Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
The US is close to recording its 10 millionth case of Covid-19
The US is close to passing 10 million coronavirus cases as 16 states reported record high Covid-19 hospitalizations last week. More than 54,000 coronavirus patients are now hospitalized across the country. Texas alone is inching toward 1 million cases, with more than 5,000 reported Sunday.

"We're building up a lot of trouble for the future," former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC. "You have to be really worried what January is going to look like, what December is going to look like right now, given the way this is rising."

Covid-19 cases hit frightening new records all over the world
This week saw a record number of Covid-19 cases in countries across the world as the number of people infected approached 50 million.

France passed the grim milestone of 40,000 deaths over the weekend. Austria reported a new daily record with 8,241 infections on Saturday, as did India’s capital New Delhi -- which recorded a record 7,745 new cases on Sunday. Greece, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria all implemented lockdowns last week, while Mexico nears 1 million cases. As of Sunday, at least 95,027 people in Mexico have died from Covid-19.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth seen in face mask for first time during public ceremony
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has worn a mask for the first time while appearing in public during the pandemic.

The 94-year-old monarch wore the mask during a commemorative ceremony in London earlier this week.

... England is currently in a second national lockdown due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

At least 5 people in Trump's orbit, including his chief of staff, have tested positive for Covid-19
At least five people within President Donald Trump's orbit have tested positive for coronavirus, including his chief of staff and a top campaign aide, becoming the latest administration officials to be infected with the virus after a string of outbreaks in the West Wing.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, top campaign aide Nick Trainer, who has been crunching the numbers when it comes to election data, and at least three other people in the White House, including a deputy for Meadows, have tested positive, multiple sources told CNN.

Trump campaign staffers told CNN they are furious because the leadership in the campaign never sent out an email informing staff of the positive cases or cautioning them to stay home for the time being. Meadows was in the office multiple times this week without a mask.

Several staffers have said they are upset with how it's been handled, given most people in the office do not wear a mask or social distance.

Days after winning the World Series, the Dodgers have five positive Covid-19 cases
There are five positive Covid-19 cases affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told CNN Friday.

"The Dodgers organization continues to work with us during this ongoing outbreak investigation," Sienna Spencer-Markles said.

The development, first reported by USA Today, comes just 10 days after the Dodgers won the World Series. No additional details were available, and the Dodgers did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

Election workers risked their health during pandemic. Now dozens are self-quarantining.
Election workers risked their health this year to staff polling and ballot counting centers amid the coronavirus pandemic, and now more than two dozen are self-quarantining after being potentially exposed to workers who recently tested positive for the virus.

Though it remains unclear how many election workers nationwide might have contracted the deadly virus and unknowingly exposed others to it, the reported cases come during some of the worst moments of the pandemic thus far, with the fall surge seeing some of the highest days of new reported Covid-19 cases in the US. On Election Day alone, the US reported about 85,200 cases.

The incidents also underscore the case Democrats and public health officials made for mail-in ballots in the run-up to the election, as they urged voters to try to avoid voting at polling centers, where infection could spread.

Ukraine’s president becomes the latest world leader to test positive for the virus.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the latest leader to contract the virus despite the extensive protective measures available to a head of state.

Mr. Zelensky, who is 42 and not known to have any of the underlying conditions that could put him at risk of developing severe illness from the virus, said in a post in English on Twitter that he felt “good” and was taking vitamins, adding, “it’s gonna be fine!”

The Ukrainian president said he intended to isolate himself but keep working. It was not clear if he had shown any symptoms. The president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, has also tested positive, according to a statement he posted on Facebook minutes after the president’s tweet.

Cases have been shooting up in Ukraine. The country reported an average of 9,525 cases per day over the past seven days.

Mr. Zelensky has consistently urged Ukrainians to wear masks and to take other coronavirus precautions seriously. He often appears in public wearing a mask or on television conducting business by video conference.

Critics have, however, taken issue with a decision by his political party, which controls Parliament, to allocate more than half of a coronavirus relief fund intended for hospitals to road construction instead.

Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective
Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts.

This fall, Pfizer’s chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, frequently claimed that the company could have some indication of whether the vaccine worked by October, something that did not come to pass.

Stocks surged on the news. The S&P 500 gained 1.2 percent Monday, ending the day just short of a high reached in early September. Shares of companies that stand to gain most from the return of normal activity — like airlines and shopping mall operators — soared, while those whose businesses were well suited under lockdowns were sharply lower.

