September 9 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 10, 2020
3 Posts
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9:18 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

AstraZeneca pauses coronavirus vaccine trial after unexplained illness in volunteer

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A man receives an injection as UCLA and AstraZeneca begin phase 3 trials for a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
A man receives an injection as UCLA and AstraZeneca begin phase 3 trials for a potential Covid-19 vaccine. The Lundquist Institute/FILE

Drug giant AstraZeneca said Tuesday it had paused a trial of its coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers.

It’s a standard precaution in vaccine trials, meant to ensure experimental vaccines don’t cause serious reactions among volunteers.

“As part of the ongoing randomized, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data,” the company said in a statement sent to CNN.

“This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials,” the statement added. 

“In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully. We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”

Safety first: Earlier Tuesday, AstraZeneca joined eight other companies in signing a pledge promising they would not seek premature government approval for any coronavirus vaccine. They promised they would wait until they had adequate data showing any potential vaccine worked safely to prevent infection.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of three coronavirus vaccines in late-stage, Phase 3 trials in the US.

It was not immediately clear if the pause involved only US trial sites or all of the company’s trial sites around the world. A Data and Safety Monitoring Board usually monitors trials for adverse events and can order a pause or halt to a trial, but AstraZeneca did not say who had stopped the trial.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson later said the illness affected a participant in Britain, but said all of the company’s trials of the vaccine globally would be paused.

Read more here.

10:31 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

Vaccine makers sign safety pledge in race for Covid-19 vaccine

From  CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Naomi Thomas

Nine vaccine makers say they have signed a joint pledge to uphold "high ethical standards," suggesting they won't seek premature government approval for any Covid-19 vaccines they develop.

"We, the undersigned biopharmaceutical companies, want to make clear our on-going commitment to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles," the pledge, released Tuesday, reads.

The companies that signed the pledge include AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for a quick vaccine timeline -- even referencing Election Day in November.

"(It's) going to be done in a very short period of time -- could even have it during the month of October," the President said at a press briefing on Monday. "We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about."

On August 6, Trump said he was "optimistic" a vaccine would be ready by November 3. This has caused widespread worry that the federal government might rush a vaccine to market before it has been adequately tested.

Read the full story:

9:32 p.m. ET, September 8, 2020

UK's Boris Johnson will lower limits on social gatherings to control coronavirus spread

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on September 8, in London.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on September 8, in London. Leon Neal/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce new measures on Wednesday to reduce the number of people legally allowed to socially gather from 30 to six in England to control the coronavirus spread.

The new lower limit, due to take effect starting Monday, will make it easier for police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings of more than six people unless it meets one of the exemptions.

Exemptions include, a household or support bubble larger than six, if gatherings are for work or education purposes, weddings, funerals, or organized team sports.

“We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact – making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce,” Johnson said in a statement.

“It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”

The statement added the new measures are supported by the government, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance after the UK has seen the number of daily coronavirus cases rise to almost 3,000.

On Tuesday, Britain recorded an increase of 2,460 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 352,560.