House passes $484B bill to boost small businesses, hospitals
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $484 billion package Thursday to bolster small businesses and hospitals hurt by the coronavirus outbreak and expand testing needed to return to normal life. The House sends the proposal to President Donald Trump, who is set to sign it into law Friday. The House also approved a Democratic-majority select subcommittee to oversee the Trump administration’s use of a $500 billion pool of aid for corporations, states and municipalities. Congress approved those funds last month. Read more.
Large antibody study estimates true infections 50-85 times higher than reported
Two large antibody studies in California, one in Santa Clara County and one in Los Angeles County, have estimated the true number of coronavirus infections could be significantly higher than reported infections. In Stanford University’s Santa Clara County study, the true number could be 50 to 85 times higher than the number of reported ones. And in the University of Southern California’s Los Angeles County study, there might be 28 to 55 times more people infected than the official count. If that many people have already been sick, it changes the calculation about how frequently the virus can lead to death. The new numbers suggest the virus may kill a much smaller portion of the wider pool of diagnosed and undiagnosed cases, in this case around 0.12% to 0.2%, which would be closer to the death rate for the flu, which is about 0.1%. Read more.
Chinese vaccine has protected monkeys from infection by new coronavirus
For the first time, one of the many COVID-19 vaccines in development has protected an animal, rhesus macaque monkeys, from infection by the new coronavirus, scientists report. The vaccine is an old-fashioned formulation consisting of a chemically inactivated version of the virus and produced no side effects in the monkeys. Human trials began on April 16. Researchers from Sinovac Biotech (Beijing, China) gave two different doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to a total of eight rhesus macaque monkeys. Three weeks later, the group introduced SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, into the monkeys’ lungs through tubes down their tracheas. None of the monkeys developed a full-blown infection. Read more.
New data on Gilead’s remdesivir shows no benefit for coronavirus patients
A clinical trial conducted in China showed Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir failed to speed the improvement of patients from COVID-19 or prevent them from dying. A summary of the study results was inadvertently posted to the WHO website and removed, STAT reported on Thursday. Gilead says the study was stopped early because it had too few patients and it cannot enable statistically meaningful conclusions. Read more.
Georgia reopening hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys despite rise in deaths
Georgia is moving ahead with its plan to reopen some nonessential businesses despite an increase in coronavirus deaths statewide. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp became the first governor in the nation to ease restrictions after he allowed businesses such as gyms, barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to reopen Friday. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called his announcement perplexing for a state battling coronavirus as it has killed nearly 900 residents and sickened about 22,000 others. Read more.
North Carolina, Illinois extend stay-home orders into May
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced he is extending his stay-at-home order through May 8. Gov. Cooper’s executive order was scheduled to expire on April 29. The move keeps only essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, open. The restrictions also ban gatherings of more than 10 people. Dine-in restaurants, bars, movie theaters, nail salons and barbershops must remain closed. Restaurants can continue to offer to-go and delivery service. Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended his stay-at-home order for another 30 days, through the end of May. He eased up on some restrictions, permitting forms of outdoor recreation, allowing garden centers to reopen and indicating retail stores could resume sales as long as customers picked up their purchases curbside. Read more.