Industry News: Volume 10, Issue 25

Johnson & Johnson gears up for 60,000-person COVID-19 vaccine trial, the industry’s biggest yet

by Eric Sagonowsky – With several COVID-19 vaccines already in phase 3 trials and investigators aiming to enroll tens of thousands of participants, Johnson & Johnson is prepping the largest study yet. 

The drugmaker is planning to enroll a whopping 60,000 participants in a phase 3 trial set to begin next month, according to the government’s clinical trial database.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

FDA, under pressure from Trump, authorizes blood plasma as Covid-19 treatment

By Nicholas Florko – The Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday that it has authorized the use of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 as a treatment for the disease.

The decision to issue an emergency use authorization, which President Trump’s press secretary heralded ahead of time as a “major therapeutic breakthrough,” likely falls far short of that description — and could generate intense controversy inside the administration and the broader scientific community.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

Amwell files to go public with $100M boost from Google

by Heather Landi – Telehealth company Amwell is going public with $100 million in backing from Google.

The company filed its preliminary prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday. The company confidentially filed for an IPO in June, according to a report from CNBC reporters Christina Farr and Ari Levy.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

Interview with Teladoc Founder, Michael Gorton

By John Lynn – We all had to be impressed by the merger of Teladoc with Livongo in an $18.5 billion telehealth deal recently, but the road to “overnight” COVID-19 success has a lot more to the story. 

In partnership with Dallas Startup Week, I was able to sit down with Michael Gorton, Founder and Former CEO and Chairman of Teladoc, to talk through some of the early telehealth experiences he had at Teladoc.

To watch the interview in its entirety, click here.

Teletherapy meets teens where they live: On-screen

By Jay Bhatt – Due to the coronavirus, many teens have been missing their proms, graduation ceremonies, daily routines and their friends.

These missed events and social interactions are only adding to the additional stress many adolescents are facing amid the pandemic, health experts say.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

Vast majority of specialists increased use of telehealth tech during COVID-19 pandemic

By Kat Jercich

In a new survey of U.S. specialists, 79% said that their use of telemedicine technology had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, from data and analytics company GlobalData, found that fewer than half of the cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology and respiratory specialists surveyed were using telehealth before the pandemic.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.


Life after lockdown: Rebuilding tourism globally, sustainably

01 September 2020

The global tourism standstill due to COVID-19 has cost the sector dearly, especially in countries heavily reliant on it, like small island nations. A new UN report maps how tourism could be rebuilt.

For Mahmood Patel, 2020 was supposed to be a bumper year for his Barbados-based, tourism-dependent small business ventures.

They include beach-front apartments, an organic farm-to-table café and Coco Hill – a 53-acre agro-tourism rainforest that offers guided tours and is dedicated to promoting food security and land rehabilitation.

The Barbadian entrepreneur says 2019 was the best year he had in almost a decade, and 2020 was tracking to be even better.

“We broke even for the first time last December, and recorded profits in January and February this year,” he said. “We were also able to start paying off the debts we incurred during the 2008 recession.”

The entire tourism sector – the island’s largest – was booming and Mr. Patel’s optimism for 2020 was widely shared.

Dashed hopes

But those hopes were dashed when, in March, the sector came to a standstill, as Barbados closed its borders and announced a complete lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

This proved to be catastrophic for all the small island nation’s tourism businesses.

Mahmood Patel with tourists in Barbados

With no tourists, and the restricted movement of locals, Mr. Patel had to close doors and lay off his entire staff of 20.

He’s not alone. As chairman of the 45-member Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB) group, he hears a lot from fellow hoteliers facing the same predicament.

“One of our members recently called in a state of despair saying that from March until now (August) she has had only two rentals,” he said. “That’s bankruptcy.”

Worldwide blow, 100 million jobs at risk

This experience is being echoed worldwide. The blow to tourism is putting the world’s third largest export sector (after fuels and chemicals) and 100 million direct jobs at risk, the United Nations said in a policy brief on how COVID-19 is transforming the sector, released 25 August.

In 2019 tourism accounted for 7% of global trade. The report projects that export revenues from tourism, which supports one in 10 jobs globally, could fall by $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in 2020.

For small island developing states (SIDS), where tourism accounts for as much as 80% exports, the impacts of the pandemic are devastating.

