Leaders of the Moderna vaccine trial acknowledged one of the most important aspects of the effort will be to enroll diverse participants, including African Americans, Latinos and native Americans, as well as the elderly and disabled, all populations which disproportionately suffer from Covid-19.
However, finding diverse participants will be challenging. African American, Latino and Native American people may be less likely to enroll in the trial, because of mistrust of government science based on a history of abuse. The elderly and disabled may be less likely to enroll because of fear of the virus.
“We really are going to depend on that sense of volunteerism,” said NIH director Dr Francis Collins. “We’re going to be tracking this every week to see what the distribution [of diversity] looks like in the trial to make sure we’re achieving that kind of diversity.”
Dr Anthony Fauci said results of the trial were most likely going to begin being released in November, but would not rule out the possibility of an “October surprise”. Such a surprise would be proof of a safe and effective vaccine in the midst of the most highly anticipated presidential election in generations.
At 6:45am in Savannah, Georgia, the first American participant in a large experimental Covid-19 vaccine trial received a shot in the arm, the National Institutes of Health announced.
Researchers at Moderna, Inc. and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (a branch of the NIH) hope to enroll 30,000 people for the final phase of safety and efficacy testing for the vaccine, including 15,000 people by the end of this week.
The trial will take place across 89 sites across America, with the potential for sites in South Africa and Brazil. The activated American sites will be focused in places with current Covid-19 outbreaks.
NIAID director Dr Anthony Fauci described the initiation of the Phase 3 trial as historic, and one of the fastest vaccine developments ever.
“We’re beginning a Phase 3 trial that is very quick – it certainly is the world’s record – when one thinks from the time of the sequence to a Phase 3 trial,” Fauci said.
He added: “There is no compromise at all in safety or scientific integrity.”
At Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, a military honor guard transferred the casket of John Lewis to the hearse that will carry him to the Capitol.
WATCH: A military honor guard carries the body of John Lewis to a hearse at Joint Base Andrews before he will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol https://t.co/pd8CL15Ql1 pic.twitter.com/xku5fqfaEd
July 27, 2020
The late congressman and civil rights icon will lie in state in the Capitol rotunda this afternoon, making him the first black lawmaker to receive the high honor.
After a ceremony in the rotunda with lawmakers, Lewis’ casket will be transferred to the Capitol steps to allow members of the public to pay their respects.
Republicans are reportedly looking to cut additional unemployment benefits from $600 per week to $200 per week, although Democrats will likely reject that proposal as inadequate.
Bloomberg News reports:
Senate Republicans propose cutting supplemental unemployment benefits to $200 weekly from $600 until states are able to create a system that would provide 70% of a laid-off worker’s previous pay, according to two people familiar with the plan.
The plan, which was agreed to by the Trump administration, calls for a two-month transition and then allows states to apply for a waiver for up to two additional months if they can’t implement the new calculation, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan hasn’t been made public.
There are many roadblocks ahead for this proposal. For one thing, a number of Senate Republicans have signaled they will not back another massive coronavirus relief bill, likely giving Democrats more leverage in the negotiations. Democrats have called for continuing the additional benefits at their current level of $600 per week.
Many states also have outdated systems for distributing unemployment benefits, which makes the transition timeline of two months seem very optimistic.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi greeted the family and friends of John Lewis at Joint Base Andrews, as the late congressman’s casket arrived to lie in state at the Capitol.
Speaker Pelosi greeted family and friends of John Lewis at Joint Base Andrews followed by a procession to the US Capitol for a ceremony in the Rotunda where he will lie in state. pic.twitter.com/vnFZJe8L47
July 27, 2020
Lewis’ family will accompany his casket as it makes its way to the Capitol, passing places in Washington that were signficant to the civil rights hero.
Lewis will lie in state in the Capitol rotunda this afternoon, and vice president Mike Pence and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, among others, are expected to pay their respects.
After the rotunda ceremony, Lewis’ casket will be moved outside to the Capitol steps to allow members of the public to mourn the loss of the longtime lawmaker and civil rights icon in a socially distanced fashion.
Downtown Portland saw fresh clashes early on Monday morning, between anti-racism protesters and federal officers using teargas, flash-bangs and crowd control munitions.
For a 60th night in succession, protesters gathered to mark the killing of George Floyd by demanding action against police brutality. A peaceful demonstration of about 1,000 people began on Sunday evening, the crowd chanting “Black Lives Matter”, at a steel fence erected around the federal courthouse after two earlier barriers were torn down.
