April 16 coronavirus news

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8:47 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Doctor says the search for coronavirus treatments is jumbled 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Derek Angus, chair of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Dr. Derek Angus, chair of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine CNN

The scramble to find successful treatments to fight coronavirus is disjointed and chaotic, according to Dr. Derek Angus, chair of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

“No,” Angus told CNN when asked if experts have any sense of what has been working in clinical trials. “Look, that sounds depressing to say I don't know.”

“There are two million people already who have this disease. If even one in 10 has been able to participate in a trial, we could have gone through about 100 different drugs by now and known definitively which ones worked or not. But as it is, at this point … we have no idea which one is the best,” Angus said. 

Angus, who is leading a Covid-19 trial that’s testing multiple therapies, said the disorder is at a global level and noted that there aren’t enough tests right now to practice effective public health. 

“We've got plenty of ideas about what drugs might work, but we need to test these drugs in trials. Otherwise, we're bungling along not knowing what works,” Angus said. There are 94 trials registered for testing the drug hydroxychloroquine, he added.

“I’ve never heard of any drug needing 94 separate trials in the same disease,” he said. “If you're trying to do lots of little trials, that's not as efficient or as useful as trying to do large coordinated trials. We've had over two million confirmed cases of Covid-19, mainly in North America and Europe. And yet, barely more than a few thousand of these two million patients have been enrolled in clinical trials."

8:24 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Amazon has suspended 6,000 seller accounts globally for coronavirus price gouging

From CNN’s Brian Fung

 Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images
 Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon told investors on Thursday that it has suspended more than 6,000 seller accounts on its platform from around the world for price gouging on essential items during the pandemic. 

In his annual letter to shareholders, Bezos said the company has also removed more than 500,000 listings from Amazon’s website for price gouging. And, he said, Amazon has ramped up its reporting of price gougers to the authorities.

"To accelerate our response to price-gouging incidents, we created a special communication channel for state attorneys general to quickly and easily escalate consumer complaints to us,” Bezos wrote.

Some context: In a blog post last month, Amazon said it’s suspended 3,900 sellers on its US website alone. 

But Amazon has battled rising criticism from policymakers over the availability of critical goods such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper as more people shop for essentials from home. 

The company received probing letters in March from US lawmakers — and attorneys general representing nearly three dozen states and the District of Columbia. The attorneys general in particular accused Amazon of failing to prevent price gouging, despite efforts to apply automated and manual reviews of its platform. 

8:24 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Indian Premier League suspended until further notice due to coronavirus concerns

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/FILE
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/FILE

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has suspended the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) until further notice due to the evolving Coronavirus pandemic.

The lucrative eight-team T20 cricket tournament was scheduled to begin in India on March 29 and end on May 24.

Some context: This is the second time the BCCI has been forced to defer the tournament. Last month, just before the Indian government put the country in a three-week lockdown, the board pushed the start date to Wednesday 15 April.

“The health and safety of the nation and everyone involved in our great sport remains our top priority and as such, the BCCI along with the Franchise Owners, Broadcaster, Sponsors and all the Stakeholders acknowledge that the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so,” BCCI secretary, Jay Shah, said in a statement on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown until May 3.

8:20 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Tokyo Olympics organizers to explore cost-cutting measures

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organizers have said they will explore all opportunities to reduce the cost of the summer games following its postponement until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday via videolink, John Coates – who heads up the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 – said the postponement provided an opportunity to assess “what are the must haves and what are the nice to haves.”

“Do we need to make revisions for hospitality, for the sponsors, the broadcasters and the National Olympic Committees? Many of the broadcasters may not have as big of a presence here because of the economic downturn,” he said. “We are going to see if we can find more savings on the basis not of what are nice to haves but what are must haves. I’m sure we will succeed greatly in reducing costs.”

Coates also praised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for taking the decision to postpone the Games and said he believed Abe hoped it would lead to an economic stimulus in the country.

“These Games can be how you kick-start the economy again […] PM Abe is a very, very smart man. When he put it to the IOC to postpone, he had in mind the positive economic stimulus that it would provide for Japan. There will be a lot of cities and countries around the world wishing for a similar opportunity,” he added.

When asked by journalists about the extra costs associated with the postponement of the games, Coates confirmed that the IOC would pick up those costs and vowed to protect the various stakeholders involved in the Olympic movement.

“The IOC is certainly facing some very significant costs related to the Olympic movements. There are additional costs to our stakeholders. We will be bearing those costs of the Olympic movement," Coates said.

A new road map for planning for next year’s Games is due to be established by May 2020.

8:06 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Elon Musk responds to California governor’s report that promised ventilators were not delivered

From CNN's Jon Passantino

Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition in Washington on March 9.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition in Washington on March 9. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Elon Musk responded Thursday morning after the California governor’s office said ventilators promised by the Tesla CEO to the state’s hospitals to treat patients with the coronavirus had not been delivered.

