A Chronological History of the COVID-19 Pandemic
This article is Coronavirus Timeline Part 2. To visit Coronavirus Timeline Part 1 click here.
- July 2, 2020: Treatment with hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate significantly in sick patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — and without heart-related side-effects, according to a new study published by Henry Ford Health System. In a large-scale retrospective analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized between March 10 and May 2, 2020, across the system’s six hospitals, the study found 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died compared to 26.4% not treated with hydroxychloroquine. None of the patients had documented serious heart abnormalities; however, patients were monitored for a heart condition routinely pointed to as a reason to avoid the drug as a treatment for COVID-19. The study was published today in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the peer-reviewed, open-access online publication of the International Society of Infectious Diseases (ISID.org). Zervos said the potential for a surge in the fall or sooner, and infections continuing worldwide, show an urgency to identifying inexpensive and effective therapies and preventions. “We’re glad to add to the scientific knowledge base on the role and how best to use therapies as we work around the world to provide insight,” he said. “Considered in the context of current studies on the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, our results suggest that the drug may have an important role to play in reducing COVID-19 mortality.” The study also found those treated with azithromycin alone or a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin also fared slightly better than those not treated with the drugs, according to the Henry Ford data. The analysis found 22.4% of those treated only with azithromycin died, and 20.1% treated with a combination of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine died, compared to 26.4% of patients dying who were not treated with either medication. “Our analysis shows that using hydroxychloroquine helped saves lives,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO, Henry Ford Medical Group and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Henry Ford Health System. “As doctors and scientists, we look to the data for insight. And the data here is clear that there was a benefit to using the drug as a treatment for sick, hospitalized patients.”
- July 3, 2020: A substantial new study has found that the arthritis medicine hydroxychloroquine sulfate helped patients survive COVID-19. In fact, the study from the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan said the drug “significantly” cut the death rate of patients. “Treatment with hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate significantly in sick patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — and without heart-related side-effects,” the health organization reports. The randomized double-blind study of 2,500 COVID-19 patients found the drug can be effective if patients received it early in their treatment. “Our analysis shows that using hydroxychloroquine helped save lives,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO, Henry Ford Medical Group and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Henry Ford Health System. “As doctors and scientists, we look to the data for insight. And the data here is clear that there was benefit to using the drug as a treatment for sick, hospitalized patients.” President Trump had touted the drug early on as a possible experimental treatment for virus patients, but then studies found conflicting results about its effectiveness and the news media hammered him on it. One of the earlier negative studies was later retracted. Scientists from the Henry Ford Health System explained why their study was successful. “The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, who co-authored the study with Henry Ford epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad. “We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring. Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug. And other studies are either not peer-reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients.” The study showed the drug combination was not able to save everyone, especially patients older than 65 with other health conditions. Roughly 18% of hospitalized patients still died. “Patients who died commonly had serious underlying diseases, including chronic kidney and lung disease, with 88% dying from respiratory failure,” the analysis indicates. “Currently, the drug should be used only in hospitalized patients with appropriate monitoring, and as part of study protocols, in accordance with all relevant federal regulations,” Dr. Zervos said. Read the study here.
- July 6, 2020: It is likely most of us will get infected with coronavirus. But one question is super important: How long will it take for that to happen? If it happens fast, every hospital will be overwhelmed and people will not be successfully treated for coronavirus or other diseases. It will be an unprecedented disaster. However, if we do our best in terms of prevention by practicing social distancing, reducing travel, not going to work when we’re sick, we could slow the spread of the disease. If the same (60–70%) infection rate of the global population is spread over 3 years, then hospitals don’t get overwhelmed, people can get treated, and we have time to develop a vaccine — it’s a completely different story. The difference between it happening fast or slow is potentially the difference between a 1918 flu level event and a bad flu season level event.
- July 6, 2020: Officials in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Miami-Dade County, Fla., have acknowledged that anti-police protests and riots may have led to increased spread of the coronavirus. All three cities have experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases after weeks of protesting sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
- July 8, 2020: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 3 million on Wednesday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. The virus has killed more than 131,000 people nationwide. Globally, more than 11.8 million cases have been reported and over 545,000 people have died due to the virus. The grim milestone for the U.S., which has more reported more cases than any other country, was reached as states see a surge in infections. A record of 60,000 new cases was reported in the U.S. in a single day, on July 7.
- July 9, 2020: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have both updated guidelines around wearing masks. The health agencies are now urging people to wear masks, in the form of cloth face coverings, in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Many states, including New Jersey, have issued orders that require people to wear masks outdoors in places where social distancing can’t be observed. Face coverings have already been required at indoor public spaces since early April. These new orders have people asking, do I have to wear a mask/cloth covering every time I leave the house? Even when I go outside? Here’s the scoop: It depends. You should be wearing a mask outside if: 1) It is difficult to maintain the recommended 6-foot social distancing from others (such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy or walking on a busy street or in a crowded neighborhood). 2) If required to by law. Many areas now have mandatory masking regulations when in public. The CDC stresses that we must maintain a 6-feet of social distancing from others to continue slowing the spread of coronavirus. So, if there is even a slight chance that you might violate the 6-foot rule, wear a mask/cloth covering just in case. If you are exercising and it’s difficult to breathe while wearing a face covering, keep one in your pocket that you can easily grab if needed. You do not need to wear a mask outside if: 1) You’re in your backyard or on personal property and it is very unlikely that you’ll end up within 6 feet of someone else. 2) You are in any other secluded location where the likelihood of running into someone else is very low. 3) You are in either of the previously mentioned environments with someone you’ve been quarantined with. 4) You are under two years old or have a condition where wearing a mask would inhibit your health. 5) You are engaging in “high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities” or when in the water. You are eating or drinking outdoors. The CDC recommendation to wear cloth face coverings comes from new data that shows a significant portion of people with coronavirus have mild or no symptoms, and even if someone does develop more severe symptoms, they can transmit the virus before those symptoms appear. This means that people can spread the virus to others without even knowing they have it. While wearing a cloth face covering isn’t primarily intended to help protect the wearer, it can help prevent the wearer from spreading the virus through viral droplets (such as saliva or mucus) even if they are not aware they are infected. The CDC continues to recommend that medical-grade masks, such as surgical masks and N95 respirators be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders since we are in short supply.
If you are exercising and it’s difficult to breathe while wearing a face covering, keep one in your pocket that you can easily grab if needed.
- July 10, 2020: Chinese officials have warned an “unknown pneumonia” deadlier than COVID-19 has killed almost 2,000 people in Kazakhstan this year, in a claim denied by the Central Asian country’s government. The Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan wrote in an alert to its citizens that 1,772 people had been killed by an “unknown pneumonia,” including Chinese citizens, CNN reported. “The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus,” the statement said, according to the South China Morning Post.
- July 12, 2020: Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a lot of confusion regarding face masks. At first, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the general public not to wear masks if they aren’t experiencing coronavirus symptoms or caring for someone with coronavirus. Then the agency reversed its guidance in early April and advised Americans to wear non-N-95 masks or face cloth covering in places where it is difficult to social distance. Following the CDC’s announcement, several states including New York adapted mandatory mask mandates. One study estimated that states that issued mandates between April and mid-May averted as many as 230,000 coronavirus cases. Others left it up to cities or counties to issue mandates. But amid a resurgence of coronavirus, states like California and Texas issued state mandates in late June and early July, respectively. A separate study estimates that nearly 45,000 U.S. deaths from coronavirus could be prevented by November if 95% of the population wore masks. The general consensus among infectious disease experts is that it will slow the spread and prevent some transmission. But many have disregarded health-experts’ recommendations based on scientific evidence and refuse to wear a mask despite city- and state-wide mandates. Some see it as an infringement of personal freedom, while others may not wear masks because of misconceptions which have been shared widely on social media, said Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease physician at University of California San Francisco. Asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission accounts for more than half of the cases of coronavirus, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal on Monday. In the absence of common symptoms of coronavirus, a person who has the virus may not be prompted to get tested and hence they don’t self-isolate. There is scant data on the percentage of cases of coronavirus that were prevented from wearing a mask, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told lawmakers during his June 23 Congressional testimony. “We can say very clearly that wearing a mask is definitely helpful in preventing acquisition as well as transmission,” he said. “It is always better to have a mask on than to not have a mask on, both for acquisition and for transmission,” Fauci added.
“We can say very clearly that wearing a mask is definitely helpful in preventing acquisition as well as transmission,” … “It is always better to have a mask on than to not have a mask on, both for acquisition and for transmission.”
- July 12, 2020: “The ‘Tesla of masks’ are N-95 masks,” Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease physician at University of California San Francisco. said, that’s why they’re reserved for frontline medical workers who are caring for patients who have contracted coronavirus. That said, a cloth mask, bandana or scarf is “better than not being protected at all.” Importantly, they provide a barrier to the respiratory droplets that could come in contact with the wearer, he added. Although several studies have attempted to uncover materials that offer the greatest level of protection for a homemade mask, “it’s more important how comfortable you are when you wear it.” “They’re like trying on a pair of jeans,” he said. Even if your mask is made from a thin material, which studies have shown offer less protection than a thicker material, if you’re comfortable while wearing it you’re less likely to touch your face to make adjustments.
Several studies have attempted to uncover materials that offer the greatest level of protection for a homemade mask, “it’s more important how comfortable you are when you wear it.” Even if your mask is made from a thin material, which studies have shown offer less protection than a thicker material, if you’re comfortable while wearing it you’re less likely to touch your face to make adjustments.
- July 13, 2020: With classes set to begin in August, the main teachers union in Los Angeles argued that schools cannot physically reopen unless certain policy demands are met, including the defunding of police, the end of charter schools, and the granting of financial support to undocumented students and their families. The list of demands came in the form of a research paper issued recently by the 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles union, the Washington Examiner reported. In the paper, the union wrote: “The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States underscores the deep equity and justice challenges arising from our profoundly racist, intensely unequal society. Unlike other countries that recognize protecting lives is the key to protecting livelihoods, the United States has chosen to prioritize profits over people. The Trump administration’s attempt to force people to return to work on a large scale depends on restarting physical schools so parents have childcare.” “In Los Angeles, this means increased risk especially in Black and Brown working communities, where people are more likely to have ‘essential’ jobs, insufficient health care, higher levels of preexisting health conditions, and to live in crowded housing,” the paper continued, alleging that students who face hurdles such as “structural racism” and “immigration documentation issues” have been disproportionately affected. Essentially, the union is arguing that reopening schools without a vaccine will further spread the virus and compound trauma on certain groups of students, the California Globe reported. On its face, it looks like the union is using the pandemic to push its political agenda. In the paper, the union concludes that “normal wasn’t working for us before … we can’t go back.”
- July 14, 2020: While the virus clearly can infect children — remember, this was something that nobody seemed entirely sure of in the earliest days of the pandemic — there is also strong evidence that it is not as deadly for the youngest among us as it is for the rest of us, or as likely to cause severe illness. “The risk is not dramatic in children,” Freedman said. “The risk is … if there’s a big spread and if families are not doing social distancing, that very rapidly within households, the virus, if it does spread rapidly from children to others, could make it up the chain in terms of ages and reach high-risk populations.” Early research out of Europe suggests that children are more likely to catch COVID-19 from adults than they are to transmit it to adults, and an Australian study is one of several to find evidence that reopening schools does not lead to child “super-spreader” events. Those signs are promising, but Freedman says he understands why they’re not enough for many parents to shake what he calls “an appropriate and reasonable worry” about schools reopening in September. They’re not enough for him to be fully on-board with it, either. “We actually don’t know how big the iceberg is below the surface,” he said. “We do know [children] are less likely than asymptomatic adults to transmit it; we don’t know, on a scale of one to 10, where they actually fit in that regard.”
- July 14, 2020: K-12 students in Orange County, California, can return to the classroom this fall without the need to wear face masks or abide by social distancing requirements, the Orange County Board of Education voted Tuesday. The decision comes as the Golden State is seeing a surge of coronavirus cases and Orange County showing the third-highest number of infections in the state. “K-12 children represent the lowest-risk cohort for COVID-19. Because of that fact, social distancing of children and reduced census classrooms is not necessary and therefore not recommended,” the Board explained in a document published online. “Requiring children to wear masks during school is not only difficult — if not impossible to implement — but not based on science. It may even be harmful and is therefore not recommended.” The Board also cited the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in saying that children “play a very minor role” in spreading COVID-19 and that teachers and staff are in “greater danger of infection from other adults.” To help limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Orange County Board said schools “should” do the following: perform regular temperature checks, send home people who appear sick, thoroughly clean school property each night and “encourage” frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer.
- July 16, 2020: Epidemiologists define the herd immunity threshold for a given virus as the percentage of the population that must be immune to ensure that its introduction will not cause an outbreak. If enough people are immune, an infected person will likely come into contact only with people who are already immune rather than spreading the virus to someone who is susceptible. Without a vaccine, the only route to immunity is through infection. And unlike with chickenpox, many people infected with SARS-CoV-2 die from it. A vaccine is the only way to move directly from susceptibility to immunity, bypassing the pain from becoming infected and possibly dying. Proactive mitigation strategies like social distancing and wearing masks flatten the curve by reducing the rate that active infections generate new cases. However, this delays the point at which herd immunity is reached but also reduces fatalities which should be the goal of any medical response strategy. Washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing remain the best ways to lessen the destruction of COVID-19 by flattening the curve to buy time to develop treatments and vaccines.
- July 16, 2020: Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Florida, but there’s now reports that some of these numbers are not being calculated accurately. Hundreds of facilities across the state are reporting a 100% positivity rate for COVID-19 test results. That means, every single person who got tested at these hospitals or labs, tested positive. This is not accurate. They’re positivity rate was 100% when in reality, only 25% of their cases are positive. “This is a real problem because the percentage positive ratio is an important metric for reopening the economy and schools. If you add to the numerator and not to the denominator, you’re biasing that ratio upwards, so we’re getting misleading information. Even worse, now that people know about this, this is seriously undermining the credibility of the Florida Department of Health statistics, so we don’t really know what’s accurate and what’s not accurate,” explained Dr. Rebel Cole, a business professor at Florida Atlantic University. The Florida Department of Health has confirmed that close to 400 laboratories were not reporting negative COVID-19 test results to them. The Florida Department of Health says it is now working with all of these labs to make sure all data is reported, and will be adjusting the positivity percentages appropriately.
