Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, on Wednesday questioned President Trump's proposal that a coronavirus vaccine should be available by election day as he repeatedly tried to reassure senators and the public that no vaccine was being made would be open to the public unless it was safe and effective.
"Trying to predict whether this will happen in a certain week before or after a certain date in early November is way beyond anything a scientist could tell you right now, and he can be sure that he knows what he is saying" said Dr. Collins attends a Senate panel hearing on efforts to find a vaccine.
Wednesday's hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee came amid growing concerns over whether people would be reluctant to take a coronavirus vaccine and whether Mr Trump would put political pressure on his administration to get one quickly approve an increase in his re-election offer against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
On Tuesday, a group of drug companies, all in the race to develop vaccines, promised not to release vaccines that did not meet strict standards of effectiveness and safety. Hours later, a lead vaccine developer, AstraZeneca, announced that it had suspended a large-scale clinical trial of a vaccine candidate after a patient experienced a potentially serious side effect. Dr. Collins referred to this development as "a concrete example of how a single case of unexpected illness is enough to conduct a clinical trial in multiple countries" – and as evidence that "we cannot compromise on safety".
In an interview on "CBS This Morning", Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government's foremost infectious disease expert, shared that feeling.
"That is why you have different phases of trials to see if these candidates are actually safe," said Dr. Fauci, adding that such a stop was "not at all unusual".
At the hearing, the Democrats on the panel named both Dr. Collins and Surgeon General Jerome Adams on the ramifications of Mr Trump's false statements about the vaccine and whether they would undermine confidence in the development process. Dr. Collins declined, however, when Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren asked him up close whether Mr Trump's misinformation would deter people from taking the vaccine and affect efforts to spread it.
"I'm not sure I know the answer to that question," said Dr. Collins. When Ms. Warren squeezed it again, he added, "I just hope Americans get the information they need from scientists, not politicians."
Three companies are in the late-stage Phase 3 clinical trial that is expected to enroll 30,000 Americans, half of whom will be injected with the vaccine candidate and the other half will be given a placebo.
Dr. Collins said he had "cautious optimism" that a safe and effective vaccine would be on the market by the end of the year, although he added, "but even that is a guess."
Even as studies progress, there are big questions about who gets a vaccine first and how it is distributed. Dr. Adams told the panel that the government intended to release guidelines later Wednesday that would allow federally licensed pharmacists to vaccinate people over 3 years of age.
AstraZeneca, a top company in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, announced Tuesday a worldwide hiatus in late trials for its product because of a suspected adverse event.
Several people familiar with the event, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a person in the UK who participated in a Phase 2/3 study had symptoms similar to what was known as transverse myelitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord Illness were compatible.
Suspending the study will allow an independent panel of experts to determine whether the participant's condition is vaccine-related or just incidental, said Saad Omer, a vaccine expert at Yale University.
Part of this process is creating a timeline of the participant's symptoms to see if they roughly coincide with when the vaccine was given. The committee will also investigate other possible causes of the symptoms as part of an elimination process. After determining whether AstraZeneca's vaccine is a likely culprit, experts will advise the company on whether to restart trials.
No further doses of the vaccine will be given in the meantime. It remains unclear how long the evaluation process will take. AstraZeneca representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comments and clarifications.
The suspension marks the second time AstraZeneca has stopped delivering coronavirus vaccines in the UK due to severe neurological symptoms. This is evident from fact sheets uploaded to a clinical trial registry first reported by Nature News. Another participant developed symptoms of transverse myelitis, researchers reported in July, and was later diagnosed with an "unrelated neurological disorder". After a security check, the experiments were restarted.
Transverse myelitis is relatively rare and causes symptoms in about 1,400 people each year, according to the National Institutes of Health in the United States. The root cause is often puzzling, although doctors believe the syndrome generally occurs when inflammatory responses go wrong in the body, sometimes in response to a persistent or previous infection, said Dr. Felicia Chow, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco. "It's not uncommon that we never find out why," said Dr. Chow.
There has been some speculation in the past that vaccines could potentially cause transverse myelitis, she added, but "there has never been really strong evidence."
