September 9 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 10, 2020
19 Posts
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8:05 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Fauci says vaccine race has created a "very intense political atmosphere"

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies at a hearing in Washington, DC, on June 23.
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies at a hearing in Washington, DC, on June 23. Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Getty Images

“It's no secret to anyone that we're dealing in a very intense political atmosphere," the United States' top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.

Speaking to CBS This Morning, Fauci called the recent ethics pact made by major pharmaceutical companies "a good thing."

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that going forward, independent data and safety monitoring boards would "look at the data intermittently, on a regular basis, to determine just what the status of the trial is."

There are also advisory boards that vaccine makers will need to get past in order to get an emergency use authorization or even approval, he said.

"So there's really a lot of transparency in that," Fauci added. "I do hope, and I believe that [there] won't be a politicization of this. There may be a political atmosphere, but I don't think we're going to have a politicization of the actual decisions regarding a vaccine."

Fauci said the pause on the AstraZeneca vaccine trial acted as a "safety valve."

He told CBS: "That's the reason why you have the various phases of trials -- to determine if in fact these candidates are safe."

"It's unfortunate that it happened. Hopefully they'll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial, but you don't know, they need to investigate it further," Fauci said.

He said scientists had to "always make the presumption that it's due directly to the actual vaccine, or therapeutic, or whatever it is that's in the clinical trial."

"This is an example of the kind of thing that you do to make sure we're dealing with a product that's safe," he added.

8:01 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Pfizer and BioNTech could supply EU with 200 million vaccine doses

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen

BioNtech, the German biotech company developing a Covid-19 vaccine with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, says it has proposed an agreement to provide 200 million doses to European Union countries, with the option for a further 100 million doses.

Delivery would start at the end of 2020 -- subject to regulatory approval -- and production would take place in Germany and Belgium, according to BioNTech.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to seek regulatory review of their BNT162b2 vaccine candidate as early as October and, if authorization is obtained, to supply up to 100 million doses worldwide by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

The proposed agreement with the European Commission would represent the largest initial order for Pfizer and BioNTech to date. 

If regulatory approval is received, the European Commission will lead the process to allocate the vaccine among the EU's 27 member states.

7:59 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

How scientists are developing coronavirus vaccines at speed

A coronavirus vaccine is widely believed to be the best route to ending global lockdowns and dozens of teams around the world are racing to develop one at a cost of billions of dollars.

But despite US President Donald Trump's prediction that a vaccine could be available by Election Day on November 3, researchers need to go through standard development pathways before most countries will permit distribution.

These development stages typically take years, but scientists are combining phases as they work to find a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 at unprecedented speed.

Some vaccine trials, for example, are combining Phase 1 and Phase 2 in order to run initial tests on several hundred people instead of smaller groups of 10-20. Others have skipped the initial animal-testing phase in favour of testing on humans and animals in parallel.

Three Covid vaccines are being tested in large-scale US trials. The first two studies -- one led by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health and the other led by Pfizer and BioNTech -- began in late July. Each study was designed to enrol 30,000 participants and officials said both have enrolled about half that total.

BioNTech's CEO said Tuesday he was confident the company would have a vaccine against the coronavirus ready for regulatory approval by the middle of October. 

But Moderna and Pfizer are still not enrolling minorities in their clinical trials at the levels recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US top infectious disease doctor.

AstraZeneca, which has been running large-scale clinical trials in Great Britain, Brazil and South Africa, launched another large-scale vaccine study last week in the US, involving 30,000 volunteers.

But the drug giant said Tuesday it had paused global trials because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers -- a standard precaution to ensure experimental vaccines don't cause serious reactions among participants.

7:34 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Phase 3 clinical trials of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to begin today: Health minister

From CNN’s Zahra Ullah and Anna Chernova in Moscow 

An employee works at the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, where a vaccine named Sputnik V -- a reference to the 1957 Soviet Union satellite -- is being produced using funding from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
An employee works at the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, where a vaccine named Sputnik V -- a reference to the 1957 Soviet Union satellite -- is being produced using funding from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS/Getty Images

The third phase of clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine will begin today, Russia's Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Wednesday, according to the country's state news agency TASS.

"Today, the third phase of clinical trials on the [coronavirus] vaccine, created the first in the world in the Russian Federation, are starting," Murashko said at a medical conference on Wednesday.

Russia drew criticism in August when it announced the world's first approved Covid-19 vaccine for public use -- before crucial Phase 3 trials were completed. 

Since Russia registered the vaccine on August 11, these trials are also referred to as post-registration clinical trials of Sputnik-V.

6:43 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Taj Mahal to reopen to visitors, even as India's coronavirus cases surge

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

People take pictures near the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on September 8, ahead of the landmark's reopening.
People take pictures near the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on September 8, ahead of the landmark's reopening. Pawan Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

The Taj Mahal will once again welcome tourists from September 21, after being closed for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a senior district official.

The monument, at Agra in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, will allow 5,000 visitors per day -- 2,500 visitors each in two slots.

It will implement strict social distancing guidelines, according to the operating procedures laid down by district authorities. 