- July 17, 2020: Medical experts have long noted that the younger you are, the less likely you are to contract COVID-19 or suffer adverse symptoms, and the latest numbers posted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bear that out. CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics now reports a total of 188 COVID-involved deaths among people age 24 and younger — or 0.154 percent of the total 121,374 COVID deaths reported to CDC from early February through the week ending July 11. The majority of students fall into this 24-and-under age group. By contrast, a total of 97,459 people age 65 and older have died of COVID as of July 11–80.29 percent of the total COVID-involved deaths. And in the 25–64 age group — the majority of teachers fall in this category — NCHS reported a total of 23,727 COVID deaths, or 19.54 percent of the total. CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics says its provisional death counts are based on death certificates and therefore “deliver the most complete and accurate picture of lives lost to COVID-19.” However, the death counts are subject to change. The numbers from previous weeks are continually revised as more death certificates are received and processed. The CDC has published a breakdown of the COVID-19-involved deaths by 11 different age groups, ranging from under 1 year of age to 85 and older. Here are the total number of COVID-19-involved deaths in each of these age groups for the period from the week ending Feb. 1, 2020 to the week ending July 11, 2020:
— Under 1 year: 9
— 1–4 years: 8
— 5–14 years: 14
— 15–24 years: 157
— 25–34 years: 844
— 35–44 years: 2,169
— 45–54 years: 6,021
— 55–64 years: 14,693
— 65–74 years: 25,268
— 75–84 years: 32,066
— 85 years and over: 40,125
Total for all ages: 121,374
- July 21, 2020: For months, many of the residents at one of America’s biggest retirement communities went about their lives as if the coronavirus barely existed. They appeared to have avoided the worst of the pandemic. From March through mid-June, there were fewer than 100 cases in the Villages, a sprawling community in Central Florida where about 120,000 people mostly 55 and older live. But now as cases spike across Florida, the virus appears to have caught up with the residents of the Villages. In an email to residents last week, Jeffrey Lowenkron, the chief medical officer of the Villages, said cases were increasing and urged them to take “proactive steps to reduce the risk of disease transmission. They should consider postponing participation in social events with more than 10 people, particularly those events held indoors,” he wrote. “The upward trend is accelerating.” About 20 percent of Florida’s population is 65 or older, the highest percentage in the nation alongside Maine, and that age group has made up half of its coronavirus hospitalizations and over 80 percent of deaths. As of Saturday, more than 45,000 of the state’s 350,000-plus cases are among that age group. The rise in cases among older residents most likely stems from the spread of the virus by young people who are not taking preventive measures like wearing masks, said Dr. Madiha Syed, an infectious-disease specialist who works at University of Florida Health. “You see, they don’t wear their masks,” Dr. Syed sighed. “What do you do?” But even as cases climb, doctors in the Villages say they are prepared for an increase in patients. The hospital has enough capacity and antiviral drugs, Dr. Gogineni said.
- July 21, 2020: As cases and deaths surge in states across the South, as well as in Texas, Arizona and California, Trump returned to brief the press on the coronavirus. He warned that harder times were on the way. Before, Trump had downplayed the need to wear masks. “We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask,” Trump said. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect. And we need everything we can get.”
- July 23, 2020: People who have had mild to moderate COVID-19 can come out of isolation after 10 days and don’t need to be retested before going back to work, according to the new CDC guidelines. Symptoms, not testing, are the guide. If patients had a fever, it needs to have been gone for at least 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document, published Wednesday, says symptoms are a better gauge of how infectious someone is so they are “not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work or other responsibilities.” The document acknowledges that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is so new that doctors are still gathering evidence for how it works. As more data becomes available, the medical community is gaining a better understanding of how people who are infected can avoiding passing on the disease. The new guidelines reflect the latest thinking. “We didn’t have this kind of data in the early days of the pandemic. Now they’re really moving towards science-driven recommendations as we apply the data that are coming in,” said Dr. Roger Shapiro, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. COVID-19 is a wily virus in that patients seem to be most infectious two to three days before they begin to show symptoms, Shapiro said. “Once you’re symptomatic, you become less infectious,” Dr. Roger Shapiro said. A large study in Taiwan cited by the CDC found people were much more likely to catch COVID-19 if they were exposed to someone who was sick within the first five days the person having symptoms. That study found no cases of infection if a person was exposed to someone with COVID-19 six or more days after the onset of illness. An unknown proportion of those who are infected with COVID-19 have asymptomatic disease and so many never know they’re infected. “While I would say that a completely asymptomatic patient is less likely to transmit the disease, they certainly can,” Shapiro said. There have been no confirmed cases of anyone being reinfected with COVID-19, the CDC said. It did note that SARS-CoC-2 virus emerged only in December, and there aren’t many places where there have been many infections for that entire time, so possible reinfection is still a subject of investigation. If someone develops new symptoms consistent with COVID-19 after having tested positive for the disease and then recovered within the past three month, CDC urged consultation with an infectious disease expert. Testing may find bits of the virus in a recovered patient’s nasal cavity, but the viral particles are no longer capable of reproducing. That test result could come up as positive but the person wouldn’t be able to infect others. “You could still find evidence of viral particles, but that did not correlate with infectious risk,” Shapiro said. It’s also possible some small number of people continue to shed the virus in their secretions, so they can test positive multiple times over many weeks. For those people, it’s possible that their bodies initially were able to fight back the virus, but at some point something affected their immune system so it was able to become resurgent, Shapiro said. “These cases are outliers, these are the less than 0.1%. There are so many people with COVID-19 in this country that there are going to be strange presentations here and there,” he said.
COVID-19 is a wily virus in that patients seem to be most infectious two to three days before they begin to show symptoms, Shapiro said. “Once you’re symptomatic, you become less infectious,” Dr. Roger Shapiro said. There have been no confirmed cases of anyone being reinfected with COVID-19, the CDC said. Testing may find bits of the virus in a recovered patient’s nasal cavity, but the viral particles are no longer capable of reproducing.
- July 23, 2020: Tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily. Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly, wrote Harvey A. Risch, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Risch is referring to the medication hydroxychloroquine. When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc. On May 27, Dr. Risch published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) entitled, “Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis.” That article, published in the world’s leading epidemiology journal, analyzed five studies, demonstrating clear-cut and significant benefits to treated patients, plus other very large studies that showed the medication safety. Since the May 27 article, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit. These seven studies include: an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths; four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths; a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine; and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk.
- July 27, 2020: White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday he is “not particularly concerned” about the safety risk of a potential coronavirus vaccine by Moderna, despite the fact that it uses new technology to fight the virus. The vaccine, which entered a large phase-three human trial Monday, uses messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA molecules, to provoke an immune response to fight the virus. Scientists hope mRNA, which relays genetic instructions from DNA, can be used to train the immune system to recognize and destroy the virus. While early studies show promise, mRNA technology has never been used to make a successful vaccine before. “It’s a novel technology. We are certainly aware of the fact that there’s not as much experience with this type of platform as there are with other standards,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters on a conference call alongside National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins. “I’m not particularly concerned,” Fauci said. “But I don’t want a lack of severe concern to get in the way that we are keeping an open mind to look for any possible deleterious effects as we get into and through the phase-three trial.”
- July 27, 2020: Senate Republicans have communicated that they will include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks in the forthcoming stimulus package proposal, but It does not include hazard pay for essential workers. Essential workers, as a category, are carrying an inordinate amount of the burden during this pandemic, and they are (on average) paid the less and devalued the most. Up until now, three different coronavirus relief bills have been passed and signed into law, but none of them delivered hazard pay specifically to those who operate daily on the frontlines of this often declared ongoing war. Not one. And though Republican and Democrat Senators agree that Congress should pass some version of hazard pay for essential workers, nothing has yet to be announced in the new stimulus package the Senate will put forward as early as today.
- July 30. 2020: The biggest risk of a pandemic-induced crush of mail-in votes isn’t fraud, an extraordinarily rare occurrence in American elections. The real danger is a perfect catastrophe of administrative overload, postal delays and voter error that could lead to millions of absentee ballots not counting. And this year, unlike the past, those ballots are likely to be overwhelmingly Democratic. A July ABC/Washington Post poll found that a majority of Democrats (51 percent to 46 percent) plan to vote by mail this November, while nearly 4 in 5 Republicans (79 percent to 20 percent) still plan to vote in person. The problem for Democrats? Absentee ballots are rejected at higher rates than those cast in person. And academic studies have shown that younger voters and voters of color, some of Democrats’ most reliable voters, are much more likely to cast mail ballots that are rejected and less likely to take steps to “cure” their ballots if election officials flag them for signature problems. In 2016, according to an official report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 318,728 of the nation’s 33 million returned mail ballots were rejected (1 percent), with the most common reasons being missing/nonmatching signatures or the ballot being returned too late. “Voting by mail is twice as involved administratively than voting in person,” Stewart said. “If problems arise in mail voting, it’s twice as hard to correct them than it is in person. And first-time voters are more likely to have their ballots rejected.” But in pandemic-era primaries, rejection rates have been even higher, as ill-equipped and understaffed election offices strain to meet surging demand for mail ballots from voters inexperienced with casting them. “The rejection rates we’ve seen in the primaries have almost uniformly been above historic ranges,” Elias said, pointing to Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as particular litigation hot spots. “I take Republicans at face value, that they don’t want people to vote by mail. In Pennsylvania, for example, Elias and Democrats have intervened against a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to require counties to throw out absentee ballots that voters fail to enclose in the “secrecy envelope,” an inner envelope meant to be tucked inside the larger return mailing envelope. In the June primary, 1.9 million Pennsylvania voters applied for absentee ballots, up from 107,000 in 2016; more than two thirds of those requests came from registered Democrats. The highest-stakes Electoral College states face steep logistical curves as they rush to adapt to the COVID era: in 2018, mail-in votes were just 6 percent of all votes cast in Wisconsin and Georgia, 4 percent in Pennsylvania and 3 percent in North Carolina. In Michigan, which adopted no-excuse absentee voting in 2018, ballots are mostly administered at the municipal level rather than the county level, which could multiply challenges and discrepancies.
- July 31, 2020: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trashed Dr. Deborah Birx during a private meeting with White House officials on Thursday night — calling the coronavirus task force coordinator “horrible” and “the worst,” according to a report. Pelosi (D-Calif.) moaned about Birx to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief of staff Mark Meadows during negotiations on Capitol Hill about further coronavirus aid, Politico reported Friday afternoon. “Deborah Birx is the worst. Wow, what horrible hands you’re in,” Pelosi said to the pair, accusing the physician of spreading misinformation about the pandemic, the report said. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany scolded the Times for the “appalling” story and defended Birx an “extraordinary doctor.” “I have not seen anyone poring over data the way Dr. Birx has and the attack on her was frankly appalling and egregious and The New York Times should be very ashamed of themselves,” McEnany said at a July 21 briefing. Birx served as the Unites States’ global AIDS coordinator under Presidents Obama and Trump and in February was tapped to join the coronavirus task force with her mentor, Dr. Fauci.
- August 3, 2020: Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch and CNN host John Berman bickered over hydroxychloroquine on Monday, August 3, 2020, during a heated discussion about the polarizing drug, which the president has hailed as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Risch recently wrote an op-ed in support of hydroxychloroquine, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and other experts have dismissed the anti-malarial drug being used to combat coronavirus. Risch cited various studies that backed up his pro-hydroxychloroquine stance, but the host of CNN’s “New Day” disagreed. “None of those studies that you just cited are random placebo-controlled trials, what Dr. Fauci refers to as the gold standard,” Berman said, as the CNN on-screen chyron stated “Growing body of evidence shows hydroxychloroquine is ineffective.” Risch responded: “That’s not actually correct. The problem with those randomized controlled trials, is they were trials done on the wrong people. They were trials done on low-risk people with low risks of hospitalization and mortality. You don’t do a study of prostate cancer with women… because nobody is gonna get the outcome.” Risch said the studies were conducted on “very low-risk people who are not going to get hospitalized or die” from coronavirus.“We don’t treat those people. We treat high-risk people,” Risch said. Berman then accused Risch of being inconsistent compared to the op-ed, but the Yale epidemiologist disagreed and the interview grew contentious. “You’re misstating what I said, I said it had to be in high-risk people,” Risch said. “As I’ve said, you have to treat the right people. You have to study the right people. Those studies did not study the right people, period. That’s the bottom line.” Berman insisted the studies have included a wide range of participants. “Again, the question is,” a frustrated Berman continued, “Why haven’t any random, placebo-controlled trials showed benefit? Isn’t that a problem for an epidemiologist?” “No,” Risch shot back. “In fact, the FDA has a huge history of drugs going into widespread use in the medical community for decades that have not been established in the basis of randomized controlled trials. Half of the chemotherapy drugs used in cancer were used without randomized controlled trials.” Grabien Media founder Tom Elliot mocked Berman following the interview. “What CNN’s @JohnBerman’s doing now w/ a Yale prof who’s written on hydroxychloroquine’s benefits for Covid is not reporting, nor journalism. He’s just venting,” Elliot tweeted.
In fact, the FDA has a huge history of drugs going into widespread use in the medical community for decades that have not been established in the basis of randomized controlled trials. Half of the chemotherapy drugs used in cancer were used without randomized controlled trials.
- August 4, 2020: More doctors are using hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19 as more studies prove its “effectiveness.” According to CBN News, original claims that the malaria drug was useless in treating the Coronavirus appear to be falling further and further behind. Now, people like U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn say some studies “suggest benefits” from using the anti-Covid-19 drug. As for health professionals, Dr. Tom Rogers is one of those who apparently uses hydroxychloroquine on his infected patients. In an interview, Rogers said that he “personally discovered that the drug is highly effective in treating the virus.” Although he clarified that its effectiveness manifests itself if prescribed in the early stages of the disease. “It’s a very controversial, kind of ‘Trump drug’,” he told CBN News. “There were initially a bunch of studies that said it worked, and then the powers that be came out with some other studies that said it didn’t work. But there are many, many studies and many doctors who I’ve talked to personally, on the front lines that use it all the time and it works.” He continued, “You have to use it very early,” he said. “The studies that said it didn’t work, those were hospitalized patients that were very sick.” As for the negative effects on people, he argues that those who name them are only exaggerating.