Should other participants in the AstraZeneca studies develop symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis, "this would raise these questions again," said Dr. Chow.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that the indoor eating ban in New York City would be lifted on September 30th, which would help the city recover from the pandemic that has made its status as one of the few places in the nation would end with a total ban.
The governor's announcement that would allow restaurants to open tables to 25 percent capacity could mark a major milestone in the coronavirus crisis in New York City, where restaurants are a crucial part of the city's economy and its currently dying tourism make up an integral part of its normally living social fabric.
The announcement came more than two months after Governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio halted a restaurant reopening plan, citing ongoing concerns over the coronavirus, which has killed more than 30,000 people in New York . However, the state's infection rate has been kept below 1 percent for weeks, which has eased some restrictions. Indoor dining resumed last week in neighboring New Jersey at 25 percent capacity.
"Because compliance is better, we can now take the next step," said the governor.
The timing coincided with a date three weeks away, when the fall weather was likely to make the tables outside. Additional restrictions would also be placed on restaurants and their guests, including temperature checks and an obligation to wear face covers when they are not seated. The bars prepare drinks for the table and the restaurants have to close at midnight.
Even with the reopening plan, restrictions will be even tighter in New York City than in other parts of the state, where restaurants operate with half their indoor tables.
"This may not look like the indoor food we all know and love," de Blasio said in a statement following the governor's announcement, "but it's a step forward for restaurant workers and all New Yorkers."
Britain, which is seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases, will ban most gatherings of more than six people starting next week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
"I wish we didn't have to take this step" Mr Johnson said. "As your prime minister, I must do what is necessary to stop the virus from spreading."
Emphasizing hand washing and wearing face coverings, he said the new rule would only apply "as long as necessary".
He said the arrangement, which he called the "rule of six", replaced old guidelines and would apply to public and private gatherings.
Government Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said the boom in the country wasn't just a matter of testing more people, comparing the situation in the UK to France, where cases are on the rise.
Restaurants and other eateries are now also legally obliged to use the personal data of customers for the purposes of contact tracking. And Mr Johnson said there will be stronger enforcement of quarantine rules for those entering the country.
The new rules go into effect on Monday and anyone who violates them can be fined and potentially arrested.
"They are not allowed to meet socially in groups of more than 6 people," said Mr Johnson. "If you do that, you will break the law."
Around 3,000 new cases were reported on both Sunday and Monday this week, the highest daily numbers in the UK since May. An additional 2,500 new cases and 32 deaths were reported Tuesday.
In other developments around the world:
A fast moving fire destroyed most of the largest European refugee camp the Greek island of LesbosThe 12,000 residents became homeless just days after the collective quarantine due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Of France Prime Minister Jean Castex is self-isolating after coming in contact with the Tour de France director who tested positive. Mr Castex tested negative on Tuesday but he will isolate until he is retested seven days after contact. France is facing a resurgence with a daily average of 7,000 cases over the past seven days and an increase in the number of patients in intensive care after months of decline.
IndiaThe Ministry of Health announced Tuesday that it plans to voluntarily open classrooms for students starting September 21, only with parental consent. The vast majority of students will continue to study online. The Taj Mahal will also open to tourism on September 21st. Access is limited to 5,000 people per day. India has recorded more than 4.3 million cases, second only to the US. Almost 90,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday.
China's largest air show will take place in November, the organizer said on Wednesday, going back to an earlier announcement that the event had been canceled due to the pandemic. The biennial International Aerospace Exhibition takes place amid a sharp downturn in the industry.
Germany extended travel advice to all countries outside Europe by September 30th. However, the Foreign Ministry stated that from October individual non-European targets would be assessed on a case-by-case basis instead of issuing another blanket warning.
A photo of an elderly man having a meal in a pub in Galway, Ireland, began a national conversation about virus regulations and the simple joys in life.
Schools in Iowa's major cities are fighting the governor's orders to open their classrooms.
Like millions of school children across the country, Des Moines public schools students began teaching remotely on Tuesday despite the governor ordering and a state judge ruling the district must hold at least half of its classes in person.
