The secret to fighting COVID-19 could be in recovered patients. Here’s how antibodies could lead to a treatment for those fighting coronavirus.
President Donald Trump announced a “very historic breakthrough” Sunday for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The Trump administration granted authorization for the use of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 as a treatment, although it has already been used experimentally on 70,000 patients.
Some medical experts called Trump’s announcement, revealed a day before the Republican National Convention, a “political stunt” that could lead to dangerous outcomes. But the president said it “has nothing to do with politics.”
The hope is that infusions of antibody-rich plasma from recovered patients can aid the immune systems of the sick.
Dr. Len Horovitz, pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, warned that plasma “has not yet been shown to be effective in COVID-19.”
Some significant developments this weekend:
- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he is prepared to shut the country down as president if that were recommended by scientists. “I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists,” he told ABC News’ David Muir on Friday in an interview set to air Sunday.
- The House of Representatives passed legislation Saturday to prevent any further changes at the United States Postal Service and to provide $25 billion in funding ahead of an expected surge in mail-in ballots in the November election because of the ongoing pandemic.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has nearly 5.7 million confirmed infections and more than 176,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 806,000 deaths and 23.3 million cases, according to John Hopkins University data.📰
What we’re reading: Delivering millions of vaccine doses will be a daunting task, and the federal government wants a system ready by Nov. 1. Freezer farms and UPS are part of the plan.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to the Daily Briefing.
A day before Republicans convene to nominate him for a second term, President Donald Trump spent Sunday promoting a potential treatment of COVID-19 using blood plasma. Trump called a news conference to announce his administration has granted emergency use authorization for treatment using blood plasma, though more than 70,000 patients have already received it on an experimental basis.
“This is a powerful therapy,” Trump said, describing the authorization as “a very historic breakthrough.”
Trump and aides cast the news as a major therapeutic breakthrough, though some medical analysts said it’s already happening and that Trump’s demands to rush up some kind of cure for COVID-19 could lead to dangerous treatments of some patients.
“President Trump, again, puts his political gains ahead of public health,” said Benjamin Corb, public affairs director with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Trump is expected to use this week’s Republican Party convention to emphasize his administration’s search for a vaccine to stop the coronavirus that has killed more than 176,000 Americans and gutted the U.S. economy. The convention, which will be online because of the spread of COVID-19, opens Monday.
– David Jackson
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has not been tested for the coronavirus though he is confident he could not have been infected, his campaign said Sunday.
“He has not been tested,” Kate Bedingfield, deputy Biden campaign manager, said on ABC News “This Week.” She added that “moving forward should he need to be tested, he certainly would be. But he has not been tested yet.”
Bedingfield said Biden, 77, has followed the “strictest protocols” to prevent exposure to the virus and was therefore confident he had not been infected. She said everyone is around Biden “is undergoing the appropriate testing.”
“He has not had the virus,” she said.
– William Cummings
Massachusetts authorities are investigating a man who gave Walmart customers a “Covid-19 hug” on Aug. 15 and then walked away laughing.
The Springfield Police Detective Bureau said the individual took an item out of a customer’s hands and hugged them. The individual then told the customer, “Just giving you a Covid hug. You now have Covid.” Police say the individual did this to other customers, as well.
Donald Trump draws blowback for slamming FDA vaccine effort
President Donald Trump’s claim that the Food and Drug Administration is trying to slow testing of COVID-19 vaccines until after the November presidential election is drawing sharp rebukes.
“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd.”
The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, speaking Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” dismissed the claim and said the vaccine effort is moving at a “historic pace.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, accused Trump of undermining public safety to help his reelection.
“The FDA must approve drugs or vaccines based on their safety and effectiveness – NOT political pressure from the White House,” Pelosi tweeted. “The President’s dangerous attempt to inject himself into the scientific decisions of @US_FDA jeopardizes the health & well-being of all Americans.”
