Voters in November will decide who should lead them into what could be some of the darkest months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus has disrupted virtually every aspect of normal life. It upended the economy, changed the way people work and travel, challenged health care workers and facilities and forced drastic changes on education and day care systems. In the U.S., it has infected over 8.3 million and killed more than 220,000, and those numbers are likely to be an undercount.
Considering the time lost by those who have died, one analysis estimated that the death toll means more than 2.5 million years of potential life has been claimed by the virus in the U.S.
The U.S. reports the most infections and deaths of any country, and one of those 8.3 million infected was President Donald Trump, who required supplemental oxygen twice and was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He declared his battle with the virus as a “blessing from God” after receiving experimental treatments for his illness.
Some experts have warned that the U.S. has entered the third peak of its coronavirus outbreak. As the country heads deeper into fall and winter, and cold weather pushes more people indoors, researchers believe the virus will spread more easily. The challenge could also be compounded by the flu season.
Cartoons on the 2020 Election
It has been suggested that life won’t return to a “new normal” until there is an effective vaccine. Possible candidates are being developed faster than ever before, with several showing promise in early trial results.
The coronavirus is even upending the electoral process – from massive lines for early voting to increases in mail-in ballot requests – though it isn’t clear what effect it will have on overall voter turnout.
“The real impact that it may have on the election is how it’s going to change voting patterns, and I don’t think anyone knows exactly how that’s going to play out,” says John Farmer, the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on the Coronavirus:
President Donald Trump on the Coronavirus
Early in the outbreak, the Trump administration created the White House Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate and oversee its “efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread” of the virus. Regular task force briefings that included scientists eventually faded out and were replaced by solo events for Trump to tailor his own message on the pandemic.
And his message has been one of minimization and diversion.
“I think at this point Trump is running on the idea that he did a great job dealing with coronavirus and that there are very few concerns now and that it’s really nothing for people to worry about,” says Monika McDermott, a professor of political science at Fordham University. “Of course, him having gotten it himself and having recovered so quickly helps him to make that message.”
Courtesy of USAFacts
Getting infected “allowed him
Joe Biden warned at Thursday night’s presidential debate that the U.S. was “about to go into a dark winter,” echoing the concerns of public health experts who caution about increased daily Covid-19 case counts converging with the annual flu season.
“We’re about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter,” Biden said. “And he has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”
Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump offered a rosy, unrealistic timeline for vaccine distribution. Responding to the Democratic nominee, the president said: “I don’t know if we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, previously predicted in July that “the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”
But Trump insisted Thursday that Americans were “learning to live with” the pandemic. “We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does,” he said.
When it was Biden’s turn to weigh in, the former vice president retorted: “People are learning to die with it.” The two candidates then sparred over Trump’s travel restrictions on China, and whether Biden considered the measure xenophobic.
“My response is he is xenophobic,” Biden said of Trump, “but not because he shut down access from China.”
By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A third surge of coronavirus cases now has a firm grip on the United States, with an average of 59,000 new infections being reported across the country every day.
That tally is the highest since the beginning of August, and the likelihood is high that the country will soon see the most new COVID-19 infections a day since the pandemic began, The New York Times reported.
This latest surge differs from the previous two: Instead of acute outbreaks in specific regions, such as the Northeast this spring and the South this summer, the virus is now simmering at a worrisome level across nearly the entire country, the Times reported. Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming each set seven-day case records on Tuesday. Even New Jersey, which managed to bring the virus under control last spring, has seen a doubling in cases in the past month, the Times reported.
“It is a really dangerous time,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told the newspaper. “The majority of states are on the rise. There are very few places where things are stable and going down.”
Even more troubling is the fact that this latest surge is coming as cooler weather is forcing people indoors and many Americans report they are fatigued by months of social distancing and travel restrictions, the Times reported.
“We’re seeing spread virtually everywhere,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a news conference Tuesday. In his state, 69 of 88 counties are now considered “high incidence,” meaning at least 100 virus cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, the Times reported.
But instead of imposing new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, Dewine said that, “The fastest way we can do it is not for me to issue some order that you can’t enforce or would be difficult to enforce, but rather for every Ohioan to take this seriously,” he said, grabbing his cloth mask and holding it up, the Times reported.
In North Dakota, which is leading the nation in new coronavirus cases per capita, hospitalizations and deaths are at a high, and just 20 intensive care beds were available statewide.
Luckily, the climbing case count has not yet translated to increased deaths: About 700 people are dying from COVID-19, on average, each day. So far, more than 220,000 Americans have died from the virus.
CDC Recommends Face Masks for Public Transportation
Seeking to slow the spread of coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Monday that face masks be worn by everyone in all public transportation settings.
That includes both passengers and people working in stations, terminals and airports across the country, CBS News reported.
