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WHO head calls herd immunity approach ‘immoral’



a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Dr Ghebreyesus said allowing the virus to spread would cause 'unnecessary' suffering


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Dr Ghebreyesus said allowing the virus to spread would cause ‘unnecessary’ suffering

The head of the World Health Organization has ruled out a herd immunity response to the pandemic.

Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease through vaccinations or through the mass spread of a disease.

Some have argued that coronavirus should be allowed to spread naturally in the absence of a vaccine.

But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said such an approach was “scientifically and ethically problematic”.

There have been more than 37 million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe since the pandemic began. More than one million people are known to have died.

While hundreds of vaccines are currently under development, with a number in advanced trials, none has yet received international approval.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Dr Ghebreyesus argued that the long-term impacts of coronavirus – as well as the strength and duration any immune response – remained unknown.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said.

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.”

The WHO head added that seroprevalence tests – where the blood is tested for antibodies – suggested that just 10% of people had been exposed to coronavirus in most countries.

“Letting Covid-19 circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” he said.

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Eric Trump falsely calls president’s coronavirus treatment a vaccine

President Trump’s son Eric on Sunday called his father’s treatment for COVID-19 a vaccine that he further claimed the president helped create from “day one.”



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Eric Trump falsely calls president's coronavirus treatment a vaccine


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Eric Trump falsely calls president’s coronavirus treatment a vaccine

“My father literally started day one creating this vaccine. He worked to push this vaccine and now my father just took it and you see how well he got over it,” Eric Trump told ABC “This Week’s” Jon Karl.

“Wait, wait,” Karl interrupted before Eric Trump said that Americans should be inspired and proud by what doctor’s call his father’s speedy recovery from an illness that has killed more than 214,000 and infected 7.7 million people in the U.S. alone.

“Can you clarify that you said your father just took a vaccine?” Karl asked.

“Meaning when he was at Walter Reed. The medicines that he was taking,” Eric Trump answered, before adding that until his father went to the hospital, “he felt horrible.”

President Trump’s doctors said that he was given a steroid in response to low oxygen levels, the antiviral drug Remdesivir and an experimental antibody therapy from Regeneron.

There is no approved or authorized vaccine for COVID-19 in the U.S. or in the world. Several companies and research teams globally are in a multi-billion dollar race to develop a vaccine, hoping that one might be delivered by early 2021.

President Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2 after announcing early that morning that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus. His doctors eventually admitted that the president was given oxygen at the White House before he was taken on Marine One to the hospital.

Eric Trump said on Sunday by the very next day his father sounded “tremendous,” the same day doctors said the president once again had to be given oxygen at Walter Reed.

“I spoke to him three times that next Saturday. The guy sounded 100 percent. It was amazing,” Eric Trump said.

Doctors and White House staff sent a series of conflicting messages on the president’s health throughout that weekend. The president was also criticized for leaving his hospital room that Sunday for a drive to wave to supporters while he was infected with the highly contagious virus.

On Monday, President Trump was discharged from the hospital, returning to the White House that evening where he walked up the South Portico stairs to the Truman Balcony and took off his mask before walking inside the residence where some of his staff could be seen.

Eric Trump on Sunday lauded his father’s personal efforts in pushing for a vaccine, without acknowledging that doctors never said his father took a vaccine, and instead was offered a cocktail of experimental therapeutics.

“It actually probably goes to speak to how good some of these vaccines are that are being created,” Eric Trump told ABC. “What my father’s done on the vaccine front no one could have done. No one could have

Fauci calls Amy Coney Barrett ceremony in Rose Garden ‘superspreader event’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Friday called President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden ceremony last month announcing Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court a “superspreader event.”

Fauci, who was interviewed by CBS News Radio’s White House correspondent Steven Portnoy, defended the efficacy of wearing masks to slow the spread of Covid-19 and used the ceremony as an example.

“Well, I think the data speaks for themselves. We had a superspreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks,” he said. “So the data speak for themselves.”

This is not the first time Fauci has been at odds with Trump, who has had a cavalier attitude toward Covid-19 since being released from the hospital Monday after being infected with the virus, and has boasted about his apparent recovery and given mixed messaging around wearing masks.

Fauci survived a previous White House attempt to discredit him after he contradicted the president’s more optimistic assessment of the progress of the pandemic and corrected the president’s claim that the virus is the same as the flu.

Trump announced Barrett, a federal appeals judge, as his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the next Supreme Court justice at an outdoor ceremony Sept. 26, attended by more than 150 people, many of whom did not wear masks or practice social distancing.

