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  1. #3931

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Don't know how many of you might have seen this video already. [/URL]Great job using Beauty and the Beast.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  2. #3932

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff in TX View Post
    Don't know how many of you might have seen this video already. [/URL]Great job using Beauty and the Beast.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  3. #3933
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    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    I've been remiss in posting these recently due to this proposal due on Thursday. My apologies. Here is the WHO report for October 18, 2020. Lots going on.


    EPI UPDATE The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 39.94 million cases and 1.11 million deaths as of 8:00am EDT on October 19. The WHO reported a new record high for global weekly incidence for the fifth consecutive week. The global total reached 2.44 million cases—an increase of more than 5% over the previous week. Additionally, the WHO reported 394,510 new cases on Saturday, a new daily record.

    Total Daily Incidence (change in average incidence; change in rank, if applicable)
    1. India: 61,391 new cases per day (-9,570)
    2. USA: 56,007 (+6,765)
    3. France: 23,151 (+6,608; ↑ 1)
    4. Brazil: 20,052 (-5,619; ↓ 1)
    5. United Kingdom: 16,956 (+2,565)
    6. Russia: 14,374 (+2,414; ↑ 1)
    7. Argentina: 13,639 (-35; ↓ 1)
    8. Spain: 10,778* (-15)
    9. Italy: 8,470 (+4,239; new)
    10. Czech Republic: 8,111 (+3,159; new)

    Per Capita Daily Incidence (change in average incidence; change in rank, if applicable)
    1. Andorra: 1,259 daily cases per million population (+176)
    2. Czech Republic: 757 (+295)
    3. Belgium: 620 (+90; ↑ 2)
    4. Netherlands: 448 (+126; ↑ 2)
    5. Armenia: 397 (+207; new)
    6. Montenegro: 397 (+1; ↓ 3)
    7. France: 355 (+101; ↑ 1)
    8. Slovenia: 345 (+196; new)
    9. Liechtenstein**: 322 (+277; new)
    10. Argentina: 302 (-1; ↓ 3)
    *Spain’s average daily incidence is not reported for today; these values correspond to the previous day’s averages.
    **Liechtenstein is a member of the UN, but not the WHO. Liechtenstein’s COVID-19 data is reported by Switzerland.

    Considering the current COVID-19 resurgence in the US, India is unlikely to surpass the US as #1 for cumulative incidence in the near future. India is still reporting more new daily cases than the US; however, India continues its decline, while US daily incidence is increasing again.

    Colombia and Mexico fell out of the top 10 in terms of total daily incidence, and they were replaced by the Czech Republic and Italy. Notably, Italy’s daily incidence doubled over the past week, and the daily incidence increased by more than 60% in the Czech Republic. France’s daily incidence has doubled over the past 2 weeks. The Bahamas, Iceland, and Israel fell out of the top 10 in terms of per capita daily incidence, and they were replaced by Armenia, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia. Belgium, which was not in the top 10 per capita daily incidence two weeks ago, has jumped to #3 globally. Armenia’s daily incidence increased by 108% compared to the previous week, Slovenia’s increased by 132%, and Liechtenstein’s increased by 617%.

    The US CDC reported 8.08 million total cases and 218,511 deaths. The daily COVID-19 incidence continues to increase, now up to 55,323 new cases per day, the highest since August 5. On Saturday (data corresponding to October 16), the CDC reported 70,078 new cases, the highest daily incidence since July 24 and the sixth highest daily total to date. The US COVID-19 mortality continues to hold steady at approximately 700 deaths per day.

