The World Health Organization said it is clear: Covid-19 deaths are likely undercounted at this time.
“What we do know very, very clearly, is that there has been more mortality during this period then the numbers from Covid-19 alone tell us," Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the director-general at WHO, said during a Friday briefing.
“That's extremely important,” Aylward added. “Some of that excess mortality is probably Covid disease that was not recognized or reported.”
Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said it’s still too early to make absolute conclusions, “but I think it is important to recognize that deaths from Covid are likely to be undercounted at the present time.”
Van Kerkhove said there are deaths “that we know are associated with Covid-19 from infection and are tracked in real time, as they occur.” And then then are deaths that will be “identified as we retrospectively look [back],” she said.
12:04 p.m. ET, September 4, 2020
New York's infection rate remains under 1% for fourth straight week per governor
From CNN's Melanie Schuman
The Covid-19 infection rate in New York state remains below 1% for the fourth straight week, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
On Thursday, the rate was .92%. The governor tweeted on Friday that there were more than 93,000 tested performed Thursday.
Additionally, Cuomo tweeted there were five more deaths yesterday and 428 people remain hospitalized.
The numbers come as the state has authorized malls in New York City to reopen next week along with casinos across the state. Both will have restrictions on capacity.
"Next week, malls in New York City and casinos across the state will be able to open, marking another milestone in our battle against COVID-19. But we cannot become complacent - we must continue to protect our progress. We must all continue to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and above all, stay New York tough," Cuomo said in a press release Friday.
Note: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
12:03 p.m. ET, September 4, 2020
SOON: Joe Biden delivers remarks on Covid-19 and the economy
From CNN's Anneken Tappe
Following this morning's jobs report, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is speaking soon from Wilmington, Delaware, about the economy and Trump's coronavirus response.
However, America is still down 11.5 million jobs from February. Millions of families are still in need of benefits to make ends meet while Congress continues to argue about the next stimulus package.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.4% from 10.2% in July. It's below 10% — which was also its Great Recession peak — for the first time since March.
11:49 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020
Palm Beach County-operated beach parks will remain open for Labor Day Weekend
From CNN's Tina Burnside
All Palm Beach County-operated beach parks will remain open this Labor Day weekend the county announced.
Restaurants and retail establishments within beach parks may remain open and are subject to the restrictions included in current state and local emergency orders applicable to Palm Beach County, including but not limited to any occupancy restrictions, the county said.
Public beaches in Palm Beach however, will be closed starting Saturday and will reopen on Tuesday under limitations outlined in Palm Beach County's Executive order, the Palm Beach officials announced.
The town of Palm Beach said the decision to close the beaches was made to avoid "super spreader" events.
11:49 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020
People – not countries – should be given priority for Covid-19 vaccine, WHO says
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts
The World Health Organization said that people – not countries – should be given priority when it comes to possible Covid-19 vaccines.
“The first priority must be to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a Friday briefing.
“We want all people everywhere to have access to vaccines. But initially, when supply is limited, priority must be given to vaccinating essential workers and those most at risk, including older people and those with underlying conditions,” he added.
Tedros said using vaccines effectively across the world is “a global public good” and it is in the “the national interest of each and every country.”
“Vaccine nationalism will prolong the problem, not shorten it,” Tedros said.
11:26 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020
Peru announces it will join AstraZeneca's Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial
From CNN’s Maria Ramirez Uribe
Peru will be joining phase three clinical trials for the experimental vaccine against Covid-19 from the University of Oxford and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peru has been in contact with AstraZeneca since July.
"The tests that will be carried out in Peru will be an extension of the phase 3 studies that are being completed in the United States for which they are foreseeing counting with 30,000 volunteers," the statement released said.
Peru's National Institute of Health and the Health Ministry's General Directorate of Medications, Supplies, and Drugs (DIGEMID) will work together to ensure the country can begin the trials in the next few days.
"This multisectoral effort constitutes proof of the strong commitment from the Peruvian government toward guaranteeing the timely access to a vaccine against Covid-19 for all Peruvians," the ministry said in the statement.
Peru is also participating in phase three trials with China’s Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson.
11:07 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020
Young people are urged to be cautious ahead of Labor Day weekend
From CNN's Steve Almasy, Faith Karimi and Marcelo Garate
More young people are getting infected with the coronavirus at higher numbers. Experts fear that will only grow as many colleges and schools reopen.
In August alone, for example, nearly 7,000 people between ages 18-24 tested positive for Covid-19 in Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson said. About 30% of the new cases in the state are among that age group.
