By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of confirmed deaths across the globe from the coronavirus illness COVID-19 climbed above 700,000 on Wednesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, as the case tally climbed above 18.5 million, with the U.S. accounting for 4.77 million of that total, or more than a quarter.
The U.S. death toll is now edging toward 157,000 after averaging more than 1,000 a day for nine straight days. The U.S. counted at least 1,348 new deaths on Tuesday and more than 53,000 new cases. Fourteen states are showing rising cases over a 14-day period, according to a New York Times tracker, while 30 states are showing cases to be much the same and 10 are showing cases declining. But 27 states are showing their death tolls rising over the same period.
The administration of President Donald Trump is continuing to push for schools across the nation to reopen on time and in person, even as public health experts caution that teachers, parents and children will be put at risk of infection.
Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told MSNBC on Wednesday that the U.S. should consider throwing every resource at the virus for four weeks to get it under control.
“Why not do it now?” he asked, observing that a more complete lockdown early in the pandemic would have put the country on a more healthful course far sooner, but that a broad definition of the term essential worker and an individual-focused view of civil liberties in many states and regions had been detriments. “The ultimate civil liberty is health. It’s a much more important liberty than [whether the country is] asking someone to wear a mask.”
Other experts have also argued that the U.S. needs to shut down again and go back to Square 1, gradually reopening while mandating the wearing of face masks, washing hands frequently and social distancing. That would give the country the time to speed up and expand the testing, tracing and isolating that are deemed crucial to containing the spread.
On Tuesday, a group of six governors said they were joining forces to purchase millions of coronavirus tests in an effort to reduce the turnaround time that is making their testing efforts all but useless. In some instances, test results are taking two weeks to come back.
The six states — Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia — are working with the Rockefeller Foundation to expand the use of rapid point-of-care antigen tests in what they called the first interstate testing compact of its kind.
“With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal administration attempting to cut funding for testing, the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who is the head of the National Governors Association but hands the association’s reins to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.
Hogan has been a vocal critic of Trump’s response to the pandemic and recently wrote an attention-grabbing op-ed in the Washington Post on the subject.
“We are bringing together this bipartisan, multistate coalition to combine our purchasing power and get rapid testing supplies to our communities as quickly as possible,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat. “The people in our six states want to see action, and we’re delivering.”
Elsewhere, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday he is signing a statewide order mandating the wearing of face masks in public, following a surge in COVID-19 infections. And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said school children from kindergarten through 12th grade will be required to wear face masks if and when they return to school.
There are now 18.57 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the Johns Hopkins data show. At least 11.2 million people are confirmed to have recovered.
Brazil is second to the U.S. with 2.8 million cases and 95,819 deaths.
India is third measured by cases at 1.9 million, followed by Russia with 864,948 and South Africa with 521,318.
Mexico has 449,961 cases and 48,869 deaths, the third highest diagnosed-case tally in the world.
The U.K. has 307,256 cases and 46,295 fatalities, the highest in Europe and fourth highest in the world.
China, where the illness was first reported late last year, has 88,206 cases, and 4,676 fatalities.|
What’s the latest medical news?
Shares of biotech Novavax Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202614340/composite NVAX +2.02% soared Wednesday, after the company said its experimental coronavirus vaccine induced promising immune responses and was generally well-tolerated in healthy adults in the first human study of the shot, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Two weeks after taking a second dose, most subjects had high levels of neutralizing antibodies, which are immune-system agents believed to be most effective at fighting the virus, according to results in a paper that Novavax submitted to the preprint server medRxiv, with hopes of publishing it in a peer-reviewed journal.
Novavax is aiming to move to a larger study involving 30,000 patients in the fall.
Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +1.65% , which is developing one of the frontrunning COVID-19 vaccines, reported earnings on Wednesday and said it plans to complete enrollment for the Phase 3 trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in September, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported.
The company said it has already received $400 million in deposits in preparation of the experimental vaccine’s regulatory authorization. Moderna, founded in 2010, is considered a preclinical company because it does not market any approved medical products.
“As we pivot to a commercial-stage company, we recognize the need for responsible pricing in the face of the pandemic,” CEO Stephane Bancel said in a news release.
Moderna had a loss of $116.5 million, or 31 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2020, compared with a loss of $134.9 million, or 41 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. It had revenue of $66.3 million in the quarter, up from $13.1 million in the like quarter in 2019, with the company attributing the increase to COVID-19 funding and unrelated collaboration revenue from AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.62% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.72% .
Separately, Eli Lilly & Co. /zigman2/quotes/200106384/composite LLY +0.79% said the National Institutes of Health plans to study whether several experimental monoclonal antibodies can treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The first therapy to be studied in the Phase 3 randomized, controlled trial is Lilly’s LY-CoV555, an antibody that was first detected in a blood sample from a recovered COVID-19 patient.
Researchers will evaluate whether the therapy is efficacious in 300 people who have mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Lilly is developing the therapy in partnership with the privately held Abcellera Biologics.
Johnson & Johnson /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ +0.45% said it will receive more than $1 billion from the U.S. government to manufacture 100 million doses of its investigational COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be provided at a “global not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use,” J&J said.
The company’s vaccine candidate recently entered the Phase 1/2a clinical trial, which is taking place in Belgium and the U.S.