A policy solution is needed to mitigate the impacts on livelihoods, especially for women, youth and informal workers, the UN says, and it should be balanced with ensuring health is a priority, with coordinated heath protocols firmly in place.

Gloomy outlook as more restrictions kick in

In July, UNCTAD published a report that showed a protracted shutdown of the global tourism industry could raise the loss to $2.2 trillion or 2.8% of the world’s GDP, if the break in international tourism lasts for a total of eight months.

UNCTAD estimates losses in the most pessimistic scenario, a 12-month break in international tourism, to be as high as $3.3 trillion or 4.2% of global GDP.

Fears abound that the 2.8% scenario is becoming more likely, especially as travel restrictions that were lifted come back into force.

For instance, in Europe, travel restrictions that were lifted for the summer are now coming back as some countries implement new measures to curb a rise in COVID-19 cases. This will have a significant impact on the recovery process.

“Never before has tourism’s economic impact on global GDP been so sharply in focus. We cannot sleep while the third largest global export sector is threatened with collapse,” UNCTAD’s Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

He urged governments to protect workers, assist tourism enterprises facing the risk of bankruptcy, such as hotels and airlines, and called on the international community to support access to funding for the hardest-hit countries.

UNCTAD’s Special Adviser for the Blue Economy, Dona Bertarelli, said there are opportunities to rebuild tourism and the hospitality industry in ways that benefit communities as well as the environment, including the blue economy.

“At this critical time, we have the possibility to help communities that depend on tourism for their livelihoods to rebuild their businesses in a more resilient and sustainable way,” she said.

“It’s vital to make the connection between government economic recovery packages, private sector investments and philanthropic funding, so as to collectively provide the resources and skills that coastal communities need to shift to a regenerative blue economy,” Ms. Bertarelli added.

Regaining hope, building resilience

Mr. Patel is slowly resuming operations – he has rehired six staff members, only half of them full-time, and is offering staycation packages to encourage Barbadians to holiday internally. But it is no longer business as usual.

To make the sector resilient, he and other IHB members have presented a white paper to the government of Barbados, advocating for a more sustainable tourism model, including a cooperative that will capitalize on economies of scale, use disruptive technologies and promote food security.

“Our market share is going down, so we have to look at reinventing the tourism plan in Barbados. Yes, COVID-19 has been catastrophic, but we can use this opportunity to reinvent ourselves,” Mr. Patel said.  “We must not waste it.”

Policy pathway to a sustainable restart

The UN report says the COVID-19 crisis is a watershed moment to align the effort of sustaining livelihoods dependent on tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure a more resilient, inclusive, carbon neutral, and resource-efficient future.

It calls for a five-point roadmap to transform tourism in the following priority areas:

  1. Mitigate socio-economic impacts on livelihoods, particularly women’s employment and economic security.
  2. Boost competitiveness and build resilience, including through economic diversification, with promotion of domestic and regional tourism where possible, and facilitation of conducive business environment for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
  3. Advance innovation and digital transformation of tourism, including promotion of innovation and investment in digital skills, particularly for workers temporarily without jobs and for job seekers.
  4. Foster sustainability and green growth to shift towards a resilient, competitive, resource efficient and carbon-neutral tourism sector. Green investments for recovery could target protected areas, renewable energy, smart buildings and the circular economy, among other opportunities.
  5. Coordination and partnerships to restart and transform sector towards achieving SDGs, ensuring tourism’s restart and recovery puts people first and work together to ease and lift travel restrictions in a responsible and coordinated manner.

UNCTAD will help map some of these pathways to a more prosperous tourism industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic at its quadrennial conference, UNCTAD15, due to take place in Bridgetown, Barbados from 25 to 30 April 2021.

NCD Countdown 2030: pathways to achieving Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4

By NCD Countdown 2030 collaborators – The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.4 is to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by a third by 2030 relative to 2015 levels, and to promote mental health and wellbeing. We used data on cause-specific mortality to characterise the risk and trends in NCD mortality in each country and evaluate combinations of reductions in NCD causes of death that can achieve SDG target 3.4.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

Leader of U.S. vaccine push says he‘ll quit if politics trumps science

By Jon Cohen – On a nice day in early May, Moncef Slaoui was sitting by his pool when he received a phone call that would dramatically change his life—converting him from a retired executive of a big pharmaceutical company to the scientific leader of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, a multibillion-dollar crash program to develop a vaccine in record time.

