'seeing Coronavirus

Coronavirus: UK now ‘seeing a second wave coming in’ – Al Jazeera English

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was inevitable the country would see a second wave of coronavirus infections and while he did not want a second national lockdown, the government may need to introduce new restrictions.

The United Kingdom was reported to be considering whether to impose a new lockdown across the country, after new COVID-19 cases almost doubled to 6,000 a day, hospital admissions rose and infection rates soared across parts of northern England and London.

“We are now seeing a second wave coming in … It is absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country,” said Johnson.

The sharp rise in the number of cases in the country meant the government needed to keep everything under review and he did not rule out further measures being introduced.

“I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all,” he said. “When you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further.”

The United Kingdom has reported more than 384,000 cases of the coronavirus with 41,794 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Johnson’s comments came amid mounting speculation that the government will announce fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, potentially involving curfews – something already in place in areas facing extra lockdown restrictions.

Without going into specifics, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country has to “come together” over the coming weeks to get on top of the spike.

He said new transmissions are largely taking place in social settings and have already led a doubling in the number of people being hospitalised with the virus every seven to eight days.

Critics say the government has lost control of the virus, partly as a result of the testing woes being reported up and down the UK and that is why new measures are being introduced.

Already this week, a ban on social gatherings of more than six people, including children, has come into effect for England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced similar clampdowns on meetings.

And in a sign that the virus is here to stay through winter, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan cancelled the upcoming annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

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Coronavirus scientists

Scientists may know where coronavirus originated, study says – Fox News

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, researchers are still investigating the actual event where the crossover of the novel coronavirus from animals to humans occurred. A team of scientists may have discovered the answer to the question many have been asking for months, according to a study published in Nature Microbiology.

The group of scientists from the United States, China, and Europe compared mutation patterns of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to other viruses, and created an evolutionary history of the related viruses. They discovered the lineage responsible for producing the virus that created the COVID-19 pandemic has been present in bats, according to the study.

Scientists discovered the lineage responsible for producing the virus that created the COVID-19 pandemic has been present in bats, according to the study. 

Scientists discovered the lineage responsible for producing the virus that created the COVID-19 pandemic has been present in bats, according to the study. 

“Collectively our analyses point to bats being the primary reservoir for the SARS-CoV-2 lineage. While it is possible that pangolins, or another hitherto undiscovered species, may have acted as an intermediate host facilitating transmission to humans, current evidence is consistent with the virus having evolved in bats resulting in bat sarbecoviruses that can replicate in the upper respiratory tract of both humans and pangolins,” the study authors said in the published report.

The novel coronavirus evolved from other bat viruses from 40-70 years ago, the team of researchers said.


“The lineage giving rise to SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating unnoticed in bats for decades,” the authors wrote.

In a news release provided to Fox News, the researchers said that SARS-CoV-2 is similar genetically (about 96%) to the RaTG13 coronavirus found in a sample of the Rhinolophus affinis horseshoe bat in 2013 in Yunnan province, China, but it diverged from RaTG13 back in 1969.

“The ability to estimate divergence times after disentangling recombination histories, which is something we developed in this collaboration, may lead to insights into the origins of many different viral pathogens,” Principal investigator, Philippe Lemey, with the Department of Evolutionary and Computational Virology, KE Leuven, said in the release.

The novel coronavirus shares a trait with older members of its lineage regarding the receptor-binding domain (RBD) on its spike protein, which allows it to bind with human receptor cells, the authors said.

“Its receptor-binding motif, important for specificity to human ACE2 receptors, appears to be an ancestral trait shared with bat viruses and not one acquired recently via recombination,” according to the study.

“This means that other viruses that are capable of infecting humans are circulating in horseshoe bats in China,” co-author of the study, David Robertson, who is a professor of computational virology at MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, explained in the release.

The authors of the study said other groups of researchers were incorrect in suggesting that evolutionary changes that occurred in pangolins allowed the novel coronavirus to be transmitted to humans. Robertson said, “SARS-CoV-2’s RBD sequence has so far only been found in a few pangolin viruses.


“While it is possible that pangolins may have acted as an intermediate host facilitating transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans, no evidence exists to suggest that pangolin infection is a requirement for bat viruses to cross into humans,” Robertson also stated in the report. “Instead, our research suggests that SARS-CoV-2 likely evolved the ability to replicate in the upper respiratory tract of both humans and pangolins.”

