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Exclusive: U.S. plans massive coronavirus vaccine testing effort to meet year-end deadline

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The United States plans a massive testing effort involving more than 100,000 volunteers and a half dozen or so of the most promising vaccine candidates in an effort to deliver a safe and effective one by the end of 2020, scientists leading the program told Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with…

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Exclusive: U.S. plans massive coronavirus vaccine testing effort to meet year-end deadline

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The United States plans a massive testing effort involving more than 100,000 volunteers and a half dozen or so of the most promising vaccine candidates in an effort to deliver a safe and effective one by the end of 2020, scientists leading the program told Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File PhotoThe project will compress what is typically 10 years of vaccine development and testing into a matter of months, testimony to the urgency to halt a pandemic that has infected more than 5 million people, killed over 335,000 and battered economies worldwide. To get there, leading vaccine makers have agreed to share data and lend the use of their clinical trial networks to competitors should their own candidate fail, the scientists said. Candidates that demonstrate safety in small early studies will be tested in huge trials of 20,000 to 30,000 subjects for each vaccine, slated to start in July. Between 100,000 and 150,000 people may be enrolled in the studies, said Dr. Larry Corey, a vaccine expert at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, who is helping design the trials. “If you don’t see a safety problem, you just keep going,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told Reuters. The vaccine effort is part of a public-private partnership called Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) announced last month. The effort fits into the research and development arm of “Operation Warp Speed,” the White House program announced last week to accelerate coronavirus vaccine development. Vaccines, which are intended for use in healthy people, are typically tested in successive steps, starting with trials in animals. Human testing begins with a small safety trial in healthy volunteers, followed by a larger study to find the right dose and get an early read on efficacy. The final stage consists of large-scale testing in thousands of people. Only then would a vaccine developer commit to manufacturing millions of doses. In the era of coronavirus, many of those steps will overlap, particularly the mid-stage and late-stage trials, Collins and Corey said. The approach has its risks, as certain safety issues may only appear in large-scale trials. Americans are concerned about the speed of the vaccine effort, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. A highly effective vaccine could be tested in as little as six months if there is a big difference in benefit between the vaccine and placebo groups, Corey said. For a modestly effective vaccine, trials could take nine to 12 months. The U.S. government has committed billions of dollars to help manufacturers produce doses of vaccines that may never prove successful. THE SHORTLIST To get the quickest answer, vaccines will be tested in healthcare workers and communities where the virus is still spreading to show whether they reduced new cases of COVID-19. Washington, D.C, which has not reached the peak of its outbreak, is one likely test site. Trials may be conducted abroad, including in Africa, where the virus has just started to spread, Collins said. The government plans to tap its own trial networks, including the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 100 healthcare facilities, for potential study volunteers, while drugmakers will recruit from their clinical research networks. A Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) vaccine, developed in partnership with the NIH, will be the first to the enter large-scale testing in July, and may be joined by a vaccine from Britain’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L), Collins said. The U.S. government said on Thursday it would spend $1.2 billion to secure 300 million doses of the Oxford vaccine. “What we might try to do is run those two side by side, but with a control arm” that would also include 10,000 healthy individuals who got a dummy vaccine, Collins said. Moderna’s candidate is already proceeding to mid-stage human trials. Vaccines by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Sanofi (SASY.PA) and Merck & Co (MRK.N) are a month or two behind the frontrunners and “may get added over the course of the summer” following early-stage human trials, Collins said. Merck has not made any specific announcements on its vaccine program and declined to comment. Collins would not name other candidates on the U.S. shortlist of 14, but said they will need to finish early safety testing by this summer to make it into the bigger trials. Trials will need to assess if the vaccines cause disease enhancement – a potentially dangerous side effect in which the vaccine makes the disease worse in some individuals instead of preventing it. Disease enhancement has been seen in animal studies of vaccines developed to fight a close cousin of the virus that causes COVID-19. “If there is enhancement, that’s a big stop sign for everything,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. “If all the cards fall into the right place and all the stars are aligned, you definitely could get a vaccine by December or January,” Fauci said. Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Bill Berkrot
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Most of the US is headed in the wrong direction again with Covid-19 cases as deaths near 200,000

