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News, August 2020
840,422 Deaths and 24,887,823 Corona Virus Infections:
Mostly in the US, Brazil, India, Mexico, UK, Italy, France, Spain, Peru, and Iran
August 28, 2020
As of August 28, 2020, 23:49 GMT:
World: 24,887,823 infection cases, and 840,422 deaths.
A list of countries with the highest Coronavirus (Covid-19) deaths:
1 USA 6,094,059 infection cases, and 185,864 deaths.
2 Brazil 3,812,605 infection cases, and 119,594 deaths.
3 India 3,461,240 infection cases, and 62,713 deaths.
4 Mexico 579,914 infection cases, and 62,594 deaths.
5 UK 331,644 infection cases, and 41,486 deaths.
6 Italy 265,409 infection cases, and 35,472 deaths.
7 France 267,077 infection cases, and 30,596 deaths.
8 Spain 455,621 infection cases, and 29,011 deaths.
9 Peru 621,997 infection cases, and 28,277 deaths.
10 Iran 369,911 infection cases, and 21,249 deaths.
11 Colombia 590,520 infection cases, and 18,767 deaths.
12 South Africa 620,132 infection cases, and 13,743 deaths.
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 27 August 2020
WHO, 27 August 2020
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.
Tuesday was a great day in global health – the certification of the eradication of wild poliovirus in Africa.
This remarkable effort was started by Rotary International in the 1980s, and advanced by Nelson Mandela in 1996, with the launch of a campaign to “Kick Polio Out of Africa”. At the time, polio paralyzed 75,000 children every year.
Although sadly he is not here to see it, we have realized Madiba’s dream.
This extraordinary achievement has only been possible because of the determination of the people and governments of Africa, and the strong partnership between WHO, Rotary, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, Gavi and the US CDC.
I would also like to acknowledge the many donors who have invested in making this possible, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and others.
But the investments we have all made have not only helped to end polio. They have also helped to strengthen health systems, providing vital infrastructure and health workers to respond to other crises including Ebola and COVID-19.
The end of wild poliovirus in Africa is a momentous achievement that demonstrates what’s possible when we come together in a spirit of solidarity.
But it is not the end of polio globally.
We still have a lot of work to do to eradicate polio from the last two countries where it exists: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Polio is not the only disease against which we are making progress.
Yesterday we also celebrated the end of sleeping sickness in Togo as a public health problem.
I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the people and government of Togo and their partners on this achievement.
Sleeping sickness, or human African Trypanosomiasis, is a neglected tropical disease spread by tsetse flies, and is endemic in 36 African countries. Without treatment, it’s fatal.
Seven other countries are preparing to submit their dossiers to show they too have eliminated sleeping sickness as a public health problem: Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Rwanda, Uganda and Equatorial Guinea.
A further three countries have announced their intention to do so: Burkina Faso, Kenya and Chad.
This is incredible progress against a disease which was considered impossible to eliminate just 20 years ago.
Globally, we need the same spirit of solidarity and partnership that are helping to end polio and sleeping sickness to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
As societies open up, many are starting to see a resurgence of transmission.
Much of this resurgence is occurring in clusters of cases related to gatherings of people, including at stadiums, nightclubs, places of worship and crowds.
These types of gatherings can be amplifying events that can be the spark that creates a much larger fire.
Every country and community must make its own decisions about how to host these events safely, based on their own level of risk.
In some circumstances, closures or suspending events may be necessary for a short time. In others, there are creative ways events can be held safely to minimize risk.
The Hajj pilgrimage, for example, went ahead with limited numbers of people who were physically distanced.
Some sporting events are experimenting with reintroducing limited numbers of spectators.
In the weeks and months ahead, events, festivals and celebrations of all kinds will take place.
There are ways these events can be held safely, with a risk-based approach that takes the measures necessary to keep people safe.
These measures should be communicated clearly and regularly.
We humans are social beings. It’s natural and normal that we want to come together for all sorts of reasons.
There are many ways we can be physically apart, but remain socially connected.
For many people, the lack of social interaction caused by the pandemic has had a profound affect on their mental health.
COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of millions of people, in terms of the anxiety and fear it has caused, and disruption to mental health services.
People in long-term facilities such as care homes and psychiatric institutions are at increased risk of infection.
Mental health professionals have themselves been infected with the virus; and some mental health facilities have been closed to convert them into treatment facilities for people with COVID-19.
Mental health was already a neglected health issue globally.
Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.
Yet relatively few people have access to quality mental health services.
In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition at all.
Stigma, discrimination, punitive legislation and human rights abuses are still widespread.
For this year’s World Mental Health Day, WHO, together with our partner organizations, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, is calling for a massive scale-up in investments in mental health.
On World Mental Health Day, the 10th of October, WHO will for the first time host a global online advocacy event on mental health.
During this event—the Big Event for Mental Health—I will be joined by experts and household names from the worlds of music and sport to talk about what we can all do to improve our mental health – and you will hear their stories. Each and every individual has a story to tell about mental health.
