- JNJ starts Phase 3 with 60,000 patients, biggest ever trial
- Indian surveillance testing finds 30% of New Delhi has had virus
- Italy reported 845 new cases
- Merkel says Europe wants to avoid lockdowns
- Arizona, Florida see cases continue to fall
- Macron rejects nationwide lockdown, prefers “localized” efforts
- Germany sees most new cases since April
- Chinese media defends Wuhan “pool partiers”
- Brazil says outbreak finally past its peak
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Update (1400ET): Johnson & Johnson is planning to test its anti-COVID-19 vaccine on 60,000 people worldwide, the largest vaccine trial anywhere to date.
In what was no doubt welcome news for the market, the Phase 3 trials, which are set to begin by September, are double the size of other vaccine tests. Dow Jones quoted a J&J spokesman as saying it wanted “to enroll a robust number of participants who are representative of those populations affected by COVID-19.”
The trials will run in 28 US states with high transmission rates, and eight hard-hit nations (including Brazil, the Philippines and South Africa and of course the US0.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making it easier for New Yorkers to submit absentee ballots to encourage people to vote who are afraid of being exposed to the coronavirus.
The new law was inspired by Trump’s “undermining” of the Post Office.
“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” he said in a statement.
The new law allows people who fear infection to request an absentee ballot, and outlines rules for counting votes by when they are postmarked or received.
Virus cases in England increased by more than a quarter in the week through Aug. 12, underscoring the risks facing BoJo’s government as it tries to boost economic activity without triggering a new peak in the pandemic.
As India continues its surveillance efforts, a study found that nearly 30% of residents of New Delhi have had the virus.
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Update (1220ET): Italy reported 845 new cases on Thursday, the biggest one-day jump yet, compared with 642 yesterday. ICU numbers, meanwhile, are up from 66 to 68. The 845 number is the biggest number since May 16, when 875 cases were reported. Italy left its lockdown on May 18, when ‘Phase 2’ officially began. Of the new cases, 59 were reported in the Tuscan region. 17 were reportedly tied to travel. The average age of the new cases is 34.
Deaths, meanwhile, increased by 6, down from 7 the prior day.
Italy’s tally continues the European trend, however, at least Spain saw cases decline DoD on Thursday. More than 77,000 tests were administered. Total cases equaled 256,118, while total deaths equaled 35,418.
The country only has roughly 16,000 currently active cases.
Source: Il Sole 24 Ore
Elsewhere in Europe, Angela Merkel reiterated on Thursday that Europe is hoping to avoid any new lockdowns, just days after proclaiming that Germany wouldn’t revert to a lockdown, though she did pause the reopening process.
Florida reported 588,602 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up 0.8% from a day earlier, in line with the average increase in the previous seven days, as the new daily rate of people testing positive continues to slow. The state’s positivity rate fell to 6.8% on Wednesday, the lowest since June 14. The state has reported 31,465 new cases in the past seven days, the fewest in a week since late June.
Arizona on Thursday reported 723 new virus cases, a 0.4% increase to 196,280, which matched the average over the prior week, and Arizona’s Department of Health Services also reported 50 new deaths from the virus, down from 105 the day before, bringing the total to 4,684.
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Coronavirus news out of Europe and Asia on Thursday further cemented the narrative that while outbreaks in the US, India and Brazil appear to have finally reached their peaks in terms of both infections, and deaths, the virus is making a comeback elsewhere. As the worst-hit countries finally see some relief, clusters reported across Europe and Asia have continued to fester, while more continue to be discovered.
On Thursday, Germany once again reported its largest single-day COVID-19 case total since the Spring, with 1,707 new cases in the past 24 hours.
According to the Robert Koch Institute data, Thursday’s numbers brought the total number of infections to 228,621.
While the uptick in cases seen since Germany started reopening schools and its economy have alarmed elected officials, cases remain well below daily records seen in early April, when Germany reported just over 6,000 cases in a day. Ten new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,253.
Germany isn’t alone. Spain, France, the UK, Greece and a handful of other European states have seen a rise in cases recently. After France reported its highest single-day case tally in months, President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published by Paris Match last night that French people don’t need to fear another national lockdown, though he left the door open for local lockdowns, like those that have been re-imposed in Paris and Toulouse.
“We can not put the country at a standstill, because the collateral damage of confinement is considerable,” Macron said. “Zero risk never exists in a company. We must respond to this anxiety without falling into the doctrine of zero risk.”
However, a “targeted re-containment” of certain areas should not be ruled out “if the situation requires it,” Macron said, insisting that he would prefer “very localized strategies.”
Over in Latin America, Brazilian public health officials proclaimed on Thursday that the outbreak might finally be slowing, as data collected since the end of July shows that a peak in both deaths and cases occurred in late July, according to Brazil’s Health Ministry.
The number of cases confirmed last week declined to 304,684 compared with a peak of 319,653 in the week ending July 25.
The number of deaths reported on a weekly basis has also fallen to 6,755 from a peak of 7,677 reported during the last week in July.
What’s more, an analysis of the data by Imperial College London shows Brazil’s transmission rate has fallen below one, a definitive sign that the outbreak is in fact slowing, as each infected patient is now expected to pass the virus to less than one person.
Finally, in China, state media are coming to the defence of a theme park in Wuhan which hosted a massive music festival and pool party over the weekend, raising concerns about potential COVID-19 transmission as the photos zinged across the global internet.
Criticizing #Wuhan residents for having fun at water park music festival shows foreign sour grapes. People should reflect on why their countries’ epidemic control failed rather than smear Wuhan people and their hard-won victory over #coronavirus https://t.co/NJVBmxLiHk https://t.co/BRQBJvZtoe
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 19, 2020
While Beijing defends partiers, officials in the state of Connecticut are punishing several students who attended a “packed dorm party”, photos of which incensed the Internet, according to the Hartford Courant.