Daily coronavirus briefing: Wuhan reports 1st case in over a month

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The coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt in the early part of 2020. After emerging in China’s Hubei province in late 2019, the number of cases skyrocketed and infected more than 3.5 million worldwide over a four-month span with the epicenter shifting from Asia to Europe and, as of late March, the United States.

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11. The virus, called SARS-CoV-2, causes a disease known as COVID-19, and as the number of cases escalated, government officials took drastic measures to slow the spread, ordering various forms of travel restrictions including total lockdowns in some places.

As residents stayed shuttered indoors, major metropolitan areas from Los Angeles to New York City to Paris and Rome have transformed into ghost towns. Infectious disease experts have stressed there is much to be learned about the virus, including whether there will be a seasonal correlation to a rise or decline in confirmed infections or how weather and UV radiation can impact the spread.

May 10, 7:47 p.m.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority ridership has gone down 90% in New York City. On a weekday, about 500,000 are using the MTA, CNN reported. Over 2,000 people work on the MTA system each day to clean and disinfect everything, and nightly shutdowns which have recently gone into effect allow for a much more thorough clean. Interim MTA President Sarah Feinberg told WABC-TV the nightly shutdowns “gives us the ability to really surge into the system, make sure that we’ve gotten every train car, disinfect those stations for a second time, gives us that room where we can really make sure we’ve gotten to everything.” To make up for the lack of transportation at night, Feinberg said they have increased bus services in the city.

May 10, 6:35 p.m.

Lab-created antibodies may be available by the end of the summer, according to Leonard Schleifer, the CEO of biotechnology company Regeneron. The antibody treatment could reach the clinical trial stage by next month, Schleifer told CNN. Instead of triggering the body to create its own antibodies like a vaccine would, the antibody treatment infuses with the blood, giving the person immunity to the virus temporarily. “Our approach is to generate these human antibodies artificially, so to speak, and give people those antibodies to either prevent them from getting infected if they’re at higher risk, or treat them,” Schleifer said.

May 10, 5:25 p.m.

Over 15,500 people across over 100 countries have volunteered to be intentionally infected with COVID-19 in order to speed up trials for a vaccine for the virus. Human challenge trials, which advocates are now volunteering to be a part of, are when participants are willingly exposed to a virus in order to allow scientists to study it, and to help expedite the process of vaccine development, NBC News reported. The Food and Drug Administration has never approved of a human challenge trial for a novel disease with no known cure such as COVID-19, but epidemiologists and vaccinologists have begun advocating for such a trial to take place, arguing that it would accelerate the vaccine testing process — a process which can sometimes take up to 10 years to complete.

“I definitely think it’s going to be pursued,” Dr. Matthew Memoli, director of the Clinical Studies Unit at the National Institute of Health’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases said. “So many things could change, but I think it’s likely we could see one at some point in the future.”

May 10, 4:15 p.m.

U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a timeline for reopening the country on Sunday. In what he called step two of his plan, Johnson said some shops and schools will be allowed to reopen, which he said would be no earlier than June 1, The Mirror reported. Step three, which Johnson predicts will occur no earlier than July, will involve reopening the hospitality industry. He said, however, that the timeline of the plan is “dependent on a series of big ifs.”

May 10, 3:10 p.m.

New York is “back to where we started” in terms of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On Sunday, Cuomo announced that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide was 521 on Saturday, which is the same level it was at in late March when he ordered nonessential businesses to close, CNBC reported. “Where we are today is basically, with the number of new cases, is basically right where we were when we started. It has been a painful period of time between March 20 to May 9,” Cuomo said.

May 10, 2:15 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson plans to make 1 billion vaccines for COVID-19 next year, according to an executive in the business. Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer, made the announcement on ABC’s “This Week,” when he told them the virus is spreading “so fast” that it will not disappear without a vaccine. Clinical trials are set to begin in September.

May 10, 1:10 p.m.

Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, reported its first new coronavirus case since April 3 on Sunday, according to local health officials. The patient is currently in critical condition, and his wife has also tested positive and was reported as an asymptomatic case. Five patients from the community showing no symptoms, including the new case’s wife, have been sent to hospitals for observation. China reopened Wuhan’s borders after a 76-day lockdown on April 8.

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