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Blood types and COVID-19 risk confirmed – News-Medical.Net

June 18th, 2020

Blood type may play a pivotal role in driving disease severity among coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients. Genetic analysis of COVID-19 patients has shown that people with blood type O seemed to be protected against severe disease. In contrast, those with blood type A may experience complications tied to the viral infection.

A team of European scientists has found that two genetic variations may show who is more likely to get very sick and even die from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Further, they found a link to blood type, suggesting that some people are predisposed to COVID-19 severe disease.

The study findings, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, shed light on why some people have a higher risk of being infected with the coronavirus and developing worse symptoms.

In three completely separate studies, researchers from Columbia University, Iran’s Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, and various Chinese institutions all arrived at similar findings.

Image Credit: TippaPatt / Shutterstock

Image Credit: TippaPatt / Shutterstock

Respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients

The pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 and the associated respiratory failure is still unclear, but the higher mortality is consistently tied to older age and being male. Further, people with underlying health conditions are more likely to develop severe COVID-19, including hypertension, diabetes, being obese, and cardiovascular disease.

The relative role of clinical risk factors in determining the severity of COVID-19 has not been clarified. Now, the new study underscores other predisposing factors that may make some people vulnerable to the infection.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

Genetic analysis

The team studied more than 1,900 severely ill coronavirus patients in Spain and Italy, two of the hardest-hit countries at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. They compared the patients from seven hospitals to 2,300 people who were not sick. Overall, they analyzed more than 8 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms and conducted a meta-analysis of the two case-control panels.

The team has found that a cluster of variants in genes that are involved with immune responses was more common in people with severe COVID-19. The genes are also associated with a cell-surface protein known as angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which the coronavirus uses to enter and infect cells in the body.

One of the gene clusters increased the risk of getting severe COVID-19 by 77 percent. The researchers believe that discovering these gene clusters may ramp up the development of new vaccines and therapeutics for the coronavirus disease.

Blood type

The researchers also found that people with blood type A had a 45 percent increased risk of contracting the coronavirus and developing respiratory failure compared to people with other blood types. On the other hand, people with blood type O had a 35 percent lower risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.

Study: The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. Image Credit: Designua

Study: The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. Image Credit: Designua / Shutterstock

However, it is not clear why blood type might influence susceptibility to severe disease. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, noted that the genes controlling blood type might play a role in the makeup of cell surfaces. The changes in cell-surface structures might influence the susceptibility of the cell to be infected by the novel coronavirus.

“We also know from previous research that blood type affects clotting risk, and it’s now quite evident that critically ill patients with coronavirus demonstrate significant clotting,” Dr. Glatter explained.

The team emphasized that their findings may need further validation and investigation. This way, more information can be gathered on the link between blood type and coronavirus disease severity.

“Further exploration of current findings, both as to their usefulness in clinical risk profiling of patients with Covid-19 and toward a mechanistic understanding of the underlying pathophysiology, is warranted,” they wrote on the paper.

Global toll

The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged across the globe, actively spreading in many countries. The United States remains the country with the highest number of cases. The country’s case toll has surpassed 2.189 million infections, and its death toll topped 118,000.

Brazil trails behind the U.S., with over staggering 978,000 infections in since April. The death toll in the country has topped 47,000. Russia, India, and the United Kingdom have reported an increasing number of infections, with more than 560,000, 366,000, and 301,000, respectively.

Journal references:
  • Primary Paper – Ellinghaus, D., Degenhardt, F., Buti, M., Bujanda, L., Invernizzi, P., Milani, C. et al. (2020). Genomewide Association Study of Severe Covid-19 with Respiratory Failure. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2020283?query=featured_coronavirus#article_references
  • Pre-Print – Karlsen T, et al. The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. medRxiv 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.31.20114991
  • Iranian Study – Pourali, F. et al. (2020). Relationship Between Blood Group and Risk of Infection and Death in COVID-19: a live Meta-Analysis. medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.07.20124610.
  • Chinese Study – Relationship between the ABO Blood Group and the COVID-19 Susceptibility, Jiao Zhao, Yan Yang, Hanping Huang, Dong Li, Dongfeng Gu, Xiangfeng Lu, Zheng Zhang, Lei Liu, Ting Liu, Yukun Liu, Yunjiao He, Bin Sun, Meilan Wei, Guangyu Yang, Xinghuan Wang, Li Zhang, Xiaoyang Zhou, Mingzhao Xing, Peng George Wang, medRxiv 2020.03.11.20031096; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.11.20031096
  • Colombia University Study  – Testing the association between blood type and COVID-19 infection, intubation, and death, Michael Zietz, Nicholas P. Tatonetti, medRxiv 2020.04.08.20058073; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.08.20058073

