- US COVID deaths top 250k
- Gov Cuomo says Buffalo is worst hit part of the state
- US suffers most new deaths in months
- Pfizer vaccine now 95% effective
- Lucira home test approved
- Sweden suffers most new deaths in months
- FDA panel to meet next month to discuss vaccines
- Tokyo sees record jump in cases
- PA orders new restrictions
- India outbreak continues to weaken
- LA County prepares new curfew orders
- Sinovac appears to be safe per trial data
* * *
Update (1840ET): COVID-19 has killed more than 250,000 people in the US in under than 10 months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
* * *
Update (1345ET): Gov Cuomo is holding his latest COVID briefing from Albany after urging new yorkers via tweet to limit indoor group dinners this Thanksgiving holiday.
In Albany holding a briefing. Watch on Facebook Live here:https://t.co/zQXTWlUAGv— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) November 18, 2020
Cuomo started by chiding NYers for causing this latest uptick by ignoring the social distancing rules.
"If you didn't eat the cheesecake, you wouldn't have a weight problem," he said.
Of course, that ignores the fact that roughly 80% of those infected wear masks.
Cuomo, who started the Q&A by squabbling with a couple of reporters, started by saying NYC could enter an "orange zone" - which would require schools to close - by tomorrow, though he told reporters that schools wouldn't be closed tomorrow.
Under a preexisting law, the Bronx has been designated as a yellow zone. A yellow zone in Queens is also being expanded. This will require additional testing of school teachers and personnel. However, if the city hits the 3% 7-day positivity threshold, Cuomo said, the entire city would become an orange zone, causing schools to close.
Moving on, Cuomo said during the briefing that Western New York is currently experiencing the "worst situation" in the state of New York, with a positivity rate of 7.3% in Buffalo. Additional restrictions will be imposed in parts of Buffalo too, with one yellow zone becoming an orange zone (which requires schools to go remote).
* * *
The biggest COVID-19 related news on Wednesday is the release of the final data from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine trial, which showed the vaccine to be 95% effective, on par with Moderna's mRNA vaccine results, which were released earlier in the week. While we await Moderna's "final" data showing its vaccine to be 96% effective, it's worth noting that this wasn't the only new development in the battle against the virus.
Following the announcement, it was reported that a critical FDA panel will meet on Dec. 8 to discuss the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines, raising the possibility that the first general-use approvals might come around then, or shortly after.
Lucira's rapid home test for the virus was just approved for emergency use by the FDA on Wednesday, granting a powerful new tool that can allow exposed persons to text themselves without potentially putting others at risk. The test is the first that can be fully self-administered, and it can provide results at home in 30 minutes or less. The approval comes at a time when the US is reporting an average of 150,000 new coronavirus cases per day.
“This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn in the statement.
In other news, after announcing early Wednesday (local time) that Tokyo would be placed on the highest new alert level to stop the spread of the virus, daily coronavirus cases in Tokyo hit a new record of 493 on Wednesday, topping the previous record of 472 set on Aug. 1.
Across the US, 20 states are seeing hospitalizations reach peak levels.
Deaths are surging higher in the Midwest to new record levels, though they're also rising in other regions as well. The US reported more than 1,550 new deaths yesterday, its largest daily tally since the spring.
Over in Europe, Sweden just reported 96 deaths in a single day, its highest daily tally in at least three months. The new numbers brought Sweden's death toll to 6,321. By comparison, Sweden reported 4,007 new cases on Wednesday, vs. 5,990 the day before.
Here's more COVID news from Wednesday morning and overnight:
Yesterday, Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health announced new targeted efforts to slow the spread of the virus in the state, including strengthening a mandatory mask order, along with a new mandate for those traveling to PA from out of state (Source: WGAL).
Following this morning's Pfizer news, the Indian government is reportedly in talks with Pfizer and Moderna for COVID-19 vaccine.
Los Angeles County plans to implement a curfew from 2200-0600 beginning on Friday night and restaurants with outdoor dining, breweries and wineries will be reduced to 50% capacity (Source: Newswires).
The US isn't the only country with some helpful vaccine news: Sinovac's vaccine CORONAVAC appeared to be safe and well tolerated at all doses according to Phase 1/2 study, while phase 3 will be crucial to determine the immune response according to researchers. Researchers also stated the vaccine is suitable for emergency use during the pandemic and noted that antibody levels induced by the vaccine were lower than those seen in people that have recovered from the virus.
Tokyo is preparing to raise its coronavirus infection alert status to the highest of level 4. Elsewhere, South Australia’s Premier announced mobility restrictions amid the ongoing outbreak in the state with all schools, universities, takeaway food, pubs and cafes to be shut for 6 days. (Source: Nikkei).
India reports 38,617 new cases, up from 29,163 the previous day, bringing the total to 8.91 million. The death toll jumped by 474 to 130,993 (Source: Nikkei).
South Australia Premier Steven Marshall announced a six-day lockdown to stamp out an outbreak that has now expanded to 22 new cases, warning that the strain of coronavirus detected was especially worrying.