June 11 coronavirus news

By Steve George, Joshua Berlinger, Laura Smith-Spark, Peter Wilkinson, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT) June 12, 2020
21 Posts
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7:41 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

US human trials begin for first antibody cocktail that might treat and prevent Covid-19

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A medicine that may treat and prevent Covid-19 is now being tested in patients in multiple sites around the United States, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said.

It is the first trial of a Covid-19 antibody cocktail in the United States. If successful, Regeneron hopes it could be available by the fall.

The clinical trial started Wednesday. Regeneron said its antibody cocktail would be tested in four separate study populations: people who are hospitalized with Covid-19; people who have symptoms for the disease, but are not hospitalized; people who are healthy but are at a high risk for getting sick; and healthy people who have come into close contact with a person who is sick.

"We have created a unique anti-viral antibody cocktail with the potential both to prevent and treat infection, and also to preempt viral 'escape,' a critical precaution in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic," Dr. George Yancopoulos, co-founder, president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron, said in a press release.

"Ultimately, the world needs multiple solutions, and the innovative biopharma industry is collectively working hard to help as many people as possible with a variety of complementary approaches."

Antibodies are proteins the body naturally makes to protect the body from a threat like Covid-19. To make what are called monoclonal antibodies for an antibody cocktail, scientists comb through thousands of antibodies to figure out which ones fight the novel coronavirus most effectively.

In this case, Regeneron's scientists picked two antibodies, scaled them up and put them into a medicine that it hopes can be used to treat symptoms and as protection for vulnerable communities such as the elderly or health care workers.

The first part of the trial will check to see if the antibody therapy is safe to be used in humans. Scientists will also want to see if it works.

Read more here:

7:07 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Can this super-simple device stop virus spreading on airplanes?

From CNN's Francesca Street

It's not flashy or futuristic-looking, but it's simple, cheap and apparently effective: British aircraft interior company RAS Completions says its new personal protection shield could help protect fliers from Covid-19.

The shield, says RAS Completions, is designed to be installed between seats and doesn't involve taking the middle seat out of action.

The Personal Protection Window is currently seeking approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the company says it'll be ready for airline customers within the next couple weeks.

The shields are designed to protect passengers from the risk of droplet transmission and are made from transparent polycarbonate.

The idea, RAS Completions Business Development Manager Roger Patron told CNN Travel, is to produce a "single product that fits every type of commercial aircraft."

It's mainly designed to aid economy seating, Patron says, as that's where passengers tend to be closest together, but it could also be used in different classes of cabin. The shields are non-obstructive, so wouldn't prevent emergency evacuation or seat recline.

"Simplicity is the best," says Patron. "We tried to make them the simplest, effective way of keeping people safe."

Read more here:

6:56 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

US stocks retreat as coronavirus fears return

From CNN's Charles Riley

US futures dropped sharply Thursday as coronavirus cases in the United States topped 2 million and the emergence of new hotspots overshadowed a pledge from the US Federal Reserve to keep interest rates near zero for years.

Dow futures were down nearly 600 points, or 2.1%, while S&P futures were off by 1.8% and Nasdaq futures were down 1.2%. US crude oil prices dropped 4%. 

Many investors had been betting on a quick recovery for the world's largest economy. The S&P 500 surged into positive territory for the year earlier this week even as economists officially declared the US economy to be in recession. The Nasdaq topped 10,000 points for the first time in history.

But the elevated number of coronavirus cases in the United States coupled with dire economic projections from experts including the US central bank suggest continued pain for companies and workers.

Read more here:

6:33 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Questions raised over UK’s lockdown timing

From CNN's Lauren Kent and Sarah Dean in London

The UK government is facing tough questions over the timing of its coronavirus lockdown after influential epidemiologist Neil Ferguson said the United Kingdom could have cut the number of Covid-19 deaths by half if it had locked down just one week earlier.

Ferguson, who is based at Imperial College London, made the comments to the UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday.

"The epidemic was doubling every 24 days before lockdown interventions were introduced. So had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half," he said.

The UK went into lockdown on March 23, later than many other European nations. It currently has the second-highest number of recorded coronavirus-related deaths in the world, with 41,128 as of June 9, according to UK government figures.

Ferguson said the lockdown measures introduced on March 23 were warranted but were "second-guessed" at the time. "Certainly had we introduced them earlier, we would have seen many fewer deaths," he said. 