So far, the Trump administration has not issued any national mandate on face coverings, instead leaving that
Americans aged between 18 to 23, also known as adult Gen Z, are reporting the highest stress levels of any generation in the country, according to a poll.
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Stress in American 2020 report revealed that, on average, Gen Z adults scored their stress levels in the past month as 6.1 out of 10, with 10 being the highest level. The average across all adults was 5.
The survey conducted between August 4 and 26, 2020, by The Harris Poll for the APA, involved 3,409 over-18s living in the U.S. Almost a fifth (19 percent) said their mental health was worse than during the same period last year, at 34 percent of Gen Z adults; 21 percent of Gen Xers aged 42 to 55; 19 percent millennials aged 24 to 41; 12 percent of Boomers, aged 56 to 74, and 8 percent of those aged 75 and above.
Gen Z adults were also more likely to say they were experiencing common symptoms of depression. Three-quarters said they felt so tired in the past two weeks that they “sat around and did nothing,” 74 percent were restless; 73 percent struggled to think properly or concentrate; and the same percentage felt lonely. Some 71 percent felt miserable or unhappy.
Some 81 percent of 13-to-17-year-olds, who are also counted as Gen Zers, said they had suffered negative consequences from school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half (51 percent) said the pandemic has made it feel like planning for the future is impossible, with 67 percent of Gen Z adults feeling the same. Some 87 percent of Gen Z adults who were at college said education is a significant source of stress in their lives.
The poll also revealed 78 percent of Americans felt the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant source of stress in their lives. A further 60 percent said the number of issues America is dealing with was overwhelming. The poll was carried out in a year marked by stressors including a presidential election, protests against racial injustice, an economic recession, and over 220,000 people dying of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Arthur Evans, the CEO of the APA, told Newsweek via email that older people have typically reported less stress than younger generations since the organization carried out its first Stress in America report in 2007. This is likely because people gain life experience, coping skills and resilience as they age, he said.
“For 18-to-23-year-olds, they are just embarking on adulthood—learning to live independently, to manage their finances and to hit milestones like graduating high school or college, having new relationships and getting their first jobs. These events have always been stressful for some, but the new reality of the pandemic means that uncertainty is amplified
Affimed and NKMax America to Study the Combination of AFM24, an EGFR-Targeted Innate Cell Engager, with SNK01 Natural Killer Cell Therapy
Proof of Concept study to establish safety and recommended dose of Affimed’s innate cell engager (ICE®) AFM24 in combination with NKMax America’s Natural Killer (NK) cells in solid tumors
Pre-clinical data substantiates synergy between Affimed’s ICE® molecules and both NKMax America’s autologous and cryopreserved allogeneic NK cell therapy products
Heidelberg, Germany, and Santa Ana, California, October 20, 2020 – Affimed N.V. (NASDAQ: AFMD) and NKMax America Inc., both clinical stage biotech companies focused on harnessing the power of the body’s innate immune system, announced today that they entered into a clinical collaboration agreement to investigate the combination of AFM24, a CD16A/EGFR-targeted ICE®, with the autologous NK cell product SNK01. Pursuant to the collaboration, the companies plan to explore the combination in a first-in-human proof-of-concept (POC) trial in patients with EGFR-expressing tumors. The agreement follows a previous collaboration between the two companies in the preclinical setting to better understand the combined activity of their respective platforms. The results of the preclinical collaboration have shown substantive synergy between Affimed’s ICE® molecules and NKMax America’s autologous and cryopreserved allogeneic natural killer cell products.
Under the agreement, the companies will contribute their respective product candidates and resources towards submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a subsequent clinical trial. The clinical trial will combine NKMax America’s SNK01 (enhanced natural killer cells) with AFM24 in the autologous setting with the option to expand the clinical trial to the allogeneic setting. The cost of the clinical study will be shared by Affimed and NKMax America. The agreement also provides for the opportunity to pursue further clinical study combinations with additional product candidates from both parties.
NKMax America has developed a proprietary NK cell expansion and activation technology platform which allows it to produce unprecedented commercial amounts of autologous and allogeneic NK cells from numerous donors that have near total expression of activating receptors like CD16A, NKG2D, NKp30 and NKp46. In addition, its unique technology increases the cytotoxicity of the expanded NK cells by nearly 8000 percent. In addition, the SNK01 product does not require lymphodepletion or cytokine support.
Using its ROCK® (Redirected Optimized Cell Killing) platform, Affimed has developed a novel pipeline of ICE® products. AFM24, a tetravalent, bispecific epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)- and CD16A-binding ICE®, is unique due to its activation of innate immunity to kill solid tumors, inducing both antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP), whereas other EGFR-directed therapies rely heavily on signal transduction inhibition. A first-in-human Phase 1/2a open-label, non-randomized, multi-center, multiple ascending dose escalation/expansion study is underway evaluating AFM24 as monotherapy in patients with advanced solid EGFR-expressing malignancies whose disease has progressed after treatment with previous anticancer therapies.
