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We’re a long way away from COVID-19 immunity — even with vaccines

October 2, 2020 in Blogs

By Prabir Purkayastha

This article was produced in partnership by Newsclick and Globetrotter.

As the pandemic continues to spread throughout the world, many countries seem to have given up the fight against COVID-19 and are now waiting for a vaccine to protect against the virus. With cases exceeding 32 million, and more than a million dead, the world economy has taken a bigger hit than at any other time since the end of the Great Depression of 1929-39.

The U.S. and India are now showing the highest numbers of total and new cases of COVID-19. Both have stopped talking about how to stop the pandemic, and are only focusing on reopening—or as India calls it, “unlockdown.”

Giving up on containing the COVID-19 pandemic is an admission that public health systems have failed. India, with a poor public health infrastructure, has one of the most privatized health care systems in the world. The U.S. has the most privatized health care system among wealthy countries, with poor outcomes. It is not surprising then that both these countries have failed in facing what is essentially a public health challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic shows the contradictions between the needs of capitalism and the health of the people. Capitalism requires ill-health for making profits: selling patented medicines, costly stays in hospitals, and expensive procedures. The objective of the public health system is to ensure that people stay healthy, robbing capitalists of the opportunity to make profits.

The good news for the world is that 41 vaccines—more accurately candidate vaccines—are currently under different phases of clinical trials, and another 151 are in the pipeline. Two of the vaccines currently in Phase 1/2 trials are being developed by Indian companies—one from Cadila Healthcare Limited and the other from Bharat Biotech—and are set to start their Phase 3 trials soon. Bharat Biotech is also working with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis on a nasal route for delivering a vaccine.

Normally, vaccine development and testing take from five to ten years, so it would be a significant achievement if we succeed in making effective vaccines available by the end of 2020 or early 2021. The progress so far also shows that …read more


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Critics say Trump COVID diagnosis is a 'culmination' of his deadly pandemic response

October 2, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

Contrary to the notion that the coronavirus “snuck up” on President Donald Trump just as it did far less powerful people across the U.S. and around the world, Trump’s announcement Friday that he tested positive for Covid-19 was—according to progressive critics—a direct and foreseeable consequence of the president’s months of lying, callous disregard for public health, and catastrophic mishandling of the federal government’s pandemic response.

“Trump’s diagnosis is the culmination of six months of recklessness and failure, the ultimate, inevitable end of his administration’s disastrous response to a global pandemic.”

—Alex Shephard, The New Republic

In a tweet Friday morning, author and environmentalist Naomi Klein drew a striking analogy in an effort to place Trump’s diagnosis in the broader context of his administration’s failure to take the steps necessary to combat the pandemic—a failure that has resulted in more than 200,000 dead Americans and counting.

“Trump getting Covid is the epidemiological equivalent of a mass shooting where the shooter opens fire on a crowd and then turns the gun on himself,” Klein wrote. “Not a tragic accident—a crime scene.”

Klein repeated her argument in an interview on Democracy Now! and warned that the U.S. public must be “prepared for the president using the fact that he’s having to cancel campaign events for two weeks to try to further delegitimize elections.”


Since the coronavirus first began spreading at a rapid pace throughout the U.S. in March—forcing entire swaths of the economy to shut down and throwing countless lives into chaos—Trump and members of his administration publicly minimized the threat posed by Covid-19 and dispensed with the safety recommendations of experts, refusing to take simple life-saving steps like wearing face coverings and avoiding large gatherings.

Instead, the president did the opposite, knowingly spreading misinformation about the pandemic to the public, questioning the effectiveness of masks, and holding large indoor campaign rallies that threatened the health of the thousands in attendance as well as those they later came in contact with.

“Trump’s diagnosis is the culmination of six months of recklessness and failure, the ultimate, inevitable end of his administration’s disastrous response to a global pandemic,” The New Republic‘s Alex Shephard wrote Friday. “Above all, his actions over the past six months reflect his extraordinary …read more


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Trump going to the hospital with COVID-19 — plans to be there for a 'few days'

October 2, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

President Donald Trump planned to travel to Walter Reed Medical Center and stay there for at least a “few days,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” she said. “Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady.”

The White House press pool confirmed that they had been moved to the hospital prior to the official announcement in preparation for the president’s stay.

The transition represented an apparently rapid escalation in the president’s case. When Trump announced his diagnosis early Friday morning, he said he had no symptoms. Later, officials said he had “mild symptoms” and that he has a “very moderate case.”

Then, Sean Conley, the president’s physician, announced that the president had taken an experimental treatment and was experiencing fatigue. Other reports suggested more serious symptoms, including a congestion and a fever.

But the announcement that Trump would go to the hospital remains the most serious sign yet. While it’s understandable his doctors would want to be extra cautious about his care, the fact is that there are facilities in the White House for the president to get treatment and care if necessary. And the president himself would likely be reluctant to go to the hospital and stay overnight without a very good reason; he’s loath to do anything that makes him look or feel weak and vulnerable.

