Global daily cases top 400,000 mark | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:47 AM, October 17, 2020

Global daily cases top 400,000 mark

Record cases in US, Europe; WHO trial casts doubt on remdesivir as Covid-19 drug

More than 400,000 new coronavirus infections were declared across the world on Thursday, a record number, as coronavirus infections exploded across Europe and America. 

Globally, a total of 404,758 new cases were reported, with 6,086 new deaths. In Europe, the number of cases rose sharply in a single week, by 44 percent compared to the previous week, while in the United States and Canada infections increased by 17 percent.

In the medical world, hopes for one of the most promising Covid-19 treatments, the antiviral drug remdesivir, were dashed when a study backed by the World Health Organization found it does little to prevent deaths from the disease.

In the United States, where the number of reported cases declined in September after peaking in mid-July, infections have also been on the rise. There was a daily average of more than 50,000 new cases over the past seven days, peaking on Thursday at more than 70,000.

Health experts have long warned that colder temperatures driving people inside could promote the spread of the virus.

According to a Reuters analysis, 25 US states have so far set records for increases in new cases in October.

All Midwest and Northeast states have reported more cases in the past four weeks than in the prior four weeks, with the number of new cases doubling in states like Wisconsin, South Dakota and New Hampshire.

In the Midwest, daily new cases hit a record on Wednesday with over 22,000 new infections. The positive test rate tops 30% in South Dakota and 20% in Idaho and Wisconsin.

Ten states on Thursday reported record increases in new cases, including Wisconsin with 4,000 new cases. California remains the state with the most total cases followed by Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia. Those five states account for over 40% of all reported Covid-19 cases in the nation.

Top US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci said Americans should rethink their usual plans for Thanksgiving gatherings considering the situation.

As for Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans travel to gather with families and friends, Fauci says this November may need to be different. "We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit."

VIRUS CURFEW

Europe on Thursday recorded the highest number of cases, at more than 150,000, the highest since the start of the pandemic, and several countries on the continent now believe they have entered a second wave.

Millions of French people were looking forward to a last night of freedom yesterday before a Covid-19 curfew in Paris and other large cities comes into force for a least a month, prompted by an alarming surge in new cases.

The curfew aims to keep some 20 million people home from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am -- 30 percent of the French population.

Across Europe, governments were frantically trying to ease an alarming second wave of coronavirus cases while avoiding a full-on national lockdown that would batter their struggling economies still further.

Millions in England including London were just hours away from stricter restrictions, including a ban on household mixing, while bars and restaurants closed in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia.

In Greece, the densely populated northern area of Kozani went into a new lockdown, reports AFP.

India's tally of infections stood at 7.37 million yesterday, having risen by 63,371 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed. Deaths from Covid-19 infections rose by 895 to 112,161, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the WHO study which casted doubt on remdesivir triggered a row.

Gilead Sciences Inc., the US company that developed the drug, said the findings appeared inconsistent with evidence from other studies validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir, which was used to treat US President Donald Trump's coronavirus infection.

But Richard Peto, an independent statistician hired by the WHO to scrutinize the results of its Solidarity trial, dismissed Gilead's criticism.

"It's a reliable result, don't let anybody tell you otherwise, because they'll try to," Peto told reporters. "This is real world evidence."

The results of the trial, announced by the WHO on Thursday, dealt a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat people with Covid-19.

The UN health agency said remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on keeping people alive or on the length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease.

Its trial was conducted on 11,266 adult patients in over 30 countries and its findings may shift the focus of treatments away from antivirals such as remdesivir to new monoclonal antibodies which the WHO has said could be added to its studies.

The European Union has given remdesivir emergency authorization and agreed to a 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) remdesivir deal on Tuesday.

The European Medicines Agency said it would review the trial data "to see if any changes are needed to the way these medicines are used."

Some scientists said Gilead's complaints merit scrutiny.

Differences in patients who participated in the trial at hundreds of clinical sites may undermine the quality of the data, said Prof. Peter Galle, who oversees infectiology at Germany's Mainz university hospital.

But he added: "This provides more evidence that remdesivir is no panacea."

 

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