Fauci, Biden administration asking China for medical records of sick lab workers and miners

https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/06/04/fauci-biden-administration-asking-china-for-medical-records-of-sick-lab-workers-and-miners/

Fauci, Biden administration asking China for…

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as he speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as he speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By ALEXI COHAN | alexi.cohan@bostonherald.com | Boston HeraldPUBLISHED: June 4, 2021 at 8:43 p.m. | UPDATED: June 4, 2021 at 8:45 p.m.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and members of the Biden administration are asking China to release medical records of lab workers and miners who fell ill prior to the coronavirus outbreak, as they may provide clues about the origins of the virus, according to reports.

“I have always felt that the overwhelming likelihood — given the experience we have had with SARS, MERS, Ebola, HIV, bird flu, the swine flu pandemic of 2009 — was that the virus jumped species,” Fauci told the Financial Times. “But we need to keep on investigating until a possibility is proven.”

The medical records in question are from three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who reportedly fell ill in November 2019 and six miners who got sick after entering a bat cave in 2012. Two of the miners died.

Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology later visited the cave to collect samples from the bats.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.463.0_en.html#goog_1263257357PauseNext video0:29Full-screenRead Morehttps://c14deb9db86ee93aaa37abb094336ae7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“It is entirely conceivable that the origins of SARS-CoV-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab,” Fauci said.

President Biden’s chief medical adviser called on China to release the medical records, according to the Financial Times report. China’s foreign ministry declined to say whether it would consider releasing the records at a press briefing on Friday.

Biden last week ordered U.S. intelligence to come to a conclusion within 90 days about what started the pandemic. Speculation about a lab leak has ramped up in recent weeks, but public health professionals have said it is highly unlikely.

Last month, the World Health Organization released a report in which it stated a lab leak, “was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway.”

Fauci has said several times he believes coronavirus was first transmitted to humans via animals.

Growing number of people around the world say they wouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine

A 57-year-old retired nurse from Florida, Susan Bailey, has had all of her vaccines and gets a flu shot every year, however, she’s one of a growing number of people globally who say they wouldn’t take a coronavirus vaccine even if one becomes available in the near future. “I’m not anti-vaccine. My kids were both vaccinated with everything, but I would not take a COVID vaccine today,” Bailey told CNN. “I have underlying health issues … I would want to see enough studies in a long-term period of what the ramifications are for the vaccine.” Bailey rejects the extreme views of the anti-vaccine community but says she has concerns about a coronavirus vaccine. Bailey said consensus among the world’s top scientists and at least six months of testing would be just “a start” in persuading her to take it. “It’s much too soon for me, I’d have to say, 18 months.” Development for vaccines is a long, complex process, often lasting 10 to 15 years.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers, provided by researchers at Johns Hopkins University:

  • Confirmed cases: 21,183,539

  • Fatalities: 767,054

  • Recoveries: 13,293,054

Tensions at the Canadian-U.S. border are rising as Canadian coronavirus cases continue to trend downwards while the U.S. continues to battle rising cases, according to BBC News. The border had closed on March 21, both nations having agreed upon the closure. It will remain in effect until Aug. 21, unless it is extended again as it has throughout the summer. However, due to the difference in coronavirus case rates between the U.S. and Canada, many Canadians have expressed unease at American travelers crossing the border. “Montana is directly south of us, is having a second spike of cases right now, and I don’t feel sorry for anybody that gets stopped at the border, let’s put it that way,” Jim Willett, the mayor of Coutts, Alberta, told BBC News.People with American license plates have reportedly had their vehicles vandalized while on the Canadian side of the border, even if they had crossed legally for an essential job.

“They’re all scared of driving their cars in lower mainland because of vandalism, dirty looks and just getting treated as some ‘horrible American,’” Len Saunders, a dual citizen who lives in Blaine, Minnesota, and immigration lawyer with clients who regularly cross the border for work, told BBC. A July poll by Ipsos Reid, a research company based in Canada, found that eight in 10 Canadians wanted the border to remain closed at least until the end of 2020.

Penn State’s annual 46-hour dance marathon benefiting families with children battling cancer, THON, will be held entirely virtually in 2021, the philanthropy announced via Twitter on Friday. “With the safety of our Four Diamonds families, student volunteers, and generous supporters at the forefront of every conversation, it has been decided that THON Weekend 2021 will not be held in person,” the announcement said. According to PennLive, THON, which is recognized as the world’s biggest student-run philanthropy, brought in over $11 million last year for Four Diamonds, an organization that covers all medical expenses for pediatric cancer patients treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital. While the event may look different this year, as it is typically held in Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center, in a Q and A, the organization said it is “fully committed to providing experiences for all members of the THON community any way that we can.” While further details have not yet been announced on how the weekend-long event will play out, THON said that dancers, who are not allowed to sit for the duration of the event, will still be an integral part of THON 2021.

