AstraZeneca Resumes Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine in Britain

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has resumed trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after getting permission from safety monitors, the company announced Saturday.

“Clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, have resumed in the UK following confirmation by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority that it was safe to do so,” the company said in a statement.

The pharmaceutical company paused the trials on Tuesday because a volunteer participant became ill after receiving the experimental drug. The company issued a statement that day saying the pause in testing was a “routine action, which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.”

AstraZeneca’s drug is one of nine vaccine candidates in late stage Phase 3 human trials around the world.

The company began enrolling 30,000 volunteers August 31, and the vaccine was being tested in smaller groups in Brazil and in other South American countries before the trials were suspended.

In the U.S., the country’s top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it will be well into next year before life begins to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic normalcy, but that it depends on whether a vaccine is available later this year.

Fauci told MSNBC Friday that “by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations, and you get the majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that’s likely not going to happen till the mid or end of 2021.”

Fauci said Thursday at Harvard Medical School that it is “not going to be easy” for Americans to get through the fall and winter. When interviewer Andrea Mitchell noted Fauci’s comments conflicted with President Donald Trump’s declaration that same day that the U.S. had “rounded the final turn” on the virus, Fauci responded, “I have to disagree,” and he added, “We’re plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day, and the deaths are around 1,000.”

The U.S. continues to lead the world in COVID-19 deaths, with more than 193,000, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. The U.S. is also the world leader in coronavirus infections, with more 6.4 million. Worldwide, more than 916,000 people have died of COVID-19 and 28.5 million are infected.

Infections are growing faster in India than anywhere else in the world, cementing its place as the second-hardest hit country behind the U.S. India’s Health Ministry reported Saturday that infections exceeded 4.6 million after a record spike of 97,570 new cases in 24 hours.

Infections in India’s largest state, Maharashtra, home to financial capital Mumbai, topped 1 million Saturday, stifling the country’s attempts to reinvigorate its economy.

Daily coronavirus cases reached an all-time high of 1,007 Saturday in the United Arab Emirates, surpassing levels during a May peak. Authorities warned residents earlier this week to comply with preventative measures when daily infections jumped five-fold over a month ago.

On the Greek Island of Lesbos Saturday, asylum seekers peacefully protested the construction of a replacement camp after successive fires this week destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp, forcing them sleep in the open for a fourth consecutive night.

The protesters are demanding to leave the island after the camp, built to accommodate 2,750 people, became so overcrowded that the fires left more than 12,000 in need of emergency shelter. Officials said the fires were deliberately set by some camp residents angered about the imposition of new lockdown measures after 35 people tested positive for COVID-19.

Protests were also held Saturday in Auckland against the New Zealand government’s latest coronavirus containment measures, which were restored last month after a small outbreak. Thousands of protesters, many not wearing masks, were tightly packed as they marched. The country reported two new cases on Friday, increasing the total to 1,795.

In the midwestern U.S. state of Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced that Dr. Joan Duwve would be the state’s new health director, but hours later Duwve turned down the position because she was informed of the harassment her predecessor, Dr. Amy Acton, had faced because of lockdown orders she gave early in the coronavirus outbreak.

Duwve, who was South Carolina’s public health director, said in a statement in South Carolina’s The State newspaper, “In conversations preparing for the transition to the Ohio Department of Health, I was informed that the former director’s family had faced harassment from the public.” Duwve said, “While I have dedicated my life to improving public health, my first commitment is to my family. I am a public figure. My family is off-limits. I withdrew my name from consideration to protect my family from similar treatment.”

For the first time since mid-March, Canada has gone 24 hours without reporting a death from COVID-19, according to public health agency data released late Friday.

Canada has 9,214 deaths from COVID-19 and 137,676 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Most of the country’s provinces are easing their pandemic restrictions and schools are opening for in-person classes, leading to a mild uptick in infections in the last few days. The rest of the provinces, including British Columbia have added new curbs to halt the spread of the virus.

In Brief:

• U.S. expert Anthony Fauci: it will be well into 2021 before life starts to return to normal

• Global case count surpasses 28.5 million

• U.S. leads world with upwards of 6.4 million infections and over 193,000 deaths

• Some U.S. hospitals turning down part of their remdesivir allotment

• Hospitals say they are only using the expensive drug for the sickest patients

• COVID-19 fears are scaring away blood donors in parts of strife-torn Cameroon

• Canada goes 24 hours without a coronavirus death for the first time since mid-March

Source: Voice of America