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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

 

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Physicians caution that amid a desire to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, developers of drugs and vaccines have become overly enthusiastic about the chances their products will work.  Several vaccine developers have issued statements looking into the future — setting possible timetables for study completion and vaccine manufacturing.

Biotech company Moderna said early trials of their coronavirus vaccine show promising results as volunteers developed antibodies against the virus. Eight people took part in the study. The company, which is developing the vaccine with the National Institutes of Health, says it will move on to larger-scale trials and that a vaccine could be made available as soon as January.   Moderna is collaborating on its vaccine development with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, said while Moderna’s numbers were limited, “it was good news” and he was “cautiously optimistic” about the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently over 100 vaccine efforts underway around the world.  There are 10 vaccines in human clinical trials worldwide. There are four teams in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer, Inovio and Novavax.  Five Chinese companies have vaccines in human trials. University of Oxford is the only team in Europe currently running trials.  Inovio and Moderna have said they expect their large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, to last around six months. Pfizer hasn’t given a timetable for its Phase 3 trial.  Worldwide, there are 114 more candidates in pre-clinical trial stages.

One big stumbling block for any vaccine trial is that Covid-19 infection rates in many areas of the world are flattening out or declining. The point of Phase 3 is to vaccinate people and then see if they naturally become infected, and with lower rates of circulating virus, the study subjects are less likely to be exposed to the virus in the first place.  For a vaccine clinical trial to be successful, there needs to be sufficiently high levels of the virus circulating in the community. If there isn’t enough virus around, it will be impossible to tell if the vaccine protected the study subjects, or if they were just never exposed to the virus.

The global effort to develop a vaccine is just the beginning of this race. It also takes time to ramp up vaccine production and deciding how it will be distributed will be difficult in a world of more than 7 billion people.  New drugs and vaccines traditionally go first to the wealthiest countries and that’s the expectation in this case as well. But the exact order could depend on where the vaccine is first developed and what that countries priorities are in distribution.  Wealthier countries have been hit hardest by the virus so far. But in many of these nations, COVID-19 cases are leveling off or declining, while they are rising rapidly in the developing world, including countries such as India, Brazil and Peru.  Nations and drug companies are likely to face a range of conflicting pressures with the need to provide the vaccine at home and intense scrutiny to share it widely, fairly and cheaply abroad.

 

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Some States Reopen As Researchers Confirm Covid Was Circulating the US Earlier Than Believed

Some States Reopen As Researchers Confirm Covid Was Circulating the US Earlier Than Believed

 

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As many states slowly reopen, a pair of studies predict the COVID-19 outbreak is set to become far deadlier in the United States. A draft Federal Emergency Management Agency report forecasts that daily coronavirus deaths in the United States would rise to 3,000 people a day by June 1 — that’s a 70% increase over the current figure. Separately, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates the U.S. death toll will reach around 135,000 by August in the United States.

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has topped 75,000 and is projected to keep rising in the coming weeks. The official coronavirus death toll worldwide has topped a quarter of a million, with over 3.6 million confirmed cases.  The United States makes up close to one-third of confirmed cases and a quarter of known deaths, even though it represents less than 5% of the world’s population.

Over half of U.S. states have relaxed, or are preparing to loosen, social distancing and other restrictions but it has not been a smooth transition.  In Georgia, more than 120 Atlanta restaurants have refused to open, saying it is not safe to do so despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s lifting of the state’s shelter-in-place order.  In Miami Beach, the governor had to close a popular park — just five days after reopening it — after thousands failed to adhere to new rules requiring social distancing and wearing a face mask.

Meanwhile, we continue to learn more about the virus globally as scientists and doctors try to create a vaccine.  A French hospital says they treated a COVID-19 patient as early as December — a month before the government confirmed its first cases.  A preliminary new study finds the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China mutated in Europe in February to become more contagious, speeding its spread around the globe. The authors of the study said they released their findings early so that people working on vaccines could see their results.

US Researchers say the novel coronavirus silently spread in the United States earlier than previously thought as well, infecting tens of thousands of people in New York and other major cities before the first US case was confirmed on January 21.  A new model by the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University in Boston shows the first infections came from China in early or mid-January, and that the virus went undetected because many people were not presenting symptoms or were misdiagnosed because US doctors had not seen the virus first hand yet.

The model suggests that while Americans were still focused on China, about 28,000 people in major cities — such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle — were infected by March 1.  Santa Clara County officials announced that tissue samples confirmed two people who died in early February tested positive for coronavirus. That month, a number of physicians saw patients, without travel histories, who had flu-like symptoms.