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Public Health Reports 82 New COVID-19 Cases – Santa Barbara Edhat

June 18th, 2020

By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara Public Health Department (PHD) is reporting a record high of 82 new cases within the county today. This brings the total number of cases to 2,253.

According to the numbers, 55 of the new cases are located in Santa Maria. 11 are in Santa Barbara, and the rest are scattered in lower numbers throughout the county.

Of the total 2,253, there are 989 cases belonging to the Federal Prison in Lompoc and 702 cases belonging to the City of Santa Maria alone. The north county of Santa Barbara makes up 969 cases, approximately 77% of the total community cases.

Currently, there are 211 active cases within the community. Of those, 61 are in the hospital with 17 in the intensive care unit (ICU), and 115 are pending information. There have been 22 deaths overall. 

Yesterday PHD announced expanded personal care services would not reopen this Friday as the increase in hospitalization rates rendered the county disqualified from doing so. It’s unclear when these services will reopen. 

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‘It may save your life’: Facing virus surge, more US … – Thomson Reuters Foundation

June 18th, 2020

By Andrew Hay

June 18 (Reuters) – California, North Carolina and a string of U.S. cities mandated or urged mandatory mask use on Thursday to get a grip on spiraling coronavirus cases as at least six states set daily records.

Putting aside concerns about individual rights and political unpopularity, U.S. governors and mayors said they were turning to compulsory face coverings to stop the virus running out of control as economies reopened.

On a day when Florida posted 3,207 new cases, its second daily record in a week, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings ordered obligatory mask use, telling residents of Orlando and other cities it would help them avoid a second shutdown.

California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered mask use in most places as the state for the second day in a row registered over 4,000 new cases.

As Arizona posted another daily case record, the Democratic mayors of Tucson and Phoenix respectively ordered and prepared to vote on mandatory face coverings after Republican Governor Doug Ducey bowed to pressure and let cities set mask rules.

“This piece of protection may even save your life,” North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper told reporters, adding that he was considering statewide obligatory mask use on a day when statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations set a new high.

A month after many governors reopened their economies, a growing number are adopting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that masks are essential to prevent community spread.

Resistance to face masks took on a partisan edge after President Donald Trump opposed them, telling the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Thursday that some people wear them to show opposition to him.

But with businesses ranging from Las Vegas casinos to hardware chains requiring their use, masks are becoming commonplace in the United States.

In Texas, the mayors of the state’s nine biggest cities asked Republican Governor Greg Abbott this week to grant them authority to set mask regulations.

As Oklahoma reported its second day of record coronavirus cases, the Tulsa arena hosting a Trump rally on Saturday said it would encourage all attendees to remain masked throughout the event and issue staff with personal protective gear.

Trump has pushed ahead with the rally – which would be the biggest U.S. indoor social gathering in three months – even as health experts worry assembling thousands of people inside an arena – particularly if many are not wearing masks – could turn it into a virus “super-spreader event.”

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases rose by 26,357 on Thursday to about 2.2 million, according to a Reuters tally, marking the biggest daily increase in nearly two weeks. There have been 118,377 U.S. deaths, an increase of 684 on Thursday. (Reporting by Andrew Hay in Cañon, New Mexico; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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EA Play Live: Star Wars Squadrons, Skate and all the trailers we saw – CNET

June 18th, 2020

Oregon reports 148 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths – KTVZ

June 18th, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — COVID-19 has claimed four more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 187, along with 148 new cases, the Oregon Health Authority reported Thursday.

OHA also reported 148 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, bringing the state total to 6,366 cases, along with 182,770.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported Thursday are in the following counties: Clackamas (12), Columbia (4), Hood River (3), Jefferson (4), Klamath (4), Lincoln (4), Linn (1), Malheur (4), Marion (26), Morrow (4), Multnomah (33), Polk (3), Umatilla (13), Union (5), Washington (25), Yamhill (3).

