Coronavirus Newsbites

Internal tensions and a resignation to virus' spread govern President Trump's pandemic response
The White House has all but given up hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus.

It has moved away from the suppression and mitigation efforts advocated by medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, instead focusing on the reopening of the economy under the imprimatur of new White House adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, who has no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology.

Atlas, a contrarian doctor who caught President Donald Trump’s eye after appearances on Fox News, has rejected the need for widespread community testing, arguing that the administration should focus almost exclusively on protecting and testing elderly populations.

US won't join global coronavirus vaccine effort led by WHO
The White House said it will not participate in an international effort to develop and distribute the coronavirus vaccine because the initiative is tied to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The decision will keep the US isolated from more than 170 countries involved in the COVAX initiative working to provide worldwide access to an effective vaccine, Paul LeBlanc writes. Aside from underscoring Trump’s long-standing distrust of global alliances and, in particular, his criticism of WHO, the decision marks a notable bet on Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to speed development of drugs, vaccines and other measures to fight the pandemic.

Night curfew to be imposed in Havana for first time as coronavirus cases surge again
Havana residents will face a nightly curfew and will not be allowed to travel to other provinces for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Cuba. This comes weeks after officials said the virus was all but defeated on the island.

Covid-19 built a 'northern wall' between the US and Canada and it could stay up longer than anyone expected
When the US and Canada mutually agreed to shut down their border to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in March, no one predicted it would be closed this long. There is still no specified date for its reopening.

Steroids Can Be Lifesaving for Covid-19 Patients, Scientists Report
Seven months into the coronavirus crisis, scientists have confirmed the efficacy of a powerful weapon in the battle against Covid-19. In international trials published today, cheap, widely available steroid drugs were shown to reduce the risk of death in seriously ill patients. Until now, the only other drug shown to help seriously ill patients, and only modestly, was remdesivir.

Many patients who are infected do not die from the virus, but from the body’s overreaction to the infection. The new research includes three studies and an analysis of pooled data from seven randomized clinical trials, which confirmed that steroids like dexamethasone, hydrocortisone and methylprednisolone can tamp down the body’s immune system and reduce the risk of death.

The strongest results were from dexamethasone, which produced a 36 percent drop in deaths; hydrocortisone appeared to reduce deaths by 31 percent; and a small trial of methylprednisolone showed a 9 percent drop. The results were so strong that the World Health Organization issued new treatment guidance and strongly recommended the use of steroids to treat severely and critically ill patients.

The W.H.O. warned against using steroids indiscriminately, noting that patients who are not severely ill are unlikely to benefit and may suffer side effects. Steroids, especially in older patients, can cause confusion or even delirium, and may leave them vulnerable to other infections. Further, wide use could deplete global supplies, depriving patients who genuinely need the medications.

But taken together, the studies “are like the second punch of a one-two punch,” said Dr. Derek C. Angus, an author of one of the new studies and the analysis. “I had a big smile on my face when I saw the results.”

C.D.C. Tells States How to Prepare for Covid-19 Vaccine by Early November
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states to prepare for a possible coronavirus vaccine by early November, raising concerns about politicized timing.

In documents sent out the same day that President Trump’s Republican National Convention speech forecast a vaccine before the end of the year, the C.D.C. outlined technical scenarios to public health officials for an unidentified “Vaccine A” and “Vaccine B” for health care workers and other high-risk groups, the latest sign of an accelerating timeline.

The Trump administration has been encouraging private development of an array of faster and cheaper testing techniques. But with no national strategy, there is confusion about how many and what types of tests are needed, and when they should be administered and to whom.

Virus fallout from the Sturgis motorcycle rally: A death in Minnesota, cases in South Dakota and more.
A Minnesota man is the first person known to have died of Covid-19 after attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last month.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in South Dakota for the 10-day event, many showing little interest in social distancing or wearing masks. The state has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases since the rally ended Aug. 16 — more than 2,000 new cases in the past week.