Coronavirus Breaking News

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 is currently reaching pandemic levels in various countries.

Nov 25, 2020 • 5:14 am CST

Crossing New York Bridges Can Cost More Than The Toll

The state of New York announced it is launching checkpoints at various entry points into the state. New York states 'these checkpoints are an educational tool designed to ensure travelers understand and comply with New York State’s travel restrictions.'

New York State law now requires anyone entering the State who has spent more than 24-hours in any state on New York’s Restricted State List to 1.) Register by completing the New York State Traveler Health Form; 2.) Quarantine upon arrival for 14-days from the last day of travel within a state on the restricted list; 3.) Essential workers coming to work in New York from a restricted state must follow the guidance of the State Department of Health.

And, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said 'those who violate quarantine restrictions could face fines of up to $2,000,' reported The Hill.

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Nov 25, 2020 • 3:54 am CST

Pharmacies Expand COVID-19 Testing to Younger Teenagers

Rite Aid pharmacy announced it is expanding its COVID-19 testing program to offer individuals 13 years of age and older - regardless of whether the individual is symptomatic or asymptomatic - no charge coronavirus testing. Previously, testing was only available to individuals 18 years of age or older.

Rite Aid's 241 COVID-19 testing locations in 15 US states utilize simple self-swab nasal tests overseen by pharmacists. Rite Aid Corporation interacts with more than 1.6 million Americans daily.

Nov 24, 2020 • 5:36 pm CST

DoD Confirms 11th Active Duty Coronavirus Fatality During 2020

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said during a press conference on November 24, 2020, "We've seen a general uptake and COVID-19 positive cases as we head into the holiday season. We wanted to take this opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of taking preventive measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, particularly following CDC guidelines."

'The DOD's primary support to the U.S. government response has been providing military medical personnel to augment civilian medical facilities in areas experiencing high COVID-19 hospitalization rates. Today, there are more than 20,000 National Guardsmen deployed in 52 states and territories, providing COVID-19 support,' added Ken Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security.

As of November 23, 2020, the DoD reported 74,992 active-duty personnel were confirmed with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections. However, only 11 fatalities related to COVID-19 have been reported during 2020.

Nov 24, 2020 • 3:30 pm CST

AI Algorithm Found Very Effective At Detecting COVID-19 Chest Infections

In this study published in Radiology, Northwestern University researchers presented DeepCOVID-XR, an ensemble deep learning artificial intelligence algorithm to detect COVID-19 on chest radiographs. DeepCOVID-XR was trained and tested on, a very large clinical dataset of chest radiographs from the COVID-19 era.

Using the consensus radiologist interpretation as the reference standard, DeepCOVID-XR was rated 0.95, suggesting this AI algorithm was similar to a consensus of experienced thoracic radiologists.

 

Nov 24, 2020 • 2:55 pm CST

Health Canada Enables Phase 3 Study of Avigan Tablets For Treating COVID-19 Patients

Appili Therapeutics Inc. announced the initiation of its Phase 3 Post-Exposure Prophylaxis for COVID-19 (PEPCO) study to evaluate Avigan tablets (favipiravir) in the prevention of COVID-19. And, Health Canada has provided a ‘No Objection Letter’ for Appili’s proposed study.

In September 2020, the U.S. FDA previously accepted a submission of a protocol amendment to conduct the trial in the USA. 

This is the second Phase 3 study Appili has announced to evaluate the utility of Avigan tablets against COVID-19 in the community setting. The other study also known as the PRESECO study is evaluating Avigan for the treatment of adults with mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

Nov 24, 2020 • 1:52 pm CST

Digital Travel Pass Coming in 2021

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on November 23, 2020, that it is in the final development phase of the IATA Travel Pass, a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders. The IATA Travel Pass will manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories, and travelers.

'Governments are beginning to use testing as a means of limiting the risks of COVID-19 importation when re-opening their borders to travelers without quarantine measures,' stated the IATA press statement.