The US agents, drawn mainly from border patrol, were dispatched to Portland by Donald Trump ostensibly to protect the courthouse. Far from quelling unrest, Trump’s actions have also lit a fuse under demonstrations in other cities. Protesters reconvened in Seattle on Sunday night in support of fellow demonstrators in Portland.
The Seattle gathering remained peaceful. The previous night, protesters had clashed with local police officers, with rocks and bottles thrown according to the authorities.
The clashes in Portland broke out shortly after midnight, according to the Oregonian newspaper. The federal forces turned out lights illuminating the courthouse and over loudspeakers ordered protesters to disperse on the grounds that they were holding an unlawful assembly.
Confrontations erupted after the US agents began to clear the area. According to the Associated Press, the officers deployed several rounds of what appeared to be teargas, flash-bangs and pepper balls. Protesters responded by igniting fireworks and beaming lights on to the courthouse, with some scaling the fence.
Dr Anthony Fauci’s comments about the timing of a coronavirus vaccine came as one potential vaccine began Phase 3 trials in the US.
The AP reports:
The world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government — one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.
There’s still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will really protect.
The needed proof: Volunteers won’t know if they’re getting the real shot or a dummy version. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus still is spreading unchecked.
Several other vaccine candidates have shown promising results, and Fauci said it is possible a vaccine could be developed as soon as October, although November is more likely.
Fauci says vaccine is possible by October but more likely by November
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, refused to rule out the possibility of “October surprise” news of an effective vaccine in a call with the media.
Such news could come in the midst of the most highly anticipated election season in generations. The NIH started a large Phase 3 trial for a Covid-19 vaccine today.
Fauci said an October approval “is certainly conceivable, if we have a real blast of a rash of infection in those sites in which we do have active enrollment, that you might get an answer earlier than November. I doubt that, but we’re leaving an open mind that that might be possible.”
He added: “Likely November, but it is possible it could be earlier.”
at 3.56pm BST
Democratic congressional leaders are calling on their Republican colleagues to quickly release a proposal for the next coronavirus relief bill.
“We have stood ready to negotiate for more than two months. Unfortunately, it still remains unclear if Republicans will produce a proposal today,” House speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a new statement.
“I call upon the Republican leadership of the House and Senate and representatives of the President to come to the Speaker’s Office and join Leader Schumer and me within a half an hour of releasing their plan today to negotiate and get the job done.
“If Republicans care about working families, this won’t take long. Time is running out. Congress cannot go home without an agreement.”
Additional unemployment benefits are set to expire on Friday, and Democrats are pushing to continue the benefits at their current level of $600 per week.
However, Republicans have signaled they intend to reduce the additional unemployment benefits, which have been a lifeline for many American families amid the pandemic.
Democrats have criticized Republican proposals as “woefully inadequate” to address the country’s financial struggles.
From what has been reported, the GOP is drafting a woefully inadequate COVID proposal with nothing on rental assistance, hazard pay for essential workers, aid to state, local, and tribal governments, or investments in communities of color.
July 27, 2020
National security adviser Robert O’Brien traveled to Europe earlier this month to meet with some of his foreign counterparts, and several photos from the trip showed O’Brien not wearing a mask and not social distancing.
Very productive meeting with my #French, #German, #Italian, and #UK counterparts. We discussed the major threats and challenges facing the United States and #Europe, as well as new ways to work together in the post-#COVID19 world. pic.twitter.com/DGrSUjYEQw
July 14, 2020
According to Bloomberg, O’Brien is believed to have contracted the virus at a family event, not from his travels.
However, the lack of social distancing still raises concerns about the potential spread of the virus to other top-ranking officials.
In addition to national security council staffers, members of the White House coronavirus task force are also apparently learning about Robert O’Brien’s positive test result from the press.
From a New York Times reporter:
Several WH officials, including people on covid task force, are learning of O’Brien’s positive coronavirus test through the press.
July 27, 2020
According to CNN, national security council staffers were not told of Robert O’Brien’s diagnosis in any kind of officewide email.
A senior administration official told CNN that O’Brien has been working from home since last week. A source familiar said O’Brien was last in the office last Thursday, when he abruptly left the White House.
Several National Security Council staffers told CNN that they weren’t informed that O’Brien tested positive and learned of the news from media reports.
O’Brien recently traveled to France with his deputy to discuss China and other foreign policy issues with some of his European counterparts. CNN notes:
The National Security Council chief was accompanied on the trip to Europe by Secret Service agents, staffers and multiple reporters. Multiple pictures released from the trip showed O’Brien neither practicing social distancing nor wearing a mask.