- August 4, 2020: While 120 countries in the world, including much of Europe, have ordered citizens to wear masks in public places to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Dutch are doing things differently. The nation’s top scientists, having examined key data and research, have declared there is no firm evidence to back the use of face coverings. Indeed, they argue that wearing the wretched things may actually hamper the fight against disease. ‘Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,’ said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. ‘There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.’ This is a bold but highly controversial stance — especially as fears grow of a second wave sweeping through Europe. Last week, Downing Street joined the global stampede to enforce face masks in public spaces such as shops, supermarkets and stations, following Scotland, Spain and France, along with Holland’s neighbouring nations of Belgium and Germany. ‘We think masks have a great deal of value,’ said Boris Johnson. ‘Scientific evaluation of face coverings and their importance in stopping aerosol droplets has been growing. People should wear them in shops.’ But the Dutch disagree — to the delight of all the citizens I spoke with in Amsterdam. ‘I hate wearing them,’ said Aicha Meziati, 29, in the hip fashion store Das Werk Haus. ‘They are horrible. People look like they have nappies on their faces.’ Holland’s position is based on assessments by the Outbreak Management Team, a group of experts advising the government. It first ruled against masks in May and has re-evaluated the evidence several times, including again last week. It believes they detract from a clear three-pronged message that has kept deaths from coronavirus down to less than half the rate in Britain: wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and stay at home if suffering any symptoms. The one exception outside of the medical frontline has been on public transport, where masks are mandatory on the basis it is difficult to stay apart on crowded buses, ferries and trains. ‘We have seen this approach works,’ said Christian Hoebe, a professor of infectious diseases in Maastricht and member of the advisory team. ‘Face masks should not be seen as a magic bullet that halts the spread. ‘The evidence for them is contradictory. In general, we think you must be careful with face masks because they can give a false sense of security. People think they’re immune from disease or stop social distancing. That is very negative.’ Hoebe, head of infectious disease control in Zuid-Limburg, the region hit hardest when the pandemic struck Holland, pointed to a Norwegian study showing 200,000 people must wear surgical masks for one week to stop a single Covid-19 case. Yet few people have medical masks — in Britain they are rightly preserved for the NHS — while wearers routinely misuse or contaminate their coverings by fitting them incorrectly, failing to change them and touching their faces. ‘I was in Belgium recently and saw many people putting them beneath their noses, upside down or under chins’, says Hoebe. ‘Others stuffed them in their pockets. The effectiveness also depends on the right fabric and the mask being worn very close to the nose.’ Studies by one membrane specialist at Eindhoven University found that while the coronavirus particles are caught by an electrostatic layer in medical masks, they can penetrate bigger pores found in cotton and even vacuum cleaner bags. The World Health Organisation has also been sceptical, warning that ‘widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high-quality or direct scientific evidence’. Although changing its advice in June to back the encouragement of mask wearing in some settings, the WHO lists 11 ‘potential harms’ that range from discomfort through to self-contamination and lower compliance with more critical preventative measures. Holland, a country of 17 million people, has seen 6,147 pandemic deaths after adopting what it called ‘intelligent lockdown’, which imposed significantly fewer restrictions than Britain and relied more on trusting citizens to behave sensibly. Although two recent polls claim a majority backing use of face masks for indoor public spaces, I found people on Amsterdam’s busy shopping streets supported their government’s stand and seemed very aware of the simple rules. The mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the nation’s two biggest cities, have been pressing for more power to impose mask-wearing in crowded areas, which was granted last week. Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, alarmed by throngs of tourists and young people making parts of her city too crowded, is insisting on compulsory masks for anyone aged over 13 in the Red Light District and two popular shopping streets. Ben Coates, the author of Why The Dutch Are Different, who lives in central Holland, said the speed with which normal life had returned in the country was remarkable. ‘When you walk around, you are hard-pressed to see much difference now,’ he said. He added that while Dutch citizens tended to trust their governments, they also had strong libertarian instincts. ‘People don’t like being told what to do, so they will cycle without helmets and sleep with whom they want.’
- August 5, 2020: During an interview that aired on Axios on HBO on Monday night, President Trump was interviewed by journalist Jonathan Swan. One of the topics: the number of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. Swan noted that there are about 1,000 deaths a day in the United States. Trump responded that the U.S. “is lowest in numerous categories” when it comes to the pandemic — including “case death.” This measure, which epidemiologists call the “case fatality ratio,” calculates the number of people with COVID-19 who eventually die from the disease. Among the 45 countries with more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases, the U.S. has the eighth-highest number of deaths per 100,000 people: 47.93 deaths from the coronavirus for every 100,000 Americans. Belgium has the highest per capita death rate: 86.3 deaths per 100,000. But in terms of case fatality ratio, the U.S. is doing significantly better than many other countries. The country’s case fatality ratio is 3.3%, meaning that for every 100 people with COVID-19, only about three die. Trump said that the low case fatality ratio in the U.S. was a result of his administration’s effective pandemic response, such as closing international borders to people from COVID-19 hot spots such as China and the United Kingdom. He also stated that the U.S. has a high per capita death rate because the country has done more testing than any other in the world. Among the 45 countries with over 50,000 cases, the U.S. has the 24th-highest case fatality ratio. And the U.S. rate of 3.3% is much lower than that of the U.K. at 15.1% or Italy at 14.2%. So despite the daily death toll of 1,000 in the U.S., there is some truth to Trump’s assertion that the low case fatality ratio is a positive sign in the United States. As for his assertion that “we have tested more people than any other country,” there is also some truth to this. The U.S. has conducted more coronavirus tests than any other country in terms of sheer numbers — more than 50 million.
- August 7, 2020: Public health quarantine and isolation are legal authorities that may be, but rarely are, implemented to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Ill people may be isolated to protect the public by preventing exposure to infected people. State and local governments are primarily responsible for maintaining public health and controlling the spread of diseases within state borders. Among other state public health emergency preparedness powers, every state, the District of Columbia and most territories have laws authorizing quarantine and isolation, usually through the state’s health authority. The federal government has authority as well, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to monitor and respond to the spread of communicable diseases across national or state borders. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, states have used their authority to create quarantine or isolation requirements on certain individuals or populations to slow the spread of this disease. This includes orders for individuals returning or traveling from foreign countries, states and other areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission to quarantine for a certain amount of time or until they are able to confirm their status through testing. It also includes quarantine orders for individuals who may have been exposed to the virus, who work in high-risk settings, individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and individuals who tests positive for the virus. States and the federal government are increasingly using contact tracing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing means identifying individuals infected with the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease and working with them to identify and contact other individuals with whom they have recently interacted and may be at risk of infection. These individuals are then usually asked to quarantine until a test can confirm their status or for a set period of time. The CDC’s authority to exercise quarantine and isolation powers for specific diseases derives from the federal Public Health Service Act and most recently, a series of presidential executive orders. Under these orders, federal quarantine and isolation powers currently apply to the following diseases: cholera; diphtheria; infectious tuberculosis; plague; smallpox; yellow fever; viral hemorrhagic fevers; influenza caused by new or reemergent flu viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic; and severe acute respiratory syndromes (which may include COVID-19). On Jan. 31, 2020, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation in response to the COVID-19 outbreaks suspending certain entry into the United States, specifically outlining medical screening and quarantine where appropriate. Quarantine and isolation are defined as:
Quarantine: Compulsory separation, including restriction of movement, of people who potentially have been exposed to a contagious disease, until it can be determined whether they have become sick or no longer pose a risk to others. This determination could be made, for example, based on the time elapsed from their potential exposure.
Isolation: Separation of people known or suspected (via signs, symptoms or laboratory criteria) to be infected with a contagious disease from those who are not sick to prevent them from transmitting the disease to others.
Quarantine is not the same as a statewide stay-at-home order. Stay-at-home orders apply broadly to the entire population of a state or locality, affecting more than just those who are confirmed to have an infectious disease or who have come into contact with someone carrying the disease. Under a stay-at-home order, individuals are encouraged to stay home and leave their place of residence only out of necessity, for instance to shop for groceries or receive medical care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, every state used different language and had specific requirements related to these executive order(s). The use of quarantine or isolation powers may create sensitive issues related to civil liberties. Individuals have rights to due process of law, and generally, isolation or quarantine must be carried out in the least restrictive setting necessary to maintain public health.
- August 10, 2020: Around 30% of patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus were asymptomatic, but they still carried just as much of the virus as symptomatic patients — and for nearly as long — according to a new retrospective study , published Thursday in JAMA Internal Medicine, that experts say provides the first scientific evidence of asymptomatic transmission of the pathogen. Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong who was not involved in the study, added that the results “confirm what we’ve suspected for a long time — that asymptomatic cases can transmit infection.” However, Cowling said, because asymptomatic people don’t cough or sneeze, they might not be as efficient at spreading the virus as symptomatic people. On the other hand, symptomatic patients often stay home to recover from Covid-19, while asymptomatic patients who could be unaware they’re carrying the virus may continue with their everyday routines, potentially infecting others, Gaglia said. Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba who was not involved with the study, said many viruses can spread from asymptomatic people, but usually in very small amounts, which doesn’t appear to be the case for the novel coronavirus. He added that it’s still not clear whether the new coronavirus spreads at large levels from asymptomatic people because of the scale of the pandemic, or because the virus is unique in that respect. “There are all these small nuances about this virus that are coming to light each day,” he said.
- August 10, 2020: Hydroxychloroquine is so safe that in several nations it’s sold over the counter without a prescription. It’s been used for 65 years to treat Malaria and then Lupus. But the media is portraying Hydroxychloroquine like a public health menace, and this pharmaceutical smear campaign began around the time President Trump started taking it. “I’m taking it, Hydroxychloroquine. Right now, yeah, a couple of weeks ago I started taking it,” Trump told reporters on May 18, “Because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories.” When a group of physicians, calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors,” held a press conference in Washington to educate about Covid-19 and tell the truth about Hydroxychloroquine, they got the same treatment from the media’s been giving the drug. An avalanche of negative news stories began. These experienced, licensed physicians were called “quacks,” funded by “dark money,” and with USA Today reporting the doctors “don’t know what they’re talking about.” The group’s spokesperson, Dr. Simone Gold told us, “You know, I thought I lived in America. You had a bunch of doctors talking literally about science, getting de-platformed. It’s outrageous.” Gold, with over 31 years of experience in the medical field, says she was then let go by a hospital for what it called the “embarrassing video.” “I’m a board-certified emergency room physician. We are pretty hard to come by, and suddenly they don’t need me. I mean, it’s ridiculous. This is a complete loss of our free speech,” Gold said. And all this over a drug many doctors believe is safer than Tylenol, Motrin, and aspirin. “It works,” Gold says about Hydroxychloroquine, “We’ve shown it works and we’re still pouring hatred on this medicine.” Gold says, “I think initially the media just hated it because Trump liked it. You know, it fell into category orange man, bad.” But Hydroxychloroquine could also stand in the way of huge profits. It only costs about 10 dollars a dose. New treatments about to hit the market could cost in the thousands. Gold says, “The people who benefit from Hydroxychloroquine being kept down fall into the following categories: anyone who has a company, who has a business that competes with Hydroxychloroquine, or anyone that has an interest in keeping Americans afraid.” But it is primarily a prophylactic. Dr. Gold says it works best to prevent COVID-19 or in the early stages of the disease. “It’s essentially a magic bullet, especially if you use it early,” Gold said, “Rarely have I seen anything in medicine work so well. It’s not working like an antibiotic, you know, taking days when it works. If you’d give it early, it works within 24 hours. It’s really dramatic and its really fast.” But the use of Hydroxychloroquine is now limited in 44 states, and state medical boards are reportedly threatening doctors who prescribe it, even though the FDA says the decision should be between and doctor and patient. Whatever the reason for the political opposition to this drug, it could mean one less tool that might save a life.
- August 10, 2020: Countries using HCQ to treat covid have shown lower mortality rate than those which ban it. A look at 70 studies from around the world, 33 of them peer reviewed, shows the effectiveness of using hydroxychloroquine in early treatment for coronavirus. A list compiled by c19study.com showed that 75 percent of the studies said early use of the drug, hydroxychloroquine, resulted in a much lower mortality rate than countries that banned the use of it. In Italy, an upcoming study of 3,451 hospitalized patients reports that HCQ results in a 30 percent reduction in mortality. Treatment started on the first day of admission in most cases. Ukraine, Greece, Cuba, Morocco, Indonesia and Algeria were some of the nations which reported effective use of HCQ when it is used early as opposed to mixed results with later treatment, the studies noted. In India last month, doctors in one the largest slums in the country credited hydroxychloroquine for helping stop a covid outbreak. Dharavi located in the city of Mumbai, which was the backdrop for the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, is one of the most densely populated slums in India. It became a covid hotspot. The Media around the world, like the Los Angeles Times, have reported the success. Even the World Health Organization praised Dharavi. Reports credit the huge turnaround to various factors. Most focused on Dharavi’s use of widespread testing and contact tracing. But they ignored the policy most responsible. Indian doctors used hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for prophylaxis (preventive) treatment — the same drug the American media have politicized. Turkey’s Ministry of Health reported that the nation’s low death toll was in large part due to treatment protocols involving hydroxychloroquine and the Japanese antiviral favipiravir. “Doctors prescribe hydroxychloroquine to everyone who is tested positive for coronavirus,” Dr. Sema Turan, a member of the Turkish government’s coronavirus advisory board, told CBS News. Hospitalized patients may be given favipiravir as well if they encounter breathing problems, she said. The mortality rate in the U.S. could have been significantly lowered “if HCQ use would have been promoted,” Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft noted. “We are talking over 100,000 American lives that could have been saved!”