Several states, including California and Indiana, have been retracing their coronavirus timelines after discovering that the highly infectious disease started killing people earlier than previously known.  These discoveries have emphasized just how much about this pandemic remains unknown. Four months since the novel coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, experts worldwide still do not fully understand how the virus started, how it impacts the body or what treatments are effective.

 

 

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Projections

Covid 19 Projections

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The coronavirus pandemic continues in almost every corner of the globe, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassing 1 million people — though the true number is certain to be far higher due to a critical lack of testing globally.  The largest number of cases is in the United States with over 350,000 confirmed.  Over 10,000 people in the US have died of Covid-19 as the virus continues to spread.

In Europe, COVID-19 has pushed hospitals across the continent past their breaking points. Spain has reported over 120,000 cases and their death toll topped 10,000.  In the U.K., London’s ExCeL convention center has been converted into an enormous field hospital with plans to treat up to 4,000 COVID-19 patients. Over 2,300 people have died from the disease across the U.K.

In Italy, there are over 100,000 confirmed cases and their COVID-19 deaths have topped 15,000.  It’s been reported that Italy’s true toll is far higher because the country can’t spare the resources to test every dead body.  U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said models predict the United States faces a trajectory of COVID-19 deaths similar to Italy’s.  The computer model used by the White House projects close to 82,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States by August 4, assuming the country implements full social distancing until the end of May.

The 81,766-death projection is a slightly less grim figure than the 93,531 cited earlier by the administration. The model projects that the country may need fewer hospital beds, ventilators and other equipment than previously estimated, and that some states may reach their peak of COVID-19 deaths sooner than expected.  Not all states are using the federal government’s forecasting model.

While the White House projects that coronavirus cases in the nation’s capital would peak later this month, the local Washington, DC government is relying on a different computer model that says it won’t peak until late June or early July.  Health experts warn against early optimism and say it’s best to prepare for worst case scenarios.

Experts say that pandemic modelling is almost never precise and the Covid-19 pandemic, the uncertainty in the projections is because of lack of access to good data coupled with the fact that we just don’t know enough about the coronavirus.  Another factor that adds to the uncertainty is how people will behave and what kinds of policies will be enacted to change contact patterns in the weeks and months ahead.  The ranges estimated really depends on how much people actually adhere to social distancing policies and how quickly these policies are issued.

 

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Non Essential Businesses Shut Down Across US

Non Essential Businesses Shut Down Across US

 

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At least 24 states have enacted policies to close nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the United States.    While guidance varies from state to state, recreational spaces like museums, movie theaters, gyms, day cares, music venues and malls, as well as personal care retailers like spas, nail and hair salons, tend to fall in the nonessential businesses category.

The states with nonessential business shut-downs are Washington, California, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.  Other states like Missouri and Kansas have shut down orders in certain counties.

Shuttering nonessential businesses resulted in tens of thousands of American workers losing their jobs in recent weeks. In New York and New Jersey, so many people filed for unemployment insurance over the past week that both states’ online systems crashed.  While guidance varies from state to state, recreational spaces like museums, movie theaters, gyms, day cares, music venues and malls, as well as personal care retailers like spas, nail and hair salons, tend to fall in the nonessential businesses category.

In New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday warned that the “rate of new infections is doubling about every three days,” essential businesses that remain open include health care facilities, infrastructure and manufacturing entities and essential services like trash collection, law enforcement and homeless shelters. Bars and restaurants can only offer take-out or delivery.

 

 

 

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on COVID-19 Continues to Spread

COVID-19 Continues to Spread

 

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As concerns about the coronavirus rippled across the globe, the US president declared the Covid-19 outbreak a national emergency as public life in America continues to grind to a halt.   Schools have closed to millions of students, creating anxiety for working parents across the country. Travel bans have been widened and some cities across America have issued curfews or “shelter in place” orders to slow the spread of the virus.  More “shelter in place” orders are expected as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise and has now been found in all 50 states.  

 

Shelter in place orders will come from local government rather than federal.  A growing number of countries have also imposed lockdowns that effectively shut down public life, but the details of such lockdowns vary dramatically.  Italy banned all public gatherings and set a 6 p.m. curfew but allowed travel for work or health reasons, while in China, millions of residents are restricted from even going to shop for groceries.  

 

The “shelter-in-place” order that San Francisco adopted has fairly large exemptions for health, work, food and even exercise.  City officials ordered residents to remain in place at their homes except for essential activities, essential business, and essential government functions, including tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor or getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home.

 

The order also includes:

  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running provided that they maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing.
  • Caring for a family member in another household.
  • Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

 

 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlined a variety of potential proposals to Senate Republicans as part of a legislative package to help Americans and industries that are reeling from the coronavirus.  The administration proposed an initial $250 billion could be sent to Americans as early as the end of April if it can muster congressional approval.  