Independent scientists have cautioned against hyping early results before long-term safety and efficacy data has been collected. And no one knows how long the vaccine’s protection might last. Still, the development makes Pfizer the first company to announce positive results from a late-stage vaccine trial, vaulting it to the front of a frenzied global race that began in January and has unfolded at record-breaking speed.

... Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to rush a vaccine to market, has promised Pfizer $1.95 billion to deliver 100 million doses to the federal government, which will be given to Americans free of charge. But Dr. Jansen sought to distance the company from Operation Warp Speed and presidential politics, noting that the company — unlike the other vaccine front-runners — did not take any federal money to help pay for research and development.

“We were never part of the Warp Speed,” she said on Sunday. “We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.” On Monday, a spokeswoman for Pfizer clarified that the company is part of Operation Warp Speed as a supplier of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

... The data released by Pfizer Monday was delivered in a news release, not a peer-reviewed medical journal. It is not conclusive evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, and the initial finding of more than 90 percent efficacy could change as the trial goes on.

“We need to see the actual data, and we’re going to need longer-term results,” said Jesse Goodman, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Georgetown University. Still, he said, “it’s a testament to hard work and science that we’re getting results that are so good and so fast.”

Trump and Pence celebrate Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine success, but the government didn't fund its development
  • On Monday, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence celebrated a milestone in the development of a coronavirus vaccine, but misleadingly presented Pfizer's milestone as an accomplishment of the Trump administration.
  • "HUGE NEWS: Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced its Coronavirus Vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers," Pence tweeted.
  • Pfizer announced that its vaccine had proven to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.
  • The pharmaceutical giant did not use taxpayer funds in terms of the research and development of the vaccine.
  • But, over the summer, the US government had placed a nearly $2 billion order with Pfizer for 100 million doses of the vaccine.
  • The Pfizer vaccine will not immediately be distributed as it must still be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence celebrated and appeared to take credit for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine success on Monday, though the federal government did not fund the vaccine's research and development.

7 unanswered questions about Pfizer's promising coronavirus vaccine
  • The preliminary results of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trial are promising, but there are plenty of caveats to the good news.
  • We still don't know whether the vaccine protects against asymptomatic cases or if it even lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Questions of who will have access to the shot and when depend on how Pfizer and US public health agencies allocate the vaccine.
  • Complete data on the vaccine's effectiveness and safety won't be publicly available until later this month.
  • Does the vaccine protect against both severe and mild illness?
  • Can the vaccine stop virus transmission?
  • How long will it be protective?
  • What's the timeline for rolling out the vaccine?
  • When will Americans be able to get vaccinated?
  • Will other vaccines work too?
  • How safe is the vaccine, really?

The head of Trump's legal team that is challenging the 2020 election results reportedly tests positive for coronavirus
  • David Bossie, who is in charge of President Donald Trump's efforts to fight the 2020 election result, has tested positive for COVID-19, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs said on Monday.
  • The campaign on Friday appointed Bossie to lead lawsuit challenges in several states.
  • Bossie tested positive on Sunday, Jacobs reported.
The Trump campaign on Friday tapped David Bossie, who is not a lawyer but was a deputy Trump campaign manager in 2016, to lead its legal challenges. ... Bossie has been a vocal supporter of Trump and has frequently appeared as a conservative political commentator on Fox News.

The English football association is facing accusations of sexism after COVID-19 forced girls' play to a halt but not the boys
  • With COVID-19 cases surging, the British government has once again placed the UK on lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • "Non-elite" soccer in England has been halted until December 2, including training and competition for top-level youth and development squads on the girls' side of the game.
  • Boys at the same level have been permitted to continue playing, prompting accusations of sexism levied towards the FA — UK soccer's governing body.
... Still, for many — including Watford FC Women striker Helen Ward — the fact that the men's and women's games are receiving disparate treatment at all is cause for frustration and concern.

"I don't know who makes these decisions but they clearly don't realize how far the women's game has come," Ward told Sky News. "I can't get my head around it. It sends a really bad message and instills the belief in the next generation that boys' football is more important than girls'."

"I think it is hard to say it's anything other than gender inequality," she added.

The FDA authorized Eli Lilly's antibody treatment for emergency use to treat the coronavirus
  • US health officials on Monday approved the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody therapy for emergency use.
  • The drugmaker said that in clinical trials, the treatment successfully reduced virus levels, symptoms, and hospitalizations in patients with mild to moderate cases, with no serious side effects.
  • The drug is similar to the experimental antibody treatment that President Donald Trump received when he was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in October.
  • The FDA has granted emergency authorization for other experimental coronavirus treatments, including remdesivir, which is an antiviral.