    The US surpassed 8 million cumulative cases. From the first case reported in the US on January 22, it took 96 days to reach 1 million cases. From there:
    1 million to 2 million: 44 days
    2 million to 3 million: 27 days
    3 million to 4 million: 15 days
    4 million to 5 million: 17 days
    5 million to 6 million: 22 days
    6 million to 7 million: 25 days
    7 million to 8 million: 21 days

    More than half of all US states have reported more than 100,000 cases, including 10 with more than 200,000 cases:
    >800,000: California, Texas
    >700,000: Florida
    >400,000: New York
    >300,000: Georgia, Illinois
    >200,000: Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee

    The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 8.17 million US cases and 219,811 deaths as of 12:30pm EDT on October 19.

    US HOSPITAL SURGE As much of the US continues to face another resurgence of COVID-19, rural hospitals are struggling to manage the patient demand. The US COVID-19 epidemic, which was largely concentrated in higher-density urban populations early on (eg, New York City, Boston, Detroit), has shifted toward rural populations across the country. In fact, the per capita COVID-19 mortality in small towns and rural areas is now more than double the mortality in large cities. Unlike urban areas, which may have many nearby hospitals to provide care for their large populations, and to distribute increased patient load, hospitals and other healthcare facilities in rural areas are spread further apart, covering much larger geographic areas. In some cases, the nearest hospital may be hundreds of miles away. Additionally, these hospitals tend to be smaller than their urban counterparts, and the associated limitations on resources, including hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) beds, increase the burden of COVID-19 patient surges. As we covered early in the pandemic, a growing number of rural hospitals in the US have closed their doors over the past several years, and restrictions on elective procedures during the height of social distancing measures in the US placed additional economic stress on hospitals and health systems, causing more to close.

    In an effort to decompress patients from overburdened health systems (ie, transfer them to other facilities), Wisconsin established a temporary field hospital at its state fairgrounds. The facility opened last week, and it will initially be able to accommodate up to 50 patients. It is designed to provide care for patients who are recovering from COVID-19 but who are not yet ready to be discharged. More severe patients will remain at traditional hospitals to receive more advanced clinical care. Ultimately, the field hospital could be expanded to handle more than 500 patients, if necessary. Wisconsin currently has more than 1,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide, its highest total to date.

    SWEDEN SOCIAL DISTANCING Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden has largely resisted highly restrictive social distancing and other mitigation measures to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Unlike most other European countries, Sweden placed few restrictions on retail stores, restaurants and bars, or schools. The reluctance to implement widespread social distancing policies has resulted in numerous accusations from the international community that Sweden is pursuing a herd immunity strategy through natural infection—Swedish officials have denied that herd immunity is the goal. In light of increased incidence during Europe’s “second wave,” Swedish officials are reportedly evaluating plans to implement local social distancing restrictions in severely affected areas.

    Dr. Anders Tegnell—Sweden’s leading epidemiologist, who received the brunt of opposition to Sweden’s perceived herd immunity strategy—recently commented that the seroprevalence in the population was not as high as previously believed, which likely factors into Sweden’s evolving mindset. It appears as though the new policies will still largely be recommendations, as opposed to mandates, and they will be implemented locally not at the national level. While these measures are not nationwide mandates, it appears that Sweden’s overall strategy toward containing COVID-19 is moving closer to the model implemented across the rest of Europe. On October 13, Sweden reported 970 new cases, its highest daily total since late June.

    VATICAN/HOLY SEE When reporting the per capita daily incidence top 10, we typically omit small countries that normally report zero daily cases but occasionally report a minor, temporary spike in incidence in favor of countries that exhibit a trend of elevated incidence. This week, the Vatican/Holy See reported 7 new cases twice, which would put it at #1 globally in terms of per capita incidence, at nearly 2,500 daily cases per million population.

    At least 11 of the 14 new COVID-19 cases are among the Swiss Guard, who provide security for the Pope. Additionally, a man who lives “in the same Vatican residence as Pope Francis” tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Pope Francis is 83 years old, and he reportedly “had part of one lung removed during an illness when he was a young man,” which could further increase his risk for severe COVID-19 disease. The Pope undergoes regular testing, and there is no indication that he has been directly exposed to any infectious individuals. These are the first cases reported by the Vatican/Holy See since mid-March—and more than doubled the country’s cumulative total—but considering that both reports included multiple cases and that most of the cases were among a small group of individuals, it is worth monitoring for early signs of sustained transmission.