- August 10, 2020: A convalescent plasma bag of frozen yellow liquid doesn’t look like much, but it might have the power to help a patient survive COVID-19. Or it might be another promising idea that doesn’t quite pan out. The bag holds convalescent plasma, a golden elixir distilled from the blood of someone who has already recovered from a case of COVID-19. That person donated something from their own body, hoping to help another. That same hope has inspired countless other donors, in epidemics going back more than 110 years. And the doctors who have infused that plasma into their patients have hoped that transferring its disease-fighting antibodies from a recovered person to a sick person will help. But hope isn’t enough when it comes to fighting a new and deadly virus on a massive scale. That’s why researchers and physicians around the world have launched studies of convalescent plasma, to help them get firm, scientific answers about how powerful it really is against COVID-19. Strictly controlled research could take convalescent plasma from something that has seemed to help people fight off a dangerous infection, to something that we know will help either certain patients, many patients — or no one. One of those studies has a very serious aim, but a light hearted name: C3PO, short for Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma of Outpatients. It focuses on people who have early signs of COVID-19 and a high risk of getting seriously ill as time goes on. But instead of giving convalescent plasma to every patient who consents to take part, they will randomly assign half to get real plasma, and half to get a saline infusion. Introducing this element of chance, and the saline placebo, makes C3PO a randomized controlled trial — the gold standard for showing cause and effect in medicine. The study will be conducted in the research organization called Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials Network, or SIREN, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center, run the Clinical Coordinating Center for SIREN. “Before now, the majority of trials of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 have been in critically ill or hospitalized patients,” says Frederick Korley, M.D., Ph.D., an emergency medicine physician and one of the principal investigators for C3PO. “But antiviral therapies may be most effective when given early during the course of illness, prior to significant organ damage. We’re trying to do that by identifying people who are mildly ill, but at high risk, with the hopes that we can neutralize the virus before it can cause irreparable harm. The question our study seeks to ask is whether we can prevent patients from getting sicker, requiring emergency care, urgent care or hospitalization, within 15 days of receiving convalescent plasma,” he explains. Korley and his colleagues at U-M, the University of Pittsburgh, the Medical University of South Carolina and Stanford University set a minimum concentration, or titer, of antibodies that the plasma must contain to be used in C3PO. Different donors may have different titers of antibodies naturally, based on how their bodies reacted to the virus and how long it’s been since they were sick. The study will track the titers of antibodies each patient receives, and see if there’s any difference in how well they fare. Korley’s colleague William Barsan, M.D., an emergency physician at Michigan Medicine who helps oversee SIREN, calls the study pivotal. “There’s never been a randomized controlled trial that shows that convalescent plasma can prevent worsening of patients with any infectious disease,” he says. “There have been suggestions, but really no proof.” C3PO, and a few other randomized clinical trials that have already started or are getting ready to launch, will provide a high level of scientific evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 infection. Ongoing at the same time is a massive effort to collect and study data from hospitalized COVID-19 patients who have received convalescent plasma in the U.S. since the pandemic began. There are more than 2,700 hospitals that are taking part in the US COVID Plasma effort. Getting all the answers we can about convalescent plasma during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the most scientific way possible, could help us be ready for the next pandemic, Robertson Davenport, M.D., the pathologist who directs Michigan Medicine’s Blood Bank, notes. “The idea of passive immunity through plasma transfusion has been around for over a century, and there’s good historical data for it. But it’s not at the level of evidence we can get now,” he says. “And we know that there will be more viruses after this one. Let’s prove it one way or another for COVID-19 with C3PO and other clinical trials, so we’re ready for the next one.”
- August 11, 2020: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia has approved the “world first” Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been given regulatory approval after less than two months of testing on humans. Mr Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks, adding that his daughter had already been given it. Officials have said they plan to start mass vaccination in October. Experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners. Amid fears that safety could have been compromised, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged Russia last week to follow international guidelines for producing a vaccine against Covid-19. On Tuesday, the WHO said it had been in talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine. Currently, the Russian vaccine is not among the WHO’s list of six vaccines that have reached phase three clinical trials, which involve more widespread testing in humans.
- August 13, 2020: Of all the three-word phrases this pandemic has popularized — “flatten the curve,” “six feet apart” — perhaps none has resonated as deeply as “wear a mask.” (Or, as Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, put it back in late June: “Everyone should just wear a damn mask.”) It’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus and save lives. But, as a burgeoning number of advisories makes clear, not every mask is helpful. In guidance updated late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against wearing masks with exhalation valves or vents, a type of face covering made for hot and dusty construction work that has become a popular pandemic accessory because of its seemingly high-tech design. “The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control,” the agency’s guidance reads. “However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others. This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent.” 3M, which makes valve masks for construction work, illustrates on its website how they work: inhaled air is filtered through the fabric part of the mask, and hot, humid exhaled air goes out through the valve. The system may be what you want when tearing out a kitchen for remodeling, but the valve defeats the purpose when you’re trying to slow the spread of a virus. Public health experts recommend mask-wearing to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading into the air when you exhale, speak, cough or sneeze, and the valves allow those droplets through. Medical masks, you’ll notice, do not have valves. The CDC recommends simple cloth masks instead. A few layers of cotton prevent most of the potentially infectious respiratory droplets from escaping into the air around you, and they are also much cooler than the form-fitting N95 masks. Masks with valves have been banned by the major U.S. airlines, with American Airlines on Wednesday becoming the latest to announce a policy change, citing the CDC guidance. A recent study also suggested people should avoid the newly popular neck gaiters, which are made of thin, stretchy material. Researchers at Duke University found those coverings may be worse than not wearing a mask at all, because they break up larger airborne particles into a spray of little ones more likely to linger longer in the air.
- August 14, 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said this week that he sees “no reason” Americans should avoid voting in-person as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. “I think if carefully done, according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” Fauci said of in-person voting during a National Geographic event that aired Thursday. “If you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.” Fauci cited the social distancing guidance at some grocery stores that have placed an “X” every six feet or so where the checkout line forms, as well as signs directing customers to remain on their “X” until the person ahead of them has advanced. However, those who would be in danger if exposed to the coronavirus because of health issues are better off voting by mail, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director said. “I mean, obviously if you’re a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don’t want to take the chance,” Fauci said. “There’s the situation of mail-in voting that has been done for years in many places. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise.” Fauci previously declined to specifically endorse mail-in voting, which President Trump has warned could result in election fraud if large swaths of the population voted by absentee ballot over coronavirus fears.
- August 15, 2020: The coronavirus may not have originated at a Wuhan wet market last year but 1,000 miles away in 2012 — deep in a Chinese mineshaft where workers came down with a mysterious, pneumonia-like illness after being exposed to bats. Virologist Jonathan Latham and molecular biologist Allison Wilson, both of the non-profit Bioscience Resource Project in Ithaca, arrived at their finding after translating a 66-page master’s thesis from the Chinese medical doctor who treated the miners and sent their tissue samples to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for testing. “The evidence it contains has led us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Latham and Wilson wrote in an article published July 15 on their website, “Independent Science News.” Latham told The Post that the coronavirus “almost certainly escaped” from the Wuhan lab. In April 2012, six miners in the Mojiang mine in southwestern China’s Yunnan province fell ill after spending more than 14 days removing bat feces. Three eventually died. In his thesis, the physician Li Xu, who treated the miners, describes how the patients had a high fever, a dry cough, sore limbs and, in some cases, headaches — all symptoms now associated with COVID-19, said Latham and Wilson. How the miners were treated — for example, with ventilation and a variety of drugs including steroids, blood thinners and antibiotics — also resembles how COVID-19 patients are being treated worldwide, they said. After conducting multiple tests for hepatitis, dengue fever and even HIV, the doctor consulted with various specialists throughout China, including virologist Zhong Nanshan, an international hero who managed the SARS outbreak in 2003 and is considered the country’s greatest scientist. “The remote meeting with Zhong Nanshan is significant,” Latham and Wilson said. “It implies that the illnesses of the six miners were of high concern and, second, that a SARS-like coronavirus was considered a likely cause.” The doctor also sent sample tissues from the miners to the Wuhan lab, a focal point of coronavirus research in China. There, scientists found the source of infection was a SARS-like coronavirus from a Chinese rufous horseshoe bat, according to the thesis. Latham and Wilson believe the virus — once inside the miners — “evolved” into SARS CoV-2, “an unusually pathogenic coronavirus highly adapted to humans,” and the samples somehow escaped from the lab last year, launching what has morphed into the coronavirus pandemic. The New York scientists labeled their COVID-19 origins hypothesis “the Mojiang Miners Passage”; “passaging” is a virologic term for adapting viruses to new species, they said. Although scientists at the Wuhan lab had collected coronavirus samples from bats at the same mine, they missed the 2012 connection, Latham told The Post. In fact, Shi Zhengli, a virologist at the Wuhan lab who is known as “the batwoman” for her extensive research into bat-derived coronaviruses, told Scientific American in June that the miners had died from a fungal infection, “although it would have been only a matter of time before they caught the coronaviruses if the mine had not been promptly shut,” the magazine reported. “The mine shaft stunk like hell,” Shi told the magazine. “Bat guano, covered in fungus, littered the cave.”
- August 17, 2020: People infected with COVID-19 do not necessarily have immunity to reinfection for three months, the CDC said. While people can continue to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 for up to three months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others, that does not imply that infection confers immunity for that period, the agency said. An update to CDC’s isolation guidance, states: “Who needs to quarantine? People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 — excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.” These statements could be read as suggesting that those recovering from COVID-19 will likely be safe from reinfection for three months even with close exposure to infected people. Media reports took this as a tacit acknowledgment of immunity from the agency. Friday’s CDC statement chided the media for misinterpreting its guidance, which was about retesting, not immunity. “The latest data simply suggests that retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness,” the agency said. In fact, the CDC went so far as to update its update, which now says explicitly, “We do not know if someone can be re-infected with COVID-19.” The agency added that people who were previously infected may continue to have “low levels of virus in their body for up to 3 months,” which could explain positive test results even if they recovered from the virus. Based on more than 15 international and U.S.-based studies examining various aspects of infection, the agency concluded the duration of infection in most people is no longer than 10 days following symptom onset, and no more than 20 days in people with severe illness or those who are “severely immunocompromised,” the agency said. The CDC added there are no confirmed reports of reinfection within 3 months of initial infection. The guidance still recommends that if those recovering from the virus come into contact with a positive case and have new symptoms, they should isolate themselves, contact their healthcare provider and possibly be retested. Everyone, including those recovering from COVID-19, should continue to follow the recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including social distancing, wearing a face mask in public, and washing their hands, the agency said. In the statement, the CDC reiterated that people who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least 10 days after symptom onset and until 24 hours after their fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications.
While people can continue to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 for up to three months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others, that does not imply that infection confers immunity for that period.
- August 17, 2020: The United States is experiencing another surge of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents. A report released in mid-August by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living revealed that there were 9,715 people in nursing homes who died from COVID-19 during the week of July 26. That was an increase from the 8,667 who died the previous week and the 5,538 who died the week of June 28, the lowest number since the pandemic began. It was also slightly more than the 9,421 reported deaths the week of May 31. In a press release, the two organizations stated that the recent increase was an “alarming spike” driven by the summer spread of COVID-19 among the general population. More than 45,000 people who were living in nursing homes have now died from COVID-19 in the United States since the pandemic began. More than 177,000 cases of COVID-19 involving nursing home residents have been confirmed nationwide. In early June, a study by geriatricians at two Boston medical facilities reported that long-term care facilities are a “major driver” of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The researchers reported that these facilities accounted for 63 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities in Massachusetts. They added that nursing homes also accounted for 81 percent of COVID-19 deaths in both Minnesota and Rhode Island at the time as well as 71 percent in Connecticut and 70 percent in New Hampshire. In another 22 states, long-term care facilities accounted for more than half of all COVID-19 fatalities. As these deaths continue to rise, medical professionals in these facilities are struggling to take care of a population who is most easily victimized by the pandemic. “When you look at the mortality rate from COVID-19, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 85 percent of the deaths have been in people 65 years or older,” Emma, a nursing home physical therapist on the East Coast, told Healthline in April. “So there is an obvious trend.” “You have the most at-risk population for COVID-19 mortality and symptoms in the hospital and in the nursing homes because these are where there is the highest senior population and highest population of people with multiple illnesses or diagnoses,” said Emma, who asked that her last name not be used in this story. “You are going to potentially see more fatalities in these facilities, and I think a majority of these fatalities are because of the frailty many patients already had, which then placed them at higher risk for mortality, and not necessarily poor preparation or care.” The situation in nursing homes is so dire, the CDC announced in mid-April that it’s tracking cases in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Facilities are now required to report cases directly to the CDC as well as to other patients and their families. “Our country, unlike others, is segregated by age,” Steven M. Levin, a Chicago attorney specializing in nursing home advocacy, told Healthline in April. “Only 13 percent of older people live with extended family members, Instead, they live in their own communities. Now we’re seeing that, once an infection hits, it can quickly turn into a catastrophe.”
“Only 13 percent of older people live with extended family members, Instead, they live in their own communities. Now we’re seeing that, once an infection hits, it can quickly turn into a catastrophe.”
- August 17, 2020: President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week that would pause federal payroll tax obligations for many Americans as the economic consequences of the pandemic continue. The order defers the withholding, deposit, and payment of payroll taxes from the first day of September through the end of December. Although payroll tax applies to both employers and employees, the recent executive order focuses on the share that workers pay directly. Individual payroll tax includes a 6.2% tax on wages for Social Security and a 1.45% tax for Medicare. The planned deferral only applies to the Social Security portion of the tax and specifies that eligible participants must make less than $4,000 in a biweekly pay period, or about $104,000 per year. Even then, the impact will vary. The deferral will not affect those who do not have salaries to tax, like the unemployed or retired. The amount deferred will also be larger for eligible Americans who receive higher wages and so would otherwise pay more in taxes. The nature of the wage cap — which restricts the deferral to people making less than $104,000 — is also important. Because it considers individual earnings rather than household income, all earners who make less than the stated amount can participate, regardless of the salaries of the rest of their household. Still unclear is whether employers must release planned withholdings to employees right now, as well as when or if participating Americans will need to pay the deferred taxes. Unless additional legislation forgives the taxes, the initiative will act similarly to an interest-free loan.
- August 18, 2020: Crowds have been gathering for mass pool parties at a Maya Beach Water Park in Wuhan, China, site of COVID-19 outbreak. People were seen partying in close quarters with no facemasks and crammed into rubber dinghies on the water in front of performers on a stage. While other cities around the world grapple with rising cases of the coronavirus, Wuhan has not reported a local case since mid-May. China’s national and provincial statistics show almost 60 percent of the country’s 84,000 confirmed COVD-19 cases happened in Wuhan, prompting a complete shutdown of transportation into and out of the city. Other countries, including the United States, are still struggling to bring down case numbers months after the first outbreak. The seven-day moving average in the U.S. was over 51,000 new cases per day as of Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- August 18, 2020: Infusing sick COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from recovered patients may help reduce mortality from the disease if the plasma is given early and contains enough virus-neutralizing antibodies. The finding was reported in an observational study by the Mayo Clinic involving 35,322 COVID-19 patients between April and July across hundreds of hospitals. Because it’s an observational study and not a clinical trial, the results can’t be used to prove the treatment works. But the data did show some encouraging trends and can be used to improve patient care. The study’s lead researcher, Michael Joyner, estimates that plasma treatments could reduce the COVID-19 mortality rate by 20 to 50% in the general population. In Mayo’s study, the mortality rate was lower in patients who received plasma within the first three days of getting a diagnosis versus those who received plasma later on. “We want to treat people early, before they are on a mechanical ventilator, within a few days of diagnosis,” Joyner said. “Use it early, early, early, early.” In patients who received plasma within three days after diagnosis, the mortality rate after 7 days was 8.7% and after 30 days, it was 26.1%. By comparison, the group that received plasma later had a 7-day mortality rate of 11.9% and a 30-day mortality rate of 26.7%. An earlier Mayo study assessed the safety of plasma treatments in 5,000 patients and found plasma treatment was safe to use on COVID-19 patients. “The most important thing anybody can do is to donate if they’re capable of donating,” Joyner said. According to Joyner, the level of antibodies in a person’s blood tends to peak a few weeks after they’ve recovered from COVID-19. Joyner recommended that people should donate plasma about three weeks after recovering and said they can donate up to two or three times.
