October 2020 COVID 19

October 2020 COVID 19

October 2020 COVID 19

Misinformation

October 1: the NY Times reported that of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and internet falsehoods about the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.

That was the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.

The study was the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.

“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” said Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

October 2020 COVID 19

Trump Positive

October 2:  President Trump revealed that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had tested positive for the coronavirus [NYT story]

1,028,517 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 2: 34,529,384 case worldwide; 1,028,517 deaths worldwide

212,694 COVID Deaths USA

October 2:  7,497,256 cases in the USA; 212,694 deaths in the USA.

October 2: President Trump was hospitalized less than 24 hours after learning that he had the coronavirus. Aides said Mr. Trump was experiencing coughing, congestion and fever, symptoms that worsened through the day.

Mr. Trump was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being given an experimental antibody treatment. Officials said he would remain in the hospital for several days and canceled his upcoming campaign events. [NYT story]

October 2020 COVID 19

Pope Francis Criticizes Response

October 4: Pope Francis criticized the failures of global cooperation in response to the coronavirus pandemic in a document that underscored the priorities of his pontificate.

“As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities,” Francis said in the encyclical, the most authoritative form of papal teaching. “Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all,” he added.

“Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality,” the pope said.

The encyclical, titled “Brothers All,” is a reflection on fraternity and social friendship heavily influenced by St. Francis of Assisi, after whom the pope took his name. [NYT article]

1,042,989 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 5: 35,471,263 case worldwide; 1,042,989 deaths worldwide

214,636 COVID Deaths USA

October 5:  7,639,783 cases in the USA; 214,636 deaths in the USA.

Trump Released

October 5: President Trump was released from the hospital and public health experts had hoped that  would act decisively to persuade his supporters that wearing masks and social distancing were essential to protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Instead, the president yet again downplayed the deadly threat of the virus.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he wrote. “Don’t let it dominate your life.” When he arrived at the White House Trump removed his mask before joining several masked people inside. The president was probably still contagious, as many patients can pass on the virus for up to 10 days after symptoms begin.

The president’s comments about a disease that has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States outraged scientists, ethicists and doctors. [NYT story]

October 2020 COVID 19

Trial Paused

October 12: Johnson & Johnson paused the large late-stage clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine because of an “unexplained illness” in one of the volunteers.

The company did not say whether the sick participant had received the experimental vaccine or a placebo. The pause was first reported by the health news website Stat.

Johnson & Johnson, which had just began the so-called Phase 3 trial of its vaccine in September, was behind several of its competitors in the vaccine race, but its vaccine had some advantages over others. It did not need to be frozen, and it could need just one dose instead of two. It would also be the largest trial, with a goal of enrolling 60,000 volunteers.

“Adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” the company said in a statement. “We’re also learning more about this participant’s illness, and it’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information.” [NYT article] (trial, see Oct 23 below)

1,086,417 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 13: 38,100,378 case worldwide; 1,086,417 deaths worldwide

214,636 COVID Deaths USA

October 13:  8,038,391 cases in the USA; 220,021 deaths in the USA.

October 2020 COVID 19

Second Trial Paused

October 13: a government-sponsored clinical trial testing an antibody treatment made by the drug company Eli Lilly was paused because of a “potential safety concern,” according to emails that government officials sent  to researchers at testing sites, and confirmed by the company.

The news comes just a day after Johnson & Johnson announced the pause of its coronavirus vaccine trial because of a sick volunteer, and a month after AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial was halted over concerns about two participants who had fallen ill after getting the company’s vaccine.

The Eli Lilly trial was designed to test the benefits of the therapy on hundreds of people hospitalized with Covid-19, compared with a placebo. All of the study participants also received another experimental drug, remdesivir, which has become commonly used to treat patients with Covid-19. It is unclear how many volunteers were sick, and what the details of their illnesses were. [NYT article] (trial, see Oct 23 below)

October 2020 COVID 19

Trump Demeans Fauci

October 19: President Trump attacked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci as “a disaster”  and said, despite signs that the nation was headed toward another coronavirus peak, that people were “tired” of hearing about the virus from “these idiots” in the government. [NYT article]

Chinese Vaccine

October 20: the NY Times reported that Tian Baoguo, a senior official at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, said at a news conference that Chinese vaccines had been administered to 60,000 people in clinical trials, many of them around the world, and none of them had experienced any serious adverse reactions.

 “Initial results show that they are safe,” he said.

More deaths

October 20: the NY Times reported that a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the coronavirus pandemic caused nearly 300,000 deaths in the United States through early October.

The new tally included not only deaths known to had been directly caused by the coronavirus, but also roughly 100,000 fatalities that were indirectly related and would not have occurred if not for the virus.

The study was an attempt to measure “excess deaths” — deaths from all causes that statistically exceed those normally occurring in a certain time period. The total included deaths from Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, that were misclassified or missed altogether.