Oregon’s 184th COVID-19 death is an 82-year-old woman in Marion County, who tested positive on June 4 and died June 14. Her place of death is being confirmed. She had underlying medical conditions.

Oregon’s 185th COVID-19 death is a 78-year-old man in Marion County who tested positive on June 11 and died June 15 in his residence. He had underlying medical conditions.

Oregon’s 186th COVID-19 death is an 89-year-old man in Clackamas County who tested positive on June 6 and died June 16. His place of death is being confirmed. He had underlying medical conditions.

Oregon’s 187th COVID-19 death is an 87-year-old man in Clackamas County who became symptomatic May 13, after close contact with a confirmed case, and died May 23. His place of death is being confirmed. He had underlying medical conditions.

Deschutes County remains at 139 cases, along with 8,324 negative test results, while Jefferson County (which includes Warm Springs) rises to 73 cases and 1,518 negative test results, and Crook County is still at nine cases and 825 negative test results. Warm Springs reported one more positive case late Thursday, for a total of 54.

Stay informed about COVID-19:

Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Office of Emergency Management lead the state response.

United States response: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leads the U.S. response.

Global response: The World Health Organization guides the global response

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Millions Of Hydroxychloroquine Pills That Trump Touted For COVID-19 Are Now In Limbo – HuffPost

June 18th, 2020

Tens of millions of doses of drugs that President Donald Trump touted as “game changers” in the fight against the coronavirus are now in limbo after the Food and Drug Administration stripped them of their emergency use authorization this week. 

The drugs — hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate — were deemed too risky and likely ineffective to treat COVID-19.

The FDA’s decision Monday, which one Trump official denounced as a partisan attack, follows a mad dash by states and hospitals to purchase chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine after health care providers were given a green light to use the drug in March through the emergency use authorization. The drugs were otherwise not approved to treat COVID-19.

“What do we have to lose?” Trump asked in a March 21 news briefing that endorsed the drugs.

Manufactures by mid-March announced that they had ramped up production of the drugs globally to meet anticipated demand. But now it’s unclear what will be done with the excess supply.

The federal stockpile has 66 million doses of the drugs, according to The New York Times. This includes 3 million tablets of Resochin, Bayer’s chloroquine phosphate drug, which the company donated but is not approved for use in the U.S.

Bayer’s donation was intended to be used “as the government deems appropriate,” a Bayer representative told HuffPost in an email.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “is working with the companies that donated the hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate to determine the available options for the products that remain,” Stephanie M. Bialek, chief of the Strategic National Stockpile’s Communication Services Section, told HuffPost Wednesday.

Similar responses were made to HuffPost by public health officials for states that either purchased the drugs or received donations.

President Donald Trump, seen in May, called the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine "game changers" in



MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

President Donald Trump, seen in May, called the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine “game changers” in the fight against the coronavirus.

“We are in the process of contacting the manufacturer to see if we can send the hydroxychloroquine back for other uses,” Mindy Faciane, a public information officer with the Louisiana Department of Health, told HuffPost.

“We are evaluating plans for the remaining doses,” said Erin Silk, a spokesperson with the New York State Department of Health. 

North Carolina’s Department of Health “is making an assessment about what to do with the supplies we have on hand,” said its communications manager, Kelly Haight Connor.

New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals donated drugs to Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Connecticut, Oregon and Texas, according to an April report by the Associated Press.

Other states spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the drugs, the AP reported.

The FDA in March issued an emergency use authorization for the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for



ASSOCIATED PRESS

The FDA in March issued an emergency use authorization for the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. On Monday, it revoked that authorization.

Utah was able to cancel its order before it arrived, a representative for Utah’s Department of Health told HuffPost. 

In Ohio, “We are working on a plan now,” a health department representative told HuffPost.

Oklahoma reportedly spent $2 million on the drugs. A representative for that state’s health department did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

During the first 17 days of March, orders by hospitals for chloroquine spiked by 3,000 percent across the country, while orders of hydroxychloroquine increased by 260 percent, according to the health care company Premier, which tracked purchasing data from 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals on March 20 announced that it expected to produce about 20 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine sulfate by mid-April.