A report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force claims Georgia’s current COVID-19 policies are not enough to curb the spread. “There is widespread and expanding community viral spread,” the report said, according to CNN. “There is no significant improvement in the Atlanta metro area, with continued high levels of new cases at a plateau. Mitigation efforts must increase.” Georgia’s rate of spread is almost double the nation’s overall, and the report suggests they crack down on the spread by issuing a statewide mask mandate, closing nightclubs, bars and gyms in counties that are high-risk, limiting restaurant capacity to one-quarter of normal and increasing testing and contact tracing. On Thursday, the Health Department reported 2,674 new cases in the state, bringing the statewide total to 228,668.

Vietnam’s health ministry has registered to buy a Russian COVID-19 vaccine, state television reported on Friday, after a new outbreak hits the Southeast Asian country. On Wednesday, Russia had announced it would release the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks while rejecting concerns from experts insisting on completing large-scale trials before its approval, Reuters reported.A portion of the 50 million-150 millions doses of the vaccine that Vietnam had signed up for will be a “donation” from Russia, according to the Tuoi Tre newspaper, while Vietnam will pay for the rest. The nation is also buying vaccines from Britain, where it has partnered with the University of Bristol to develop a vaccine, according to a statement from the health ministry. Vietnam is currently racing to suppress new infections linked to the tourist city of Dangang, where a new outbreak was detected on July 25, according to Reuters. Vu Duc Dam, the head of Vietnam’s coronavirus task force, said on Friday that Vietnam had no choice but to “live safely with the virus.”

The most populated state in the U.S. also has the highest number of coronavirus cases with California reporting more than 600,000 cases. This is more than double the number of cases than Italy, France, or Germany, and more than four times the number of cases than Canada, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. However, it is not all bad news in California. The number of daily cases has been trending downward in population centers, such as San Diego County, which could help some businesses reopen, NBC News said. Florida ranks second in the U.S. with 557,000 coronavirus cases, followed by Texas with 531,000.

Coronavirus-sniffing dogs are being used at Dubai Airport with above 90% accuracy. Dubai International Airport has become the first to use dogs trained to detect coronavirus. With over 400 tests being conducted in recent weeks, the dogs have had a 91% accuracy, according to Fox News. Anyone entering the United Arab Emirates must be tested for the virus before they depart and are required to show negative test results. Passengers that are possibly infected at the airport go to a designated testing area, where a swab is taken from their armpit for a scent sample. This sample is then given to trained dogs in a separate room to see if they detect the virus in it. Major Salah Khalifa Al Mazrouei, director of Dubai Police Security Inspection K-9 Unit, told Gulf News that, “If the sample turns out positive, the dog will sit in front of it. It only takes a few minutes…We are in direct contact with experts in U.K. and France to train our dogs in detecting the virus.”

Retail purchases in the U.S. have gone up 1.2% in July, bringing it back to pre-pandemic levels. Despite the recent rise, consumers still spent less than expected for the month, according to CNBC. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones estimated that retail sales would rise by 2.3% but actual figures show only about half that. Despite that, worker productivity saw a sharp rise of 7.3% annualized for the second quarter, rising to its fastest pace in 11 years. This comes after June saw a huge 8.4% surge in retail sales including gains in furniture and appliances. The recent lower increase has come due to a resurge of the coronavirus across the country. The future still remains uncertain for the economy. Corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, Robert Frick, told CNBC that, “Given continued high unemployment, retail sales in August and in the fall will rely to a large degree on the timing and extent of more government assistance.

The U.K. has added France, Spain, and the Netherlands onto its travel ban list amid a new surge in coronavirus cases. Arrivals coming into the U.K. from those countries will now have to quarantine for 14 days upon their return or face fines starting 4 a.m. on Sunday, according to Reuters. France recently recorded a post-lockdown daily new cases recording a total of 2,669 in just 24 hours. Shadow home security Nick Thomas-Symonds said, “While we support evidence-based measures at the border, it’s vital that the government has a joined-up strategy, and recognizes the impact of this on travel-related businesses. It is vital that a sector-specific deal is put in place urgently.” U.K. transport secretary, Grant Shaps, was among the ministers who agreed to the removal of the Netherlands along with Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba from the countries approved travel list. The decision was finalized after further discussions took place on Thursday. Residents of the U.K. will now have about 30 hours to travel back home in order to avoid the quarantine.

