Tag Archives: 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

Previous COVID-19 posts:

September 2020 COVID 19

September 2020 COVID 19

September 1, 2020: reports of new cases had fallen significantly around the country since July; they were flat in 26 states and falling in 15 others. But in nine states, cases were still growing, and in some, setting records — especially in the Midwest.

Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all added more cases in a recent seven-day stretch than in any previous week of the pandemic. Together, they reported 19,133 new cases in the week ending Sunday, according to a New York Times database — 6.4 percent of the national total, though the five states are home to only 4 percent of the population. In each, some of the biggest surges in new case numbers have come in college towns. (NYT story)

September 2020 COVID 19

855,652 COVID Deaths Worldwide

September 1: 25,671,845 case worldwide; 855,652 deaths worldwide

187,793 COVID Deaths USA

September 1:  6,212,708 cases in the USA; 187,793 deaths in the USA.

September 2020 COVID 19

Steroid treatment

September 2: published international clinical trials confirmed the hope that cheap, widely available steroid drugs could help seriously ill patients survive Covid-19.

Following release of the new data, the World Health Organization strongly recommended steroids for treatment of patients with severe or critical Covid-19 worldwide. But the agency recommended against giving the drugs to patients with mild disease.

The new studies include an analysis that pooled data from seven randomized clinical trials evaluating three steroids in over 1,700 patients. The study concluded that each of the three drugs reduced the risk of death.

That paper and three related studies were published in the journal JAMA, along with an editorial describing the research as an “important step forward in the treatment of patients with Covid-19.” [NYT article]

September 2020 COVID 19

US/WHO

September 3: the Trump administration pulled U.S. officials from the headquarters of the World Health Organization.

The U.S. officially announced its withdrawal from the WHO this summer, initiating a year-long process that will not go into effect until a year later on July 6, 2021. But the State Department announced on this date that the U.S. was already beginning to scale down its engagement, including “recalling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailees from WHO headquarters, regional offices, and country offices, and reassigning these experts.” [NBC News article]

September 2020 COVID 19

Pledge

September 4: a Wall Street Journal article stated that a group of drug companies competing with one another to be among the first to develop coronavirus vaccines announced a pledge that they will not release any vaccines that do not follow rigorous efficacy and safety standards.

The manufacturers that are said to have signed the letter include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi. [NYT article]

September 2020 COVID 19

Trial halted

September 8: the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca halted global trials of its coronavirus vaccine because of a serious and unexpected adverse reaction in a participant, the company said.

The trial’s halt, which was first reported by Stat News, would allow the British-Swedish company to conduct a safety review.

In a statement, the company described the halt as a “routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.”

September 2020 COVID 19

902,537 COVID Deaths Worldwide

September 9:  27,769,074 case worldwide; 902,537 deaths worldwide

194,037 COVID Deaths USA

September 9:  6,514,376 cases in the USA; 194,037 deaths in the USA.

September 9:  on this date media reported that on February 7 President Trump acknowledged to the journalist Bob Woodward that he knowingly played down the coronavirus even though he was aware it was life-threatening and vastly more serious than the seasonal flu.

President Trump said: “This is deadly stuff,” Mr. Trump said in one of 18 interviews with Mr. Woodward for his coming book, “Rage.”

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” the president told Mr. Woodward in audio recordings made available on The Washington Post website. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

But three days after those remarks, Mr. Trump told the Fox Business anchor Trish Regan: “We’re in very good shape. We have 11 cases. And most of them are getting better very rapidly. I think they will all be better.”

A little less than two weeks later, he told reporters on the South Lawn that “we have it very much under control in this country.” [NYT article]

September 2020 COVID 19

September 10: top regulators at the Food and Drug Administration issued an unusual statement promising to uphold the scientific integrity of their work and defend the agency’s independence.