In addition to the president and the first lady, several other people who were at the ceremony have been confirmed to have Covid-19: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins and a White House journalist.

Following that event, the number of people in Trump’s orbit who have tested positive for the coronavirus is growing, including more than a dozen aides at the White House and on the Trump campaign.

Fauci also contradicted the president, but did not mention his name, when asked about references to cures for Covid-19, saying it “leads to a lot of confusion,” noting there are promising treatments but no known cure. Trump has called the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals drug he received a miracle “cure” for the virus.

Fauci also said he is worried Americans might not take the virus seriously as the president touts his apparent recovery.

“I think a misperception on the part of some is that this isn’t a particularly serious situation and because so many people do well, that you don’t really have to take it seriously,” he said. “And that’s a misperception we have to overcome because you don’t want to trivialize the disease because it has the capability of seriously making an individual seriously ill and also killing individuals, usually the elderly, and usually those who have underlying medical conditions.”

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Fauci calls White House outbreak a coronavirus superspreader event

More than 150 people gathered in the White House’s Rose Garden on September 26 to see President Donald Trump officially nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Most of them were maskless. Many hugged or shook hands as they mingled in close proximity.

Some attendees even celebrated inside the White House, without masks.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nomination ceremony was a coronavirus superspreader event. The term refers to a circumstance in which one person infects a disproportionately large number of others, often during a large gathering.

“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci told CBS News in a radio interview on Friday.

Within five days of the event, both the president and the first lady, Melania Trump, were diagnosed with COVID-19. The outbreak has hit at least 34 people in the president’s orbit, including White House staffers, bodyguards, and family members, as well as pastors, journalists, GOP senators, and advisors.

The identity of the person or people who were first infected, however, is unknown.

Defining a superspreader

rose garden barrett

Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks in the White House’s Rose Garden on September 26 after President Donald Trump nominated her to the Supreme Court.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty


The term superspreader refers to an infected person who transmits the virus to more people than the average patient does. For the coronavirus, that average number, known as R0 (pronounced “R-naught”), has seemed to hover between 2 and 2.5. So anyone who passes the virus to three people or more could be considered a superspreader.

A superspreader event, then, is a set of circumstances that facilitates excessive transmission. In one well-known example, a person transmitted the virus to 52 others during a choir practice in March in Mount Vernon, Washington.

A superspreader event in Arkansas that month involved a pastor and his wife who attended church events a few days before they developed symptoms. Of the 92 people there, 35 got sick. Seven had to be hospitalized, and three died.

In that sense, it’s not so much that individual people are innate superspreaders — it’s the type of activity that enables a person to pass the virus to lots of people.

Those activities generally involve large gatherings — often indoors — in which lots of people from different households come into close, extended contact, such as religious services or parties.

“You can’t have a superspreading event unless there are a lot of people around, so you have to be very careful still about gatherings of people of any size,” William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University, previously told Business Insider.

rose garden barrett

Attorney General William Barr, right, says goodbye to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the Rose Garden event on September 26.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty


Rachel Graham, an assistant epidemiology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said most Rose Garden ceremony attendees weren’t doing anything to mitigate virus transmission.

“They’re doing pretty

Trump hails his COVID ‘cure’ as leading medical journal calls him ‘dangerously incompetent’ on pandemic






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President Trump continued to hail an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment as a “cure” for COVID-19, telling conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in a Friday interview that it sped his recovery from the disease and was “better than a vaccine.”

“I was not in great shape, but we have a medicine that healed me, that fixed me,” Trump said of the antibody “cocktail” manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. ”It’s a great medicine. I recovered immediately.”

Since being released from Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday, where he was treated for three days after being admitted with a high fever, chills and breathing problems, Trump has often pointed to the antibody therapy he undertook at the hospital as a “cure” for COVID-19. There is no known cure for the disease caused by exposure the coronavirus, and the FDA has not, so far, approved the drug’s use for treating COVID-19.

Just as he had done with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump took in May as a prophylactic against COVID-19, the president didn’t hesitate describing Regeneron’s “cocktail” in the most glowing possible terms.

“We have a cure. More than just a therapeutic, have a cure,” Trump said of the antibody treatment, adding, “This is better than the vaccine.”

Both Regeneron and the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly have released limited studies showing that monoclonal antibody treatments can decrease the viral load of COVID-19 in patients who have not been hospitalized for the disease. Trump’s assertions about the drug have not been proven in any study, and he received other drugs, including Remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone, since testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, Oct. 1.

On Tuesday, Trump voiced his frustration with the Food and Drug Administration for requiring drug manufacturers to follow safety protocols that will slow the availability of a vaccine until after the Nov. 3 election.

