Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
India's drug authority approved paper-strip Covid-19 test that could return results within hour
India's drug authority last month approved a paper-strip test for Covid-19 that shows results in less than an hour, the head of the government institute that invented the test told CNN on Monday.

The test, called FELUDA—an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay—was named after a popular Indian fictional detective. It intends to "address the urgent need for accurate mass testing," according to a statement from TATA Sons, which manufactured the test.

The kit could be manufactured for self-testing in the future, according to Agarwal, but the prototype being developed currently is only intended for testing in labs.

The FELUDA test follows a similar rapid test kit developed in the US this spring. Both tests use a gene-editing technology called CRISPR to detect the virus in a patient's RNA. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of the SHERLOCK test kit in May, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

... India has suffered the second most Covid-19 cases in the world, and has seen more than 100,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

North Carolina elementary school teacher dies days after testing positive for Covid-19
A third-grade teacher died in North Carolina days after testing positive for Covid-19 and while her students were quarantined as a result of the exposure.

Julie Davis, 49, who taught at Norwood Elementary School in Stanly County, died from Covid-19 related complications, according to Michelle Bailey, a spokeswoman for the Stanly County School District.

While the official cause of death hasn't been released, Davis' brother Stan Andrews told CNN that she died on Sunday, October 4.

Trump has ties to drugmaker Regeneron -- and now its stock is surging
President Trump received a high dose of an experimental antibody cocktail from Regeneron as part of his Covid-19 treatment. Now the drugmaker's stock is up sharply -- and questions are swirling about the president's ties to Regeneron's billionaire CEO.

Trump's team revealed Friday that the president received the drug, called REGN-COV2, which is being used to alleviate symptoms and reduce viral load. Shares of Regeneron surged 7% Monday, bringing the stock's year-to-date gain to more than 60%. The stock reached its highs of the day after Trump tweeted that he will be leaving the hospital Monday evening.

Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer and President Trump are acquainted: The CEO has been a member at Trump's golf club in Westchester, New York, and his company also received $450 million in government funding in July as part of the president's Operation Warp Speed plan to quickly develop a vaccine and other treatments for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Trump also recently owned shares of Regeneron (REGN) -- as well as Gilead Sciences (GILD), maker of the antiviral drug remdesivir that the president is also taking. Both stocks were listed as assets on Trump's 2017 filing with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, though neither were holdings on the president's most recent filing for 2020.

Trump's grotesque coronavirus theater
President Donald Trump has reminded the world why the country is in such dire straits under his leadership.

Returning to the White House while still infected with a potentially deadly virus, he ostentatiously turned to the cameras and removed his facemask before walking in, making his every breath inside the building a threat to the health of the people working there. It was one more grotesque piece of Trump's coronavirus theater of the past few days, which for some reason he thinks will boost his political prospects, but more likely horrified those increasingly appalled by his behavior.

If you thought that after coming face to face with his mortality the President would experience a life-changing moment of deep introspection, you were wrong. On the contrary, Trump's illness appears to have solidified his unwavering faith in the catastrophic policies that left not only him and his staff unprotected from a pandemic, but encouraged Americans to take deadly risks and pay with their lives.

Three days after the Marine One helicopter performed a medical evacuation of the President of the United States from the White House lawn, Trump tweeted a startling message; startling, because it shows an utter inability to learn from experience. After announcing he would leave the hospital on Monday, he tweeted to tens of millions of followers:

"Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life."

It's a message that will cost more lives.

Most people, after enduring a jolting, potentially life-threatening event, emerge changed, even if only temporarily. There was a chance Trump would realize he had not warned Americans enough about the virus; a chance he would recognize that his nonchalance had resulted in deep suffering among those who ended up sick or who lost a loved one who followed his advice about masks and social distancing not being essential. There was a slim hope that after enduring Covid-19 he might say, or at least think, "I was wrong. I should be more careful and tell the American people that we should all take the disease seriously."

Not him. Nothing has changed.

It's all theater. It's all show. Who else puts on a suit and tie for an emergency helicopter ride to the hospital? It's all about creating an image and benefiting from it.

That has been his tactical approach to the pandemic all along. Tell Americans the virus is no big deal, get on with your lives, so that he can continue claiming that he's doing a great job as President. It's the strategy that has left the United States with the highest number of infections and deaths in the world -- 4% of the population, with 20% of the deaths -- even though no country on earth enjoys greater medical, technological and scientific resources to fight the pandemic.

When Trump fell ill -- whenever that was; we're still not sure -- he had access to every possible advantage. The nearly 7.5 million Americans infected, the more than 210,000 who have died, the hundreds of thousands who have tested positive in the past few days, can't summon helicopters to their back yards if they need to rush to the hospital; few people have teams of doctors, and access to every possible medication as he has.

Trump's extraordinarily irresponsible, reckless strategy of downplaying the dangers, didn't just fail to protect him, the President responsible for the security of his country, it also put his staff and his supporters at risk. How many are sick; how many will die?

Contact tracing efforts are restricted to the two days before Trump’s diagnosis.
Despite almost daily disclosures of new coronavirus infections among President Trump’s close associates, the White House is making little effort to investigate the scope and source of its outbreak.

According to a White House official familiar with the plans, the administration has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at the Sept. 26 Rose Garden celebration for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. At least 11 people who attended the event, including the president and the first lady, have since tested positive.

Instead, it has limited its efforts to notifying people who came in close contact with Mr. Trump in the two days before his Covid diagnosis on Thursday evening. The White House official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the matter, said that the administration was following guidelines from the C.D.C.

The contact tracing efforts have consisted mostly of emails notifying people of potential exposure, rather than the detailed phone conversations necessary to trace all contacts of people who have been exposed. These efforts, typically conducted by the C.D.C., are being run by the White House Medical Unit, a group of about 30 doctors, nurses and physician assistants, headed by Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician.

“This is a total abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration,” said Dr. Joshua Barocas, a public health expert at Boston University, who has advised the city of Boston on contact tracing. “The idea that we’re not involving the C.D.C. to do contact tracing at this point seems like a massive public health threat.”

She’s 13, and the Source of a Family’s Covid-19 Outbreak
A case study on a teenage girl by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides yet more evidence that while adolescents may not get as sick from Covid-19 as adults, they can quickly spread the virus to others. Here’s how the outbreak happened.
  • A 13-year-old was exposed to the virus away from her home.
  • A rapid antigen test four days later came back negative.
  • She developed nasal congestions two days later, her only symptom.
  • The same day, she traveled with her family to a get-together with 20 relatives, then stayed with 14 of them in a large house for nearly a month.
  • No one in the house wore masks or practiced social distancing, and 12 of them eventually became infected with the virus. One was hospitalized and another was taken to an emergency room because of trouble breathing, but both recovered.
  • Six other relatives stopped by the house over two days, for about 13 hours total, but stayed outside and maintained social distance — although they didn’t wear masks. None of them became ill.
The study shows how children and adolescents can spark outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild — and even, in some cases, where initial tests are negative.