Implementing systems to monitor human diseases in real-time and better sampling of bats are needed to detect new infectious microorganisms and prevent future pandemics, the authors said in the release.

“The key to successful surveillance,” Robertson said, “is knowing which viruses to look for and prioritizing those that can readily infect humans. We should have been better prepared for a second SARS virus.”

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Coronavirus Majority

Majority of kids who die of coronavirus are Hispanic, Black, or Native American, CDC finds – USA TODAY

Published 1:44 p.m. ET Sept. 16, 2020 | Updated 4:48 p.m. ET Sept. 16, 2020


Dr. James Fortenberry, chief medical officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, explains what parents should look out for as kids go back to school.


As students across the country return to classrooms, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the majority of children, teens and young adults who die from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American.

Researchers found there was a staggering racial disparity in the more than 390,000 coronavirus cases and 121 deaths among people under the age of 21 reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31.

Hispanic, Black and Native American children accounted for 78% of those deaths even though those groups represent just 41% of the United States population, a disproportionate effect that reflects a similar disparity among adults. Previous research has shown that the death toll from COVID-19 is twice as high for people of color under the age of 65 as it is for white Americans

“The findings did not surprise me at all,” Monika Goyal, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., said. Goyal, who was not invovled in the CDC research, conducted a study published in the journal Pediatrics this month which found that among the 1,000 children tested for COVID-19 at a site in Washington in March and April, children of color were disproportionately represented in the 20% that tested positive.

‘Silent spreaders’ of COVID-19: Kids who seem healthy may be more contagious than sick adults, study says

Underlying health conditions, including asthma, obesity and cardiac issues, were also a risk factor for children. The report found that 75% of the children who died had at least one underlying condition.

The report points to social disparities such as “crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and educational gaps, and racial discrimination” as factors that may have contributed to these racial inequities.

Researchers also noted that adults who are racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be essential workers who are at higher risk for exposure to the coronavirus and may then transmit it to those in their household. The higher rates of adverse outcomes may also be tied to difficulty accessing health care services “because of lack of insurance, child care, transportation, or paid sick leave.”

“What COVID has done is really shone a spotlight on these long-standing health disparities that affect children and people of color in our society,” Goyal said. “I truly hope that this is a call to action, that we as a society come together to really try to mitigate these disparities by addressing those root causes.”

Investigation: Kids less likely to die from coronavirus, but schools could become hot spots for spread

Study authors said young people who are racial or ethnic minorities or have underlying conditions and their caregivers would benefit from clear and consistent COVID-19 prevention messages. Goyal also emphasized wearing masks, limiting the risk of exposure and looking out for signs and symptoms.

Researchers also found that the majority of deaths occurred in older patients: 70% of those who died were between the ages of 10 and 20 while just 10% were infants under 1.

The majority of these deaths occurred after children were admitted to the hospital, but 32% of deaths occurred at home or in the emergency room.

Goyal said that while any death among youth is alarming, it’s important to note that  “the risk of death is extremely low” for children who contract COVID-19. Americans under the age of 21 account for just .08% of the more than 190,000 deaths reported across the country.

“I do think that it’s important for the public to not panic,” she said. “Thankfully, the majority of children have a mild infection and recover.”

Study authors also noted that during the period the data was collected, the majority of early child care providers and schools were closed. As those institutions reopen, the number of pediatric deaths related to the coronavirus may change and should be monitored, they said. 

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg


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Coronavirus death

Coronavirus death toll linked to wedding in Maine grows to 7 | TheHill – The Hill

The coronavirus death toll linked to an indoor August wedding in Maine has reached at least seven, state officials said Tuesday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the wedding and its reception in Millinocket are now connected to 176 confirmed cases of COVID-19, agency spokesman Robert Long said in a statement. 

Maine public health officials have traced outbreaks in the state back to the wedding, including at York County Jail and a Madison rehabilitation center, after one staff member from each attended the wedding.

A total of 80 cases have been confirmed at the building that houses the York County Jail. Thirty-nine people tested positive at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison, including 24 residents and 15 staff members.

Six of the seven documented deaths connected to the wedding have occurred at the rehabilitation center. None of the seven people who have died attended the wedding or reception, Long said.