In an opinion column published in USA Today, eight directors of the F.D.A.’s regulatory centers and offices warned that “if the agency’s credibility is lost because of real or perceived interference, people will not rely on the agency’s safety warnings.”

We absolutely understand that the F.D.A., like other federal executive agencies, operates in a political environment,” they wrote. “That is a reality that we must navigate adeptly while maintaining our independence to ensure the best possible outcomes for public health.

They added, “We and our career staff do the best by public health when we are the decision makers, arriving at those decisions based on our unbiased evaluation of the scientific evidence.” [NYT story]

September 2020 COVID 19

Temperature check have little value

September 13:  the practice of checking for fever in public spaces had become increasingly common, causing a surge in sales of infrared contact-free thermometers and body temperature scanners even as scientific evidence indicating that they are of little value has solidified.

While health officials had endorsed masks and social distancing as effective measures for curbing the spread of the virus, some experts  say that taking temperatures at entry points is a gesture that is unlikely to screen out many infected people and offered little more than an illusion of safety. [NYT article]

September 2020 COVID 19

925,373 COVID Deaths Worldwide

September 13: 28,989,073 case worldwide; 925,373 deaths worldwide

198,150 COVID Deaths USA

September 13:  6,679,023 cases in the USA; 198,150 deaths in the USA.

September 2020 COVID 19

Again At Odds

September 16: President Trump rejected the professional scientific conclusions of his own government about the prospects for a widely available coronavirus vaccine and the effectiveness of masks in curbing the spread of the virus as the death toll in the United States from the disease neared 200,000.

Trump publicly slapped down Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the president promised that a vaccine could be available in weeks and go “immediately” to the general public while diminishing the usefulness of masks despite evidence to the contrary.

Dr. Redfield had just told a Senate committee that a vaccine would not be widely available until the middle of next year and that masks were so vital in fighting the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, that they may even more important than a vaccine.

September 2020 COVID 19

945,782 COVID Deaths Worldwide

September 17: 30,070,457 case worldwide; 945,782 deaths worldwide

201,348 COVID Deaths USA

September 17:  6,828,301 cases in the USA; 201,348 deaths in the USA.

Unapproved post

September 17: The New York Times reported that a heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, The posted guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus.

It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield.

Officials told The Times this week that the Department of Health and Human Services did the rewriting and then “dropped” it into the C.D.C.’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.

September 2020 COVID 19

September 22:  NPR reported that the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 — reaching what was once the upper limit of some estimates for the pandemic’s impact on Americans. Some experts  warned that the toll could nearly double again by the end of 2020.

I hoped we would be in a better place by now,” said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s an enormous and tragic loss of life.”

COVID-19 became the second leading causes of death in the U.S. after heart disease.

945,782 COVID Deaths Worldwide

September 23: 31,828,741 case worldwide; 976,342 deaths worldwide

205,491 COVID Deaths USA

September 23:  7,098,291 cases in the USA; 205,491 deaths in the USA.

September 2020 COVID 19

White House Overrules CDC

September 30: the White House blocked a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February, a step that would have displeased the politically powerful tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida.

The current “no sail” policy, which was originally put in place in April and later extended, was set to expire. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., had recommended the extension, worried that cruise ships could become viral hot spots, as they did at the beginning of the pandemic.

But at a meeting of the coronavirus task force on September 29, Dr. Redfield’s plan was overruled, according to a senior federal health official who was not authorized to comment and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The administration will instead allow the ships to sail after October. 31, the date the industry had already agreed to in its own, voluntary plan. [NYT article]

1,016,433 COVID Deaths Worldwide

September 30: 34,081,921 case worldwide; 1,016,433 deaths worldwide

211,475 COVID Deaths USA

September 30:  7,436,898 cases in the USA; 211,475 deaths in the USA.

