September 5 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 6, 2020
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12:07 a.m. ET, September 5, 2020

The major Phase 3 vaccine trials are still not enrolling enough minorities, latest data shows

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield

Moderna Inc. headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday, May 25.
Moderna Inc. headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday, May 25. Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Moderna and Pfizer, the two major pharmaceutical companies developing coronavirus vaccines, are still not enrolling enough minorities in their clinical trials, according to their trial updates.

The recommendation: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that Phase 3 clinical trials should aim to include minorities at levels that are at least double their representation in the population to better reflect the population most affected by Covid-19. 

That would mean 37% of the study participants would be Latino, and 27% would be Black. 

The reality: As of this week, 16% of Moderna’s study subjects were Latino, and 10% were Black.

And as of August 31, 11% of Pfizer's study subjects were Latino and 8% were Black. 

That doesn’t square with Fauci’s recommendation to aim to enroll those minorities at levels at least double their numbers in the Census. 

Why this matters: Minority enrollment in the trials is important for two reasons:

  • The vaccine might work differently in people of color than in White people, and those effects need to be studied. 
  • To find out if the vaccine works, a sufficient number of people need to get infected and sick with Covid-19. That means researchers need to vaccinate enough high-risk people – and Covid-19 has hit Blacks and Latinos particularly hard. 
11:53 p.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Former Cook Islands prime minister dies in second fatality linked to New Zealand's Auckland cluster

Dr. Joseph Williams
Dr. Joseph Williams Pasifika Medical Association

New Zealand has reported a second Covid-19 death linked to a cluster in Auckland.

"The Ministry can confirm that the former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Dr Joseph Williams QSO passed away last night in Auckland City Hospital," the country's Ministry of Health said in a press release on Saturday.

"Dr Williams, who was in his 80s, was also a widely regarded member of health services in both New Zealand and the Cook Islands."

The release said Williams had been admitted to hospital on August 13, and passed away Friday evening.

Two deaths in two days: Only yesterday, the country reported its first Covid-19 death in more than three months -- a man in his 50s, who was linked to the Auckland cluster.

The country's coronavirus death toll now stands at 24.

"Today’s sad news again reinforces the importance of our shared vigilance against COVID-19, the very serious consequences the virus can carry with it, and the measures we all need to take to stop the spread, break any chain of transmission and prevent deaths," the ministry said in Saturday's release.
12:09 a.m. ET, September 5, 2020

US states should be ready to distribute a vaccine by November "just in case," says Surgeon General

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccination as part of a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on August 7 in Hollywood, Florida. 
A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccination as part of a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on August 7 in Hollywood, Florida.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

US states should be ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by November 1 “just in case” one is ready, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said in an ABC News interview Friday.

“We've always said that we are hopeful for a vaccine by the end of this year or beginning of next year,” Adams said. “That said, it's not just about having a vaccine that is safe and effective -- it's about being ready to distribute it.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked state public health officials to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by late October or early November. 

Adams said the guidance is “just in case” a vaccine is approved by that time -- reiterating comments by public health officials that such an event is possible but not probable.

He added that data from Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials has been positive, and independent safety boards ensure the vaccine only moves forward if "there is good evidence" of its efficacy.

“The most telling thing I can say to people is that when there is a Covid vaccine available, I and my family will be in line to get it,” Adams said. “I think it will be safe, I think it will be effective and I think it will help us end this outbreak.”

11:52 p.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Brazil reports more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases

From Fernanda Wenzel

A city health agent holds a positive Covid-19 rapid test on September 3 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A city health agent holds a positive Covid-19 rapid test on September 3 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bruna Prado/Getty Images

Brazil’s health ministry reported 51,194 new Covid-19 cases and an additional 907 virus-related deaths on Friday, taking the country’s total number of cases to 4,092,832.

The country's death toll from the virus is now 125,521.

Brazil has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world, behind only the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

11:51 p.m. ET, September 4, 2020

Masks would help prevent a surge in coronavirus deaths by the New Year, Fauci says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with CNN on Friday, September 4.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with CNN on Friday, September 4. CNN

Correct use of masks would help the country prevent the “scary” number of predicted Covid-19 deaths, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN today.

A model often cited by top health officials now predicts more than 410,000 people will die of coronavirus in the US by January 1 – which would mean another 224,000 Americans lost in just the next four months.

Fauci said people should keep in mind that models depend on the assumptions that go into them, but such a high number of deaths is possible.

“We don’t want to get to that number by any stretch of the imagination,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. “So what are we going to do to prevent us from getting that number?”

Fauci stressed that “one of the things we can do is a more uniform utilization of masks.”