What do you think about staging a Manhattan Project to make a COVID-19 vaccine? asked the caller, a person Slaoui would only describe to ScienceInsider as a former congressman who once headed the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, biotech’s powerful trade group.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

The Impact of Caregiving on Mental and Physical Health

By Blue Cross Blue Sheild – Caregivers play an important role in the U.S. healthcare system. An often unpaid and invisible workforce, caregivers manage medications, administer care, assist with daily tasks and handle finances for their loved ones.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

Physician Income Drops, Burnout Spikes Globally in Pandemic

By Marcia Frellick – Responses from physicians in eight countries show profound effects from COVID-19 on their personal and professional lives, according to the results of a Medscape survey.

More than 7500 physicians ― nearly 5000 in the United  States, and others in Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom ― responded to questions about their struggles to save patients and how the pandemic has changed their income and their lives at home and at work.

To view the original article in its entirety, click here.

Risk stratification of patients admitted to hospital with covid-19 using the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol: development and validation of the 4C Mortality Score Disease resulting from infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has a high mortality rate with deaths predominantly caused by respiratory failure.

 As of 1 September 2020, over 25 million people had confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) worldwide and at least 850 000 people had died from the disease.

To view this journal article, click here.

Study Finds 20% of All Medical Office Visits Will Be Virtual in 2020 

Doximity’s Comprehensive “2020 State of Telemedicine” Research Determines that over $29 Billion in Healthcare Services Will Happen via Telemedicine in 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – September 16, 2020– Doximity, the professional medical network, today published its “2020 State of Telemedicine Report,” a comprehensive analysis of telehealth trends in the U.S. since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report includes a patient survey of over 2,000 U.S. respondents on their attitudes towards telehealth, an analysis of online physician CVs, as well as data from the company’s telemedicine feature set, which is used regularly by over 100,000 U.S. doctors. The study found that 20% of all medical visits will be conducted via telemedicine in 2020, which represents more than $29.3 billion of medical services this year. 

“2020 has brought dramatic changes to the healthcare system, and the transition to telemedicine is one stark example.  The pandemic served to spur adoption with doctors and patients alike. And faster than anyone thought possible, moved a significant percentage of medical care online,” explains Peter Alperin, MD and Vice President at Doximity. “We hope our research will help illuminate telemedicine’s evolving role in the medical landscape for national healthcare stakeholders.” 

Key findings from the study include:

The Pandemic Has Driven Telemedicine Adoption

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of Americans who reported having at least one telehealth visit has increased by 57%. For Americans with a chronic illness, this increase is even higher at 77%.  Prior to the pandemic, engagement was relatively low, 86% of respondents reporting that they had never done telehealth visit.

Physicians Reporting ‘Telemedicine’ as a Skill Has Nearly Doubled 

Findings from last year’s study showed the number of physicians who self-reported telemedicine as a skill had been increasing by 20% year-over-year for three years. That number has nearly doubled, increasing by 38% between 2019 and 2020. 

Female Doctors Are Adopting Telemedicine At Higher Rates 

When analyzing physician interest in job opportunities by gender, the data shows that women were 24% more interested in telemedicine jobs relative to men, a significant increase over last year’s data that showed female physicians were engaging with telemedicine job ads at a 10% higher rate than their male colleagues.

“This year alone, over 20% of medical office visits will likely be conducted via telehealth. The combination of shelter-in-place orders, and the need to protect those patients most at-risk from C-19 infection, have created a real necessity to employ alternatives to the traditional in-person office visit,” said Christopher Whaley, Ph.D., lead author and assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. “Moreover, physicians have found telemedicine has served as a vital lifeline for practices negatively impacted financially by the pandemic.   In our view, the rapid uptake of telemedicine has important structural implications for the U.S. healthcare system.” 

To download the full 2020 State of Telemedicine report, please click here.

About Doximity

Doximity connects physicians and clinicians to make them more successful and productive. It is the largest professional medical network, with over 70 percent of all U.S. physicians as members. The network enables medical professionals to communicate with colleagues and patients and to share their perspectives on the latest health care trends and research. Doximity is based in San Francisco and was created by the founders of Epocrates and Rock Health. To learn more, visit