Coronavirus updates: Johnson & Johnson pauses vaccine trial


Posted on: October 12th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than one million people worldwide.

Over 37.6 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 7.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 214,771 deaths.

California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 855,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 818,000 cases and over 736,000 cases, respectively.

More than 190 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here’s how the news developed on Monday. All times Eastern:

Oct 12, 9:19 pm
Johnson & Johnson pauses vaccine trial

Johnson & Johnson announced Monday night that it is pausing its coronavirus vaccine trial after one of its study participants came down with an “unexplained illness.” It’s not clear if the patient received the vaccine itself or a placebo shot.

The pharmaceutical company is currently in the Phase 3 stage of its trials, in a study the company calls ENSEMBLE.

“Following our guidelines, the participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the ENSEMBLE independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as well as our internal clinical and safety physicians,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that “adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study.”

Johnson & Johnson said it is working to gather more facts about the situation before it shares more information with the public.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 10 vaccines currently in late-stage Phase 3 trials.

Oct 12, 8:59 pm
NFL owners to tackle scheduling woes

NFL owners will meet virtually Tuesday to weigh their options on how to schedule the rest of the season, as several games have been postponed due to COVID-19 positive tests.

The NFL Network reported owners are mulling shuffling bye weeks and games to make the league’s standard 17-week slate work.

Although owners prefer not to go to an 18-week schedule, it may be under consideration, according to reports.

“In a Week 18 scenario, the league would likely only play games if they had a significant impact on the playoffs,” the NFL Network reported. “And if such a postponement scenario plays out for the same teams multiple times, there’s even a chance for a Week 19.”

Oct 12, 6:49 pm
Those who recover still need to take precautions, says study

The scientific journal The Lancet published new information Monday about the Nevada man who contracted COVID-19 twice, and warned that even those who have recovered from the virus need to take precautions.

The 25-year-old patient had no known immune disorders or underlying conditions when he tested positive for the virus in April and again in June, according to the study. The patient was hospitalized during his second infection with severe symptoms, including dizziness, cough, nausea, and diarrhea.

He was released from the hospital and has since recovered, according to the journal.

Mark Pandori of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, the lead author of the study, said in a statement that while more research is needed, the data indicates that patients who recovered from an infection should still heed health warnings, such as avoiding crowds, wearing a mask and washing their hands.

“There are still many unknowns about SARS-CoV-2 infections and the immune system’s response, but our findings signal that a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection may not necessarily protect against future infection,” he said in a statement.

Experts say that people who recover from COVID-19 will likely have some form of immunity, but it’s not clear if everyone develops immunity, or how long that immunity might last.

Reinfections are rare. The Nevada man is the only reported case in the U.S. so far of a patient contracting the virus twice. Four other cases of reinfection have been reported in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Ecuador, according to the journal.

“So far, we’ve only seen a handful of reinfection cases, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more, especially as many cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic,” Pandori said.

Oct 12, 6:37 pm
Fauci calls on Trump campaign to pull ad, warns against future ones

Dr. Anthony Fauci again called on the Trump campaign to take down a recent political ad that used previous statements that he says were taken out of context, warning that the future use of his interviews and statements could “backfire” on the campaign.

Fauci appeared on CNN Monday and reiterated to Jake Tapper that he didn’t give permission for his comments in a March Fox News interview, in which he complimented the overall efforts of federal public health officials, to be used in an ad in which it sounded like he was praising Trump personally.

“It’s so clear that I’m not a political person. I have never either directly or indirectly endorsed a candidate,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Despite Fauci’s objections, Trump and the campaign officials said Sunday they would continue to run the ad.

When asked how he would react if the campaign ran more ads featuring his statements, Fauci said it would be “terrible” and “outrageous.”

“That might actually come back to backfire on them; I hope they don’t do that because that’s, that would be kind of playing a game that we don’t want to play,” he said. “So I hope they reconsider that, if in fact they are indeed considering doing that.”

Later Monday evening, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted a tongue-in-cheek video that cut together clips of Trump’s speeches and interviews to make it look like Trump apologized to Fauci.

“Donald Trump is running TV ads taking Dr. Fauci out of context and without his permission. So, here’s a message from the President in his own words,” Biden tweeted.

Biden later slammed Trump for going against Fauci’s wishes during a campaign stop in Cincinnati, Ohio, saying, “Look, they use the ad knowing it’s a lie. Can you remember any other major mainstream presidential candidate ever doing something like these things?”

Oct 12, 4:23 pm

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who is in quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure, said he’s doing well during a Monday news conference. “I feel great. My family feels great. We’re trying to be really positive about this situation,” he said.

The governor reminded the public to adhere to fundamental public health measures like mask wearing and social distancing. “Folks, wear it,” he said of face coverings. “It’s a requirement in Kentucky. The more you wear them, the less the virus will spread.”

Beshear and his family are in quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19, which the governor’s office announced Sunday. A member of Beshear’s security detail had tested positive on Saturday, according to the governor’s office.


Oct 12, 2:31 pm

Up to half of COVID-19 deaths in the United States could have been prevented, according to a research letter published in JAMA Monday.

The research relies on modeling, meaning it is an estimation by scientists that’s subject to change as we discover more about the virus and not an official count of preventable deaths.

The researchers sited weak public health infrastructure and the United States’ “decentralized, inconsistent” response to the pandemic as key factors driving preventable deaths and noted that the U.S. population is on the younger side but includes a disproportionate number of citizens with comorbidities.


Oct 12, 1:42 pm

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that achieving herd immunity is not a viable strategy for stemming the spread of coronavirus.

Less than 10% of the world’s population has been infected with the virus, according to WHO, meaning that most individuals are still susceptible to the disease. Among those who have been exposed, there are many unknowns, including how high the immune response is after infection, how long it protects, and what the long-term impacts of infection are.

Worldwide COVID-19 cases continue to increase, with the highest rise occurring in the last four days, according to WHO. As of Monday, there had been 37.6 million infections worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University.

Oct 12, 1:14 pm

Whistleblower Rick Bright, the federal vaccine expert who was ousted from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after he lodged a complaint against the Trump Administration earlier this year, said that the public should not trust the White House when it comes to information about the coronavirus, during an interview with ABC’s The View on Monday.

“We need to hear directly from the scientists at the CDC, at the FDA and at the NIH,” Bright said. “Public health guidelines have been disparaged and ignored,” he added, referring to the White House.

“This is why we have 215,000 dead Americans today. This is why we have up to 50,000 new infections today. This is why we’re going to have terrible winter if we don’t do something now to turn around the rhetoric, tell people the truth.”

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