September 2020 COVID 19

Previous and subsequent COVID-19 posts:

August 2020 COVID 19

August 2020 COVID 19

August 2020 COVID 19
Aug. 17, 2020 cover of TIME by Tim O’Brien

689,588 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 2: 18,055,793 cases worldwide; 689,588 deaths worldwide

157,921 COVID Deaths USA

August 2:  4,765,155 cases in the USA; 157,921 deaths in the USA

August 2: Dr. Deborah Birx , the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said the US was in a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the deadly virus was more widespread than when it first took hold in the US.

What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” said Birx.
She stressed that Americans needed to follow health recommendations, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx said. “If you’re in multi-generational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities.”  [CNN story]
August 2020 COVID 19

Dr. Anthony Fauci/death threats

August 5: Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he had received death threats and his daughters had been harassed as a result of his high-profile statements about the coronavirus pandemic.

“Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security is just, I mean, it’s amazing,” Fauci said.

Fauci didn’t reveal any more details about the threats and harassment. But he said he and his wife, and his three daughters, who live in three separate cities, were weathering the stress.

“I wish that they did not have to go through that,” Fauci said. He made his comments  during an online forum sponsored by Harvard University that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta moderated.

Fauci has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and has advised six presidents on matters of public health. In recent months, he has sometimes made statements that have contradicted President Trump.

“I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that people who object to things that are pure public health principles are so set against it, and don’t like what you and I say, namely in the word of science, that they actually threaten you. I mean, that to me is just strange,” Fauci said. [NPR story]

August 2020 COVID 19

Trump posts removed

August 5: both Twitter and Facebook removed a post shared by President Trump for breaking their rules against spreading coronavirus misinformation.

Twitter temporarily blocked the Trump election campaign account from tweeting until it removed a post with a video clip from a August 5 Fox News interview , in which the president urged schools to reopen, falsely claiming that children are “almost immune from this disease.”

Facebook also removed a post containing the same video from Trump’s personal page. Both Facebook and Twitter said the post violated their rules on COVID-19 misinformation.

August 2020 COVID 19

711,876 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 6: 19,006,692 case worldwide; 711,876 deaths worldwide

161,608 COVID Deaths USA

August 6:  4,973,741 cases in the USA; 161,608 deaths in the USA

August 2020 COVID 19

August 9: according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, at least 97,000 children in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus the last two weeks of July alone,. The report said that at least 338,000 children had tested positive since the pandemic began, meaning more than a quarter had tested positive in just those two weeks.

August 2020 COVID 19

711,876 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 10: 20,055,099 case worldwide; 734,561 deaths worldwide

165,619 COVID Deaths USA

August 10:  5,200,313 cases in the USA; 165,619 deaths in the USA

August 2020 COVID 19

Russia pre-approves

August 11: a Russian health care regulator become the first in the world to approve a vaccine against the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced, though the vaccine had yet to complete clinical trials.

The announcement came despite a warning last week from the World Health Organization that Russia should not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness. [NYT article]

August 2020 COVID 19

Aerosol Virus

August 11: a team of virologists and aerosol scientists has produced exactly  confirmation of infectious virus in the air.

“This is what people have been clamoring for,” said Linsey Marr, an expert in airborne spread of viruses who was not involved in the work. “It’s unambiguous evidence that there is infectious virus in aerosols.”

A research team at the University of Florida succeeded in isolating live virus from aerosols collected at a distance of seven to 16 feet from patients hospitalized with Covid-19 — farther than the six feet recommended in social distancing guidelines.

August 2020 COVID 19

Local Chinese Hid Information

August 19: the NY Times reported that according to American officials familiar with a new internal report by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials in Beijing were kept in the dark for weeks about the potential devastation of the virus by local officials in central China,

The report concluded that officials in the city of Wuhan and in Hubei Province, where the outbreak began late last year, tried to hide information from China’s central leadership. The finding is consistent with reporting by news organizations and with assessments by China experts of the country’s opaque governance system.