“The most important thing anybody can do is to donate if they’re capable of donating.”
- August 20, 2020: Is it reasonable to blame a single politician for the spread of a highly infectious virus, especially in a free country with 50 states and 330 million people? Joe Biden is lucky that wasn’t the standard a decade ago. If the Democratic convention produced one theme it’s that Donald Trump is personally at fault for every coronavirus death. The message is that crazy, that blunt. Kamala Harris: “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives.” Barack Obama: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead.” Democrats even claim Mr. Biden saved lives in 2014. Michelle Obama: “Our leaders had worked hand in hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.” Ms. Harris last week: “Remember that pandemic? Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people died in the United States.” Ebola is a terrifying disease, but outbreaks tend to happen only in very poor nations, and if caught early the virus is difficult to transmit outside hospitals. Anthony Fauci said in 2014 that a U.S. outbreak was “very, very, very unlikely.” Mr. Obama told Americans to chill out: “Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu.” The Ebola example is designed to divert attention from a more relevant comparison: the H1N1 swine-flu outbreak of 2009–10. Democrats don’t like to talk about H1N1, because it didn’t go well. If it had been as deadly as Covid-19, the toll would have been catastrophic. The history is a powerful reminder that governments can’t stop a virus — although they can make epidemics worse. H1N1 began much like corona, with panicked stories in late April 2009 about a novel “hybrid” flu strain in Mexico that was popping up in the U.S. It was even more alarming, in that it especially affected children. Yet the new administration began with a muddled message. Mr. Obama encouraged calm, while Mr. Biden rambled a warning about staying off airplanes and public transport — prompting backlash. “Biden’s flu gaffe a headache for Obama,” read one headline. Within days, some 30 states had suspected cases, and by April 27 the U.S. had its first death, a 23-month-old child. Other countries started shutting facilities, telling citizens to stay home, quarantining visitors. The Obama administration still had no idea how deadly the disease was, though the World Health Organization called the outbreak a threat to “all humanity,” and health experts predicted hospitals would be overloaded. The administration nonetheless took a resigned approach to its spread. Mr. Obama didn’t close the Mexican border, saying that would “be akin to closing the barn doors after the horses are out.” His officials did declare a health emergency (Mr. Obama was golfing that day) and distributed the national stockpile (which they never replenished). The administration recommended schools “consider” closing if experiencing an outbreak, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief said this might not help with spread and warned about taking kids out of classrooms. No one considered a national lockdown, especially not an administration focused on a fragile economic recovery. Mr. Obama promised to “control” the “impact” of the virus — not the virus itself. He asked Congress for all of $1.5 billion. Authorities grew more optimistic as H1N1 turned out to be less deadly than had been feared, but they still faced the risk of an uglier strain in the fall. Team Obama promised 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October. (A flu vaccine is easier to produce than a coronavirus vaccine). But government setbacks in production, manufacturing and dosing protocols resulted in only 11 million doses, prompting national outrage. By that point, the CDC estimated 22 million Americans had been infected, 36,000 children hospitalized, and 540 kids had died. Before Covid-19, Democrats were willing to admit they’d dodged a bullet. Former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said at Texas A&M in 2019: “We did every possible thing wrong. Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it is just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass-casualty events in American history. [It] had nothing to do with us doing anything right; just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918. Just go back to 2009, 2010. Imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math.” Yes, let’s do the math. The U.S. has some five million reported cases of coronavirus and 170,000 deaths. A virus with the spread of H1N1 and fatality rate of Covid-19 could produce a death toll approaching two million. The Trump administration response has been flawed — in particular its initial testing delays. But let’s acknowledge (as Democrats once did) that there is only so much government can do to “control” a germ. As for distributing equipment, providing antivirals and developing a vaccine, the current response has so far met or exceeded 2009–10. Mr. Biden is free to argue he’s a better man for the White House; he shouldn’t get to rewrite history, or virology.
“We did every possible thing wrong. Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it is just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass-casualty events in American history. [It] had nothing to do with us doing anything right; just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918. Just go back to 2009, 2010. Imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math.”
- August 21, 2020: The World Health Organization said Friday that a vaccine will be a “vital tool” in the global fight against the coronavirus, but it won’t end the Covid-19 pandemic on its own and there’s no guarantee scientists will find one. World leaders and the public must learn to manage the virus and make permanent adjustments to their daily lives to bring the virus down to low levels, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “At the same time, we will not, we cannot go back to the way things were.” Throughout history, outbreaks and pandemics have changed economies and societies, he said. “In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change,” he said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers.” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said it’s “very important” for the public to learn “how to live with this virus.” That will help “continue to suppress transmission, identify cases and clusters that pop up so we can quickly put those out and minimize as many deaths as possible,” she said. “In doing so, some countries may need to implement some measures again.”
- August 23, 2020: President Trump will be unveiling a coronavirus treatment “breakthrough” at a briefing Sunday, and Fox News Medical Contributor Dr. Marc Siegel weighed in on what the development could potentially be based on the many studies currently underway to combat the virus. Siegel told “Fox & Friends” that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not issuing an emergency use authorization on antibody treatments was “eyebrow-raising” and could be a topic of conversation, since the president has recently expressed concern regarding the FDA being “too political.” “The FDA delayed an emergency use authorization on convalescent plasma,” he said. “Now, that’s the plasma or the antibodies you get when you’re getting over COVID-19. And the fact is that those types of antibodies have been used for over 100 years successfully for other diseases. And a study out of Houston Methodist in 300 patients … just showed a dramatic impact at keeping people alive longer.” The doctor said that a series of treatments are “aggressively” being studied including synthetic antibodies, stem cells and a steroid spray.
- August 23, 2020: President Trump on Sunday granted an emergency authorization for the usage of convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus patients, dubbing it a “major breakthrough.” Speaking to reporters from the White House Sunday, Trump said the FDA has “issued an emergency use authorization… for a treatment known as convalescent plasma.” “This is a powerful therapy that transfuses very very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection,” Trump said, adding that the authorization will “expand access to this treatment.” “Base on the science and the data, the FDA has made the independent determination that the treatment is safe and very effective,” Trump said, before urging all recovered COVID-19 patients in the USA to donate their blood plasma. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced Trump’s press conference in a Saturday-night tweet, writing it involved “a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China virus.” Trump’s announcement Sunday follows White House officials suggesting last week that there were politically motivated delays by the Food and Drug Administration in approving a vaccine and therapeutics for the coronavirus. The treatment takes convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus and is rich in antibodies. Though it may provide benefits to those fighting the virus, the evidence has been inconclusive as to how it works or how best to administer it. The White House has been growing agitated with the pace of the plasma approval. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows did not deal in specifics but said “we’ve looked at a number of people that are not being as diligent as they should be in terms of getting to the bottom of it.” “This president is about cutting red tape,” said Meadows in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “He had to make sure that they felt the heat. If they don’t see the light, they need to feel the heat because the American people are suffering.” “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”
- August 26, 2020: CDC Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Comorbidities. Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death. The number of deaths with each condition or cause is shown for all deaths and by age groups. Hence, only 6% (9,210) of all the 153,504 coronavirus deaths recorded actually died from COVID-19. The other 94% (144, 294) had 2–3 other serious illnesses and the overwhelming majority were of very advanced age. Examples of the other Comorbidities are respiratory diseases like Influenza and pneumonia, Hypertensive diseases, Ischemic heart disease, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac arrhythmia, Heart failure, Cerebrovascular diseases, Sepsis, Malignant neoplasms, Diabetes, Obesity, Alzheimer disease, and Renal failure.
- August 29, 2020: Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time. But researchers say the solution is not to test less, or to skip testing people without symptoms, as recently suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most widely used diagnostic test for the new coronavirus, called a PCR test, provides a simple yes-no answer to the question of whether a patient is infected. But similar PCR tests for other viruses do offer some sense of how contagious an infected patient may be: The results may include a rough estimate of the amount of virus in the patient’s body. “We’ve been using one type of data for everything, and that is just plus or minus — that’s all,” Dr. Mina said. “We’re using that for clinical diagnostics, for public health, for policy decision-making.” But yes-no isn’t good enough, he added. It’s the amount of virus that should dictate the infected patient’s next steps. “It’s really irresponsible, I think, to forgo the recognition that this is a quantitative issue,” Dr. Mina said. The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious. This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are. In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found. One solution would be to adjust the cycle threshold used now to decide that a patient is infected. Most tests set the limit at 40, a few at 37. This means that you are positive for the coronavirus if the test process required up to 40 cycles, or 37, to detect the virus. Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left, Dr. Mina said.
- September 2, 2020: Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health — first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread, and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections. Given the high economic costs and well-documented long-term health consequences beyond COVID-19, imposing lockdowns appears to have been a large policy error. At first, when little was known, officials acted in ways they thought prudent. But now evidence proves that lockdowns were an expensive treatment with serious side effects and no benefit to society. TrendMacro, my analytics firm, tallied the cumulative number of reported COVID-19 cases in each state and the District of Columbia as a percentage of population, based on data from state and local health departments aggregated by the Covid Tracking Project. We then compared that with the timing and intensity of the lockdown in each jurisdiction. That is measured not by the mandates put in place by government officials, but rather by observing what people in each jurisdiction actually did, along with their baseline behavior before the lockdowns. This is captured in highly detailed anonymized cellphone tracking data provided by Google and others and tabulated by the University of Maryland’s Transportation Institute into a “Social Distancing Index.” Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown, which range from April 5 to April 18, it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns — DC, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts — had the heaviest caseloads. It could be that strict lockdowns were imposed as a response to already severe outbreaks. But the surprising negative correlation, while statistically weak, persists even when excluding states with the heaviest caseloads. And it makes no difference if the analysis includes other potential explanatory factors, such as population density, age, ethnicity, prevalence of nursing homes, general health or temperature. The only factor that seems to make a demonstrable difference is the intensity of mass-transit use. We ran the experiment a second time to observe the effects on caseloads of the reopening that began in mid-April. We used the same methodology but started from each state’s peak of lockdown and extended to July 31. Confirming the first experiment, there was a tendency (though fairly weak) for states that opened up the most to have the lightest caseloads. The states that had the big summer flare-ups in the so-called “Sunbelt second wave” — Arizona, California, Florida and Texas — are by no means the most opened up. The lesson isn’t that lockdowns made the spread worse — though raw evidence may suggest that — but that lockdowns probably didn’t help, and opening up didn’t hurt. It defies common sense. In theory, quarantine ought to control the spread of an infectious disease. Evidently not in practice, though we are aware of no researcher who understands why not. We aren’t the only researchers to have discovered this statistical relationship. We first published a version of these findings in April. In July, a publication of The Lancet published research that found similar results looking across countries rather than US states. “A longer time prior to implementation of any lockdown was associated with a lower number of detected cases,” the study concludes. Those findings have now been enhanced by sophisticated measures of actual social distancing and data from the reopening phase. There are experimental controls that all this research lacks. There are no observable instances in which there were either total lockdowns or no lockdowns at all. But there is no escaping the evidence that, at minimum, heavy lockdowns were no more effective than light ones, and that opening up a lot was no more harmful than opening up a little. So where is the science that would justify the heavy lockdowns many officials are still demanding? With the evidence we now possess, even the most risk-averse health officials should hesitate before demanding the next lockdown and causing the next recession.
The lesson isn’t that lockdowns made the spread worse — though raw evidence may suggest that — but that lockdowns probably didn’t help, and opening up didn’t hurt. It defies common sense. In theory, quarantine ought to control the spread of an infectious disease. Evidently not in practice, though we are aware of no researcher who understands why not.
- September 4, 2020: The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokeswoman said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety. None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a “clear signal” of efficacy at the level of at least 50% sought by the WHO, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said. “We are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year,” Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. “This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is,” she added. This referred to the phase in vaccine research where large clinical trials among people are conducted. Harris did not refer to any specific vaccine candidate. All data from trials must be shared and compared, Harris said. “A lot of people have been vaccinated and what we don’t know is whether the vaccine works…at this stage we do not have the clear signal of whether or not it has the level of worthwhile efficacy and safety…,” she added. The WHO and GAVI vaccine alliance are leading a global vaccine allocation plan known as COVAX that aims to help buy and distribute shots fairly. The focus is on first vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country such as healthcare workers. COVAX aims to procure and deliver 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021, but some countries that have secured their own supplies through bilateral deals, including the United States, have said they will not join. “Essentially, the door is open. We are open. What the COVAX is about is making sure everybody on the planet will get access to the vaccines,” Harris said.
- September 6, 2020: Yahoo News Coronavirus: The Yahoo Knowledge Graph team at Verizon Media is responsible for providing critical COVID-19 data that feeds into Yahoo properties like Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Weather. The COVID-19 datasets include country, state, and county level information updated on a rolling basis, with updates occurring approximately hourly. The COVID-19 datasets are constructed entirely from primary (government and public agency) sources with a clear attribution of the primary sources used for each geographical region. While other aggregations of COVID-19 data are already available, we believe ours to be the only open source COVID-19 dataset that is constructed entirely from primary sources with clear attribution back to those sources. Our hope is that additional transparency will enable more accurate analysis, aiding researchers who seek to understand and prevent further spread of the disease.