    LITHUANIA ELECTION Lithuania updated its policies regarding COVID-19 isolation and quarantine to provide an exemption that would allow quarantined citizens to vote during the upcoming elections. Under the new policy, individuals who have exposure to known COVID-19 cases but who have not tested positive are permitted to leave quarantine to participate in a limited window of early voting, October 19-22 from 7-8pm only. Voters must be transported to the polling station in their own car, wear a face covering while voting, and then return directly home. Reportedly, 4 polling stations have set up drive-through ballot drop-off. Individuals with active COVID-19 disease are not permitted to participate in early voting, but they can “vote from home,” presumably by mail. According to a report by the Associated Press, Lithuania did not offer an option for quarantined individuals to vote in person during the previous round of the national election.

    WHO SOLIDARITY TRIAL Last week, the WHO published preliminary results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, the world’s largest randomized controlled trial evaluating candidate COVID-19 treatment drugs. Despite high hopes, the findings indicated that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, and interferon—all of which are repurposed drugs—had “little or no effect on…mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.”

    Physicians and researchers have expressed mixed reviews of the trial, however, including criticism of the study design and inconsistency between the Solidarity Trial’s results and other major clinical trials, particularly for remdesivir.

    Notably, Gilead Sciences, the company that produces remdesivir, issued a press release that leveled criticism against the WHO’s findings. In particular, Gilead argued that while the international, multi-center nature of the Solidarity Trial increased availability of the drugs, it also introduced heterogeneity that could call into question the validity of the results. Additionally, Gilead noted that the data had not yet been peer reviewed. Solidarity Trial researchers submitted a manuscript discussing the Solidarity Trial data for peer review, but a preprint version is available here.

    VACCINE ROLLOUT Despite Pfizer’s recent announcement that it would not seek an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US FDA before late November, US government planning continues for the future rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine. Last Friday marked the deadline for US states to submit preliminary plans to the US CDC regarding future vaccine distribution programs. The CDC released its own guidance for state planning in mid-September. The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense also recently announced an agreement with the CVS and Walgreens pharmacy chains to vaccinate residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, once a vaccine is available, at zero out-of-pocket cost for recipients. CVS and Walgreens will also manage storage of the vaccine and related supplies as well as reporting vaccination data to local, state, and federal officials. Long-term care facilities will not be mandated to participate in the mass vaccination program, but they can opt in via the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.

    This planning comes at a time when polls show Americans are increasingly hesitant to receive a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. In fact, a recent poll conducted by STAT News and The Harris Poll found that only 58% of Americans indicated that they would receive a vaccination as soon as it was available. This is down from 69% in August. Among Black Americans, only 43% of individuals stated they would receive a vaccination as soon as it was available—down from 65% in August—further illustrating challenges in encouraging vaccination among racial and ethnic minority communities. Rob Jekielek, Managing Director of The Harris Poll, indicated that Black individuals are more likely to live more than 1 hour away from a primary care physician and more likely to use a hospital emergency department as their point of entry into the healthcare system. T As we have covered previously, racial and ethnic minorities have been demonstrated to be at elevated risk for severe COVID-19 disease and death, so it is critical to engage these communities prior to the availability of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in order to increase vaccination coverage among vulnerable individuals.

    Outside of the US, similar preparation work is also being done. UNICEF, Gavi, and the WHO recently partnered to stockpile supplies and equipment needed for future vaccine distribution, such as syringes, safe syringe disposal boxes, and cold chain equipment. Notably, UNICEF announced that it is working to stockpile more than half a billion syringes by the end of 2020.