Nov 24, 2020 • 11:36 am CST

Texas Launches Innovate Infusion Treatment Wing For COVID-19 Patients

Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Division Of Emergency Management has established a Bamlanivimab infusion wing at the state-run alternate care site in El Paso, Texas, to treat outpatient cases of COVID-19. The infusion wing, which began accepting patients on November 24, 2020, has been provided with 1,000 doses of Bamlanivimab by the US government.

The city of El Paso has been confronted with an increased number of COVID-19 patients from residents and visitors from Mexico.

Nov 24, 2020 • 10:40 am CST

215,000 Molecular Tests Performed Each Day

Quest Diagnostics reported the average Turnaround Time for COVID-19 high-quality molecular diagnostic testing increased to approximately 2-3 days. According to Quest's data as of November 24, 2020, the Turnaround Time can fluctuate with consumer demand and vary by region.

Additionally, Quest announced an overall testing capacity of 215,000 molecular tests per day.

Nov 24, 2020 • 8:59 am CST

0.01% of Child COVID-19 Cases Resulted in Death

Researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association compiled data from state health departments to confirm that children can contract COVID-19, about 8% or reported cases, although severe disease appears to be very uncommon.

As of September 10, 2020, the data indicated 0.01% of child cases in the USA resulted in death.

Nov 23, 2020 • 9:07 pm CST

Texas Announces Its COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Plan

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced the guiding principles for Texas' COVID-19 vaccine allocation process, which will serve as a foundation for the state's initial distribution for COVID-19 vaccines expected as early as December 2020.

These principles, published on November 23, 2020, have been established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, created by DSHS to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources.

Governor Abbott stated in a press release, "This foundation for the allocation process will help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, protect the most vulnerable Texans, and safeguard crucial state resources." 

Additionally, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held an out-of-schedule, emergency meeting on November 23rd, to discuss various issues related to experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The ACIP’s vaccine allocation presentations focused on healthcare personnel, seniors, and those people at high-risk based on their health condition. And a specific focus was on ‘equity-based’ allocations and administration concerns.

Nov 23, 2020 • 8:26 pm CST

Qantas To Require COVID-19 Vaccination Prior to Flying

Qantas airlines CEO Alan Joyce said 'he believed it would be a necessity for passengers to be vaccinated once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in 2021. And, Joyce is reported by ABC in Australia to have said 'Qantas was looking into the possibility of requiring, both domestic and international passengers, to have a vaccination passport prior to traveling.'

Nov 23, 2020 • 4:59 pm CST

Canada Finds O- Blood Type Associated With Lowest Coronavirus Infection Rate

A population-based cohort study of 225,556 people in Ontario, Canada, found the O and Rh− blood groups may be associated with a slightly lower risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19 illness. Of the study participants infected with the new coronavirus, the lowest unadjusted probability of SARS-CoV-2 infection was among the O− blood group (2.1%), and the highest was in the B-positive blood group (4.2%).

This new study was published in the Annuals of Internal Medicine on November 24, 2020.

Nov 23, 2020 • 9:30 am CST

Shanghai Airport Conducts COVID-19 Testing on Thousands of Employees

Zhou Junlong, vice-president of the Shanghai Airport Authority, announced on November 23, 2020, that 17,719 workers from the cargo handling section of Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which is a major aviation hub of East Asia, were tested for the virus that causes Covid-19.

And, 11,544 people had tested negative, with analysis of the remaining samples underway, reported the SCMP.

According to the Shanghai Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China, two men were believed to have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus during October when they cleaned a freight container.

As of November 22, 2020, the U.S. CDC has reported 176,874,220 coronavirus tests had been reported in the USA.

Nov 23, 2020 • 6:40 am CST

University of Oxford's COVID-19 Vaccine Found 90% Effective

The University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, announced interim trial data from its Phase III trials on November 23, 2020, that shows its candidate vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019 (AZD1222), is effective at preventing COVID-19, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus, and offers a high level of protection.

A new phase 3 interim analysis indicates that the vaccine is 70.4% effective when combining data from (2) dosing regimens. In the two different dose regimens, the AZD1222 vaccine's efficacy was 90% in one and 62% in the other.