Perhaps the central issue in the presidential election is Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and during his rambling two-hour phone call with Limbaugh, the president again complained about not receiving enough praise for his administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’ve done such a good job on the pandemic. We get zero credit,” Trump said.



a man wearing a suit and tie: President Trump arrives at the White House wearing a facemask upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center on October 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)


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President Trump arrives at the White House wearing a facemask upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center on October 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

As of Friday afternoon, at least 7.6 million Americans had tested positive and at least 213,158 had died from COVID-19, far more than in any other country.

On Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine broke precedent and for the first time in its history published an editorial calling for a president to be voted out of office. The editors disagreed that Trump did “such a good

New England Journal of Medicine calls for US leadership to be voted out over Covid-19 failure

In an unprecedented move, the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday published an editorial written by its editors condemning the Trump administration for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic — and calling for the current leadership in the United States to be voted out of office.



Donald Trump looking at the camera: U.S. President Donald Trump leads a meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and pharmaceutical executives in Cabinet Room of the White House on March 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump and his Coronavirus Task Force team met with pharmaceutical companies representatives who are actively working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump leads a meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and pharmaceutical executives in Cabinet Room of the White House on March 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump and his Coronavirus Task Force team met with pharmaceutical companies representatives who are actively working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We rarely publish editorials signed by all the editors,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the medical journal and an author of the new editorial.

The editorial, which Rubin said was drafted in August, details how the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths. So far, more than 7.5 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 200,000 people have died of the disease.

“This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy,” the editorial says.

It does not endorse a candidate, but offers a scathing critique of the Trump administration’s leadership during the pandemic.

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“Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment,” the editorial says. “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

The New England Journal of Medicine began publishing in 1812. There have been only four previous editorials collectively signed by its editors in the recent past: one in 2014 about contraception; an obituary that same year for a former editor-in-chief; an editorial that year about standard-of-care research and an editorial in 2019 about abortion.

“The reason we’ve never published an editorial about elections is we’re not a political journal and I don’t think that we want to be a political journal — but the issue here is around fact, not around opinion. There have been many mistakes made that were not only foolish but reckless and I think we want people to realize that there are truths here, not just opinions,” Rubin said.

“For example, masks work. Social distancing works. Quarantine and isolation work. They’re not opinions. Deciding not to use them is

Trump Calls His Illness ‘a Blessing From God’

It was the first time that Mr. Trump tacitly acknowledged another appearance problem — that he has received the kind of intensive and costly medical care for coronavirus that is not available to any member of the general public.

In an interview on Wednesday, Dr. George Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s president and chief scientific officer, said it was possible that Mr. Trump responded to the treatment and that the level of virus had declined. “That’s a logical conclusion,” Dr. Yancopoulos said. “Based on his symptomology, that has to have happened.”

But neither Dr. Yancopoulos nor Mr. Trump can definitively say whether the treatment worked because any drug must be proved in large clinical trials that compare the outcomes of people who got the product with those who received a placebo. Those trials have not yet been completed.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at U.C.S.F. Health in San Francisco, said in his opinion, there was “one million percent no” chance that the Regeneron treatment could have cured Mr. Trump in 24 hours, as the president claimed.

Another explanation, he said, is that the president is experiencing the effects of the steroid dexamethasone, which he has been receiving since Saturday, which is known to reduce fever and can create feelings of well-being and euphoria in patients. “This is all in keeping with the dexamethasone speaking,” Dr. Chin-Hong said.

The president has been desperate to announce some kind of definitive treatment, or a vaccine, ahead of the election on Nov. 3, in which nearly all polls show him trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, nationally and in key states.

Mr. Trump has also been looking for a type of miracle cure for the virus for months, initially seizing on hydroxychloroquine as an answer before health experts raised concerns about its use. But his disdain for those experts has been consistent with his general refusal to believe in science, a refusal that led The New England Journal of Medicine, in an editorial published on Wednesday, to say the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that it had “taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

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Rebuking Trump, The New England Journal of Medicine calls for ousting the nation’s ‘dangerously incompetent’ leaders.

Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.

Until now.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that it had “taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential journal, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden.

The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the editorial said.

In the United States, it said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

There were attempts to politicize and undermine the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the journal noted.

As a result, the United States has had tens of thousands of “excess” deaths — those caused both directly and indirectly by the pandemic — as well as immense economic pain and an increase in social inequality as the virus hit disadvantaged communities hardest.

The editorial castigated the Trump administration’s rejection of science. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

The uncharacteristically pungent editorial called for change: “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

Scientific American, too, had never before endorsed a political candidate. “The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic,” the journal’s editors said.