    DIABETES Emerging reports indicate that COVID-19 patients may develop new-onset diabetes or experience complications to pre-existing diabetes as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Diabetes has already been documented as one of the underlying health conditions that can increase the risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death, but it appears as though the association could work the opposite way as well—with COVID-19 actually causing patients to develop diabetes. Current hypotheses indicate that the complication may be related to SARS-CoV-2 binding to ACE2 receptors, which also play a part in regulating glucose metabolism.

    The onset of type 1 diabetes has been linked in the past to other viral infections, which may cause stress that raises blood sugar levels; however, new-onset diabetes in those circumstances typically only occurs in patients who are already predisposed to developing diabetes. Conversely, new-onset diabetes in COVID-19 patients has been observed in patients that do not have risk factors for diabetes. Further, some hospitals have reported unusually high rates of pediatric diabetes and patients presenting with diabetic ketoacidosis—a complication of diabetes—during the pandemic.

    In order to further research this phenomenon, doctors and researchers from King’s College London and Monash University (Australia) are establishing an international registry of COVID-19-related diabetes cases. More than 300 physicians have already agreed to participate by sharing clinical case data. The US National Institutes of Health is also funding research exploring the link between COVID-19 and new-onset diabetes or high blood glucose.

    GENETICS Previous studies have evaluated genetic risk factors for severe COVID-19, including a potential link between severe outcomes and blood type, but a new study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine may provide further evidence of genetic risk factors for COVID-19. The genomewide association study (GWAS), conducted by the Severe COVID-19 GWAS Group, involved 1,980 severe COVID-19 patients from 7 hospitals in Italy and Spain.

    The researchers found that the ABO blood group locus at 9q34.2 and the multigene locus at 3p21.31 were associated with severe COVID-19 outcomes. Consistent with other research, the findings suggest that patients with blood type A had a higher risk of severe outcomes and that patients with blood type O had a lower risk of severe outcomes. An insertion-deletion GA or G variation at locus 3p21.31 was specifically linked to patients requiring mechanical ventilation. Due to limitations in the methodology, the researchers were not able to test and adjust for some potential sources of bias known to be associated with COVID-19, and further study is needed to better characterize the identified relationships. Regardless, the study identified potential areas of focus for future genomic research, and the researchers call for future efforts to further investigate the immunologic synapse between T-cells and antigen-presenting cells.
    Tiz the Dude! Now a winner after his second race!

  4. #3934

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Raise your hand if you have blood type A
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  5. #3935

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Trump’s den of dissent: Inside the White House task force as coronavirus surges
    Yasmeen Abutaleb,
    Philip Rucker,
    Josh Dawsey and
    Robert Costa
    Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

    As summer faded into autumn and the novel coronavirus continued to ravage the nation unabated, Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist whose commentary on Fox News led President Trump to recruit him to the White House, consolidated his power over the government’s pandemic response.

    Atlas shot down attempts to expand testing. He openly feuded with other doctors on the coronavirus task force and succeeded in largely sidelining them. He advanced fringe theories, such as that social distancing and mask-wearing were meaningless and would not have changed the course of the virus in several hard-hit areas. And he advocated allowing infections to spread naturally among most of the population while protecting the most vulnerable and those in nursing homes until the United States reaches herd immunity, which experts say would cause excess deaths, according to three current and former senior administration officials.

    Atlas also cultivated Trump’s affection with his public assertions that the pandemic is nearly over, despite death and infection counts showing otherwise, and his willingness to tell the public that a vaccine could be developed before the Nov. 3 election, despite clear indications of a slower timetable.

    Atlas’s ascendancy was apparent during a recent Oval Office meeting. After Trump left the room, Atlas startled other aides by walking behind the Resolute Desk and occupying the president’s personal space to keep the meeting going, according to one senior administration official. Atlas called this account “false and laughable.”