These data also suggest that this half dose and full-dose regimen could help to prevent transmission of the virus, evidenced by lower rates of asymptomatic infection in the vaccinees, with further information to become available when trial data are next evaluated.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said in a press statement: ‘These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens could be around 90% effective, and if this dosing regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with the planned vaccine supply.'

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Nov 22, 2020 • 12:48 pm CST

Level 4 Travel Alert Issued For Cruise Ships

The U.S. CDC issued a Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19 travel alert on November 21, 2020, recommending that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. The CDC stated 'cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.'

Furthermore, the CDC says 'discuss cruise ship travel  planswith your healthcare provider.'

Nov 22, 2020 • 4:15 am CST

COVID-19 Patients Most Contagious During the First Five Days

A new study published by The Lancet on November 19, 2020, found 'although SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding can be prolonged in respiratory and stool samples, the viable virus is short-lived. Most studies detected the SARS-CoV-2 viral load peak within the first week of COVID-19 illness.

This study's findings highlight 'isolation practices should begin immediately with the identification of any COVID-19 symptom,' such as loss of smell or taste.

"Although viral RNA loads appear to be largely similar between those with and without symptoms, a few studies suggest that asymptomatic individuals might clear the viral material from their bodies faster," added lead author Dr. Muge Cevik, of the University of St Andrews, UK.

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Nov 22, 2020 • 3:10 am CST

Health Canada Authorizes Mild to Moderate COVID-19 Treatment

Health Canada granted authorization under the Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale, and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to COVID-19 for the use of bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) as a treatment for adults and pediatric patients 12 years of age or older with mild to moderate COVID-19 who weigh at least 40 kg and are at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 illness and/or hospitalization.

This authorization issued on November 20, 2020, the second authorization around the world for bamlanivimab, is based on data from BLAZE-1, a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled phase 2 study in patients with recently diagnosed, mild to moderate COVID-19.

Nov 21, 2020 • 7:36 pm CST

U.S. FDA Updated Facts, Figures, and Highlights of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. FDA published an updated COVID-19 Response At-A-Glance Summary on November 20, 2020, that offers a quick look at facts, figures, and highlights on the agency's response efforts during the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic during 2020.

Nov 20, 2020 • 8:05 pm CST

MMR Vaccination May Prevent COVID-19 in Children

The results of a new study published by the American Society for Microbiology on November 20, 2020, demonstrate that there is a significant inverse correlation between mumps titers from the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and COVID-19 severity.

Jeffrey E. Gold, president of World Organization, in Watkinsville, Georgia, stated in a press release: "This (study) may explain why children have a much lower COVID-19 case rate than adults, as well as a much lower death rate."

"The majority of children get their first MMR vaccination around 12 to 15 months of age."

Study co-author David J. Hurley, Ph.D., professor and molecular microbiologist at the University of Georgia, added: "The MMR II vaccine is considered a safe vaccine with very few side effects. If it has the ultimate benefit of preventing infection from COVID-19, preventing the spread of COVID-19, reducing the severity of it, or a combination of any or all of those, it is a very high reward, low-risk ratio intervention."

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Nov 20, 2020 • 2:46 pm CST

Over 171 Million Coronavirus Tests Completed in 2020

Over 171 million diagnostic tests, excluding antibody, and antigen tests, were performed to confirm if a person has a SARS-CoV-2 infection, reported the U.S. CDC. Overall, the reported data indicates a COVID-19 infection positivity rate of 8%, as of November 20, 2020.

In 2020, the state of California leads the USA with 17,979,560 coronavirus tests performed, followed by New York (16,449,405), Florida (12,921,116), and Texas (10,555,400).

Furthermore, during Week #46 of 2020, the CDC reported 3,435,511 specimens were tested for SARS-CoV-2 for diagnostic purposes, and 407,928 (11.9%) were positive. This is an increase compared with Week #45, during which 10.8% of specimens tested were positive. The percentages of specimens testing positive increased among all age groups.

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Nov 20, 2020 • 1:10 pm CST

Pain Relief Can Be Caused by Coronavirus

According to a recent study published in the journal Pain, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain. The finding may explain why nearly half of all people who get COVID-19 experience few or no symptoms, even though they are able to spread the disease, according to the study’s corresponding author Rajesh Khanna, Ph.D., a professor in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Pharmacology.