The Iowa litigation is one of many legal disputes that arose across the country as school districts, elected officials, educators and parents battled to balance educational needs with public health concerns. In North Carolina, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board earlier this month demanding personal tuition.
In Des Moines, District Judge Jeffrey Farrell on Tuesday denied the school district's motion for a restraining order that would allow him to remotely hold all classes in a rising number of coronavirus cases that are making their classrooms unsafe, according to school officials.
Despite the ruling, the district held distance learning again on Wednesday, despite the school board meeting with lawyers to discuss options. Another judge issued a similar ruling Tuesday against Iowa City schools, also started remotely as part of a two-week waiver from the state Des Moines failed to receive.
Des Moines Schools sued the Iowa Department of Education and Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, in August after the governor issued an order requiring schools in the state to teach at least 50 percent of their classes in person when coronavirus positivity rates are reached in their communities less than 15 percent – three times the rate recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Polk and Warren Counties, home of Des Moines public schools, both cross that federal threshold. Tuesday's ruling denied the district a restraining order while the lawsuit continues.
Despite the rejection, Des Moines schools will remain closed "until further notice" to protect public health, even if doing so puts the district at risk of losing government funds, Des Moines Superintendent Thomas Ahart said in a statement .
Mr. Arhart later said on the phone, “There is no way for us to tell our community that we are genuinely protecting their students, or to tell our staff that we are not putting them in danger and have them return. Requirements of the state to learn. These two are incompatible actions. "
Trump admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he had downplayed the threat posed by the virus.
President Trump admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he knowingly downplayed the coronavirus earlier this year, even though he was aware that it was "deadly" and far more serious than the seasonal flu.
"This is deadly stuff," Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward on February 7th in a series of interviews he had with the president for his upcoming book "Rage". The Washington Post and CNN pre-received copies of the book and released details on Wednesday.
"You just breathe in the air and so it's over," said Trump. "And that's very difficult. It's very delicate. It's also more deadly than even your stressful flu."
That was a very different story from what Mr. Trump was telling the public.
"I always wanted to downplay it," Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward on March 19th. "I still like to downplay it because I don't want to panic."
In public, Mr Trump early claimed the virus would go away, predicting in February that it will miraculously go away by April if it gets a little warmer.
National security adviser Robert O'Brien warned the president on Jan. 28 that the coronavirus was the "greatest national security threat" to his presidency, according to CNN's report on the book, but Mr Trump later said he does not remember the warning.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. aimed at Mr Trump over the revelations during an appearance in Michigan on Wednesday
"He had the information," said Mr Biden, accusing Mr Trump of lying to the public. “He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease has afflicted our nation, he did not do his job on purpose. It was a life and death betrayal of the American people. "
At the White House press conference on Wednesday, shortly after the book's contents were published in press reports, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed the president had not lied.
"This president does what leaders do, good leaders," she said, saying, "the president has never lied to the American public on Covid."
Arizona reported the lowest number of new Covid-19 cases since late March, reflecting progress in curbing the spread of the disease after harrowing outbreaks over parts of the summer.
Arizona only had 81 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, a remarkably sharp decrease from July when new cases hit 3,800 a day. There have been at least 206,048 cases and 5,221 deaths in Arizona since the pandemic began, including two new deaths Tuesday.
The state led the nation in per capita coronavirus infections after Governor Doug Ducey quickly reopened the economy in late spring. Mr. Ducey then turned around by allowing cities and counties to issue mask mandates and ordering some businesses to close again.
The Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, is also making strides against Covid-19. For the first time in nearly six months, Navajo authorities did not report any new cases of the disease on Tuesday.
Still, epidemiologists warn that cases could rise again in Arizona, citing the potential for outbreaks at school openings and Labor Day gatherings. While new cases fell significantly on Tuesday, they averaged 525 per day for the past week.
Mnuchin expressed little optimism about another stimulus bill.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday expressed doubts about the likelihood of another stimulus package being passed this year, and said his current focus is on a move to extend government funding later this month.
The comments come from the fact that Republicans and Democrats in Congress are far apart in their views on the scope and cost of another bailout bill and that Mr Trump has been largely excluded from the negotiations.