The Aug. 7 wedding hosted about 65 people indoors, even though Gov. Janet MillsJanet Mills143 coronavirus cases, one death, jail outbreak now linked to Maine wedding Number of coronavirus cases linked to Maine wedding rises to 123 24 people contract COVID-19 following wedding in Maine MORE (D) had ordered a 50-person limit for indoor gatherings due to the pandemic. The wedding was held at Tri Town Baptist Church and the reception at the Big Moose Inn Cabins and Campground.

State officials are investigating whether the business violated the coronavirus orders by hosting the wedding. 

Public health officials have traced cases back to the wedding throughout August. It first found 24 cases by mid-August. By the end of the month, 123 cases had been linked to the event, and by Sept. 3, the number had reached 143

Officials previously reported that one woman who did not attend the wedding died in August after contracting COVID-19 from an attendee. 

Laurie Cormier, the owner of Big Moose Inn, released a statement last month saying the staff’s “hearts go out to the family, those affected by the virus who were at the wedding, and those who have been impacted since then,” according to WAGM.

Maine officials have tracked the spread of the virus from the wedding across hundreds of miles in the state and worry it could undo the state’s progress in combating the coronavirus, The Associated Press noted.  

The state has confirmed 4,415 COVID-19 cases and 137 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The New York Times categorizes Maine as a state where new cases are “lower but going up.” The state has a seven-day average of 29 new cases per day.

State officials are looking into whether an outbreak at Calvary Baptist Church in Stanford is connected to the wedding, after Pastor Todd Bell officiated the wedding. 

The church released a statement Tuesday obtained by the AP saying that “a number of Calvary Baptist Church members attended” the wedding but added that the church was making efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading during its services.

“The Calvary Baptist Church has a legal right to meet. The authority of a local Christian church, a Jewish synagogue, or a Muslim mosque to gather for their respective religious services is a time-honored part of our nation’s history since its inception,” the statement said. “These religious activities are also fully protected under the First Amendment to our United States Constitution.”

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Coronavirus killed

The coronavirus has killed at least 121 young people in the U.S., mostly minorities, CDC says – CNBC

Medical staff move bodies from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center to a refrigerated truck on April 2, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Covid-19 has killed at least 121 people under 21 years old across the U.S., nearly two-thirds of whom were Black and Hispanic people, a new study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The study comes days after reports surfaced alleging that Trump administration officials were interfering with the CDC’s process for publishing such studies. 

The researchers, which include a number of CDC personnel and officials from nearly 30 state health departments, said the study underscores the risk Covid-19 presents to young people, even though young people typically don’t become as sick as older coronavirus patients. They added that the data should be continually monitored as schools and child-care centers reopen.

“Although infants, children, and adolescents are more likely to have milder COVID-19 illness than are adults, complications, including MIS-C and respiratory failure, do occur in these populations,” the researchers wrote. MIS-C refers to Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which is a rare but severe condition that appears to be associated with Covid-19.

“Ongoing evaluation of effectiveness of prevention and control strategies will also be important to inform public health guidance for schools and parents and other caregivers,” the researchers added.

Among the 121 young people who died of Covid-19, 45% were Hispanic and 29% were Black, the study said. About 4% were American Indian or Alaska Native people, the study added. Altogether, the groups represent 41% of the U.S. population, the researchers said, but account for more than 75% of Covid-19 deaths among people below the age of 21.

“Among infants, children, and adolescents hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and cases of MIS-C, persons from racial and ethnic minority groups are overrepresented,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers added that 75% of the 121 people who died had at least one underlying medical condition, and the most frequently reported conditions were chronic lung disease such as asthma, obesity, neurologic conditions and cardiovascular conditions.

Of those reported deaths, 10% were among people younger than a year old, 20% of the people who died were between the ages of 1 and 9, and the remaining 70% occurred in those between the ages of 10 and 20, according to the study. Nearly half of the deaths occurred in people who were 18- to 20-years old, the study said. The researchers said the median age of the 121 people who died was 16. 

The researchers collected the data from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Feb. 12 to July 31. They noted a few limitations of the study. The researchers said it’s possible that not all deaths were reported due to limited testing and reporting standards. They added that CDC was not able to acquire death certificates to verify cause of death and that there may not be standard reporting across jurisdictions. 

And the researchers noted that during most of the time of the study, schools and child-care centers were closed and kids were not frequently tested, thus limiting the scope of the data. 