- September 8, 2020: A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” In a follow-up statement, AstraZeneca said it initiated the study hold. The nature of the adverse reaction and when it happened were not immediately known, though the participant is expected to recover, according to an individual familiar with the matter. The spokesperson described the pause 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.” The spokesperson also said that the company is “working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.” An individual familiar with the development said researchers had been told the hold was placed on the trial out of “an abundance of caution.” A second individual familiar with the matter, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the finding is having an impact on other AstraZeneca vaccine trials underway — as well as on the clinical trials being conducted by other vaccine manufacturers. Clinical holds are not uncommon, and it’s unclear how long AstraZeneca’s might last. But the progress of the company’s trial — and those of all Covid-19 vaccines in development — are being closely watched given the pressing need for new ways to curb the global pandemic. There are currently nine vaccine candidates in Phase 3 trials. AstraZeneca’s is the first Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial known to have been put on hold. Researchers running other trials are now looking for similar cases of adverse reactions by combing through databases reviewed by a so-called Data and Safety Monitoring Board, the second person said. The vaccine — known as AZD1222 — uses an adenovirus that carries a gene for one of the proteins in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The adenovirus is designed to induce the immune system to generate a protective response against SARS-2. The platform has not been used in an approved vaccine, but has been tested in experimental vaccines against other viruses, including the Ebola virus. In the statement from AstraZeneca, the company spokesperson noted that “in large trials illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully.” The spokesperson also said the company is “committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”
- September 8, 2020: AstraZeneca said it has paused global trials, including large late-stage trials, of its experimental coronavirus vaccine due to an unexplained illness in a study participant. The vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, has been described by the World Health Organization as probably the world’s leading candidate and the most advanced in terms of development. The suspension dims prospects for an early rollout amid reports that the United States was aiming for a fast-track approval before the November presidential election. The British drugmaker said it voluntarily paused trials to allow an independent committee to review safety data, and it was working to expedite the review to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline. “This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials,” the company said in an emailed statement. The nature of the illness was not disclosed, although the participant is expected to recover, according to Stat News, which first reported the suspension due to a “suspected serious adverse reaction”. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines an adverse event as one in which evidence suggests a possible relationship to the drug being tested. According to a New York Times report which cited a person familiar with the situation, a participant based in the United Kingdom was found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections. Whether the illness was directly linked to AstraZeneca’s vaccine remains unclear, the report said. AstraZeneca declined to comment on the report. Nine leading U.S. and European vaccine developers pledged on Tuesday to uphold scientific safety and efficacy standards for their experimental vaccines despite the urgency to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The companies, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer, issued what they called a “historic pledge” after a rise in concern that safety standards might slip in the face of political pressure to rush out a vaccine. The vaccine development companies said they would “uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work towards potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines.” The other signatories were Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co, GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax Inc, Sanofi and BioNTech.
The vaccine development companies said they would “uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work towards potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines.”
- September 10, 2020: As the United States heads into flu season, Americans can’t let up in the fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday. Although the number of new daily cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has slowly been declining over the last two weeks, the country is still closing in on 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 6 million confirmed infections. “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy,” Fauci said during a panel of doctors from Harvard Medical School. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, also spoke about the COVID-19 vaccine trials and the possibility of post-Labor Day surges, noting that as one region in the U.S. gets it under control, another hot spot emerges — and that spikes inevitably appear whenever states lift social distancing restrictions. “It’s really quite frankly depressing to see that because you know what’s ahead,” he said. Fauci, one of the world’s leading AIDS researchers since the 1980s, warned about the dangers of underestimating the virus. He compared the pandemic it to the early days of HIV when the epidemic started with a few gay men to decades later with tens of millions of deaths and more than 70 million people who have been infected. “We’ve been through this before,” he said. “Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things.” “We’ve really got to realize that from Day One, you don’t know it all,” he said. “And you’ve got to be flexible enough to change your recommendations, your guidelines, your policies, depending upon the information.” When asked about the likelihood of a second wave of cases in the U.S., Fauci responded, “I don’t talk about second surges because we’re still in the first surge.” While there are fears that influenza season, which begins in October, could overwhelm the nation’s health care system, there is some optimism about the flu in Australia so far. Australia has experienced the “lightest influenza season in memory” due to social distancing measures that have been put in place for COVID-19, Fauci said. But it’s unclear whether the U.S. will have similar luck. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I’m not predicting,” Fauci said.
- September 11, 2020: A Chinese virologist who has reportedly been in hiding for fear of her safety has stepped out into the public eye again to make the explosive claim that she has the scientific evidence to prove COVID-19 was man-made in a lab in China. Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a scientist who says she did some of the earliest research into COVID-19 last year, made the comments Friday during an interview on British talk show “Loose Women.” When asked where the deadly virus that has killed more than 900,000 around the globe comes from, Yan — speaking via video chat from a secret location — replied, “It comes from the lab — the lab in Wuhan and the lab is controlled by China’s government.” She insisted that widespread reports that the virus originated last year from a wet market in Wuhan, China, are “a smokescreen.” “The first thing is the [meat] market in Wuhan … is a smokescreen and this virus is not from nature,” Yan claimed, explaining that she got “her intelligence from the CDC in China, from the local doctors.” The virologist has previously accused Beijing of lying about when it learned of the killer bug and engaging in an extensive cover-up of her work. She had said that her former supervisors at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, a reference laboratory for the World Health Organization, silenced her when she sounded the alarm about human-to-human transmission in December last year. In April, Yan reportedly fled Hong Kong and escaped to America to raise awareness about the pandemic. Now, she said she is planning to release scientific evidence to prove that the virus was made inside a lab in Wuhan. “The genome sequence is like a human finger print,” she told the talk show. “So based on this you can identify these things. I use the evidence … to tell people why this has come from the lab in China, why they are the only ones who made it.” Yan added, “Anyone, even if you have no biology knowledge, you can read it, and you can check and identify and verify by yourself.” “This is the critical thing for us to know the origin of the virus,” she said. “If not we cannot overcome it — it will be life-threatening for everyone.” She said she is coming out now because “I know if I don’t tell the truth to the world, I will be regretful.” Yan also claimed that before fleeing China, her information was wiped from government databases. “They deleted all my information,” she told “Loose Women,” claiming that people have been recruited “to spread rumors about me, that I’m a liar.” Yuan Zhiming, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has previously denied reports that the bug accidentally spread from his facility. “There’s no way this virus came from us,” Zhiming told state media in April.
“The genome sequence is like a human finger print,” … “So based on this you can identify these things. I use the evidence … to tell people why this has come from the lab in China, why they are the only ones who made it.”
- September 12, 2020: Two dozen protesters gathered in front of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office Saturday to demand he allow visits at nursing homes and take responsibility for loved ones who died there during the height of the city’s COVID-19 crisis. “Cuomo killed my mother!” and “Let families in now,” their posters read. Many people in New York nursing homes have been confined to their rooms, often alone, for the past half-year, the protesters said. Not seeing their family members has been tormenting on both sides. “My mother lives at The Riverside [Riverside Premier Rehabilitation and Healing] for six years,” said one of the protesters, Arlene Houston, 49, of Manhattan. “She has advanced Alzheimer’s, she is hard of hearing and she has poor eyesight. We do weekly FaceTime calls, but I don’t even know if she hears me.” “It’s not enough for her. She needs touch. The CNA’s [aides] bathe them, they feed them, but she needs hugs. They’re not allowed to go outdoors. It’s her room or the hallway when they’re cleaning her room. It’s like a prison.” “It’s been six months since we have been allowed to visit our loved ones,” she said. One of the rally’s organizers, Marcella Goheen, said her husband, Robert, is at the Isabella Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. He has a rare neurological degenerative disorder called leukodystrophy. “We have been demanding to have essential care visitations since mid-May and they are only starting to listen to us now. I fed him, I bathed him, I have a medical letter from Harvard saying they should let me in, but they can’t because of Gov. Cuomo’s executive order. He’s stable, the staff is doing the best they can, but the staff needs to be in partnership with the families. For six months he hasn’t gotten a family visit,” she said. “It’s a slow fade. His vitals are stable, but it’s a slow fade-out, it’s depression. We want Gov. Cuomo to sign an executive order tomorrow to allow nursing home visitations. We are losing another round of people to isolation and failure to thrive.”
- September 14, 2020: As of September 14, 2020, there have been over 194 thousand deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States. The death rate from COVID-19 in the state of New York is 170 per 100,000 people. New York is one of the states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. Death rates from coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States as of September 14, 2020, by state per 100,000 people is shown in the graph below provided by Statista 2020.
- September 14, 2020: The World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded a record one-day rise in the number of new coronavirus infections, with 307,930 reported over 24 hours. The agency said that deaths rose by more than 5,500, bringing the global total to 917,417. The biggest increases in infections were reported in India, the US and Brazil. Worldwide there have been more than 28 million confirmed cases, half of which have been in the Americas. The previous one-day record for new cases was on 6 September when the WHO reported 306,857 new infections. According to the WHO, India reported 94,372 new cases on Sunday, followed by the US with 45,523 and Brazil with 43,718. More than 1,000 new deaths were recorded in the US and India while Brazil said 874 people had died from Covid-19 related illness in the past 24 hours. India has the second largest number of confirmed cases in the world, behind the US. Last week it reported nearly two million Covid-19 cases in August, the highest monthly tally in the world since the pandemic began. The country saw an average of 64,000 cases per day — an 84% hike from average daily cases in July, according to official data. The death toll has topped 1,000 every day since the beginning of September. Brazil has recorded more than four million cases, the third highest in the world. It has the highest number of deaths in Latin America, with about 131,000 so far. The US has recorded almost a quarter of the world’s total number of coronavirus cases — more than six million. It saw an increase in the number of daily cases in July, but the numbers have fallen since then. The US has the world’s highest recorded death toll from Covid-19, with more than 194,000 fatalities.
- September 14, 2020: A federal judge in Pittsburgh says Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine had good intentions to protect people from the coronavirus but their orders went too far. The judge ruled in a court order that Wolf’s closing of “non-life-sustaining” businesses and restrictions on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic were unconstitutional. “You can’t tell 13 million Pennsylvanians that they have to stay home. That’s not America. It never was. That order was horrible,” Thomas W. King, III, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. Judge William Stickman IV ruled that the state-posed limits on gatherings violated the First Amendment and the stay-at-home and business-closing orders violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling by Stickman was made in a case in which Butler, Greene, Fayette and Washington counties are listed as plaintiffs. The counties had filed suit, claiming the shutdown orders were unconstitutional. Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote in his ruling that the Wolf administration’s pandemic policies have been overreaching, arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights. Stickman ruled in favor of individual and business plaintiffs, and he dismissed the county governments from the case. Individuals who won the favorable ruling include U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.; state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler; and various businesses including hair salons and the Starlight Drive-In. “This ruling stands for the proposition that even in a pandemic, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do not forfeit their constitutionally protected rights,” Thomas E. Breth, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. The attorneys say their clients are still willing to voluntarily abide by health guidelines such as masks and social distancing. “The judge is saying if you own a business, the governor and the health secretary can’t shut it down,” King said. “That never again will Pennsylvanians under these circumstances be told to stay home. with fear of arrest or threats of loss of license. He’s also thrown out this nonsense that was the orders that had to do with life-sustaining or non-life-sustaining businesses, picking and choosing winners and losers.” Lyndsay Kensinger, the governor’s press secretary, says the Wolf administration is disappointed and will seek a stay of the decision and file an appeal. “The actions taken by the administration were mirrored by governors across the country and saved, and continue to save lives in the absence of federal action,” Kensinger said. “This decision is especially worrying as Pennsylvania and the rest of the country are likely to face a challenging time with the possible resurgence of COVID-19 and the flu in the fall and winter.” Kensinger said the court ruling is limited to the business closure order and the stay at home orders issued in March and were later suspended, as well as the indoor and outdoor gathering limitations. “This ruling does not impact any of the other mitigation orders currently in place including, but not limited to the targeted mitigation orders announced in July, mandatory telework, mandatory mask order, worker safety order, and the building safety order,” she said. Two Butler County Commissioners initiated the lawsuit, which was joined by other counties, individuals and businesses. “This by no means doesn’t recognize that we have a virus and a pandemic and that have a public health issue that needs to be addressed,” Leslie Osche, Butler County Commissioner and commission chair, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “We need to be self accountable, to continue to wear masks and take the necessary precautions that we’ve already been taking to mitigate the pandemic, the virus,” said Butler County Commissioner Kimberly Geyer, who serves as vice-chair of the commission. “They’re still willing to abide by those guidelines. They still want people to be safe. They just want to be able to operate their businesses to make a living, go about their lives as they’re protected by the U.S. Constitution,” Breth said. The declaratory judgment says “(1) that the congregate gathering limits imposed by defendants’ mitigation orders violate the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment; (2) that the stay-at-home and business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) that the business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” In his written opinion, Stickman noted that the Wolf administration’s actions “were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency,” but that “even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered.” “The liberties protected by the Constitution are not fair-weather freedoms — in place when times are good but able to be cast aside in times of trouble,” Stickman wrote. “There is no question that this country has faced, and will face, emergencies of every sort. But the solution to a national crisis can never be permitted to supersede the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the foundation of the American experiment. The Constitution cannot accept the concept of a ‘new normal’ where the basic liberties of the people can be subordinated to open-ended emergency mitigation measures. “Rather, the Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency. Actions taken by defendants crossed those lines. It is the duty of the court to declare those actions unconstitutional.” Wolf has since lifted many of the restrictions, allowing businesses to reopen and canceling a statewide stay-at-home order. While reopening its economy, Pennsylvania limited occupancy to 75% capacity at most businesses and 50% at theaters, gyms, salons and malls. It imposed even more restrictive measures on bars and restaurants, which the Wolf administration blamed for a summer spike in virus cases. The judge said the plaintiffs did not challenge Wolf’s occupancy limits, and his ruling does not impact those orders. Nor did the lawsuit challenge the Wolf administration’s order requiring people to wear masks in public. Pennsylvania has reported that more than 145,000 people statewide have contracted the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 7,800 people have died.
“The judge is saying if you own a business, the governor and the health secretary can’t shut it down,” King said. “That never again will Pennsylvanians under these circumstances be told to stay home. with fear of arrest or threats of loss of license. He’s also thrown out this nonsense that was the orders that had to do with life-sustaining or non-life-sustaining businesses, picking and choosing winners and losers.”
- September 12, 2020: Face masks may be inadvertently giving people Covid-19 immunity and making them get less sick from the virus, academics have suggested in one of the most respected medical journals in the world. The commentary, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, advances the unproven but promising theory that universal face mask wearing might be helping to reduce the severity of the virus and ensuring that a greater proportion of new infections are asymptomatic. If this hypothesis is borne out, the academics argue, then universal mask-wearing could become a form of variolation (inoculation) that would generate immunity and “thereby slow the spread of the virus in the United States and elsewhere” as the world awaits a vaccine. It comes as increasing evidence suggests that the amount of virus someone is exposed to at the start of infection — the “infectious dose” — may determine the severity of their illness. Indeed, a large study published in the Lancet last month found that “viral load at diagnosis” was an “independent predictor of mortality” in hospital patients. Wearing masks could therefore reduce the infectious dose that the wearer is exposed to and, subsequently, the impact of the disease, as masks filter out some virus-containing droplets. If this theory bears out, researchers argue, then population-wide mask wearing might ensure that a higher proportion of Covid-19 infections are asymptomatic. Better still, as data has emerged in recent weeks suggesting that there can be strong immune responses from even mild or asymptomatic coronavirus infection, researchers say that any public health strategy that helps reduce the severity of the virus — such as mask wearing — should increase population-wide immunity as well. This is because even a low viral load can be enough to induce an immune response, which is effectively what a typical vaccine does.
