U.S. death toll nears 60,000 as labs race for a vaccine

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With fever checks and masks, Dubai’s mega-mall reopens after month-long corona-closure

Clutching bags from designer boutiques in their gloved hands, customers are back at Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping havens that has reopened under strict safeguards against coronavirus.

At a main entrance where customers hand over their sports cars and luxury SUVs for valet parking, employees greet them with black T-shirts reading “Welcome back”.

Smiling as they point an infrared thermometer “temperature gun” at visitors’ foreheads, they check for the fever that is a telltale symptom of COVID-19 infection.

Dubai Mall is a key attraction of the city state that has built its wealth and world renown on mega-projects and a diversified economy to become a tourism and shopping hub, as well as for finance and real estate. 

With more than 1,300 stores arrayed around a vast lake and overlooked by the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, Dubai Mall attracts some 80 million visitors a year and its reopening on Tuesday was a symbolic step as the country emerges from lockdown.

After a month-long closure, crowds have been far thinner, as expatriates in jeans and Emiratis in traditional white Gulf robes roam the bright alleys that showcase everything from chic to bling.

AFP

 

Turkey claims success treating COVID-19 patients with blanket use of drug touted by Trump

Turkey has the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 114,000 confirmed infections. Almost 3,000 people have died. But while the number of cases has risen fast for six weeks, the fatality rate has remained relatively low, at about 2.5%. That’s much lower than in many European countries, or the U.S.

The Turkish government imposed weekend-only lockdowns and banned only those under the age of 20 and over 65 from leaving their homes during the week, in an effort to limit the economic impact of the pandemic. 

Turkey’s Ministry of Health says the relatively low death toll is thanks to treatment protocols in the country, which involve two existing drugs — the controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine touted by President Trump, and Japanese antiviral favipiravir.

“Doctors prescribe hydroxychloroquine to everyone who is tested positive for coronavirus” said Dr. Sema Turan, a member of the Turkish government’s coronavirus advisory board, told CBS News. Hospitalized patients may be given favipiravir as well if they encounter breathing problems, Turan said.   

She said the combination of drugs appeared to “delay or eliminate the need for intensive care for patients.”  

TURKEY-HEALTH-VIRUS
Health workers help a woman who has tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 at Bagcilar in Istanbul, April 28, 2019.

Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients, but has warned it should only be used in clinical trials or under the close observation of doctors, citing risks of heart complications.

 

Vaccine skeptics casting doubt on virus med before it even exists

A coronavirus vaccine is still months or years away, but groups that peddle misinformation about immunizations are already taking aim, potentially eroding confidence in what could be humanity’s best chance to defeat the virus.

In recent weeks, vaccine opponents have made several unsubstantiated claims, including that vaccine trials will be dangerously rushed or that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, is blocking cures to enrich vaccine makers. They’ve also falsely claimed that Microsoft founder Bill Gates wants to use a vaccine to inject microchips into people — or to cull 15% of the world’s population.

Vaccine opponents in the U.S. have been around for a long time. Their claims range from relatively modest safety concerns about specific vaccines or the risk of side effects to conspiracy theories that border on the bizarre.

The movement is receiving renewed attention, especially as it aligns itself with groups loudly protesting restrictions on daily life aimed at controlling the spread of the virus. Health professionals say vaccine misinformation could have lethal consequences if it leads people to opt for bogus cures instead. Click here to read more.

Most Americans support stay-at-home orders, CBS News poll finds

 

Trump invokes Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open, a senior White House official told CBS News. Plants owned by some of the country’s largest food companies have struggled with outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers and a growing death toll.

The executive order also applies to plants that have already closed, which will have to reopen with healthy workers.   

The executive order declares meat processing plants critical infrastructure to protect against disruptions to the food supply, a person familiar with the matter said earlier Tuesday. The federal government will also provide workers with additional protective gear and guidance, the person said. Click here to read more.

Fears over meat shortages as virus impacts food supply chain

 

Oxford scientists hopeful COVID-19 vaccine could be widely available by September

In the global race to find a vaccine, Oxford University just jumped way ahead of the pack. Human testing is already underway, and scientists say they’re hopeful a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available by September.

Technology the lab had already developed in previous work on inoculations for other viruses, including a close relative of COVID-19, gave it a head start.

“Well personally, I have a high degree of confidence about this vaccine, because it’s technology that I’ve used before,” said Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the university.

The vaccine takes the coronavirus’ genetic material and injects it into a common cold virus that has been neutralized so it cannot spread in people. The modified virus will mimic COVID-19, triggering the immune system to fight off the impostor and providing protection against the real thing. Click here to read more.

Oxford says coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September

 

Trump again says virus is “going to go away,” contradicting health experts

President Trump on Tuesday said the coronavirus is “going to go away,” repeating a claim that contradicts his own health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s leading infectious diseases expert, has said the deadly virus will not disappear, and the U.S. should be prepared for another wave in the fall. 

Mr. Trump said a vaccine is looking promising, but he thinks the virus is going to go away, and if it does return in a “modified” form in fall, the U.S. will handle it. 

CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy asked Mr. Trump how, with no known treatment or cure and states starting to reopen, he could be so confident.

“Hopefully we’re going to come up with a vaccine. You never know about a vaccine, but tremendous progress has been made. Johnson & Johnson and Oxford and lots of good things, you’ve been hearing the same things as I do,” Mr. Trump replied, noting “tremendous progress” on possible vaccines.  

“But I think what happens is it’s going to go away,” Mr. Trump added. “This is going to go away, and whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we’ll be able to handle it, we’ll be able to put out spurts, and we’re very prepared to handle it.” Click here to read more.

Trump says “this is going to go away” about coronavirus

 

Almost 70 residents at one veterans facility in Massachusetts have died of coronavirus

Nearly 70 residents sickened with the coronavirus have died at a central Massachusetts home for aging veterans. State and federal officials are trying to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S.

While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care while the state’s top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.

Sixty-six veteran residents who tested positive for the virus have died, officials said Monday, and the cause of another death is unknown. Another 83 residents and 81 staff have tested positive. The home’s superintendent, who’s been placed on administrative leave, has defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they were unaware of the scope of the problem there.

Virus Outbreak Soldiers Home
Tributes to veterans cover a sign, April 28, 2020, near an entrance road to the Soldiers’ Home, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Rodrique Ngowi/AP


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