(CNN)Despite making progress after a difficult summer, most of the US is heading in the wrong direction again as the nation closes in on 200,000 Covid-19 deaths.In 31 states, the number of new Covid-19 cases has increased by at least 10% this past week compared to the previous week, according to data Sunday from Johns…

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Most of the US is headed in the wrong direction again with Covid-19 cases as deaths near 200,000

(CNN)Despite making progress after a difficult summer, most of the US is heading in the wrong direction again as the nation closes in on 200,000 Covid-19 deaths.In 31 states, the number of new Covid-19 cases has increased by at least 10% this past week compared to the previous week, according to data Sunday from Johns Hopkins University. Only four states — Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and Michigan — have had decreases of more than 10%. Fifteen states are holding steady, including Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington state.And the test positivity rate — the percentage of new test results that are positive — is rising in 25 states, according to the Covid Tracking Project.This is exactly what doctors feared would happen in the weeks following Labor Day, said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “A couple of weeks ago, as we went in to Labor Day, we were talking about exactly this — and our worry that coming out of Labor Day, as we’ve seen after Memorial Day and July Fourth, we’d see an increase,” he said.”And unfortunately, we’re walking into the fall, where weather gets colder. We’re going to spend more time indoors. So this is not where we want to be as a country right now.” Utah set a new record high of 1,117 cases on Friday, Gov. Gary Herbert said Saturday. Herbert extended Utah’s state of emergency until October 20. Wisconsin also reported a record number of new cases — 2,533 on Friday. Health officials urged people to stay home, keep at least 6 feet of distance from those outside their household, and wear masks in public. Nationwide, more than 6.7 million people have been infected with coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. As of 3:45 p.m. ET Sunday, more than 199,400 have died.A state doing well says keep up the testingBut some states are showing continued progress. On Sunday, Maryland announced a new record-low test positivity rate — 1.89%. And there’s more good news. “Total current hospitalizations have fallen below 300 for the first time since March 30, to 281,” Gov. Larry Hogan’s office said. “There are 68 ICU beds in use — the first time ICU levels have dropped below 70 since March 26.”Many health experts say widespread testing is key to finding asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers, so those people can isolate and prevent the virus’ spread. In Maryland, state officials “continue to encourage all Marylanders to get tested for COVID-19” at one of the state’s 210 testing sites. Study find more links between pandemic and mental healthAs Covid-19 intensified in the US, so did levels of stress and depression, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances. The study of more than 6,500 people found that several factors may have worsened people’s stress.The biggest risk for symptoms of depression was a pre-existing mental health diagnosis prior the pandemic, researchers found.But symptoms of stress and depression were also associated more with personal exposure, rather than public spread — suggesting “concerns about contracting the disease outweighed concerns about pandemic-related disruptions in daily life,” the researchers said.”Approximately a quarter of the sample (23.5%) reported that they or a close other had been exposed to COVID-19 (e.g., experienced symptoms, were diagnosed),” researchers wrote in the report published Friday.Employment also had a big impact, with those who lost their jobs suffering most, the study found. The “data suggest that individuals who continued working during this early phase of the pandemic were less depressed than individuals who were not working, even though they were at greater risk for contracting the virus,” the researchers said.Those “remaining employed as an ‘essential’ worker may have given new meaning to respondents’ work that reduced their risk for depression.”Researchers said another factor in pandemic-related stress is how often participants were exposed to conflicting information from the news and social media. People were immersed in news an average of seven hours a day, they found, and acute stress increased as time went on.But consistent, accurate and reliable news reports may be one of the best ways to control stress, the researchers suggested.Why Black and Hispanic Americans often suffer moreNot everyone has the luxury of working from home. And since many minorities have public-facing jobs, this pandemic has hit them especially hard. “American Indians and Alaskan Natives and African Americans have been hospitalized at rates 3.5 times higher than Whites,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said. “Hospitalization rates are three times higher for Hispanics compared to Whites.”The pandemic exposes health disparities and structural conditions that contribute to those disparities, the surgeon general said. “Social distancing and teleworking are critical to preventing spread of coronavirus, yet only one in five African Americans and one in six Hispanic Americans have a job that allows him to work from home,” Adams said. People of color are also more likely to live in “densely packed urban areas” and in multi-generational homes. They’re also more likely to use public transportation, he said.”Combined, these and other factors create a greater risk for spread of a highly contagious disease like Covid-19.”CNN’s Gregory Lemos and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.
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‘Stunning’: Dr. Gupta reacts to Washington Post White House report – CNN Video

Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s happening in the world as it unfolds.JUST WATCHED’Stunning’: Dr. Gupta on Washington Post White House reportReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCHCNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta reacts to a report from the Washington Post that claims the White House stopped a plan by the United States Postal service to mail…

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‘Stunning’: Dr. Gupta reacts to Washington Post White House report – CNN Video

Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s happening in the world as it unfolds.JUST WATCHED’Stunning’: Dr. Gupta on Washington Post White House reportReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCHCNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta reacts to a report from the Washington Post that claims the White House stopped a plan by the United States Postal service to mail 650 million masks to Americans.Source: CNNStories worth watching (15 Videos)’Stunning’: Dr. Gupta on Washington Post White House reportRide along in the latest Ferrari convertibleWhy Trump’s war on WeChat could hurt American businessesAnother 860,000 Americans filed first-time jobless claimsBrianna Keilar calls out Fox News guest’s Covid-19 misinformationFed signals low rates through 20233M CEO: Meeting demand for N95 masks is still a challengeThe stock market boom doesn’t help everyoneSnowflake’s market debut is biggest software IPO everNissan gives a glimpse of its first Z car in more than a decadeMillions of Americans are out of work. Why is the stock market soaring?See robot stacking shelves in JapanAmazon is booming while small businesses struggleLG’s new smartphone has a unique swivel screenThis was Apple’s first ‘iPad.’ It failed miserablyHere’s one thing Joe Biden and President Trump actually agree onSee MoreNew DayCNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta reacts to a report from the Washington Post that claims the White House stopped a plan by the United States Postal service to mail 650 million masks to Americans.Source: CNN
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A rare blue moon will light up the sky on Halloween

The night sky on Halloween will be illuminated by a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. The relatively rare occurrence happens once every two and a half years on average, according to NASA’s National Space Science Data Center.Every month has a full moon, but because the lunar cycle and the calendar year…

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A rare blue moon will light up the sky on Halloween
The night sky on Halloween will be illuminated by a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. The relatively rare occurrence happens once every two and a half years on average, according to NASA’s National Space Science Data Center.

Every month has a full moon, but because the lunar cycle and the calendar year aren’t perfectly synched, about every three years we wind up with two in the same calendar month.

The National Weather Service spotted a massive bat colony on its weather radar
October’s first full moon, also known as the harvest moon, will appear on the first day of the month. The second full moon, or blue moon, will be visible on October 31. It’s the first instance of a blue moon in the Americas since March 2018.
It’s also the first time a Halloween full moon has appeared for all time zones since 1944, according to Farmers’ Almanac. The last time a Halloween full moon appeared was for the Central and Pacific time zones in 2001.

The “once in a blue moon” phenomenon does not necessarily mean the moon will look blue on Halloween. While the dark blue tone of an evening sky can affect the coloring we see, Earth’s satellite will most likely not appear blue at all.

Typically, when a moon does take on a bluish hue, it is because of smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, such as during a major volcanic eruption.

When the phrase “once in a blue moon” was coined, it meant something so rare you’d be lucky (or unlucky) to see in your lifetime, according to NASA.

So if anything unusual happens to you on Halloween, there might just be a good reason why.

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