    Discord on the coronavirus task force has worsened since the arrival in late summer of Atlas, whom colleagues said they regard as ill-informed, manipulative and at times dishonest. As the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx is tasked with collecting and analyzing infection data and compiling charts detailing upticks and other trends. But Atlas routinely has challenged Birx’s analysis and those of other doctors, including Anthony S. Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, with what the other doctors considered junk science, according to three senior administration officials.

    Birx recently confronted the office of Vice President Pence, who chairs the task force, about the acrimony, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Birx, whose profile and influence has eroded considerably since Atlas’s arrival, told Pence’s office that she does not trust Atlas, does not believe he is giving Trump sound advice and wants him removed from the task force, the two people said.

    In one recent encounter, Pence did not take sides between Atlas and Birx, but rather told them to bring data bolstering their perspectives to the task force and to work out their disagreements themselves, according to two senior administration officials.

    The result has been a U.S. response increasingly plagued by distrust, infighting and lethargy, just as experts predict coronavirus cases could surge this winter and deaths could reach 400,000 by year’s end.

    This assessment is based on interviews with 41 administration officials, advisers to the president, public health leaders and other people with knowledge of internal government deliberations, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide candid assessments or confidential information.

    Atlas defended his views and conduct in a series of statements sent through a spokesperson and condemned The Washington Post’s reporting as “another story filled with overt lies and distortions to undermine the President and the expert advice he is being given.”

    Atlas said he has always stressed “all appropriate mitigation measures to save lives,” and he responded to accounts of dissent on the task force by saying, “Any policy discussion where data isn’t being challenged isn’t a policy discussion.”

    On the issue of herd immunity, Atlas said, “We emphatically deny that the White House, the President, the Administration, or anyone advising the President has pursued or advocated for a wide-open strategy of achieving herd immunity by letting the infection proceed through the community.”

    The doctor’s denial conflicts with his previous public and private statements, including his recent endorsement of the “Great Barrington Declaration,” which effectively promotes a herd immunity strategy.

    On Saturday, Atlas wrote on Twitter that masks do not work, prompting the social media site to remove the tweet for violating its safety rules for spreading misinformation. Several medical and public health experts flagged the tweet as dangerous misinformation coming from a primary adviser to the president.

    “Masks work? NO,” Atlas wrote in the tweet, followed by other misrepresentations about the science behind masks. He linked to an article from the American Institute for Economic Research — a libertarian think tank behind the Barrington effort — that argued against masks and dismissed the threat of the virus as overblown.

    Trump and many of his advisers have come to believe that the key to a revived economy and a return to normality is a vaccine.

    “They’ve given up on everything else,” said a senior administration official involved in the pandemic response. “It’s too hard of a slog.”

    Infectious-disease and other public health experts said the friction inside the White House has impaired the government’s response.

    “It seems to me this is policy-based evidence-making rather than evidence-based policymaking,” said Marc Lipsitch, director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “In other words, if your goal is to do nothing, then you create a situation in which it looks okay to do nothing [and] you find some experts to make it complicated.”

    These days, the task force is dormant relative to its robust activity earlier in the pandemic. Fauci, Birx, Surgeon General Jerome Adams and other members have confided in others that they are dispirited.

    Birx and Fauci have advocated dramatically increasing the nation’s testing capacity, especially as experts anticipate a devastating increase in cases this winter. They have urged the government to use unspent money Congress allocated for testing — which amounts to $9 billion, according to a Democratic Senate appropriations aide — so that anyone who needs to can get a test with results returned quickly.

    But Atlas, who is opposed to surveillance testing, has repeatedly quashed these proposals. He has argued that young and healthy people do not need to get tested and that testing resources should be allocated to nursing homes and other vulnerable places, such as prisons and meatpacking plants.

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews defended Trump and the administration’s management of the crisis.

    “President Trump has always listened to the advice of his top public health experts, who have diverse areas of expertise,” Matthews said in a statement. “The President always puts the well-being of the American people first as evidenced by the many bold, data-driven decisions he has made to save millions of lives. Because of his strong leadership, our country can safely reopen with adequate PPE, treatments, and vaccines developed in record time.”