When asked about the prospect of a further bill, Mr Mnuchin showed little optimism.
"I don't know," said Mr. Mnuchin outside the White House. "We'll see. I hope there is. It's important to a lot of people out there."
The Treasury Secretary said he was in talks with spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi on a "clean" bill to help the government financially until after the election and avoid government shutdowns. He has also had discussions with Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the Republican chief on the Senate Appropriations Committee, about such a bill.
"It doesn't seem promising for incentives at the moment," Shelby said Tuesday after speaking with Mnuchin about a stopgap solution, formally known as the rolling resolution. "So if we don't get an incentive, the only game in town would be a couple of nominations and the CR, which the government funds."
Mr Mnuchin has also reached out to Senate Republicans to discuss the scaled-back stimulus plan, tabled Tuesday, to provide federal aid to the unemployed, schools, farmers, the postal service and small businesses. Legislation, which saves billions of dollars from the original Republican $ 1 trillion proposal unveiled in July, does not provide for another round of $ 1,200 economic reviews or additional funding for state and local governments.
A vote on this bill, slated for Thursday in the Senate, is unlikely to reach the required 60-vote threshold as Democrats continue to push for a more robust and costly package.
When asked if he was frustrated by Trump's exposed rallies, Fauci said: "We want to set an example."
On Wednesday morning, the day after Mr. Trump held a major rally in North Carolina without a mask, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's chief infectious disease official, expressed concern about the example of this set.
Dr. Fauci appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine and was asked if he was frustrated to see such rallies.
"Well, and I've said that many times," he said. "We want to set an example."
Dr. Fauci, whose differences with the president were noted over the course of the pandemic, said public health measures such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowds, and engaging in outdoor rather than indoor activities "are the most important Are kind of things that change around surges and also prevent us from getting surges. "
"So I would definitely like to see mask wearing universal," he said.
While Mr. Trump's recent rallies have been outdoors or in airport hangars, they are certainly crowded, with little evidence of physical distancing. And even in places where there is an official mask requirement, such as North Carolina, there are few masks at the rallies. The Republican chairman of the district commission, where the rally was held on Wednesday, previously said the president should wear a mask in view of the nationwide order on face coverings. Mr. Trump didn't.
The report shows how mail delivery of prescription drugs slowed among DeJoy.
The Senate Democrats released a report Wednesday showing that delivery of prescription drugs through the mail slowed during the summer when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made changes to the United States Postal Service to cut costs. This confirms reports of late packages from across the country.
Delivery times increased by up to 32 percent, and patients had to wait an additional day or two on average to receive their prescriptions, the report said.
Some delays were longer. According to the report, one company said, "The number of orders that take more than five days to arrive has increased dramatically since the pandemic started."
Two Democratic Senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, collected information from five of the largest pharmacies and administrators of prescription drug programs in the country.
Some shipments began to slow before Mr. DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and ally of President Trump, took office in June, likely due to the coronavirus pandemic and supply chain disruptions. But The delays were exacerbated in July after Mr DeJoy launched his cost-cutting measures, the report said.
"He must resign," Senator Warren wrote on Twitter, saying if Mr. DeJoy does not resign, the Postal Service Board of Governors should remove him.
The postal service did not immediately respond to the report, but said last week that postal performance was gradually improving.
College quarantine failures in the United States put some at risk.
In the United States, colleges that have reopened for face-to-face classes are struggling to contain the spread of the virus among tens of thousands of students. Perhaps the most complex problem is what to do with students who test positive or who they come into contact with someone who has.
Many have set up special dormitories or rent apartments or hotel rooms off campus in order to provide isolation beds and separate quarantine units for infected students for potentially sick people.
However, some students and epidemiologists say the guidelines have collapsed, often in ways that could put students and college staff at risk.
At the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Notre Dame University, students have reported their classmates for violating quarantine and outdoor hiking. At Iowa State University, a student waiting for his virus test results said he was sent back to his regular dorm room where he could have infected his roommate.
And in many locations, students with confirmed or potential infections have flooded social media platforms describing dirty rooms, meager food rations, missing furniture, messy procedures, and minimal surveillance by their universities.
