The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:27 a.m. ET, August 1, 2020
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2:20 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Plasma from coronavirus survivors reduced deaths by 57%, studies show

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Blood plasma taken from coronavirus survivors and infused into hospitalized patients reduced their mortality rate by about 57%, a team of researchers reported Thursday.

“These results favor the efficacy of convalescent plasma as a COVID-19 therapeutic agent,” wrote the researchers, who are working with US federal government support to study plasma for coronavirus patients.

Century-old method: The team looked at all the studies they could find on the approach, which has been used in epidemics for at least 100 years. The idea is that blood from disease survivors is loaded with antibodies and other immune system compounds that can kick-start an immune response to a fresh infection. It’s a relatively cheap and low-tech approach.

They came up with studies covering more than 800 coronavirus patients around the world, including three randomized controlled trials, which are considered the strongest type of study because they involve randomly assigning patients to one treatment or another for a fair comparison. 

“All studies included patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19,” the team wrote in their report published on the pre-print server MedRxiv, which has not been peer-reviewed.

What are the findings: The researchers found patients transfused with convalescent plasma exhibiting a lower mortality rate. About 13% of patients who got plasma died, compared to 25% of those who did not get the infusions. That’s a 57% reduction in mortality.

“Given the safety of plasma administration in COVID-19 patients, the results of this real-time data aggregation provide encouragement for its continued use as a therapy and may have broad implications for the treatment of COVID-19,” said the team, led by the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Michael Joyner.
“Importantly, many of the patients enrolled in the studies included in the present analyses received convalescent plasma transfusions later in their disease course,” they added. Earlier treatment could reduce mortality further, they speculated. 
1:38 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

US reports more than 67,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

A total of 67,619 new coronavirus cases and 1,233 deaths were recorded across the United States on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The number of confirmed cases in the US now stands at 4,494,601, including at least 152,055 virus-related fatalities.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

CNN is tracking US coronavirus cases here:

1:17 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Operation Warp Speed leader says he expects coronavirus vaccine to be highly effective, "in the 90%" range

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and Andrea Kane

The head of the US government's effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19 says he expects the vaccine to have efficacy rates "in the 90%" range -- but that there might not be enough vaccine available for all Americans until the end of next year.

"I think it will be a very effective vaccine. That's my prediction," said Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser of Operation Warp Speed.

"My personal opinion based on my experience and the biology of this virus, I think this vaccine is going to be highly efficacious. I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the 90% (range)."

Slaoui, an immunologist, formerly headed up the vaccine program at GlaxoSmithKline, where he led the development of five major novel vaccines.

He said there would be enough vaccine for all Americans "ideally" by the middle of 2021, but possibly not until the end of 2021.

Slaoui spoke Thursday with CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen while touring a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial site in Savannah, Georgia. It was his first television interview since joining Operation Warp Speed in May.

Read the full story:

12:53 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Catch up: Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the US

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have deleterious effects across the United States as every corner of society struggles to cope.

Here are the latest headlines on the pandemic:

  • Unemployment continues to rise: In yet another sign that the economic recovery is teetering in a resurgence of coronavirus cases, the number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims rose for the second week in a row. About 1.4 million people filed for initial jobless claims last week, up 12,000 from the prior week's revised level, which was the first increase in 16 weeks.
  • Herman Cain: President Trump expressed his sadness over the death of Herman Cain, who passed away from Covid-19 after spending nearly a month in the hospital with the virus. “He was a very special person, and I got to know him very well,” the President said during a news briefing this afternoon.
  • Key coronavirus model: The University of Washington now projects there will be 230,822 US deaths from Covid-19 by November, based on the current scenario. On July 22, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasted 219,864 total deaths from the virus by November. 
  • Social distancing works: Just two weeks of social distancing policies cut the spread of coronavirus by 65% globally, preventing more than 1.5 million new cases, Texas researchers estimated Thursday. The few states and countries that resisted social distancing saw almost no reduction in spread, the team at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said.
  • The upcoming school year in Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis advocated Thursday for parents to be able to choose either in-person or distance learning as districts in the state weigh their options for the upcoming school year. “I believe that there should be a choice for parents throughout Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference.
  • MLB players test positive: Nineteen players and coaches for the Miami Marlins tested positive for coronavirus. The team said they are isolating and quarantining in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
12:26 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Vietnam went nearly 100 days with no new cases. Today, it reported its highest single-day spike

From CNN's Isaac Yee

Residents get blood samples taken by health workers at a Covid-19 rapid testing site in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 30.
Residents get blood samples taken by health workers at a Covid-19 rapid testing site in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 30. Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

Vietnam reported 45 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the largest single-day increase in infections since the pandemic hit the country in late January.