Sen. John Thune noted that getting cash assistance to Americans is something that has historically taken some time, but “I think there are ways now electronically that you can process things more quickly.” The proposal has fairly widespread support from Senate Republicans, who say it will offer immediate assistance to Americans impacted by the virus. Some lawmakers have varying ideas about how the proposal should work, including who should receive the payments and how much each American should get. 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Cases In The US

Coronavirus Cases In The US

 

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The World Health Organization is warning the number of cases of COVID-19 caused by coronavirus is approaching 100,000 worldwide, with more than 3,100 deaths due to the illness. Most of the deaths and infections have occurred in China, where health officials reported 139 new cases and 31 new deaths recently.  

South Korea confirmed 438 new cases, making their total number of confirmed cases over 5,700.  Italy has over 3,000 confirmed cases and more than 100 deaths have been reported. Officials have closed down schools in Italy, South Korea, Japan, France, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere, with nearly 300 million children kept home from school worldwide. 

In the United States, there are now more than 300 confirmed cases and the death toll has reached 11 — with 10 of the deaths occurring in Washington state. California recorded its first coronavirus death: an elderly man who traveled on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco and traveled to Mexico in February. Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered the ship quarantined off the coast of California and is airlifting tests for passengers and crew. Governor Newsom made the announcement as he formally declared a state of emergency across California.

The CDC issued new guidance for clinicians on screening patients for novel coronavirus and assessing their risk for infection. The agency also started shipping its coronavirus assay to labs across the U.S. and in other countries.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 states in the US have reported confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. Washington State has the highest number of cases with 70 confirmed illnesses and 10 associated deaths. California has 60 positive cases and 1 death. 

Of the confirmed cases in California, 42 of them are linked to repatriation or international travel. Cases are rising rapidly in New York, where there are 22 confirmed cases across the state with an additional 24 testing results pending, and 122 individuals under investigation.  In response to the rise in cases, the US Senate passed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the outbreak. This came just a day after the bill was approved by the House of Representatives. More than $3 billion is expected to be put into research and development of treatments, vaccines, and testing.

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Continues to Spread-What You Should Know

Coronavirus Continues to Spread-What You Should Know

 

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The death toll from Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has surpassed 3,000 with the number of cases reaching over 90,000.  While 51,000 people who have contracted the illness have since recovered, the head of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) said that the global mortality rate for Covid-19 was 3.4 percent, a figure that primarily reflects the outbreak in China, where the vast majority of cases have been detected.

 

The organization’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a news conference that Covid-19 is deadlier than the seasonal flu but did not transmit as easily.  Dr. Tedros said. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.” He added “While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, Covid-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity,” meaning more people can be infected and some will suffer severe illnesses, Dr. Tedros said. The coronavirus does not transmit as efficiently as the flu but “causes more severe disease.” 

 

While the prospect of being infected with a new virus can be frightening, the CDC warns that the symptoms to look out for are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. These symptoms usually appear between two days and two weeks of exposure to the virus.  According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as many as 98% of COVID-19 patients have a fever, between 76% and 82% have a dry cough, and 11% to 44% report exhaustion and fatigue. 

 

The disease appears to become more severe with age, with the 30 to 79 year-old age range predominating the detected cases in Wuhan.   The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. People who are older or have existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, may be at higher risk of serious illness. This is similar to what is seen with other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

 

It’s unclear exactly how contagious the new coronavirus is but it appears to be spreading from person to person among those in close contact. It may be spread by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes.  Although there is no vaccine available to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. Although there is no vaccine available to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. WHO and CDC recommend following the standard precautions for avoiding respiratory viruses:  

 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch.
  • Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick.

 

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Cases Soar

Coronavirus Cases Soar

 

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The death toll from coronavirus continues to soar, now surpassing 1,700 and overtaking the global death toll from the deadly SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. In Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, the first death of a U.S. citizen was recorded last week. The World Health Organization is warning the coronavirus poses a “grave threat” to the world, as there are more than 73,000 confirmed infections worldwide.

New cases were identified on a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, bringing the number of confirmed cases on board to over 500.  Around 3,700 people have been quarantined aboard the ship where crew members say the workers aren’t being protected from infection. Faced with continuing transmissions on the Diamond Princess, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new travel restrictions for the ship’s passengers and crew.