The breakdown of the guidelines reflects the chaotic nature of this extraordinary semester, with schools struggling to offer both personal and remote classes. Identify, isolate, and treat coronavirus outbreaks; and to maintain safe behavior among sometimes unruly students.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brianna Hayes developed a fever after a week at school, went to the on-campus health service and was immediately placed in a quarantine dormitory for students at risk of viruses. Two days later, the university informed Ms. Hayes, a freshman, that she had tested positive and had to move again, this time to a Covid-19 isolation home.
But there were no university staff in the dormitory to help sick students, Ms. Hayes said, and no one came from university to check on her during her week in isolation.
"I felt like everyone was just interested in how I influenced others, how who I came in contact with, and then I just got sick," she said.
Amy Johnson, vice chancellor for student affairs at U.N.C., said the school worked hard "to make transition easy and convenient for students" and "to keep lines of communication open". With more than 900 cases of student virus in the last month, the university switched to online classes in mid-August, but it has allowed some students with proven needs to stay on campus.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was in Sardinia in August, as was his friend, the club owner Flavio Briatore. Now both are among hundreds of island-related events, a favorite of the rich party-goers.
It is unclear when or how Mr Berlusconi and Mr Briatore got the virus. However, it is known that the number of cases on the island has increased from a few dozen before summer to over 1,000 per month.
Mr Berlusconi, 83, lies in a Milan hospital with pneumonia. Mr Briatore, who stopped by to pay him a visit to his Sardinian property and who publicly complained about a government overreaction to the pandemic, is being quarantined.
In March, as cases and deaths exploded in northern Italy, South Island Governor Christian Solinas asked authorities in Rome to ban entry into Sardinia. The government obliges. The island held the worst off for months.
But August has been Sardinia's hot season since the 1960s, and even the pandemic couldn't stop it.
Roberto Ragnedda, the mayor of the Sardinian city of Arzachena, said that "10 days of madness" in August had "done enormous damage to our image and our economy".
Some of the perpetrators who were caught without a mask had to lie in a coffin. Others were ordered to sit in the back of a hearse.
With coronavirus numbers rising above 200,000 in Indonesia, some officials are finding creative ways to get home the message that wearing a mask is required to prevent new infections.
In East Jakarta, the authorities punished several people with time in a coffin.
"The coffin is a symbol to remind people not to underestimate the coronavirus," said Budhy Novian, head of the public order agency in east Jakarta. "We try to get the message across to people: The Covid-19 number is high and leads to death."
But officials halted the practice after critics pointed out viewers violating social distancing rules by pushing themselves to gawk and take photos.
Indonesia, fourth in the world Most populous country, passed 200,000 reported cases as of Tuesday. According to a New York Times database, an average of more than 3,000 cases per day has occurred for the past two weeks, and the death toll is the highest in East Asia at 8,230.
Indonesia has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, and its positivity rate is close to 14 percent, slightly higher than Sweden's and well above the 5 percent the World Health Organization has cited as a rough benchmark for easing social distancing measures. (An increasing rate of positivity can indicate an uncontrolled outbreak; it can also indicate that not enough tests are being done.)
Some independent experts suggest that the real number of cases in Indonesia is many times higher than 200,000.
In Jakarta, the capital, officials erected a coffin-themed monument last week to highlight the rising death toll and remind people to follow coronavirus protocols.
Failure to comply with the obligation to wear a mask in public in Jakarta is punishable by a fine of up to US $ 67 for repeat offenders, which is a significant sum for many residents.
Coverage was by Aurora Almendral, Troy Closson, Emily Cochrane, Katie Glück, Michael Gold, Maggie Haberman, Jason Horowitz, Mike Ives, Thomas Kaplan, Patrick Kingsley, Dan Levin, Jesse McKinley, Constant Méheut, Claire Moses and Richard C. Paddock written by Alan Rappeport, Simon Romero, Christopher F. Schütze, Natascha singer, Karan Deep Singh, Kaly Soto, Megan Specia, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Muktita Suhartono, Katie Thomas, Katherine J. Wu and Elaine Yu.