Coronavirus Newsbites

Trump mocks Biden for wearing mask: 'Did you ever see a man that likes a mask as much as him?'
US President Donald Trump mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a face mask on Thursday, even as the US continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 6 million infections.

Speaking to a largely mask-less crowd in Pennsylvania, Trump asked his supporters if they know "a man that likes a mask as much" as Biden. "It gives him a feeling of security," the President said. "If I was a psychiatrist, I'd say this guy has some big issues."

This is just the latest Trump comment to run counter to the advice of public health experts, who have emphasized the importance of face coverings amid the country's reopening. Masks are primarily to prevent people who have the virus from infecting others.

It's the worst disaster of the pandemic. But WHO chief says our lack of concern shows 'moral bankruptcy'
They are among the greatest victims of coronavirus, yet elderly people continue to be dismissed, despite growing evidence of the devastating effects the pandemic has had on them.

Earlier this week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had heard people describing high Covid-19 death rates among older people as "fine."

"No, when the elderly are dying it's not fine. It's a moral bankruptcy," he told a news conference. "Every life, whether it's young or old, is precious and we have to do everything to save it."

WHO figures from last week show that almost 88% of all deaths in Europe were among people aged 65 and over. And almost half of all deaths linked to Covid-19 globally have taken place in care homes, according to the Long-Term Care Covid (LTCcovid) network at the London School of Economics.

But despite vast numbers of elderly people dying of coronavirus -- and a significant drop in the quality of life of many of those forced to self-isolate -- the global response to the risks they face in the era of Covid-19 has often been chilling.

Covid-19 has killed more law enforcement officers this year than all other causes combined
More police officers have died from Covid-19 this year than have been killed on patrol.

That's according to the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), a nonprofit organization that tracks law enforcement fatalities in the line of duty.

At least 101 officers have died from Covid-19, while at least 82 have died by other means, as of Thursday, according to ODMP.

The organization is working to verify an additional some 150 officers who are presumed to have died after becoming infected on duty, said communications director Jessica Rushing wrote in an email to CNN. Gunfire is the second-highest cause of death, which has killed at least 31 officers this year, according to ODMP.

The toll from the coronavirus pandemic has been so high that it could surpass the number of law enforcement officers who died as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Coronavirus cases tied to a Maine wedding reception more than double in a week
The number of Covid-19 cases linked to an August wedding reception in Maine more than doubled in the past week to 144, a state CDC spokesman said Thursday.

Also, a second person connected to the outbreak died of the virus in the past week, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Robert Long told CNN.

The wedding was less than a month ago, in Millinocket on August 7. Since then, the cases have spread to a nursing home and a prison, both more than 100 miles away from the venue.

Last week, Maine CDC said 60 cases were linked to the wedding, but this week it had updated that number to 56. Now, there are 144 cases of coronavirus tied to what was supposed to be a joyous event, more than doubling the cases.

The wedding outbreak investigation is still at 56 cases between the guests and their secondary and tertiary contacts. Secondary contacts are people who had close contact with someone who attended and tertiary contacts are people who had close contact with a secondary.

Russian scientists report modest amount of antibodies in volunteers given the vaccine for the virus.
Volunteers for vaccine tests in Russia produced a relatively modest amount of antibodies to the coronavirus, scientists there said in their first report on their controversial Covid-19 vaccine.

The report comes weeks after President Vladimir V. Putin announced with great fanfare that the vaccine — called Sputnik V — “works effectively enough” to be approved. He declared to be a “very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”

Vaccine developers roundly criticized the announcement, observing that no data had been published on the vaccine. In addition, the Russian scientists had yet to run a large-scale trial to demonstrate that the vaccine was safe and effective.

The Russian vaccine produced mild symptoms in a number of subjects, the most common of which were fevers and headaches, the scientists reported in The Lancet, analogous to similar vaccines. Volunteers who got the full vaccine produced antibodies to the coronavirus as well as immune cells that could respond strongly to it.

In their paper, the researchers noted that the vaccine did not produce as many antibodies as a vaccine by AstraZeneca’s, or a gene-based vaccine made by Moderna.

It is not uncommon for reports on early clinical vaccine trials to pass through peer review and get published in scientific journals after advanced trials get underway. But Mr. Putin’s headline-making announcement raised questions about exactly what evidence had led to the vaccine’s approval.

The trial was relatively small. Only 40 volunteers received the full vaccine, and no one received a placebo for comparison.

Q&A on Coronavirus Vaccines
In the more than eight months since the novel coronavirus emerged and then spread around the world, scientists across the globe have made rapid progress on developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Sept. 3, at least 176 vaccines are in the works, with nearly three dozen already in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization. But until a vaccine is tested in large numbers of people and weighed against a placebo, scientists won’t know if one or more vaccines are safe or effective.