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Health Highlights: June 1, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Company Says Remdesivir Helps Moderately Sick COVID-19 Patientsl

The California-based pharmaceutical company Gilead announced that its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir improved symptoms of hospitalized patients suffering with moderate COVID-19, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Remdesivir is the only drug shown to help fight the COVID-19. A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found the drug shorten recovery from 15 to 11 days in severely sick patients, the AP noted.

Given by IV, remdesivir interferes with a protein the virus needs to replicate itself and is approved in Japan as a treatment for COVID-19 and in the U.S. is for emergency use in some patients.

For the study, nearly 600 patients were assigned to five to 10 days of remdesivir. By the 11th day patients on five days of remdesivir were 65% more likely to improve, Gilead reported.

"when treating patients with severe disease -- those who require non-invasive supplemental oxygen -- 5 days of remdesivir led to similar improvements as a 10-day course. The totality of clinical data shows that remdesivir has the potential to meaningfully benefit patients with COVID-19 and offers important hope," the company said in a press statement.

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Protests Might Cause New Wave of Coronavirus l

Health professionals across the country are concerned that ongoing protests against police brutality in American cities could spark a spate of new COVID-19 infections, the New York Times reported.

Although many protesters are wearing masks, officials worry that the close proximity of thousands of people increases the risk for new infections.

Political leaders have pleaded with protesters to wear masks and maintain social distancing, the paper reported.

In Los Angeles, demonstrations have also caused virus test sites to close, and Mayor Eric Garcetti voiced concern the protests could become "super-spreader events."

Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, is also concerned new cases could crop up in the next two weeks, and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged protesters "to go get a COVID test this week," the Times noted.

Some experts said they were somewhat reassured because the protests were held outside.

"The outdoor air dilutes the virus and reduces the infectious dose that might be out there, and if there are breezes blowing, that further dilutes the virus in the air," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, told the Times. "There was literally a lot of running around, which means they're exhaling more profoundly, but also passing each other very quickly," he said.

But others were more concerned.

"Yes, the protests are outside, but they are all really close to each other, and in those cases, being outside doesn't protect you nearly as much," Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian, told the paper. "Public gatherings are public gatherings -- it doesn't matter what you're protesting or cheering. That's one reason we're not having large baseball games and may not have college football this fall."

Over half of coronavirus infections come from people who don't have symptoms, and who don't yet know they are sick, Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told the Times.

So, arresting, transporting and jailing protesters can also increase the spread of the virus, experts said.

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Antibody Therapy to Treat COVID-19 in Human Trial

The first human trails of an antibody therapy to treat COVID-19 is underway, CNN reported Monday.

According to drug maker Eli Lilly, the phase 1 trial is designed to find out if the drug is safe and well-tolerated, Results are expected this month.

If the drug does prove safe and effective it could be available for use by the fall, according to CNN.

"Until now, scientists have been trying to repurpose medicines, drugs, that were designed for new diseases to see if they work in COVID-19, but as soon as this epidemic started, we got to work making a new medicine against this disease," Dr. Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's senior vice president and chief scientific officer, told CNN. "Now we're ready and testing it in patients."

Eli Lilly is already manufacturing the antibody therapy. "If it does work, we don't want to waste a single day, we want to have as much medicine as possible available to help as many people quickly," Skovronsky said.

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FDA Approves to Oriahnn For Menstrual Bleeding

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug Oriahnn to treat menstrual bleeding linked to fibroids.

Oriahnn capsules are a combination of estrogen and progestin consisting of elagolix, estradiol and norethindrone acetate, according to the FDA.

The drug made by AbbVie Inc. has proven effective in two studies where it reduced bleeding by 50% or more over six months.

Oriahnn may result in bone loss over time, which may not completely resolve once treatment is stopped.

The most common side effects are hot flushes, headache, fatigue and irreg> drug package includes a black box warning about the risk of strokes and blood clots, especially in women at risk for these conditions, the FDA said.

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