As we begin to wind down our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is admittedly difficult to muster the feelings of hope and possibility that traditionally accompany the season. After the vaccine gains of 2021 and declining cases have been pushed back by delta – and now by omicron – we might not know exactly what’s coming next, but we’ve got a pretty good idea.
While the virus has continued to evolve, the shape of the industry’s response has also evolved. So much has changed since the first months of 2020, as time has passed giving us all new tools and a stronger foundation against the coronavirus. Our most read stories in 2021 reflect this fact.
Our 2020 top 10 contained a largely unifying thread: How can medical technology and diagnostic companies help us learn as much as possible about this emerging pandemic threat and potentially contain it?
The genetic code for the virus was disseminated around the world within days. Screening tests followed shortly after. And researchers have made “spike protein” and “receptor-binding domain” buzzwords for households. And as supplies of diagnostics, ventilators and protective equipment began to run out, new options were designed and mass-produced for patients and providers facing the emergency.
For 2020 plus one, our Biggest Stories show how these technologies evolved – through their ups and downs – and in some cases, how they took hold over the long haul. They include the debuts of some of the first COVID tests available in the home and over the counter.
Most Read Stories also include setbacks, product recalls, FDA warnings, and disheartening study results.
Our best story was in January, and was about a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that looked at Abbott’s paper card rapid antigen test – printed in the hundreds of millions and bought in bulk by the US government – and found that it could miss about two-thirds of asymptomatic cases.
However, Abbott said his BinaxNOW diagnosis was much better at finding people who might be infectious and carry a higher viral load. He correctly identified more than three-quarters of this subset and 92.6% of people with symptoms. More recently, Abbott said its rapid tests will continue to work against the omicron variant because they do not rely on the virus’s mutated spike protein gene to give a positive result.
Second place went to coverage of the FDA’s first green light for a home COVID antibody blood test. Although it cannot confirm an active infection, the prescription-only test is intended to help healthcare professionals identify who may have developed an immune response.
The following three stories follow advancements in diabetes technology and personal blood glucose monitoring. Know Labs has unveiled its handheld device that replaces fingers with radio frequency sensors to help measure blood sugar molecules without breaking the skin.
After that, Senseonics announced that its Eversense 180-day integrated glucose meter would see its FDA review delayed by a tsunami of regulatory requests for COVID testing and other emergency products.
Then, a new story on the discovery of a method of non-invasive glucose monitoring: Israeli medical tech startup Hagar attributes its GWave sensor technology to the day the company co-founder accidentally spilled his tea on a device. radio frequency, lighting it with the sugar dissolved in its drink.
Our sixth article is also benefiting from a failure, as ResMed prepares to fill the void left by Philips’ global recall of its sleep apnea devices. The company launched a new model of connected ventilator after predicting that the recall could generate an additional $ 300-350 million in ResMed sales. However, a crimped international supply chain would also hamper these efforts.
Meanwhile, CVS and Walgreens began rolling out over-the-counter COVID diagnostics this year, from Abbott, Ellume and other test makers. Both retail drugstore chains began stocking virtual and in-store shelves in April with filters that can be bought without a prescription and used by anyone, whether or not they are showing symptoms.
But another recall came soon after, this time in the diagnostic space, with Quidel issuing further instructions for a year of PCR testing after discovering a risk of providing false negative results.
With so many different COVID tests on the market, the National Institutes of Health have sought to set a slightly straighter record by directly comparing the results of rapid antigen and PCR tests. Our ninth story showed how the NIH discovered that they can be just as reliable when used as part of a regular screening regimen.
Finally, our latest post on the Top 10 Most Read list followed the stern FDA warning, urging the public to stop using rapid COVID tests produced by a company that had been asked by the UK government to provide hundreds. millions of tests for its screening program. The agency asked users to “destroy the tests by putting them in the trash” after a Class I recall notice from their manufacturer, Innova, which had distributed a limited number of kits in the United States before obtaining a emergency clearance.
And while COVID-19 has driven much of our coverage, there are many other conditions, areas of research, and patients that deserve our attention. This year’s Fierce Medtech class Fierce 15 brings new technologies to fight maternal mortality, stroke, heart disease, surgery and orthopedics as well as new advancements in genomic research and artificial intelligence (and, yes, COVID testing as well).
Nominations are currently open for the next Fierce 15, until mid-January, so please submit the companies you think are the fiercest in the medical tech arena. In the meantime, we’ll take a short break from publishing for the holidays. Don’t hesitate to register for any breaking news, and we’ll hit your inboxes on January 5th.