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April 23 coronavirus news
The world is "weeks to months" away from knowing what drugs will work to fight Covid-19, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the World Health Organization's coronavirus response.
The WHO is tracking a number of studies that are trying to determine exactly how many people have been infected around the world, Van Kerkhove said.
According to one study in Germany, the number of people who have antibodies that show they've had the coronavirus infection ranges from 2% or 3% up to 14% of the population, she said during CNN's coronavirus town hall earlier tonight.
"What’s interesting about this is that these numbers, this seroprevalence, is a lot lower than some of the earlier models had predicted that would have suggested that this virus was circulating a lot more, and that much more of the population was already infected." Van Kerkhove said. "So these studies right now are not actually showing us that."
Seroprevalence is the number of people in a population who test positive for a disease.
The WHO is also closely monitoring the hundreds of Covid-19 drug trials.
"Everyone in the world wants to know which drugs, which medications are going to work, which medications are going to save lives," Van Kerkhove said. "Unfortunately, right now, we don't have any evidence one works, yet."
It’s critical that the studies are done and done well, Van Kerkhove said.
"So we can get to the answer that everybody needs," she said. The results, she added, "can't come soon enough." But the world is "weeks to months" from knowing what works.
CNN's global town hall on the facts and fears about the coronavirus has just wrapped up.
A panel of experts, including representatives from the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration, joined to answer questions like: Can face masks be disinfected and reused? Are there any available treatments yet? Can the virus be transmitted through food?
Other guests included celebrity chef Jose Andres, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and singer Alicia Keys.
Scroll through our posts below to see the highlights.
Fifteen-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys had a powerful message tonight for African Americans whose communities have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I really do hope that what we're saying is that first of all we are powerful," she said, during CNN’s global coronavirus town. "We are essential. We are the heroes … we've been heroes to this country since the very day it started."
"I think that we should be recognized accordingly," Keys continued. "It’s just time for there to be this America, to be the equal compassionate America that we claim it to be."
Keys remarks came just moments after she debuted her new song "Good Job," a tribute to the unsung heroes of the pandemic.
Alicia Keys debuted her new song "Good Job" tonight on CNN's coronavirus town hall as a tribute to the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic: Hospital workers, nurses, x-ray technicians, doctors, grocery store clerks, delivery workers, truck drivers and all who have stepped up to keep the world moving during the crisis.
The song was written several months ago for important people in her life, Keys said -- her mother, grandmother, friends, who were perhaps going through difficult times.
"Crazily enough, this song is like as if it was written for this moment. And so, yes, there's so many people who are our everyday heroes. There are heroes among us right now, you know, and this song really celebrates the fact that you're doing an amazing job," she said.
"The message is one of empowerment and being uplifted. One thing I think is really powerful about this time for so many people is there's an empathy. There's a desire to really come together, to be together, to show up for each other and to understand each other more deeply."
The track will be released via RCA records and is available on all digital platforms today. It will be featured on Keys' forthcoming studio album, ALICIA.
Since March 14, 26.5 million American have filed unemployment claims seeking financial relief -- and families are struggling to feed themselves.
In Miami, more than 1,000 families slept in their cars to keep their place in line outside a food distribution center. Around 10,000 people showed up to a similar food distribution in San Antonio.
"We have a humanitarian food crisis on our hands," said celebrity chef José Andrés, whose program World Central Kitchen is working to provide meals to people and first responders.
"Food banks are overwhelmed. School districts are overwhelmed, supermarkets, all of a sudden normal things are hard to do ... the lines are growing up everywhere at the same time."
Speaking during CNN's coronavirus global town hall, Andrés urged government officials to address the growing crisis and set aside partisan conflicts. "This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This is about Americans, we the people. Many people right now as they are losing their jobs, they are in desperate need of somebody to be feeding them," he said.
This isn't the first time Andrés has cooked in disaster scenarios: He also helped cook for those affected in the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian, and after Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Florence and the California wildfires.
Andrés and his team also helped cook for federal government workers who were furloughed or working without pay during the 35-day partial shutdown last January.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the New York tri-state area will soon require "an army of tracers" to help track the spread of coronavirus in the region.
"A place like New York with so many, we have 250,000 people who tested positive, how do you begin to trace all those contacts where one person can immediately trace down to 10, 20 people?" Cuomo asked during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall Thursday evening. "You're going to need an army of tracers, literally thousands of people who do this."
Cuomo has tapped former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to help design and implement the contact tracing effort, which the governor called a "very challenging task."
"He offered to help, and he’s a great talent," Cuomo said. "We need help from great talents."
The travel ban implemented by US President Donald Trump on China in late January did little to halt the spread of coronavirus to the US, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
"It had already left China," said Cuomo, when asked by CNN Thursday evening if the travel ban had made a difference. "The strain in New York came from Europe, it didn't come from China."
"Close the door on China?" he continued. "The virus is already out… It's closing the barn door when the horse is gone."
Speaking earlier during CNN's coronavirus town hall, Cuomo said he believed the US and even medical experts were hardly prepared for a global pandemic of this scale.
"We've never actually lived through (a global pandemic)," he said. "So I don't think that this country was ready for it. I don't even think our experts were ready for it."
Preliminary results of a large-scale study of hydroxychloroquine suggest that the drug "didn't really have much of an effect on the recovery rate," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during CNN's town hall Thursday evening.
"I think from the review that I heard basically it was not seen as a positive, not seen as a negative," Cuomo said.
The study, sponsored by the New York state Department of Health, looked at about 600 patients at 22 hospitals in the greater New York City area.
Those who took hydroxychloroquine, with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, were no more likely to survive their infections than those who did not, according to David Holtgrave, dean of the University at Albany School of Public Health, who conducted the study.
"We don’t see a statistically significant difference between patients who took the drugs and those who did not," he said.
Some more background: Since hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are both already on the market for other illnesses, doctors are free to prescribe them to coronavirus patients if they want to, and the Albany study found that doctors did often use them to treat their coronavirus patients.
Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious disease expert who was not involved in the Albany report, said while it's hardly the last word on the issue, he hopes it will guide doctors who are considering prescribing it to their hospitalized patients.
"This study is not a red light. It's a yellow caution light," he said.
This post was updated to more clearly reflect the size of the hydroxychloroquine study.