Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

Are you taking heartburn medication like Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium? You may want to think twice as new evidence suggests that taking those drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), can increase one’s odds of getting COVID-19. The new research, published in pre-print form in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, was based on an online survey of more than 53,000 Americans. A pre-print means the research has been accepted for publication in a journal, but it has not undergone final review and editing.  The observational study found that 6.4% of the participants reported a positive COVID-19 result. A total of 2,634…

Read More

We’re officially closer to finding a new COVID-19 vaccine. In the last two weeks, pharmaceutical companies Moderna and AstraZeneca released promising data on their vaccines — respectively named mRNA-1273 and AZD1222. There’s still more testing to be done, but we’re getting closer to finding a heavily vetted vaccine that may be able to turn the tide against COVID-19.  First a quick primer on the new, innovative methods used to create both COVID-19 vaccines. Traditionally, most vaccines use the whole virus in forming a cure. However, AstraZeneca uses a small amount of weakened live virus to carry DNA into cells to…

Read More

A new study is claiming that a cocktail of the mineral zinc, the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and the antibiotic azithromycin lead to fewer hospitalizations and deaths in patients with COVID-19.  Of 518 COVID-19 patients who were not hospitalized, 2.8% of those who were treated with the combination therapy were hospitalized compared to 15.4% in a control group who received no treatment. In the treatment group of 141 patients, just one patient died compared to 13 of 377 patients who received no treatments.   It’s important to note that the research has not yet been peer-reviewed, meaning other researchers have not yet…

Read More

We need a vaccine and we need it fast. In May, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership that aims to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021. This sounds like a great plan, but rapidly testing and approving vaccines without having a complete picture of their efficacy and safety could have potentially serious consequences. Various government agencies are involved in this $10 billion project, including the CDC, FDA, NIH, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Billions of dollars have already been doled out to pharmaceutical companies to support the development…

Read More

There’s a COVID-19 vaccine on the way — or so the Wednesday headlines, which heralded positive results from Pfizer and BioNTech’s early-stage trial of a vaccine for COVID-19, would lead you to believe. A closer look at the data, and the adverse effects, however, reveals that it’s probably too early for an air-five.  The first phase of the 28-day long trial saw only 24 patients receive one of three dosage strengths — 10 micrograms (μg), 30μg, and 100μg — of the vaccine called BNT162b1. With a sample size that small, it’d be irresponsible to draw any conclusions. The vaccine has…

Read More

Dexamethasone, a cheap steroid medication that has been around for decades, was shown in a new, large trial to reduce deaths in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. This news is exciting and promising, yet the risks and side effects associated with this drug haven’t been widely discussed, and so to say that dexamethasone should become the new standard of care for hospitalized COVID-19 is most certainly jumping the gun.  Corticosteroids like dexamethasone are associated with side effects, such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, high blood sugar, blurry vision, and a higher risk of infections — which can be problematic with patients…

Read More

A major study that showed hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 was dangerous was revoked, leading many to believe that it is in fact effective. Sorry to confuse you, but that’s not the case.  Just because the study was retracted doesn’t necessarily mean its findings are incorrect; it means that the data to support that conclusion were flawed.  “It needs to be emphasized that despite this article’s retraction, there is still no good evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective for COVID-19," noted Ian Musgrave, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in pharmacology at the University of Adelaide in Australia.  The study that was retracted was published…

Read More

After months of speculation, clinical tests and a lot of hope, scientists reluctantly conclude that hydroxychloroquine is not the answer to COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine was identified early in the pandemic as one of several drugs that seemed likely to treat COVID-19. It was found to be effective against other coronaviruses in cell cultures which started the interest in hydroxychloroquine. After months of testing and clinical trials, two strong, well-conducted studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine isn’t effective as a preventative for COVID-19 or as a way to treat it. The study on preventative use of hydroxychloroquine was headed by researchers at the…

Read More