Workers carry boxes at Oklahoma's Strategic National Stockpile warehouse in Oklahoma City in April. States spent billions of



ASSOCIATED PRESS

Workers carry boxes at Oklahoma’s Strategic National Stockpile warehouse in Oklahoma City in April. States spent billions of dollars stocking up on medical supplies such as masks and breathing machines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Major wholesale distributors put restrictions on orders of the drugs to prevent hoarding, but this was done only after a spike in demand, suggesting that many health care providers had already stocked up on large quantities of the drugs, according to Premier. 

A representative for Amneal did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate remain FDA-approved to treat or prevent malaria, which is a mosquito-borne disease that affects around 2,000 people in the U.S. each year, typically following overseas travel or immigration, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hydroxychloroquine is also FDA-approved to treat autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, which affects an estimated 54.4 million people in the U.S.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

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EA Play livestream, including Star Wars Squadrons: Watch now – CNET

June 18th, 2020

Coronavirus in Oregon: 8th consecutive day of 100 or more cases; 4 new deaths – OregonLive

June 18th, 2020

The Oregon Health Authority on Thursday reported four new deaths and 148 new cases of the novel coronavirus, marking the eighth consecutive day of 100 or more infections.

Two men from Clackamas County — ages 87 and 89 — as well as a 78-year-old Marion County man and an 82-year-old Marion County woman were the latest patients to succumb to COVID-19, bringing the toll to 187, health officials said. All had underlying medical conditions.

The state has now recorded 6,366 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases.

The latest were in 16 of Oregon’s 36 counties: Clackamas (12), Columbia (4), Hood River (3), Jefferson (4), Klamath (4), Lincoln (4), Linn (1), Malheur (4), Marion (26), Morrow (4), Multnomah (33), Polk (3), Umatilla (13), Union (5), Washington (25), Yamhill (3).

State and local health officials said the recent spikes in reported infections can be traced largely to workplace outbreaks, congregant care settings and small social gatherings among friends and family. Health officials are also testing more people.

Oregon’s biggest outbreak yet is linked to a church near La Grande in Union County, where more than 230 people have tested positive for the virus in the last several days.

Coronavirus in Oregon: Latest news | Live map tracker |Text alerts | Newsletter

County case totals: Two counties — Multnomah and Marion — have more than 1,000 coronavirus cases each. Eight additional counties — Clackamas, Deschutes, Lincoln, Linn, Polk, Umatilla, Union and Washington — have reported 100 coronavirus cases or more. Gilliam and Wheeler have reported none.

Here’s the overall count — confirmed and presumptive cases — by county: Baker (1), Benton (66), Clackamas (538), Clatsop (46), Columbia (26), Coos (32), Crook (9), Curry (7), Deschutes (139), Douglas (29), Grant (1), Harney (1), Hood River, (85), Jackson (85), Jefferson (73), Josephine (26), Klamath (68), Lake (6), Lane (90), Lincoln (230), Linn (126), Malheur (42), Marion (1,244), Morrow (22), Multnomah (1,665), Polk (131), Sherman (1), Tillamook (6), Umatilla (206), Union (247), Wallowa (4), Wasco (42), Washington (975) and Yamhill (97).

Oregon’s Latino population has been disproportionately hit hard by the coronavirus. Though Latinos make up 13% of the state’s population, they represent at least 35% of all positive cases.

Death toll: At least 187 people have died from the virus. They are from 13 counties — 68 people from Multnomah, 33 from Marion, 22 from Clackamas, 20 from Washington, 12 from Polk, nine from Linn, eight from Yamhill, five from Benton, four from Umatilla, three from Lane, one each from Josephine, Malheur and Wasco.

Their ages ranged from 36 to 100. Among them, 108 men and 79 women have died. All but four had underlying medical conditions.

The breakdown of deaths by age: ages 30-39 (1), ages 40-49 (3), ages 50-59 (8), ages 60-69 (38), ages 70-79 (52), ages 80-plus (85).

[Read about Oregon coronavirus deaths. Help us learn more.]

Senior care homes: Six in 10 of all coronavirus deaths in Oregon — 107 — are associated with a care center, state data shows. More than 700 senior care home residents, staff, close contacts and others connected to at least 84 nursing, assisted and retirement homes have contracted COVID-19. One care home worker has died.