Dr. Khanna stated in a press release: “You have the virus, but you don't feel bad because your pain is gone. If we can prove that this pain relief is what is causing COVID-19 to spread further, that's of enormous value."

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Nov 20, 2020 • 10:37 am CST

COVID-19, Not Influenza, Leads Increased Mortalities

Based on mortality surveillance data available on November 19, 2020, the U.S. CDC reported 10.7% of the fatalities occurring during the week ending November 14, 2020 (week #46), were due to pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19 (PIC).

Among the 2,187 PIC deaths reported for week #46, 1,260 had COVID-19 listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death on the death certificate and just 2 listed influenza, indicating that the current increase in PIC mortality is due primarily to COVID-19, and not influenza, says the CDC.

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Nov 20, 2020 • 6:55 am CST

Tokyo Issued COVID-19 Alert

Japan's capital city of Tokyo confirmed 534 new coronavirus cases, a record number of daily infections for the second straight day, and the metropolitan government raised its virus alert to the highest of four levels on November 19, 2020.

During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, the city of Tokyo, with a population of 33 million, has confirmed 468 fatalities related to COVID-19.

In addition to Tokyo, KYODO NEWS reported the prefectures of Osaka and Hokkaido reported 338 and 266 new cases, respectively.

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Nov 20, 2020 • 5:28 am CST

WHO Recommends Not Using Antiviral When Treating COVID-19 Patients

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced a conditional recommendation against the use of remdesivir (Veklury) in hospitalized patients, regardless of disease severity on November 20, 2020. The WHO's Therapeutics and COVID-19 document stated 'there is currently no evidence that remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes in these patients.'

Nov 19, 2020 • 4:59 pm CST

SARS-CoV-2 Seldom Impacts Pregnancy Outcomes

The findings of a new study suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy is not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Published by the JAMA on November 19, 2020, this study found neonatal infection may be as high as 3% and may occur predominantly among asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic women.

And, placental abnormalities were not associated with disease severity, and hospitalization frequency was similar to rates among nonpregnant women, concluded these researchers.

Nov 19, 2020 • 4:51 pm CST

Mink Farms Identified As Animal Reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2

The U.S. CDC report Volume 27, Number 2, February 2021, reviews a new study that found a high proportion of mink on farms can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 within a few days, which may provide major virus exposure to persons working with mink.

Published on November 18, 2020, the infections described in this report occurred with little clinical disease or increase in death, making it difficult to detect the spread of infection. Therefore, mink farms could represent a serious, unrecognized animal reservoir for SARS-CoV-2.

However, 'there is no evidence for the spread of the coronavirus outside of farm buildings, either in Denmark or in the Netherlands, except by infected persons. But, there appears to be some risk of virus transmission to persons working with infected mink as well as for their contacts and thus, indirectly, for the public,' concluded these researchers.

Nov 19, 2020 • 4:39 pm CST

Public Transit Use Dropped 73% During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic had surprising effects on the demand for public transit during the early months of 2020. New research published by PLOS on November 18, 2020, suggests consumer demand for public transit dropped about 73% across the USA.

Nov 19, 2020 • 12:35 pm CST

Do Masks Mitigate the Spreading of Coronavirus?

'Is the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 reduced if most people in a community wear masks? If most people do not wear masks but some do, are the mask wearers protected? These are among the most critical public health questions of this moment, but they are very different questions,' stated researchers in an editorial published by the Annals of Internal Medicine on November 18, 2020.

Mask wearing is just one of several interacting strategies to reduce viral transmission, with each reinforcing the others. The recent DANMASK-19 trial was designed to examine only the masks' protective effect, not source control. 

This study reported a total of 3,030 participants were randomly assigned to wear masks, and 2,994 were assigned to control; Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%). Indicating the difference observed was not statistically significant.

'We need to gather many pieces of evidence to solve the puzzle of how to control the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. For this reason, we thought it important to publish this study's findings and carefully highlight the questions that the trial does and does not answer,' concluded this editorial.