Asked what the UK coronavirus response should focus on going forward, Ferguson said more targeted interventions were needed in order to lift the nationwide lockdown. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back on the criticism, saying his government had followed scientific advice at the time -- including from Ferguson as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) -- and that it was too early to cast judgment on the decisions made.

"Of course, we’ve got to learn lessons but I just think that it is at this stage premature. There’s still too much that we don’t know," Johnson said.

Johnson’s government has scrapped its original plan to reopen primary schools before the summer holidays, but announced it would allow adults living alone or single parents to form a “support bubble” with one other household.

Some context: Ferguson was one of the architects of the UK government's stay-at-home strategy and was a prominent member of SAGE, but he resigned from his government adviser post in May after the Telegraph newspaper revealed he broke lockdown rules by allowing his reported lover to visit his home.

5:45 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

In India's richest city, hospitals are overrun and doctors are collapsing

From CNN's Esha Mitra, Jessie Yeung and Vedika Sud

Health workers transport the body of COVID-19 victim in Mumbai, India, on June 10.
Health workers transport the body of COVID-19 victim in Mumbai, India, on June 10. Divyakant Solanki/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

India's richest city is buckling under the weight of the coronavirus crisis.

Mumbai is considered the country's financial and entertainment capital, home to international businesses and the glamorous world of Bollywood. But it's also a transport hub with a dense population and dramatic wealth inequality -- conditions that experts say allowed Covid-19 to spread out of control.

The city alone has reported more than 50,000 cases -- nearly a fifth of India's total, and more than the Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero for the pandemic. Maharashtra state, home to Mumbai, has confirmed more cases than the whole of China. 

India has recorded more than 286,000 coronavirus cases, including at least 8,100 deaths, according to the country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Despite its prosperity, Mumbai's wealth is largely held by a small, elite group, who can afford care at expensive private hospitals. Most residents are left with public hospitals, which were quickly overwhelmed in April and May as the virus took hold.

At the public Nair Hospital, doctors have collapsed from exhaustion and dehydration, said one resident doctor there who requested anonymity.

"We expected that if infection took root, the health system would be overwhelmed," said Rajeev Sadanandan, Kerala's former health secretary and the chief executive of non-profit Health Systems Transformation Platform. "With the kind of population Mumbai has, there is no way that the infrastructure would have been enough."

Business travelers and tourists flow in and out of Mumbai, with many coming from places like Thailand or Malaysia that were hit by the virus before India.

"With lots of people carrying the virus coming here, the virus took root in the community," Sadanandan said. "Mumbai is the busiest place in India."

Read more:

5:19 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Russia surpasses 500,000 coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

A nurse pushes a hospital bed at the ICU in the Covid-19 treatment facility at Vinogradov City Clinical Hospital No 64, on April 28.
A nurse pushes a hospital bed at the ICU in the Covid-19 treatment facility at Vinogradov City Clinical Hospital No 64, on April 28. Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty Images

Russia reported 8,779 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total number of recorded infections to 502,436, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.

Over the past 24 hours, 174 people have died, taking the overall official toll to 6,532.

Observers have cast doubt on the country’s counting method, which permits ascribing deaths in patients who tested positive for coronavirus to other causes such as terminal illnesses and other underlying conditions.

On Wednesday, Moscow released mortality statistics for May, saying that in 5,260 cases coronavirus was “the main or concurrent cause of death.” The city’s health department said that only in 2,757 cases was coronavirus recorded as the main cause of death. 

Earlier this week, Moscow's mayor lifted self-isolation restrictions and the city is expected to reopen by the end of the month.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a postponed nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that could allow him to stay in power until 2036 would go ahead on July 1.

The country's massive May 9 Victory Day military parade was also rescheduled to take place on June 24.

4:21 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

170,000 US coronavirus deaths projected by October, with uptick in daily deaths in September

A closely watched coronavirus model is now forecasting nearly 170,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by October 1. The projections paint a grim picture of what could come when summer turns to fall, with a steep rise in daily deaths forecast in September.

The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, previously only offered projections until August. It was cited often by the White House earlier in the pandemic, and it’s one of many models currently featured on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

It now projects that 169,890 people will die from Covid-19 in the US by October 1, with a possible range of about 133,000 to 290,000 deaths.

Daily deaths are expected to decrease through June and July then remain relatively stable through August. But the model forecasts a sharp rise in deaths come September.