"Before the lockdown, the monument had 70,000 visitors on the weekends and about 40,000 on a weekday, but we have to restrict visitors to contain the spread of coronavirus," Vasant Swarnkar, superintendent archaeologist with the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in Agra told CNN.

While other ASI-protected monuments across the country opened in July, the Taj Mahal remained shut as it fell into a "buffer zone," an area defined by the district authorities as being at higher risk of coronavirus spread if public gatherings were allowed, according to Swarnkar. 

Visitors will be provided with e-tickets and must use digital payments, there will be restrictions on crowds forming and group photography. Health checks will be carried out to ensure visitors are always asymptomatic and wearing masks.  

The monument will be sanitized at regular intervals.

We are doing everything to ensure this doesn't lead to a spread," Swarnkar added.

As of Tuesday, Agra had 3,548 coronavirus cases, including 110 deaths, according to a district health bulletin.

India has registered 4,370,128, cases of the virus -- including 73,890 deaths and 3,398,844 recoveries -- as of Wednesday, according to the local ministry of health.

6:30 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

Czech Republic reimposes indoor mask requirement from Thursday

From CNN’s Richard Allen Greene and Ivana Kottasova

The Czech Republic will require people to wear masks indoors as of Thursday, Health Minister Adam Vojtech announced on Twitter Wednesday, citing the "worsening epidemiological situation" in the country. 

"As of tomorrow we are reinstating the requirement to wear masks in interior spaces in buildings throughout the Czech Republic. Further details will be sent out today," Vojtech tweeted. 

The central European country has recorded 29,887 cases of Covid-19 and 441 deaths, as of Wednesday morning, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. 

6:29 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

App for frontline doctors could help discover Covid-19 treatments faster

 From CNN's Ryan Prior

In the trenches of the fight against coronavirus, Dr. Raghav Tirupathi often has little time to think and no textbook to follow while treating patients with Covid-19.

That's why the infectious disease specialist in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, finds himself increasingly turning for guidance to Cure ID, an app developed by the US Food and Drug Administration, which enables doctors to consult with each other across hospitals, academic disciplines and international borders.

He uses many of the established treatments -- the antiviral drug remdesivir, the corticosteroid dexamethasone, and convalescent plasma.

But in the minutiae of a patient's given situation and with treatment guidelines regularly updated, the Cure ID app is vital for him to compare notes with other doctors about which drugs to administer, and in what order.

"Things happen quickly and we can't afford to think about phases," said Tirupathi, who practices in a rural community hospital. "They reassure me that I'm not the only one doing it. We use Cure to justify what we are doing in our institution."

He's one of thousands of doctors sharing information via an app the US government agency hopes will spur new cures for hundreds of difficult-to-treat diseases.

Read the full story here:

5:43 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

So your child has a Covid-19 symptom. What do you do now?

From CNN's Jen Rose Smith

Less than two weeks after school started, Savannah Gardiner's 8-year-old son woke her up at 4 a.m. complaining of an upset stomach, nausea and a sore throat. By the next morning, her two youngest children, ages 3 and 6, had lost their voices.

"They just feel miserable," said Gardiner, a full-time student and mother-of-four in Lehi, Utah. "Every family gets sick at the beginning of the school year, but this year is different. You have to second-guess every symptom."

After spending the summer exchanging worried texts with other parents in the community, Gardiner knew how important it was to safeguard her kids' classmates against infection. She decided to keep all four children at home. 

They attend Kids Village, a private school in the nearby city of Orem, Utah. The school's precautions during the Covid-19 pandemic include daily temperature checks and mandatory masks. 

"You can't send your kid to school with any symptoms whatsoever, even if it's allergies, because everyone assumes they've got the 'rona," said Gardiner. "I think this is just going to be the new normal. We're going to have to adapt how they're learning, and how often they're going to be able to go to school."

Gardiner did the right thing, according to Crystal Fingulin, school nurse at Glenridge Middle School in Orlando, Florida. Caring for symptomatic kids at home helps ensure they're healthy, Fingulin said. It's also one of the most impactful things parents can do to keep the school year running smoothly.

Read the full story here:

4:42 a.m. ET, September 9, 2020

France sees an increase of Covid-19 patients in intensive care

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris

France is reporting an increase of people seriously ill with coronavirus, and intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the southern French city of Marseille are almost full, according to health authorities.

Marseille city hospitals said during a telephone press conference today that 23 of 27 dedicated Covid-19 ICU beds are currently occupied, leaving only four ICU beds available. There are plans to add an extra 17 ICU beds for coronavirus patients within two weeks, they said.

The Marseille region has a total of 165 ICU beds and there is capacity to move patients from the city – where most cases are located – to other hospitals in the region, a spokesperson for the region told CNN.

The region of Marseille has 91 Covid-19 patients ICUs -- an increase of 42 people on the previous week, according to figures from the regional health authority for Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Countrywide, the French Health Authority reported 574 people in ICU as of Tuesday. The number had not been this high since early July. There has also been an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital.

The French Health Authority said the number of people testing positive in the country has steadily increased since mid-August, with a positivity rate of 5.2% as of Tuesday.