Many experts believe this measure tracks the pandemic’s impact more accurately than official Covid-19 death reports do, and they warned that the death toll might continue an inexorable climb if policies are not put in effect to contain the spread.

1,086,417 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 20: 40,745,944 case worldwide; 1,124,448 deaths worldwide

214,636 COVID Deaths USA

October 20:  8,459,041 cases in the USA; 225,241 deaths in the USA.

October 2020 COVID 19

October 21: the NY Times reported that according to a New York Times database, in the past seven days, seven countries — Argentina, Brazil, Britain, France, India, Russia and the United States — had reported at least 100,000 new cases of the coronavirus, helping to push total cases worldwide to more than 40.7 million,

In many cases, these countries saw numbers that were much higher than they were during the height of the pandemic in the spring.  At that point most countries locked down, stopping movement and much interpersonal contact.

October 2020 COVID 19

October 22: the Food and Drug Administration said  that it had formally approved remdesivir as the first drug to treat Covid-19, a move that indicated the government’s confidence in its safe and effective use for hospitalized patients.

The F.D.A. said the antiviral drug had been approved for adults and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) who require hospitalization for Covid-19. [NYT article]

October 2020 COVID 19

Most Severe Surge

October 23: the NYT reported that the United States was in the midst of one of the most severe surges of the coronavirus to date, with more new cases reported across the country on October 23 than on any other single day since the pandemic began.

Since the start of October, the rise in cases had been steady and inexorable, with no plateau in sight. By the end of the day, more than 85,000 cases had been reported across the country, breaking the single-day record set on July 16 by about 10,000 cases.

Trials Resumed

October 23: the late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials run by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson resumed in the United States after the companies said that serious illnesses in a few volunteers appeared not to be related to the vaccines.

Federal health regulators gave AstraZeneca the green light after a six-week pause, concluding there was no evidence that the experimental vaccine had directly caused the neurological side effects reported in two participants. The AstraZeneca news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Johnson & Johnson said that its trial, which had been on pause for 11 days, would restart after learning that a “serious medical event” in one study volunteer had “no clear cause.” In an interview, the company’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Paul Stoffels, said that no one at the company knew if the volunteer had received the placebo or the vaccine, in order to preserve the integrity of the trial.  [NYT article]

Possible Antibody Issue

October 23: the NY Times reported on a study had found some survivors of Covid-19 carried worrying signs that their immune system had turned on the body, reminiscent of potentially debilitating diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, .

The study suggested that at some point, the body’s defense system in these patients shifted into attacking itself, rather than the virus, . The patients produced molecules called “autoantibodies” that target genetic material from human cells, instead of from the virus.

This misguided immune response may exacerbate severe Covid-19. It could also explain why so-called “long haulers” have lingering problems months after their initial illness has resolved and the virus is gone from their bodies.

October 2020 COVID 19

1,150,808 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 24: 42,585,384 case worldwide; 1,150,808 deaths worldwide

229,356 COVID Deaths USA

October 24:  8,753,209 cases in the USA; 229,356 deaths in the USA.

October 2020 COVID 19

October 27: the Trump administration triumphantly declared victory over the coronavirus pandemic, one week before the 2020 election and with COVID-19 cases surging across the country.

The lie came in a news release on a new 62-page report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy listing what it claims are the scientific and technological accomplishments during President Donald Trump’s first term. The list includes, “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.”

From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease,” the release states.  [HuffPost article]

But…

October 27: the United States reported a record of more than 500,000 new coronavirus cases over the past week, as states and cities resorted to stricter new measures to contain the virus that was raging across the country, especially the American heartland.

The record was broken even as the Trump administration had announced what it called its first-term scientific accomplishments, in a news release that included “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC,” written in bold, capital letters.

The record reflected  how quickly the virus was spreading. It took nearly three months for the first 500,000 coronavirus cases to be tallied in the United States — the first was confirmed on January 21, and the country did not reach the half-million mark until April 11. Testing was severely limited in the early days of the pandemic. [NYT article]

October 2020 COVID 19

1,195,929 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 31: 46,052,730 case worldwide; 1,195,929 deaths worldwide

235,248 COVID Deaths USA

October 31:  9,323,274 cases in the USA; 235,248 deaths in the USA.

October 2020 COVID 19

Transmission

October 30: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  reported that people who contracted Covid-19 could quickly spread the virus through their households, based on a study of 101 patients in Tennessee and Wisconsin, and 191 of their household contacts.

And “substantial transmission” occurred, whether the first patient was an adult or a child, the researchers found. The transmission rate was high across all racial and ethnic groups. [NYT article]

October 2020 COVID 19

1,173,663 COVID Deaths Worldwide

October 31: 44,346,865 case worldwide; 1,173,663 deaths worldwide

232,101 COVID Deaths USA

October 31:  9,039,170 cases in the USA; 232,101 deaths in the USA.

October 2020 COVID 19

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