- September 12, 2020: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned people that cloth masks don’t offer protection from wildfire smoke, prompting questions and criticisms on Twitter. “Cloth masks that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 by blocking respiratory droplets offer little protection against wildfire smoke,” the CDC website warned this week in response to several major wildfires breaking out in the western United States. “They do not catch small, harmful particles in smoke that can harm your health.” “And here’s @cdcgov warning ordinary (non-N95) masks will do nothing to protect you against wildfire smoke because ‘they do not catch small particles,’” former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, a vocal critic of the coronavirus lockdowns, tweeted. “Fun fact: smoke particles are far larger than #SARSCoV2. Your mask protects… well, no one.” The Washington Times reported several other Twitter users responding to the news with comments such as “If this makes sense, public education has failed you!” and “CV virions are 0.125 microns while most smoke particles can be seen with the naked eye. Pls stop lying to us. Masks don’t work for CV.” More than 3 million acres have burned in California, and President Trump will tour the area to observe the devastation on Monday. “Since mid-August, President Trump and Gov. Newsom have spoken by phone, and the White House and FEMA have remained in constant contact with state and local officials throughout the response to these natural disasters,” a special assistant to the president said in a statement.
- September 16, 2020: The Trump administration announced their Coronavirus vaccine plan today. For most vaccines, people will need two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Double-dose vaccines will have to come from the same drugmaker. There could be several vaccines from different manufacturers approved and available. Vaccination of the US population won’t be a sprint but a marathon. Initially there may be a limited supply of vaccines, and the focus will be on protecting health workers, other essential employees, and people in vulnerable groups. “Early in (the) COVID-19 vaccination program there may be a limited supply of vaccine and vaccine efforts may focus on those critical to the response, providing direct care and maintaining societal functions, as well as those at highest risk for developing severe illness,” Dr. Robert Redfield said. A second and third phase would expand vaccination to the entire population. The vaccine itself will be free of charge, thanks to billions of dollars in taxpayer funding approved by Congress and allocated by the Trump administration. The goal is that patients won’t be separately charged for administration of their shots, and officials say they are working to ensure that’s the case for all Medicare recipients and uninsured people as well those covered by insurance at their jobs. States and local communities will need to devise precise plans for receiving and locally distributing vaccines, some of which will require special handling such as refrigeration or freezing. States and cities have a month to submit plans. A massive information technology effort will be needed to track who is getting which vaccines and when, and the key challenge involves getting multiple public and private databases to link with each other. Trump has blasted Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for questioning the potential efficacy of any vaccine developed during the Trump administration.
- October 9, 2020: Compelling evidence indicates that COVID-19 transmission via small-particle aerosols, not droplets, may be driving the pandemic, a panel of aerosol researchers said on Thursday. At a virtual press conference of the American Association for Aerosol Research, researchers argued the reason both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC are reluctant to embrace aerosol transmission is in part due to “historical bias,” despite outsized evidence of aerosol transmission. Linsey Marr, PhD, of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, noted the CDC’s recent acknowledgement that SARS-CoV-2 can “sometimes” be spread through aerosols, though she crossed out the word “sometimes” to write “commonly.” “The definitions are still resting on epidemiology, but it doesn’t really reflect what we understand about mechanisms” of transmission, she said. “Understanding mechanisms is important [for] how we can best apply interventions and slow this down.” As evidence of historical bias, Jose-Luis Jimenez, PhD, of the University of Colorado in Boulder, cited research from as recently as 1985 that measles, for which airborne aerosol spread is now commonly acknowledged, was thought to mainly be spread by large respiratory droplets, and “close contact” between patients was required. In fact, he argued there may be more evidence for aerosol spread of COVID-19 than via droplets, noting there is no evidence for droplets in super-spreading events, impact of reduced ventilation, or transmission by asymptomatic people without a cough. Jimenez stressed the case study of the COVID-19 super-spreading event from the choir practice in Skagit County, Washington to make his case about aerosol spread, mainly by ruling out other methods of transmission. A two and a half hour rehearsal with one index case of COVID-19 produced 52 new infections, some standing as far away as 13 meters behind. He ruled out fomites, because not only are they “inefficient” for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, according to the CDC, but the index case didn’t touch any objects. Jimenez also ruled out droplets, because the index case “didn’t talk to others,” and there was no way to impact droplets on eyes, nostrils, and mouths of 52 people. But the choir room had poor ventilation, and people were there a long time with no masks, and singing and talking intermittently, which points to aerosol spread, he said. Marr emphasized the importance of ventilation and crowded spaces in facilitating COVID-19 spread. She discussed Japan’s “3 Cs” for infection control that the country’s government emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic: closed spaces with poor ventilation, close contact settings, and crowded spaces. While face masks are an intervention that helps prevent both aerosol and droplet transmission, Marr sounded a note of caution about face shields as a substitute for masks. “Those are effective for large droplets that land on our eyes, nose and mouth but they don’t help with aerosols,” she said. “There are localities where a face shield is considered an acceptable alternative to a mask, but they are two different things.” Jimenez also pointed out that, given aerosol transmission, wearing a mask is critical, even if people are maintaining social distance. “We need to have increased ventilation and air cleaning and do as much of these as we can,” he said. Marr said if a place feels “stuffy or you smell things,” that is an indication that “ventilation is insufficient” in the space. When asked how dangerous the recent presidential debate was for COVID-19 transmission, given President Trump tested positive for COVID-19, experts said, “the more people without a mask in a small space … makes the situation more dangerous for everybody.”
Compelling evidence indicates that COVID-19 transmission via small-particle aerosols, not droplets, may be driving the pandemic, according to a panel of aerosol researchers.
- October 10, 2020: Cases of the coronavirus in Arizona dropped 75% following the implementation of mask mandates, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The drop occurred after a statewide stay-at-home order was lifted, which resulted in a 151% spike in cases. The CDC report was authored with the Arizona Department of Health Services, including director Dr. Cara Christ, the Arizona Republic reported. The stay-at-home order expired on May 15. Two weeks later, the daily average number of coronavirus cases jumped by 151%.
- The substantial spike in coronavirus cases overwhelmed the state’s health care system. The number of coronavirus cases in Arizona peaked between June 29 and July 2 and declined by approximately 75% between July 13 and August 7. “Mitigation measures, including mask mandates, that are implemented and enforced statewide appear to have been effective in decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona,” the report says. There have been 224,978 confirmed cases of the coronavirus statewide and 5,759 confirmed deaths since the pandemic began. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
- October 12, 2020: The Allegheny County Health Department on Monday reported no new coronavirus deaths. The county death toll remains at 397. The county reported 179 new cases. The total number of cases in the county during the outbreak is 13,362. There have been 1,286 hospitalizations in the county during the outbreak. With 2,762 cases in Westmoreland County, 2,2028 in Beaver County, 1,507 in Washington County and 1,250 in Butler County, that brings the total number of cases in the five-county region to 20,909 when Allegheny County numbers are included. According to the state Department of Health, there have been 647 deaths in the region from the virus: Three hundred and ninety-seven in Allegheny County, 133 in Beaver County, 62 in Westmoreland County, 30 in Washington County and 25 in Butler County.
- October 15, 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci is suggesting Americans rethink their Thanksgiving gatherings in the face of a spike in coronavirus cases around the country. Fauci, the White House coronavirus advisor, made the dire prediction during an interview with “CBS Evening News.” “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected,” he asserted. Speaking specifically of the holidays, Fauci warned of holding family gatherings. “That is unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” he advised. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition — the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk.”
- October 28, 2020: Both Germany and France announced new nationwide lockdowns on Wednesday as Europe enters a deadly new phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Chancellor Angela Merkel says German officials have agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and easing restrictions, agreed on the partial lockdown in a videoconference Wednesday. It is set to take effect Monday and last until the end of November. Merkel said, “We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.” Shops and schools are to remain open, unlike during Germany’s shutdown during the first phase of the pandemic in March and April. Restaurants will be able to provide take-out food. Merkel appealed to people not to make unnecessary journeys and said hotels won’t be able to accommodate people on tourist trips. The decision came hours after Germany’s disease control agency said a record 14,964 new confirmed cases were recorded across the country in the past day, taking the national total in the pandemic to 449,275. Germany, which has 83 million people, also record 27 more virus-related deaths, raising its overall death toll to 10,098, the Robert Koch Institute said Wednesday. While it has fared better than many European countries during the pandemic, officials there warn that it, too, is beginning to lose control of the situation and cite the explosion of cases in the Czech Republic as a reason for earlier lockdowns.“We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today,” Merkel said. “But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks.”
“We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.” “We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today,” Merkel said. “But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks.”
- October 28, 2020: World stock markets went into a dive Wednesday as soaring COVID-19 cases and a resurgence in lockdown measures sent investors running for safer ground, just days before a U.S. presidential election that promises more volatility to come. Canada’s benchmark stock index, along with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average, suffered their worst daily percentage decline since June 11. Oil plunged more than 5 per cent, and even gold shed value. Traders diverted money flows from riskier assets into the perceived safety of the U.S. dollar, which in turn pressured commodities that are priced in the currency. Twelve U.S. states set records for hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, while Germany and France announced plans to shut large swathes of public life for a month as the pandemic surged across Europe. Benchmark stock indexes in the two European nations fell 4.17 per cent and 3.37 per cent, respectively. “There is a feeling in the markets that governments are not in control of the pandemic and that is why traders are running scared,” David Madden, market analyst with CMC Markets UK, said in a note. “The number of new covid-19 cases is rising at an alarming rate and the increase in the hospitalization rate is a worry too.” With just six days to the election, Wall Street’s fear gauge, known widely as the VIX, spiked to its highest level since June 15. Concerns that a winner might not be declared the night of Nov. 3 election, and Washington’s failure to reach a deal on new fiscal stimulus before then, also spurred the wide sell-off. On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged that a coronavirus economic relief package was unlikely until after next week’s election. “Surprises are the thing that really get volatility going,” said Christopher Murphy, co-head of derivatives strategy at Susquehanna Financial Group. “This next wave of coronavirus seems to have caught the market off guard a bit.”
- November 9, 2020: Prepandemic coronavirus antibodies may react to COVID-19. Two preliminary retrospective studies in the United Kingdom, sub-Sahara Africa, and the United States suggest that some people who were never infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 have cross-reactive antibodies against it — perhaps from previous exposure to similar human coronaviruses. The first study, published late last week in Science, was the result of an accidental discovery by researchers at Francis Crick Institute and University College London while testing the performance of sensitive COVID-19 antibody tests by comparing the blood of COVID-19–infected donors with that of those who had not had the disease. They found that blood samples from some noninfected donors — particularly children — contained antibodies that could recognize both SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and other common coronaviruses, such as those responsible for the common cold. The authors said that the cross-reactive antibodies may be able to confer some degree of immunity and result in more mild disease in those infected. However, they cautioned against thinking that a recent common cold will protect against COVID-19, adding that evidence suggests that cross-protective immunity against human coronaviruses is unlikely to be enduring. They called for further studies to answer questions about whether the effect of immunity to one type of coronavirus is changed by exposure to another type, the difference between preexisting and new immunity, and why immunity decreases with advancing age. They are currently studying the role of antibodies and other immune reactions in protecting against COVID-19 and data on the severity of illness. In the second study, published Nov 7 in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers at the University of Nebraska testing pre-pandemic blood samples from the United States, Tanzania, and Zambia identified antibodies against non–COVID-19 human coronaviruses that also reacted to SARS-CoV-2. Noting that the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in sub-Sahara Africa has remained low compared with those in America, Europe, and Asia, the authors hypothesized that the disparity could be because the region has had higher levels of exposure to other coronaviruses before the pandemic, resulting in some degree of immunity against SARS-CoV-2. The authors called for future research with a larger sample and deep, long-term analysis of the nature and role of the cross-reactive antibodies. “The function of these SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive antibodies and whether they provide any protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection or disease progression is still unclear and cannot be resolved with retrospective cross-sectional sampling,” they wrote.
Cross-reactive antibodies may be able to confer some degree of immunity and result in more mild disease in those infected.
- November 10, 2020: Biden coronavirus adviser says distribute vaccine globally as priority over Americans. Oncologist Dr. Zeke Emanuel, one of 10 advisory board members named to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, has pushed the U.S. and other countries to not hoard a coronavirus vaccine. Emanuel, who served as a key architect of the Affordable Care Act under the Obama administration, co-authored a paper in September in which he encouraged officials to follow the “Fair Priority Model,” which calls for a “fair international distribution of vaccine,” rather than what he and his co-authors characterized as “vaccine nationalism.” The model allows the country that produces the vaccine to hold onto enough of a supply to keep the transmission rate below 1%, but says that beyond that, the vaccine should be distributed internationally. That means giving away or selling doses of the vaccine before it’s available to every citizen in that country, Emanuel explained to Scientific American.
- November 11, 2020: Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies occurred in the prepandemic period in Italy. There are no robust data on the real onset of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and spread in the prepandemic period worldwide. Blood samples were taken in September 2019 at the National Cancer Institute in Milan from 162 participants in a cancer screening trial. These blood samples were recently tested as part of a study into the origin of SARS-CoV-2. 14% of them tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. This study shows an unexpected very early circulation of SARS-CoV-2 among asymptomatic individuals in Italy several months before the first patient was identified, and clarifies the onset and spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Our results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 circulated in Italy earlier than the first official COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Lombardy, even long before the first official reports from the Chinese authorities, casting new light on the onset and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic .Finding SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in asymptomatic people before the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy may reshape the history of pandemic.
- November 11, 2020: According to a study that examined how informed consent is given to COVID-19 vaccine trial participants, disclosure forms fail to inform volunteers that the vaccine might make them susceptible to more severe disease if they’re exposed to the virus. The study, “Informed Consent Disclosure to Vaccine Trial Subjects of Risk of COVID-19 Vaccine Worsening Clinical Disease,” published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, October 28, 2020, points out that “COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralizing antibodies may sensitize vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated.” “Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralizing antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE),” the paper states. “This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials. The specific and significant COVID-19 risk of ADE should have been and should be prominently and independently disclosed to research subjects currently in vaccine trials, as well as those being recruited for the trials and future patients after vaccine approval, in order to meet the medical ethics standard of patient comprehension for informed consent.”