I will also be joined by world leaders who will explain why they are investing in improving the mental health of the people they serve.
We will also show the incredible work being done, and what more needs to be done, to make sure that quality mental health care is available to everyone who needs it.
Last month I announced the establishment of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, to evaluate the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has been an acid test for many countries and organizations, as well as for the International Health Regulations, the legal instrument agreed by countries that governs preparedness and response for health emergencies.
Even before the pandemic, I have spoken about how emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC have demonstrated that some elements of the IHR may need review, including the binary nature of the mechanism for declaring a public health emergency of international concern.
The International Health Regulations allow for a review committee to be established to evaluate the functioning of the IHR and to recommend changes to it.
Earlier today I informed WHO’s Member States that I plan to establish an IHR Review Committee to advise me on whether any changes to the IHR may be necessary to ensure this powerful tool of international law is as effective as possible.
The committee will be made up of independent experts, who will examine various aspects of the IHR.
Although the review committee’s remit is specific to the IHR, it will communicate with the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, and with the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, to exchange information and share findings.
Depending on the progress it makes, the committee will present a progress report to the resumed World Health Assembly in November, and a full report to next year’s Assembly in May.
WHO is committed to ending the pandemic, and to working with all countries to learn from it, and to ensure that together we build the healthier, safer, fairer world that we want.
I thank you.
Coronavirus vaccine on track for FDA approval by end of 2020, says Operation Warp Speed official
Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub,
USA TODAY, August 28, 2020
The United States expects to have four coronavirus candidate vaccines in large-scale clinical trials by the middle of September, a remarkable timeline considering the SARS-CoV-2 virus was only discovered in December.
The government is “very pleased” with the progress, Health and Human Services deputy chief of staff Paul Mango told reporters Friday afternoon. Mango is the agency's liaison with Operation Warp Speed, the White House-led task force on coronavirus vaccine and treatment development.
“We feel we are absolutely on track — if not a little bit ahead — in terms of our overall objective, which is tens of millions of (doses of) safe and effective vaccines approved for calendar year-end,” Mango said.
Each Phase 3 clinical trial will enroll 30,000 volunteers; the two now underway are about halfway there, he said.
Early data on the vaccines show they are causing volunteers' bodies to produce significant amounts of neutralizing antibodies, Mango said. That doesn't necessarily mean a vaccine candidate will protect against COVID-19, but it may.
At least at first, there will be a limited number of vaccine doses to distribute, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said. Certain groups of people will be targeted for vaccination first, such as the elderly or health care workers.
"We want to be prepared for whichever vaccine makes it through the gate,” said Redfield, with the goal of being ready to get the vaccine to whichever groups have priority.
Companies are already manufacturing three of the six candidate vaccines Operation Warp Speed has funded.
“For the other three we are retrofitting a number of facilities, we are receiving equipment from all over the world, and those will start shortly as well,” he said.
The government is planning how it will distribute whichever vaccines are eventually approved, a complex logistical task, Mango said.
Five of the six vaccines require two doses, some spaced 21 days apart and some spaced 28 days apart. One must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.
The United States has stockpiled hundreds of millions of needles, syringes and stoppers and has ordered hundreds of millions more, Redfield said.
Decisions possible before studies complete
No doses of candidate vaccines can be distributed until the FDA declares them safe and effective. The first such approval could come as early as October, Mango said, though December is more likely depending on how quickly clinical trials can be completed.
Only 150 to 175 people among the 30,000 in a Phase 3 clinical trial have to become infected with COVID-19 in order to test whether a candidate vaccine is effective, Redfield said.
At that point scientists can "start looking at the data to determine if there's significance or not," Redfield said.
They would analyze how many of the infections were among volunteers who had received the placebo rather than the actual vaccine to know if it provided immunity.
A Data Safety Monitoring Board, independent of the government and the companies, determines at what point enough data has been collected to judge whether a vaccine is effective.
"They could come back before we've even had 30,000 folks enrolled and say, 'We've seen enough, this looks great. Pass it on to the FDA,'" Mango said.
Some public health experts are worried the government will stop a trial early, once effectiveness is shown, but before all 30,000 volunteers get two doses of a vaccine or placebo.
The board could extend a trial if not enough data is available after 30,000 patients receive either the vaccine or a placebo, Mango said. That could happen if not enough participants become infected with COVID-19 to detect effectiveness.
And a trial could be brought to a halt if the data showed early on that a candidate was unsafe or ineffective, Redfield said.
Government could fund research into more vaccines
The United States is supporting eight vaccine candidates, but Mango said it could invest in more. Any new ones would have to be different than those already funded, he said.
“I would say we have become a little bit more discerning at this point,” he said.
Additional large-scale federal funding would likely go to a vaccine that could be delivered in one dose or orally rather than via injection.
Mango cautioned no outcome was certain.
“There are no guarantees in science," Mango said, "but what Operation Warp Speed does is maximize the probability of having at least one acceptable vaccine in large quantities before the end of the year."
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
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