Pharma giant promises 300 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine candidate by year's end
From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen
AstraZeneca announced Thursday that it will make 300 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate from Oxford University scientists by the end of 2020. The UK pharma giant signed what it is calling a “landmark” $750 million deal with the Vaccine Alliance Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI will manufacture the vaccine while Gavi will lead the procurement efforts. The company also made a licensing deal with India’s Serum Institute to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine available in India, as well as developing countries. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the World Health Organization’s Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, will make sure that the vaccine is fairly distributed across the world.
Wait ... a vaccine already?: Typically, companies wait to start the manufacturing process until after it is known the vaccine is safe and works. But with the threat of the pandemic, several drug companies have accelerated this process. The Oxford vaccine is currently being tested in about 10,000 adult volunteers. The company said on its website that it realizes the vaccine may not work, but at no profit, it is “committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk” and will make sure that it is available to people around the world “including to those in countries with the lowest means.”
Patients with high blood pressure are twice as likely to die from coronavirus: study
From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox
Coronavirus patients with high blood pressure are twice as likely to die from the infection, a new international study found. High blood pressure has been known to worsen the risk of serious symptoms, but the study -- published in the European Heart Journal - shows just how bad the risk is. The international team of researchers, led by Fei Li and Ling Tao of the department of cardiology at Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, China, studied the records of 2,866 patients treated in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak emerged. Just under 30% of them had high blood pressure.
"Soon after we started to treat COVID-19 patients in early February in Wuhan, we noticed that nearly half of the patients who died had high blood pressure, which was a much higher percentage compared to those with only mild COVID-19 symptoms,” Tao said in a statement. The team found that 4% of patients with high blood pressure died, compared to 1.1% of those without high blood pressure.
After some adjustments for differences among the patients, that worked out to a doubled risk of dying for the patients with high blood pressure. And 7.9% of patients who had stopped taking their blood pressure medications died.
More than 5,000 people have died from coronavirus in Peru
From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta
Peru reported 137 new coronavirus-related deaths Thursday – raising the national death toll to 5,031, according to the country’s health ministry. The total number of cases rose to 183,198, an increase of 4,284 from the previous day. Peru has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America, after Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.
Sao Paulo's coronavirus death toll is likely higher than reported, state health official says
From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo and Taylor Barnes in Atlanta
The number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo is likely to be under-reported, a state health official said Thursday. Some of the cases have likely been registered as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) due to the state's low Covid-19 testing capacity, said Paulo Menezes, coordinator of the state’s health ministry.
The state of Sao Paulo registered 5,717 new cases and 285 related deaths in the previous 24 hours – bringing the total in Brazil’s most populous state to 129,200 cases and 5,717 deaths. But the actual death toll is likely higher, Menezes said. "When we look at the curve, we see a significant increase of hospitalizations by SARS since February. It's possible that we have SARS cases from Covid-19 that are not diagnosed by lab tests, but this is something that happens all over the world, it's not just something observed here,” he said.
Menezes added that the state of Sao Paulo – which has a population of more than 45 million and is the epicenter of Brazil’s outbreak – currently performs about 8,000 Covid-19 tests daily. In April, that average was about 1,000 tests per day. The state government forecasts that it will reach the daily testing capacity of European countries like Spain and Italy within three months.
More than 108,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US
There are now at least 1,872,528 reported cases of coronavirus in the US, and 108,208 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. On Thursday, Johns Hopkins reported 18,636 new cases and 876 reported deaths in the country. The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
CDC's forecast now projects more than 127,000 US coronavirus deaths by June 27
From CNN’s Arman Azad
A forecast published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects more than 127,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by June 27. The ensemble forecast relies on 20 individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers. The new projections, published Thursday, forecast 127,230 deaths by June 27, with a possible range of 118,450 to 143,340 deaths. “This week’s national ensemble forecast suggests that the number of newly-reported COVID-19 deaths per week will continue to decline. It predicts between 118,000 and 143,000 cumulative COVID-19 deaths by June 27,” the CDC says on its website. Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections for the next month. The previous ensemble forecast, published last Thursday, projected about 123,200 deaths by June 20. The projections are published on the CDC’s “COVID-19 Forecasts” page, but they’re also featured on the agency’s “COVID Data Tracker.” On both sites, users can view state-level ensemble forecasts as well. “Ensemble forecasts indicate that the rate of newly-reported deaths will vary among the states,” the CDC says on its forecasts page. “In some states, cumulative deaths will increase at roughly the same rate as they have in recent weeks, while other states are likely to experience only a small number of additional deaths from COVID-19."
Second medical journal retracts coronavirus paper over data source questions
From CNN's Maggie Fox
The New England Journal of Medicine retracted a coronavirus study on Thursday, saying it could not guarantee the validity of the data used. It was the second journal to retract a study conducted using data provided by Surgisphere, which aggregated global health information for the research. Earlier Thursday, The Lancet also retracted a coronavirus study.
Both journals signaled their worries in “expression of concern” earlier this week. “Because all the authors were not granted access to the raw data and the raw data could not be made available to a third-party auditor, we are unable to validate the primary data sources underlying our article, ‘Cardiovascular Disease, Drug Therapy, and Mortality in Covid-19.’ We therefore request that the article be retracted. We apologize to the editors and to readers of the Journal for the difficulties that this has caused,” Dr. Mandeep Mehra, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center in Boston, Surgisphere founder Dr. Sapan Desai and colleagues wrote in the retraction letter. The study had found that certain heart disease drugs, including ACE inhibitors, didn’t worsen the risk of death for coronavirus patients.