    Yet 10 months into a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 219,000 people in the United States — a far higher death toll than any other nation has reported — a consensus has formed within the administration that some measures to mitigate the spread of the virus may not be worth the trouble.

    The president gave voice to this mind-set during an NBC News town hall Thursday night, when he declined to answer whether he supported herd immunity. “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” Trump told host Savannah Guthrie.

    But medical experts disagreed, saying it is dangerous for government leaders to advocate herd immunity or oppose interventions.

    “We’d be foolish to reenter a situation where we know what to do and we’re not doing it,” said Rochelle Walensky, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “This thing can take off. All you need to do is look at what’s happened at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the last two weeks to see that this thing is way faster than we’re giving it credit for.”

    ‘The cure’

    After Trump came home from the hospital this month, he all but promised Americans that they could soon be cured from the coronavirus just as he claimed to have been. In a video taped at the White House on Oct. 5, he vowed, “The vaccines are coming momentarily.”

    Then, at a rally last Tuesday night in Johnstown, Pa., Trump told supporters, “The vaccines are coming soon, the therapeutics and, frankly, the cure. All I know is I took something, whatever the hell it was. I felt good very quickly . . . I felt like Superman.”

    Trump’s miraculous timeline has run headlong into reality, however. On the same day that he declared “the cure” was near, Johnson & Johnson became the second pharmaceutical giant, after AstraZeneca, to halt its vaccine trial. A third trial, a government-run test of a monoclonal antibody manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co., was also paused. Each move was prompted by safety concerns.

    And on Friday, Pfizer said it will not be able to seek an emergency use authorization from the FDA until the third week of November, at the earliest, seemingly making a vaccine before Election Day all but impossible.

    Trump’s notion of a vaccine as a cure-all for the pandemic is similarly miraculous, according to medical experts.

    “The vaccines, although they’re wonderful, are not going to make the virus magically disappear,” said Tom Frieden, a former CDC director who is president of Resolve to Save Lives. “There’s no fairy-tale ending to this pandemic. We’re going to be dealing with it at least through 2021, and it’s likely to have implications for how we do everything from work to school, even with vaccines.”

    Frieden added: “Remember, we have vaccines against the flu, and we still have flu.”


    Trump has envisioned a greenlit vaccine as the kind of breakthrough that could persuade voters to see his management of the pandemic as successful and thus upend a race in which virtually all public polls show him trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

    Earlier this fall, Trump called Albert Bourla, the chief executive of Pfizer, and asked whether a vaccine could be ready for distribution by late October, before the election. Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said executives have regular communications with administration officials on a wide range of health policy issues but that she could not comment on private conversations.

    On a call in August with Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, Trump accused the agency of moving too slowly to approve a vaccine or other treatments, including convalescent plasma, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. The NIH, which declined to comment, is a biomedical research agency and does not approve treatments or vaccines.


    The relationships between FDA officials and White House staffers have grown more acrimonious since September, when details of stricter FDA vaccine guidance were reported by The Post. Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — who has involved himself in the work of health agencies to a degree other officials consider inappropriate — have repeatedly challenged Hahn over his agency’s proposals and rules, much to the FDA commissioner’s frustration.

    Trump is asserting control over the messaging campaign around a vaccine. His politically minded aides in the White House have taken over the government’s communications effort, as opposed to health or scientific communicators at the relevant agencies.

    For example, White House aides have sought to persuade Moncef Slaoui, head of “Operation Warp Speed,” the government’s initiative to mass-distribute an eventual vaccine, to speak more positively about the vaccine, and sometimes he has pushed back on their talking points, two officials said.

    Trump routinely has told his political advisers that a vaccine would be ready by the time he stands for reelection. And he has plotted with his team on a pre-election promotional campaign to try to convince voters a vaccine is safe, approved and ready for mass distribution — even if none of that is true yet.

