden victory.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Health and Research Transformation at the University of Michigan, and Brian Blase, who served as a healthcare adviser to President Trump from 2017-2019 and is now president and CEO of Blase Policy Strategies.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is an overview of IDWeek, the annual meeting of leading infectious disease experts worldwide.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Inger Damon and Dr. Tom Talbot, IDWeek Chairs, for a summary of the latest data on a range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is an overview of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference and exhibition.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with AAP's Dr. Elizabeth Murray on the key takeaways of the event.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.