Nov 19, 2020 • 12:18 pm CST

Do Genetics Underlie Severe COVID-19?

A recent study published by Science on October 23, 2020, examined the likelihood that genetics affect the risk of severe COVID-19. These researchers used a candidate gene approach and identified patients with severe COVID-19 who have mutations in genes involved in the regulation of type I and III IFN immunity.

The researchers found enrichment of these genes in patients and conclude that genetics may determine the clinical course of the infection.

Furthermore, they identified individuals with high titers of neutralizing autoantibodies against type I IFN-α2 and IFN-ω in about 10% of patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. These autoantibodies were not found either in infected people who were asymptomatic or had milder phenotype or in healthy individuals.

'Together, these studies identify a means by which individuals at the highest risk of life-threatening COVID-19 can be identified,' stated these researchers.

Nov 19, 2020 • 11:52 am CST

Updated Guidelines to Avoid Spreading Coronavirus During Thanksgiving

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with, says the U.S. CDC on November 19, 2020.

The CDC offers various considerations to slow the spread of COVID-19 that are meant to supplement, but not replace, any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which all gatherings must comply.

Specifically, the CDC states 'Do not host or participate in any in-person gatherings if you or anyone in your household has been confirmed with COVID-19.'

Nov 19, 2020 • 11:32 am CST

Brussels Contests Budapest's COVID-19 Vaccine Selection

The country of Hungary may create an issue with the European Commission (EC) should it continue its efforts to launch the Sputnik V vaccine, reported the Financial Times on November 19, 2020. An EC leader is reported to comment: 'The question arises whether a member state would want to administer to its citizens a vaccine that has not been reviewed by the European Medicines Agency.'

According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund press statement on November 13, 2020, more than 50 countries have received applications for the purchase of over 1.2 billion doses of Sputnik V vaccine, with production led by international partners in India, Brazil, China, Korea, and other countries.

Nov 19, 2020 • 7:40 am CST

Long-COVID Found in Younger Recovered Patients

A non-peer-reviewed prospective Coverscan study examined the impact of long COVID (persistent symptoms 3-months post-infection) across multiple organs in low-risk people who are relatively young and had no major underlying health problems. 

Published on October 16, 2020, this study found 'in a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of 67 individuals have impairment in one or more organs 4-months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection.

The most commonly reported ongoing symptoms—regardless of hospitalization status—were fatigue (98%), muscle ache (88%), shortness of breath (87%), and headache (83%). There was evidence of mild organ impairment in the heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%).

“Causality of the relationship between organ impairment and infection cannot be deduced, but may be addressed by longitudinal follow-up of individuals with organ impairment,” the study authors stated.

Nov 18, 2020 • 4:00 pm CST

Smartwatches Can Predict COVID-19 Cases

Using retrospective smartwatch data, a new study published by Nature on November 18, 2020, showed that 63% of the COVID-19 cases could have been detected before symptom onset in real-time via a two-tiered warning system based on the occurrence of extreme elevations in resting heart rate relative to the individual baseline.

These findings suggest that activity tracking and health monitoring via consumer wearable devices may be used for the large-scale, real-time detection of respiratory infections, often pre-symptomatically.

Nov 18, 2020 • 1:35 pm CST

COVID-19 Antibody Demonstrates Best-in-Class Breadth and Potency Against a Range of Coronaviruses

Adagio Therapeutics, Inc., announced pre-published in vitro and in vivo data demonstrating its lead antibody candidate, ADG2, shows similar or higher potency against SARS-CoV-2 virus compared to monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in clinical development, while also uniquely offering broad neutralization against a range of sarbecoviruses that pose a threat to humans.

Adagio stated in a press release issued on November 18, 2020, it 'expects its half-life engineered version of ADG2, called ADG20, to enter clinical studies in early 2021.

Laura Walker, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Adagio, added: “All of the antibodies currently in clinical development trade-off breadth for potency. They either show broad activity against other sarbecoviruses but lack neutralization potency, or they show high neutralization potency against SARS-CoV-2 but lack activity against other coronaviruses. These data suggest that ADG20 holds the promise of being a broadly protective agent against SARS-CoV-2 as well as future SARS-like coronaviruses that are likely to emerge.”