    These are some of the ingredients of a public health disaster, experts say.

    “The one thing you can’t do — and it’s what everybody fears, it’s what the pharmaceutical companies fear, it’s what everybody on the inside fears — is that the government would, because of political purposes or because other countries put a vaccine out before us, truncate the normal process you’d accept for a safe and effective vaccine,” said Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory council.


    Trump’s conspiratorial view of the FDA is shaped in part by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and others in the president’s orbit, both inside and outside the government.

    Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, said the atmosphere of pressure and recrimination, nurtured by the president, is “very concerning.”

    “These are people who have dedicated their lives to working in public health and medicine and research,” he said. “To think that in the biggest public health event of their lives they would sleep an extra hour or slow-walk this for any reason is absurd.”

    He added, “It’s like how an ambulance drives faster than a regular car because it’s an emergency, but even an ambulance driver is not foolhardy. They don’t want to drive over the bridge.”

    ‘A lot of political pressure’

    The distrust in Washington has trickled down to the states, where friction has increased between several governors and the administration over the vaccine process.

    Some governors and officials close to them privately have expressed alarm about Trump and his aides laying the groundwork for a rushed vaccine announcement. The president has delegated much of the state outreach to Pence, who in regular calls with governors has come across as a smooth salesman for Trump’s speedy approach. The vice president has encouraged governors to help build confidence for eventual vaccines among their constituents.


    The politicization of the process has damaged public credibility in an eventual vaccine. A Gallup poll released this month found that 50 percent of Americans said they would be willing to take a coronavirus vaccine approved by the FDA “right now at no cost.” That is a sharp decline from 61 percent in August and 66 percent in July.

    During a virtual task force meeting led by Pence on Sept. 21, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said, “There is a substantial concern,” according to an audio recording of the meeting. “A significant part of that problem is the president’s continued anti-science statements that are contradictory to his medical advisers in so many different ways.”

    Inslee asked Pence directly, “Have you discussed with the president how he’s been eroding public confidence in our efforts, including the vaccine approval? Have you discussed that with him? Have you urged him to stop this behavior?”

    Pence did not directly answer the question. Rather, he replied, “We think you and all the governors on this call have a great responsibility to make sure the public knows while we’re moving rapidly and while there may be differences in opinion about various events, we just don’t want any undermining of confidence in the vaccine.”

    The vice president added, “I can assure you the president will continue to speak clearly about that process.”

    ‘A magic dust’

    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former Eli Lilly president who has close ties to the pharmaceutical industry, has sought to cool Trump’s temper and assure him that the process is sound.

    Also whispering optimism in the tempestuous president’s ear has been Atlas, who is said to be operating with the full confidence of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser overseeing key aspects of the pandemic response, and Hope Hicks, the president’s counselor and confidante.

    This is in part because Atlas has sought to spin the public with what others deride as “happy talk” that the outbreak is close to over. “Everybody looks for what Atlas is giving them,” one official involved in the response said.

    Offit said, “This administration, like it does with everything, is overselling vaccines. They make it sound like a magic dust they’ll distribute over the country and the disease will go away . . . What could happen is people think, great, I just got my vaccine, I can throw away my mask, I can engage in high-risk activity, and then we’d actually take a step back.”

    Most controversially, Atlas has pushed a baseless theory inside the task force that the U.S. population is close to herd immunity — the point at which enough people become immune to a disease either by becoming infected or getting vaccinated that its spread slows — despite a scientific consensus that the United States is nowhere close.

    Given the transmissibility of the coronavirus, experts estimate about 60 to 70 percent of the population would need to become infected to reach herd immunity, a course that they warn would probably result in hundreds of thousands of excess deaths. A recent CDC study, about which Redfield testified to the Senate, showed about 9 percent of people in the United States had antibodies against the virus.