The study comes as concerns mount over allegations of political meddling within the CDC. Politico and other outlets reported last week that Trump allies who were appointed to the Department of Health and Human Services were pressuring the CDC to alter reports published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports

Politico cited emails that showed an HHS official criticizing the CDC researchers’ decision to classify people between the ages of 18 and 20 as pediatric. The official, Paul Alexander, said the decision was “misleading.”

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Coronavirus Pfizer

Pfizer CEO says coronavirus vaccine could be distributed to Americans before year’s end – Fox Business

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Sunday that it is a “likely scenario” that the company’s coronavirus vaccine could be distributed to Americans before the new year if it’s proven by federal regulators to be safe and effective.

“I cannot say what the FDA will do, but I think is a likely scenario and we are preparing for it,” Bourla said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We started already manufacturing and we have already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, so just in case we have a good study readout, conclusive and FDA, plus the advisory committee feels comfortable, that we will be ready.”

Though Bourla said Pfizer’s studies show that there’s “a good chance that we will know if the product works by the end of October,” he noted that distribution before the end of the year ultimately comes down to if and when regulators like the Food and Drug Administration issue a license.


Pfizer’s vaccine candidate, which is being developed in partnership with BioNTech, is moving to its Phase 3 trial and is expected to reach its initial enrollment target of 30,000 participants by next week.

The pharmaceutical giant has announced plans to expand its trial to approximately 44,000 participants to increase the diversity of those involved in the study and to include more vulnerable populations, like adolescents as young as 16 years old and people with chronic stable conditions like HIV, Hepatitis C, or Hepatitis B infection.

“I think we should strive to have as more a diverse population as possible, but right now we are not bad, actually. We have a population that globally, only 60% are Caucasians, 40% approximately minorities,” Bourla said. “Also, 44% are older people. We try of course to increase it, particularly an emphasis on African-Americans and Latinos.”


Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House has funneled nearly $10 billion as part of its Operation Warp Speed initiative to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with at least six pharmaceutical companies taking a taxpayer-funded investment. Bourla, however, said he turned down the taxpayer money for the development of the vaccine in an effort to “liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy.”

“When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings,” Pfizer’s chief executive said. “They want to see how you’re going to progress, what type of moves you’re going to do, they want reports. I didn’t want to have any of that. Basically, I gave them an open checkbook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, by the way.”

While Bourla acknowledged the possibility Pfizer’s vaccine candidate could fail, he argued that he doesn’t believe any potential financial hit will “break the company” despite investing at least $1.5 billion in the effort.


The federal government announced in July that it had reached a $1.95 billion agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech for at least 100 million doses following its approval by the FDA. Under the agreement, an additional 500 million doses can be acquired, and U.S. citizens would receive the vaccine for free.

There are more than 6.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States with more than 193,000 related deaths, according to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University.

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Coronavirus Patients

Coronavirus Patients Twice As Likely To Have Eaten In Restaurants Before Getting Ill: CDC Study – msnNOW

A new study has found that those who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant in the 14 days before falling ill.

The study, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday, looked at symptomatic cases from 11 healthcare facilities in the U.S. between July 1 and 29.

The study’s final sample of 314 eligible participants included 154 people who tested positive for coronavirus and 160 control participants.

Although similar numbers reported always wearing a mask or face covering when in public places (71 percent of positive cases compared to 74 percent of negative cases), the CDC study found that that those who tested positive were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks before testing positive. The survey did not ask participants if they had dined indoors or outdoors.

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The study said around half of all participants reported shopping and visiting people in their homes in the two weeks before testing.

It also found that similar numbers of people in both positive and negative cases reported visiting gyms, hair salons or a place of worship.

A higher number of those who tested positive reported having had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case (42 percent) than those who tested negative (14 percent). Around half the time the contact was a family member, the study found.

Researchers say the findings suggest that people are contracting the virus in areas where they have to remove their masks to eat and drink. Reports of exposure to the virus have been linked to air circulation, they said.

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“Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance,” they wrote. “Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use.”

They added: “As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”

The study’s authors acknowledged the limitations of their study, noting that efforts to match positive and negative cases by age and sex were not maintained for various reasons, such as participants not meeting eligibility criteria, refusing to participate or not responding.

They also noted that participants were aware of their test results which “could have influenced their responses to questions about community exposures and close contacts.”