“We believe combining ICE® molecules generated from our ROCK® platform with adoptive NK cell transfer can improve patient outcomes by ensuring patients have active and viable innate cells to be directed to the tumor and induce cytotoxic killing. In addition,
Covid-19 cases are rising in many parts of Canada, but one region – Nunavut, a northern territory – is a lone place in North American that can say it’s free of coronavirus in its communities.
Last March, as borders around the world were slamming shut as coronavirus infections rose, officials in Nunavut decided they too would take no risks.
They brought in some of the strictest travel regulations in Canada, barring entry to the territory almost all non-residents.
Residents returning home from the south would first have to spend two weeks, at the Nunavut government’s expense, in “isolation hubs” – hotels in the cities of Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Ottawa or Edmonton.
Security guards are stationed throughout the hotels, and nurses check in on the health of those isolating. To date, just over 7,000 Nunavummiut have spent time in these hubs as a stopover on their return home.
It’s not been without challenges: People have been caught breaking isolation and have had stays extended, which has in part contributed to occasional wait times to enter the some of the hubs. There have been complaints about the food available to those confined to the hubs.
But, as coronavirus infections spread throughout Canada, and with the number of cases on the rise again, the official case count in Nunavut remains zero.
The “fairly drastic” decision to bring in these measures was made both due to the population’s potential vulnerability to Covid-19 and the unique challenges of the Arctic region, says Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr Michael Patterson.
About 36,000 people live in Nunavut, bounded by the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Northwest Territories to the west, in 25 communities scattered across its two million square kilometres (809,000 square miles). That’s about three times the size of the largest US state – Texas.
The distances are “mind-boggling at times”, admits Dr Patterson.
Natural isolation is likely part of the reason for the lack of cases – those communities can only be reached year-round by plane.
In late September, there was an outbreak linked to workers who flew in from the south to a remote gold mine 160km (100 miles) from the Arctic Circle.
(Those cases are currently being counted as infections in the miners’ home jurisdictions, keeping the territory’s official positive count nil).
That outbreak has “almost no chance” of spreading in the community because there hasn’t been any travel between the mine and any of the communities for months, says Dr Patterson.
But where isolation can help, it can also create hurdles.
Most communities don’t have the capacity to do Covid-19 testing locally, so tests have to be flown in and out.
Early on, tests results could take a week meaning “you’re really, really far behind by the time you can identify and respond”, Dr Patterson says. There are efforts underway to boost testing capacity and turnaround times
By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
FRIDAY, Oct. 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The number of new U.S. coronavirus cases topped 60,000 on Thursday, a tally not reported since early August, as health experts worried the coming winter might push the toll even higher.
The latest numbers have also sent the country’s total COVID-19 case count past 8 million, the The New York Times reported.
The surge is nationwide, with cases multiplying across the country: Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have higher caseloads now than in mid-September, and the new coronavirus is spreading across rural communities in the Midwest, the Upper Midwest and the Great Plains, the Washington Post reported.
On Thursday, Wisconsin set a record with more than 4,000 new cases reported, the newspaper said. Illinois also reported more than 4,000 cases on Thursday, breaking records that were set in April and May. Ohio set a new high, as did Indiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana and Colorado, the Post reported.
“We know that this is going to get worse before it gets better,” Wisconsin Department of Health Services secretary-designee Andrea Palm said during a briefing Thursday, the Post reported. “Stay home. Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart. Wash your hands frequently.”
Some hospitals in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains have become jammed with patients and are running low on ICU beds, the Post reported. Montana reported a record 301 hospitalized COVID-19 patients Thursday, with 98 percent of the inpatient beds occupied the day before in Yellowstone County.
In just the past week, at least 20 states have set record seven-day averages for infections, and a dozen have hit record hospitalization rates, according to health department data analyzed by the Post.
The reopening of many schools and colleges did not fuel a major spike in cases right away, as some experts had feared, but the numbers have steadily gone upward since, the newspaper reported.
The jump in cases and hospitalizations has been followed by a more modest rise in COVID-19 deaths, most likely due to better patient care from now-seasoned medical workers. The widespread use of powerful steroids and other treatments has lowered mortality rates among people who are severely ill, the Post reported.
Still, experts caution that most Americans remain vulnerable to COVID infection and the virus will likely spread more easily as colder weather sends more people indoors, where they might be exposed to larger amounts of the virus in poorly ventilated spaces.
“Inevitably, we’re moving into a phase where there’s going to need to be restrictions again,” David Rubin, director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Post.
Second COVID vaccine trial paused
A second coronavirus vaccine trial has been paused after an unexplained illness surfaced in one of the trial’s volunteers.
Johnson & Johnson, which only began a phase 3 trial of its vaccine last month, did not offer any more details on the illness and did not say whether the sick participant had