    But Atlas publicly contradicted Redfield last month, telling reporters that more of the population was protected against the virus because of so-called T-cell immunity, in which people with exposure to previous coronaviruses — such as the common cold — have T cells that also protect them against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

    No credible scientific study has proved this theory, and Atlas’s advocacy of it dismayed other task force officials.

    At a task force meeting late last month, Atlas stated that there was herd immunity in much of the country because of a combination of high infection rates in cities such as New York and Miami and T-cell immunity, according to two senior administration officials. He said that only 40 to 50 percent of people need to be infected to reach the threshold. And he argued that because of this immunity, all restrictions should be lifted, schools should be opened and only the most vulnerable populations, such as nursing home residents, should be sheltered.

    This resulted in a fierce debate with Birx and Fauci, who demanded Atlas show them the data that backed up his assertions, one of the officials said.

    “It is not the case there’s extra immunity around in T cells,” Lipsitch said. “The vast, vast majority of infectious-disease epidemiologists in this country don’t believe several of the key points these people are arguing for and don’t believe it because the evidence isn’t there and points in the other direction.”

    Regardless, Trump has used Atlas to back up his own rejection of medical expertise. At Thursday’s NBC News town hall, a Florida voter asked the president whether after contracting covid-19 he now believed in the importance of mask-wearing.

    Trump equivocated.

    “I’ve heard many different stories on masks,” he said.

    When Guthrie challenged him by noting that all of his health officials were united in advocating masks, Trump countered by invoking Atlas.

    “Scott Adkins,” Trump said, mispronouncing the doctor’s name. “If you look at Scott, Dr. Scott, he’s from — great guy — from Stanford, he will tell you.”

    “He’s not an infectious-disease expert,” Guthrie said.

    “Oh, I don’t know,” Trump replied. “Look, he’s an expert. He’s one of the experts of the world.”
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  6. #3936

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Texas passenger died of coronavirus while waiting for plane to take off, officials say
    OCTOBER 19, 2020 07:48 PM, UPDATED OCTOBER 19, 2020 08:08 PM

    A Texas woman in her 30s died from COVID-19 while sitting on an airplane waiting to take off, Dallas County officials said.

    The woman died in July while on a flight from Arizona to Texas, NBC DFW and other media outlets reported.

    She lived in Garland, a suburb in Dallas County.

    The woman’s case was confirmed as a COVID-19 death, Dallas County official Lauren Trimble told BuzzFeed News.

    “We don’t know a whole lot,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told WFAA. “We may not know if she was aware she was sick. Contact took place in Arizona.”

    She had underlying health conditions that made her high-risk, Jenkins said.

    “[This is a] reminder that there is no age restriction in COVID,” Jenkins told WFAA.

    The woman, who the county did not identify for privacy reasons, had trouble breathing and was given oxygen, NBC DFW reported. It is not clear on which airline the woman was traveling.

    Dallas County has reported nearly 90,000 cases of COVID-19 and 1,085 deaths, according to the county.

    More than 203,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those deaths, about 1,588 people have been between the ages of 25 and 34 years old, the CDC reported.

    Travel has plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of people traveling through U.S. airports dropping below 100,000 in April, McClatchy News reported.

    On Sunday, however, more than 1 million people were traveling on airplanes for the first time since March, the Transportation Security Administration said.

    “That weekly volume also represents the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” TSA said in the news release.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  7. #3937

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Personal extended family COVID update:
    My cousin's daughter-in-law's family: Her uncle seems to be doing OK. Her grandmother had a fever, but it was not COVID. Her brother had COVID with no symptoms. No one else has appeared to have contracted COVID. My sister and I, both seem to have avoided contracting it.
    So, everybody appears to be fine now.
    My Suicide Draw Pool avatar

  8. #3938

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Good to heat that, Dave. Let's hope you (and your family) are naturally immune to it.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  9. #3939

    Re: covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Great news Dave.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

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