August 2020 COVID 19

787,777 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 19: 22,474,212 case worldwide; 787,777 deaths worldwide

175,927 COVID Deaths USA

August 19:  5,687,014 cases in the USA; 175,927 deaths in the USA

August 2020 COVID 19

August 23: the NY Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration  gave emergency approval for expanded use of antibody-rich blood plasma to help hospitalized coronavirus patients.

August 2020 COVID 19

813,045 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 24: 23,615,418 case worldwide; 813,045 deaths worldwide

180,605 COVID Deaths USA

August 24:  5,874,358 cases in the USA; 180,605 deaths in the USA

August 2020 COVID 19

Reinfection

August 24: researchers in Hong Kong reported the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus.

“An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of Covid-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode,” University of Hong Kong researchers said  in a statement.

The report was of concern because it suggested that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months in some people. And it had implications for vaccines being developed for the virus. [NYT story]

FDA authorizes convalescent plasma

August 23: President Trump announced the emergency approval of blood plasma for hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Trump and two of his top health officials cited the same statistic: that the treatment had reduced deaths by 35 percent.

Trump called it a “tremendous” number. His health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, a former pharmaceutical executive, said, “I don’t want you to gloss over this number.” And Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said 35 out of 100 Covid-19 patients “would have been saved because of the administration of plasma.” [CNN article]

August 2020 COVID 19

August 25: some scientists were taken aback by the way the administration framed plasma data announced on August 23, which appeared to have been calculated based on a small subgroup of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in a Mayo Clinic study: those who were under 80 years old, not on ventilators and received plasma known to contain high levels of virus-fighting antibodies within three days of diagnosis.

Many experts — including a scientist who worked on the Mayo Clinic study — were bewildered about where the statistic came from. The number was not mentioned in the official authorization letter issued by the agency, nor was it in a 17-page memo written by F.D.A. scientists. It was not in an analysis conducted by the Mayo Clinic that has been frequently cited by the administration. [NYT story]

August 2020 COVID 19

C.D.C. Pressured to Change Guidance

August 26: higher-ups in the Trump administration instructed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to modify its coronavirus testing guidelines this week to exclude people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 — even if they have been recently exposed to the virus, according to two federal health officials.

One official said the directive came from the top down. Another said the guidelines were not written by the C.D.C. but were imposed. [NYT article]

August 2020 COVID 19

827,069 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 26: 24,243,682 case worldwide; 827,069 deaths worldwide

183,317 COVID Deaths USA

August 26:  5,990,439 cases in the USA; 183,317 deaths in the USA

August 2020 COVID 19

More Plasma Fallout

August 28: the NY Times reported that two senior public relations experts advising the Food and Drug Administration were fired from their positions after President Trump and the head of the F.D.A. exaggerated the proven benefits of a blood plasma treatment for Covid-19.

Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner, , removed Emily Miller as the agency’s chief spokeswoman. The White House had installed her in the post just 11 days earlier. Ms. Miller had previously worked in communications for the re-election campaign of Senator Ted Cruz and as a journalist for the conservative cable network One America News.

The day before, the F.D.A.’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, terminated the contract of another public relations consultant, Wayne L. Pines, who had advised Dr. Hahn to apologize for misleading comments about the benefits of blood plasma for Covid-19.

Guidance Change Fallout

August 28: the leaders of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the Big Cities Health Coalition, two organizations that represent thousands of local public health departments in the United States sent a letter to senior Trump administration officials asking that they “pull the revised guidance” on virus testing and restore recommendations that individuals who have been exposed to the virus be tested whether or not they have symptoms.

The letter — addressed to Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, an assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services. The organizations’ leaders wrote that their members were “incredibly concerned” about the changes.

August 2020 COVID 19

838,468 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 28: 24,789,603 case worldwide; 838,468 deaths worldwide

185,272 COVID Deaths USA

August 28:  6,067,600 cases in the USA; 185,272 deaths in the USA

August 2020 COVID 19

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