- November 11, 2020: As noted by the authors of that International Journal of Clinical Practice paper, previous coronavirus vaccine efforts — for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — have revealed a serious concern: The vaccines have a tendency to trigger antibody-dependent enhancement. What exactly does that mean? In a nutshell, it means that rather than enhance your immunity against the infection, the vaccine actually enhances the virus’ ability to enter and infect your cells, resulting in more severe disease than had you not been vaccinated. This is the exact opposite of what a vaccine is supposed to do, and a significant problem that has been pointed out from the very beginning of this push for a COVID-19 vaccine. The 2003 review paper “Antibody-Dependent Enhancement of Virus Infection and Disease” explains it this way: “In general, virus-specific antibodies are considered antiviral and play an important role in the control of virus infections in a number of ways. However, in some instances, the presence of specific antibodies can be beneficial to the virus. This activity is known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of virus infection. The ADE of virus infection is a phenomenon in which virus-specific antibodies enhance the entry of virus, and in some cases the replication of virus, into monocytes/macrophages and granulocytic cells through interaction with Fc and/or complement receptors. This phenomenon has been reported in vitro and in vivo for viruses representing numerous families and genera of public health and veterinary importance. These viruses share some common features such as preferential replication in macrophages, ability to establish persistence, and antigenic diversity. For some viruses, ADE of infection has become a great concern to disease control by vaccination.”
Antibody-Dependent Enhancement of Virus Infection and Disease means that rather than enhance your immunity against the infection, the vaccine actually enhances the virus’ ability to enter and infect your cells, resulting in more severe disease than had you not been vaccinated.
- November 11, 2020: In my (Dr. Joseph Mercola) May 2020 interview with Robert Kennedy Jr., he summarized the history of coronavirus vaccine development, which began in 2002, following three consecutive SARS outbreaks. By 2012, Chinese, American and European scientists were working on SARS vaccine development, and had about 30 promising candidates. Of those, the four best vaccine candidates were then given to ferrets, which are the closest analogue to human lung infections. In the video below, which is a select outtake from my full interview, Kennedy explains what happened next. While the ferrets displayed robust antibody response, which is the metric used for vaccine licensing, once they were challenged with the wild virus, they all became severely ill and died. The same thing happened when they tried to develop an RSV vaccine in the 1960s. RSV is an upper respiratory illness that is very similar to that caused by coronaviruses. At that time, they had decided to skip animal trials and go directly to human trials. “They tested it on I think about 35 children, and the same thing happened,” Kennedy said. “The children developed a champion antibody response — robust, durable. It looked perfect [but when] the children were exposed to the wild virus, they all became sick. Two of them died. They abandoned the vaccine. It was a big embarrassment to FDA and NIH.”
- November 11, 2020: Biden COVID advisor says wearing masks is ‘nonsense,’ is pro-lockdown. Joe Biden had it all worked out — until he didn’t. In August, he was asked by ABC News reporter David Muir if he would impose another lockdown to combat the coronavirus, the former vice president said he “would listen to The Scientists” (capital T, capital S), thinking that would put the matter to rest once and for all. When it didn’t and he he began taking flak for his opinion, he simply flip-flopped and said his plan to deal with the coronavirus “does not include a countrywide lockdown.” Now that he has “won the election,” he is discovering that The Scientists don’t think in lockstep, which makes “listening to” them hard. A member of his new COVID task force, Michael Osterholm, affirmed the view that wearing masks and gloves is “largely” nonsense, explaining that “trying to stop influence, virus transmission, is like trying to stop the wind. … [W]e’ve never had anything successfully do that other than vaccine.” At some point, Biden will discover that just saying or doing the opposite of what he thinks Donald Trump would is not enough — that a president must be able solve real problems in real time. It will be interesting to watch, though it doesn’t promise to be much fun.
- November 16, 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci warns “it’s not going to be a light switch” back to normalcy even when a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available to the public. In fact, Fauci recommends people still wear masks and practice social distancing even after getting the vaccine, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday. On Monday, Moderna announced that preliminary data showed the Covid-19 vaccine it developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is more than 94% effective. The news follows a similar announcement from Pfizer and BioNTech on Nov. 9, which showed their Covid-19 vaccine was above 90% effective. “Obviously, with a 90-plus percent effective vaccine, you could feel much more confident” about not getting the virus, Fauci told Tapper. “But I would recommend to people to not abandon all public health measures just because you have been vaccinated.” Those fundamentals include: universal wearing of masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding large crowds, doing more outdoor activities and washing hands frequently. Because “even though, for the general population, it might be 90[%] to 95% effective,” said Fauci, “you don’t necessarily know, for you, how effective it is.” Even at those success rates, about 5% to 10% of people immunized may still get the virus. “In addition, the protective effect of a vaccine may take at least one month, if not slightly longer,” says Dr. David Ho, a virologist working on developing monoclonal antibody therapies for Covid-19 at Columbia University. (So far, Pfizer said early results showed its two-dose vaccine showed 90% effectiveness seven days after the second dose. Early data on Moderna’s two-dose vaccine showed 94.5% efficacy two weeks after the second dose.) “Therefore, for the foreseeable future, we will need to continue our mitigation measures, including wearing masks,” Ho says, noting that precautionary measures will likely last “for much of 2021.” Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease specialist at Northwell Health, adds that many people have strong feelings about vaccines and may not take them, which “will impact the general population from being immune to Covid-19 and prolong the threat of the pandemic.” It is worth noting that as the trials for both vaccines progress, efficacy numbers could change, and it is also not yet clear how long any immunity would last. Fauci, 79, said when it is his turn to get vaccinated, he doesn’t plan on abandoning all the public health measures that he has been advocating during the pandemic. ″I could feel more relaxed, in essentially not having the stringency of it that we have right now, but I think abandoning it completely would not be a good idea,” Fauci told Tapper. Fauci predicted to Tapper that most of the country will get vaccinated in the second or third quarter of 2021. But “we are not going to turn [the pandemic] on and off, going from where we are to completely normal. It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021,” he said.
- November 18, 2020: Top pathologist Dr. Roger Hodkinson told government officials in Alberta during a zoom conference call that the current coronavirus crisis is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public.” Hodkinson’s comments were made during a discussion involving the Community and Public Services Committee and the clip was subsequently uploaded to YouTube. Noting that he was also an expert in virology, Hodkinson pointed out that his role as CEO of a biotech company that manufactures COVID tests means, “I might know a little bit about all this.” “There is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians, it’s outrageous, this is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public,” said Hodkinson. The doctor said that nothing could be done to stop the spread of the virus besides protecting older more vulnerable people and that the whole situation represented “politics playing medicine, and that’s a very dangerous game.” Hodkinson remarked that “social distancing is useless because COVID is spread by aerosols which travel 30 meters or so before landing,” as he called for society to be re-opened immediately to prevent the debilitating damage being caused by lockdowns. Hodkinson also slammed mandatory mask mandates as completely pointless. “Masks are utterly useless. There is no evidence base for their effectiveness whatsoever,” he said. “Paper masks and fabric masks are simply virtue signalling. They’re not even worn effectively most of the time. It’s utterly ridiculous. Seeing these unfortunate, uneducated people — I’m not saying that in a pejorative sense — seeing these people walking around like lemmings obeying without any knowledge base to put the mask on their face.” The doctor also slammed the unreliability of PCR tests, noting that “positive test results do not, underlined in neon, mean a clinical infection,” and that all testing should stop because the false numbers are “driving public hysteria.” Hodkinson said that the risk of death in the province of Alberta for people under the age of 65 was “one in three hundred thousand,” and that it was simply “outrageous” to shut down society for what the doctor said “was just another bad flu.” “I’m absolutely outraged that this has reached this level, it should all stop tomorrow,” concluded Dr. Hodkinson. Hodkinson’s credentials are beyond question, with the MedMalDoctors website affirming his credibility. “He received his general medical degrees from Cambridge University in the UK (M.A., M.B., B. Chir.) where he was a scholar at Corpus Christi College. Following a residency at the University of British Columbia he became a Royal College certified general pathologist (FRCPC) and also a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists (FCAP).” “He is in good Standing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, and has been recognized by the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta as an expert in pathology.” In case the above video gets deleted by YouTube, a backup via Bitchute is available here.
- November 19, 2020: Lockdowns could be avoided if 95% of people wore masks, says WHO. Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization’s top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing. WHO Europe’s Regional Director Hans Kluge stressed that lockdowns should be a “last resort,” and urged the public to follow guidance to help to prevent deaths. He said that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, “lockdowns would not be needed” — although he added that mask use was not a “panacea” and needed to be combined with other measures. “If we all do our share, lockdowns are avoidable,” Kluge said. He noted that hundreds of millions of people are currently living under lockdowns, which require economic support and cause job losses, disruption to health services and collateral damage in terms of mental health, substance abuse and gender-based violence. Kluge, speaking in Copenhagen, Denmark, warned of the “negative impact of easing too quickly,” saying restrictions should only be relaxed gradually.
- November 20, 2020: Dr. Chris Beyrer from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. William Moss from Johns Hopkins University and Dr. David Diemert, a vaccines expert from George Washington University can’t say conclusively if the vaccine keeps people from passing the virus on to others. Our medical experts have already explained, they don’t know if the vaccine will stop coronavirus from entering your body. Dr. Beyrer said both companies’ vaccines focus on stopping or lessening the disease caused by virus. “These COVID vaccines are preventing clinical disease, we don’t know if they prevent transmission,” he explained. According to Dr. Diemert, in the same way we don’t know if the vaccines stop the virus from coming into your body, we also don’t know about it leaving a vaccinated body. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t stop someone from transmitting it to someone else,” he said. “So, we have to make sure that also occurs with the vaccine before we stop wearing masks.” We don’t know if a vaccinated person can still pass coronavirus onto another person. Our experts point out this is a reminder we still have to wear masks and avoid crowds even after a vaccine comes out. “These vaccines are not going to be the silver bullet to end the pandemic and we’re gonna be able to go back to pre-pandemic lifestyle in January, February,” Dr. Moss said. “It’s not going to be like that.
- November 24, 2020: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday Canada will have to wait for a vaccine because the very first ones that roll off assembly lines are likely to be given to citizens of the country they are made in. Trudeau said the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany have mass vaccine-production facilities but Canada does not. Trudeau said it is understandable that an American pharmaceutical company will distribute first in the U.S. before they distribute internationally. “Shortly afterwards they will start honoring and delivering the contracts that they signed with other countries including Canada,” Trudeau said. “We’re expecting to start receiving those doses in the first few months of 2021.” Trudeau said Canadians won’t have to wait for everyone in the U.S. to be vaccinated before Canada gets doses. Trudeau said having pre-bought an array of vaccine candidates from foreign manufacturers will help get Canadians effective doses as soon as possible. He noted Canada pre-bought millions of doses from a number of pharmaceutical companies. “Since the very beginning we knew there would be challenges because unlike the Germans, Americans and the British we don’t have a mass production capacity for vaccines so we had to come up with broader sources than those sources and that’s precisely what we did and we were even criticized internationally because we got too much access to vaccines,” Trudeau said. The issue of access to vaccines was discussed at the G-20 this past weekend and Trudeau said he’s working with allies to make sure there is a free flow of contracts. He said countries recognize that “no one place gets through COVID-19 until all places are through COVID-19.” Opposition Conservative leader Erin O’Toole criticized Trudeau for not ensuring Canadians get priority access to vaccines.
- November 25, 2020: The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health issued an order requiring travelers over age 11 entering Pennsylvania from locations outside the Commonwealth, including Pennsylvanians who are returning home from locations outside the Commonwealth, to produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in travel quarantine for 14 days upon entering, unless they receive a negative test result during the 14-day travel quarantine period. View the amended Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health for Mitigation Relating to Travel. If someone cannot get a test or chooses not to, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania. This does NOT apply to:
Individuals traveling to and from the Commonwealth for the purposes of work.
Individuals who are returning to the Commonwealth after traveling outside the Commonwealth for less than 24 hours.
Individuals traveling to and from the Commonwealth for medical reasons, including individuals providing comfort and support to a patient.
Military personnel traveling to the Commonwealth by order or directive of a state or Federal military authority.
Individuals in transit through the Commonwealth to another destination, provided that the time spent in the Commonwealth is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections.
Individuals traveling to comply with a court order, such as child custody, or other exemptions issued by guidance.
This order takes effect on Wednesday, November 25.
- December 20, 2020: The CDC approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the agency said Sunday afternoon, completing the final step in the vaccine approval process for doses to be administered Monday. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for Moderna’s vaccine on Friday evening, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the vaccine for ages 18 and older on Saturday. The CDC then accepted the ACIP recommendations and published the committee’s report in an early release of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Sunday. Analysis of Moderna’s clinical trial data found the vaccine to be 94% effective, with 86% efficacy across age, sex, race and ethnicity categories, the committee wrote. It was also effective for people with underlying conditions and may provide some protection against asymptomatic infections. Side effects were “frequent but mostly mild to moderate,” the committee wrote, and often associated with reactogenicity, or the body’s natural reaction to a vaccine to build immunity. Adverse reactions were more common and severe after the second dose and most likely to be reported by people between ages 18–64. Otherwise, no specific safety concerns were identified among specific subgroups. Mild reactions occurred within the first day or two after receiving the vaccine and resolved within two or three days on average, the committee wrote. About 1% of vaccine recipients reported a serious adverse reaction that required hospitalization or additional care. Distribution sites shipped the first batches of the Moderna vaccine on Sunday morning, according to The Associated Press. Some locations will administer the first shots on Monday. Nearly 8 million vaccine doses — 5.9 million from Moderna and 2 million from Pfizer — will go out this week. With two COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., ACIP met again on Sunday to recommend new priority groups to receive the vaccine. Frontline essential workers and people who are 75 and older should be next in line to receive a vaccine, the committee decided. The “frontline” category includes emergency responders, teachers and grocery store employees, according to The New York Times. Other essential workers, such as construction and food service workers, will be in the next priority group. CDC Director Robert Redfield is expected to review and approve the recommendation, which will go out to governors as guidance. States make the final decision on how to dole out doses, the newspaper reported. Health care providers should provide a fact sheet to patients about COVID-19 vaccines and discuss potential side effects, the committee wrote. ACIP provided additional information about its decision-making process for the Moderna vaccine, as well as information for specific groups, including those who are pregnant, immunocompromised or have severe allergies. ACIP will review additional data and update recommendations as more information becomes available.
This ends Coronavirus Timeline Part 2. To continue reading please visit Coronavirus Part 3 here.