A waiter wears a face mask and rubber gloves outside Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg on September 10, in New York City.
Noam Galai/Getty Images

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Coronavirus Vaccine

Coronavirus Vaccine Race: 7 Key Things You’ll Want to Know – Motley Fool

Here are the answers to your top questions about where things stand with the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Keith Speights

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, high hopes have been placed on the potential for a vaccine. The U.S. government established Operation Warp Speed, a program with the goal of accelerating the development of safe and effective novel coronavirus vaccines. Biopharmaceutical companies both large and small shifted resources to focus on COVID-19 vaccine research.

Today, these efforts are closer to paying off than ever before. But what’s the real state of the coronavirus vaccine race? Here are seven key things you’ll want to know.

Gloved hand picking up a COVID-19 vaccine bottle from a line of identical bottles

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Who the leaders are right now

There are currently 180 COVID-19 vaccine programs in development, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Thirty-five of those vaccine candidates are being evaluated in clinical studies with the rest in preclinical testing. Nine of the 35 clinical-stage COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in late-stage testing.

Chinese drugmakers Cansino Biologics, Sinopharm, and Sinovac Biotech are developing four of the late-stage coronavirus vaccine candidates. Russia is already allowing a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology to be administered to some individuals, although the vaccine is still in late-state testing.

There are four late-stage COVID-19 vaccine candidates targeting the U.S. market:

  • Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) partnered with BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) to develop BNT162b2, a vaccine that uses modified messenger RNA (mRNA) to spur the body to produce antibodies to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
  • Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is also developing an mRNA vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273. 
  • AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) teamed up with the University of Oxford to develop AZD1222, which delivers genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein using a weakened version of the adenovirus (a common cold virus).
  • Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is starting its late-stage testing of Ad26.COV2.S this month.

2. When a vaccine will likely be available

There’s no way to be completely sure when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available. It’s possible that problems could arise in clinical studies. For example, AstraZeneca recently paused its late-stage clinical trial of AZD1222 due to a serious adverse reaction in a participant.

However, the chances appear to be reasonably good that a coronavirus vaccine will receive FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) before the end of 2020. Pfizer and BioNTech expect to seek authorization for BNT162b2 in October if late-stage testing goes well. AstraZeneca and Moderna might not lag too far behind.

It’s possible that there will be a phased roll-out of early COVID-19 vaccines. One potential scenario would be for healthcare workers and high-risk individuals to receive the vaccine first, followed by the rest of the population.

3. How safe and effective the vaccines will be

We won’t know how safe and effective individual COVID-19 vaccines will be until they’ve completed late-stage testing. However, to secure an EUA the FDA must determine that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The agency has stated that it will review “the target population, the characteristics of the product, the preclinical and human clinical study data on the product, and the totality of the available scientific evidence relevant to the product” before granting an EUA. 

To win full FDA approval, a COVID-19 vaccine will have to demonstrate at least 50% efficacy in a placebo-controlled clinical study. It will also need to meet the general safety requirements for previously approved vaccines for infectious diseases. 

4. How many doses will be required

Most of the coronavirus vaccines in late-stage testing require two doses, typically administered four weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine, however, requires only one dose.

5. How much a coronavirus vaccine will cost

Coronavirus vaccines will be provided to all Americans at no cost. Healthcare providers, though, could charge insurers for the cost of administering the vaccines.

6. Which vaccines could be in the second wave

Three COVID-19 vaccines are currently in phase 2 clinical testing, according to the WHO. These include vaccines developed by Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), German biotech CureVac (NASDAQ:CVAC), and Chinese drugmaker Anhui Zhifei Longcom. Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) is awaiting FDA approval to begin phase 2 testing of its coronavirus vaccine candidate as well.

7. Which stocks are poised to win the most

Any of the stocks of companies that win FDA EUA or approval for their respective COVID-19 vaccines will likely perform well. However, the smaller biotech stocks would almost certainly enjoy bigger gains than the big pharma stocks. This could mean that BioNTech and Moderna could be the biggest winners among the leaders in the coronavirus vaccine race.

