Coronavirus updates: Olympic optimism as IOC’s Bach meets with Japan PM Suga – National News

Written by on November 16, 2020


narvikk/iStockBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

Over 54.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has also varied from country to country.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica. The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 11 million diagnosed cases and at least 244,283 deaths.

Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Nov 16, 7:41 am
Moderna announces initial Phase 3 data showing its COVID-19 vaccine is up to 94.5% effective

In another promising medical development, the biotechnology company Moderna has announced its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 94.5% effective.

The news comes a week after Pfizer announced its vaccine could be up to 90% effective based on a similar, early analysis from its Phase 3 trial.

In a release Monday, Moderna said its Phase 3 trial “met statistical criteria with a vaccine efficacy of 94.5%,” according to an early analysis of the data that included 95 participants with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

However, vaccine specialists caution that these numbers are not set in stone — both estimates could increase or decrease as the respective trials continue, and the vaccines may ultimately prove to work better in some groups than in others.

Despite the promising data, Moderna isn’t ready to roll out its vaccine in a mass immunization campaign just yet. The company will first need to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization (EUA), a limited green-light for higher-risk groups.

The company said it plans to seek EUA “in the coming weeks.” That application will include at least two months of safety data after the last injection in half the volunteers. 
Moderna has said it expects the FDA application will include the “final analysis” of 151 cases of COVID-19 in its trial, rather than just the initial 95 cases.

This puts them roughly on track along with Pfizer for possible limited authorization by the FDA as soon as December. Moderna is expected to have 20 million doses to go along with Pfizer’s 50 million for global distribution before more can be made in 2021.

Moderna also announced promising data Monday about how the vaccine can be shipped and stored. According to the company, the vaccine can safely be stored for up to six months in a normal freezer, and up to 30 days in a normal refrigerator.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at around -94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than a typical freezer can accommodate. Because of these temperature requirements, the company will ship vaccine doses in special temperature-controlled thermal boxes packed with dry ice.

With the new data published this week, Moderna could be the second company to seek authorization in the United States, after Pfizer.

Nov 16, 5:12 am
Russia’s daily coronavirus cases hit all-time record

Russia registered a total of 22,778 new coronavirus infection cases and 303 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the coronavirus response headquarters in a statement that was released on Monday.

The city of Moscow alone recorded 6,360 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

Russia has now seen a total of 1,948,603 coronavirus infection cases and 32,489 people have died of coronavirus in Russia over the entire period of the pandemic.

Nov 16, 5:12 am
Russia’s daily coronavirus cases hit all-time record

Russia registered a total of 22,778 new coronavirus infection cases and 303 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the coronavirus response headquarters in a statement that was released on Monday.

The city of Moscow alone recorded 6,360 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

Russia has now seen a total of 1,948,603 coronavirus infection cases and 32,489 people have died of coronavirus in Russia over the entire period of the pandemic.

Nov 16, 4:52 am
Olympic optimism as IOC’s Bach meets with Japan PM Suga

As global coronavirus infections spread and countries impose new lockdowns, a glimmer of hope for the Summer Olympic Games was seen briefly in Japan’s capital on Monday. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is in Tokyo, his first visit since coronavirus forced the decision to postpone the summer games for a year.
 
At the prime minister’s office, Bach and Prime Minister Suga met for about 30 minutes. The two fistbumped for photographers before making optimistic statements.

Bach said, “We again will make this Olympic Games a great symbol of solidarity and unity of humanity in this world, which by then will be a post-coronavirus world.”

Suga said, “We are determined to host the games as proof that humanity has defeated the coronavirus pandemic.”
 
Bach’s four-day visit to Tokyo began on Sunday. On Monday night, the IOC president is expected to meet Japan’s long-serving former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who made the call to delay the games in March. Bach is also scheduled to meet Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee president Yoshiro Mori.
 
Despite not implementing harsh measures to combat COVID, such as a European-styled hard lockdown, Japan seems to have sidestepped the ravages of the disease.

There are currently under 120,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and less than 2,000 deaths. Like other nations, as temperatures fall and people head indoors, coronavirus numbers are expected to rise. Health officials reported 1,441 new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

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