Workplace outbreaks: At least 980 coronavirus infections — or nearly 16% of all cases — are linked to workplace outbreaks identified by the Oregon Health Authority. Among them: the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem (176), Pacific Seafood in Newport (145) and Duckwall Fruit in Hood River (61).

Testing: Another 4,771 people received coronavirus test results in the last day, down from the previous day’s 4,802, according to figures published on the Oregon Health Authority’s website.

So far, 188,910 Oregonians have been tested for the illness since the state confirmed its first case on Feb. 28.

Oregon’s positive test rate for COVID-19 is currently 3.3%, far below the 12% national average.

Ages: Cases are so far spread relatively evenly among people in their 20s (18%), people in their 30s (17%), people in their 40s (17%) and people in their 50s (15%).

The breakdown: 0-9 (194), ages 10-19 (407), ages 20-29 (1,171), ages 30-39 (1,113), ages 40-49 (1,060), ages 50-59 (983), ages 60-69 (696), ages 70-79 (428), ages 80-plus (307).

Gender: 3,262 cases are among women, or 51%, and 3,088, or 49%, are among men.

Hospitalizations: At least 933 of the state’s COVID-19 patients, or 15%, have been hospitalized at some point during their illness, according to the health authority.

Most — at least 689 — have been 50 or older.

The hospitalizations breakdown by age: 0-9 (7), ages 10-19 (4), ages 20-29 (45), ages 30-39 (72), ages 40-49 (109), ages 50-59 (168), ages 60-69 (203), ages 70-79 (183), ages 80-plus (135).

Currently, 89 people with confirmed coronavirus cases are hospitalized, up from 85 the previous day. Thirty-five are in intensive care and 22 on ventilators.

Recoveries: At least 2,502 COVID-19 patients have recovered from the illness, or 39%, the health authority said.

Nationwide: Confirmed coronavirus cases stood at nearly 2.2 million. The death toll climbed past 118,000.

— Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632

Email at skavanaugh@oregonian.com

Follow on Twitter @shanedkavanaugh

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Nation’s cancer chief warns delays in cancer care are likely to result in thousands of extra deaths in coming years – The Washington Post

June 18th, 2020

Sharpless said his estimates were based on a “conservative” analysis of the two cancers — perhaps too conservative, he said. The researchers estimated, for example, that there has been a 75 percent decrease in mammograms and colonoscopies in recent months, but now think the number might be 90 percent or more. In either case, he said, the estimates show that even a relatively short disruption of screening and care can lead to more deaths.

The cancer institute head spelled out his views in an editorial published Thursday by Science; he elaborated on them in an interview. He wrote that while there has been a steep drop in cancer diagnoses in the United States since the start of the pandemic, “there is no reason to believe the actual incidence of cancer has dropped.” The result, he said, is that “cancers being missed now will still come to light eventually, but at a later stage (“upstaging”) and with worse prognoses.”

While delaying screenings and care was, to some extent, prudent during the height of the pandemic, “ignoring life-threatening non–COVID-19 conditions such as cancer for too long may turn one public health crisis into many others,” he added in the editorial.

He said doctors can take steps to try to keep the effects from getting worse. They need, for example to make patients feel comfortable about returning to hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices for screening and treatment. “If we let them be afraid for six months or a year,” he said, “the numbers get worse and worse.”

His concerns are echoed by many oncologists and cancer centers.

“We are all worried there is a downstream ripple effect where screening studies were omitted completely,” said Margaret E. Van Meter, an oncologist who treats breast cancer at Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah. Routine mammograms — for women without symptoms — were canceled for months at most facilities across the United States, while mammograms for women with symptoms typically continued.

Medical centers also postponed many cancer surgeries they deemed less urgent, such as early-stage breast cancers that could be treated first with medication.

Van Meter said some of her patients who were longtime cancer survivors were happy to switch to telemedicine visits and probably suffered no ill effects. Many newly diagnosed patients with aggressive malignancies have not hesitated to come in for treatment, she said. “When faced with two very serious threats, they are choosing to get cancer treatment,” she said. “They are taking precautions but have not been crippled by coronavirus fear.”

