Coronavirus 🦠 Newsbites

CNN Coronavirus Update
Hundreds of Americans are dying every day from Covid-19, and President Donald Trump is “gaslighting” people when he says the US is leading the world in successes against the virus, CNN medical analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin said Monday.

Her comments followed a tweet from Trump stating that the US is "starting to get VERY high marks in our handling of the Coronavirus (China Virus), especially when compared to other countries and areas of the world.” He added that “the Vaccines (Plus) are coming, and fast!”

Public opinion on Trump’s handling of the outbreak is low, according to polls, and the President is looking for good news to bolster his re-election chances. He told a Monday news briefing that, “we're going to have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a very special date.”

It is highly unlikely that food is a source of Covid-19 contamination, experts say
The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) looked at the evidence that coronavirus might be carried on food or its packing and found very little.

Their finding mirrors earlier reporting from the US Food and Drug Administration that there is no real risk of getting the virus that causes Covid-19 from food or food packaging.

"To date, there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in Covid-19," the organization said in a statement. "There are no foods that should be considered a risk or warrant consideration as a vector for SARS-CoV-2."

While it is possible that people could eat something contaminated with the virus and become infected that way, it's never been seen to have happened, they said. However, it is still prudent to emphasize good food hygiene practices, the group said.

While some countries have restricted food imports, tested imported products or asked companies to state their products are coronavirus-free, the ICMSF says none of this is necessary.

"The focus for food businesses should be on protecting food workers, consumers and restaurant patrons from becoming infected by person-to-person SARS-CoV-2 spread," they wrote.

Trump tries and fails to get reporter to remove mask at news conference
In his Monday afternoon news conference, US President Donald Trump got into an exchange with Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason after Mason would not remove his face mask at the request of the President.

The President stopped Mason as he began to ask the first question, saying "you're going to have to take that off, please." He gestured to the space between the reporter and the podium, inquiring, "you're...how many feet are you away?"

Mason replied that he would just speak louder to counter the effects of the mask.

Trump was not satisfied with this response, telling the reporter his voice was "very muffled" with the face covering, "so if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier."

Mason raised his voice and repeated his offer to speak louder, asking "is that better?"

The President sighed saying, "it's better. Yeah, it's better."

Later in the news conference, Trump remarked that one reporter who did remove his mask sounded "so clear. As opposed to everybody else, where they refuse."

This is not the first time that the President has requested a reporter take off his or her mask so that he could hear a question more clearly, but his disappointment with Mason's response was notable.

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine study put on hold due to suspected adverse reaction in participant in the U.K.
A large-scale trial of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has been put on hold, after a participant in the U.K. appeared to have had a severe adverse reaction.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”

Nine Drugmakers Pledge to Uphold Scientific Standards in Coronavirus Vaccine Development
"We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which Covid-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved," the companies said.

Three of the companies with vaccines in their last stage of testing in the U.S. made the promise: Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novavax, Sanofi and BioNTech, which is working with Pfizer, also joined the pledge.

The pledge from the companies to "stand with science" underscores the highly politicized environment of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 27 million people across the globe.

President Donald Trump has pressured his administration to deliver a vaccine in record time, leading to concerns from some about cutting corners on safety.

During a Monday press conference, Trump said a vaccine approval could come in October.

"So we're going to have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a very special day, you know what date I'm talking about," Trump said, referring to Election Day.