ACROSS AMERICA —Ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 might not come as soon as expected, according to the New York Times. The publication reports delays and shortages in testing, staffing and storage have slowed efforts.
While drug manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and GSK predict entering trials in September, Pfizer, BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Novavax are banking on delivering vaccines in late 2020 or early 2021.
As of Friday afternoon, the U.S. coronavirus case count had surpassed 5.29 million, and deaths were nearing 168,200 people, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post the United States’ lack of investment in its public health infrastructure has left the nation “unprepared” for the ongoing pandemic that some 71 percent of Americans see as a real threat, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
Still, the poll revealed that one-third of Americans won’t get a vaccine to protect against the virus once it is available.
The poll found huge splits on this according to education and party: Those with a college degree are 19 points more likely to get vaccinated than those without (72 percent versus 53 percent), and Democrats are 23 points more likely than Republicans (71 percent versus 48 percent) to do so.
In a news conference on Friday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. has three vaccines in later-stage trials with a goal of producing usable doses by the end of the year. He said the federal government will partner with McKesson to quickly distribute the finalized vaccines.
Reuters reports some U.S. scientists are also working to develop a strain of the new coronavirus for use in human challenge trials of vaccines. These types of studies are controversial and involve intentionally exposing healthy volunteers to the virus after they have been vaccinated against it.
In the case of the ongoing pandemic, human challenge trials are a “plan C or plan D,” said Anthony S. Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, and not intended to replace ongoing Phase 3 trials of vaccines like those from Moderna and Pfizer.
TeleTracking, the Pittsburgh-based company tasked with managing the White House’s new coronavirus database, is citing a nondisclosure agreement in refusing to answer questions from Senate Democrats about its $10.2 million contract, the New York Times reported.
“The Trump administration’s decision to hire a private vendor and then cloak that vendor in a nondisclosure agreement raises numerous questions about their motivations and risks the ability of our public health experts to understand and effectively fight this virus,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York told the publication.
The Trump administration in July ordered hospitals to report coronavirus information to TeleTracking instead of the CDC National healthcare Safety Network.
Officials across the United States reported at least 1,219 deaths Thursday, according to a New York Times database. However, a Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention places the actual death toll at 200,000.
As of Friday, 35 states remain above the positive testing rate recommended by the World Health Organization to safely reopen, a three-state decrease from earlier this week. To safely reopen, WHO recommends states remain at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days.
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