In addition to cancer treatment, Sharpless in the editorial expressed concern that an unprecedented disruption in cancer research may slow the development of needed therapies. “Given the long timeline between basic cancer research and changes to cancer care, the effects of pausing research today may lead to slowdowns in cancer progress for many years to come,” he said.

Read more:

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America has a 63 million dose stockpile of hydroxychloroquine thanks to the Trump cult – Salon

June 18th, 2020

For months, President Donald Trump touted the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the novel coronavirus — despite there being no evidence to substantiate his assertion.

Now, mere days after Food and Drug Administration scientists revoked hydroxychloroquine’s emergency use authorization — stating that it is “no longer reasonable to believe” that hydroxychloroquine “may be effective in treating COVID-19” — the federal government is stuck with a stockpile of 63 million doses of the drug that it cannot use.

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The government began accumulating the drug in March, after Trump praised hydroxychloroquine as “very encouraging,” “very powerful” and a “game-changer,” according to CNN. In addition to hydroxychloroquine, the government also has 2 million doses of chloroquine, a related drug. The hydroxychloroquine fervor even led to some states building their own stockpiles: Utah, for instance, ordered $800,000 of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and intended to make the drug available over the counter. (The state later backtracked and cancelled the order.) 

Trump has advertised hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus miracle drug on a number of occasions, telling reporters that he has taken the drug and claiming that he knows of people who have gotten better after taking it. Conservative commentators like former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka (who also claims to have taken the drug) and Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have also sung the drug’s praises, mimicking Trump.  His fervor for the drug became a partisan issue, with many of his followers rushing out to their doctors to obtain prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine.

The president’s incentives for supporting hydroxychloroquine may not be entirely ideological. Trump reportedly has a $3,000 investment in Sanofi, a company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine, and has professed tremendous admiration for BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who serves on the council advising his economic response to the pandemic and has much larger financial stakes in companies involved in selling hydroxychloroquine.

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Regardless of his obscure reasons for pushing hydroxychloroquine, the net effect is that America has amassed a stockpile it can not use, barring a malaria outbreak (which hydroxychloroquine is approved to treat).

As briefly mentioned above, Food and Drug Administration chief scientist Denise Hinton wrote to Gary Disbrow of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on Monday that the agency had “concluded that, based on [n]ew information . . . . it is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of [hydroxychloroquine sulfate] and [chloroquine phosphate] may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks.”

As a result of that conclusion, the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization for the drugs, meaning that hydroxychloroquine can no longer be made available as a novel coronavirus treatment despite having not been officially approved.

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As the agency explains on its website, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19” and that people who have taken those drugs risk suffering “serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects.” This caused the agency to conclude that the risks of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are significant enough to override any potential benefits.

Trump has made many other mistakes in addressing the crisis. In 2017 he instructed the Department of Homeland Security to stop the pandemic modeling that it had performed since 2005 and pushed for a 20 percent budget cut to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The following year he pushed for $900 million in budget cuts to the CDC, fired a national security team member who was advocating a biodefense plan in the event of a pandemic, and disbanded the global health national security team. In 2019, Trump got rid of a U.S. Agency for International Development program that existed to warn America about possible public health threats and disregarded his Council of Economic Advisors when they warned him that a pandemic could kill up to half a million Americans.

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Even though the novel coronavirus pandemic was announced as 2019 turned into 2020 — and Trump reportedly was warned about it by his advisers on January 3 — he dismissed their concerns as “alarmist,” reassured a television audience that “we have it totally under control” and refused to implement policy recommendations in a “pandemic playbook” developed by President Barack Obama’s administration for the purpose of protecting the American workforce. He continued to push for cuts to Health and Human Services, ignored memos written by HHS and the National Security Council calling for “significantly limiting public gatherings and cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings that cannot be convened by phone” as well as school closures and stay-at-home orders, and repeatedly dismissed or downplayed the threat. Between the time he was first briefed on the crisis (January 3) and his declaration of a national emergency (March 13), he held a number of rallies (seven) and golfing outings (three).

Medical experts express dismay at the politicized saga of hydroxychloroquine. David Holtgrave — the dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany, who co-authored a study of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus — told CNN, “Nationally, we put a great emphasis on one drug, hydroxychloroquine. I worry that history will judge this as having over-invested in one treatment pathway as opposed to looking more broadly at a larger number of treatment candidates.”

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