"While young, healthy people are likely to have mild symptoms and quick recoveries ... they may unknowingly carry Covid-19 to someone older or with underlying conditions, who is unable to fight off the virus. This is why it is so important for young people to take precautions and understand the responsibility," Parson said.
While more young people continue to test positive, the vast majority of them have not required hospitalization.
"I know there is a lot of concern right now regarding college students. But I want to assure you that our colleges, and our universities, have plans in place and are taking all steps necessary to keep their students and communities as safe as possible," Parson said.
College campuses in at least 40 states have seen outbreaks of the virus, and officials are urging caution heading into the holiday weekend.
"I understand many will probably not be going home since they just got on campus. So they'll be around and they'll have some free time," Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. "You've got to be cautious over this weekend."
Over 200 of the 969 new cases reported in the state are from Washington County, home to the University of Arkansas, he said. In the county, four out of every five positive tests were among people between the ages of 18 and 24.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, pointed out measures that colleges and universities should take to open successfully.
Colleges should only consider reopening if they have several protocols in place, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN by phone. They include testing every student, surveillance testing at various intervals and readily available quarantine spaces.
"They've got to have the capability of doing the testing to begin with," said Fauci, who emphasized testing upon arrival. "They've got to have the capability of doing surveillance testing as you get into the school year, and they have to have a plan of how they handle the inevitability of some students who are going to wind up getting affected."
It would be unrealistic to assume that there are no Covid-19 cases on campus, he said, noting that planning should include designated specific quarantine spaces for students who contract the virus.
11:01 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020
Trump cranked up pressure on administration health officials to expedite work on Covid-19 vaccine
From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins
In meetings focused on vaccine development throughout the spring and summer, President Trump has consistently pressed officials to speed up their timeline for developing a vaccine, administration officials said, saying the President appeared intent on being able to deliver at least the solid promise of an effective vaccine by the time he faces reelection.
Those efforts have only scaled up as Election Day nears, and Trump has repeatedly complained that some officials at federal health agencies are actively working to stymie his reelection chances by slow-walking announcements that might project forward momentum.
"It will be delivered before the end of the year, in my opinion, before the end of the year, but it really might even be delivered before the end of October," Trump said about a vaccine at a Pennsylvania rally Thursday night. "How do you like that? Wouldn't that be nice? And you know why? Not because of the election. It'd be nice because we want to save people."
On calendars peppered with early voting deadlines and presidential debates, some of Trump's advisers have circled Oct. 22, when a once obscure panel of academics and researchers convened by the FDA will weigh "the development, authorization and/or licensure" of a coronavirus vaccine.
It's unlikely the meeting itself will result in a clear directive, officials said, and the board doesn't have final say on when or how a vaccine is approved. But the public session could prove critical to achieving what some in Trump's orbit have dubbed the "holy grail" — a Covid vaccine by Election Day.
Administration health officials continue to insist that no vaccine or treatment will be approved for use — either through full authorization or an emergency use designation — unless it is safe and effective. "No one is pressuring the FDA to do anything," Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday.
"This President wants to break through regulatory barriers to get a vaccine as safely to the American people as quickly as possible because lives are at stake, but he will not in any way sacrifice safety in making sure that this is 100% airtight before the American people receive it," McEnany said.
In reality, government officials and others familiar with the matter describe a more complicated situation, where scientific fact is introduced into a fraught political season and where the President likens any effort to slow down or deny approval for his preferred remedies to a personal attack.
The result has created enormous pressure on the agency that will ultimately determine when a vaccine is approved for use.
US vaccine adviser says he would have joined global effort if it was his choice
From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas
Moncef Slaoui — chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the federal government's Covid-19 vaccine program — said in an interview with Science that he would have joined the global vaccine effort known as COVAX if it was his choice.
“I would, I would,” he said in the interview published Thursday.
CNN reported on Tuesday that because of its ties to the World Health Organization, the United States would not join COVAX, an initiative involving more than 170 countries working to provide worldwide access to an effective Covid-19 vaccine. The initiative is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and WHO.
Slaoui also spoke about vaccines from China in his interview.
While Operation Warp Speed has said from the outset that it will not consider vaccines from China, Slaoui said that if the first vaccine to have reasonable safety and efficacy data comes from there “it’s great if this would be the first demonstration that vaccines can work. That’s great news for the world.”
“And frankly, if China had billions of doses of vaccine after serving its population, we would take it,” Slaoui said. “We are fortunate. I believe we will have vaccines and may not be in that position. I heard the president, which was important to me, saying that if we produce enough vaccine to serve the United States, it will be available to others, including China.”