“Please fix this misunderstanding,” Musk said to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Brian Ferguson, the Deputy Director for Crisis Communication at Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services told CNN that it was speaking to hospitals in the state every day and to date had “not heard of any hospital system that has received a ventilator directly from Tesla or Musk.”

On his Twitter account early Thursday, Musk shared a screenshot of a late March email exchange between one of his employees and an official at the Los Angeles County Department of Health services and indicating they had received ventilators. It is not clear from the email exchange whether any California hospitals had received ventilators.

In another post, Musk shared a message from a California hospital executive thanking him for the gift of ventilators.

CNN reached out to the California governor’s office early Thursday seeking clarification.

7:45 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

French navy launches inquiries into coronavirus cases on flagship aircraft carrier

French navy soldiers stand onboard the French aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle as it arrives in the southern port of Toulon in France on April 12.
French navy soldiers stand onboard the French aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle as it arrives in the southern port of Toulon in France on April 12. Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

The French navy has launched inquiries into the cluster of Covid-19 cases onboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, navy prefecture Christine Ribb said during a Thursday press conference in Toulon. 

On Wednesday, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced that 668 of the 1,767 sailors on board the vessel had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We have two inquiries underway: an epidemiological enquiry headed by the army health service and the chief of state of the navy ordered an inquiry so that light can be shed on the facts as calmly as possible," Ribb said.

“The objective for us is to shed light on what has happened so that we can understand what has happened, how it took place, so we can fuel our thoughts for the future," Ribb said, adding that around 20 sailors are currently in hospital, including one in ICU facilities.

Christian Martinez, the national coordinator of the medical and psychological services for the military, said more than 10 doctors have been mobilized to help treat patients, including general navy doctors and specialist doctors.

“Symptomatic people are being confined with closer surveillance than those who are not symptomatic,” Martinez said.

7:42 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Dutch research suggests 3% of population may have Covid-19 antibodies

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

Research into blood donors in the Netherlands suggests that around 3% of the Dutch population may have developed antibodies against Covid-19, according to the country's government.

Jaap van Dissel, the director of the Dutch center for infectious disease control, told parliament on Thursday that the research was done by using data from the blood bank Sanquin.

Researchers compared antibodies found in blood plasma donors to the antibodies found in recovered Covid-19 patients. That research found coronavirus antibodies in about 3% of blood donors.

“This is still underway, and hopefully it will also soon be published in an international journal,” he said. But if you extrapolate, “about 3% of the Dutch people have developed antibodies against the coronavirus.”

7:33 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

UK approves Penlon ventilators made with Airbus and Rolls-Royce in effort to produce 1,500 a week

From CNN's Eoin McSweeney in London

The UK approved a ventilator built by medical device company Penlon through a consortium with Airbus and Rolls-Royce as the nation tackles coronavirus, the Cabinet Office said in a statement Thursday.

The new "Prima ES02" ventilator -- an updated design based heavily on an existing Penlon device -- received formal approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and is "ready to be sent to the NHS frontline to support coronavirus patients," according to the statement. 

"It follows extensive final testing of these devices in hospitals to ensure that they are safe and effective," the Cabinet Office said. The first dispatch of 40 ventilators will be delivered "very shortly," it added.

Following the device’s approval, the UK government confirmed an order for 15,000 of the ventilators. 

Chair of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium Dick Elsy said: "We are working closely with our supply chain partners to rapidly scale up production to achieve our target of at least 1,500 units a week of the combined Penlon and Smiths models." 

7:22 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

EU leader apologizes to Italy for not being "there on time"

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome and Sharon Braithwaite in London

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference on the EU's response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Brussels, Belgium, on April 15.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference on the EU's response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Brussels, Belgium, on April 15. John Thys/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday apologized to Italy for the EU not being “there on time” when it needed help at the start of its coronavirus outbreak.

Von der Leyen, speaking during a plenary session of the European Parliament on coronavirus measures, said: “Yes, it is true that no one was really ready for this. It is also true that too many were not there on time when Italy a needed a helping hand at the very beginning. And yes, for that, it is right that Europe as a whole offers a heartfelt apology.”

She added: “But saying sorry only counts for something if it changes behavior. The truth is that it did not take long before everyone realized that we must protect each other to protect ourselves."

"And the truth is too that Europe has now become the world's beating heart of solidarity. The real Europe is standing up, the one that is there for each other when it is needed the most," she said.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio responded to her apology on Facebook Thursday, saying: "Ursula Von der Leyen today apologized to Italy, admitting that many countries at the beginning of the pandemic were not present when we needed help. Her words represent an important act of truth, which is good for Europe and our community.”

"Now the European Union has the courage to defend and protect all peoples. We need a more supportive Europe ... By defending Italy, we also defend the integrity of the EU," Di Maio added.