CONCLUDE

The US has reached 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Now experts are looking ahead and the forecast for autumn and winter is not good.

USA TODAY

A study by researchers in Houston shows that the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 7 million people in the US alone, may have mutated into a more contagious strain, if not more deadly.

Help could be on the way. The UK is considering a plan to deliberately infect healthy volunteers to speed up the process of determining which vaccine candidates will be effective. And Johnson & Johnson has begun final testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which will be the first to reach this point and require a single dose.

President Donald Trump proposed repealing the US Food and Drug Administration’s attempt to set a higher standard for vaccine approval. He called the FDA plan “a political move,” while the agency said it was an attempt to gain public trust.

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases has now exceeded the estimated population of all but 12 states. In Canada, where nearly 150,000 cases have been confirmed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country was facing a second wave of the virus.

Some important developments:

📈 Today’s numbers: The US has reported more than 6.9 million cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University, and more than 201,000 deaths, total more than the populations of cities like Little Rock, Arkansas, Fort Collins, Colorado and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There have been nearly 32 million cases and more than 977,000 deaths worldwide.

📰 What we read: Fever. Chills. Body aches. Shortness of breath. Some people infected with COVID-19 have been battling such symptoms for months, wondering if they would ever feel better again. Now finally, a treatment program originally intended for geriatric patients is bringing relief to long-suffering patients.

🗺️ Mapping the coronavirus:Track the US outbreak from state to state.

This file will be updated during the day. Subscribe for updates in your inbox The Daily Briefing Newsletter.

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UK is considering infecting healthy volunteers to test vaccines

The UK could become the first country in the world to intentionally infect healthy volunteers with coronavirus in the world’s first “Human Challenge” study to speed up the determination of how COVID vaccines work. The Financial Times reported that the government-funded studies will be announced next week and could begin in January. British government officials would only say that discussions are ongoing for such a process. The BBC said no contract had been signed by Thursday. The UK has struggled to neutralize a surge in some cases over the past few weeks. Tighter restrictions, like pubs closing at 10 p.m., will apply across the country on Thursday.

Professor Peter Horby of Oxford University told the BBC that such an attempt was a good idea and could quickly expand knowledge of the virus.

“I think the challenge process has the potential to save thousands of lives and really get the world out of the pandemic sooner,” Horby said.

Study: Coronavirus has become more contagious

Researchers at the Houston Methodist Hospital say a study of the second wave of the coronavirus sweeping the city suggests a mutation that is more contagious than the original strain. The later infections show that the virus still has the crown shape that gives the virus its name, but the newer version has more spikes that attach to human cells. The study, which had not yet undergone decisive peer review, found that patients infected with the variant strain had more viruses at diagnosis than the first round of patients in the spring. There was one upside: the study showed no evidence that the mutation was more deadly than the original. The results remain primarily associated with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

“We have now carried out molecular analyzes of the two waves of the pandemic. A special feature is the increase in the frequency of the mutated strain over a short period of time,” said Dr. James Musser, the study’s author, told the Houston Chronicle. “This strain is clearly very different.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison to resume some personal teachings

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the campus would reopen on Saturday after a two-week lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 among college students.

“Nobody wanted our semester to start like this, but it did underscore that strict adherence to public health protocols is essential to protecting the health and running of the campus,” Blank said in a message to the campus on Wednesday. “Our combined efforts have reduced the number of positive cases and the positivity rate for campus tests in the past two weeks.”

The university was just a week in the school year when principals nearly closed campus facilities, rescheduled classes online, and quarantined two of the largest dormitories that housed 2,220 students in total. There will be changes. The reopening will take place gradually. Not all classes start immediately and not all return to personal lessons. Classes that require special equipment are still personal or hybrid, but others are subject to change.

– Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dr. Anthony Fauci: The vaccine won’t eradicate COVID-19 completely

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost health expert, told a Senate panel on Wednesday that Americans will likely have to continue wearing face masks and practice social distancing after a vaccine for the coronavirus becomes available.

“The availability of vaccines will mean a big step in controlling the infection, but you won’t completely eradicate or eliminate it,” Fauci said, adding that conditions won’t change overnight. Fauci said it was unusual for a vaccine to be 100% effective.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warns of “second wave” of COVID-19 in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said Canada is in a second wave of COVID-19, warning the country of an autumn season that could be much worse than spring. Trudeau noted that when Canada was locked on March 13, there were 47 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and that Canada had well over 1,000 on Tuesday alone. Many provinces slowly reopened in the summer.

“We can’t change the numbers of today or even tomorrow – they were decided two weeks ago by what we did or didn’t do,” Trudeau said in a rare national televised address. But he added, “Together we have the power to bring this second wave under control.”

Trudeau urged Canadians to continue wearing masks and to download the government’s COVID app, which lets a person know if they’ve come into close contact with someone who tests positive.

CONCLUDE

COVID-19 testing is critical to fighting the pandemic. Are there enough tests, however? The answer lies in the positivity rates.

USA TODAY

Donald Trump Suggests FDA Override COVID-19 Vaccine

Hours after some of the government’s top health officials gave assurances that the search for a coronavirus vaccine would be conducted free of political interference, President Donald Trump on Wednesday undercut that thought and proposed overriding the Federal Drug Administration. Trump, who has predicted the arrival of a vaccine ahead of the November 3 election, questioned why the FDA would set a higher standard for emergency vaccine approval, as the agency is reportedly planning to increase public confidence to win.

The president said the FDA guidelines “must be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve them.” Earlier in the day, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn addressed policy concerns that play a role in the approval process, emphasizing that when FDA makes decisions, “science will guide our decisions,” said Hahn. “The FDA is not going to put pressure on anyone to change this.”

The New Year’s Eve party in Times Square will have more virtual elements

The New Year’s Eve celebration in New York’s Times Square will be scaled back to allow social distancing and will include enhanced virtual elements, organizers said on Wednesday. Details of the personal celebrations are still being worked out, but key staff and first aiders will be among the winners.

“Whether you’re looking to turn away from the bad news of 2020 or turn to the New Year with a sense of hope, renewal, and determination, you can join us as part of the Times Square 2021 Celebration virtually like never before,” Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, said in a statement.

COVID-19 resources from the US TODAY

Contributor: The Associated Press

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