…read more


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Republicans donors are ‘freaking out’ over Trump's new diagnosis: report

October 2, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

The United States’ top news story on Friday morning was, hands down, President Donald Trump’s announcement that he had tested positive for COVID-19 — which has also infected First Lady Melania Trump and the president’s long-time adviser, Hope Hicks. On Thursday night, before he received the diagnosis, the president attended a crowded GOP fundraiser. And CNBC is reporting that Republicans who were in contact with Trump during that event, which was held at the president’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, are worrying that they might also test positive for the novel coronavirus.

An anonymously quoted source described by CNBC as someone with “direct knowledge” of the event told the media outlet, “The donors have been texting and calling. Freaking out.”

CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports that according to a source, about 30-50 people were in close contact with the president at the Bedminster event. However, Schwartz also reports that on Friday, an e-mail sent by the Republican group Trump Victory read, “Out of an abundance of caution, we want to call this to your attention. Please be reminded that due to Trump Victory-protocol, no attendees were allowed within 6 ft of President Trump at the event. Please contact your medical provider if you or any of your loved ones is ill or develops a fever, shortness of breath, or other respiratory symptoms.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is advising anyone who attended the fundraiser to “take full precautions, including self-quarantining and getting tested.”

Hicks tested positive for COVID-19 before Trump. After learning of Hicks’ diagnosis, Trump was tested — and at 12:51 AM on Friday morning, the president sent out tweet announcing that his test had come back positive and that the first lady had tested positive as well.

Schwartz explains, “Some Republican donors questioned the president’s decision to go to the event after his long-time advisor, Hope Hicks, became ill. Hicks tested positive Thursday morning after displaying symptoms Wednesday night while on a campaign trip to Minnesota with the president. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters Friday that Hicks’ diagnosis became known just before the president left for Bedminster.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and over 208,400 in the United States. Hopkins has reported more than 34 million infections globally.

Trump’s diagnosis came only two nights after his debate with …read more


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Trump takes an experimental COVID drug as reports emerge about his true symptoms

October 2, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

President Donald Trump has taken an experimental drug treatment for his newly diagnosed case of COVID-19, the White House announced Friday afternoon.

Sean Conley, the president’s physician, explained in a memo that Trump has “received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail.” Conley referred to this as a “precautionary measure.” He said the president took the dose “without incident,” and noted that the president is also taking “zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and a daily aspirin.”

He described the president as “fatigued but in good spirits,” while First Lady Melania Trump — also diagnosed with the disease caused by the coronavirus — “remains well with only a mild cough and headache.” No one else in the president’s family has tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Dena Grayson, a frequent news commentator, noted that the treatment Trump took is experimental.

“These work by providing ‘passive immunity,’ similar to convalescent plasma, but are manufactured,” she said.

The New York Times reported that Trump’s symptoms are more extensive than has been officially revealed.

“President Trump is experiencing coldlike symptoms after testing positive for the coronavirus, according to two people familiar with his condition,” the report said. “The president has a fever, congestion and a cough, two people close to him say.”

…read more


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US Presidents Who Became Ill or Incapacitated While in Office

October 2, 2020 in History

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi

George Washington came down with a severe case of influenza, Woodrow Wilson contracted the flu during the 1918 pandemic and FDR hid the severity of his polio.

Illness can impact a president’s ability to conduct the duties of office, but for most of U.S. history, protocol for what happens when a president got sick was minimal.

The Founding Fathers anticipated the need for a line of succession, and the Constitution says the vice president becomes acting president if the elected one dies, resigns or became debilitated. But it left out critical details, including who has the power to declare the president unfit to serve, when and how the president should return to office, and if the vice president should continue as president for the rest of the term or until a replacement was found.

It took the assassination of John F. Kennedy for Congress to pass the 25th Amendment laying out a clear protocol for what happens if the president or vice president resigns, becomes incapacitated or disabled, or dies.

Presidential history is full of leaders who handled illness or medical conditions—some openly, others in secret—while serving in office.

George Washington

The first president to fall seriously ill while in office was the nation’s first president, George Washington. Two months into his first term, Washington underwent surgery for a tumor that required him to rest on his right side for six weeks. In his second year of office, Washington survived a bout of influenza that threatened his hearing and his sight, prompting him to write: “I have already had within less than a year, two severe attacks—the last worst than the first—a third more than probable will put me to sleep with my fathers; at what distance this may be I know not.”

Disease ran rampant in America’s early cities, and an outbreak of yellow fever in the summer of 1793 prompted Washington and the government to flee to the countryside. Washington survived, as he’d survive diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, malaria, dysentery, quinsy, and carbuncle, along with many near-misses on the battlefield. He eventually died of a throat infection, but after he’d left office.

READ MORE: When the Yellow Fever Outbreak of 1793 Sent the Wealthy Fleeing Philadelphia

William Henry Harrison

President William Henry Harrison died in office in 1841.

William Henry Harrison became the shortest-serving president when he died just 34 days into taking office …read more