Approving a vaccine in the U.S. usually takes years, but COVID-19 vaccines are moving through in record time. What does that mean?
The NFL said Sunday that it is investigating a rash of positive COVID-19 test results that all came from a lab in New Jersey as training camps push toward the season opener less than three weeks away. Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said he thought there were 10 or 11 teams affected by the irregularities. Many of the test results already have been determined to be false-positives.
“Saturday’s daily COVID testing returned several positives tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey,” the NFL said in a statement. “We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests.
– Lorenzo Reyes
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dropped its recommendation that travelers quarantine for 14 days after visiting overseas destinations or arriving in areas with a high number of confirmed coronavirus cases. The CDC website now says arriving travelers should stay six feet from other people, wear masks and wash hands frequently – the same recommendations for people who have not traveled. The website does say travelers should follow restrictions set by state, local and territorial governments, which may require arrivals to “to stay home for up to 14 days.”
As COVID-19 cases mount in Mexico and the death toll soars – Mexico only trails Brazil and the United States in total pandemic fatalities – President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have increasingly pinned Mexico’s pandemic problems on its poor nutrition habits. Soda consumption has been a focus. Mexicans drink more soda per-capita than any other country – an estimated 163 liters per year. And bottlers, such as Coca-Cola, deliver its products to the remote corners of the country where potable water is scant and soda is often sold for less than water.
Mexico’s beverage industry responded that Mexicans consume less than 6% of their daily calories from sugary drinks. The attacks, the industry said, “show the need to find a public enemy to hold responsible for the health crisis.”
– David Agren
Among factors contributing to poorer health and more susceptibility to COVID-19 deaths among Black and Hispanic Americans is a significant difference with majority white populations in access to parks for outdoor recreation opportunities, according to a new study. The report by the nonprofit land-access advocacy group Trust for Public Land finds that parks serving primarily non-white populations nationwide are half the size of parks serving majority white populations, and are five times more crowded.
Experts say the lack of access to parks means people living in dense, urban areas have a harder time getting as much physical exercise as recommended and are missing out on equally important mental health wellness opportunities. Black and Hispanic Americans also tend to have higher rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease because they are less likely to go to the doctor or have health insurance, and their overall health is poorer due to systemic poverty.
— Trevor Hughes
Communities of color are dying at higher rates from the novel coronavirus than white Americans. Here’s how structural inequities play a role.
Georgia on Saturday became the 10th state in the nation to report that it has surpassed 5,000 deaths caused by COVID-19. The Georgia Department of Public Health said there have been at least 5,092 deaths in the state caused by the coronavirus and more than 252,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who was among the first governors to ease earlier restrictions this spring, highlighted the downward trends this past week. He has used social media to remind residents to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and follow guidance from the health department.
Several dozen aging U.S. veterans will gather on a battleship in Pearl Harbor next month to mark the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, even if it means the vulnerable group may be risking their lives again amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 75th anniversary was meant to be a blockbuster event, and the veterans have been looking forward to it for years. There were to be thousands of people watching in Hawaii as parades marched through Waikiki, vintage planes flying overhead, and gala dinners to honor the veterans.
Now, most in-person celebrations have been canceled over fears the virus could infect the veterans, who range from 90 to 101. But about 200 people, mostly veterans, their families and government officials, will still commemorate the milestone on the USS Missouri, which hosted the surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.
A federal appeals court granted New York’s attempts to block weddings from having more than 50 people, allowing the court fight to continue. The ruling thwarted efforts by at least one couple to have a large wedding this weekend and leaves in doubt any other weddings that exceed more than 50 attendees. One couple planned on being married Saturday in Erie County with 175 people expected to attend, the court papers said.
The couple’s attorney, Anthony Rupp, told the Times Union the wedding will be moved to a later date. “We had won every stage of this thing, but the judge in the 2nd Circuit just cavalierly postponed it until Tuesday,” Rupp said. “So we’re very unhappy about this decision.”
– Joseph Spector, New York State Team
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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