After leaving the ship, on which passengers are scheduled to be released from quarantine Feb. 19, all passengers and crew will be required to wait an additional 14 days before returning to the United States. Should an individual from the cruise arrive in the U.S. earlier than that, they’ll be subject to mandatory quarantine until they’ve gone 14 days without exhibiting symptoms or, conversely, test positive. More than 100 Americans remain either on the ship or hospitalized in Japan.

—The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting COVID-19 is up to 20 times more deadly than the flu, with a fatality rate of about 2.3%.  Doctors in Shanghai have started using the blood plasma from some of the 14,000 patients who have recovered from the disease to treat new patients.  Chinese doctors are also trying antiviral drugs licensed for use against other infections to see if they might help. Scientists are testing two antiviral drugs and preliminary results are due in weeks, while the head of a Wuhan hospital had said plasma infusions from recovered patients had shown some encouraging preliminary results.

 

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on CDC Prepares For Coronavirus Outbreak in US

CDC Prepares For Coronavirus Outbreak in US

 

 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is preparing for the new coronavirus, which has killed at least 1,115 and sickened more than 45,000 worldwide, to “take a foothold in the U.S.”  Health officials have confirmed 13 U.S. cases of the virus, now named COVID-19, short for Corona Virus Disease. They are awaiting test results of 61 additional test subjects. A total of 420 people in the US have been investigated for possible infection with 347 testing negative.  

Since mid January, the CDC has monitored more than 30,000 travelers coming to the U.S. from China. They have not detected any cases from returning travelers. Health officials are asking the travelers to monitor their own symptoms and limit their outdoor activities.  A mistake at a lab led U.S. health officials to release an infected coronavirus patient from a San Diego hospital. The patient had been evacuated from Wuhan. The CDC said there are new measures in place to make sure it does not happen again.

World Health Organization officials have said they are worried about the virus mutating.  The coronavirus produces mild cold symptoms in about 80% of patients. About 15% of the people who contract the virus have ended up with pneumonia, with 3% to 5% of all patients needing intensive care.  

The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, has ordered residents to report their body temperature daily, and the large port city of Tianjin said it would restrict residents’ movement, part of steps across the country to stop the coronavirus outbreak from spreading. The city is conducting door-to-door inspections as well, and will send someone to check on people displaying a fever, according to a notice posted by the provincial government. People with symptoms will be sent to a community health center for evaluation.

In Beijing, the Chinese government voiced anger as countries placed more restrictions on travelers.  More than 50 countries or territories have imposed travel restrictions and tightened visa requirements to contain the spread of coronavirus, according to the International Air Transport Association.  The U.S. government has continued to charter evacuation flights for US Nationals departing Wuhan, China.  All evacuees spend a mandatory two weeks under quarantine while they’re monitored for symptoms of the flu-like virus. 

A cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, is still under quarantine after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, tested positive for the virus.  The ship, which is currently off Japan’s coast, now has 174 confirmed cases of coronavirus as the virus spreads. There are more than 3,700 passengers and crew on the ship under quarantine.  

 

 

 

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Outbreak Spreads

Coronavirus Outbreak Spreads

 

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As the outbreak of the mysterious new coronavirus rapidly spreads, the Chinese authorities said that the official count of known cases jumped again overnight, with the death toll now exceeding 400.  According to the National Health Commission, the number of confirmed cases increased to over 20,000 but a shortage of test kits has led experts to warn that the real number may be higher.

Officials also announced that after repeated offers of assistance, Chinese authorities agreed to allow in teams of international experts, coordinated by the World Health Organization, to help with research and containment.  Government scientists as well as those working at Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Therapeutics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are all working quickly to develop a vaccine.  Hundreds of Americans have been evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, but some of their family members without U.S. visas have been left behind. British Airways has suspended all flights in and out of China.

The U.S. government declared a public health emergency last week and barred foreign nationals from entering the country within two weeks of visiting China, unless they are immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The State Department has warned Americans against all travel to China, and is planning more evacuation flights to bring Americans home from the country this week. Those flights will land at four U.S. military bases, and similar to the evacuation flight that landed in California last week, passengers will be placed under federal quarantine for 2 weeks.  The planes will be loaded with medical supplies and humanitarian goods, which the U.S. hopes to deliver to Wuhan on the first leg of the journey.

The head of the World Health Organization Ghebreyesus said some nations are lagging in the global fight against the deadly new coronavirus outbreak. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accused some governments of wealthy countries of being “well behind” in sharing data on virus cases.  “While 99 percent of cases are in China, in the rest of the world we only have 176 cases,” Tedros said in a technical briefing to the WHO’s Executive Board in Geneva. “That doesn’t mean that it won’t get worse. But for sure we have a window of opportunity to act… Let’s not miss this window of opportunity.”

 

 

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