Nov 18, 2020 • 9:06 am CST

Pennsylvania Requires Negative COVID-19 Tests To Travel

By Executive Order issued November 17, 2020, the Pennsylvania governor's administration is requiring that travelers entering Pennsylvania from other countries and states, as well as Pennsylvanians who are returning home from other countries or states after November 20th, have a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours prior to entering the Commonwealth, or quarantine for 14-days upon entry into the state.

Travel to another state occurs any time a person crosses into another state via air travel, public transit, personal vehicle, ride-shares, or taxis, and interacts with individuals in the other state.

This new Order is an enforceable disease control measure authorized by the Disease Prevention and Control Law of Pennsylvania. Persons who fail to comply with the Order may be fined between $25.00 and $300.00 dollars.

Nov 18, 2020 • 7:51 am CST

Each Component of SARS-CoV-2 Immune Memory Exhibits Distinct Kinetics

Understanding immune memory to SARS-CoV-2 is critical for improving diagnostics and vaccines, and for assessing the likely future course of the pandemic, said researchers in a new, non-peer-reviewed study published on November 16, 2020. By analyzing antibody, memory B cell, CD4+ T cell, and CD8+ T cell memory to SARS-CoV-2 in an integrated manner, these researchers observed that each component of SARS-CoV-2 immune memory exhibited distinct kinetics.

They analyzed multiple compartments of circulating immune memory to SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 cases, including 41 cases at greater than 6 months postinfection. The Spike IgG was found to be relatively stable over 6+ months.

And, Spike-specific memory B cells were more abundant at 6 months than at 1 month. SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells declined with a half-life of 3-5 months.

This study indicates certain aspects of SARS-CoV-2 immunity can last up to 6-months.

Nov 18, 2020 • 6:57 am CST

Self-Administered, At-Home COVID-19 Test Authorized

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization on November 17, 2020, for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test for self-testing at home and that provides rapid results. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular (real-time loop-mediated amplification reaction) single-use test that is intended to detect the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

“While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home. This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., in a press release.

“Today’s action underscores the FDA’s ongoing commitment to expand access to COVID-19 testing.”

Nov 18, 2020 • 5:54 am CST

Which COVID-19 Vaccine is the ACIP Reviewing Next Week?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located in Atlanta, Georgia, has scheduled an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting on November 23, 2020, to review scientific data and potentially vote on vaccine recommendations.

This meeting's agenda has an afternoon session reserved for an undisclosed  'COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturer' to be discussed.

Nov 17, 2020 • 4:39 pm CST

Poultry Confirmed Unlikely Coronavirus Carrier

The US Department of Agriculture (DoA) published a study on November 16, 2020, that found a lack of SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility in poultry. These researchers exposed chickens, turkeys, ducks, quail, and geese to both the SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV coronavirus, finding no disease, virus replication, or serum antibodies.

This DoA finding suggests that 'poultry are unlikely to serve as vectors for the diseases.'

Nov 17, 2020 • 4:03 pm CST

73% Are Ready For COVID-19 Vaccination

A recent survey was conducted by the UK market research and analytics firm YouGov asked residents of Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the UAE, the Philippines, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about their attitude to vaccination against coronavirus infection.

On November 17, 2020, the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced 73% of the survey respondents are ready to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Nov 17, 2020 • 1:48 pm CST

FDA's CTAP Dashboard Brings Transparency to COVID-19 Therapies

The U.S. FDA announced the creation a special emergency program for possible coronavirus therapies, the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP). This program, updated on November 17, 2020, uses every available method to move new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, while at the same time finding out whether they are helpful or harmful.

As of October 31, 2020, the CTAP snapshot can be found at this FDA link.

Nov 17, 2020 • 7:12 am CST

$206 Million Committed to 'Crush COVID'

The CDC Foundation announced it is redoubling its response efforts through the official launch of the “Crush COVID” campaign, which intends to raise support and advance work targeted to end the COVID-19 pandemic

As of November 16, 2020, individuals, philanthropies, organizations, corporations, and government funders have committed $206 million for the CDC Foundation's COVID-19 response, and the Foundation has deployed those funds in over 83 U.S. states, tribes, and territories, as well as other countries.