In the model, projected daily deaths double from 410 on September 1 to 1,018 on October 1. Notably, though, the model’s uncertainty increases as time goes on. At the beginning of October, for example, the model offers a range of 96 to 4,382 possible daily deaths.

“If the US is unable to check the growth in September, we could be facing worsening trends in October, November, and the following months if the pandemic, as we expect, follows pneumonia seasonality,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a statement.

In a press release, IHME said its model is based on data through June 6. “Large gatherings in some states due to lifting of social distancing restrictions, gatherings on national holidays, and public protests are reflected in the general trend toward increased mobility,” the institute said.

The model looks at cell phone data, and increased mobility means people are moving around more. That could lead to more contact and opportunities for coronavirus transmission, but how exactly mobility corresponds with infections remains unclear. Behavioral changes like physical distancing and mask wearing could decrease the risk.

IHME says it includes other factors in its model as well, including data on testing, pneumonia trends, mask use, population density, air pollution, altitude, smoking and “self-reported contacts.”

According to the institute’s analysis, mask use results in a 50% reduction in Covid-19 transmission. But IHME’s data on masks is also self-reported, and it may not be representative of the population at large.

The IHME model has been closely watched, but it’s been criticized before for its assumptions and performance. It used to project that US coronavirus deaths would stop this summer, for example, which some experts said was unrealistic. IHME has since made a number of revisions to its methodology.

Still, the model is just one of many – and it’s not the only forecast offering longer-term projections. Another model, from independent data scientist Youyang Gu, projects that 201,550 people will die from Covid-19 in the US by October 1, with a range of about 147,000 to 284,000 deaths.

That model, which is also highlighted on the CDC’s website, projects an increase in daily deaths in July before a decrease in August and September. 

 Last Thursday, an ensemble forecast from the CDC projected more than 127,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by June 27. The short term forecast relied on 20 individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers. The CDC regularly releases new projections, so another ensemble forecast could be released later today.

3:47 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Chinese shoppers are giving luxury brands some hope amid global virus slowdown

From CNN's Michelle Toh

Chinese shoppers are finally starting to snap up high-end handbags, shoes and jewelry again, giving the luxury goods industry hope that a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is on the way.

But leading brands still face a tough road ahead, and will likely have to rethink the way they do business to withstand a damaging, worldwide hit to sales this year, as well as a shift in shopping habits in many recession-scarred economies.

Several luxury goods companies reported an uptick in China this spring as people emerged from weeks of lockdowns, spurring what some analysts have called a trend of "revenge spending" — the release of pent-up demand once people aren't forced to stay home.

Tiffany this week pointed to China as a bright spot for its jewelry business, saying that retail sales surged around 30% in April and 90% in May compared to the same months last year.

This was despite a drop of about 40% in Tiffany's global net sales in May. "Our business performance in mainland China, which was the first market impacted by the virus, is indicative that a robust recovery is underway," CEO Alessandro Bogliolo said during the company's earnings presentation on Tuesday.

Others have echoed similar thoughts. Burberry said last month that sales of its clothing, bags and accessories in China were "already ahead of the prior year, and continuing to show an improving trend."

Read the full story here.

3:26 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

US hits over 2 million coronavirus cases as expert warns deaths will nearly double by September

From CNN's Faith Karimi and Joe Sutton

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is tested for coronavirus at a testing site in the Anacostia neighborhood June 10, in Washington, DC.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is tested for coronavirus at a testing site in the Anacostia neighborhood June 10, in Washington, DC.

The US surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday night as new hotspots emerge and hospitalizations go up in some states.

More than 112,000 people have died from Covid-19 nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The spike in numbers highlights how complicated it is to stop the spread of the virus despite early hotspots such as New York and New Jersey seeing improved numbers.

Since Memorial Day, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations has gone up in at least a dozen states, according to data CNN aggregated from the Covid Tracking Project between May 25 to June 9. They are Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. An additional 22 states are trending downward while nine others are holding steady.

Health experts issued a bleak prediction.

An additional 100,000 more people will die from coronavirus by September, said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

"I think right now, most Americans are not ready to lock back down, and I completely understand that. Here's the bottom line, though, which is that -- I understand people are willing to live alongside this virus. It means that between 800 and 1,000 Americans are going to die every single day. We're going to get another 100,000 deaths by September ... we really do have to try to figure out how to bring the caseloads down from these scary levels, in some states," Jha told CNN's Kate Bolduan on Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts between 118,000 and 143,000 coronavirus deaths in the US by June 27.