All of the new cases were discovered in the resort city of Da Nang, where a fresh outbreak resurfaced last week, according to the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

Vietnam has now confirmed 93 local coronavirus cases since July 25, when the country discovered its first locally transmitted case in nearly 100 days.

Among the new cases, 41 were linked to several hospitals and clinics in Da Nang, with the other four linked to a hotel in the city, according to VNA. 

As of Friday morning, at least 53,760 people are in isolation, either at healthcare facilities or at home, VNA reported.

The new cases raise Vietnam’s total number of infections to 509, while the death toll remains at zero.

11:59 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Japan sees highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases for third day in a row

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo 

Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk along a sidewalk in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, July 30.
Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk along a sidewalk in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, July 30. Shoko Takayasu/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Japan's Ministry of Health reported 1,305 new coronavirus cases for Thursday -- the third consecutive day the country has seen new highs in daily infections since the pandemic began.

The ministry also recorded two virus-related deaths for Thursday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday morning that even though the case numbers are high, the government does not intend to enact a state of emergency. 

Instead, the government would focus on preventing further infections and continue with an economic stimulus strategy to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, Suga said. 

The capital city of Tokyo recorded 367 cases on Thursday. Health authorities have earlier linked the majority of cases in the city to young people who gathered in bars and restaurants. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has asked restaurants and karaoke bars in the city to reduce their opening hours.

The southern prefecture of Fukuoka recorded 121 cases on Thursday, while Osaka confirmed 190 infections.

11:08 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Australian state of Victoria surpasses 10,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Karina Tsui

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media at the daily briefing on July 31, in Melbourne, Australia.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media at the daily briefing on July 31, in Melbourne, Australia. Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The Australian state of Victoria reported 672 new coronavirus cases and eight deaths on Friday, according to the state's premier Daniel Andrews.

The total number of infections in Victoria, the second-most populous state in Australia, now stands at 10,577, with 112 deaths, according to Andrews.

“Aged care, healthcare settings, warehouse settings, food distribution settings -- these places are where we’re seeing new cases,” Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said during Friday’s news briefing. 

Door knocking campaign: Andrews said he has no announcements to make about harsher lockdowns but he would not rule out more frequent door knocking to check if people are staying at home.

More than 130 people -- one in four of those who’ve tested positive -- were caught defying stay-at-home orders, according to the Premier.

Authorities have increased manpower to crack down on isolation dodgers, with 34 teams of officers deployed to knock on the doors of infected individuals.

“Both public health experts from the Victorian team and those on a national level will spend the next day or two looking at the data at the six-week point, the halfway point of the stay-at-home orders that we put in place,” Andrews said. “That analysis will happen today and tomorrow, and then we'll have more to say.” 

Though Friday’s figures are slightly lower than the previous day, Andrew said that it is “almost impossible” to see Victoria’s economy open up any time soon.

11:08 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

China reports more than 100 new Covid-19 cases for third day in a row

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a woman for a coronavirus test on July 28, in Shenyang, China.
A medical worker collects a swab sample from a woman for a coronavirus test on July 28, in Shenyang, China. Yu Haiyang/China News Service/Getty Images

China recorded 127 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the National Health Commission said on Friday morning.

That marks the third consecutive day that the country has reported over 100 new infections.

Among the new cases, 123 were locally transmitted, with 112 confirmed in the far western region of Xinjiang and the rest in the northeastern province of Liaoning.

The country also recorded a further 11 asymptomatic infections on Thursday.

11:08 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Key coronavirus model projects 230,822 deaths in US by November

From CNN’s Haley Brink

Visiting nurse Gabriel Leyva, 34, (second from left) of Downey, CA, treats a coronavirus patients at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on July 17, in Edinburg, Texas.
Visiting nurse Gabriel Leyva, 34, (second from left) of Downey, CA, treats a coronavirus patients at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on July 17, in Edinburg, Texas. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The University of Washington now projects there will be 230,822 US deaths from Covid-19 by November, based on the current scenario.   

On July 22, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasted 219,864 total deaths from the virus by November. 

The latest update reflects an increase of about 11,000 deaths due to an increase in infections and the refusal by some people to wear masks, to practice social distancing, and to perform other measures to mitigate the transmission of the virus.

If the US universally adopted wearing masks, the number of deaths by November would drop to nearly 198,831, the model projected. The use of masks is up but not as high as it should be across the nation. However, there has been a rise in mask wearing across states and locations with increased cases and deaths, the IHME said.

"If 95% of Americans wore masks each time they left their homes, infection rates would drop, hospitalizations would drop, and forecast deaths would drop,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at IHME. "Unfortunately, people let down their guard until media report the risk of increased infections."

Some context: So far, according to Johns Hopkins University, nearly 4.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections and at least 152,000 have died. 

"We would like for Americans to keep their guard up to reduce the transmission of the virus. We do not have an effective drug and vaccines are on their way, so prevention is key." Mokdad told CNN.