Nov 17, 2020 • 6:39 am CST

Children Fatalities From COVID-19 Are Very Rare

As of November 12, 2020, over 1 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Children represented about 11.5% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, reported the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association on November 16, 2020.

However, children were 0.00%-0.21% of all COVID-19 fatalities reported and 16 states reported (0) child deaths.

Nov 17, 2020 • 2:33 am CST

Convalescent Plasma Collection Should Not Include COVID-19 Vaccinated People

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a new recommendation on November 16, 2020, that authorized COVID-19 convalescent plasma not be collected from individuals who have received an investigational COVID-19 vaccine.

Nov 16, 2020 • 4:37 pm CST

Japan's Economy Recovers From COVID-19 Pandemic

Japan's Cabinet Office announced on November 16, 2020, the GDP increased an annualized 21.4% in the 3-months through September 2020, from the previous quarter.

Additionally, Japan's capital city of Tokyo reported fewer COVID-19 cases and fatalities during this timeframe. During the pandemic, Tokyo's population of 37 million experienced 464 fatalities related to COVID-19.

However, Tokyo reported a slight increase in cases during early November 2020.

Nov 16, 2020 • 11:09 am CST

Shorter Quarantines Found Effective

Combining timely testing with a shorter quarantine mitigates both the costs of long quarantine and post-quarantine transmission by asymptomatic cases, reported a non-peer-reviewed study published on November 8, 2020.

This analysis shows a reduced probability of post-quarantine transmission when testing on exit compared to testing on entry. By augmenting quarantine with molecular testing, the quarantine duration can be substantially shortened from the recommended 14-day period to a 7-day period, while attaining a similar level of risk.

Nov 16, 2020 • 7:15 am CST

COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Found 94.5% Effective

Massachusetts based Moderna, Inc. announced that the independent, NIH-appointed Data Safety Monitoring Board for the Phase 3 study of the mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate informed Moderna that the trial has met the statistical criteria pre-specified in the study protocol for efficacy, with a vaccine efficacy of 94.5%.

Moderna stated it intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorization with the U.S. FDA and plans to submit similar applications to global regulatory agencies.

By the end of 2020, the Company expects to have approximately 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 ready to ship in the USA and remains on track to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion vaccine doses globally in 2021.

Nov 16, 2020 • 6:55 am CST

Coronavirus Testing Exceed 165 Million

About 165 million diagnostic tests, excluding antibody, and antigen tests, were performed to confirm if a person has a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the USA, as of November 15, 2020. Overall, the reported infection positivity rate is 8%.

Within the USA, the state of California leads with 17,979,560 tests performed, followed by New York (15,936,802), Florida (12,561,021), and Texas (10,109,092).

Nov 15, 2020 • 9:02 am CST

US Military Continues Controlling Coronavirus Outbreaks

The US Department of Defense (DoD)confirmed on November 13, 2020, that over 65,000 active duty personnel have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus during 2020. However, there have only been (9) fatalities confirmed related to COVID-19.

And, on November 12th, the DOD reported travel restrictions have been lifted at 147 of 231 installations (64%).

Nov 15, 2020 • 6:29 am CST

D614G Mutation Enhances Coronavirus Infectivity

According to a new study published on November 12, 2020, the D614G variant mutation enhances SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infectivity, competitive fitness, and transmission in primary human cells and animal models. The original spike protein had a 'D' at this position, and it was replaced by a 'G' stated these researchers.

"SARS-CoV-2 is an entirely new human pathogen and its evolution in human populations is hard to predict. New variants are continually emerging, like the recently discovered mink SARS-CoV-2 cluster 5 variant in Denmark that also encodes D614G," said Ralph Baric, professor of microbiology and immunology at the UNC School of Medicine, in a press release.

'This study's data also suggest that vaccine development approaches directed against the WT spike should be effective against the D614G strains.'