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New England Journal of Medicine blasts Trump officials’ response to virus, calls for new leaders

The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, in an unprecedented editorial, denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for voting out “current political leaders” who are “dangerously incompetent.”

The harshly worded editorial is the first time the prestigious medical journal, which usually stays out of politics, has weighed in on an election.  

The editorial does not mention President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump and Biden’s plans would both add to the debt, analysis finds Trump says he will back specific relief measures hours after halting talks Trump lashes out at FDA over vaccine guidelines MORE by name, but it refers to “the administration” and calls for voting out “our current political leaders.”

“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editorial states. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

The journal takes the Trump administration to task on a wide range of issues that it argues the U.S. has failed on, from inadequate testing to shortages of protective equipment for health workers. 

“We have failed at almost every step,” the editorial states. “We had ample warning, but when the disease first arrived, we were incapable of testing effectively and couldn’t provide even the most basic personal protective equipment to health care workers and the general public. And we continue to be way behind the curve in testing.”

The editorial also criticizes states for reopening businesses before the virus had been controlled and for a lack of mask-wearing, which it blames on leaders not modeling the behavior. Trump has rarely worn a mask during appearances for months and has mocked their use. 

“Our rules on social distancing have in many places been lackadaisical at best, with loosening of restrictions long before adequate disease control had been achieved,” it states. “And in much of the country, people simply don’t wear masks, largely because our leaders have stated outright that masks are political tools rather than effective infection control measures.”

The U.S. leads the world in cases and deaths from the virus, it notes. 

“The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” the editors write. “According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease, far exceeding the numbers in much larger countries, such as China.” 

It adds that countries like South Korea and Singapore were able to suppress the virus through robust testing and contact tracing, in contrast to the U.S.  

The journal also points to political pressure Trump has placed on health agencies ranging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Food and Drug Administration, warning of the undermining of scientific expertise. 

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” it states.

Spam calls are hindering efforts to contact trace and track Covid-19

Nine months into a pandemic that has killed 210,000 people in the United States, health officials are imploring residents to answer their phones. The caller may be a disease tracker trying to save you from the deadly coronavirus.



a man talking on a cell phone: Joseph Ortiz, a contact tracer in New York City, gathers information as he heads to a potential patient's home.


© John Minchillo/AP
Joseph Ortiz, a contact tracer in New York City, gathers information as he heads to a potential patient’s home.

Contract tracing involves identifying sick people, isolating them and then tracing everyone with whom they’ve been in contact and putting those people into quarantine.

But many people wary of spam calls and phishing scams are not answering calls from unknown numbers, undermining efforts by contact tracers to reach people exposed to Covid-19. And some states such as Louisiana are sending letters to those people who don’t answer — not the most effective way when time is of the essence.

Without a federal contact tracing program, health departments have set up a patchwork of procedures. Some have worked with phone companies to ensure the name of the health department shows up on caller ID. For example, in Washington, DC, it shows up as DC Covid 19 Team.

Still, others appear as unknown numbers and are getting mistaken for spam calls. And even when they show up with the specific departments, some are still going unanswered.

“Hello? Yes, it’s you we’re looking for,” Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted, echoing the Lionel Richie song. “Contact tracing is a critical tool in getting our city back on its feet. Answer the call.”

The governor of Ohio is voicing the same message. State health officials say while they have 113 health jurisdictions and don’t collect the percentage of calls answered on a state level, local jurisdictions have reported less cooperation with tracers now than they did earlier in the pandemic.

“If you receive a call from a contact tracer — answer the call,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “Contact tracing is incredibly important as we work to stop the spread of Covid 19.”

Robocalls have made things more complicated

In the age of identity theft, many Americans are rightly suspicious about sharing their personal information with strangers. And robocalls have not made things easier.

The number of robocalls received in the United States dipped in the early months of the pandemic, then ticked back up as call centers reopened.

In September alone, there were 3.8 billion robocalls recorded nationwide by tracking service YouMail. That’s about 127 million per day and an average 12 calls per person. With the desperate wait for coronavirus treatments and vaccines, scammers preying on pandemic fears are using such calls to offer bogus testing or seek personal information.



a group of people sitting at a desk in front of a television: Workers conduct coronavirus contact tracing from an office at the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County.


© Lynne Sladky/AP
Workers conduct coronavirus contact tracing from an office at the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County.

That has made people even more reluctant to share personal details by phone. For example, 45% of New Jersey residents with coronavirus reached by contact tracers refused to provide information for various reasons.

“This is about public health. No one is on a