By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 edged closer to 30 million on Tuesday, as a Chinese health official said a vaccine may be available to the public as early as November.
State news media reported that Dr. Wu Guizhen, head of biosafety at the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told broadcaster CCTV that ordinary Chinese people could be given the vaccine in November or December, the New York Times reported.
China currently has five vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical trials, Wu said. China is the world’s biggest vaccine producer and has already granted emergency-use authorization to at least two experimental vaccines and started inoculating frontline workers, including Wu.
Wu was given one of the experimental vaccines in April and said she is faring well and expects it to remain effective for up to three years, the paper reported.
In the U.S., President Donald Trump took to Twitter to direct jeers at Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, after a federal judge ruled that lockdown measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus were unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, a Trump appointee, said state restrictions on gatherings and the order than nonessential businesses remain closed violate the First Amendment and due-process and equal-protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, the Washington Post reported. The governor’s office is planning to appeal.
“The court believes that defendants undertook their actions in a well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus,” the ruling said. “However, good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge.”
Trump tweeted his hope that judges in Michigan and North Carolina would follow suit.
The news comes as the U.S. tally of confirmed cases climbs above 6.57 million, and the death toll climbs to 195,047, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. added almost 37,000 new cases on Monday, and about 447 new deaths. Case numbers have fallen from their July peaks above an average of 60,000 a day, but remain high across most of the country.
Deaths averaged about 850 a day in September so far, according to a New York Times tracker, below peak spring levels but above July levels. North Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah have had a daily average of at least 15 new cases per 100,000 people in the past week, the tracker shows.
A House subcommittee examining President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is launching an investigation into reports that political appointees have meddled with routine government scientific data to better align with Trump’s public statements, the Associated Press reported.
The Democrat-led subcommittee is requesting transcribed interviews with seven officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, including communications aide Michael Caputo.
Caputo has publicly pushed back on CDC statements about the virus and said falsely in a Facebook Live /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.81% video on Sunday that the CDC has a “resistance unit” to undermine the president. His page has been made private.
“With nearly 200,000 Americans killed and hundreds more dying each day from the coronavirus pandemic, the public needs and deserves truthful scientific information so they can keep themselves and their families healthy,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC head Robert Redfield.
In other news:
• Denmark’s coronavirus reproduction, or “R” rate, has climbed to 1.5, meaning that every 10 people who are infected are infecting another 15, the Guardian reported. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said restaurants, bars and cafés must close at 10 p.m. in the capital, Copenhagen. Denmark had counted 334 new infections in the past 24 hours, he told reporters.
• Global views of the state of the economy during the pandemic are more negative in some countries than they were during the Great Recession, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center. The surveys carried out in 10 countries also found people more upbeat on a rebound than they were after the financial crisis a decade ago. A median of 80% of those surveyed in both 2020 and 2008 or 2009 say their country’s economy is faring badly, compared with a median of 72% in 2008 and 2009. In Australia, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, more people say their economy is bad now versus then. South Koreans and Americans, in contrast, are less downbeat now than they were then, while in Canada, Germany, Japan and France, the number of assign their economies low grades is about the same now as back in 2008-09.
• U.S. states that have reopened bars have seen a doubling in the rate of new COVID-19 cases three weeks after they opened their doors, the Washington Post reported, based on an analysis of cellphone and coronavirus case data. The analysis found a statistically significant relationship between foot traffic to bars one week after reopening and a spike in cases three weeks later.