As COVID-19 cases increase across the state, Tennessee businesses from companies as diverse as distilleries and auto manufacturers have shifted to make personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, sanitizer and other items. 

On Tuesday, HCA Healthcare partnered with Google Cloud to create the COVID-19 National Response Portal. The platform is intended to promote data-sharing about how the virus is spreading in an effort to help hospitals and communities prepare and respond.

Below, we’ve highlighted what our members are doing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 page for additional resources.

Global Collaboration on Plasma Therapy for COVID-19

Biotest, BPL Group, LFB and Octapharma have joined an alliance formed by CSL Behring and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited to develop a potential plasma-derived therapy for treating COVID-19. The alliance will work toward developing one, unbranded anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune immunoglobulin medicine as well as support public response efforts.

“This effort aims to accelerate a reliable, scalable and sustainable option for caregivers to treat patients suffering from the impact of COVID-19,” said Bill Mezzanotte, CSL Behring’s Executive Vice President and Head of Research and Development.

Anytime Health Expands Amid Telemedicine Boom

“We’ve added 150 practices and 1,500 physicians in the last week.” That’s according to Mick Connors, a Pediatric Emergency Physician and co-founder of Anytime Telehealth Inc.

The federal government has recently waived a number of regulatory hurdles to telemedicine, including this week’s CMS decision to temporarily reimburse providers that treat Medicare beneficiaries remotely for more than 80 services.

These rollbacks and other precautions adopted in light of COVID-19 have allowed telemedicine to flourish. In an interview with Teknovation, Connors said the company has “quadrupled its employee count” over the last few weeks with much of that growth “on the pediatric front.” Anytime TeleHealth can get a practice operational in two to three days with technology and staff training.

Anytime Health Inc. is the parent company of Anytime Pediatrics, which graduated from our Mentor Network in 2019.

VUMC Work on COVID-19 Antiviral Drug

In addition to the efforts of Dr. Crowe and his team at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center to identify antibody therapies, other Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers are part of a team working on an antiviral drug to treat COVID-19. Last year, Mark Denison, MD, and colleagues at VUMC reported that EIDD-1931—a drug developed by the Emory Institute of Drug Development in Atlanta—blocked replication of a broad spectrum of coronaviruses in laboratory tests and prevented these viruses from developing resistance against it.

According to Andrea Pruijssers, PhD, research assistant professor of Pediatrics and the lead antiviral scientist in Denison’s lab, “We are amazed at the ability of EIDD-1931 and -2801 to inhibit all tested coronaviruses and the potential for oral treatment of COVID-19.”

Denison’s lab also will be involved in a phase 1 clinical trial that is testing antibody responses to a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 designed and produced by Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm Moderna Inc.

Waller Real-Time Resource Guide for Businesses

Waller produced a comprehensive resource guide that is now accessible for business owners, employers and industry stakeholders seeking information on the impact of COVID-19. This user-friendly guide offers key legal analysis and advice across multiple industry sectors with more than 75 blog posts and podcast content addressing, among other topics, business guidance, employment matters, healthcare-industry updates, business insurance opportunities, government and legislative actions, financing and loan information, public company updates and hospitality-industry related analysis.

Other important updates and resources:

  • Last week the FDA launched a special emergency program to expedite research and development of potential COVID-19 drugs.
  • Cumberland Pharmaceuticals expanded the availability of Vaprisol® to treat hyponatremia, which has the potential to decrease ICU stays and thereby free up potentially life-saving ICU beds.
  • Bill Gates is spending billions of dollars on seven possible vaccines for coronavirus.
  • Read how Astellas is supporting humanitarian organizations working on community solutions to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as mobilizing equipment and donations.
  • Walgreens announced it will expand drive-thru COVID-19 testing to 15 states including Tennessee. They will run Abbott’s new ID NOW COVID-19 test.
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Nashville set up a fundraiser to feed nurses and other emergency workers on the frontlines of the epidemic.