The race for a coronavirus vaccine is still ongoing, but once a vaccine is proven to be effective and ready to be distributed to the public, they will likely be free for Americans, U.S. officials said on Thursday. More than $10 billion has been invested into six vaccine projects, and when one becomes available to the public, the doses will be paid for by the government, AFP said. However, the first doses may not be available until the winter. Several vaccines are in the trial stages, but the director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins said that one may not be ready until “November or December,” Reuters reported. The first vaccines that do become available are likely to be offered to healthcare workers and those at a higher risk of complications.

The Canary Islands have become the second region in Spain to all but ban smoking in order to stop a new wave of coronavirus cases. The islands have barred smoking if people are unable to maintain a 2-meter (6.5 foot) distance between each other, according to Reuters. Masks have also been mandated by the islands as well as a 10 person limit for gatherings. The Spain region of Galicia also imposed a smoking ban on Wednesday as fears of a resurge in coronavirus cases continue across the country. Spain had one of the most strict lockdowns in all of Europe, but was eased seven weeks ago. Since the lifting of the restrictions, the country has had trouble keeping infections down. On average, new daily cases are rising to more than 1,500 in the first 12 days of August. Spain has had a total of 337,334 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that temperature checks may not be reliable. The White House and the National Institues of Health have stopped giving temperature checks as a screening tool for the coronavirus, according to ABC News. Fauci said the screening is not reliable, especially during the summer months because the hot summer days may increase temperatures. “We have found at the NIH, that it is much much better to just question people when they come in and save the time, because the temperatures are notoriously inaccurate, many times,” said Fauci. Temperatures read up to 103 degrees before people were in air conditioned places.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has extended the city’s state of emergency declaration through Jan. 16, 2021 due to the coronavirus. “Until there’s a widely available vaccine, COVID-19 is here to stay—with serious potential health consequences for those infected,” Lucas said in a press release on Thursday. “I will continue to work with Dr. Archer and our City health leaders to take any decisive action necessary—especially as we head into the fall and winter months—to best protect our community.” As part of the state of emergency, residents and visitors in Kansas City are required to wear a face mask when in a public area. Taverns and bars will also be limited to 50% capacity into 2021. “Mask-wearing, social distancing and basic hygiene continue to be the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and we appreciate all who take their personal responsibility to protect their family, friends and neighbors seriously,” Lucas said.

Israel is working on a new COVID-19 test that could provide results exponentially faster than most standard tests being used in the U.S. The new test consists of patients rinsing their mouths with a saline solution and spitting it into a vial. A small machine shines a light on the sample, and depending on how the light interacts with the sample, it can determine if the coronavirus is presentThis new testing method takes just seconds and has a 95% success rate, Reuters reported. “So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” said Eli Schwartz, who is leading the testing trials at the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center. A rapid test like this could be revolutionary and allow more people to be tested in a shorter amount of time. Currently, most people that get tested in the U.S. have to wait several days to get there results back. This new method of testing is also relatively cheap with the device priced at less than $200 and each test costing less than a quarter, Reuters said.

Nurse practitioner Debbi Hinderliter, left, collects a sample from a woman at a coronavirus testing site near the nation’s busiest pedestrian border crossing, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in San Diego. San Diego County has started operating a testing site next to the city’s largest pedestrian link to Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Here are the latest global COVID-19 numbers, provided by researchers at Johns Hopkins:

  • Confirmed cases: 20,939,967

  • Fatalities: 759,928

  • Recoveries: 13,009,485

The world total tally of confirmed COVID-19 recoveries surpassed the 13 million mark on Friday morning. Brazil, the U.S. and India are the top three countries in both confirmed cases and recovered cases, with Brazil leading the way with 2,521,100 reported recoveries. In the U.S., no state has seen more recoveries than Texas, which has totaled 375,760 recovered positive cases.

The coronavirus is at least as deadly as the flu pandemic in 1918 and has the potential to become even worse, according to some scientists. In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the increase of deaths in New York City was higher overall in the first few months of the 1918 pandemic, but taking into consideration modern medicine and hygiene, the increase during the coronavirus outbreak was “substantially greater” than the peak of the 1918 pandemic, according to the researchers.

“If insufficiently treated, SARS-CoV-2 infection may have comparable or greater mortality than 1918 H1N1 influenza virus infection,” lead author Jeremy Faust said, according to CNBC News. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci has also called the coronavirus a “pandemic of historic proportions” and will most likely be comparable to the flu of 1918.

This Library of Congress photo shows a demonstration at the Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington, D.C., during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Science has ticked off some major accomplishments over the last century. The world learned about viruses, cured various diseases, made effective vaccines, developed instant communications and created elaborate public-health networks. Yet in many ways, 2020 is looking like 1918, the year the great influenza pandemic raged. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division via AP)