Keep in mind, though, that there’s still a risk that the vaccine candidates will stumble in clinical testing. The safer stocks to buy, therefore, will be those of large drugmakers such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer since the companies have enough product diversification to withstand a setback in their COVID-19 vaccine programs.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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AstraZeneca Coronavirus

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine clinical trials to resume in the UK. – ForexLive

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine clinical trials to resume in the UK. – ForexLive
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'disturbing Coronavirus

U.S. coronavirus data is ‘disturbing,’ Dr. Fauci says, disputing Trump’s claim that U.S. is ’rounding the corner’ – CNBC

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (R) listens as US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 24, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

The current data on the U.S. Covid-19 outbreak is “disturbing,” White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday as he disputed President Donald Trump‘s claim that the U.S. is “rounding the corner.”

Trump said Thursday evening at a White House news briefing that “I really do believe we’re rounding the corner,” adding that new weekly cases have declined by 44% since July. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Friday about the president’s comments.

“I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with that because if you look at the thing that you just mentioned, the statistics, Andrea, they’re disturbing,” he said. “We’re plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000.”

Daily new cases in the U.S. have fallen substantially since new national cases peaked in late July, when the country reported nearly 70,000 new cases in a day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 35,200 new cases per day, down more than 12% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. However, recent data reporting has likely been impacted by the Labor Day holiday weekend, which shuttered some local health departments and clinical laboratories. 

The number of daily new cases remains far lower than the peak, but the country is still reporting a worrying level of new infections, Fauci said. And while new cases have fallen substantially, new deaths caused by Covid-19 have dropped modestly. The country is still reporting about 850 new deaths, on average, every day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

“When you have a baseline of infections that are 40,000 per day and you have threats of increased test positivity in certain regions of the country, such as the Dakotas and Montana and places like that. … You don’t want to start off already with a baseline that’s so high,” he said.

He added that the concerns are heightened by the approaching fall and winter seasons, which will likely push people indoors where the virus can spread more easily.

Fauci said the U.S. will be in a “more precarious situation” in the fall and winter and if the country continues to report the current level of new cases everyday, it will put the U.S. at “a disadvantage right from the very beginning.” Over the past couple of weeks, Fauci and other top health officials have repeatedly warned that cases must continue to decline as the country approaches colder weather. Earlier this month, Fauci said daily new cases were “unacceptably high” this close to fall. 

Officials and public health specialists have expressed a few different concerns about why the fall and winter months might bring new challenges. First, colder weather is likely to push more people indoors for risky activities such as indoor dining.

Second, seasonal influenza could spread widely among the U.S. population, as it does in most years, straining health systems and diagnostic laboratories as the country tries to respond to two epidemics simultaneously.

And some scientists believe that the virus could be seasonal, similar to the flu. While it has continued to spread rapidly in the U.S. and elsewhere during the summer, some scientists are concerned it could begin to spread even more easily come November or December. 

Last week, forecasters from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicted that the total U.S. death toll could top 410,000 by Jan. 1 if the current mask wearing and social distancing trends continue. Dr. Christopher Murray, director of IHME, said one assumption baked into his team’s model is that the virus has a seasonal element.

“We are facing the prospect of a deadly December, especially in Europe, Central Asia, and the United States,” Murray said last week.

‘Fool’s errand’ to muzzle Fauci

In the same Friday interview, Fauci also responded to a report from Politico that said a Trump administration appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services is trying to keep Fauci from speaking about some of the risks the coronavirus poses. Politico said it obtained emails from Paul Alexander, a senior advisor to Michael Caputo, HHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs, trying to control what Fauci planned to say at media appearances.

“I don’t pay any attention to them at all. I mean anybody that tries to tell me what to say publicly, if they know anything about me, realize that’s a fool’s errand,” he said. “No one is ever going to pressure me or muzzle me to say anything publicly, so whoever that person was that wrote that memo, it was a waste of an email.”

Fauci also responded to a question about taped remarks made by the president early in the pandemic to reporter Bob Woodward. Trump told Woodward in early February that he knew the virus “goes through air.” Later, in another taped interview that took place in mid-March, the president told Woodward that he “wanted to always play it down.” Trump defended his remarks on Thursday, saying “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming ‘Death! Death!’ because that’s not what it’s about. We have to lead a country.”

Fauci responded to the remarks by saying that there had been disagreements throughout the outbreak that were evident when Fauci and the president would present different assessments of the state of the outbreak to the public. 

“I can’t have any explanation for the conversations between the author of the book, Bob Woodward, and the president,” Fauci said Friday. “I can’t comment anymore on that, except to say yes, when you downplay something that is really a threat, that’s not a good thing.”

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